This is a preview to the chapter Chapter 8 from the book The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe.
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Back at the campsite, Muhjah and Senka awoke and found her place by the fire empty. Muhjah groaned. It wasn’t unusual. They were pretty used to her morning constitutionals, but he still didn’t like it.
“I heard her leave about an hour ago.” Senka said without opening his eyes.
“You didn’t go after her?”
Senka shook his head and stretched his lean frame to its full length. He pressed the bulging thenar of his left hand dully into the sunken recesses of his eyes before sitting up. He looked tired and drawn. Muhjah could tell that staying behind had required a tour de force that was taking its toll.
“She doesn’t want me to,” he said.
Muhjah raised an unseen eyebrow and stoked the fire back into life. Hunger usually drove her back by breakfast, and there was no better way to pass the time than with tea. Senka joined him glumly. They ate a sparse meal, waited for her, and, when she didn’t return, started searching in an irritated huff, but annoyance turned to concern when they found no evidence of her.
“I’m not liking this at all,” Muhjah growled. “There should be something.”
He was kneeling in the road and looking at what might have been fresh tracks, evidence that the road had been undisturbed for some days, or mere wishful thinking. He was looking at nothing that helped them, and said so.
Senka agreed. He rolled a pebble thoughtfully underfoot and asked, “You think it’s finally found her?”
Muhjah understood his meaning. Chiyo’s recent behavior invited disaster. She was angry—at them, at her situation in general, and her inability to change it. She took it out on them. He had to respect her tenacity and congratulate himself for his patience, but it was approaching its limit.
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