I lay on the rushes holding my belly but I knew that the worse thing I could imagine was happening and there was nothing I could do to halt its progression. Outside the tent, the soft grunts and whickers of horses alerted me to my brother’s activity. As the ponies thudded past the back of the shelter, the creaks of a cart grew louder.
My guard glanced outside for just a moment, before throwing my cloak at me. He hissed at me to get up, holding a couple of lengths of binding rope out in my direction. I peered up at his stern face, imploring him to take mercy, but all I achieved was to irritate him further. He tugged my arms behind my back and knotted the twine so tightly, my fingers started to throb. The second length went around my ankles.
Bending low, he tipped me over his shoulder and lifted my feet from the ground. The gnawing pain in my belly was incessant. He was determined to make me suffer. Within a few footsteps, the warrior clamped his arm across my calves, balanced his hand against my spine, and leaned forwards until I toppled into the rear of the wagon.
How had Cador taken our cart and horses from the Duros? My back arched against a sack of malty scented grain as I rolled over and pushed myself up to a sitting position. Daylight peeped through the holes in the weave of my cloak. Dawn was breaking fast.
Cador would be close by and no doubt armed with stolen blades. I imagined him waiting until Blake’s warriors were in their cups and sending his best men to slice their throats, but even armed to the teeth, how could we possibly escape from such a crowded and defended camp such as this?
Blind from my fallen hood and the furs and skins heaped over the top of me, I was wedged between a wooden chest and what felt like a clay pot with curved sides. The wagon lurched. Someone smacked the hind quarters of the horses, sending them into a speedy trot. I held my breath, expecting the Durotriges to discover us at any moment, showering the men and the wagon with lethal arrows.
Despite the aching cold of the dawn and the jolting pain of every bump on the track, I could feel that I was not alone. A squirming lump lay at the side of my legs. It was warm.
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