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It had been less than a week. I think that made the shock harder to absorb. I had spend a month planning to leave this man, had buried him in a mental cairn. I had even thought about what I would say to him one day, if he found me in Oas. But I had no words for him now, only six days after I had kissed him goodbye and watched him ride off, the desire to flee churning in my belly like the fabled storm-tossed seas.
“Why didn’t you warn me?” I hissed at Jax, who was clinging to my shoulder. “Surely you knew he was here. Surely you could sense him.”
Jax shook his head. “It doesn’t really work like that.” He did not elaborate, but he did lean forward to peer intently at Jonath. I felt his claws tighten and release, tighten and release – a familiar sensation, and not a good sign.
I grasped one of his tiny hands with my own. His fingers wrapped around my thumb, but he did not relax.
“Well done,” Jonath said, spreading his arms wide as if expecting me to rush into them. When I did not, he grinned and let them fall. There was a cool slyness in his eyes that I had seen before, but never had it been directed at me.
Shocked and bemused, I looked at the Captain. Her expression mirrored mine, except for the burgeoning fury. She turned her face away, searching — I assumed — for her Lieutenant.
“Your brother thought you’d land further out,” Jonath continued. “In fact, he wagered quite a bit of money on it. He’s waiting for you out at Greenpoint right now. I had more faith in you, though, you and your little toys. Well done,” he said again, and I began to grasp what he was intimating.
A white-hot anger bloomed in my chest. I would have spoken, argued, denied him, were it not for the men that had quietly surrounded us. They flowed from the rocks like Loess’ ever-present sand, like water seeping up through stone. They were armed with knives and bows, though none made a move to draw.
Jonath shifted his focus to the Captain. “Forgive me, Captain Morrow. It is truly a pleasure to meet one of the heroes of the war.” His voice was gritty with insincerity. I wondered how it was I had never noticed it before. He took my arm. “I’m afraid we have need of your ship.”
This post is part of the Jade Dragon series. Though I try to make these installments enjoyable as individual pieces, I highly recommend that you read the series from the beginning to really get what’s going on.