Veron jackknifed up and forward so fast that he almost broke his nose on his own knee. For a long moment the only noise was the sharp edge of his jagged breath ricocheting in his ears. His sheets were coiled about his body, a great twisted serpent slick and sour with sweat.
He breathed a curse into the night and the melange of noises that never quieted broke in through the open window.
Veron had always been a light sleeper out of necessity, but it had become harder and harder to get through the night with these damnable dreams cast around his neck like an albatross. Doubly so here in Wu-Jian, where Veron felt so keenly the absence of a swaying deck beneath his feet, painful and strange like a new wound.
There was nothing for it, he thought miserably, the frantic heat in him quieting as adrenaline left him in a rush. He’d never get back to sleep now.
He carefully untangled himself and lit a candle in a little metal dish on the scuffed nightstand. Beside it was a green leather-bound journal with faintly yellowed pages, a long red feather standing at attention in a well of ink. Veron transcribed the details of the dream as faithfully as he was able, knowing that if he were to flip back a page the same words would peer up at him, and on and on for months now.
He dressed himself slowly, paying careful attention to detail and checking the line of his outfit thrice before finding it acceptable – a silk vest, charcoal dark with high-waist trousers to match, over a jewel-blue tunic. He’d been made fun of for his almost fanatic dedication to his appearance in the past, but it was as integral to his survival as breathing, as the familiar weight of Veris at his hip.
He gathered the whip in question, tucking it neatly into his belt, and shrugged his pack onto his shoulder. The watery light of early morning was barely filtering down through the endless haze of smoke and stirring dirt when Veron stepped into the hall, the rest of the inhabitants doubtlessly still tucked neatly into their beds. Veron gave a wistful sigh.
Ah, well, he thought, and strode onward. There was work to be done.