Never pull a stealth job under a blue sky. Like all Staever’s rules, it had exceptions. With all eyes on Kragn, Staever and Wrest had the perfect diversion to sneak past an army.
“What’s the plan?” Wrest huffed.
“Find Emaria,” Staever answered. “Two beetles, one stone–she’s free, and the prison break distracts Kragn.”
“Wonderful. We’re going to die.”
“I’m the one who says that. You’re the one who survives.”
Three of Kragn’s men kept watch where the river bent away from the field. Staever slid one of his claws behind his head, indicating the water. Behind them. Underwater.
They held their breath and slipped in. The water was cold but clear, shot through with sunlight. No sooner had Staever touched the bottom than a soldier called, “Anyone there?”
He pointed downstream. Wrest pushed off the rocks, both of their tails beating to the current.
They clawed up the bank into a thick copse. Wrest signed: not safe here. Undergrowth was thicker by the water, but that was the wrong direction.
They fled between two trees to face down a lobster in Kragn’s colors. The soldier froze, as surprised as they were. Wrest drew his blade.
Their opponent dropped his own sword in the grass. He pointed frantically across the field, over the rear of the crowd–at the wooden walls of the stockade.
Wrest looked to Staever, mystified, but there were other soldiers nearby, and the Cuttlefish language lacked a sign for it wasn’t just Farid. With a swift interlock of claws–friendly–he bolted.
For once, Kragn had riveted an audience not with the threat of force but with the stark grandeur of the Great South Wall and the brash promise to break it. The stockade drew nearer, standing out against green leaves.
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