Salem: Elina moved to the back of the cart. She stayed quiet. Said nothing about Giorgio or Sam. She just lay on her corn, her eyes closed, her breathing slow and gentle. She didn't seem to be scheming anything, but you could never be sure. Her eyes and expression didn't betray any thoughts.
The sun was at its highest point. Which meant that there was only one way for it to go: down. I looked around. Flat grass with a forest at the horizon. No dark rain clouds.
Normally I would've chosen to camp in these conditions. Camping was free after all. The land and the sky aren't going to charge rent.
I looked at Elina.
But things were different now.
Camping under the open sky with Giorgio and Sam following us was too dangerous. They seem to be able to follow us, but it was impossible for us to detect them. Which meant that sleeping on open land made us vulnerable to attack.
Normally I wouldn't even worry about that. I could fight them off. And if bad turned worse, Elina's power alone was enough to annihilate everything and everyone.
I remembered Elina's reaction to Giorgio and Sam. The way she almost lost control of her magic, the way her eyes pulsed and hair changed. Exactly what a witch looked like when she was going to die and wanted to take her hunter with her.
A fight under such conditions would be bad. Fending off both Giorgio and Sam would be difficult for me. Worrying about Elina's seemingly volatile magic at the same time was impossible.
I looked around. We had passed several other travelers in the morning. With only three and a half days to Merkelborough, there should be plenty of inns in this area.
Elina moved behind me. I felt her eyes on my back. "What are you looking for?"
"Looking for an inn."
I felt her eyes sparkle behind me. Like two moons with stars.
"Ohh! An inn? Are you going you going to treat me to some good food?"
I felt like I had been treating her to good food throughout the entire trip. Not that I wanted to. She just went ahead and ordered and I had to pay. Especially at the King's Lodge in Larose. But I decided not to mention it. Because right now a satisfied Elina was better than a scheming one.
I said, "Yes. We will stay at an inn tonight."
She seemed happy. But I had my reasons.
If we slept inside a building, it would be harder for Giorgio and Sam to ambush us. They'd have a harder time sneaking in. The innkeeper would notice them. And in a two-on-one fight, tight corridors would be advantageous for me.
I glanced at Elina. The only wild card was her. And I couldn't let her face Giorgio and Sam. Lest her magic melts her.
In the early afternoon, we came across an inn. It was small, barely large enough, but that was good for me.
Elina said, "Isn't it too early to stop?"
She was right. It was too early. But there was no guarantee that we'd find another inn before nightfall. And being stuck on the road at night was too risky right now.
I stopped cart, tied up the horse and we went into the inn. It was as small as it looked on the outside. The innkeeper told us that there were three rooms and only one was available. Which made an easy choice.
Elina asked if there was food. The innkeeper said there was plenty of food. She skipped into the kitchen while I went upstairs to have a look at the room.
I opened the door and looked inside. No windows and only one way in — through the door. No surprise attacks possible. Good just the way I liked it.
Then I noticed that there was only one bed. Not the way I liked it.