73

There had been minutes, minutes, between when he’d finally found Relyt — all while avoiding a figure that paced across the property hidden behind the smoke and sand — and when Nhulynolyn and his party had arrived. He had barely found a hole in the wall, one just large enough for him to shimmy through and then drag Relyt through behind him, when he felt the change in the air. It was like when lightning was close and the air thickened and crackled with its energy before that white hot power smacked into the ground and burned everything in its path which heralded Nhulynolyn blinking in.

If ever he was thankful he was born a Silvermend and with the ability to hold his breath for several minutes without his body forcing him to or risking serious injury, it was as Nhulynolyn, Azriel, Thae’a, and Alaïs landed just outside the retaining wall of the cabin. He sent a prayer for stillness and courage to the Many as Nhulynolyn had called out for someone named Xhesh from feet away with only a curve of the wall separating where he half crouched, frozen with Relyt halfway through that hole in the wall and debating whether to risk pulling him through the rest of the way now or wait.

His muscles decided for him as soon as he heard Nhulynolyn kick off from the ground. As quickly and quietly as he could, he pulled Relyt the rest of the way through the hole. No sooner had he pressed himself down on top of his charge, he heard Nhulynolyn land on the other side. As the rest followed, Sheieh fought not to let out a breath of relief because if they had been any faster, Sheieh would have been caught out. Fought not to send a prayer of thanks that Relyt hadn’t woken up throughout the entire ordeal because while it kept them safer, it also meant that whatever was wrong was much more unpleasant than a simple hit to the head. As the sound of laughter and easy conversation started he let out a slow, careful breath and moved slowly off Relyt. Slowly looked around to try and gauge his options, to try and figure out where to go from here.

The wall was high enough that if he was careful and kept low until he got behind the cabin before he ran, he stood a chance of getting far enough away from the cabin to be able to risk catching a Line. The problem lay, however, with that he didn’t know the extent of the damage to the property overall and while the retaining wall was pockmarked with damage and holes and dents here on the front side he didn’t know for certain if any of it remained standing or was more damaged on the other side. Can’t stay but can’t risk moving. Can’t catch a Line from here without risking it heaving us off let alone being caught by everyone else. O’ Great One, give me strength. 

“Az! We’ll find him, you know we will.” He froze mid-step where he’d been pacing at the sound of Alaïs’ voice so close to where he’d pulled Relyt through the wall, where they still lay so far from safety.

“I know that, Al, but,” the Anglëtinean cursed harsh and low in Anglë’lylel before continuing, “what are the odds that he returns today, after what we learned about the collar, after what Nully and Bayls found in that traitorous fuck’s room?”

“At least they are returning, Azriel,” Alaïs’ voice was harder than before but still filled with understanding that only those who had spent years together had, the kind born of patience that seemed endless. “It means he’s close to freedom. It means we are close to figuring out what the fuck went wrong three hundred years ago. Just… please, try and be patient a bit longer. Try to not take your frustration out on those who don’t deserve it.”

“I’m trying, Al, I am trying,” Azriel answered and sighed heavily, “but I am so tired of being forty steps behind.”

“But we’re not anymore, Az,” by the Many, you sound so certain, Lord Queen, what changed? “we aren’t. Just breathe and give us some more time.”

In the distance he heard Thae’a call out, “We should get inside. We’ve got a lot to talk about.”

“Thae’a is right,” Azriel replied as his and Alaïs footsteps faded off.

As their laughter and foot steps became more and more distant, Sheieh let out another breath, sent another prayer to the Many, and crouched back down by Relyt. He worked as quickly as he could to check his charge over for injuries, to stabilize the ones he could and catalog those he couldn’t. Thankfully there was only two of the ones he couldn’t handle without true Healers to aid him but neither of those wounds were deadly. But for all that Relyt’s injuries and his own weren’t too serious, their situation most certainly was. They were effectively trapped far better than any prison could even make them.

Between Nhulynolyn and who he was assuming was Xheshmaryú, yet another of Rhyshladlyn’s Others, returned from wherever they had been sent when Lílrt had put that collar around the Grey Qishir’s neck, and Azriel who moved faster than any warrior Sheieh had ever laid his eyes on, he couldn’t risk moving either himself or Relyt. Not when the only ways to travel were on foot, by wing, or by Line and all of those options risked them being seen or injured worse if the ambient magick still hadn’t settled out. His only option was to make Relyt as comfortable as he could and settle in and wait out the members of the Grey Court who had come to what little remained of their cabin. If luck was on their side, Nhulynolyn and the rest would leave and once they had Sheieh would do his best to get himself and Relyt far enough away that when he caught a Line it wasn’t likely to toss them back to the ground.

As another round of laughter echoed across the silent desert, he felt like he was in for a long wait.

Many, what do I do? Please, help us. I am lost here.

No answer came but such had been the norm for so long that he’d stopped expecting anything and merely prayed on reflex born of millennia’s worth of habit. Plopping down on the sand he leaned his back against the stone of the wall, putting himself between where Relyt lay tucked against the base of the wall and the hole he’d pulled them through and took several controlled, deep breaths in and let them out slowly. He felt so trapped and it made him want to do something irrational like toss Relyt over his shoulder and run. Even if he knew it wouldn’t work, it was better than sitting here waiting to see if they ended up doomed anyway.

A piercing ring sounded and he felt the blood drain from his face as he swiftly patted at his pockets for the two-way mirror it came from, the one that only Lílrt could reach him on. But he couldn’t find it which meant that–

“What the fuck is a two-way mirror doing in the middle of the yard?”

Shit. 

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