A day of watching the door, listening for the clink of mail of the thuds of heavy boots. While the others stayed in the cellar, Cedric and I stayed above ground in the house. We moved two of the beds and some other things up into the room with us – if soldiers were to burst in, we wanted the place to look lived-in. Thankfully, they didn’t.
Cedric took me onto the street in the late afternoon. He wanted rumors. There were plenty of them, too. Some people said a hundred spies had been in the city that night, wandering the streets, and they had freed their sister on their sneaky way. Others said that Aena was a goddess, come to see who they were and whether or not to offer them allegiance. The lord hadn’t been able to kill her. She’d be back with righteous fury and a host of heavenly warriors. It’s a temptation, certainly. I could muster a strong number and come to avenge Aena’s mistreatment and potential execution. We could take Bechia for ourselves! With all its shadows and dark secrets and dangers. It’s also probably too small to hold us all indefinitely – unless, of course, I joined the Bechian-lurker pact. Maker forbid.
Mercy staunched Aena’s blood flow, but Aena looks pale, drained, ghostly. Mercy says it is vital that we get good, fresh food for her, so that she can recover as much blood as possible before traveling.
Mercy had bandaged Aena’s eyes because of all the wounds Aena had on and around her face. Since the bleeding had stopped, I asked if her eyes could be uncovered. Mercy unwrapped the cloth from around Aena’s head. Aena’s right eye blinked awareness, but her left was blank, torn, staring brokenly forward. Her good eye found me. “I thought I heard you,” she said, and coughed up a glob of blood. “Fancy that, you became king after all. Good lad.” I didn’t tell her that I was in the position to claim the throne before the ships had sailed. That I was responsible for her injuries, and the life of every starving refugee. She asked about Eliana, and about what had happened to us, and where we had gone. I knew Cedric and the others were listening, and I wanted them to hear as well. I told her everything up until Jarbia.
As soon as I described the lurkers I had seen in Jarabi Haven, Aena gasped. Her fists clenched. She coughed. “Those things… I caught fragmented glimpses of creatures in the pit. I think they were lurkers.”
I wasn’t as surprised as I’d have liked to have been. If the Bechian nobles could feed their own people to the lurkers, it stood to reason that they’d not hesitate to include the darkspawn in torture or execution methods. Though I can’t imagine the lurkers enjoy being teased so.
We have to go back. Now. Cedric doesn’t know about the lurkers, nor do the others. Aena is the only solid proof I have of their existence. The people… my people… may not have long left in this life. The furies of darkness will take everything they can, unless the Ridire de Gaelac and I can battle them.