There was a smell of sweet incense. Sonya awoke on a thin futon, under fresh sheets. Her shirt, coat and boots were next to her, and somebody had treated the wounds on her chest and back while she was unconscious. She sat up quickly and started redressing. She needed to get back to the woods in case Trin was looking for her. There was an open doorway into a courtyard only a few metres away. Sonya could see the clearing she had collapsed in last night. Rather than risk being seen, she teleported to the woods.
When she arrived on the little pathway, startled birds flew away. Sonya turned on the spot. On the ground, the marks created last night by Vyant’s magic were still there. There were no signs of anything else. If Trin had been here, she would have left a message, surely? There had been a lot of Rutilus last night. Maybe it was taking a long time to clear them all out and herd them back to the Back Desert? It didn’t matter, Trin had told her not to go back to the Palace by herself. She knew better than to disobey Trin’s orders.
She waited for hours. She sat beneath the same tree she’d enchanted last night and began to do the exercises she had been taught. She meditated and controlled her breathing. She stretched her senses and counted all the people nearby. She could tell that there were many powerful magicians in the complex she had slept in. They must have saved her from Vyant. Now it was daytime, she could see that the main entrance to the complex was only slightly down the path. The sign had been hidden by overgrown trees. Maybe Trin had meant for her to take refuge there.
“We wondered where you had gone.” Sonya had become distracted by her thoughts of Trin, Naria, the Rutilus and Vyant. She opened her eyes to see a dark haired man with a stern expression. He had eyes that were the same colour as the tree trunks and his skin was a deep tan. Though he was frowning, he didn’t seem cold. “I did you a favour last night by protecting you from that guy. It’s rude to run away.”
“Where is he?” Sonya interrupted. “What did you do to him?”
“He was vicious and determined to get at you. In the end I had to kill him. You at least owe me an explanation. Who are you?”
“Sonya.” After speaking, she pushed her lips together. She shouldn’t tell him anything.
“I’m Seta. I think you should come back inside. It’s obviously not safe for you to be wandering around on your own.” He bent down and offered her his hand. After a moment, she took it and allowed him to help her up. Trin must have brought her here for a reason.