Kaladin was exhausted. Exhaustion spren trail him as he walk back to the barracks on bruised body. He'd taken upon himself to limit his use of Stormlight as much as possible. Not so much that he couldn't work nor that it could be vital, just enough not to get him addicted to its instantive healing.
Use the drug when necessary but prevent the patient from addiction
His father's calm instruction had reminded him.
And it helps with the suspicion. Kaladin added to himself.
Syl had flitted away somewhere, following one particular group of interesting wind spren. She hadn't returned for the better part of this hour.
Kaladin can't help but feel a surge of panic at the departure, but after sometimes he start to enjoy the solitude. He needs time to think, and the rhythmic steps of his walking helped. At least it did more than shifting weight between his legs, standing guard for more than nine hours without rest. He'd use a bit of Stormlight on that, and he felt a little guilty.
The rotation can't be helped, though, his men are spreaded so thin.
After some fifteen minutes walk, the familiar scent of stew and the sound of laughing men greet him. And despite the fatique of the day, Kaladin found himself smiling.
Rock waved a bowl of stew at him and he take it gratefully, Teft, Lopen and some of the men joining him.
"Taking double shifts lately, Captain?" Teft said, using a reprimanding voice. Kaladin look at the man in the eyes, he found worry, not anger.
"Its according to the schedule, Teft. I didn't take any extra shifts." He force his tone to be a relaxed one.
"You could have swapped with someone else's, Kal. You know full well that you're not invincible. Besides, you also took it upon yourself to guard the highprince's sons when they trained at the same time with you." Teft laid a hand on Kaladin's shoulder and Kaladin winced.
"Where did you get that bruise, son?"
"And Stormlight hadn't healed it? Don't you have enough? Take this, I have some spheres."
Teft said, fishing some spheres off his pocket.
"No,no. I have enough, thank you, Teft. It's just that I don't want to get addicted to it, that can be dangerous."
Some men nodded in agreement. Teft thought for a moment, then nod once.
"Just don't push yourself too hard, Captain."
"And have anyone mentioned that you look like a beaten-one-armed-Hardezian, gancho?"
Lopen join the conversation.
"Is this a Let's-Remind-Kaladin-How-Hard-He-Is-Working-Himself-Day?" Kaladin asked tiredly.
"I think everyday is one, Kal." Sigzil said, walking into the small circle.
And everyone voice their agreement at that.
"Alright! I'll sleep as soon as I finish my stew! Can't we move to other topics?"
"Like your romantic interests?" Lopen blurted. Kaladin stared.
"Okay, might not be a good one." He said quickly.
Everyone laugh, even the usually quiet Shen seemed so pleased.
"I wish you could see your own face, Kaladin." Teft said, still laughing until he double over.
"Besides, Kal, we've came up with another candidate." Drehy said, grinning mischievously.
"Yeah, we've been guarding the princeling a lot lately." Skar added.
"How does that relate to my interests?" Kaladin asked, frowning.
The two of them giggled. And Kaladin dread the next words won't be good.
"They're thinking you have something to do with that princeling, Kaladin."
Rock grunted. Kaladin turn sharply.
"See? Tell ya he'll be shocked to death, airsick lowlanders." Rock said, even though amusement laced his voice.
"Well, you won't even spare more than a few glances at the women we brought, not even that red-haired girl. At any rate, you even seemed jealous of her. And Adolin is the one who won the most stares from you." Drehy added.
"Stares?" Kaladin asked, brows knitted together and a scowl on his face.
"Most often in duels and sparrings. Caught you twice in the market. And almost all the time in your training."
Someone answered, Kaladin is too distracted to look.
"I'd have to stare at anyone I'm sparring with. And the market and the training, I'm just making sure that princeling's not getting himself into trouble! Besides, it's my—"
"Duty to protect the highprince and his family, yes, yes, Captain." Skar finished for him, cutting Kaladin off.
"And a good excuse, too, gancho." Lopen added.
Kaladin pointly put down his half-eaten stew and stand up.
"I'm going to get some sleep."
"Have a good dream about Adolin, Kal. I'm sure you'll be more cheerful than ever next morning." Someone called after him, follow with laughter. Kaladin smile to himself fondly, at least his men are having a good time.
"Thinking about Adolin?" Syl asked, he didn't notice her arriving.
"How much have you heard?" Kaladin asked, curious.
"Mostly everything." Syl said.
"You should take Teft's advice, Kaladin." Syl said as they entered Kaladin's room, worry in her voice.
"To take a rest? I will, Syl. If you stop taunting me."
"Yes, you are. Now, just let me sleep..."
Kaladin drop to the bed and fell asleep immediately, not even finish his sentence. He must be terribly tired. Syl look at him with adoring eyes.
Sleep well, my little Kaladin.
Then she shot off to join her cousins
It appears something else dominates Kaladin's dreams that night. And in the morning he doesn't wake up cheerfully at all.