A tattooed hand rested quietly on the rock to her left as Varun joined her at the front. The mage looked up at the mountain-range that now loomed above them, a curious light to his eyes. “This does look like the area my regiment searched when I was here last.”
Anushkas voice was shriller than usual. “You never did say what you were looking for or if you found it.”
“We were ordered to keep it a secret.”
This did not seem to satisfy the Ardent woman. “You don’t exactly serve the 22nd Atonement anymore. Surely an order does not apply now, especially in this wild place.”
Varun still peered over the rock at the Cultists who had still not moved from their position. “The order came from Asalah Arca, so you will excuse me if I am reluctant to break that particular order.”
The name meant nothing to Zuzana, but the usually-confident Anushka sounded cowed. “The High Inquisitor. Excused.”
The period of calm that followed was almost more perilous to their chase than the days of walking. Exhausted from the march, the inactivity caused a few of them to fall asleep where they sat, to be quietly awoken by their tired comrades.
“We need actual rest, not this torturous waiting.” The Cultists still had not moved, while Zuzana had tried to move the group slightly closer.
Blagoje’s gravelly voice came from her right where he was sitting with his crossbow ready but unloaded. “They have stopped. We can sleep.”
“We don’t know why they stopped, so we don’t know when they are going to move on,” Zuzana sighed, “Too risky.”
Anushka quietly sat down to her left, her tattooed hand resting lightly on the tree they were sitting behind. “Then we sleep in shifts. Me and Varun are the least affected by the march, so we take first shift.”
“And Varun actually agreed to this?”
The Ardent woman nodded. “He suggested it, and I said I would propose the idea. He’s moved a little further ahead.”
Her mind fogged by exhaustion, Zuzana had not noticed the mage leaving their little troupe. After quickly scanning the surrounding treeline, trying in vain to locate him, she slowly rubbed her eyes. “That’s what we will do then. You and Varun first, then me and Blagoje, then our guest can take last shift with me. 3 hours per shift.”
The exhausted group did not even set up camp, but simply climbed into their bedrolls and immediately fell asleep. To Zuzana, it felt like she had barely lain down on the loamy ground before she was being shaken roughly awake by a tattooed hand.
“No change, the Cultists are still down on the plain.” Anushka flipped her own bedroll out onto the soil, looking ready to fall asleep the moment she closed her eyes.
Zuzana almost felt worse than when she had gone to sleep, but that would hopefully go away. A fire had been set by the Ardents, all big logs with no kindling that was now reduced to embers. A pot of something steaming was hanging over the embers, which she happily gulped down, pouring a cup for Blagoje as well. The big man grunted in thanks, then grabbed his crossbow and sat on a rock overlooking the Cultist regiment out beyond the treeline.