Bonnie checked the area.There wasn’t much point to it, she knew. Axra had probably just been trying to distract her attention. Had Lilly told Axra about her secondary mission? Probably, that girl was far too nice. Still, Bonnie was determined to fulfill her duties. She examined everything for any sign of possible incursion. Once she had completed the task, she returned. Velvet was lounging near the fire and Lysara was near Twila’s tent with Fang flying above her.
“What are you up to?” Bonnie asked.
Lysara jumped, clearly startled. “I… I saw an interesting looking beetle so I started watching it.” She laughed.
“Is that so?” Bonnie asked. “I didn’t know you liked insects.”
“Oh, sure,” Lysara stated. “I don’t like the really massive ones, but some of the little ones can be interesting to watch. But what about you? Did you find anything?”
“Not a thing,” Bonnie said. “We should have a quiet night. I’ll take the first watch anyway, just to be safe. Velvet, you can take the second. We’ll leave the Princess and Twila alone and let Lilly recover from her broken heart, at least as much as a night of rest can provide.”
“But Lilly isn’t broken-hearted,” Lysara said. “She went into the tent with Twila and Axra.”
“She… What?” Bonnie asked. “Ho… how?” She looked up at the sky. “Was I wrong about what they were going in for?”
“Nope,” Lysara said. “It’s definitely what you thought. Twila even used some kind of noise blocking spell.”
“But… how… with three of them?” Bonnie scratched her head, looking confused.
“Told you so,” Velvet muttered.
“Yeah, I guess you were right,” Lysara conceded. “Calm down, Bon. It’s not that big of a deal. Hey, do you want to sleep in my tent tonight?”
Bonnie watched Lysara for a moment. It was a tempting offer, certainly. “No…” Bonnie answered. “Sorry, but I’m just not ready yet.”
“Still?” Lysara asked. “Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to wait for you.” She hugged Bonnie. “Honestly, you’re so old-fashioned.”
Axra woke up. At first, she thought that yesterday evening had been a wonderful, vivid dream. But she quickly grew aware f her surroundings. Twila was beside her, one of her arms resting underneath Axra’s hair. On Twila’s other side, Lilly was fast asleep. The two were holding hands. It had all been real.
Axra carefully got up and peeked outside of the tent. The sun was just starting to rise. Velvet was lying on his side near the fire, perfectly still. Axra went back inside. She hurriedly washed up as best as she could with water from her canteen and dressed before waking Twila and Lilly.
She woke Twila with a gentle kiss to the forehead. She was worried that the same would scare Lilly, so she put a hand gently on her shoulder and shook her slightly.
“Good morning,” Axra whispered.
“G… good morning,” Lilly returned. She smiled shyly.
Axra leaned over and kissed Lilly’s cheek. “You all set to get back on the road?”
“Oh, yes,” Lilly said. “I… I just know that it’s going to be a fun trip. I… I’m just a little worried that things might turn dangerous, you know? I… I don’t want to see you hurt again.”
“None of us want to see that happen,” Twila said. “We’ll just have to look after each other to prevent that as best we can.”
“Damn right!” Axra declared.
Twila looked Axra directly in the eyes. “That means that you’re going to have to let us protect you too. You do realise that, right? No charging ahead. No insisting on taking the full brunt of an attack just so that we’re shielded from it. You’ll have to treat both of us as equals in this.”
“I don’t…” Axra started to protest, but stopped mid-sentence. She looked down at the tent floor and nodded. “All right. I’ll be sure to rely on you both more.”
“Thank the Gods,” Lilly whispered, sighing with relief.
Once Lilly and Twila had washed up and dressed, the three left the tent. Bonnie was already up and packing everything up for the trip. Lilly, Twila and Axra went to work preparing breakfast for everyone.
The scent woke Lysara and she stumbled out of her tent rubbing her eyes. She looked around and moved to help Bonnie.
“Did you sleep well?” Bonnie asked.
“I had a little trouble falling asleep, but I managed pretty well.” Lysara answered. “What about you, Bon? Did you have pleasant dreams?”
“I don’t remember dreaming at all last night,” Bonnie stated.
“Really?” Lysara asked. “I remember all my dreams. For example, last night I dreamt…” She blushed and went silent. “Never mind, it’s not important.”
“Was it that embarrassing?” Bonnie asked.
“Oh Bon,” Lysara said, putting an arm around her. “You’re such a tease.”
“I don’t really get it, but I’m sorry if I teased you,” Bonnie said.
Lysara chuckled. “Actually, I did have a question.” Her voice was suddenly serious. “When Axra mentioned Grimswald you seemed upset. Is there some reason you don’t want to go there?”
Bonnie kept working in silence. It took her a couple minutes to actually respond to Lysara’s query. “Grimswald isn’t a very well regulated or safe area. It’s technically a part of Nervius, but it’s out on the edge and most of the governing is done by the aristocratic families. I’m concerned that it could be a dangerous place for the princess.”
“I’d never heard anything like that about it,” Lysara said. “But I’ve never traveled there either. I guess we’ll just have to count on you, huh?”
“As long as we get the supplies and get out quickly there shouldn’t be a problem,” Bonnie said. “If we’re on our guard. Come on, let’s get some breakfast. It won’t do any good to worry about it until we’re actually there.”