The ill-fitting shoes on Zahra's feet were rubbing blisters into her heels.
"I must've been spoiled and pampered while at the castle," Zahra inwardly fumed, though there was nobody in particular at whom her anger was directed. "I've never felt this exhausted after only a short while of traveling."
Realizing she was babbling, Zahra stopped short and glanced around herself. She desperately hoped that no guards were around to hear her.
If the guards said anything to the Prince about Zahra's nearly incoherent ramblings to herself, what would he think of her?
It doesn't matter what the Prince thinks of me!
The road to Cor was a winding one, though it wouldn't take much time at all, compared to most of the other places to which Zahra had traveled on foot. In fact, she knew a shortcut that she doubted anyone else knew. If it wasn't so accursedly dark, then she would feel more comfortable taking the shortcut, but...
Was it safe?
Zahra stopped in her tracks and studied her surroundings. She knew that the quickest way to get to Cor was through the forests, but what if the rumors about bandits lurking in the forests were true? I guess that's the chance I'll have to take.
Resolving within herself to stand strong in the face of potential peril, Zahra headed into the forests, her skin crawling with dread. It was nighttime, and the road was uncertain in the dark.
But I've got to get to my family - if I don't, then who will? This thought alone propelled Zahra through the foliage.
Zahra had fastened Alexander's leather bag to her belt, and with every step she took, she felt the gift bounce against her thigh - a constant reminder of what she was leaving behind. She wondered how Adrian was faring. She was afraid to find out. Perhaps it was a good thing that she was leaving the castle while she yet could...
A twig snapped behind Zahra. Whirling around, Zahra opened her mouth to scream, but blackness overcame her before any sound could leave her throat.