"Alone. At the edge of despair. I could not have known what was to come. Something that would mend my broken soul. A light found in the darkest of times."

XXX

Freyja's heart broke.

Her hand grasped the metal bars of the prison cell as if they were her last link to life...and she watched Gorim walk away from her, his head bowed low, shoulders slumped.

Defeated...

Just as she was.

He took her life with him; everything she knew walked with him. Her lips parted in a sharp intake of breath. Shoulders shaking, legs trembling, until a gasp escaped her. A moan...and she sank to her knees in the dirt.

The betrayal of her brothers stung. The loss of her father's trust wrenched her heart. Stripped of her rank and banished to the deep roads tore her apart. But watching Gorim leave shattered her soul. She could have born it all, as long as she had him, but without him...

Freyja watched long after he'd gone. Her eyes focussed on the last place she'd seen him, unable to tear them away...before her head sank against the bars of her prison, her forehead resting on the cold metal. Her only true friend and the one person in her life who she trusted.

The dagger he had had pressed furtively into her hand hung limply in her fingers. His last gift to her...all she could take of him into the darkness to keep her safe, all the protection he could give her.

A sob. Just one, before she dragged herself to her feet, wiping the back of her hand against her tear stained face. She was an Aeducan and she wouldn't let them see her shamed like this when they sent her to the Roads. Time enough once the darkness had swallowed her later...

XXX

Thanks, Setrus...as always. For not letting me give up, for not pressuring me...and for keeping the dream alive.