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Alanna the Lioness, of Pirate's Swoop and Olau, jumped out of bed.
She didn't look back, just raced out of the open door at an extraordinary
pace for a woman of her age.
It was a great year to be alive in Tortall, and today was no exception.
The lady knight felt lighter than air as she passed nobles and servants on
the way to Jon's study room.
Puzzled, she slowed to a halt. No one had asked how she was, or if she would
like any breakfast,
as they usually did. Come to think of it, where was George?
She reached Jon's door, when it opened.
A servant, followed by a distraught Jon, walked straight past her without
even noticing her.
He didn't even hear when she called his name. Men, she thought, exasperated.
Alanna decided to follow her king, to see what had shocked him.
Her violet eyes widened-he was heading for her room!
Her first instinct was that something had happened to George.
She picked her pace up, without seeming to go any faster.
Finally, her room was reached.
Walking through the door, she stifled a gasp.
People, people with incense and prayer books, filled the room.
Instantly she was reminded of the Sweating Sickness.
"Get out," she whispered.
Raising her voice, she tried again.
No reaction came. Tapping politely on the shoulder didn't work either.
Walking between the gaps in the crowd, she saw people shiver as she passed.
Familiar people surrounded the bed; she saw Daine crying into Numair's arms,
Buri and Raoul holding hands and Myles hugging Eleni.
Even closer, Thayet was cradling her youngest,
while Roald and Kally pressed their lips so they wouldn't shed any tears.
Jon stood next to his children, tears running down his tanned cheeks.
Gary was comforting Cythera.
Alanna's eyes fell on her own children, who were sobbing without a break.
"It's alright," she croaked. "Ma's here." They didn't seem to notice her.
Suddenly, Thom looked up, straight at Alanna.
His eyes didn't change, as they usually would to focus on a person.
Involuntarily, Alanna shuddered. It was as if she wasn't there.
The final person she laid eyes on was...George?
He was crying, and holding the limp hand of a red-headed figure.