He ran.

Ran and tried to tell himself that he wasn’t a coward for doing it.

It was a lie but no one had to know but him.

He dropped from the Line into the aftermath of what looked like an explosion had gone off. Smoke was everywhere, mixing with plumes of kicked up sand, pieces of wood and steel and glass made the ground a minefield of danger. His stomach dropped as he called Relyt’s name. But nothing moved save the wind and the smoke and sand plumes. 

He stumbled upon Sheieh first and slapped the Guardian awake, catching his fists before the Soul Healer could punch him. “Get up, Sheieh! You need to get my brother out of here!” 

“Mmmwha? Where… What happened?” 

He didn’t have an answer so he didn’t bother trying to, just pulled Sheieh to his feet.

The sand was so fine that it swallowed up his feet and gripped his ankles, refusing to let him go. But he fought against it because he wasn’t about to let anything slow him down, let alone fucking sand. Because his only option was to run. Line travel was out of the question after that, there were no hörphé nearby, there were no Line Carriages anymore, and he sure as fuck wasn’t near enough to a sea or ocean or even a lake to charter a ship and travel that way. So by foot and running as fast as he could, using as much magick as he dared to keep his legs from collapsing with fatigue, was his only option.

When he was far enough away from the disaster that had turned his brother’s old cabin into so much shrapnel and smoke he’d test the Lines to see if they were safe for travel again. But for now, he ran.

He ran and prayed that he hadn’t left his brother to die. But whatever had done that much damage to the seat of the Grey Court would have no doubt attracted the attention of said Court and he could not risk them seeing him with or near Relyt. Couldn’t risk them all remembering that Relyt had had two brothers, though only one who was recognized as legitimate.

“My Lord, where are you going? I cannot search this entire area by my lonesome.” 

He turned back to look at the other Soul Healer, took in the way blood had smeared a face nearly as regal as Relyt’s, all sloping forehead and high cheekbones and sharp jaw, took in the way the Guardian’s eyes glowed against the background of all that blood and soot and sand-turned-mud, and struggled to make sure his fear wasn’t obvious on his face as every instinct in him screamed to get as far as possible. 

“I need to leave, Sheieh. I cannot risk that the Grey Court is on their way here to figure out what blew their home to pieces across the desert. If they see even just you and me together speaking with familiarity, they will ask questions neither of us can answer with enough lying skill to keep them from digging into shit they shouldn’t be. And Relyt is in enough danger as is it.”

When it no longer felt like he was being pursued, even though logically he knew he hadn’t been from the moment he’d leapt over what remained of the retaining wall, he stopped and turned in a slow circle, taking in the leagues upon leagues of open, empty desert and swallowed thickly. Pushing his sweat soaked hair out of his face he sighed, lifted a hand he told himself was most certainly not shaking and reached for a Line. When nothing happened but the feeling of his magick, his power, touching that of the Line itself, he caught it and took off towards the Sanctuary of the Blessedly Cursed with a single thought in mind:

We have to fix that damn collar immediately. 

8 thoughts on “71

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