If there was one thing Ez was good at, it was drinking. She knew her limit and could pace herself so that she maintained a general state of calm without feeling too incapacitated. She didn’t always follow these guidelines, but here in unchartered territory--at least for her--she wasn’t going to drink herself into oblivion. The alcohol was allowing her to keep her head, the anger still fuming within her at both herself and the now dead rulers of Endver. The situation had her hackles raised. If she had not insisted on going into her birthplace to trade...if the two men had not drugged them and then taken Jackal prisoner...if she could have avoided atonement...lots of ifs, and it all boiled down to her making a score of bad decisions. Her lover’s blindness was on her shoulders..she had used his ‘other’ self to turn the tide in their favor for the uprising. It was unforgivable, and Jackal’s coldness towards her was her penance. She would endure, and wait for him to accept her again….if he could.
Taking a deep breath, the scavver flexed her left hand, working out the stiffness it suffered from daily. The scar in the center of her palm was still tender, her use limited to basic function. She wore fingerless gloves now, the leather uppers covering the scars she had received at the hands of Aidan and Theo. She also wore her typically restrained hair down, allowing the long strands to hang over the side of her face. Another attempt to hide her punishment for past sins. These physical flaws she accepted as she did her others...reluctantly, but with grace.
Looking over the camp, Ez finally let her gaze fall on Jack as he set up his site. She had not bothered to set up her own...her plans for the night having nothing to do with sleep. She watched the way he moved and felt his discomfort keenly. He would need to be tended to and her daughter was the best caregiver they had at present. Despite the fact she was aware of Deck and Sammy’s disapproval of the way things were being handled...their quick glances enough to draw suspicion...she pulled back her shoulders and made her way over to her daughter. It was time to set the record straight as to who was in charge.
“Sam?” she said, drawing the girl’s attention away from setting up her tent beside Matches. “I need you to prepare that tea for Jackal, and help him change out his bandages...see if there is anything else he needs.”
Samantha let out a sigh and nodded, her blue eyes looking over the older woman skeptically. “Okay...mom. Deck is putting on the water now...I’ll get it prepared as soon as it is hot. I’m almost finished here.”
It was Ezra’s turn to nod. “Good.” Well, that was easy enough. Brushing her hair behind her ear, she chewed her lower lip then huffed out a breath. Next up… “I also need you to inform Deck that you and he have first watch tonight. I’ll take over from there..work out the schedule as I go along. You can take the rest of the night to get some sleep. We’ll ride a little harder tomorrow and I need the two of you at your best. This territory is fresh and I don’t know what to expect.”
“I’ll let him know...but are you sure? Maybe you should be resting? You look awful tired mom, and I’m sure Deck and I…”
“That’s the plan Sammy,” Ez interrupted. “Pass it along. I’m going to scout out the area a bit more, but will be back in a few hours.”
Not waiting for her daughter’s response, the scavver went back to her mount and grabbed up the reins. She walked the horse around the outer perimeter, pausing briefly when she was abreast of Jackal’s camp. Clicking her tongue, she grabbed the horn of Clove’s saddle and pulled herself up, her heels digging into the beast’s side as she steered him away from the hilltop and its nighttime occupants.