Scent of Magic Page 35

Wynn slid her sword into her scabbard. “But the High Priestess values life. I hear they argue about it frequently.”

“It should be interesting now that Prince Ryne is here. He’s bound to take the High Priestess’s side. Did you see how chummy they were when he arrived?” Liv stood and stretched. “Let’s eat, I’m starved.”

I followed them to the mess tent, although I didn’t have an appetite. Quain’s reaction kept replaying in my mind. Ryne had agreed with me. Belen hadn’t seemed upset. Then again, Belen only knew about my “death” since Ryne had arrived in Estrid’s camp. The monkeys had known back when they’d left me in Sogra, believing my days were numbered.

And I hadn’t even learned anything important about Jael and Estrid’s army. Some undercover agent I’d been. Ursan sniffed me out that first day, and Lieutenant Thea knew I wasn’t who I’d claimed to be. I hadn’t talked to my sister. Melina was incarcerated at Chinska Mare, so I hadn’t fulfilled my promise to Mom.

Grabbing a tray, I ladled a few scoops of stew and took a hunk of bread. We sat by the sergeant’s fire. I picked at my food before giving up and setting it aside. The others debated and gossiped. Their voices flowed around me, but I didn’t listen. From the corner of my eye, I noticed Ursan glancing at me, but I wouldn’t meet his gaze. Instead, I drew pictures in the dirt with a stick.

I wondered if Belen and the guys were discussing strategy, or my rise from the grave, or something random.

“...Irina? ...Sergeant Irina!”

“Huh?” I looked up.

Odd crouched next to me. “What’s wrong?”



“What do you want?” I asked.

“For you to stop scowling at the ground. Although your picture of leaves is quite...nice,” Odd said.

“They’re hands.” Useless hands.

“Oh...yes, now I see,” he lied.

I gave him my best Kerrick stare. “What do you want?”

“My squad is up for training tomorrow. Do you want to schedule the drills for the afternoon?”

Major Granvil had given us the afternoon off. All of a sudden I knew exactly what I needed to do, and what I had been avoiding all this time became clear. “How about we drill in the morning with the jacks?”

“That’s fine.”

“Good.” I stood.

“Where are you going?” Ursan asked me.

“Back to my tent.”

“It’s early.” His suspicion had returned.

I shrugged. “I’m tired.” And I had a busy night planned. My back burned with the heat of Ursan’s gaze.

When I reached my tent, I cut through to the other side, then slipped under the far wall. Keeping out of sight of the sergeant’s fire, I headed to Lieutenant Thea’s tent. She wasn’t inside, but I found her around another campfire reserved for the officers of Axe Company.

She noticed me standing nearby, and I waved her over.

“What’s wrong?” she asked as she joined me.

“Nothing. I just wondered if you talked to Belen about that neck armor.”

“No. Major Granvil ordered us not to mention it to anyone.”

“Where is it?” I asked.

“In the major’s tent. You’re not planning anything stupid. Right, Sergeant?”

“You know I’m not really a sergeant.”

“You’ve proven yourself, Sergeant.”

I smiled. “That’s nice to hear. However, my past has caught up to me and soon everyone will know. It’s inevitable.”

“Should I prepare to cover my ass?”

I laughed. “No. I’m the only one who’ll be in trouble.”

“What kind of trouble?”

My smile faded. I’d become a target for Jael and Tohon. Scanning the camp, I realized I wasn’t the only one. Once the war started, all these soldiers would be targets, as well.


“Nothing bad. Minor trouble only.”

“So, no midnight jail breaks?” she asked with a hint of a smile.

“Not yet.”

Thea grinned. It was nice to finally crack her serious demeanor. Too bad I hadn’t been joking. She returned to the fire, and I spotted Major Granvil talking to one of his captains. Now or never.

Taking a circuitous route, I approached Granvil’s tent from the rear. I lifted the fabric and crawled inside. The walls glowed with the firelight from outside, but there was just enough light for me to see a tall man standing in the middle of the tent as if he waited for me.

“Ursan,” I said.

He held the neck armor up. “Looking for this?”


“I can’t leave you and Alga unprotected,” Kerrick said for the twentieth time.

“We’ll be fine, Kerry.” Unperturbed, Great-Aunt Yasmin sipped her tea as if they’d been discussing the weather.

After he had talked with General Zamiel, he had spent the rest of the day trying to figure out a way to deal with the tribes without leaving Alga vulnerable. But he’d come up with nothing. Great-Aunt Yasmin had finally dragged him out of his father’s office to eat a very late supper.

“You can’t do both,” she said. “Go lead your army north to fight the tribes.” She tapped a finger on the table. “Take General Zamiel, but leave Izak. He’s been doing so well.”

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