The worship of the Divine Couple, or Matrimonism, is practiced by about seventy percent of Kormar. The degree of belief varies greatly, however, so one couldn't say Kormar itself was religious.
— Survey of Religions Across the Lands
After two nights of being unable to sleep, Linsan's days had become a hellish mixture of dozing and anxiety attacks. More than once she caught herself considering jumping off the wagon and running the opposite direction. She had also found herself praying that she wouldn't wake up when she began to doze.
“Have you tried prayer?”
Linsan looked up in confusion.
Maril glanced over. “Something is eating at your gut. Old Gal told you something?”
Cringing, Linsan nodded. She hadn't told Maril what Gal had said. However, the wagoner had made an announcement that the worst of the pain had passed and she started skipping villages. They had easily doubled their rate but it was still glacially slow compared to whatever vehicle the killers drove.
“Something is eating at you, Lin. Even I can tell that. Is it about the men you are following?”
“How far ahead are they?”
“I don't know, but they have a car.”
“Are they still heading to Moon?”
She nodded again.
Maril glanced at the road ahead and then turned her body. “Thinking about giving up?”
Linsan poked at the bag underneath her. “Yes.”
The old woman said nothing for a moment. “Why haven't you?”
Linsan struggled with her answer. “I don't know. I… I know I can't catch up in time, but maybe I can do something. I just don't want to give up.”
Reaching back, Maril patted Linsan's thigh. “If you have to take another ride, I'll understand. But let me know, otherwise I'll be waiting for you and that's just rude.”
For some reason, that brought a smile to both of their faces.
Linsan nodded. “I promise, I'll let you know.”
Maril patted her again. “Good. Now, let's see if we can find you a faster ride. Most of today is just going to be little one store villages but we'll be coming up to New Brunil tomorrow afternoon. If you are going to find a faster ride, that will be the place.”
The tension in Linsan's shoulders relented slightly. She didn't even realized she was clenching them.
What wasn't said was that any faster ride might be more than Linsan could afford. She might be able to buy a horse, but not a carriage and definitely not a car.
She glanced at Maril to make sure the wagoner wasn't looking at her and then let her face fall. Thought it may lose her more precious days, she may have to busk a lot more to afford a trip.
Despair rose up, a choking grip that squeezed her throat and chest. She shook her head.
“Try praying,” Maril said without looking back.
Linsan and her family wasn't religious, but she knew at least the basic prayers. They had taught them in school. It was better than nothing. Closing her eyes, she began to whisper what she remembered.
After a few phrases, Maril joined her. “For the Divine Couple who watches over us, grant us blessings to make it through our journeys. From the Blessed Wife, all we ask are lessons to help us grow as your humble children. May they be difficult but educational. And from our Holy Father, watch over us to see what we stumble, then take our hand to give us one more step. Grant us respite so we may learn, darkness so we can dream, and the bright sun to wake us again.”
The prayer didn't give Linsan any peace but hearing the comforting voice that spoke them did. Linsan let the tears flow as she closed her eyes. Her lips worked the prayer along with Maril, stumbling over the words she couldn't remember but not caring anymore.
Then, with a smile, she finally fell asleep without the threat of nightmares or fear.