Cordula, part three

The mud sucked at her boots, made her stumble. In all her armour Cordula held no delusions of being quiet at the best of times, but all this splashing and cursing wasn’t getting her anywhere, just increasing the chance she got sucked under, or that something mortiferous heard and reckoned it could get a solid meal out of her.

She circled, lost, direction unfathomable with each patch of ground all dislocated from the next by the wall of white, and finally set her arse down on a mouldering log.

What choice was there? Whoever it was, they were gone. Disappeared just as soundly as Dag and the injured guard, the path, and even the cathedral spire of Gilneas. Now that was proper disconcerting. The sight of the city was meant to be a constant.

She took her flask from her hip and sipped mulled wine. Not brilliant, cold. She’d meant to warm it over the gaslight just outside her door, and drink it sitting on her front step as the sun came to rise and Stormglen took to waking all around her. But now she’d be waiting well past that time just for the mist to clear, so bugger suspended pleasures. She drew a mouthful of the spicy stuff and rolled it around her tongue, glowering into the mists.

Go where you don’t belong, and you’ll get yourself into trouble.

Her mother had always been insistent on the point, and this was the first time Cordula had to admit there being some truth to it. Of course, she used to get insistent that the boundary-makers and down-trodders were always the ones who started it, not her, she was only soul-searching, testing things. Who were they to pen her in? And her mother always side-eyed her at that, stared at her good and long, and changed the subject right away to you better mind the king.

Which got her wondering now. She’d heard mention of Crowley’s lot since the last altercation with Mum. As rumour told it, he’d taken to dissenting and encouraging others to dissent along with him. It was a story conveyed by dodgy sorts, mind, so she couldn’t be sure of it, but supposing some was true. Might be one of his followers that attacked the other patrol.

There was no denying, after all, that the night watch wore the colours brighter than most anyone else. Her fingers followed the lines of the flag on her tabard, picked out extra sharp with thick gilt stitches so it’d be seen even with nowt but moonlight to go by.

Her eyes went back to pressing against the mist, trying to punch right through and see what waited on the other side. She couldn’t much like this train of thought. If this was some breed of rebellion, some attack on the establishment, then that put her right in the line of fire, and Dag too.

Dag, who’d no doubt forgotten the way the mist could get at the gunpowder, and who must’ve got through his copper trials by pure luck, as she’d never once seen him draw his sword without fumbling the thing.

She needed to get back to him, soon as this mist gave her an opening. Soon as she could see further than the tip of her bloody nose.

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