Mirlin had already paid the mapmaker and the wizened little man presents us with ten copies when we visit his dark den nestled in a backstreet. This is good news, for now we do not need to wait to continue with our mission.
The best news, however, lies in what he tells us.
“The underground knows. We are set to start walking to the fort marked, on the night of the two moons.” He beams up. “My son is a strong lad and will lead us well. We have our own map.”
“How many will walk out of Normur?” Damin asks, his entire body relaxing as if someone has waved a magic wand over him.
“The majority, Damin Mur. We estimate around twelve thousand. Only the rich and the too old will stay behind.”
I look up at the little man. He is a brother of the undertaker at the deadhouse in the lower city, must be. “The rich are not all bad, sir.”
He nods. “I am aware, but we have not been able to speak with anyone who will listen. Perhaps that is your task before you call to others beyond this city, my lady.”
Inhaling, I say, “I am not a lady …”
The man shakes his head. “We heard what happened, how folk walked through the flood unharmed. You are our lady.”
Tears prick at my lids.
He continues. “Have a care who you speak to, my lady. We will leave here fighting for every step if we need to, but would prefer to walk out in peace.”
We thank him then and take our leave. On the cobbles outside, Damin turns to me. “I know who we should tell in higher society. Her name is Alyssa.”
The manner in which he says her name makes me suspicious. “Alyssa, is it?”