This week, I have a scene from Pathway of the Moon’s most recent chapter. I’ve got ten chapters to go in this monolith of a book! Super excited to have the end in sight. This has been my most rigorous project yet, and the sequel promises to be even more complex in its plot and the execution of that plot. Lots of threads are going to be woven into the story’s tapestry, and it’ll be interesting to pull them all together as things continue on through the story. Hopefully I have the skill to pull it off. But only time will tell!

~~~

ALRIAN and Brennan stared down at the blackened, charred path through the grain field. She couldn’t believe the amount of destruction this one creature was capable of. Of course, they had some destructive animals on Alcardia, but most of them were shy or reclusive, and they rarely caused much trouble even if they were capable of it.

Brennan put his hands on her hips with a groan. “This thing is certainly determined to leave a trail behind it.”

“It’s almost as if the creature wants us to find it.” Alrian leaned back into his chest. “Do you think it hurt any villagers this time?”

He raised an arm and pointed to the village nestled in all of the fields. “I don’t think so. The village is still in one piece, and it shows all the usual signs of life.”

She watched the smoke trail up from chimneys and nodded. Her Bond was probably right. He usually was. She craned her neck to look up at him. “You know, I’m very glad I don’t have to track this thing alone.”

“You would find it just fine on your own, especially if this thing were to continue leaving a trail this conspicuous.”

She turned her gaze back to the charred path through the fields with a sigh. “Why would it leave such an obvious path, Brennan? What do you think it wants?”

“No way of knowing.” He ran his fingers through her hair and turned her to face him. “But I think we’re going to find out. Together, as usual.”

She grinned. “Yes, yes, we are. That thing is going to wish it never stepped through that Pathway.”

“Don’t be hasty, love. Besides terrifying some villagers and terrorizing the local livestock population, it hasn’t actually hurt anything.”

“You’re forgetting the field.”

He snorted. “It didn’t burn the whole thing down. Just a small portion of it. Doesn’t really count.”

She smacked his shoulder. “Brennan! That’s someone’s livelihood.”

“You’re right, you’re right.” He raised his hands in mock surrender. “Don’t hurt me over it!” 

“Well, alright. This once, I’ll let it go, Captain.” She grinned up at him, not wanting to miss a chance to give him a hard time now that he was running the Imperial Knights.

He dipped his head until his lips almost brushed hers. Almost. But he didn’t close the last little bit of distance, the tease. She whined, but he only laughed. “Isn’t it High Imperial Knight now?”

“Why, sir, I didn’t know you were such a stickler for formality.” She smirked, her hands inching up his back to rest against his shoulders. She had to stand on her toes to reach, but he put his hands on her waist and steadied her, making the task easier.

“You’re the one who’s using formalities and titles.” His breath fanned over her face, and a shiver slipped down her spine. “Although, I’m not objecting.”

She bit her lip and lowered her gaze. “So, you’d accept any nickname I came up with, husband?”

“It would depend. But I haven’t heard one I didn’t like yet.” He finally dipped his head and claimed her lips for a breathless moment. “And I don’t think I will. Not if you give it with affection.”

She tried to hold back her smile and her laughter, but in the end it bubbled out. She dropped back to a flat-footed position and rested her forehead against his chest. Brennan always knew just what to say. He was always there, supporting and listening. He’d even kept her secret for her when he could’ve chosen to turn her in. After finding out she’d lied to him, he would’ve had every right. But instead, he’d loved her as much as her false identity allowed and kept the rest of his love to himself. Until now. She wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged him tight. “Thank you.”

He held her close too. “For what?”

“For caring.” She lifted her head. “For being you. For everything you do for me.”

He stroked her cheek with one large hand. “Anything for you, my love. Now, let’s get going. We have a creature to catch, and it isn’t waiting around. The sooner we catch it, the sooner we get to return to a warm bed and something besides hard tack.”

She pulled away and flipped her braid over her shoulder. “You love hard tack. It’s the best on-the-road food there is. Your words, not mine.”

He groaned. “I never said that. And why would you think I love hard tack?”

“You always ate my share and yours in our army days.”

“Only because you gave it to me. I was doing you a service.”

“A service?”

“The sergeant used to check up on everyone to make sure they ate their share. Do you know how many men got in trouble for not sticking to ration or for wasting their ration? I risked a good caning for you.”

“How come he never checked my share?”

Brennan gave her a sheepish grin. “Well, I may have told him I was taking your portion when you weren’t hungry.”

“You told Sergeant Croops that?” She stopped and stared at him.

“Yes.”

“And he didn’t turn your back black and blue?”

“No. But he told me if I didn’t finish both portions, I’d get two canings for taking an extra share and wasting it.”

“I can’t believe you did that!” She shook her head with a laugh. “So you didn’t really like hard tack?”

“No. I hated the stuff, to be honest.”

She chortled, wiping tears from her eyes. “I never knew.”

“Don’t laugh about my pain, woman! That was three years of misery while we were deployed out in the middle of nowhere.”

She dropped back to walk beside him, leaning into his side with a smile. “I won’t, I won’t. Thank you for eating double your share to save me from Sergeant Croops’ wrath.”

“You’re welcome. Glad to know you appreciate it. Later, you’d better show me just how much you appreciate it too. A massage and a hot meal sound nice.”

Her lips curved up in a smile. When they got to a village that had an inn to stay in for the night, she’d make sure they acquired a hot meal and the nicest bed she could find. And she’d pay for it out of her salary. If he wanted that and a massage, he’d have it. It was the least she could do for him. He’d given her so much, and she wanted him to know how much that meant. “You’ve got it.”

~~~

That’s it for this week’s WIP Wednesday. What are you guys working on? Feel free to share in the comments!

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