“Do you–” Graphus began when they reached the road.

“Yes, I have the key.” Wrest showed it to him.

“Who took it?”

“Gattick,” Staever said.

“I should have judged him more thoroughly.” Graphus looked contrite. “Did you have to…”

Staever pointed into the alley. All five of them could see Gattick’s crumpled form in the shadow of a window ledge.

Alta averted her eyes. Wier asked Wrest, “Bad guy. Right?”

“Right,” Staever answered for him. “Not a good guy at all. Graphus, there’s another body in that apartment.” His eyes were red. Right now he didn’t care if Graphus noticed. “We have space for one more.”

“We hardly have space for five of us,” Graphus said distantly. Perhaps, like Staever, something was affecting him more then he let on.

“I’ll ride bareback on one of the crabs. I’ve done it before.”

Graphus and Wrest exchanged a look. “The Militia’s window is rapidly closing,” said the governor. “I can shield you if we rejoin the Eye, so long as there still is an Eye.”

“But…” Graphus had a point, but the thought of Taiga’s body lying alone in her room would not stay down, and he might never go back again.

No. I will. After all, there was no alternative.

“So,” he said, “south?”

Graphus shook his head. “North. Climb aboard.”

Staever didn’t. “Into the battle? Between the people who tried to kill me and the people who want to kill everyone? Are we talking about the same north?”

“The Eye is still my city,” Graphus said. “Whatever happens next, I will not be absent.” His piercing look said, Neither will you.

If you liked this chapter, check out the rewards available on my Patreon! I’m a self-supported writer, and even $1 a month helps.

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