A Blight of Blackwings | Chapter 16 of 32

Author: Kevin Hearne | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1200 Views | Add a Review

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Day 30 The Rift

Pelemyn was a city of sardine breath on the thirtieth day of the bard’s tales. Not one but two ships had found a shoal to harvest, so practically everyone was eating them, but especially on Survivor Field, where the kitchen served them up along with flatbread to the folks who’d had nothing but bread the previous day.

“They arrived under guard, can you believe it?” the chef told me when I showed up to volunteer.

“I can.”

She peered at me through narrowed eyes and folded her arms across her chest. “You did something?”

“I left a note for the pelenaut and I presume he did something.”

The chef snorted. “That he did. He removed the discount from pricing, so there’s no motivation not to sell to us, and then he had mariners escort the government’s portion here every step of the way.”

“I heard some fishermen left because of the discount.”

She laughed. “Wouldn’t be surprised if that was his plan all along. He wanted to get rid of the profiteers.”

I laughed with her, realizing it was probably true. Rölly and his flow studies—he’d probably seen it coming. And whoever had been hijacking the shipments was probably in a dungeon by now.

The chef set me to packing sardines in individual servings, bathed in salt and oil and wrapped in waxed paper, while she made flatbread. I had to leave before noon, but it was good to know that people would be eating, regardless of the damage to their breath.

I was all ready to discuss the meeting of the Joabeians with Fintan and enjoy the day, but my hopes were dashed when I met him at the dockside fishblade joint. For he had someone sitting next to him on the bench, and that someone was his wife, Numa, master courier of the Raelech Triune.

“Shall I return later?” I asked Dervan after greeting Numa. “I can let you have some time together.”

“Nonsense,” Numa said, beaming a smile at me that was stunningly bright. “I’m here to see you, Master Dervan.”


I gingerly sat down across the table from them, dreading what was to come next. Because Numa would not wish to see me for social reasons. I am not one of the cool kids.

The fishblade himself, Gellart du Tyllen, came over with orders for each of us, plus a beer for me.

“We took the liberty of ordering for you,” Fintan said, “since there was one thing on the menu—‘fishblade’s choice’—and we figured you’d want to eat.”

“Thanks,” I said, digging into the meal right away so I wouldn’t have to think of anything to say. If I’d been clever—or petty—I would have started asking questions and wasting time. But I didn’t think of myself as the former and hoped I wasn’t the latter. I ceded the conversational high ground and waited for the attack.

She waited until I swallowed, at least.

“Any word from the pelenaut regarding the matter Fintan discussed with you? A certain missing item?”

“Ask him yourself.”

“I’m asking if you’ve had any word from him.”

“No. Because, as I told Fintan, I am not a channel to the pelenaut.”

“You’re something, though.”

“I’m an old ex-mariner and ex-professor who is currently a glorified scribe with a bum knee.”

“Who goes way back with the pelenaut.”

“Yes, we grew up together.”

She pounced. “So you are a back channel!”

“Not for your messages. You can deliver them yourself.”

“Come on. You know how this works.”

“I do not.”

“May I explain, then?”


“Okay. You can’t say things in court sometimes because they’re sensitive. Saying them aloud means somebody’s got to own them and there’s official embarrassment and official efforts to save face, and none of it is discreet or fun. Use a back channel, though, an unofficial communication, and everyone gets to save face and deal with things on the sly.”

“That’s fascinating, Master Courier, but I’m not one of those back channels. Even if I were, I wouldn’t know what to say. This mystery object is still a mystery.”

“Is it?”

“Are you implying that you know what it is? If you do, please inform me and perhaps I can make an inquiry on your behalf.”

Numa paused to take a swig of beer and I flicked my eyes at Fintan. He dropped his gaze immediately, embarrassed or ashamed or something of the kind at having ambushed me like this. Or perhaps he wasn’t feeling any of that and this was merely a show to allow him to save face. His lifebond was here to apply pressure, and he could plausibly claim that’s not what he wanted or would have done. Regardless, it was distasteful business.

“I don’t know what it is,” she said, shaking her head. “Only that Clodagh thinks it’s important.”

It occurred to me that we were in a kind of negotiation. They might be willing to share something with me to get more information about what was important.

“Tell me, Numa. Have your duties ever taken you to Aelinmech?”

She blinked, surprised at the change of subject. “Yes, they have.”

“Are there poison manufacturers or distillers in Aelinmech?”

She scrunched up her nose and one side of her face, unsure why I was asking. “There are distillers, to be sure. Some people consider whiskey to be a poison, and I suppose technically it is, but those are the only distillers I know of there. No distillers of poisons like I’m-gonna-murder-you poison.”

“No government houses of experimentation? No brewers of potables that might not be potable?”

“What? No. Only distillers I know about are the ones that make the Good Shit, if you’ll pardon my language. It’s Aelinmech rye. Dare I ask why?”

“Just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they’re not there. That is, of course, the problem with conspiracy thinking. As soon as you’ve decided there’s a conspiracy, even plain facts come into question, because they’re all part of the conspiracy.”

“Let me ask you this: Do you know what was stolen, Dervan?”

It was a direct question, and since I knew they would know if I lied, I didn’t, precisely. “I’m not sure I can say, since there’s no way to verify what it is from the victim.” I nodded as I said that to make sure they knew I did know what it was, and I kept nodding as I continued, “Whatever this mysterious thing is or isn’t, the pelenaut has no plans to use it against his Raelech allies.”

The two Raelechs exchanged glances after I’d stopped.

“So, just to clarify,” Numa said, “we can unofficially tell someone that the thing they are worried about is nothing to worry about?”

I nodded again. “You can. This whole conversation has been about nothing.”

Numa slapped the table, then pumped her fist once before spreading her fingers and holding up her palm to me for a high five. “Yeah! Yeah, Dervan! Come on, don’t leave me hanging.”

I tapped her palm quickly, tentatively, unsure what was happening. She looked briefly disappointed at the lack of a satisfying clapping noise, but then she smiled again. “That’s how you back-channel, man! That’s how! That was perfect! You’re great at this! Pardon me for a second.”

Numa turned to Fintan, grabbed his face, and kissed him deeply. The bard’s eyes widened in surprise and rolled in my direction. I looked down at my fish and beer in an act of mercy.

“Gotta go, sweetie. I’ll see you later at the embassy,” Numa said, after a slurpy pop of disengagement from their lip-lock. “Thank you again, Dervan,” she added, and that was my cue to look up. She was extricating her legs from the bench. “I’m off to the Wellspring to open official lines of communication, and it will be entirely pleasant because of this very important back channel.”

“Oh. Okay,” I managed, which was spectacularly not smooth at all. I couldn’t figure out whether I had done a competent job or had just done something profoundly unwise. Numa put on her goggles, waggled her fingers at us, and then sped away as only couriers can, creating a gust of wind in her passage.

“What in the abyss was that?” I demanded.

“The word awkward comes to mind,” Fintan said. “Sorry you had to see that.”

“I don’t mean your make-out session. Good for you and your entwined tongues. I mean this back-channel business. I want no more of that, you hear? Tell her when you see her later. I am out of the loop.”

“All right, I will tell her. But you don’t know how important that was.”

“You’re right, I don’t.”

“Well, if you hadn’t reassured us it was nothing, it was going to be something. Official nastiness, leading to a deterioration of our countries’ alliance. And trade.”


That could have been something indeed. We were dependent on Rael, Forn, and Kauria for large portions of our food supply at the moment. Any interruption in that would be felt in grumbling bellies.

But I wasn’t authorized to talk about such things. Maybe Rölly had been counting on an official to-do. Maybe he was going to negotiate for something important. Far from doing anything significant, I might have set the country back and given the Raelechs what they wanted for essentially nothing in return.

“Who does make poisons in Rael, Fintan?” I asked.

The bard froze with a piece of fish halfway to his mouth. “You know it’s kind of nerve-wracking that you keep bringing up poison while we’re eating, right?”

“Just tell me.”

“I don’t know the answer to that. I suppose someone must be doing it, just from a statistical probability standpoint, but it would be pointless. Everyone knows the Fornish are best at it.”

“The Fornish?”

“Yep. The Red Pheasant Clan in particular.”

I remembered he’d mentioned that in passing before in one of his tales. “Wait—the clan of Mai Bet Ken? The tea people?”

“That’s the one.”

“If everyone knows they’re making poison, then why aren’t they being blamed for every single suspicious murder?”

“They don’t administer it. They just sell it.”

“But it’s an instrument of death.”

“So is a sword. Do you blame blacksmiths for people getting hacked to pieces?”

“No, because swords have other uses. Nonlethal ones, like ceremonies and decorating walls above the hearth and so on. Poisons have no other purpose than murder. I think we can blame them for that.”

“Okay,” Fintan said. “Go ahead. The same place also creates lifesaving medicines. They are in the business of researching plants and making money from them. Some of them have poisonous qualities.”

“I imagine it would be difficult to find out what kind of poisons they make and who is buying them.”

“The latter would be impossible. The former would be merely challenging.”

“How so?”

“Well, you’d have to go to the Red Pheasant Clan and tell them you want to buy some poison. And then you’d have to convince them that you’re serious and that you really want to hear about their poisons’ effects before you buy.”

“Clams and tentacles. Okay.”

“Should I be worried? Start checking my food before I eat it?”

“No, no. Never mind. Sorry.”

I was a really terrible spy.

When we reached the wall later, Fintan began with a very old song about the children of Teldwen and Kalaad, which was taught to him but rarely performed. “This will be relevant later today, I promise,” he said cryptically.

Kalaad and Teldwen gave us all their blessings

And gave birth to the scions of four kennings:

Thurik came first, and like his sire

He blazed with the passion of undying fire;

His brother Reinei aimed to please,

His presence calming like a soothing breeze;

The triple goddess of the earth bloomed forth

And protected her people in the north:

And Bryn was last, Lord of the Deep

With all the secrets of the oceans to keep.

Together they watched over all our shores

To nurture life and prevent wars.

“Yesterday’s tales were of a historic meeting,” he said after the break. “Today includes a tale of revelations that should make us all reconsider—not change our minds necessarily, but just consider again—the stories we’ve been told since we were children. That will be Gondel Vedd’s tale a bit later. But first, as I promised you earlier, more from Gerstad Daryck du Löngren and the Grynek Hunters.”

The crowd roared as the gerstad’s seeming appeared out of the smoke.

We’ve been prowling the northern coast for a week, moving fast in an attempt to catch up to the army we’re tracking. We found evidence of another camp and watering mission at the site of a river emptying into the ocean. Brön noted that these streams were not poisoned like the Gravewater and were safe to drink without him using his kenning; settlement up here would therefore be possible without hygienists.

“Yeah, but in winter your balls would freeze, drop off, and shatter,” I said.

“That will never be a problem with my balls, Gerstad, but thank you.”

“So what is the problem, Brön? Are you chafing again?” Luren said, his tone solicitous.

“I am not chafing.”

“You should put some ointment on that. Or at least some grease. Gyrsön, you got some grease our hygienist can use?”

“Sure, I can rustle up some weasel grease,” the cook said.

“I am not using grease of any kind. If you could see the stuff living in grease, like I can, you would not apply it anywhere on your body. Trust me.”

“Aha! So you are chafing!” Luren crowed.

Gyrsön’s extraordinary nose smelled the ambush before we heard or saw the ambushers. “Uh, Gerstad, there’s someone up ahead who needs a bath,” he said.

“I’m perfectly sanitary!” Brön protested. “I would know.” But one look at Gyrsön and I knew he wasn’t teasing Brön.

“Incoming! Ready bows!” I called, and so we had arrows nocked when they attacked. If we hadn’t been prepared and they’d caught us unawares, I’m not sure we would have made it.

The Bone Giants were certainly tall but not quite so tall as Hathrim. White-skinned, with stick-like anatomy and faces painted like skulls, black paint around the eyes and over the nose. The armor that gave them their name was evident. No battle cries, just the clacking of bones as they ran. And they ran right toward us; clearly, they must have heard us coming up behind them, for we’d made no effort to be quiet while dunking on Brön.

They seemed to have no sense of self-preservation; they just came at us fast with long, ground-eating strides, raised those weird crested swords of theirs, and brought the blades down with tremendous force. There were seven: Arrows brought down four of the Bone Giants, and Sören exploded the brains of the other three, but they still got two of the mariners, one man and one woman.

We weren’t wearing helmets, and the swords just obliterated their heads. I’m not sure a helmet would have saved them anyway; the force would have cracked their skulls or concussed them to the point where they wouldn’t be fighting back.

“I get it now,” I said, looking down at the pale bodies sprawled in the pine needles where the forest gave way to the beach.

“Get what?” Gyrsön asked.

“How they beat us. They don’t announce themselves with battle cries. They don’t care if you take them out, because they know someone else will get you. And they’re fast and ruthless. We got off one volley before they were in close quarters. Think if we didn’t have Sören with us. Think if Gyrsön didn’t warn us they were coming. Think if they had more than seven, which they certainly did when they came after the cities. We had advantage of numbers, ranged weapons, early warning, and a kenning, and they still got two of us. We’re lucky to be standing here.”

“I was thinking much the same,” Luren said, all traces of bonhomie gone. He was every inch a mynstad now, a professional soldier reviewing the battle. “Something for me to think on tactically.” He picked up one of the giants’ swords to examine it, judging the heft in his hand and giving it a few experimental swings.

The invaders all had satchels of cloth strung across their torsos, and I ordered them searched. I went over to one giant in particular, who looked different from the others. He had grown out a beard and tied it into thin braids that radiated from his jaw like the bottom half of a sunburst. The braids were stiffened somehow—with egg whites, perhaps. His satchel contained some strips of dried salted meat, a bulb of fresh water, and some wafers of terrible flatbread. But it also contained some documents in a language I couldn’t read. I kept those, since the quartermaster had said the pelenaut knew a Kaurian who could translate them. There was also a bound book in there—in the satchels of all of them, in fact—that said Zanata Sedam on the cover.

“Why are they all reading the same thing?” Gyrsön wondered aloud. “Are they in a book club or something? Go around murdering people by day, discuss themes of angst and alienation among tall white guys at night?”

“It’s probably a religious text,” Sören said.

Brön spat upon one of the corpses. He considered this the ultimate insult a hygienist could deliver, and I’d seen him do it only once, to a fish head in Grynek who’d tried to pick his pocket. “Whatever book gives them permission to commit genocide can be thrown in a fire, as far as I’m concerned.”

We kept one copy but left the others in the satchels. We dragged all the bodies to the shore, including our fallen mariners, and Sören pulled them out one at a time to deep water and gave them to the sea.

We stood watch during that process—or, rather, most of us did. While the majority of the band was turned away, I watched Gyrsön as he stared at the bodies. His great mustache wiggled and twitched underneath his nose, his eyes began streaming, his lips curled back from his teeth, and then, with an inarticulate cry, he charged forward and kicked one of the bodies, giving it a good cursing. Then he apologized for his outburst, because everyone had turned around.

Mynstad Luren blinked and said, “Nonsense. That is the perfect response right now. These are the people who killed our families for no reason. I’d appreciate it if you’d give them a few extra kicks for me.”


“Yes.” Luren turned back to scan the horizon but said over his shoulder, “You’d be doing me a favor.”

“Me too, Gyrsön,” Brön said. “Thanks.”

The mariners and I all chimed in, and then we politely turned away as Gyrsön got it out of his system. We’d all taken our shots at the Bone Giants and drunk the tiniest sip of vengeance from a river we wished to drink dry, but Gyrsön hadn’t yet. We protected him and the chow as a rule when we were afield, and anything that got through to him was either wounded already or off-balance enough that he could finish it with a cleaver. But he’d not had his chance at these skeletal monsters, and he had his own grief to work out, as we all did. Judging by the cursing and the repeated dull thuds of his boot against ribs, he was working it out hard.

I wondered when I’d figure out how to let my own grief go. Our teasing of Brön aside, I realized that I hadn’t told a single joke since we found Grynek sacked, unless making fun of the quartermaster’s lack of cake one time counted. What were jokes, anyway, and why did I used to think they were funny? Maybe I should try writing a cock sonnet, just to prove to myself that I could still do it. What if I’d been changed forever? And then I thought it would be more troubling if I hadn’t changed after losing most everyone I knew in the world.

The really strange thing was that while of course I missed my family and friends, I was missing my bartender the most. Thinking of him made my throat close tight and tears well up. And it’s not because I knew him all that well or just missed the way he poured a drink—I didn’t even know his real name. Everyone used to call him Nudge. And thinking of Nudge hit me hard because he’d always been behind that bar, a steady presence in good fortune and bad, and now he wasn’t. Our tiny minds latch on to one thing sometimes because we can’t handle the enormity of everything, and somehow Nudge had come to represent everything I’d lost.

One night at his place, I’d been nursing a beer as someone two seats down was sobbing into their whiskey and mourning a family member they’d recently lost to illness. And Nudge leaned over the bar, put a hand on the man’s arm, and said this so I barely caught it: “Remember that the dead are at peace, and never resent that they have it; you’ll have it soon enough yourself. What you’re feeling now is despair at all the damage you’ll have to repair or endure. Their damage, yours, everyone they knew—I know it can be overwhelming. But your comfort is this: You can repair and endure. And you can build too. So when it’s your time to rest, those who remain will gather and celebrate a life well lived.”

Those words haunt me now. Can I repair, endure, and build? Can any of us? When I go home to rest forever, will anyone celebrate what I did with my life? I don’t know that hunting is a thing to be celebrated. It’s simply a necessity sometimes.

When Sören and Gyrsön were finished, we spent some time covering up the battle scene, kicking sand over the blood on the beach and sweeping pine needles around under the trees. It probably wouldn’t be enough to fool an experienced tracker, but we hoped the disappearance of this group would be chalked up to animals in the Gravewood rather than a band of Brynt mercenaries.

We moved more cautiously after that, realizing that we must be getting close to the main army and also half-expecting some scavengers to come sniffing around at the scent of slaughter. I wondered how long it would be until this scouting party was missed and what they were doing behind the main army. Did they know they were being followed? Were they a rear guard? Or did they have some other mission—maybe somebody left something behind at their last camp and they were coming back for it?

Regardless, we had a very clear mission. The pelenaut wanted the location of the enemy and their numbers, and I considered that a first step toward vengeance.

I doubt that Nudge would consider the seeking of revenge a life well lived. It would certainly not build anything or repair a lick of the damage done. But maybe this would be how we endured.

My breath hitched in my throat at Daryck’s last words, and tears practically leapt out of my eyes, for I felt his coping mechanisms—or those of his late bartender—were so close to my own. I had chosen very consciously not to seek revenge for Sarena’s murder, but I understood that impulse keenly and felt how it might be an effective way to endure, if nothing else.

Looking around, I saw that several others on the wall were having feelings of their own, remembering whom they’d lost and why, and a quick glance over the edge of the wall at the wooden bleachers revealed that many in the audience at Survivor Field were dealing with the same issues. The tales of the Nentians and Hathrim and so on were affecting, to be sure, but they were different, somehow, from hearing one of our own go through what we had. Those other tales were like mere flesh wounds compared to Daryck’s story, which was a knife to the heart.

“How we deal with loss varies greatly from culture to culture and from person to person, but dealing with it is something we must all do at some point,” the bard said after a respectful silence. “Let’s catch up with Olet Kanek, who abruptly discovered she had losses of her own to process.”

People like to complain sometimes about the strain and exhaustion of labor, but rarely do they praise its meditative and restorative qualities. Since physical work requires little mental activity, it can be restful for the mind, and one can arrive at solutions to problems almost by magic instead of strain. Like a pot roast left to cook slowly throughout the day over glowing coals, solutions to problems can be reached sometimes while the brain is nominally occupied with something else.

While most in the budding city were occupied erecting shelters of one kind or another, La Mastik and I were in the crude shed, building a glass furnace that would eventually become a respectable smithing operation. We needed the furnace before building an actual forge, because we had a more urgent need for glass than for iron and steel for our new buildings. We’d brought plenty of finished products like nails with us, but we’d had no illusions about finished glass surviving a cart ride over leagues of untamed wilderness. So we’d packed lots of soda and lime instead, and the beach provided all the silica we required.

Since we’d elected two new council members to replace Halsten Durik and Lanner Burgan, I thought we were operating pretty well. The bard had come up with the idea of pairing off the Joabeian crew with various citizens to help them learn Nentian and make everyone feel more comfortable—though the Thayilists, as the Raelech called them, were still suspicious and might not ever get over their baseless prejudice.

Leisuen and Baejan were coupled with us; they helped to mix the mortar and spread it around while Mirana and I did the heavy lifting of the boulders for the furnace. I thought they were picking up Nentian pretty well from us, but I hoped we weren’t giving them noticeable Hathrim accents.

Of all the problems my mind could be stewing over in the background as we worked, the one that wouldn’t go away was Abhi’s report that there was a man living on the island to the northeast of us. Just one man, apparently. An extremely puzzling man.

I’d asked Abhi to send his stalk hawk, Eep, on additional flyovers to get some answers.

The man she’d seen was the same one each time, as far as she could tell. There were many buildings on the western side of the island, but he stayed near one in particular, which was bigger than most of the others. Eep didn’t know—most likely couldn’t know—what kind of buildings they were.

There were some additional buildings on the eastern side plus some watercraft of varying sizes next to a dock, but she never saw any humans near there. She also saw nothing she could eat, which is a question Abhi asked that I thought was clever. It meant the man wasn’t hunting or trapping his food. Most likely he was fishing. Or he’d brought in a huge boatload of supplies at some point.

But questions abounded. Who was he and why was he there? Why was he there alone? What had happened to all the people who’d presumably occupied the other buildings at some point? And unless he was also blessed by the Sixth Kenning like Abhi was, how did he get around in his boat without the krakens smashing it to flotsam? And where did he sail here from?

Koesha was hopeful that the stranger might turn out to be a survivor from her culture, because apparently they had been trying to navigate their way across the Northern Yawn for a good while now. She knew that many other ships had come this way, and perhaps one of them had made it to the island.

“But he’s a man,” I pointed out.

“Yes.” She shrugged, not understanding.

“Your crew is all women, though.”

“Yes. But men sail. Men sail also.”

“But not with you.”


“Why no men?”

She shrugged again, helplessly, not having the vocabulary to explain. She said, “Talk later.”

“Okay.” We had plenty to talk about later, but I was willing to be patient, since the Joabeians were friendly and happy to pitch in with building the city. Koesha and some of her crew had joined Karlef and Suris in the construction of docks down by the river as well as our first fishing boat. I knew she had plans to build a larger boat to sail home eventually, but that would have to wait, and she’d need Abhi’s help to enchant the hull.

That kid’s abilities were incredible, I thought, as I took one end of a boulder and La Mastik took the other and we lifted, using our legs. I could burn stuff or not burn it, and I never had to worry about burning myself: That was my whole deal. But what Abhi could potentially do with his blessing boggled my mind. Talking to animals. Telling krakens and gravemaws to just relax because they didn’t need to eat us today. Telling—

I very nearly dropped my end of the boulder as the thought hit me, one of those unexpected solutions to a problem I hadn’t even known my mind was working on. La Mastik gave a tiny scream of surprise.

“Aah! What? Olet, are you okay?”

“Oh! Sorry! Yeah. I just. Uh.” I carefully placed the boulder with her and then sighed.

“What happened there?” La Mastik demanded.

“I just had a thought. I need to find Abhi. Do you know where he is?”


“We need to find him.”

“We both do?”


“What about the furnace?”

“That can wait. Come on.”

We made apologies to Leisuen and Baejan and left the smithing shed in search of the plaguebringer. That title took on new significance to me as we asked around. Someone had seen him near the beach, trying to install steps down the hillside.

“Olet, will you tell me what the matter is?” Mirana asked. “You’re doing that thing with your jaw.”

“What thing?”

“That thing where you kind of grind your teeth and the muscles ripple and you look really threatening because you’re going to kill someone.”

“I didn’t know they did that.”

“Well, they do. I’ve seen it before. So I’m a bit worried that you’re doing it while you’re looking for Abhi. What is it?”

“Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.”

“Tell me.”

“I don’t want to say it out loud yet. But when I do, I might need to be restrained. That’s your job.”

“You can’t be serious. I can’t restrain you.”

“Think up some scripture about the judicious use of force. Something about measured responses.”

“There aren’t a lot of those. Thurik usually advocates setting everything on fire.”

“Are there any bits about not setting things on fire? I need to hear those.”

“Well, there’s this one really strange taboo against burning frogs.”

“What? I’ve never heard of that.”

“I know, right? We spent a whole day talking about the frog taboo in seminary. We were advised not to talk about it with our congregations, because we can’t explain it. There’s no reason given for it but also no punishment listed, so the advice was just to keep quiet about it unless someone asked. Thurik was just a frog guy.”

“What else? That doesn’t help.”

“Well, you shouldn’t burn your family most of the time—there are exceptions—and you should think long and hard before burning your infrastructure.”

“The scriptures use the word infrastructure?”

“No, they list every damn thing you shouldn’t burn for pages and pages, but it comes down to infrastructure. So that might be helpful.”


“If you’re mad at Abhi, it might be useful to remember that he’s the only reason we haven’t suffered many losses in the Gravewood. And he’s the only hope you have of sending out a fishing boat that won’t get destroyed by krakens. Or getting the Joabeians home. Or trading those nifty animal-repelling stakes of his for all kinds of supplies. He’s a vital part of our infrastructure.”

“Okay. That helps. But, still, keep an eye on me.”

“I will.”

We found Abhi halfway down the hill with a shovel, carving out steps with none other than Lanner Burgan. The Thayilist frowned at me but said nothing. He’d trimmed a lot of his beard to make the burn damage disappear, and he was self-conscious of the fact that the outline of his jaw could actually be seen now. Abhi’s bloodcat was sprawled a short distance away, napping, and his stalk hawk was down on the beach, eating something she’d slain.

“Abhinava Khose. Plaguebringer,” I called. I felt my fists clench at my sides but didn’t feel them ignite.

La Mastik gasped, “Olet, what the shit! Calm down right now!”

I looked down and saw that my hands were on fire. I snuffed them with a thought. But not before Abhi saw them—and my face, which I guess does a little jaw-clenching thing when I’m mad.

“Hello, Olet. You look upset and you’re not calling me ‘kid.’ Is this about your father, finally?”

“No, it is not. I told you I didn’t mind you killing him much, and that was the truth. I’m here to talk about someone else.”

He dropped his shovel and slapped the dust off his hands against his legs. “All right. Shall I come up there?”

“No, let’s head down to the beach.” If I lost control, I wouldn’t accidentally burn down the forest there. “Please excuse us, Lanner.”

The redheaded giant bowed his head. “Of course.”

La Mastik and I followed the Nentian boy down to the beach. His bloodcat woke up and paced by his side, casting suspicious looks up at me with those red eyes. I hadn’t heard him summon the creature, but it might not have been sleeping as deeply as it had first seemed.

Once on the beach and assured of privacy, I asked him straight out through gritted teeth, “At the Battle of the Godsteeth. Did you. Kill. Jerin Mogen?”

“Oh, shit,” La Mastik said. She put a hand on my arm. “Your fists are on fire again, Olet.”

I ignored her, because my eyes were locked on Abhi. He didn’t flinch, didn’t look guilty. If anything, he looked perplexed.

“I don’t know who that is. Unless you mean Gorin Mogen? He was killed by Nel—”

“I know who killed Gorin Mogen. I’m not talking about him. I’m talking about his son. Jerin Mogen.”

“I’m sorry,” he said with a shrug and a regretful twist of the lips. “I don’t know. Maybe? I was sent there by that viceroy of Hashan Khek, you know—”

“Melishev Lohmet.”

“Right. Not what you would call a savory individual. The assignment he gave me was to kill all the lavaborn I could before his army got there. I’m pretty sure he was hoping I’d die in the attempt. But I got a boil of kherns to stampede, and they trampled a lot of giants. If Jerin was among them, then—”

“No. The day before the battle. A lumber crew, not unlike the ones we used to make the road here, was clearing some trees in the foothills. And then, according to the reports we received, two hounds on patrol went wild and bucked off their riders before charging the lumber crew. The hounds stopped and returned to their riders just as strangely as they began. But then a hive of moss hornets attacked Jerin Mogen and stung only him, and only his face. Their venom paralyzed and killed him. Was that you? Did you do that?”

His eyes fell, and the flush of guilt I hadn’t seen before blazed up. He had killed Jerin. My entire body erupted in flames, my rage unable to be contained.

Abhi leapt back and his bloodcat did too, and he edged toward the sea, I noticed, while his bloodcat hissed and spit at me. Yeah, kid, good idea to have some water to dive into. He clasped his hands together high up underneath his chin—some Nentian pose of penitence, I guess—as he kept moving.

“Olet, I’m sorry. Melishev used me to fight off Gorin Mogen’s invasion, and I went along. I let him do it for reasons that made sense to me at the time. But the whole reason I wanted to join your party here was so I couldn’t be used like that again. I obviously didn’t know who Jerin was.”

“So you’re saying it’s not your fault? Did Melishev tell you to kill my father too?”

“No, I accept full responsibility for that. I watched him murder my king, though, in response to telling your father he couldn’t come after you. I felt I was in the right to retaliate.”

Mirana stepped in front of me, blocking my view of him as I was about to retort.


I craned my neck to the side to reestablish eye contact, but Mirana put herself in my way again.

“Olet, listen to me. You’re edging toward a flameout here.”

“No, I’m not, I’m just upset—”

“No kidding.”

“Don’t I have a right to be?”

“Sure. Be upset. But also listen to my words: He has never lied to you, even now. He has done everything he said he would. And infrastructure.”


“That thing we were talking about. I’m just reminding you.”

“Blast it, Mirana, let me talk to him!”

“Okay. Just talk. Maybe snuff out the flames here, okay? You’re scaring his kitty cat.”

The bloodcat did look pretty out of sorts. Giant women on fire were not his favorite thing. And the stalk hawk had flown over from her meal and perched on Abhi’s shoulder. She’d spread her wings in front of his face in a protective manner. It was sweet and kind of funny because Abhi was trying to see over her wings the same way I was trying to see past Mirana.

La Mastik added in low tones that only I could hear, “Think of what your father would do in this situation, and then do the opposite.”

That worked, but just barely. With a supreme effort, I ruthlessly snuffed out the flames and tried to reduce the rolling boil of my anger to a gentle simmer.

“If you’d like me to leave, I will,” Abhi offered. “But I’ll also do most anything else to make things right between us if I can.”

“Oh, you want to make this right?”


“Then you’re going to have a smoke with me for Jerin. I never got to smoke for him properly, because his parents were assholes.” I wasn’t sure a smoke would actually solve anything, but sometimes ritual can save someone who’s drowning in seas of rage or despair. Ritual is a life preserver made from ceremony.

“Yeah, all right. But…I don’t smoke.”

“You will this one time. If you want to make it right.”

“Okay. I’m not sure I’ll do it correctly, but I’ll try.”

I grabbed for the tobacco pouch at my belt and it crumbled to ash in my hands. All my tobacco—as well as the new clothing that Nentian seamstress made for me—had been burned up in my fit of temper. The pleated strips of lava dragon hide hanging from my belt preserved a bit of my modesty, at least, and my boots were fine because they were lava dragon too, but I was beginning to feel a bit of a draft.

“Shit.” I crossed my hands over my chest as the ashes of my tunic blew away.

“It’s fine, Olet,” La Mastik said. “It’s perfect, in fact. You go get some fresh clothes and tobacco out of our quarters and calm down, and I’ll stay here with Abhi. We’ll have that smoke when you get back.”

I spun on my heel and stalked back to camp, burnt pieces of my pants flaking off and trailing in my wake as they crumbled away.

“Don’t look at me,” I told Lanner Burgan, and he dropped his eyes as I stormed past, wisely keeping his mouth shut. A few others were not so wise, and I snapped, “Not now!” at them as I kept going. When I got to our lodge, I locked the door behind me and headed to my footlocker, slapping the last shreds and ashes of incinerated clothing off me as I went and releasing the flood of tears I’d kept back until now. I figured it was half grief for Jerin and half embarrassment at losing control. At least I had another couple sets of clothes waiting for me, thanks to the seamstress. I’d need to order some more from her if I was going to treat them this way.

Cleaning myself of ash and getting dressed in fresh clothes was a meditative practice that calmed me. I buckled on all the lava dragon stuff again, including a chest piece, just in case I had another flare-up, but I resolved not to let that happen.

“You’re going to have a smoke for Jerin with the guy who killed him,” I told myself, speaking aloud but softly. “And you’ll get past this, Olet, because your father never would have, and you’re not going to be like him.”

Freshly garbed and needing to prove to myself that I was back in control, I let only my cheeks erupt in flame and took pleasure in hearing the tears sizzle away. It left behind a dry crust of salt, but I brushed that away. I snuffed the fires, grabbed a fresh pouch of tobacco and an extra pipe, and returned to the beach. No one tried to hail me this time. And Lanner Burgan, I noticed, had quite sensibly disappeared.

But Abhi and La Mastik were sitting on the beach, facing the Northern Yawn. They’d built a small campfire, and the boy’s bloodcat was stretched out in front of it. The stalk hawk was nowhere to be seen. Knowing what Mirana would probably demand, I sat down next to her so that she was between us. The bloodcat raised his head and watched me carefully but didn’t growl or anything. I stuffed some tobacco into the extra pipe and handed it over to Mirana, who passed it to Abhi. It was comically huge in his hands.

“Kalaad,” he said. “I’ve got to smoke all of this?”

“The quantity isn’t important,” I told him. “It’s more about the ritual and the intent. We are here to speak of Jerin. The smoke carries our words to his spirit and makes sure that Thurik hears them as well. You do not have to be of our faith to participate.”

“All right, but what if I cough and hack while I’m trying to say stuff? Because I’m pretty sure I will.”

“They’ll hear that too.”

“Great. This is going to be embarrassing.”

I tamped more leaves into my own pipe and ignited them both at the same time. “Suck in a breath,” I told him. “Get it going.” I demonstrated, taking a draw and exhaling a fine stream of smoke.

Abhi squinted and took a puff and immediately began to cough and wheeze. His bloodcat looked alarmed.

“Gack! Thppt! Auggh, that’s revolting! How do you stand that?”

“The lavaborn can’t burn on the outside. We like to feel the burn where we can. That pretty much means the throat and lungs.”

“Hurggh. Uhh. Do I really have to do this?”


“I might throw up.”

“I don’t care.”

“Is this your way of getting revenge?”

“No. Revenge is not an enterprise that leads to personal growth. I am after understanding. Reconciliation. In my culture, this is how it’s done. Now, watch and listen and repeat after me.”

“Khaaak! Ack. Okay.”

I took a deep draw and let the smoke exit as I spoke. “We are here to smoke and remember Jerin Mogen.”

Abhi drew from the pipe and coughed as he tried to speak. “Kah! Kuh. We—kaff! Kuff! Are—kak! What she said.”

“Good enough. Now, just listen.” I puffed and exhaled. “Jerin and I were betrothed by our parents, and we hated it. Our lives and happiness were things to be traded away for our fathers’ political advantage. It was easy to despise him. Then I learned that he didn’t want to turn into his dad any more than I wanted to be like mine. This place we’re at—this dream come true—it was a dream we shared. I never told him that I wanted to run away with him for real. I never got the chance. I was trying to figure out some way to exit where my father wouldn’t do what he did—burn things down to find me. We would maybe take off to Rael, catch a boat down to Kauria, where they have that peace thing mostly figured out, disappear into the interior somewhere. Dad wouldn’t find us for years, if ever. I didn’t think he could leave his cities alone long enough to fetch us.”

I took another drag and blew it out slowly. “I miss Jerin and wish he were still here. His death is a huge hole in my future that I won’t ever fill, and the coals of my anger about this great void in my life will never be extinguished. I’m incensed that he was lumped in with all the rest as lavaborn. Because he wasn’t like the rest of them at all.” I peered over at Abhi, feeling those coals flare up inside me but keeping my skin, at least, from bursting into flame. “Now you.”

“Now me? What?”

“Now you smoke and respond.”

“What do I say?”

“Whatever you feel. Whatever you’re holding in that you want to breathe out.”

“Okay.” He puffed at the pipe, turned a bit green, but kept the coughing to a minimum this time. “I already regretted my actions that day, but I regret them even more now that I’ve heard about Jerin. I’m glad he was the sort to share a dream with. I’m glad the dream has been realized here and glad I could help in some small way to make it happen. But I’m very sorry I’m the reason he’s not living the dream here with you.”

Tears streamed down his cheeks and, unprompted, he took another pull and blew out a strong cloud. “If you can hear me through this, Jerin, I’m sorry.” Then he dropped the pipe, turned to the side, and retched on the beach.

When he subsided, he wiped his mouth and said, “That was strangely fulfilling. I feel much better. I mean, not about vomiting, and not about what I did. I mean it was good to say it, to breathe it out, as you said. We Nentians send our words to the sky too, just without smoke. So thanks.”

“You did well,” La Mastik assured him, then shot an apologetic look at me for interjecting. I gave her a small shake of the head and a smile to tell her not to worry about it. She does not know her own worth, how steadying her presence is. She kept me from burning down my infrastructure and reminded me of the giant I want to be: the one that forges instead of destroys.

But even if Abhi walked in contrition, I did not know if I could walk in forgiveness. The coals of anger still burned within me, red and waiting to blossom into flame.

Rituals may indeed be life preservers, yet still the seas rage on.

“If this next tale doesn’t give you something to talk about, I don’t know what will,” Fintan said, then cast the seeming of scholar Gondel Vedd.

I had spent a very pleasant evening playing mustard games with Maron and figuring out how to store or otherwise regift all the generous baskets given to me by the good people of Brynlön, which far exceeded my capacity to enjoy. After a delightful breakfast, during which we mostly giggled at each other over how life can send one happiness in the most unexpected ways—no one I knew ever dreamt of a surfeit of gift baskets—I returned to the Calm, fortified with peace. Even the scowling visage of Elten Maff could not ruin my good mood. Especially when the mistral told us how it was going to be.

“You will work together from now on,” she said. “I’d like you to pursue the religious angle with Saviič, since he is happy to talk about it and it has yielded us much more intelligence than direct questions. Do not, under any circumstances, share your insights with the military. You are to report to me only.”

She must have said more to Scholar Elten Maff along those lines, for as we descended to the dungeon together, he was apologetic. I could tell it hurt him.

“I hope you’ll forgive my lapse,” he said, though he did not specify what precisely he had lapsed in. Judgment? Scholarship? The best interests of his country? “But rest assured that I am ready and willing to render what aid I can in translating the text and ensuring that Kauria remains at peace.”

“I welcome your aid, Scholar Maff,” I said. “What do you think about the use of the word žalost in Zanata Sedam?”

He did not answer for a while, and when he did, it was nothing of substance. “I cannot say I’ve thought about it at all.”

“I have a theory that it might be rather important,” I told him, “and I intend to test that theory today.”

“Ah. Very well.”

That answer satisfied me. If Scholar Maff could not help, at least he would not hinder me overmuch.

Saviič was reading his holy book when we arrived. He closed it and chuckled when he saw us together. He spoke to Scholar Maff first but pointed at me.

“Am I allowed to talk to him now?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Speak freely.”

Though he didn’t say that correctly in Eculan. He said the equivalent of Speak free, which gave me a clue that he wasn’t nearly at my level, and I didn’t consider myself fluent yet.

“I am hoping you can help me, Saviič. I don’t understand the importance of Žalost. Can you help me understand?”

The Eculan man smiled his horrible smile, but it appeared genuine this time rather than laced with malice or contempt.

“Yes. I hope so. What do you wish to know?”

“I am fairly certain that Žalost is important in your faith. So who, exactly, is Žalost?”

“He is the god of the Seventh Kenning, of course.”

“What?” Scholar Maff blinked, taken entirely by surprise. “Žalost is your god?”

“Yes.” He chucked his chin at me. “Gondel finally understood.”

It was deeply satisfying to learn that I’d been correct but also supremely annoying to realize that Saviič had been waiting for me to figure it out on my own. He’d never answered my queries about his god before. Elten Maff’s jaw dropped and he turned to me. I spoke rapidly in Kaurian.

“In the text, certain nouns are underlined, žalost more than any others, and the sentences made little sense if they were common nouns. I realized they might be using the underscore to denote proper nouns, and he’s just confirmed it.”

Maff blinked again and shook his head. “But that would mean there are other proper nouns that we’ve been treating incorrectly.”

“Yes.” I pulled out the list of underscored words I’d made on the ship. “I’ve written them all down. See, most of them are numbers and directions. But žalost is used with great frequency, and so are these others, which must stand for something else.”

“That…that is brilliant, Scholar Vedd. Well spotted.”

“Thank you. Let’s ask about these others, shall we?”

I consulted my list of words and spoke again to Saviič. “If Žalost is your god, then who is, ah…” I picked a word that had the second-highest number of mentions in the text. “Jarost?” I would translate that as fury or rage, so I had a suspicion, but did not want to hint at it and give him an opportunity to deceive me.

“That is the god of the First Kenning,” he said without hesitation.

Maff turned to me. “The First Kenning? He means Thurik?”

“Most likely. Their order of the kennings seems to match ours. Let’s find out.” I switched to Eculan and asked Saviič, “Jarost is the god of fire, yes?”

“Yes. Fire.”

“Mind-blowing,” Maff said.

“Scholar Maff, would you mind writing some of this down while I speak to him about these nouns?”

“Yes, of course, of course!”

“We will publish our findings together. But my name will be first.”

He grinned at me. “Agreed.” He moved around the desk and picked up the quill and a piece of paper. Saviič found this amusing, and he pointed.

“Ha! Now he wants to write it down!”

“Yes. We are learning so much and do not want to forget. This is great. So if Jarost and Žalost are gods of two kennings, what about these others?” I proceeded through my list and it was like turning a key in a lock, the secrets tumbling open for us.

Mir was peace, their word for Reinei. Perfect.

Talas was their word for tides, or Bryn, god of the waves. It became very interesting after that, because they had only one goddess of the Third Kenning instead of the triple goddess of the Raelechs. The word for her was Kamen, or stone.

I had two words left. Razvoj, which could be translated as growth or development, and then…meso. Meat.

“Razvoj is the goddess of the Fifth Kenning,” he said. Okay, she was associated with plants. That made sense and I fed him the next word, and he smiled. “Meso is the goddess of the Sixth Kenning.” That took me a minute to parse and I confirmed with him that he thought the Sixth Kenning had to do with animals.

“Well, all animals are meat,” Scholar Maff mused. “At least they are to whatever winds up eating them.”

“Ugh. You’re right, but I just…ugh. This is fascinating and gross at the same time.”

“So there’s no triple goddess,” Maff said, “but there are still three goddesses, right?”

“Yes, I think that’s right. And…it makes a bit of sense, I think. There’s a logical overlap between the triple goddess and these Eculan ones.”

“How so?”

“Kamen obviously corresponds to Dinae, the Raelech earth goddess. And I think Meso aligns very well with Raena, since the huntress has a clear interest in the meat of animals. But this Razvoj matching up with the poet Kaelin—it’s a little less clear.”

“It works for me,” Maff said. “The poet goddess is a goddess of craft, of developing one’s skills, correct? I’m no scholar of the Raelech faith, but that’s how I understand it. Razvoj literally means development, and look at the Fornish, who practice the Fifth Kenning. They develop their skills to the utmost, whatever they be. Their woodwork is the envy of the world, and they’re amazing brewers and farmers and so on. Or if you wanted to translate the word as growth, it still works, since Forn is all about the growth of the Canopy.”

“Yes. Yes, I see your point. And when one considers that plants and animals of course rely on the earth to grow, it makes sense that the Raelechs would have bunched these goddesses all together, perhaps, in the early days.”

Maff laughed low in his throat. “This is amazing. You know, the Raelechs are going to shit their shorts when they hear about this.”

“Ha! Yes, I think some of them might.”

Fintan abruptly dispelled his seeming of Gondel Vedd and grinned out at his audience through a wispy cloud of green smoke. “Sorry to interrupt myself,” he said, “but I would just like to state for the record that I am still a Raelech bard of the poet goddess Kaelin, and my shorts are super clean. Fantastically clean, in fact.”

Laughter rippled across Survivor Field, and he chuckled with them for a moment.

“Okay,” he said, taking out a fresh black sphere. “Back to Gondel.” He tossed it down, and the seeming of the venerable scholar reappeared.

Once we understood that these nouns were names for gods of the kennings and that they roughly matched the names for the gods we already knew, apart from Žalost, we explained to Saviič that we had analogues in our culture for his gods, except for the last one.

“In Ecula, do you think of these gods and goddesses as siblings, as we do?” I asked.

“Yes. They are all one family.”

“Who are their parents?”

“We have names only. We do not know anything else about them.”

That was disappointing. I had hoped to hear some stories of Teldwen and Kalaad. “But in Ecula, you know that there were seven siblings and seven kennings.”

“Yes. And they did not trust one another.”

“They didn’t?” That was quite a bit different from the stories of glorious elder days I’d heard.

“No. That was the reason for the odvajanje.”

I blinked. “The odvajanje?” I looked back at Maff. “Do you know that word?”

He shook his head. “No idea.”

“What is odvajanje? Is there a different word for it that we might know?”

He grimaced in frustration. “The fight,” he said, bringing his two fists together and smacking them repeatedly. “The brothers and sisters fight. And that caused the odvajanje.” He accompanied the last strange word by extending his long arms in front of him, palms rotated out, and then spreading them apart, as if he were performing a breaststroke. “They fight and then the odvajanje of the earth happened.”

“Oh, gods, Elten,” I said, “what if he’s talking about the Rift?”

“If he is, then never mind the Raelechs, I’m going to shit my shorts.”

“This odvajanje. Did it cause land to split? Create oceans? Volcanoes?”

“Yes,” Saviič said, nodding to emphasize his point.

“He is talking about the Rift.”

“Indeed he is,” Maff said. “And I’ll need fresh undergarments later. This is incredible.”

Ignoring his commentary, I asked Saviič to explain. “So who was fighting against whom?”

“Everyone fights Žalost. The odvajanje was all their fault.”

“Six older siblings against the youngest? Why?”

“They were afraid. Afraid of his power.”

“What power?”

“His kenning.”

“And so we have come full circle. Saviič, what is the Seventh Kenning?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I was supposed to find out. On the Seven-Year Ship.”

That was an unproductive avenue of interrogation. But perhaps he could furnish some additional information about the Rift. I hadn’t seen many details about it in Zanata Sedam, but I hadn’t been fully aware of what I was looking at either. Saviič might know something from other sources anyway.

“So, the odvajanje. In your stories, did it include volcanoes in the west? A huge area turned to glass?”

“Yes. Jarost did that.”

Yes, that matched with what we thought. Thurik created the Glass Desert with the eruption of the Hearthfire Range. Not wishing to lead him to anything else specific, in case he was guessing what I wanted to hear and merely agreeing, I confined myself to asking, “And what else?”

“A huge storm, wind going in circles near an island somewhere. Still going today. That was Mir.”

“He’s talking about the Tempest of Reinei,” Maff whispered.

“Yes, Elten, I figured that out for myself. Let him talk,” I whispered back. “What else?”

“Kamen raised mountains to keep Žalost out and protect her people.”

“Kamen raised mountains? Like one or two?”

“No, many mountains in a line. A string of mountains.”

“How many strings?”

“Two strings. Because one was there already. It is said her people live in a triangle of mountains today.”

“Does he mean Rael?” Maff said.

“I think he does. The one string he said was already there: That must be the Godsteeth. That’s the range that Raelechs say was created by plates of earth crushing up against each other. But the Huntress and Poet’s Ranges, those are the strange ones that no one can explain. They’re not volcanic, and there’s no naturally occurring reason for them to be there.”

“But now we have an explanation.”

“Yes. Kamen—or Dinae, whatever name you wish to call her—was trying to protect the Raelechs from Žalost.”

“Or all three of the goddesses were in on that, maybe,” Maff said. “The ancient Raelechs must have had some reason to group them together.”

I shrugged. “Sure, that’s possible. But he’s saying it was Kamen alone who raised the mountains.”

“Regardless of the details, it’s clear from this story that the Eculans believe our continent’s very strange topography was created by a family feud.”

“Yes. Six elder siblings all ganging up on their baby brother.” The idea that the gods had created the Rift was not a new one, but I had always been searching for some external cause or threat that made them react. I’d never thought it might be a family squabble and that the Rift might refer to their damaged relationship as much as to the physical cataclysm that split Hathrir and Kauria off from the main continent.

“That kid must have been a huge jerk,” Maff said.

“Or maybe the elder six were.”

“Come on, Gondel, his name means grief in their own language. That’s a pretty big clue to his essential character.”

“I’m sure the Eculans don’t think they’re worshipping a jerk. Maybe he feels grief over the way his siblings treated him. They certainly seem to have disowned him and written him out of history, because this is the first we’re hearing about him.”

“Are you thinking this might all be true?”

“I can’t say. Not for me to judge, except to say that I’m sure both sides of the squabble are presenting themselves in the best possible light. But the Eculan language is very close to the old tongue and has undergone the least linguistic drift. The parallels with our own history are undeniably there. Except for the fact of the Eculans’ very existence.”

“Yes, that does seem odd.”

I apologized to Saviič for all the cross talk in Kaurian. “We are just very surprised and excited about this information.”

“I understand. This is fine.”

“Thank you. Can you tell me, was Ecula—the land itself—part of the odvajanje? Was it split off from the continent?”

“No. The people of Žalost moved there. Žalost led us to Ecula but promised us that one day we would return to the land of bounty.”

“He led you across the ocean of krakens?”

“No. Just the ocean. Krakens were not there in the old days. After we got to Ecula, Meso made them.”

“The goddess Meso made the krakens. You mean she made them to keep you there?”


“But you’ve figured out how to get past the krakens now.”

Saviič smiled his nasty smile. “Obviously.”


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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