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westcorphotels > Dead Rivers - Freedom\'s Gate > Part 8
I shook my head. "We're too close to the Greeks. It can't be the Alas.h.i.+ yet. Come on, we need to find a good place to hide today."

"If it's not the Alas.h.i.+, who is it?"

"Bandits, maybe."

"But-"

"The Greeks call the Alas.h.i.+ bandits, but there are real bandits as well. Most are former soldiers who mutinied and fled into the desert." I thought of the outpost of Arachne wors.h.i.+ppers who had tried to kill me to keep me from learning their secret. "These are real bandits, not Alas.h.i.+. I know what I'm talking about."

"How can you be sure without at least looking at them?" Tamar mumbled, falling into step behind me as I turned away from the smoke and picked up our pace.

"I told you, we're too close to the Greeks. Speak softly. Someone might be out hunting, and there's no sense in attracting attention."

We found a cave this time-a very small cave, but it would give us shelter and conceal us thoroughly. I squeezed in first, and Tamar slid in next to me. I split the last of the bread with Tamar and broke off a small piece of the cheese. Then I pa.s.sed her a waterskin. "Two swallows," I said. She drank her water in two big gulps, then reluctantly put the stopper back in.

"There has to be water near here," she said.

"Yeah, but the bandits are probably camped right by it," I said.

"I'm thirsty."

"I'm thirsty, too."

"I want to drink more of our water now. I'm carrying my share, why do you get to be the one who decides when I drink?"

"YouuFine." There were six waterskins still full; I handed three of them to her. "Ration your own water, then. But don't come crying to me if you run out."

Glaring at me, she unstoppered the waterskin and took another two gulps, then put the waterskin down. I ignored her as well as I could, drank as little of my own water as I could stand, and put it away. "We should trade off watches," I said. "In case we're found."

Tamar nodded. "I'll go first," she said. "You go to sleep."

"Wake me at around noon," I said, and laid my head down on my pack to sleep.

When I woke, it was well past noon. I sat up, rubbing my neck, which was stiff and sore from the way I'd slept. It was late afternoon, I realized, not long until dusk. Tamar was nowhere to be seen. But I was not alone in the hollow.

There was a s.h.i.+mmer in the doorway, like hovering raindrops, or a wisp of fog in the sun. "Kyros sent me," the aeriko said.

I squinted at the aeriko as it s.h.i.+fted in the air. "Kyros? Why now? We left Sophos's days ago."

"Kyros said to wait until you were alone."

I nodded, recognizing the sense of that. "What is the message?"

The aeriko s.h.i.+fted again, and its voice fell an octave, in a rough approximation of Kyros's voice. "Lauria, Sophos told me that one of his slave girls escaped the same night you left. I've told him that if you brought her with you, you had a good reason. However, this could cause you to run short on water. I've sent thi

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