She felt all her muscles relax, to the point where she thought she was going to fall because she couldn’t tense her legs enough.
Storm noticed and put a supporting arm around her waist.
“What...?” Beth asked, unable to make her tongue work correctly.
“It’s releases a chemical, around this time of the year. It affects some people a lot more than others, sorry. You know, this flower is often ground up to make aphrodisiacs.”
She noticed Storm’s cheeky grin. She gathered just enough strength to raise an eyebrow at him. He laughed quietly.
“How long will it last? Depends. Though, looking at the rate at which you’ve relaxed, it will take a couple of hours probably. There are no long-term effects so you’ll be fine.”
She tried to mumble something sarcastic in response, though failed.
“Are you satisfied that you’ve seen my home now?” he asked, smiling slightly.
She nodded weakly.
“Back to Altsina, I think, then.”
Beth managed to shake her head vigorously.
“Isabella,” she mumbled.
“Ibby? What’s she done now? No, never mind, it’s none of my business.”
Beth felt Storm draw her to him using the arm he had around her waist. He led her over to the Sarmiine that was standing patiently. Thail lay down, exhaling a gentle stream of flame. Storm moved Beth until she felt scales against her back and shoulders. She let her head fall back onto Thail’s spine.
Storm sat beside her, though away from the creature. She watched him pull out the little box from his pocket again. He opened it and plucked out a cigarette paper. He opened it out silently and began tearing the leaves from their stems on the plant he’d picked.
He was cutting the leaves into very thin strips and then cutting the strips until he had lots of tiny squares. He placed the cut-up leaves onto the paper he’d readied on his knee. He spread them out in a line down the centre of the paper. When he was finished, he picked it up and rolled it before dragging the end along his tongue and securing it in place.
He turned the now finished cigarette over and over between his fingers, staring at the ground silently. He picked up his blade and pushed it into the soil as he lit his cigarette and placed it between his lips.
After a moment of listening only to the faint noises of the forest, Beth focused on the faint blue glow of the dagger. She reached out to touch it, but Storm’s hand shot over, grabbing her wrist.
“Don’t touch,” he said firmly. He released her from his grasp and pulled the weapon out of the soil, wiping it on a patch of damp grass and putting it away.
“People who touch my blades die,” he said simply, his cigarette in the corner of his mouth.
She wasn’t sure what he meant, though didn’t have the strength to question him.
They continued in silence. He occasionally pointed out a passing animal but otherwise said nothing. After a while, he made another cigarette using what was left of the leaves, lighting that one too.