This was supposed to be their Sparrow? The saviour they’d been waiting for? The promised hero?
He watched as she pulled a hole-ridden rag of a blanket around herself, shivering as she nibbled on a small piece of bread. She was no hero. She was no saviour. She was barely more than a sewer rat.
He had arrived in Blackrock three weeks ago, and had observed her since. Cale had given him clear orders: Find the Sparrow, learn what you can, and return after one month. Interfere only if her life is in danger.
He scowled, remembering how serious Cale had been. Not one scratch was to be dealt to the Sparrow on his watch. Not one hair to be missing from her head.
Her feet were blistered and bleeding from the cold. She was dangerously thin, and her hair looked filthy. In fact, all of her looked filthy. Reeve didn’t think he had ever seen anyone as desperately in need of a hot bath and a good meal as her. Cale wanted her save, and without scratches? Reeve knew he was many years too late for that.
Reeve relaxed when she lay down and her breathing turned even. He had stayed inside the shadows since he had arrived in the small mining town, and had done his best to avoid her noticing him. Usually he would have been all too happy to intervene, and take her to their nearest safe house immediately, but Cale’s orders had been clear and he wasn’t one to disobey. He trusted Cale’s lead. It was this Rachael he didn’t trust.
When Cale had asked him to find her he had expected to find, well… Not a dirty street rat. He had read the prophecies surrounding her, had listened to Cale when he had told the Sparrows about her. Had listened in awe and hope when Cale had told them that she would change everything for the better. She was supposed to be their great leader. The one who would finally bring hope to the gifted.
Frustrated with his task, he sighed. Perhaps he was too harsh on her. She wasn’t what he had expected, but she was not defenceless, either. She was weak, and too thin, but she could look after herself. She stayed out of trouble, and never sought it. She only took what she needed to survive. She never begged openly, and she didn’t mingle with the other homeless children. That she was still alive at all was a good sign as well as a miracle. She was someone who was used to struggle, and endured. A survivor.
When he had arrived he had thought it strange that she kept to herself. There was safety in numbers, but he had soon learned that she wasn’t alone by choice. The villagers were scared – no, terrified of her. The other homeless kids stayed as clear of her as if she had the plague, and the other, wealthier villagers walked the other way when they saw her.
Reeve wasn’t that surprised. Blackrock was a tiny village on the border to Tramura. Superstitions were rich all over the country, but in places like these villagers believed in them unchallenged, almost religiously so. And superstitions about the gifted were especially ripe.
But someone gifted who had a talent for predicting who would die next, and how? He wasn’t surprised they avoided her like she was a starving wolf amongst rabbits.
Oddly enough, a little girl had also followed Rachael recently. Neither of them had noticed them, but he had followed her briefly, to find out what she wanted from the Sparrow. That girl was dangerous. With a fire dancing in her eyes as well as her palms he worried that Rachael wasn’t save around her. His month shadowing Rachael was nearly up, but he would contact Cale sooner if things got out of hand.
Rachael could defend herself against men twice her size, but she would burn like dried wood if the girl attacked her. Feeding his worries were whispers he had heard around town. The villagers were on their toes, and nervous. The White Guard was on many lips.
Maybe waiting for his month to be over was foolish. Maybe it would be best to alert Cale immediately.
He took his eyes off her, and disappeared down an alley. If he could find a good, strong horse he could get the news to Cale in under a week.
He couldn’t wait any more. It was time they acted.
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