- Rune Breaker: Chapter 43 – Pele
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 44 – Haumea
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 45 – Arunsteadeles and Ridsekes
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 46 – The One Who Was Lost
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 47 – Reclamation
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 48 – Days of Light and Joy
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 49 – What Matters
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 50 – An Evening at the Silver Hammer Lodge
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 51 – The Immaculate Raptor
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 52 – Spiders and Demons
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 53 – The Journal of Lena Hiddakko
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 54 – Beasts of the Deep
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 55 – The Drinking Gourd
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 56 – Death and Fog
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 57 – The Siege of Nhan Raduul
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 58 – Last Line of Defense
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 59 – He Who Destroys
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 60 – In the Sanctum of the Mask
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 61 – Daughter of the Dragon
It had started with a shock of terror, as the young Kaydan recruit turned to find that the man in front of him was the Rune Breaker. He had frozen, rooted to the spot by the gruesome deaths he’d seen his fellows die at the creature’s hands—by the same hand that was transforming into a blade before his eyes.
Then came the spasm. A dozen muscles in the blade-arm seized up at once and it snapped back into its original shape. That seemed to shock the Rune Breaker more than it did him; the dark mage staring, preoccupied with the malfunctioning appendage.
A miracle. It had to have been a miracle, sent by the Threefold Moon himself to mark the soldier as chosen; worthy of the glory of striking down the Rune Breaker and winning the day for his god. Terror crumbled apart under tremors of excitement and he plunged his spear into his foe’s chest, putting his weight into it so as to pull the Rune Breaker first to his knees, then onto his side on the ground.
It wasn’t a fatal blow, however. Still gaping at his hand, the Rune Breaker started to babble names and phrases that had no meaning to the Kaydan. He stabbed the fallen man again to finish him off and again when that didn’t work.
But the Rune Breaker did not die.
Terror returned as, in the midst of the babble, the wizard managed a spell, causing a purple flame to ignite around the ring he wore. Another thrust to the hollow of the man’s throat should have ended that, but didn’t. Instead, the ring was brought to the Rune Breaker’s brow, causing the fire to leap from the ring to his eyes.
Then he began screaming. It wasn’t the sound of a dying man—the soldier knew that sound and had learned to enjoy it when it came from an enemy. Somehow, it was the opposite: the scream of a man who could not die, no matter how much he wanted it—no matter how much he suffered.
Power pulsed out of the Rune Breaker in faint waves of nearly invisible lilac light. It started to fray the sleeves of his robe, exposing glowing purple lines starting to range from where his nails met his fingers, then toward the backs of his hands.
The Kaydan didn’t know what it meant, but he knew he had to stop it or be slain by it. He raised his spear for another stab, unsure where to stab in order to finally end the monster at his feet.
In retrospect, he imagined that his squad leader (if he yet lived) would be disappointed in how he’d become so focused on a single enemy to the exclusion of the rest of the battle. The rest of the battle, however, hadn’t lost track of him.
A rasping clatter preceded a strong tug on the raised butt of his spear. By instinct, he followed through with it to keep his weapon from being wrest from his hands. At first, he saw no one behind him, but then his eyes picked up on the chain wrapped around the butt end of his weapon and followed it to the grim-faced little woman at its other end, and the kukri gleaming wetly with the blood of his comrades in her off-hand.
There was no time to do anything but raise his spear to block. Except the chain was still wrapped around it.
The halfling used his guarding motion to aid in her leap. Her chain-wielding hand caught the rising haft and lifted her the rest of the way, bringing her into range. The kukri flashed out, splitting open both windpipe and jugular in a single brutal swipe.
Raiteria watched the Kaydan soldier drop his spear in order to scrabble uselessly at his throat. She stepped over the fallen weapon and helped him on his way to the Seven Interlocking Hells by ramming her kukri to the hilt in his gut while driving her weight behind it. He toppled, still alive, but not for long.
A flick of her wrist dislodged her chain from around the spear and she approached Ru. She was small enough and non-threatening enough compared to Pele or Zect, that no one took the opportunity to engage her.
“Ru?” She asked, looking into unseeing, flame rimmed eyes.
A man in leather armor crashed down beside her, cauterized wounds sizzling across his chest and gut courtesy of Dottir Logi. Pele wasn’t far behind him. Scales had broken out along the sides of her face and when she spoke, Rai could see sharpened teeth.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“I have no idea.” said Rai, turning to whip a rushing man’s sword aside so Pele could skewer him with Novacula Kuponya. “I just got here. He was screaming and just letting a Kaydan stab him over and over. Can’t you ask him with your link?”
Pele twisted the Eastern Brand to force a thrusting glaive’s head to scrape across the mail over her ribs instead of piercing it. After dispatching its wielder, she spared Ru a glance. His pain was filling the link, so vivid she could almost feel it herself. It was so deep, so awful, that she recognized it at the raw version of an echo she felt once before. Her eyes darted to…
“Watch out!” Pele came back to herself in time to see a sword aimed for her throat being jerked aside by Rai’s chain. In an instant, the halfling had stepped into the guard of the women holding it and slashed her kukri through her leather greaves to open the vital artery running along her inner thigh.
It was a fatal strike, but not instantly so. The Kaydan struggled through the pain and the hot flow of blood leaving her, trying to twist her sword around to hit Rai.
Pele responded automatically in defense of her sister; swinging the fist gripping Novacula Kuponya into the attacker’s jaw. The strength of the blow lifted the woman up a few inches and even that wasn’t enough to keep her mandible from shattering like a fine vase, nor her brain from rattling around in her skull until she sank into unconsciousness.
“It’s the ring.” Pele repeated stepping forward to guard Rai as she untangled her chain from around the sword. Somewhere to their right, a sheet of flame ignited a knot of soldiers and sent a cat-creature away, smoldering and yowling. “He bought it in Rivenport. It’s meant to make him relive a memory.”
“And he used it in the middle of the fight? Now I really want to know what’s wrong with him.” Rai glared at Ru like she wanted to kick him, but didn’t dare take her eyes off the whirling fray around her.
Pele crossed her sword, causing the Eastern Brand to spit a burst of sparks into the faces of a pair of swordsmen who thought to rush her as a team. When they instinctively pulled back to guard their faces, she lunged into them, knocking one off his feet and pinning the other’s sword against his breastplate. Now face-to-face with him, Pele felt the fire inside her kindle and rise up her throat. Almost without willing it to come, she spat a glob of burning gel into his open visor. He fell back screaming; knocking over a spear carrier who had been passing behind him.
“It’s not like that.” She explained to Rai now that she had some breathing space to reset herself. “It’s to get his scars back… or the memory of them—I’m not sure how it works, just that he thinks it will make his spellcasting more powerful. The problem is, well…”
Rai whipped a woman carrying a cudgel across the face with her chain. “It leaves him completely immobile with pain?” She looked back at the dark mage. His sleeves had frayed up to his elbows now and the purple lines had etched his skin up to that point, mimicking where ancient scars once were. “I don’t see how that helps anything.”
“He’s supposed to come out of it.” said Pele. “I’m not sure how—he refused to discuss it.”
The initial charge of reinforcements was ebbing and Zect had laid down a slick of oil that was staggering the next wave. The Kaydans not currently engaged in close-quarters fighting were forced to fall back into a loose, widely spaced formation and wait for their remaining spellcasters and ranged specialists to form up and the warbeasts to be brought to the fore.
At the same time, the rest of the invaders: Kaiel, Brin and Zect, gravitated to where Ru lay, fighting off the remnants of the original defenders and first wave of reinforcements as they came. Pele quickly got them up to speed with what was going on.
Kaiel quickly disengaged from his opponent, leaving Zect to handle him, and knelt to examine Ru. “Clearly whatever he thought was going to happen with this spell happened differently.” He said after a few tense moments of observation. “He’s not just having that memory dredged up and made new again, he’s living through it again—exactly as it happened.”
“He almost died. If he passes out form the pain he’ll die.” Pele murmured, recalling the flash of the event she received before. “Last time, he didn’t pull himself out of this.”
“Then what did?” Asked Kaiel, his loreman training keeping his tone even, though she knew he must be frantic.
Zect crushed a soldier’s larynx with a knife-hand strike and looked toward the assembling Kaydans. The ponderous imoc-te vorian were rolling forward, their weight creating friction where the oil stole it and keeping them upright. Two of the cat beasts were padding out as well, and rifles were being readied behind a hastily erected shield wall. More soldiers and monsters were making their way to the line from the lower tiers and linking up with the other survivors.
“He had best wake up soon, unless one of you has the magic to take down Immurai’s whole army combined.” he barked.
“Gloryfall.” Pele said, quickly putting away her swords. In her haste, she reached down and lifted Ru up onto his knees. “Gloryfall made him stay awake. Ru, Gloryfall is here. You have to wake up for her.” The cruelty of that kind of lie pained her, but she had no ideas left.
At the name, Ru started, but instead of his affections and hope, what stirred was despair. “Gloryfall is long dead.” His voice was rough, but not the reptilian growl he liked to affect. “Seth is dead. Gand is dead. Raynt and the students… dead by my hand. I am dead. Only the Rune Breaker remains.”
His sleeves were gone, the line burning their way all the way to the shoulder and starting in on his back.
From where Pele stood, she could feel the vibrations of giant footfalls through her boots. Stress and adrenaline, and the roaring in her head combined and boiled over in Pele. She shook him so hard that if she’d been thinking straight, she might have worried about hurting him.
“No. You. Aren’t!” She screamed in his face. “You are a person, Ru. Haven’t I told you that enough damned times? Haven’t I done everything I possibly could to prove that to you?” She tightened her grip as something like confusion flickered in the link.
“You call yourself some kind of master mage. You act like you’re superior to everyone. But now you can’t wake up from a spell you cast on yourself? History will laugh at you—if there even is any history after this.”
A kite shield-shaped barrier of yellow light flared into being in time to catch the first round of bullets and arrows. Kaiel got to his feet to reinforce it.
Pele ignored it, if she even knew it was going on. “Because if we lose here, and I don’t manage to kill myself before Immurai gets to me, he gets his Soul Battery and he gets to do anything he wants to the world. Either way, he’ll be the only one around to take the link.
“Think about that, Ru: No more doing whatever you want. No more being a caustic bastard to whoever you feel like. You pretend you don’t care, but I can tell—I can tell you like whatever freedom you can get. All of that goes away in minutes if you don’t wake up right now.”
Rai started firing, but it took two shots to bring down a single imoc-te vorian. Brin summoned Reflair and added her discarnate power to the shield as a second, more concentrated storm of projective struck it.
“Gloryfall isn’t here, but I am. I’m not your love, but I always hoped I was your friend.” Pele couldn’t shake Ru anymore. It wasn’t working anyway. “That’s your choice, Ru. That’s why you should wake up. Do you want the link connected to someone who wants to be your friend, or an evil that even you can’t abide by?”
She was so caught up in the rising flood of her own thoughts, that she didn’t notice when the pain was overridden completely by the confusion, which was itself replaced by puzzled contemplation. All she knew was that he wasn’t even screaming anymore and there was no response.
“You know I don’t want to order you.” She verbally stumbled to the end of the litany in her head. “But this is too important. For Motsey. For the others. For the world. I don’t want to… but I will.”
It would have been incorrect to call the moment that followed silence. Projectiles rattled off the barrier or got stuck in it, buzzing like furious hornets. Beasts snarled, and soldiers bellowed battle cries. They might as well have not been there for Pele. She just heard her own heart drumming in her ears and her own voice trying to come up with a plan.
She might still be able to breech the keep. The massed army and huge monsters would be less of a threat there until she found Immurai… and faced him with mean strength against demonic magic. It wasn’t a good plan, but it was all she had.
The rough laugh startled her out of her thoughts and made her aware of the cruel amusement and small, grudging respect in the link. Looking down, she found Ru’s eyes opening. The purple flames riming them were burning away, replaced by liquid gold.
Ru reinstated the magic that let him float and he stopped being a dead weight in her hands. His lupine, murderous grin returned to his face. “You are a liar, Miss Pele: there have been many time where you wanted nothing to do with me, much less to be my friend.”
What he said was true, so Pele didn’t argue. She just let him feel that at that moment, she couldn’t be happier that he was alright.
He didn’t respond to the emotion, tamping down his own end of the link. “I have lost my shapeshifting: a trick by Immurai.” Rising up from his knees, he raised a fist between them. The psi-wrought scars glimmered on the back of his hand, all the way up to his shoulder before disappearing beneath his shredded robe. “But I have regained the quick-cast.”
Peering past her shoulder and wing, he saw the approaching lesser demons and Kimean warbeasts. “A demonstration is in order.” A complex array was already starting to come together in his head; the individual pieces following the patterns of his scars as a template, and every physical element being called into service. His right hand began to draw patterns in the air.
Ru floated to his right, away from Pele so that he had a clear vantage. “Lower the barrier.” He ordered.
Both Kaiel and Brin hesitated, looking to Pele. She just nodded and drew her swords. It was time to put an end to Immurai’s army and continue their mission.
No sooner did the barrier flicker out of being than a second battery of rifles unloaded. Ru was ready, casting effectively from the hip with his left hand while still constructing the spell he’d already begun. Vin, alloyed with ere-a became a flexible, invisible, and impervious ribbon that he slashed through the air in front of their position. Almost two dozen bullets deflected wildly around the plaza, striking pavers, tearing through hedges, and putting ineffectual holes in imoc-te vorian.
One of the cat-beasts, seeing his preoccupation with that casting, threw itself into action, bounding across the plaza full tilt and ignoring the oil that threatened to make its paw-hands slip. Twenty yards from its target, Rai put a bullet in its chest, but that didn’t stop it. When it closed to within nine yards, it gathered itself and leapt, claws extended for Ru.
“Heh.” The last pieces of the spell came together right on time and Ru raised his palm to the pouncing monster. Akua, ere-a, ferif, flaer, vin, and vox leapt into the air in a single, recombinant bolt of power that seethed with every color imaginable, and those that only existed in the far-flung potential of the mind before blending into white. A Chaos Lance.
It rose up and bored into the chest of the descending feline, tearing it apart right down to its most basic components before rebuilding it in another form.
For a moment, it was a thing of beauty, suspended in the air in an instant that seemed to stretch on and on. Its fur had become porcelain, its flesh crystal that showed through the holes previously torn into it by bullets. In the next instant, gravity had claimed it and it came crashing down. Porcelain shattered. Crystal fractured and turned to splinters and powder. In a cascade of ruined splendor, former flesh and skin fell away to reveal bones turned to cold iron, bound together by sinew made of impossibly braided granite.
It somehow remained in one piece; a once living creature turned to macabre art by a hellish blending of magic.
Ru turned to Pele. His scholar’s tail had come loose and his hair fell wild around his face to the point that she only got glimpses of mad gold through his tresses. He dipped his head in the direction of the assembled Kaydan army.
“Shall I kill them, Miss Pele?”
She tightened her grip on her swords, and slipped into a ready stance. Even without the link telegraphing what he had in mind, simply knowing him was enough that she saw it coming. Some of the imoc-te vorian would reach them before he finished casting—it would fall to the rest of them to deal with the monsters.
Ru grinned, and it wasn’t just a baring of teeth this time. He was going to enjoy himself. A gesture and a channeling of vox caused his scythe to unfold from the extra-dimensional space he stowed it in, and he swung the heavy blade up to rest on his shoulders before starting to recite: “That which is nothing and yet fills all empty space. That which we pass through, and yet drives galleons forward. Heed my will. Focus and be transformed.”
Vin whipped the air around him into a whirlwind, which centered itself around the blade of the scythe, throwing itself against the edge as Ru wrapped the weapon in an array of ere-a to bolster it.
Someone along the Kaydan lines, one of the ones too stupid to already be running, loosed an arrow at him. Pele was shocked to find the Barratta cutting it out of the air. She didn’t have much time to think on it, as one of the lesser demons was upon them. Both she and Zect leapt to attack it.
“Let all forces arrayed against be scattered. Let those who stand in my way be torn asunder!” The wind ceased to howl and began instead to scream as the rushing air began to split against a supernaturally keen edge. It only grew worse as Ru began to swing the weapon up and off his shoulders, then overhead.
Air flared into plasma before the reaping blade, the tiniest particles that could even be considered ‘air’ being torn asunder and blazing into plumes of white, pink, and blue flame. Against the resistance put up by matter against annihilation, Ru dragged his blade forward, using the slash to direct the incredible energy he was unleashing.
While Pele and Zect fought the imoc-te vorian, a warbeast built like a gigantic crocodile with a mane around its neck that writhed like a separate creature put on a burst of speed as it neared them. Rai deftly replaced one round with another in her rifle’s ammunition carousel, and fired a timer round down its wide-open gullet. The clockwork ticking echoed out of its cavernous mouth for three seconds before its head exploded.
At the moment of greatest tension, where the gathered energies threatened to break free in yet another punishing backlash, the scythe endured. Reinforced by the revitalized will of the Rune Breaker, it held as he channeled enough power to level all of Nhan Raduul through it.
Unlike what he did at Idarian homestead, which was a hasty attempt to bleed off some of the terrible power, Ru didn’t form this one into a killing ribbon of heat and destruction. It would have done the job of killing the Kaydans, but he wanted to send a message to Immurai: that taking away Ru Brakar’s shapeshifting only removed his excuse to be lazy. He honed the lash of power down until it was only the width of a human hair—then unleashed it.
The scythe came down with a snick, raising a line of dust from the pavers with the wind of its passage. The flames guttered out, and it seemed as if his spell had done nothing. At least it seemed that way to anyone that didn’t see how the line of dust extended a hundred yards; or who didn’t feel the first tremor.
Kaiel was one of the few who picked up on the latter right away. “What did you do?” He asked, throwing up his barrier again in time to block renewed, sporadic fire.
“Just wait.” replied Ru, his malevolent grin affixed to his face. The tremors worsened and others were starting to notice. If they didn’t notice that, they did notice the curtain of dust rising from the bottom tier even if they didn’t know where it came from.
The reality was that it was the ejected debris from a hair-thin arc-shaped cut that had severed a wedge of the entire series of tiered gardens from the main keep. More importantly, almost the entirety of Immurai’s surviving army was standing atop that slab as it slowly began to come apart in the tug-of-war between gravity and friction.
Tremors gave way to a full-fledged localized earthquake. Fissures started to appear as the component stones that made up the tiers started grinding into and disintegrating one another beneath the Kaydan’s very feet. Once it began, it could only accelerate.
Plumes of dust were ejected skyward by the built-up pressure, plates of stone flaked off from the main body and flipped over, tossing anyone who might have stood on them like corks on a storm-tossed sea. Within moments—two or three minutes at best—the thin cut became an avalanche that buried Immurai’s army beneath it and carried the battered corpses through the gate below.
Kaiel manipulated his shield into a quarter-dome encompassing the group and the door, spreading its defensive power so thin that it only filtered out the copious dust rolling up from the devastation Ru wrought. “Blood to ice…” he murmured.
“That,” Ru said, “is why so many seek the power of the Rune Breaker.” With that, he set this attention on the layers of bolstering and defensive magics protecting the doors of the keep. They would be nearly impenetrable for most, but the name ‘Rune Breaker’ wasn’t given to him just because it approximated his given one.
The ground had moved.
Everything had been under control, as far as Tolere was concerned. The siege began and the two mercenary wizards assigned to the Home Guard raised the wards over the door. Eight men, each selected from the island’s original company of guards, gathered in the main hall in case the doors were breached. Meanwhile, Tolere led the servants in sheltering down in the servant’s quarters.
The beatific order lasted right up until the ground began to shake, causing the old stones of the keep to groan and shed mortar dusts in fits and cascades. Someone (and Tolere swore that he would have that person put in stocks) started screaming that the keep was going to tumble down onto their heads.
Of course it wasn’t. Tolere knew every maintenance job that had cropped up around the place in decades. Under his management, the keep was cleaner, in better repair, and above all, more durable than it had been when it was first built. When he told them it wasn’t going to collapse, that should have been the end of it.
It wasn’t the end of it.
The servants all bolted from their hiding places at once, running like rabbits for the various passages and hidden nooks that filled the old place. Everyone knew of at least one way into or out of the keep that they thought was their special secret, and now they were finding flailing crowds all cramming into tunnels barley meant to let one person pass.
When they found their ways out clogged, some stormed the main hall, demanding to be let out and to hell with whoever or whatever was laying siege. Some others decided to try the long stair down to the dock.
He opted to go to the main hall in order to try and talk some sense into those whose blind animal terror might cause the keep to actually fall. At least that’s what he intended. But when he arrived, he found himself confronted by a stampede of maids, porters, valets, and gardeners, all of whom wanted nothing more than to get away from the doors.
The wizards were on their feet, whirling their hands in complex patterns and all but screaming incantations. In front of them, the armed and armored Home Guard formed up to protect them: four men for each mage.
Whatever the wizards were doing, it wasn’t enough. A deep, resonant sound made the heavy doors vibrate. The stout timber barring the door, made from a single old oak, rattled in the brackets holding it in place. It grew in volume and intensity until Tolere couldn’t hear the wizards anymore, or even the fearful utterances of the servants streaming out of the room around him.
He couldn’t think to move. After a lifetime working on Nhan Raduul, of maintaining the keep and all who lived not only within its walls, but on the entire island, his mind simply couldn’t comprehend that it was all slipping into the Seven Interlocking Hells within weeks of Lord Crossius returning. Everything he’d worked for. Everything he’d been so proud of. Gone. Turned to ash.
The doors held. They were wooden, but so old and well cared for that they might as well have been petrified. The timber and brackets, however, broke under the onslaught from the other side. When the wooden bar broke, it did so with a deafening noise. The bolts holding the brackets in the wood were stripped, allowing the two halves of the timber to fly free, crashing into the main hall.
Four of the Home Guard died beneath the tumbling weight, crushed inside their armor.
Tolere barely registered their passage, as he was preoccupied with the disparate group who now stood in the door. Among them were a halfling woman, already training a rifle on one of the wizards, a woman who looked to be one of the Kimeans’ experiments: of hailene stock, but with red wings and scales growing wild on her arms and face, a curiously blonde half-elf with a spear, a shirtless man bearing a hollow gourd, and an obvious wizard who floated instead of standing and carried a scythe.
Front and center was a dark-haired human, carrying an arming sword in one hand and a six-shot pistol in the other; like a highwayman. His mouth was open and moving slowly as the resonance that blew open the doors issued from it.
One of the Home Guard rushed him with his heavy two-handed sword. The man with the powerful voice slipped into a classical sword-fighting stance and in a flowing motion, both side-stepped the incoming blow and deflected it with his own smaller weapon. In that same move, he brought the pistol up to the guard’s chin and pulled the trigger once.
Tolere didn’t see any more of the fight after that. It was too much. Paralyzed by fear and hopelessness, he simply collapsed where he stood, screwing his eyes shut as tightly as he could. Closed eyes didn’t keep the noises of the quick, brutal battle from him. Metal rang on metal, punctuated by wet, solid sounds when weapons struck home. The pistol spoke twice more, accompanied by the louder report of a rifle. Worst was the crackle of lightning followed by screams and a stench of ozone mixed with burning flesh and hair.
When all of the defenders were dead or incapacitated, the invaders conferred. Tolere heard some talk of a child and names he didn’t recognize. He didn’t care what they wanted as long as he didn’t hear them mentioning putting the servants to the sword. All he could think of was remaining still and hoping it would pass.
Without warning, a hand snatched at Tolere’s hair, getting a fistful in its grip and forcing the steward’s head up. He found himself face-to-face with the invading wizard, staring into the man’s wild, wolf-like eyes. There was a tremor in the man’s arm, as if he intended to haul Tolere to his feet, but found him too heavy.
“You.” Lack of strength of not, Tolere knew a dangerous voice when he heard it. The wizard had his attention. “Tell me where Immurai the Masked is.”
Tolere blinked. True panic was hitting him, as he had no idea who or what ‘Immurai’ was. “I-I don’t…” He tried to force out.
“He may not know it’s Immurai.” A new face appeared beside and above the wizard’s: the scale-covered hailene. She looked to the steward with sympathy. “Lord Crossius. Do you know where Lord Crossius is?”
Loyalty was important to Tolere. He’d been born to a line of stewards and valets dating back from long before the schism that sent the Kimeans on a migration to their archipelago. The capacity for betrayal had been bred out of him generations before.
“The North Tower.” he stammered. “The previous lord’s laboratory. The Lord retreated there when the siege began and sent Lady Milfine and young lady Layaka down to the docks.”
“That’s where Motsey is.” the dark-haired man with the deadly voice said, sidling up to them. He was loading fresh rounds into his pistol.
“Good.” Tolere assumed that voice belonged to the halfling. “I planned on making both of them pay for what they’ve done once Motsey is safe.”
Another female voice piped up. “How are we going to deal with Matasume and those wires?”
The dark-haired man snapped the drum of his pistol back into a ready position. “I’ve spent a long time thinking about that—I’m not in favor of having my legs flayed again. I think I’ve figured out how to see the wires; the question is how to take advantage of that. Last night, Rai gave me an amazing idea…”
He looked to Tolere, still held pathetically in the wizard’s grip. “We’re going to need you to show us the way down to the docks.”