Jenny: Long Shadows

The bundle of winter things, warm on their insides and damply cold on the outside, seemed to drag at the Guttersnipe's arms. The knife... He will have gone to see Lord Alan, who knew about that sort of thing. And Lord Alan was nearly a day's ride away. She stared unblinkingly into the pale hollow of Domitia's throat, not seeing what was before her. Maybe Jason did not believe in auspices and portents, but she - it was a most wretched time to be seeing so clearly in her mind's eye Ambrosius kneeling on the ground with her when she was only a child, playing with her little wooden horses. Did you not always see the beginning when the end was near? It had rushed by, all of it, in a wild blur last night when Ambrosius had stepped out with Cunorix. Now there was a blanket of snow on the ground and everything seemed ages - worlds - away: buried, buried under the snow, cold and -

She shied, coming back to herself. "Thank you," she murmured, taking a firmer hold on the cloaks. "Please excuse me." She turned and walked hurriedly away from Domitia, willing the girl not to call her back. She sped from the room as though she had to put the cloaks away at once, but made her way to Ambrosius' room and climbed up on the couch, unfolding the blankets and pulling them around her shoulders. Cyrus had brought a new shadow on the snow, replacing the one Calidus had cast. Shadow after shadow, long shadows. Though the room was warm she shivered, lip trembling. She hated herself for feeling terror, but the thought of Ambrosius out alone in the winter snow filled her with a dread she had not known, not even when Gwenhywfar had thrown her from the room and told her to tighten her own belt and pull up her own boots and take her people home. She heard Calidus' hateful voice spitting poison across the floor: "There are many in Britain who want you as dead as I do!" She knew better than to ride after him and beg him to let her go too, as good as she was with a knife and a blow, but she dreaded the thought of seeing Cyrus come back without his mount. He had come close to being killed already. Why did he have to leave all alone?

She linked her arms around her legs. "I wish you were here, Gwenhywfar," she murmured dully.

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