Forty-three – 04

[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]

Leinth appeared in seconds, as if either sensing Seamus’s need or by sheer luck—or perhaps she’d seen me starting to try to carry him down the ladder alone. Her face was pale in the dim light, though not the color of ashes like her lover’s. Her jaw tightened as she reached to help me, wordless until we’d carried him down to the sodden ground below.

Then, finally: “What happened?”

“He covered us,” I said. “He decided to play a damned hero and covered us when the arrows started to fly.”

She winced. “That sounds like him.”

“I’m right here,” Seamus murmured, leaning more against Leinth than me. “And this isn’t anything that some stitches and a good poultice and shit-ton of rest isn’t going to fix.”

Leinth’s gaze slid toward me and I saw in her eyes the thought that I knew was reflected in my own—that Seamus was full of shit but both of us could understand why he was trying to downplay the injury. It was something we all did when we thought people should be worrying about something—or someone—else.

We weren’t buying it, not yet.

“There’s more wounded further down,” Leinth said after a few seconds and a dozen feet. Together, we carried Seamus toward the tents, toward the cookfire and shelter from the storm. “Not a lot—seems they concentrated fire around the gate rather than stretching it all the way down. It’s as if they knew where most of the leadership would be.”

“That’s something we’ll have to fix,” I murmured, thoughts already racing. “Can’t have them being able to take out our heaviest hitters in one lucky shot.” There will be a next time. There’s always a next time.

For a second, I squeezed my eyes shut.

There would be a next time and there was nothing I could do to prevent that from happening.

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