Tamar had grabbed my shoulders; I wrenched away from her in the dark, my heart pounding. Around me, I could hear the harsh breath of rudely wakened women; without a word, I picked up my mat and blankets and moved outside, lying down by the fire, where I'd dreamed of seeing Kyros. Tamar settled down beside me a few minutes later.
"You don't have to come out here," I said. " You're not the one who just woke everyone up."
"No," she said.
s.h.i.+vering a little in the cold night wind, I looked up at the stars, thinking about the dream. In retrospect, of course, it should have been obvious from the beginning that I was dreaming; what would I have been doing simply sitting out by the fire, alone? Still, I found myself weirdly relieved that Tamar was with me now, as if her presence would keep Kyros from materializing. He could have a djinn bring him here, I thought. But there would be no sense to it. It could horribly compromise my cover, not to mention risking his life. It occurred to me as I drifted on the edge of sleep that I shouldn't feel relief that Tamar's presence would keep Kyros away, but disappointment. It's because I know how dangerous his presence would be to our plans, I rea.s.sured myself.
I heard a footstep and sat bolt upright; it was only Zhanna, coming out of the yurt, wrapped in her own blanket. "Are you two warm enough?" she asked.
"I'm fine," Tamar muttered from under her blanket, which she'd pulled over her head.
"You can come back in the yurt, you know. No one's annoyed with you except Ruan."
"It's nice of you to say so," I said.
"No, really." Zhanna sat down beside me, wrapped in her own blanket. "I mean, so sometimes you have nightmares. Ruan snores like a geriatric dog, especially when she's been drinking. I've been told that I snore, too, though not quite as loudly. Saken scratches in her sleep. Erdene whistles."
"You're making that up," Tamar muttered.
"No, really. Not every night, but she does it. And she talks in her sleep. Once Jolay led her through a whole bizarre conversation-'The lentils, they're coming.' 'Oh? And are they bringing the rice?' 'Oh, Prometheus, the rice! It's dressed in its finery...'uwhile the rest of us listened. And laughed. Eventually Erdene woke up, though she didn't remember a word she'd said."
"I'll sleep out here tonight," I said.
"Suit yourself." Zhanna dropped her blanket on me. "Stay warm. I'm going back in the yurt."
I spread out the extra blanket over both me and Tamar, who curled up warm at my side. After a few minutes, I stopped s.h.i.+vering and went back to sleep.
I woke again, with a start, what felt like bare moments later. From the edge of camp, I heard a sharply indrawn breath, and a woman's voice shout, " Raiders!"
I scrambled to my feet, throwing my blanket aside, and ran back into the yurt, where I'd left the sword I'd taken from the bandit camp. I was nearly knocked down by Saken, ru
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