I swore softly.
"I won't hold you back," Tamar said again.
"Not unless this festers and you fall into a coma from fever," I said, biting back You fool before the words spilled out. "Besides, your blood will make an easy trail for anyone to follow."
"You can just leave me."
I rolled my eyes. I'd have to use some of the precious water to wash out the cut, but then what? Wrap her feet again in the linen? I poked my head tentatively out of our hollow and spotted a few plants with thick, tough leaves. I crawled out, ripped some of them up, and brought them back. Pouring water into my hand a drop at a time, I cleaned out Tamar's wound as well as I could, bandaged the injury with the cleanest fragment of s.h.i.+ft, then tied the tough leaves to her feet like sandals. She watched me work in silence.
"I don't know what we're going to do about your feet," I said, sitting back on my heels. "You really ought to have shoes, or at least sandals."
"Well, feel free to go knock on Sophos's door and ask for them," she said. "I'll wait here."
I shook my head. "Try to get some sleep."
Tamar pulled the shawl over her shoulders and closed her eyes, leaning her head against the packed dirt.
I closed my eyes, but I was too keyed up to sleep, and I think Tamar was as well. If we're found, I thought, maybe we can try to bribe the guard who finds us the way Alibek tried to bribe me. And then grab his knife and stab him in the back. That would solve all kinds of problems, if it worked.
We'd have his boots, his knife, and his clothes. He'd probably even have a horse. Tamar was small, so we could ride double on a horse, though there was the problem of water for the horse, and food... The guard would have extra water, too, and probably some food. And a sword! I found myself almost hoping we'd be found, though of course there was no guarantee that the guard would be tempted by the bribe. It would be foolish in the extreme for him to take us up on that sort of offer. Still, I found myself straining my ears through the afternoon with a mixture of fear and antic.i.p.ation.
Tamar stirred at dusk. I gave her a little more water and drank a little more myself.
"Are we going to walk through the night?" she asked.
"It's cooler," I said. "And the moon is almost full."
Before the last of the daylight vanished, I went for a quick walk, alert for the sound of hoofbeats, looking for something, anything, with some sort of edge, or even just a point. An animal's tooth. A sharp rock.
Anything. After hunting for a while, I found a rock that had cracked in half, leaving a sharp edge, and a weathered stick that with a few minutes of effort I could sharpen to a point. I slipped off my trousers and managed to drive the pointed stick through the thick black cloth. Then I held the edge on the ground against the cloth with one foot
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