Riwenne and her friends enter the floating city disguised as a traveling circus so they can protect it from future attacks. But they quickly realize that their enemies are already waiting for them.
They’re Waiting for Us
I tried to stay calm as we sat at the port authority, waiting while Illari handled the official paperwork that would let us visit and perform in Riqar City. But Kyra was sitting next to me and she knew my body language too well. She put a gentle hand in mine.
As soon as we got the stamps of approval and left the offices, Kyra turned to me. “What happened?” she whispered in my ear, her breath tickling my sensitive skin.
I stiffened and looked around to make sure we weren’t being followed. There was no sign of any divine warriors around us. “Fairuza is already here,” I whispered. “Tell the others—emergency meeting.”
She nodded, and we passed the word quietly to each of our friends until everyone was looking around us. But there wasn’t enough privacy to talk in the middle of the city. We rushed back to the park.
But when we stepped through the park gates, I saw all four of them waiting for us. They were dressed in locally styled casual clothing and bore no weapons, but there was tension in their poses. Fairuza was leaning up against the airship with her arms folded. Ixi crouched on the ground, scratching at the dirt. Namburo pretended to be examining the ship itself, but he watched us approach over his shoulder.
Mano stood stiffly next to them like he didn’t know how to fit in yet. Not surprising, since he couldn’t have met them more than a few hours before. I didn’t even know how it was possible that he could be here, hundreds of miles from Ruraqie, where he’d attended my trial that very morning. They must have their own teleportation ability.
We came to a stop a few paces away. Without a signal, I saw my friends take up defensive positions around me, born of long habits and practice. Illari, who didn’t know how to fight, hung back behind the others.
I looked straight at Fairuza. “What are you doing here?”
She stood up and narrowed her eyes at me. “I was about to ask you the same thing, but I don’t think I’ll like the answer. I told you not to interfere in our work again.”
I spread my hands wide to indicate the city. “We can’t let you destroy all of this. Too many innocent lives are at stake.”
“There is no one innocent in this entire city,” Fairuza shot back. “Riqar should be destroyed. We’ll bring down the rest of the empire with it!”
Ixi cheered, pumping her fist in the air. “Smash the empire!” The others echoed the cry.
I glanced around to be sure that there were no guards or anyone else nearby to hear that shout. And I had to stop this conversation from going the same way it had gone at least twice before.
I rushed forward, using magic to propel myself at an unnatural speed, but Namburo still caught my arm and stopped me before I reached Fairuza. My friends leaped to attack him, but I held up my hand to stop them.