High Priest S’Rak has mostly recovered from the wing fungus, but he has to repair the damage done to the temple before he can return to Koilatha. Captain Jisten has very definite ideas about life and death, and S’Rak’s plans challenge those beliefs but not in a good way. Will Jisten be able to come to terms with a service that not only permits, but also requires, human sacrifice? Or will this conflict be the one to tear the partners apart?
In distant Zoth, S’Tyll is on the run with Siol and Rasten, stolen right out of the palace from under King Narvain’s nose. S’Pajel rides with the slave trackers, but he’s not sure that he’ll be able to delay them enough for S’Tyll to make good his escape. Sun mage Teson still loves Pikara, even as he’s collared for it. Will love win out? Will Rak’s sons make it to freedom? Or will Narvain’s cruel grip claim them all?
Report, brother, murmured the anonymous, androgynous voice of the Kephi in Okyro, the same greeting, the same inflection as was always used. Anything different would have set off alarm bells in his mind.
I am in Kyzamo, fleeing Zoth with a palace slave, a son of S’Rak’s named Siol, and S’Rak’s baby Rasten. I fear pursuit. I am requesting assistance.
Did you liberate the slave?
I liberated Siol and Rasten both. I went in to get Rasten back; Siol was an added bonus. He is winged, unbonded, mid-twenties I’d guess; he’s not sure of his exact age.
We will activate resources. You are ten stadia northeast of Chredyn; it’s a small town barely worthy of the name, known for sheep and not much else. The inn there is the Golden Ram. Tomorrow night, after midnight, there will be horses there for you at the inn’s stable.
I have a pair of avtappi, Tyll replied.
Lose them; send them away. The Zothians can track you by their presence.
But, Tyll began, but the voice cut him off.
Listen. You are being pursued. S’Pajel doesn’t think he can delay them any further; there are three experienced slave trackers and a full troop of Zothian guards only a day behind you. Go overland and on foot to Chredyn; it’s your only chance to lose your pursuers, S’Pajel thinks he can get the group to chase the avtappi instead. You must reach Lake Galazos; there will be a ship waiting at the port of Galth. If necessary, if the soldiers don’t fall for the avtappi gambit, you can send Siol here separately through the smuggler’s road; S’Pajel believes he can keep the troop following you and you alone. And, S’Tyll...
The contact faded, and Tyll sighed. That last line had been code for we don’t think you have a snowball’s chance in the abyss, but go ahead and try it. At least Okyro would make sure he had every chance to succeed. Horses and boats and plans and more plans—he couldn’t ask for more. Well, perhaps being allowed to keep the avtappi instead of having to go after horses on foot. Another dragon would be even better. He’d cheerfully let the Zothians chase him all over the Riverlands if Siol was winging his way to Okyro on the back of his own dragon.