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I sighed and gave Clover a pat on her butt. My mind and body were more refreshed than they had been in a long time after managing a bit of sleep. The shut eye was refreshing, even if it was only an hour or so. I’d skimmed books over the course of my travels that made note of sleep deprivation causing everything from foul mood to decreased reaction time, even mental instability.
A ridiculous laugh escaped. The foreign sound flowing from within floated into the emptiness of the valley. As if I could be any more unstable. I spent my days running around the country in an effort to hunt down the vile creatures responsible for murdering my family and making me their slave. The pursuit of revenge alone would drive a person insane, yet I found the idea oddly comforting. Insanity would suggest I lacked control of these feelings and actions, but that would be a lie. In fact, I possessed no real feelings about any of my deeds, but control belonged entirely to me. I chose when and where to collect the debt owed me from years ago. Black and white. Right and wrong. Cause and effect.
I was simply carrying out the effect of what they had caused. Nothing crazy about that in my eyes. I laughed again and shook my head. My attempts to analyze myself always provided a chuckle.
Mama always said I was my father’s daughter. As a doctor, he investigated everything. He believed in a logical, scientific solution for any problems. I believed the same, even for payback.
Thin rays of sunrise glistened on the river bringing me a rare sense of serenity. The clean, brisk morning air refreshed me in those precious few moments of each day when everything began anew. Well, everything except my body, which hurt from repeated nights on the hard ground and so many hours in the saddle. This had been our longest stretch yet, two straight weeks out on the trail and I felt every minute of it.
The river called to me. I slipped out of my clothes and padded over patches of soft grass and sharp rocks to its edge, begging the bitter, cold water to numb my aching bones. The icy sting stimulated every single nerve ending in my worn body as I submerged myself neck deep. Wonderful weightlessness soothed me. Within minutes my soreness had eased as the water renewed me from the outside in; flesh, bones and soul.