Rolling the green and glowing orb from palm to palm, I contemplate the future. Whichever path is the victory road to it, the future will be different from the one expected six months ago. Even if all walk from here unscathed, what lies beyond these mountains have already altered what was familiar.
Thus it is about priorities. Deal with matters a situation at a time.
The first of those situations is upon us.
Tossing the orb up to catch it again, I stand. “Damin, Kay, Joseph,” I say. It comes out harsher than intended, but I need them to focus immediately.
Kay is behind me, returning from relieving himself. “We are surrounded.”
“Who?” Damin demands, getting to his feet. Lyra stands beside him. Both have daggers to hand.
“How many?” Joseph asks, removing two short knives from his boots, one to each hand.
“At least six,” I murmur as I stare into the darkness. “Evenly spaced to form a perimeter. They are armed. They are here to kill or capture us.” I notice Siri scuttle to Attis to shake the boy awake. “They are men, real men. Nothing ethereal about them.”
“Where do they come from?” Hanna asks quietly. She is calm and has a nasty-looking curved blade clutched in a two-handed grip.
“They came with us,” Damin growls.
“Arc begins to exert influence,” Lyra whispers.
“Indeed,” I confirm. “These are flesh and blood Glonu.”
“What do we do?” Siri asks.
Then there is no time left for talk. Six men rush out of the darkness. Two have swords, one wields a club, another a scimitar, and two have between them the tools of a blacksmith’s trade, including a mighty hammer. They are dirty, appear half starved, but there is no mistaking their intent.
“Take the one with the club,” I hear Damin tell Lyra, and then the battle becomes a physical force.