Emaria, Arcite, and Eventhe took cover behind a wall of abandoned carts, concealed from all their pursuers. “All right, Emaria,” Arcite panted. “Ready to tell us what we ran from?”

Emaria stared at the Eye as though the clash of armies was mere distraction. “Look at the city.”

The watercraft poured itself over the slopes. Sheets of ocean soaked the towers and alleys, drenching the sand into slurry. Parapets leaned. The heavier towers drove themselves apart with their own weight, clogging the streets as the cityscape liquefied.

“It’s a manatee assault hovercraft.” Emaria spoke flatly. “A pure engine of war. The strongest force they can muster.”

“We have seen nothing of them for years.” Eventhe asked. “Why have they come?”

“They could be here to rescue the Eye. However they can.”

“You might be right,” Arcite said. “They’re coming back this way.”

The Pupil was swallowed by the horizon when the manatees, split from their craft in a sphere of water each, fanned out over the advancing rebel line. One poured a waterfall at a lamphouse on the Eye’s north fringe. It slid from the hill and collapsed, burying a band of fighters.

The smaller hovercrafts kept pounding the Field while half backed off to keep washing away the city.

“They’re fighting for the Eye!” Arcite’s expression entreated Emaria and Eventhe for explanation. “Why are they doing that?”

“I don’t know,” Emaria said.

“Like sea you don’t!” Arcite seized and shook her until Eventhe pulled him back. “This is all in your scrolls. I know people out there. There are children. Tell me what to do!”

She closed up, shut her mind away. Staever and Wrest, Alta and Wier, might be hiding in Staever’s warehouse hovel, suffocating under wet sand.

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