He swiftly backed out of the room and closed the door, moving the locks back into their proper positions with a short burst of magick as he did so. Though if he was thinking clearly he’d have remembered that it didn’t matter, not really, because they were going to know someone had not only found the room but been inside it. But he was so used to covering his tracks as best he could, that it was a habit at this point; a habit he fell back on to try and calm his racing heartbeat. A habit that he used to remind himself to breathe, that he couldn’t give an accurate report if he was trembling and incoherent.
He fumbled the two-way mirror out of his hip-pack, his only clear thought being gotta call someone, gotta report this, as he went back the way he’d come as swiftly as possible.
He knew he needed to report this immediately, but he didn’t want to risk anyone overhearing what he was going to say, not so close to that. So he just gripped the mirror until the rounded edges slipped into the lines of his palm and dug in to just this side of pain, but he didn’t loosen his hold. Just focused on getting out and to relative safety before that insane bitch went to that room and realized it wasn’t as secret as she’d thought it was. Focused on calming his breathing as best he could because his large ass speed walking through the streets of Ryphqi City borderline hyperventilating did not make him anything close to inconspicuous.
But by all the gods to grace Existence since the First Fires were struck, how could anyone be able to do that to people?
It took him until he couldn’t see that compound anymore before he was able to breathe again, before he was able to walk at a more calm pace though his urgency to get the fuck out hadn’t lessened. When he was halfway across the City, the gates within sight, he flipped the mirror open, engaged the spell, and waited, never once pausing. He had to report this but by the Dark Lady, he was not going to spend one minute longer in this cursed City than he had to.
“Adïm?” Shit. He had meant to call Firesbane but had grabbed the wrong mirror, apparently, that or his magick had called for his mate and gave no fucks about which mirror he’d grabbed for the task. It wouldn’t be the first instance that the two-way mirror spell had been messed with where he was concerned.
Even though the sound of Thae’a’s voice soothed his frayed nerves just enough that he trusted himself to speak and not have it be in a jumbled mess of Pherinet and Common and gibberish, he still didn’t want to tell her this. Didn’t want to drudge up those memories for her, but he had to tell someone and telling her to fetch him Firesbane without telling her first was rude and would upset her further. It was fucked, this entire thing was fucked, and he felt alone and lost and confused. But he wouldn’t not tell her. He couldn’t lie. Not to her, never to her.
“Adïm?” her voice was sharper, full of an alertness that told him if he’d just look at her he’d see her worry and the protectiveness it rose in her. Knew her eyes would be a clear rich chestnut versus the nearly black brown they normally were. But he couldn’t look at her. Couldn’t look anywhere but the gates that were looming in front of him only a few blocks away now. He wanted to hold her when he said this, that had been his plan, but that wasn’t how it was going to happen. And if anything, that only enraged him further. “Beqjir?” He swallowed hard at her Pherineti nickname for him and spoke if only to get it out, even if he couldn’t look at her while he did it.
He tried to ignore the voice that whispered that he was a coward for it.
“They have Selves. In jars. Thousands of them,” his voice was barely above a whisper, the sounds of the City around him loud enough that he had trouble hearing what he’d said. But he didn’t repeat it, he knew she’d heard him perfectly fine the first time.
There was a long, thick silence but he didn’t look down at the mirror to see her face, didn’t stop walking. Not even when he was through the gates and out of the City. Not even when he was nearly a mile away from the City. He just waited, he didn’t press because he knew. He knew without her saying it, without seeing her face, without being close enough to mentally feel her emotions like he normally would, that she was working through the information, that she was calming down as much as she could. And he hated that he had done this to her.
It wasn’t until he was reaching for the nearest Line that Thae’a finally responded.
“Are you certain?”
If it had been anyone else that had asked him that, he’d have been insulted and furious. But this was his mate, his beloved, and he knew she was asking not because she doubted him but because she had to be certain she had heard him correctly. Not that he blamed her. He didn’t believe it and he had been the one to see it. But he hesitated in answering. Hesitated because if he confirmed it, it would make it too real to ignore, to pretend it was just a dream.
But he had no choice. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, lie.
“Yes,” he answered, finally looking down at the mirror and her face gone pale, her eyes wide, lower lip trembling. She was barely holding it together, and it wasn’t from fear or worry. It was from fury and he had expected that and regretted not telling her face to face all the more. “Yes,” he repeated and watched her face regain color as it settled into a hard mask, one he hadn’t seen in centuries and its reappearance made his heart ache. Made him wish he had waited until he’d made it back to the camp before he’d tried to report this fucked up shit. I’m so sorry, Tee. “I am returning to the camp.”
“We are not there anymore,” her voice was like ice, flat and cold and he frowned at her. That tone was not because of his news, though it was no doubt made worse for it. “There was an… incident. We are safe. Meet us at the cabin, I’ll gather the rest.”
He nodded but she had already cut the connection without a good-bye or a word regarding safe travels like she usually did. But he didn’t blame her.
Sighing heavily, he pocketed the mirror, caught the nearest Line and made for the cabin as fast as he could.
Because the last time anyone had gathered that many Selves in one place, Thae’a had watched as all but two of the Dreamweaver race had been wiped out.
Blood Mother, See us all.