Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
Word Count: 1047
Lorne woke to someone shaking his shoulder. He only just restrained himself from stabbing Sage in the gut. As it was, his dagger was poised between them, tip inches from Sage's belly. The dragon merely raised an eyebrow at him and Lorne huffed, putting the dagger away.
"My turn for watch?" he asked gruffly, rolling up onto his ass while Sage withdrew and moved to check on Emrys where the other man was laying by the fire.
"Yes," Sage said, and nudged Emrys with his foot. Emrys grunted and shoved the foot away. Sage just sent him a look and shrugged before heading off towards the edges of the camp.
Lorne watched him standing there for a moment before he moved to sit beside Emrys by the fire.
The next few nights were surprisingly uneventful--and quiet, which was concerning considering that the village was full of wraiths. The fact that they weren't making noise or showing up was very, very.... Unnerving, to put it lightly. Lorne was worried that something was going on, that the wraiths were either banding together or plotting, or something to that effect.
At least Emrys was feeling better.
Possibly enough to consider moving on, which was a good idea. Lingering near the village of Edda was a bad idea.
So when they woke that morning, they packed up camp and sat around the banked campfire, trying to figure out where to go next. Cass and Issy had produced a map of the region and had it spread out between them, heads together as they studied it.
"We go head for the academy in the marshes," Issy said, frowning slightly. "Or we could follow the river north, towards Wren..."
"Or we could cut across the grasslands to Sebb," Cass added, then glanced up at the others. Lorne watched them carefully. "Which poses its own kind of risks, ro be honest."
"Like the fact that we would be exposed, whatever choice we make?" Vena asked, and Cass nodded. She sighed. "A tough choise to make, then."
"Yep," Issy said and exhaled heavily. "Definitely screwed whatever path we take."
"Hence the point of this conversation." Cass nodded towards the others, then to the map. "So, which path do we want to vote on?"
"I vote we avoid the academy," Sage said, inclining his head. "I may have upset more than a few people there."
Lorne snorted and rolled his eyes. "Alright, then. That's a no for the academy." He glanced about the group. "I vote for Wren."
Emrys nodded. "Wren as well."
He looked towards Vena. She snorted. "Wren," she said, the inclined her head. "Best to stick close to the river, hm?"
Cass nodded, then gestured to Issy. "We also vote Wren."
"That's four for Wren," Lorne said, then looked at Sage. "You alright with that?"
"Wren is a fine choice," Sage said, nodding. "Honestly, anywhere but Raj Valanis." He offered them all a wry smile and then stood. "We had best get moving, no?"
Wren was another three days north and across the river--which was a bit of a challenge. At least there had been no more surprises. Well, deadly ones anyway. Vena scouted with her leopard, Sage hunted, Cass and Issy navigated and Lorne was left to keep an eye on Emrys when they were left alone.
At least Wren was intact when they got to the village and after a brief stop overnight at Wren, they headed another three days next to Lua, then two more on to the lakeside city of Sarea. Wren had been lively in a charming sort of way while Lua was sleepy and barely more than three houses and a tavern. Sarea City, though, was thriving and busy. Lorne wasn't sure where to look as they entered through the eastern gate and headed down the main road towards the central markets.
"So," Lorne said, leaning towards Emrys as they walked behind Vena, Sage and the younger two. "Where exactly are Cass and Issy leading us?"
Emrys shrugged. "I have no idea. I've never been to this city before."
He hummed thoughtfully, gaze darting towards a shadowy alley as they passed and gave the shadowy figures hiding there a narrow-eyed look. "Fair point," he murmured, frowning. "I don't think I came this way when I found my way to Sage's little castle."
"My home is not little," Sage called back and Lorne snorted out a laugh.
"He likes to pretend he's an all-powerful monster," Lorne stage-whispered, "but he's really just a big old softie."
Emrys snorted at that and sent him a look. Lorne stared back, and ignored the dragon glowering at them from several feet in front of them. Emrys smiled at him, gaze flickering down towards his lips. Lorne blinked at him.
"Of course he is," Emrys whispered back, smiling again. "Should we let him know?"
"I can hear you," Sage added, a little louder.
Lorne and Emrys shared a grin before hurrying to catch up to the rest of their group. Cass and Issy were talking again, heads close together with Vena right behind them. Her leopard was surprisingly absent. Honestly, though, Lorne figured that having a large cat in a busy city would be a little... unnerving for a lot of people.
At least they weren't camped near a destroyed village full of angry wraiths. Lorne was still worried that something was going on with the wraiths. They had to have gone somewhere, and they certainly weren't in the village. He had a feeling that something had changed, but they could hardly go back there to figure it out. That was something that would need to be addressed at another point in time. A much later time. Much, much later.
"I'm guessing a tavern," Emrys said after a few moment of silence and then looped his arm through Lorne's. Lorne looked over at him, surprised. "I mean, it's the logical choise, isn't it?"
Lorne sighed, gaze darting down to their interlocked arms and back up. "Probably..." He huffed and glanced away, feeling a little warm now--probably blushing. "Now the question is which tavern."
"Mmh, good point."
They both looked towards Cass and Issy. "Maybe my brother has an idea of which one they'd headed to?"
"Maybe," Emrys murmured, tugging Lorne a little closer.
At that moment, Sage glanced back. Lorne abruptly pulled away from Emrys and scowled, picking up the pace so he could catch up to the rest of the group. Emrys's laughter followed him.