6. An Allied Beginning
“You would help me?” She stared at him, blinking with disbelief.
“To stop this corner from unraveling? Yes. Without hesitation,” he replied, so sincere that Gabby felt tears prickle at her eyes. “This plan of yours is a good one.”
She hadn’t been able to share her plan with anyone for fear of her father’s spies, and now Dorgand was an ally to it after only a few minutes of conversation. And he was her cousin. And… blink twice if Lydo’s father murdered my mother; she blinked twice, enough to push back the threatening tears. Now was not the time for emotions, but explanations… Her focus narrowed and she rose to her feet. Lydo smiled, as if reading her thoughts. Maybe he was reading her thoughts. She wasn’t guarding her expression, so what she was thinking had to be showing on her face pretty clear.
“First, let’s stop this corner from unraveling in under two weeks. After that, I’ll answer whatever questions of yours I can, swear and seal,” he promised. The air sizzled in front of him. A seal matching that on Lydo’s chest hovered like a heat mirage half way between them. It was the same as the watery memory of her mother’s vow, except this was an image made of wildfire sparks and storm lightning. He chuckled at the shocked expression on her face when the mirage popped out of existence. “It’s a sorcerer’s promise. We take those kinds of oaths seriously, so you’ll need to be careful who you make promises to now that you know you’re one of the Magiks.”
“But I’m not, I’m –”
“About to port an entire siege army into enemy territory to stop a war before it starts,” he interrupted, still smiling. “You’re a sorcerer. And once you do this, they’ll know too,” he said, pointing at the stack of Wrote parchments. “We’re both going to have a lot of explaining to do once they call on you. And they will call on you after you do what you’re planning to.”
“Oh,” she said, not sure what else to say. What else was there to say?
“All right. So, I’ll eliminate whatever assassin or assassins are after you, then come and pick up the message you want to send to your brother in, say, three or four days. Once we have his agreement, you’ll be clear to port in for the siege. Sound about right?”
“Perfect! I knew it was the right idea to bring you here.”
“Wait!” She held up both hands in a stopping gesture. “You expect people to believe the immortal Dorgand is doing my bidding and delivering messages for me?”
“Well… oh.” His brows furrowed together as he realized the flaw in his logic. “Actually, once you’ve ported an entire army across the distance of a two-week march, it will become a lot more believable that I’m working for you,” he reasoned. “Actually, we can spread some rumors that we’re working together for the good of the people. All the people. I mean, it’ll be fine. It's the truth, after all.”
“That – I can’t believe I’m saying it – but telling the truth might work to explain things after.”
“See? It’s perfect!” He beamed a smile at her and nodded to himself. “So, are you able to port out from here or do we have to go back up to the tower?”
“Um…” The chair crept closer behind her legs as she rocked back on her heels. “I’m free to just… go?”
“You’re going to have to if any of this is going to work. I don’t have porting power, I’m just lightning and fire and air pressure. Sky stuff. Using the tower is how I summoned you.”
Gabby pulled together a couple threads of thought and felt the familiar slip feeling inside her gut that accompanied a tugging for wanting to get to her tent. “I can port from here,” she said, truly surprised at the finding. And at how far away she was from the camp right now.
“All right. Well, I guess I’ll see you in a few days, then.” He smiled awkwardly. “And, um, thank you. For stopping this corner of the world from unraveling.”
“I haven’t stopped anything yet.”
“I know, but… we’ve still got two weeks, right?” He held up one hand in a friendly wave. “Bye.”
Gabrhyne barely concentrated and still easily arrived safely in her tent. She sat heavily on her bed with a sigh and rubbed her hands over her face. It sounded like everyone was yelling and at least half the camp was running around.
“I’m here!” she called. A few confused shouts that she’d been found started and seconds later the flap to her tent was shoved aside for Daratno and Natta to stride in. “I’m fine!” She spoke over top of the questions they immediately peppered her with, standing up to meet them half way to the entrance. “I’m fine,” she repeated in a normal speaking tone once they were quiet.
Daratno was still carrying her sword. Without another word, he snapped her into a hug so tight that the pommel dug into her shoulder blade, its angry vibration of being dropped and abandoned making her teeth ache on top of the rib-crushing grip Daratno had on her.
“What happened?” Natta asked when the one-sided hug ended as suddenly as it had begun.
“A lot,” Gabby replied. She settled a hand onto Daratno’s arm before he could retreat more than a step away and smiled at him. “Most I have to think about alone, but I need you two to get everyone ready to move in a few days’ time. I know I’ve been saying weeks, but we don’t have those anymore.” Both of her commanders frowned sharply, they already didn’t like being unaware of what she was planning and having her changing the lack of plans immediately after disappearing like she had was something they liked even less.
“Where are we moving to?” Natta asked. It had been his most often voiced question since she’d ordered the army gathered.
“And why so sudden of a change from weeks to days?” Daratno demanded. “You still haven’t even told us your initial plan, and now the weeks you’ve been assuring us about are suddenly gone? What happened? And where – ?”
“I’ll explain, but not right now. I really need time to think. I'm asking you now for a few more days of trust instead of a few weeks, isn’t that better?”
They both glared at her, but eventually nodded grudging agreement.
“It feels like a big change, I know, but I think it’ll be good. For everyone.”
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