SleeplessMature

I was feeling restless that night. I didn't sleep much, afraid I'd walk in my sleep again. Unfortunately, late during the night, Cian woke up and noticed I was still awake, poking at the fire.

"What are you doing?" he mumbled, yawning.

"Stoking the fire," I whispered.

"You should be sleeping," he said. I just shrugged, wrapping the blanket tighter. "Worried you'll sleep walk again?"

"I thought you couldn't read my mind."

"I can't but it's not hard to put it together.

I shook my head. "Unless you can find a way to tie me down, I'll sleep on the horse."

He sighed and muttered something I didn't catch. I'm sure it was just him grumbling about me being a human again. Suddenly, he was behind me with his arms around me. I froze.

"Don't get any ideas," he grumbled, making me lie down on my side. "I just know women who don't sleep get crabby."

"I don't-"

"You're not going to get out of my arms, don't worry."

"O-Okay," I whispered and closed my eyes.

-

"Just shut up," Cian hissed. "It was so she wouldn't run off again."

"Sure it was," I heard Dany snicker.

"Just get the horses ready."

I yawned and, the second my eyes opened, Cian removed his arms from me I stretched.

"You were talking in your sleep again," Cian told me. "Something about a lake and a grey creature."

I frowned. "A grey creature?" I asked and he nodded, leading me to Ashling. I didn't even need to prompt him, he helped me up. "The only grey creature I've seen is a rat."

He shrugged and mounted his own horse.

"What's that horse's name?" I asked.

"He doesn't have one," he answered and we all set off.

"Why not?"

"He's just a palace horse. We only ever use him for things like this or to pull our carriage."

"Really? I'd think you'd have your own horse."

"I do."

"Then why aren't you riding it?"

He kept his eyes forward. "Because you are."

I looked down at Ashling. "She's yours?"

He didn't answer and I felt myself turn pink.

"Today is the last day of our journey," he said, loud enough for everyone to hear. "We will rest again on the outskirts of the village. When we go in tomorrow morning, Viveka, don't you dare wander off on your own."

I rolled my eyes. "I'm a big girl, Cian."

He stopped his horse and stared at me with an intense glare.

"I'm serious, Viveka," he said firmly. "If you want to go down a street or in a house, do not go alone."

"All right," I said. "Jeez."

He turned the horse back around and continued.

"We'll investigate the village for these beings the woman saw for three days. Each night, we will rest outside the village. I don't want to sleep in it."

"What if the beings only come out at night?" I asked.

"She saw them during the day," he answered. "I'm assuming it doesn't matter one way or another."

"Do we have any kind of protection other than our swords?" Abel asked.

"No," he said and I pulled to a stop.

"Cian, I don't have a sword," I said in a high voice.

"Which is why you're to stay with one of us," he said.

"Oh. Right."

None of us spoke for the rest of the trip. We were all nervous, thinking about the village. For some reason, I was getting a terrible feeling about it. The sun was going down which meant we must be close and-

I pulled Ashling to the side of the forest road and slid off.

"Viveka?" Daray asked.

I bent over and threw up into the trees several times. The men jumped off their horses to make sure I was okay.

"What is it?" Clemente asked.

I held my hand up as another wave of vomit came out of my mouth. I was shaking and nearly fell over but Cian caught me.

"Are you ill?" Dany asked.

"I-I don't know," I panted, accepting the water to rinse my mouth out. I looked over Cian's shoulder. "There's something in that village. You're right. It's something...."

"Dark," Cian finished. "Are you able to get back on Ashling?"

"I think so," I nodded.

Instead of just boosting me, he grabbed my hips and lifted me onto her. I was too preoccupied by what I was feeling to notice, though. Cian led the way and, to our right, the village came into view. We pulled up beside it and stared.

It looked like a graveyard. Some buildings were still standing, albeit missing the roofs. There were large piles of rubble and ruins. The village must have been beautiful before it was burned to the ground. Even the trees around it never grew back. It still smelled of smoke even though it happened so may years ago. Fog lingered a foot off the ground.

"There isn't fog anywhere else," Brone whispered.

"We'll camp here," Cian whispered.

We moved quietly. I felt like we were being watched and stopped every so often. None of the others seemed to notice it, though. Cian stood beside me as I frowned at the village.

"Come on," he said, putting a hand on my back to direct me to the camp. "You need to sleep. You look awful."

I rolled my eyes. "Thanks; you're sweet."

I sat by the fire but rejected the food Brone made.

"Eat it," Cian said. "You threw up way too much to not eat anything."

They were all looking at me in concern.

"I probably just caught a cold from being in that stream," I said.

They didn't look convinced and I sighed, eating the slab of meat and the vegetables Brone gave me. When I was done, I wrapped my blanket around me and stared at the fire. I heard Cian sigh.

"Not again," he grumbled. "Are you going to make me do this again?"

"I'm not making you do anything," I snapped.

The men were all asleep.

"Something's wrong with you, Viveka," he said softly. "I'm not joking. You have to sleep."

"It's too creepy," I mumbled.

He put his arms around me from behind again and pushed me on my side.

"I can help you sleep," he whispered.

"How? You can't even read my mind."

"Look at me." I turned in his arms and met his eyes. They seemed to swirl. "Go to sleep, Viveka."

"I'm afraid," I whispered. "The nightmares."

"Go to sleep," he repeated, his voice echoing.

"I don't want to," I slurred.

"Sleep, you little minx," he whispered and my eyes closed on their own.

The End

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