Seryn woke. Eyes open, smooth as taking a breath.
The shadows held their place on the ceiling as if they hung by their finger tips, slipping into the dawning light. She blinked once, aware suddenly of sheets and shoulders and heavy blanket and cool air on thin cheeks. Then she sat.
She pulled on breeches, shirt, boots, jacket and tied everything smoothly into place. Bending her head, she fingered her hair into a quick braid, tight against the back of her head, and knotted it at the base of her skull.
Wynn was moving behind her. Breeches, shirt, boots, jacket. Tesni took a too-thick breath and blinked in the morning light.
They held the line for half an hour, arms against the wall, skin turned to ice to hold fire in the air, to hold against the heat. Seryn leaned forward, eyes shut against the heat. The wall bent just a little at her palms, then stiffened as she focused and stopped her hands and held her the same way she held it: firm, tireless, roaring. Seryn breathed in and ice frosted her lungs, knit the tender flesh together, almost hurt as it wove all the way through the well of her chest, but smoothed, then strengthened each breath.
It was the heat that forced her to make the call. The hiss of the wall had dulled to a whisper that spit and popped and sputtered as if it were getting angry just before it died. The chill had left the air a long time ago and the people behind her were peeling apart and pulling their coats off their chests. Seryn looked through the wall as well as she could, watching the unsteady orange flame on the other side, searching for the shadows that had darted back and forth in front of her horse. She couldn’t find anyone in the dark, and she snapped out her orders: “Hold! Bring it down!”