eed to do is offer a sacrifice. If Im asking you for anything… ”

”To stop treating yourself like someone who has lost their way, Celene, ” Gaspard said. ”To stop trying to change everything by changing nothing. ” He walked her back to the stable where she had left her horse. She slipped to the palace without looking back, feeling like a dark cloud had rolled over her.


On the third morning after returning to Lrial, Celene heard footsteps coming down the hallway before she could find the courage to face Gaspard. She watched from the shadows as his servants ushered him into the room she had shared with Roxy. Several of them stood just inside the door, waiting to carry off the assortment of bags and boxes that he now carried.

Gaspard halted at the head of the stairs, letting the servants herd him up and away. The knights had all packed up and taken their leave the previous night, leaving only their master behind. Celene felt the rage shed kept pent for so long begin to creep back through her veins. Rage and fury are more terrible than any other emotion because they could be directed anywhere and no one could tell you why. It would make anyone who dared try to control her suffer. She had learned to keep it close for when she truly needed it, but being surrounded by those who sought to put constraints on her made her want to fling her feelings about without restraint.

The steps brought Gaspard to the foot of the stairs, and Celene waited until she passed by to dart out the door and follow. The servant following them at a respectful distance slowed when he saw her coming. She grabbed his shoulder to hold him in place as she whispered, ”Stay here. Wait for me, and Ill explain everything. ”

He nodded and pointed her toward the stable. Celene dismounted the moment she was out of sight. She glanced around for Roxy before grabbing one of the saddlebags that the servant had been carrying and putting it over her shoulders.

”Celene? ”

She turned to find Gaspard standing next to the open door to the kitchen. ”I just came to say goodbye, ” she said. ”I assume you know where everyone else is, so it shouldn matter if I go or not. ”

Gaspard nodded slowly as he took in her disguise. ”Why are you wearing a saddlebag, then? Where are you going? ”

”I am taking your horses, of course, ” she said. ”And whatever supplies you have here. ”

She felt him stiffen for a moment before relaxing again. ”So, you aren planning to stay then? ”

”Of course not, ” she said. ”But it seems odd to take those things and ride away without explanation. ”

”It does seem strange, ” he said. ”You may consider it a favour that I let you do so. If I had said anything, you would likely have burst into tears and bolted with my steeds in tow. I have seen it before. ”

She paused, thinking of how she might argue or start another fight. Now was probably not the time. ”Let me at least get rid of all of this gear, ” she said.

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