I lowered my eyes. He came back for me. Its all my fault.
You cant save him if youre dead, he said roughly. But I wont make you come with me. This is your choice.He jumped down through the hole, and I looked back, as if I could somehow still see Ridley. I realized painfully that if Helge was going to kill Ridley, he would already be dead. Helge wouldve snapped his neck the second we walked away so he could go round up more of his guards.
It was either already too late, or I needed to get out of here if I wanted to come back with a rescue team. I closed the outhouse door, making it a bit more difficult for the guards to figure out where wed gone, and I jumped down after Konstantin and ran after him through the sewers.By the time we made it back to our camp, the snow was coming fast and heavy, creating whiteout conditions. The wind had picked up, officially turning it into a late-spring blizzard. They were rare for Doldastam, but not unheard-of, and it started to feel like even the weather was against us.My mom was waiting at the bottom of the hill for us to return. Finn and the families had arrived at camp before Konstantin, Baltsar, and I, even though wed run most of the way back. I didnt know if Konstantins leg was still bothering him, but he pushed himself on it just as fast as Baltsar and I.
Mom hugged me as soon as she saw me. But I just stood stiffly and didnt embrace her in return. Through the thick snowflakes, I saw Konstantin and Baltsar heading toward the Kings tent, so I untangled myself from my mom and ran after them.If it keeps up like this, the men wont be able to see any of us commanding them, Ludlow was telling Mikko when I pushed my way into his tent. Snow came up behind me, forming a drift in his doorway.
Mikko stood on the opposite side of the table while his advisers, Finn and Ludlow, stood across from him. Baltsar moved up to take his place beside Ludlow, while Konstantin lingered by the entrance.
As much as it pains me to say so, I agree, Finn said. We should wait until the storm dies to make our move. We cant properly give orders or create a formation if we cant see anything.When we got back into the transport together after one of our stops, he put his hand on my leg, gently squeezing when we hit a large bump, and there was something more comforting in that than anything he couldve said.
By nightfall, wed made it about two-thirds of the way through our journey, and we stopped to camp out. Driving off-road during the day was difficult enough as it was, and we all needed a chance to rest before we arrived at Doldastam. Wed known that wed have to camp out, so wed packed well for it.It was in the low twenties, which made for a very chilly campout, so we hurried to set up our tents. A girl from the Trylle had asked to share a tent with me, and Id obliged. Other soldiers had gotten fires going, but we set up our tent near the outskirt of the campsite, since Id rather get sleep than stay up all night talking around a fire.
While she finished setting up the tent—a small white one, made of thick canvas that helped to keep the cold out and the heat in—I went back to the trucks to get thick animals hides to keep out the iciness of the ground.When I went over to the truck, Ridley was already there, working beside Finn, helping to pass out hides and sleeping bags. Five others were already in line, waiting for their sleeping gear, and as I joined them, Ridley looked up at me, the dim lights from a nearby fire playing off the darkness in his eyes.