Whenever Arcite slowed to breathe, one of Morgan’s soldiers jabbed him in the back. He gritted his teeth. “I can’t be a traitor to both sides. I have to be working for someone.”
He startled himself by speaking, and startled more when Eventhe answered. “I should have known.”
“I didn’t do anything. Fine, I’m from the Field, I confess. But I was never a real double agent.” His voice sounded like a blubbering child’s. “This isn’t my fault.”
“Fault?” Eventhe walked beside him. “I should have known. You were different.”
“Of course I am. You lied to me. Why would you keep your secret from the one lobster who belonged here less than you?”
“Not to the whole city? To you?”
Emaria picked the wrong time to speak up. “I’m not mad, Arcite, I’m afraid for you. If this gets out…”
“Then what?” Eventhe asked. “He has no reason to hide.”
Emaria flicked her claws against one another. “I’m sure there’s a good explanation. But nobody in the Eye will listen.”
“Of course there’s a sea-damned explanation. They wouldn’t let me work with clay.”
Morgan cocked an antenna.
“You know about the Field. Clay is dark, clay is evil, if you touch it, throw yourself into the sea before we do it for you. But I had a gift. And when you’re only good at one thing, you sorta want to do it.” He looked back at Morgan. “But you can’t leave the Field. They’d drag me back. So, I applied for espionage, and for some reason they hired me.”
“So we wouldn’t drag you back?” Morgan’s laugh grew more joyless every time Arcite heard it. “You have got to be the most incompetent–whatever you are–”
“I can knock down walls now. I hijack ships. I can drink my body weight in sludge…” He’d never in his life succeeded at talking his way out of anything. Now was an unlikely time to start.
He walked into the lead soldier’s back. They must have reached the battle, but there were no Militiamen. The soldier was watching the sky.
A shadow fell around him, but not the city’s solid shade: dappled darkness and light, sun scattered through a lens.
“Was there supposed to be an eclipse today?” he asked. “With a…translucent moon?”
“It’s a trick,” Morgan said. “You three, guard the prisoners. Everyone else, watch for an ambush.”
Emaria nudged Arcite and Eventhe from behind. “We need to run.”
“How?” Arcite whispered back, as three soldiers circled them. “Why?”
“I’ve read about the thing refracting the sun. I can explain it later. Right now we’ve got to be far away.”
Morgan marched her detachment around the last tower on the northern curve of the eye.
A cry came from above, though not from the shadow on the sun. A Militiaman with enough shell grafts to resemble a patchwork quilt leapt from the second-story window and buried his sword in the lobster next to Morgan.
“Now!” Emaria shouted.
The three guards forgot them. The landward flank hollered as half the Eye Militia poured from the Whites. The three Cuttlefish, Arcite glad to be among them, ran.
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.