Since they’d been children, Wrest had seen Staever cry once–after hugging him goodbye, when he’d boared the Eye militia transport. He’d hidden it behind goggles.

This time was different. When Staever opened the door, his eyes were wet, but full of purpose. Seeing him dry them invigorated Wrest, whose old fear slunk. There would be time to grieve.

Staever said, “Still got the key?”

“Yeah,” Wrest answered. “Is she…?”

Staever nodded. “She gave me that scroll, right before.”

“What is it?”

“My father’s weather map.”

Wrest was taken aback. “Staever, I’m a sensible guy. I know you know the weather’s a myth. Wind doesn’t blow water around.”

“Not here, it doesn’t,” Staever said, “but it might, farther south. I can’t see any other way to keep watered on the way to the Clearing.”

“The Clearing.” The Eye could fall in battle, Wrest realized. Their dream was more possible than ever before. “You really mean to go?”

“As of right now, yes, though there are maybe seven people on board, you and me included. If we can make it…”

He broke off. Shouting, friendly but urgent, interrupted from the main road. They dashed together to look.

“I don’t believe it,” Staever said.

Wrest hopped with joy. “He actually came back!”

Graphus sat in the driver’s seat of an elegant sled, hitched to two crabs. The platform was large enough for several passengers, but held only two frantically waving children.

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