The shipwreck lay in the corner of Emaria’s eye, the blade having come half loose from the hull in the impact. She tried to stand. The world tilted until she fell again.

Arcite lay motionless beside her. She crawled towards him, checking for life. When he groaned and shifted at her prodding, Emaria let out her breath.

Eventhe stood between them and an advancing flank of Field soldiers. Her arms were coiled with power to fight the entire army at once.

Arcite pushed himself upward, heading for Eventhe. “No. This is not happening.”

“Arcite,” Eventhe whispered, “you must get behind me.”

“I know what I’m doing!”

He walked up to the advancing line. At a command from behind, a dozen soldiers in dust-colored camouflage surrounded them, each of the spears in their claws spun from hardly a wood piece’s worth of glass.

Arcite spoke in a language Emaria could not understand. They were hollow sentences, vowels piling on vowels until it was no longer clear whether he was speaking or breaking down.

The ring of spear-carriers opened.

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