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CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

Lark almost swallowed her tongue in startled fear when the quiet voice nigh her ear said her name.

Her mewing jump brought her around, dagger up-to face Elaith Craulnober. He held a sword and a roll of parchment, and there was a small band of warriors behind him, one of them a silver-crested, scaled man who looked to be half a dragon.

"Well met," Elaith said dryly. He slapped the parchment into her hand. "A sewer map. Use it. Round up as many of these idiot humans as you can and get them out."

Then he was gone, and all his blades with him, leaving her staring at empty darkness.

Shifting stones grated and rumbled overhead.

Then something burst into sudden brilliance at her feet. Lark jumped back again, hissing out a curse, and stared at the lit torch that hadn't been there a moment earlier.

Then she swallowed, looked up to find three halflings from the Warrens nodding gravely to her with swords ready in their hands, sighed-and unrolled the map.

"Come," she said to Naoni.

Her mistress shook her head. "Taeros said to stay here. He'll not know where to find us otherwise."

There were more stony rumblings from overhead, and a spray of dust and small stones showered down around them.

"Go!" Naoni commanded.

Lark looked to Faendra, who slipped an arm around her sister's waist. It was clear that nothing Lark could do was going to shift either of Varandros Dyre's stubborn daughters.

Lark bowed to them, spun around, and trotted off. One of the hin plucked up the torch and ran with her. There were more rumblings and then a shout. She looked for its source and saw two bloody, bedraggled merchants and an old noble.

"Follow me," she called, waving the map. "I know a way out!"

They fell into step without argument, as the rumblings overhead grew louder-and closer.

Lark turned a corner and found herself staring at their source: a tunnel-team of dwarves, hastening to toss stones into a side-tunnel and shore it up. Those stones lay in a huge flood of light that was, yes, moonlit!

A street above had collapsed, and they were looking at the surface! The merchants swarmed past her with glad shouts.

Lark helped the old nobleman clamber after them, up the shifting drift of cobbles and building-stones. Then she turned back into the darkness to seek others.

It was what Texter would expect of her-and what she'd now come to expect from herself.



***** | The City of Splendors | *****