Ambercaast: Lapis of Nicodem Volume 2 by Kwyn Marie | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Chapter 20: Quests and Questions

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Humming random notes, Lapis picked up the square device; it had a black screen and no discernable buttons or switches. How might it turn on?

Her brother reached over and swiped down the surface. A white dot flared in the center and formed a white box; she did not understand the language, but it begged for a code. A smug, snarly Cile snorted in melodramatic disdain, and she glanced at the shivering man before returning to the object in her hand. Little clothes in the cool atmosphere of the room provided scant warmth. At least he did not show off skimpy blue underwear.

The Minq took his uniform because they had marching shirt enhancements. They offered him regular clothing, which he refused, so they plopped him in a seat in his short-style skivvies, cuffed him in a way that strained the bruises forming on his shoulders, and left him for interrogation. The other men joined their merc brothers in a separate conference room, waiting and pacing while the Jiy group decided what to do with them. No one trusted them enough to put a weapon in their hands, so enlisting them to help against the khentauree was a solid NO.

Too bad his buddies did not know the orders given to their fellow mercs. The handoff occurred at that second building, and the only thing they said they knew beyond that was the man in charge, a native Jilvaynan named Liwren, hated Gredy’s scheme to kidnap Tovi, but followed orders anyway.

A native, eh? How dearly did Gredy pay for his loyalty? Or perhaps his hate ran as shallow as the typical soldier-for-hire’s morality.

Lapis tapped a few numbers into the box that they discovered on folded papers stuffed into his pockets and his pack, but none of them opened the device. It eventually flashed red, and the screen disappeared.

Cile gloated.

She forced herself to remain nonchalant. Strangling the information out of him would not work; her fingers would kill him before he could utter a word. That was why Faelan, rather than Cassa, sat next to her.

Cile leered, in the way guttershanks did when they considered themselves lady’s men. He thought his physic so attractive she would fall to lust and, what, uncuff him? The thought sickened her, and she wished Patch sat with her. Faelan was many things, but intimidating to manly men was not one of them.

One of the Minq guards standing stolidly outside the door moved, and Cile’s façade of confidence broke briefly as his gaze lingered on the firepower now protecting the place. The station protectors carried long, thick weapons, and when they caught his attention, his eyes bulged as he studied them. Of course, they bore what they hoped would defeat the khentauree, and any overconfident merc might have a teensy problem remaining alive if they made a smart-ass remark and garnered the wrath of the person holding it.

Lapis grabbed another device, using the act to tamp down on the swirling disgust and terror that fought in her chest. If the khentauree bothered to show up. They had disappeared. Rodas flew over the area the lookouts last noticed them, but not a single shiny metal body made its way through the ruins. Gaping black holes left by building collapse littered the place, so they probably took one of those routes underground. Did they plan on an assault from below? Kathandra said that the architects built the workstation on land with no tunnels because they wished to avoid a future collapse.

A disc with thin sides, a thick middle, and a small hole at the top and bottom crackled.

Cile frowned as Faelan tapped the screen of another tech object, one Kathandra gave him and that Caitria had modified before returning to her study of the khentauree. He then reached over and grabbed the noisy device.

“Lieutenant, it’s Liwren.” The man said more words, lost to noise.

“I can’t hear you, Liwren,” Faelan said.

“ . . . ark khen . . . delve down here.” Static for a moment.


“Working . . . says from Jiy . . .‍”

Very loud static. “Repeat,” Faelan said.

Lapis thought the man said lieutenant again, but nothing else came through the fuzz before the signal died.

Her brother glanced at the other device. A readout of coordinates trailed down the screen. He smiled and replaced the disc before grabbing it and rising.

“What is that?” Cile demanded, agitated.

“This?” He held up the tech. “Oh, something that traces signals.”

“What?” the merc asked flatly.

“Underestimating us seems quite the pastime for you,” he said as he smartly turned on his heel and headed for the door. Panic flew through the man’s eyes.

“You have no idea what’s down there!”

“Neither do you,” he replied.

And now they knew the mercs were underground—as if they could not guess.

“It’ll piss Gredy off if you go anywhere near them.”

“Gredy is already furious with us. Adding a bit more rage will make no difference.”

“You think he won’t kill you.”

“No, he won’t kill me. You, on the other hand? A failure sidelined by the same woman who attacked him?” Faelan meandered out the door, unconcerned, and Tearlach replaced him at her side.

She nonchalantly snagged a small book with black binding and opened it while Cile attempted to glare imaginary daggers into their skulls. They did as little good as Gredy pounding on the Swift’s door, and the result would be the same.

A nude woman stared provocatively back. A black book with pictures instead of addresses? She flipped through the pages, tabbing the layouts with notes scribbled in the margins. Cassa could translate the Meergeven for them.

Tearlach squinted at one. “That doesn’t look physically possible.”

“There’s a hoop act at the Shank, and one of the women can bend over far enough to put her torso between her legs.”

“Sounds painful.”

“I’ve been told acrobats can do all sorts of things with enough training.” She shrugged and smiled at the lieutenant. “They just need to be flexible.”

He did not enjoy the conversation, though he did not express the annoyance she expected at their perusal of his special book. The scribbles might not have much of import, then.

She inspected the rest of the items, hoping that her rising antsiness did not interfere with the nonchalant play. She inwardly screamed at herself for not rushing back out and trying to discover any trail left by the second group. If they had vehicles like the other merc units, some trace would remain in the soft dirt. She could follow them to Rin and Tovi.

She told her uncle that. She told her brother that. They reminded her a fight between the terrons and the khentauree raged, and traces tire tracks might no longer exist.

They also assumed Cile would cooperate. Why? Did they think stripping him to his skivvies would embarrass him to the point he divulged?

She gathered everything she thought might prove insightful into a pile, then shoved the rest of the stuff into his pack. He winced at her lack of carefulness, which she ignored. The Minq would decide if he left with those things or not, and she did not care if they shoved him out the front door to face the khentauree in nothing more than thin boxers. He could waggle his eyebrows at them and see how far flirting got him.

“Bored?” the merc mocked. “I can help with that.”

“We’ve gotten what we needed, so there doesn’t seem any point in staying.”

“Gotten? I’ve not said a word.”

“Come now. You’ve said plenty of insults. Surely you count those as words.” Tearlach grabbed the pack while she took the more important things. “Anyway, have a pleasant time shriveling. I doubt the Minq are going to offer another shirt anytime soon.”

Fury glinted across his eyes. “One day that mouth of yours is going to kill you.”

“At least I’m amusing. Considering your lack of entertainment value, maybe they’ll just dump you outside as you are. I’m certain Gredy will understand when you wander into your base without your clothing or equipment.”

The briefest expression of panic, replaced by snarls, intrigued her. Cile feared his leader. She hardly blamed him on that one; she feared Gredy, too. Never seeing him again would be too soon.

The Minq guards nodded at them as they left. If Lapis had met them in a Jiy tunnel, she would have turned around and fled. They had muscle and did not need tech to hurt their target. They were far above the common undershank, in status and training, which, she supposed, expressed exactly how no one trusted the man cuffed to the chair.

“Gredy’s men fear him,” Tearlach commented as they walked down bright white hallways with unadorned doors, a few awkward oil paintings, and random, knee-high tables holding well-watered plants. “I don’t understand why they want to work for someone so . . .‍”


He chuckled. “He’s someone who values brute force and violence. You ripped that away from him and exposed him. His threats prove he’s floundering to get fearful respect back.”

“I think Cile’s like him.”

“Depantsed and everything.”

At least he had no access to his tech. He seemed the type to contact his buddies and demand they harm Rin and Tovi for his humiliation, satisfied at his revengeful cruelty.

Faelan, Cassa and Kathandra had their heads together over a map when they arrived at the scientist’s office. Lapis dumped her load on the nearest table and stretched, anxiety firmly taking hold of her tummy. Rin had no experience in navigating mountains, and his lack of respect for violent men repeatedly earned him trouble. She had cautioned him on it, and she wondered at the fame Patch said trailed him, Lykas and Scand. Had name recognition come from their defiance of angry guttershanks? Meergevenis mercs had no reason to play nice with a street rat and a teenage lizard.

“He has some things jotted down, but they’re in Meergeven,” Tearlach said as he thumped the pack onto a table. Cassa rose and hustled over, looking through the random tech before grabbing the papers and the black book. Her eyebrows shot up to her hairline when she opened to the first page, but she did not turn red, as Lapis expected. She spent too much time with the book; did she like the pictures?

“I think these are codes,” she finally said.


“Codes?” Tearlach asked.

“He uses the Meergevenis alphabet, but they form no words.”

“Did you get coordinates?” Lapis asked, glancing at her brother.

“The readout could not pinpoint the location,” he said. “We marked a general area, but it’s too large for easy scouting. It encompasses that second building you visited, so they’re still somewhere nearby. We know a couple of things beyond that; they are underground, someplace deep, and that someone is down there from Jiy.”

“You’re thinking Hoyt.”

“I am. We know he’s here, and if we figure out which part of the ruins he planned to visit, that should give us a starting point in finding Rin and Tovi.”

“I guess that means he and the mercs weren’t working together.”

“No, and I doubt Gredy is the type to make nice agreements with locals.”

“So who hired them?”

“The Minq are pretty certain a wealthy someone did. The mercs think they are here with the blessing of the Dentherion government.”

Kathandra snorted in sour derision. “That’s doubtful. My parents would tell me, if the mercs hassling us had anything to do with the Councils. I think Gredy took a contract from Meergevenis or some other Siindlenorth entity who have no official permission to be in this country.” She glanced at the people in the room, then shrugged. “It’s not surprising. The aquatheerdaal mines are nearly depleted, and governments and large corporations are grasping at straws, visiting long-abandoned mines hoping to find new veins with new tech.”

Faelan raised an eyebrow. “Really.”

“It’s a classified secret,” she said drily. “Rather than invest in new technology, too many governments and businesses are trying desperately to rejuvenate old mines for more aquatheerdaal.” She sighed. “Taangis and the Republic of Alleurs and Meurgeld are at the forefront of innovative research into new technologies, but they still rely overmuch on aquatheerdaal. It’s a race against time to find and implement alternatives. Dentheria is playing catch-up. Meergevenis is . . . being Meergevenis.”

Cassa sighed at that.

Kathandra folded her arms and regarded Faelan with interest. “There are other players, ones I never suspected. The Minq tech is extraordinary. Do you know if they have their own research centers? Such a large syndicate would certainly reap the benefits of devices designed for their needs rather than repurposed, and if they don’t rely on aquatheerdaal, it will make them a de facto power in the coming years.”

“I’m not the one to ask,” he admitted. “But I have met their Jilvayna terrboss, Jo Ban. It seems like something he’d initiate.” He straightened and stretched. “So finding aquatheerdaal here will be a monetary boon for whoever does.”

“Yes.” Kathandra flipped her hand. “It’s why we at the workstation buy from the Republic of Alleurs and Meurgeld. It’s more expensive, but nothing here relies on aquatheerdaal.”

“What does it rely on?”

“Something their scientists call syndeth modeling using fibers of a metal called inktonium.” She sighed. “No, I don’t understand the mechanism or how it all relates to the chips, though I can replace wires and kluge everything together to make it work until an engineer stops by to help.”

“Is that why the mercs were raiding the buildings?” Lapis asked. “Their equipment's failed, and your works better?”

“Maybe. I think they’re desperate for communications tech, but our relays experience the same problems with the interference.” She glanced behind them.

A scientist escorted Brander, Linz and Jetta into the room. Dagby trailed, hands in pockets, staring absently at the floor.

“Linz and Sherridan found something,” Jetta said, focused on Faelan and his unamused concern at their presence. “And since we couldn’t contact you, we came.”

Linz raised up their armload of papers. “It relates to Hoyt’s involvement in Ambercaast.”

That caught everyone’s attention.

Cassa cleared a table for the documents. Linz dropped them without regard and opened the top one. A map of the surrounding area, a recent one as far as Lapis could tell, with instructions about reaching a mine entrance to the northeast. The place had a thick red circle around it. “Sherridan found these maps in one of those pocketed folders. I looked at the rest of the documents there. Danaea didn’t make any of it; the writing isn’t her hand, and it doesn’t strike me as something she’d obsessively care about, like the blackmail stuff she held. Some of it is what she related to Thyden, so I’m guessing she thought this info accurate.” She slipped another map from the pile and spread it out on top of the first.

“These are the mines,” Kathandra breathed.

“Yeah.” Linz pointed at scribbles in the tunnels. “Whoever made this put down where the blockades are, where the tunnels aren’t stable but still open, and the numbers? They’re associated with these sheets, and they describe all the areas in detail.”

“It’s my handwriting,” Dagby said.

Ah. That explained his presence. “That’s why you originally came to Ambercaast?” Lapis asked.

He shook his head. “I don’t remember, but mapping tunnels isn’t something I would have done for fun. It had to be a secondary thing associated with my stake. Granna Cup said I told her something about finding a Caastaway. I don’t know what or who that refers to.”

Faelan scanned the first sheet. “You were very thorough.”

“I knew my craft. Hunters don’t survive if they don’t document and study their stakes. I always took detailed notes, and that was before I needed them to remember anything.” He sighed. “Not everything is there. I referenced pages that aren’t included.”

“How did Danaea get these?” Lapis asked.

“I don’t know, but I didn’t work for her. I told you she wasn’t worth the trouble, and I meant it. I . . . don’t remember who paid my stake. I never kept records on things like that.” He rubbed at his forehead. “Whoever hired me, it wasn’t Hoyt. Even in the sorry state I was in, I would never have worked for him.” He laughed. “He didn’t have enough money to afford me, anyway. Whatever I did, it was for someone wealthy.”

“Here’s the interesting part,” Linz said. She withdrew another map. It contained several layers of mine tunnels, all leading down to a large room with a lot of progressively smaller circles and wavy lines in the middle. “According to the pages, this room still has veins of aquatheerdaal.”

“I returned with a chunk of it,” Dagby said. “That’s probably where I picked it up.”

“But most of it is underwater. The edges go down like steps, to a center with unknown depth.”

Cassa frowned at the map. “I don’t remember seeing any of the old maps with these particular tunnels,” she said.

“Neither do I.” Kathandra glanced at the older, yellow documents. “The mines mostly stayed to the north of the river. The largest one, the Caast, had tunnels that went further northwest than the rest, but they ended long before the extended metro area petered out into rural outlying communities. I don’t know of a mine further west than that.”

“We need to ask the Depths,” Cassa said. She scurried away, apparently to do just that.

Lapis admired her. She never waited for approval, just leapt into what she felt was necessary to do. From Kathandra’s annoyance, she likely did it too often.

Brander studied the map, his fingers thrumming on his upper arm, deep enough in thought she did not think he had heard most of the conversation. “Brander?”

He blinked and looked up. “Chinder used to tell a story, about an old cave with a pool in the center, ringed by shallow steps. We all thought it was a ghost story to frighten us kids into behaving, but . . . maybe not.” He hissed through his teeth.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s like a dark fairy tale in street rat circles. A woman named Lizza met a little rat. She took him to a pool way away into the mountains, where sunlight did not reach, and ghosts with four legs danced. They watched the revelry from a niche high in the wall, only to be discovered by the largest of the ghosts. The ghost chased them down the hillsides and back to the streets of Jiy, where they belonged, then it receded, giving dire warnings about returning to the mountains. He always spoke in the most solemn voice, as if he spoke sentiments at the Pit.”

The rats had told Lapis some tales, but not that particular one. Each city had different myths, and her familiarity lay with Coriy’s scary side.

“I know that story. I usually tell mine along with it,” Dagby said. “I remember something of the khentauree. They chased me, too.” He sat, his elbows on his thighs, hands dangling between his knees. “Mechanical, grey, fast, and their necks and torsos turned oddly around, like an owl’s head. I studied the one left in camp. I don’t recall the sphere in the chest, but everything else matches.” He cocked his head. “That story stars Vali, doesn’t it? She lives in Jiy, walks around there, then travels up this way. Lizza could be short for lizard. I’ve heard the woman referred to as Terron, too. That’s interesting. It means she knows how to get there.”

And the knowledge was useless because when Faelan contacted Gera after their return to check on the news, she said the terron vacated her position at the camp and disappeared. Cassa assumed she went after Rin and Tovi, and Lapis bet the same.

Linz tapped at the table. “If you look at the other maps Dagby drew, and the one for above ground, it looks like there are a series of tunnels that run from one of the destroyed buildings in the northeast to that pool, and all of them seem to be major routes. They’re large enough, they should show up on other maps.”

Faelan nodded. “Let’s check.” He practically drilled a hole into Lapis’s head. “Don’t even think it.”

Tearlach smiled, the ass.

Lapis decided sitting next to Dagby would be more productive than staring at lines and scribbles with the rest of them, glaring annoyed fire out of the corner of her eye at her brother. Of course, if she bided her time, waited for a lax moment, and peeked at the large sheets, she would know where the tunnel entrance sat, giving them a convenient starting point.

Dagby looked at her, a small but very amused smile lighting his face. “I’ll go with you.”


“Oh oh oh! I’ll go too!”


“Linz,” Faelan said, a warning in his voice. They produced the saddest expression outside a stage drama and returned to the map. Her brother and his love exchanged a look, one Lapis remembered too well from her childhood—her parents had used it often enough before they tore into her for one of her misadventures.

How many should she take? She did not have access to the tech needed for a large infiltration, but if the people who offered to help were sneaky enough, it would work—

Cassa huffed in, annoyed. “Ghinka’s refusing to speak with me,” she gritted. “I even told her kosee Badger kidnapped Tovi.”

“They don’t care?” Lapis asked.

Cassa pressed her lips firmly together. “When stressed, terrons turn to superstition for religious relief. Normally the Depths residents aren’t so traditional because superstition, in one way or another, played a role in their being here, but with the merc and khentauree threat . . .” She deflated, her shoulders sinking low enough Lapis rose, concerned. “Tovi’s an outcast,” she said, her voice cracking. “He has two quarter moon marks above his thighs. His village saw it as an evil omen, and when the storm destroyed the community and killed his parents, they justified exiling him by blaming him for the destruction. They abandoned him on a hill and told him never to return. The terrons here never seemed to care about the omen, but now they’re doing the same thing.” Her hands clenched tight enough, her palms turned white. “Vali thinks the meanness and cruelty are excuses to keep the cowardly in line because no one wants that turned on them.” She sucked in a deep breath. “Nathala isn’t superstitious, either. She sees it as a waste of mental resources. I can ask her. She might remember the tunnels.”

Lapis’s anger rose at the terrons. Purposefully throwing a child into the streets to satisfy some stupid myth pricked her hate. She helped rats overcome the pain of abandonment, and her experiences with Rin proved how deep those scars ran.

“You can’t visit the Depths right now,” Kathandra warned. “We don’t know where the khentauree are.”

“What am I supposed to do, Kathandra?” Cassa snarled. “Sit here while my son’s in danger?”

“You don’t have a choice.”

There were always choices. Maybe not smart ones, but always choices. By the way both Cassa and Dagby looked at her, they agreed.

Lapis slipped into the dark meeting room, one with the shades drawn over the glass windows facing the hallway. She smoothed her gauntlets as her eyes adjusted, and she focused on the silhouette of a man leaning against the far wall, arms crossed.

“You’re fast,” she told him. She had given him the note only a few hours previous.

He shrugged. “I want answers, too—though I’m not certain how many I’ll get.”

Still, having an ex-hunter with them made her feel a slight bit safer. Considering his rough appearance, the mercs would underestimate him, he would strike, and Lapis would mourn they could not throw the bodies in the Pit afterwards. The asses deserved to be on the wrong side of a carrion lizard meal.

Rin and Tovi better be safe, whole. If not . . .

Cassa huffed in, backpack stuffed with who knew what, wearing warmer pants, sweater and jacket. She looked expectantly at Lapis as she pushed from the wall; when the woman promised to hurry, she hurried. She appreciated that, considering they needed to flee before anyone realized their intent.

Dagby straightened, his hands in his pockets, his gaze idly observing the pack’s bulges.

“I grabbed some equipment and took pics of the maps,” the scientist said. “There’s an underground entrance near the second building that once led to a train station that still looks clear. We could use one of the vehicles at the Depths, but I’m not sure we should. The lights will give us away.”

“I hiked it,” Dagby reminded them.

Cassa nodded and smiled, then ducked her head. “Do you still want to ask Nathala for food supplies?”

“There’s too many eyes here to easily get what we need,” Lapis said. “What do terrons take for payment?”

“They bargain for services. In this case, though, she might make an exception. She’s very fond of Tovi, and she’s going to be upset that Badger purposefully endangered him. If not, there’s plenty I can do for her in return.”

Casssa whirled, stopped. Lapis caught her breath, then gritted her teeth.

Her brother stood in the doorway, arms crossed. “You three are easier to read than a baby’s book,” he told them, unamused.

Dammit. “We’re going to find Rin and Tovi,” Lapis snapped.

“You’re going to get yourselves killed,” he immediately replied. He flipped the switch to the light, blinding them, and walked into the room, trailed by several rebels. He planned a guilt trip? It would not work. Rin and Tovi’s lives were far more important than hurt feelings.

“We’ll be careful.”

“As careful as you were here?”

“I’m my own woman. I’m going. You aren’t going to stop me.”

He sighed, exasperated. “You’ve never been as sneaky as you think.”

“What do you mean by that?” she asked, furiously outraged.

“You crawling out on the tree branch to get over the wall and to the berry bushes at night.”

He knew about that?

“Or snagging your dress every time you tried to follow Teige and the dogs. Or how about you and Neola trying to stuff yourselves through that thin hole in the barn?”

“I’ve done something called ‘training’ since then. And you can’t hold anything against me that I did when I was four!”

Ciaran laughed, the ass.

Linz jumped into the room, excitement bouncing off them like sun rays, and raised their arm. “I’m going too!” They already wore thick pants, sweater and heavy coat, ready for the mountain night’s chill.

Faelan flicked his eyes to them but did not lose his serious edge. “Caitria’s busy, and Linz is as tech-knowledgeable. And you’re taking more guards than one ex-hunter, however skilled he may be.”

Dagby raised an eyebrow. “How many?”

“Two, because my uncle’s Swift isn’t large enough for more. Tearlach and Brander.” He rubbed at his eyes. “Everyone flipped coins for it, so I don’t want to hear any more complaining.”

The rebels not going, but who knew her, did not look pleased, especially Ciaran. She thought a smaller infiltration group a better idea, and the Swift provided a convenient excuse not to send the entire Blue Council’s guards. Besides, Faelan needed protectors, too, and his position made him far more important than she.

Her brother eyed them. “You’re not just going to look for Rin and Tovi,” he told them. “Jarosa wants you to find the source of the khentauree. She figures, if you were going to sneak out anyway, you might as well make yourselves useful.”

Lapis’s stomach fluttered as she froze. She did not want to go anywhere near anything related to khentauree! Cassa’s dumbstruck expression reflected her nauseous shock, though Dagby appeared far more interested. Ex-hunter, indeed.

“We’ve put together a pack with tech and communications equipment that isn’t as affected by the interference. And expect Patch to join you. I doubt anything I say will keep him here once he’s told you’re underground.”

“When’s he getting back?” Lapis whispered.

“I’m not certain.” Her brother studied her. “He already put in an order for a more advanced device.” Had he? Good thing he had not told her, because she would have complained to him until his dying day, about endangering himself further with mods. “So it’s not going to take him as long as you might think. There’s a spray in the pack. It’ll glow with the right type of light shined on it. Mark your path, and he’ll follow it.”

Easy enough.

“Dagby, the Minq plan to pay you for this stake, and at least a metgal, considering the situation. They claim that’s in line with your usual fees.”

How much money had Dagby spent on brainbreak, that he had no money left over from such boons?

“Then I suppose Lanth doesn’t have to compensate me.”

“I think your need for closure is driving you, more than a monetary reward. The Minq do want something in return, however. They’re interested in anything you might find about the other entities in the tunnels, mercs, Hoyt, whoever. Don’t engage, just scout and document.”

He nodded, as if expecting the task.

“We need to go to the Depths first,” Cassa said. “I still want to tell Nathala about Tovi’s kidnapping. If Badger returns and she confronts him, we’ll know more about the transfer. He’ll not win the duel if he refuses to speak with her, and then he’ll have to talk, if he’s as bound to tradition as he claims.”

“Alright. Let’s go over the equipment, and Ulfrik will take you there first.”

On impulse, Lapis walked over and hugged her brother. She recognized the signs, how he held himself too stiffly, the gruff unhappiness masking deeper pain. True, the confrontation had the feel of an official event, but as she pointed out, she was her own woman. She did not look to the rebellion for leadership, however much it kept worming into her life. Why follow norms she refused to play by?

Morose sadness descended when he gripped her back.

Then she hugged Ciaran, because he looked as if he needed the comfort.

She was not carting off to her doom. She would rescue Rin and Tovi and get everyone’s ass back to the surface, no worse for wear. All else was secondary, no matter how much info Jarosa and the Minq wanted. So was nabbing Hoyt, despite how dearly she wanted to lug his sorry butt to Jiy and throw him over the bridge into the Pit. That satisfaction would need to wait.

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