I crept up to Kip's tent and rapped on the wall to see if he was awake. No response. With much hesitance, I moved to the entrance of his tent and pulled back a flap. He was sleeping deeply, his long, deep breaths filling the air with moisture. I carefully inched toward him, but in the darkness of night and untidiness of his floor, I struggled to find my footing. I tripped and caught myself, loudly. Looking up, I saw him half sit up; his face was startled and his eyes suddenly went wide, but remained beneath their translucent lids. He was still asleep.
"Hey, you're awa-"
"You're not .. go away." He stammered, still dreaming. The dark made it so we couldn't see each other so I had to use something else to wake him. I reached in my bag for a torch rock, and had almost pulled it out when he shouted again, "get out!". I caught a glimpse of his wide eyes in the light from the open flap as he jumped out of his bed and lunged at me. I tried to dodge but the tent was too narrow and he knocked me back outside. I felt a strong grasp at my left ankle, and I struggled to free myself, but he only clutched harder. He was clearly awake now and not at all himself.
"Kip, it's me," I pleaded
"You can't fool me with her voice. Who are you?!"
I reached for my torch rock again, and this time my fingers clutched it, just in time for him to pin my wrist and back.
"Who are you?" He demanded. I was speechless, my face against the soil and my arm lodged against his.
Trembling, I spoke what I could between breaths.
He paused quietly but held his grip. I felt him take my other hand and he pulled my wrists together, binding them with the same one-handed grip. He used the other to check me for weapons and found my dagger. It clung to my hip as a child as he fumbled with the scabbard until it was finally wrested from its sheath with a quiet cry of metallic glass. A shot of adrenaline filled my abdomen, making me struggle my hardest. He hesitated, and then quickly moved his arm around my torso with the dagger to my neck and his other hand still holding mine behind my back.
He said "get up" in his gravest voice and I carefully moved with the knife. Once we had stood, he rotated me to the left and we proceeded to walk silently in-step toward an outcropping with brighter light. We stopped in the center and he removed the blade from my neck.
"Who sent you?" He continued his interrogation.
"I came here on my own."
"Someone is paying you"
"What? No one is-," I blurted out but broke down.
With a big push, he released me and pushed me to a safe distance away. I stumbled but didn't dare move. The soft lowlight of the artificial night showered the tree branches and leaves with pale blue. I suddenly felt infinitesimal and numb: a speck about to vanish in a place so far from home.
"Turn around," he commanded me. I took a moment to compose myself and then did as he commanded.
"Kip. I came here on my own."
He recognized me but still had to check he wasn't hallucinating in the lowlight. He approached me with dagger in hand while rummaging in his pocket for a torch rock. He held the rock up to illuminate me and I saw his face turn from apprehension to relief to sadness. He dropped the dagger and embraced me as I released my body into his arms.
"Lif... I'm so sorry."
All I could let out was a short moan-sigh but I felt that was enough.