I had let Kara slow to a walk; I didn't think anyone was chasing me, at least not yet. I felt lost, bereft. I couldn't return to the Alas.h.i.+. I wouldn't return to Kyros. It's over. And I'm alone.
What was I going to do?
Well, I could find some overland merchants like the two who'd stopped by the sisterhood camp, and see if I could get hired as a guard. Or perhaps I could make my way to Penelopeia-Janiya had mentioned the guardswomen kept by the Sisterhood of Weavers. Surely they could make use of me. As Kyros made use of me. Though the Sisterhood had sold Janiya into slavery as punishment for a crime she hadn't committed. Not people I felt I could trust. Just as well. I trusted Kyros, and see where that got me...
I found myself thinking of Alibek. My little straying bird. As lonely and frightened as I was, I didn'tu couldn't-begrudge Alibek his freedom. He deserves to be one of the Alas.h.i.+. As much as Tamar, or Kuan, or Janiya, and more than me. He had taken his freedom, and when it was taken back from him, he took it again. I thought again of that day I'd hunted him down, and the offer he'd made: Come with me. We'll tell them you were a slave, too. I couldn't quite wish I'd taken him up on that, though, as I'd never have met Tamar.
Tamar. What if she was tarred by the story Alibek would tell about me? Surely, surely he would tell them that he'd never seen her before, and they would piece together the story and realize what had happened. And that Tamar was innocent, deserving of their protection.
I had returned five slaves in addition to Alibek to Kyros. And where are they now? Kyros had sold at least some of them. One was a slave in a mine now. I vaguely remembered hearing where the others had been sold-one to a large farm deep in Penelopeian territory, one to a man somewhere else in Elpisia, another down to someone in Daphnia. I'd heard rumors, each time, and listened with half an ear, wanting to know and yet not wanting to know. Kyros must have sold Alibek, or he'd have sent a djinn to warn me when Alibek escaped. Unless he'd already decided I had turned against him, and didn't care whether I lived or died. But that's not like him. Even if he knew I'd betrayed him, he'd have some clever idea about twisting my arm, as he tried to do with that last djinn.
What if they didn't believe that Tamar wasn't also a spy?
She deserves her freedom. They can't cast her out. What if they hurt her? What if they executed her, thinking that she was a spy like me? I felt sick, staring at the horizon. If anyone deserves that, it's me, not Tamar.
Before I could change my mind, Kara and I headed back to the clan's camp.
I rode back in with my bow unstrung and my sword tied into its scabbard, to show that I wasn't coming back to threaten them. Not that I could threaten them without the Greek army at my back, but I thought the gestures
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