Virden wrapped both hands around his cup, twisting the cool clay between his palms. The wine inside teetered, sliding up the sides and he moved slowly enough to keep it off his fingers. Kenze watched him watch the thin shadow of his cup on the table in the dim room. She had only taken a sip of her own. Alidon had downed his in a gulp, and poured himself two more without a word.
From one moment to another, they glanced at the door.
“It might just be us,” Virden murmured.
The ride to the other encampment was short. Seryn made it at a gallop, racing ahead of the bright crackle of the fire. As quick as she could, she put it behind her and aimed straight for the gate. The smoke would climb into the midnight sky, and the fire would light the spaces between the trees, and she needed the precious time before it was seen. Her skin felt stone-cold in the dark.
There were guards on the walls, behind a gate locked from the outside. She had chosen them herself, letting Ern believe it was a suggestion. She had cast them, and let them play-act in their leathers, with their bows and arrows.
“Hold!” she called up to them. “It’s Seryn.”
She heard the distinctive creak of bowstrings relaxing as she shoved the lock bar off the door with her shoulder.
Balancing between the rocks and the bow with the rain running down his back, Rickar was forcibly reminded that the steady hull of his ship was made of the same stuff as a flimsy paper kite. The rocks didn’t bite unto the ship, didn’t leave clean punctures or stopped up gaps where they still had their teeth sunk into the wood. They tore into the hull, split beams, popped moorings apart, left jagged rifts and cracks all the way down the length of the ship. Water heaved in and out of the ruptures. It foamed over the wood, spitting and throwing fits.
Rickar wiped his face, just to wipe away the sensation of it against his skin. The rain kept tumbling down. Lightning washed everything in white light before he could shut his eyes against it, then left him blind for the five-count before the thunder answered it.
“You want to know my favorite thing about a shipwreck?” Lachlan asked, braced above Rickar on the rocks. Rickar twisted to look at him, keeping his hands where they were to hold his position. In the dark, all he could see was the wet shine outline of his head and shoulders. He was moving. Rickar watched him for a long minute before he figured out he was tying large knots in something. His shoulders and arms bent into the effort.
He was sleeping on the floor when Anya came back to the room. Anya stopped in the doorway, looking at him. He was two feet from the bed and its deep mattress, laid out flat on the the hard wood floor with a single, thin blanket. He was curled in on himself, one arm wrapped across his bare chest for warmth. The blankets on the bed were mussed and thrown back. It was hard to tell when he’d abandoned it.
After a moment, Anya stepped into the room, moving toward her rucksack at the side of the bed. Watching him, she rolled her foot against the floor with every step – heel, ball, toe, down then heel, ball, toe up – quiet as she could, so she didn’t wake him. He didn’t shift. His slack expression didn’t shift.
He grabbed her ankle when she passed him. She froze. His fingers shifted, ready to pull her down.
“It’s me,” she said quickly. “It’s Anya.”