“Over here! This way, bastard!”
Staever’s yells and clanging faded as Arcite and Eventhe hauled themselves onto a lip of dirt between the tower and slope. A square outline in the aerie well suggested part of the sand had once been a doorway.
“I do not suppose I need to ask you to blow that open?” Eventhe asked.
“I’ll do it sonically.” Arcite spread red clay along the base of the portal, then readied the conch detonator and shooed her to a safe distance. “Cover your ears. Also cover everything else.”
He blew the conch. The clay sparked, collapsing the buildup of sand jamming the door. Arcite dashed forward, but Eventhe pulled him back. “It may be unstable.”
“We’re combing the place, not moving in.”
“If a weapon to fight the demon exists, we must not bury it at the bottom of a gorge.”
She brushed past him. Three stories creaked around her, and she recoiled. “I suspect the hill we climbed was built after the tower, to hold it to the cliff.”
“Turner went half-assed in his old age like the rest of us.” They crossed the threshold together, keeping their footsteps light. The shrine floor snapped. “Where do we start?”
Outside, the demon shrieked. The room was bleak–decaying wooden pillars, stretching floor to ceiling, filled empty space. “Staever cannot have much longer. We must check the other floors.”
A solitary bit of decoration adorned the floor in front of Arcite: Turner’s mark, the tree, mountain, and river.
You are here.
Arcite froze. “Did you hear–”
“You are here,” Eventhe confirmed.
You are here. Here in my body. My body and my bones.
“Ev,” Arcite dug out pellets of clay, “didn’t you hear a voice in that temple Turner built?”
“Not like this.”
My bones are not yours. Not yours to touch.
“Could it be the demon? Talking to us?”
“There is a way to find out.” Fast enough to look unsettled, Eventhe tore out one of the wooden beams.
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