I stopped for what felt like the hundredth time that day. Oh, I was a mess. My hair tie had fallen out. My face was covered in dirt. Exhausted. I was so exhausted.
I counted on my fingers. One...two...three days since I left. Could it really be only three days? It felt like so much longer. Mostly the past days had been occupied with running, faint sleep in trees, and trying to find something, anything to eat.
"Ali, how could you have been so stupid?" I mutter to myself. Besides my clothes and Lauren's ring, I hadn't brought anything in the way of supplies. I'd found a strip of cloth, and used that to tie back my hair, but that was it. The nights were bone-chilling cold, and I was hungry, so hungry.
Maybe I should just give up.
No. No. I had to keep going. Because the alternative was returning to the place where I had vowed to never return.
But if only I had some bread, or-
"Oh, ow, ow, ow," I whimpered. My ankle seared with pain. Besides that, my head was burning. How had I not noticed that before?
My boots were wet, I was freezing and starving. I probably had a fever and a twisted ankle too.
There was absolutely no way I could keep going.
So there I stayed. Sick and starving, unable to get up. It would be a piece of cake for anyone to come and bring me back to the palace.
Fine. Let them take me.
Resigned to my fate, I was just starting to drift off...
And then I heard a scream.