This is a preview to the chapter Chapter 4 from the book The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe.
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Muhjah and Senka were true to their word in not sending her away, but keeping up proved to be problematic. They seemed tireless, and neither the darkness, nor the uneven terrain slowed them down. They wanted to put as much distance as possible between the border, themselves, and the men Askil would send. By the time day began to break, Chiyo was reaching her limit. She was exhausted, sore, bruised, scraped, and utterly disoriented.
Muhjah’s stopping announced the much-needed rest. Senka immediately started a small fire and, seemingly by magic, produced a small, handleless twelve-ounce pot. Muhjah, in turn, dug two small nesting cups from his deep pockets. Chiyo thought it epitomized what she had seen of them so far, each carrying half of the needed utensils and thinking nothing of combining them for use.
Chiyo collapsed by the fire and fell asleep almost immediately. She fought it as long as she could because she didn’t want to appear weak and defenseless. Plus, she wasn’t altogether certain that they wouldn’t kill her in her sleep. It wouldn’t have made much sense to bring her along if that was their plan. It had occurred to her too late that there might have been other, less savory reasons to bring a woman along. But sleep overtook her, and she didn’t even have the strength to hope she would awaken unharmed.
Four hours later Muhjah roughly shook her. She was confused, wondering where she was for a moment before it all came crashing back in on her. Chiyo assumed the two men had slept as well, but Muhjah looked neither disheveled from sleep, nor tired from the lack of it. He handed her his cup and invited her to drink. The tea was dark and bitter, but gratifyingly the caffeine coursed through her like lightning. Muhjah returned to the small fire he had rebuilt, feeding it kindling.
“Drink up. Then go do whatever you need to do. We’ll move on as soon as we’ve eaten. Senka’s out hunting. He likes the challenge, and he’s better with small knives than I am anyway.”
“Senka, huh? It matches him, that name. Somehow soft and sharp at the same time.”
“I wouldn’t let him hear you say that. Before he gets back, we should do a little bit about your zanshin. Otherwise he might kill you rather than suffer its insult again.”
She looked at him without understanding.
“Your sloppy form and lack of awareness,” he explained.
“Okay,” she responded weakly and then went behind a bush to pee. Muhjah was waiting to begin by the time she returned.
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