Standing atop one of the fallen Ice Giants, Cerlissa bent to cut an arrow out of its midsection and tossed it toward Grakkas. “What do you make of that?” She asked.
“It’s…” Grakkas hesitated a moment before admitting what he suspected she already knew, “It’s Fu. What were the Fu doing in the Spine?”
“I think they’re in Norsca.” Cerlissa mused, almost to herself. “The way they’re fighting now… it’s like they’re more afraid of what’s behind them then they are of us.”
Grakkas fiddled with the arrow and said nothing for a bit, until Cerlissa changed the subject again.
“We should get these things gutted and carted back to the civilians.” She kicked it and hopped down. At Grakkas’ look of confusion and disgust, she defended her decision, “Hey, food is scarce since New Turath, and it’s made of meat. They’ll never know and they’ll be stronger in the end for all their ignorance.”
He grunted in assent and slid his gaze over to the nearest of their three most recent foes. When he turned to follow, he nearly tripped on her.
She spun to face her friend, face pulled into a mask of genuine fear, “They’re mobilizing…” Then, to seemingly no one, “Figure it out, Arkh! You’re the most brilliant idiot I’ve ever met! FIGURE IT OUT!”
She’d done this before, and Grakkas waited impatiently for her to tell him what she was seeing through the coin she’d passed on to the mercenaries. After a moment of silence, her gaze fixed on him again and she said quietly, as if it might be less true if she didn’t say it aloud, “The Fu, they’re in the harbor. They’re breaking through. Titus… I have to get there.”
“And… what? Sink them all? You haven’t slept in nearly a week, and you’ll bring the plague to Cliffport. Let me go.”
“No! If he summons me it’ll get me away from the Tree. It may weaken then. If it does, I’ll take some time to rest while you hold the North and we’ll all be better for it.”
“But the plague…”
“It’s not going to matter if I spread the plague if Cinderfell falls, Grakkas!”
He couldn’t fight that logic, but he wanted to. Cerlissa started to pace, flapping her hands nervously and looking for all the world like the teenage version of her that he’d met in Blackfeather. Worried about one thing or another. She always worried so much. Now that there were real, catastrophic things to worry about, he feared it might ruin her.
He took the opportunity to make a call. He fiddled in his pocket for a moment, searching for the vial that Jarl had given him, and pulled it out. The blood inside was coagulated and pretty gross looking by now, but it was still useful. Cerlissa continued to pace and mutter and scowl as he concentrated on finding Jarl.
A disk of faint green light formed in his palm. Slowly, the light became dappled, then leaves began to form along with the outline of a man. It was soon clear that Jarl wasn’t in his mountain home, as he’d expected, but in the forests of Valiraura.
The figure tensed and reached out, shoving a tall, Fey woman to the ground and searching for the source of the threat. Grakkas made an effort to empower the scry, knowing that Jarl would understand.
“West of Dra.” He muttered, and helped his wife to stand again. “Just outside the Spine.”
Dropping the scry, Grakkas stepped forward and poked Cerlissa in the side with a massive finger, “Go tell Jarl.”
“If they’re in Norsca and Cliffport, they’ll be after Westwater.” His expression darkened, “I swore I would never let it burn again. I can’t handle that.”
Nodding, Cerlissa reached out to place a hand on his. “Is he near enough?”
He nodded and relayed the information.
“I wish you could come with me. I miss saving the Empire with you. With everyone.”
“I’ll hold the North and watch after your kids. You need to go now, before that Orc figures out the coin.”
The backlash over her Pact Travel took the breath from him, and in the sudden silence he wondered if he might never see her again.