Smiling when Kate made her promise not to run off in the night, Astrid nodded.
"I promise. I'll be here." She watched the young girl creep out of the hideout and off into the early evening before she moved to create a little nest for herself out of the pile of blankets. She laid some of them out on the floor as a pad, then used the rest to pull over herself, folding one into a little square for a pillow. When she lay down and her head hit the makeshift pillow she sighed. It was so soft, comfortable, and warm. It seemed forever since she had felt comfort like this. She turned on her side to face the entrance, pulling the blankets up to her neck. As the sky grew darker and the stars began to show more brightly in the sky, Astrid looked out at the dark blanket of night.
It was much brighter here. The stars seemed to twinkle, almost like some of the little glowing creatures that lived in the forest. She hadn't been able to see the stars in the forest. The trees had been too thick to see through, even if she hadn't been cowering in caves by the time night fell, her fire blinding her to any stars that might have peeked through the thick cover of the green canopy. It was beautiful. Almost magical. It made her feel that the Gods were much closer and gave her a sense of comfort and reassurance. After a while of looking out at the peaceful sky, she spoke softly.
"She's a sweet thing, isn't she, Calden...? It was so kind of her to take care of us like this. To be honest, I was quite afraid when we arrived here. Everything is different. Busy, loud, crowded...everyone seemed in such a rush, and like they didn't care for one another very much. I thought maybe we weren't going to be welcome without the money. It seems to be very important here. It was pretty, wasn't it? Oh, sorry...you couldn't see it, could you? It was round, and little, and so shiny. It had markings on it, like some kind of rune perhaps? Maybe that's why it's important...maybe it brings good fortune, or protection or something...? It certainly was interesting. I rather wish she'd let me get a closer look. Perhaps tomorrow..."
Her musings came further apart and more quietly as she began to relax and sleep began to overtake her little body. Gradually, her eyes drifted closed and her ramblings turned to mumbles and eventually became silent. The only sound was her deep, slow breathing. She was warm, comfortable, and if not full certainly not as hungry as she'd been before, and could have been if it weren't for Kate's generosity. She slept soundly, even more so than she'd been since they began carving the runes in the forest and had finally been able to ward away the evil creatures. She was fast asleep when Kate returned early the next morning.
The rays of warm sun streaking through the entrance finally drew Astrid from her sleep and she surfaced slowly, stretching with a groan before she forced her eyes open. She jumped when she spotted the figure standing in the entrance, watching her intently. It took her a moment to recognize the little form of Kate, shadowed as she was by the sun behind her. She sat up with a sleepy smile for the girl.
"Thank you, Kate. This was wonderful. I haven't slept so well in a long time." She gestured for the girl to join her on the little makeshift bed, moving over a little to make room. She looked out the entrance at the rising sun as the sounds of the town began waking up and beginning a new day. The sun streaming into the little room showed the tiny, sparkling specks of dust dancing in the air around them, swirling with the gentle breeze that dipped slightly into the very outer edge of the entrance without intruding on the warmth of the shelter. She drew her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs, turning her head to look at her little friend.
"How was your night, Kate?" she asked kindly.