Scent of Magic Page 63

“What’s wrong? Come on, Baby Face, spit it out,” Wynn said.

“It’s crazy, and I doubt you’d believe me,” I said.

“Hey, we’ve been with you from the beginning. And we’re here with you now,” Liv said.

True. In a low voice, I explained my suspicions.

“It’s not crazy,” Wynn said. “It’s insane!”

“And just the thing to catch us completely off guard.” Liv rubbed her hands over her face. “Lieutenant Thea and Major Granvil might understand, but our company is just one of many.”

“It’s impossible, Liv!” Wynn said. “Even assuming they’re camouflaged and able to sit still for days, one of our numerous patrols would have stumbled over at least one of them. It’s statistically impossible!”

She made an excellent point. We sat in silence for a moment.

“Ulany is an earth magician, and she’s working for Tohon,” I said. “Perhaps she can do more than find good soil for crops and worms.”

“You think she buried them?” Liv asked.

“Not possible. We’d have seen the signs,” Wynn said, dismissing the idea.

I wondered if her resistance to this line of thought stemmed from fear or her skeptical nature. “Magic is woven into the fabric of our world, Wynn. I’ve seen what a forest mage can do with his powers, and it’s impressive. And I think anything is possible, including the ability of an earth magician to conceal soldiers in the dirt.”

“All this speculation isn’t getting us anywhere. Wynn and I can ask around, see if any of the patrols have spotted Ursan. Everyone’s already on edge because of the skull jab and rumors that Tohon is going to attack on midsummer’s day. We can keep that energy up just in case Tohon has another magical trick up his sleeve.”

“I’ll talk to Prince Ryne and have my workers put together care packages,” I said.

“Care packages?” Liv asked.

“It’s your idea. I’m going to have my caregivers put together a few medicinal herbs that might come in handy when the squads are out on patrol or after a battle.”

“See that?” Liv punched Wynn on the arm as they headed out. “I helped. And you said I wouldn’t amount to much.”

“No. I said you talk too much.” Wynn swatted her on the shoulder. “You never listen to me.”

After they left, I checked on my patients and asked Christina to have her staff fill pouches. “Put the crushed herbs in the ones made of oilskin to protect them from getting wet, and include a set of quick instructions.”

“We’re not going to have enough pouches or herbs,” Christina said.

Since I’d been working with her, I’d learned she had been born in Quaia Mare near the southeast coast of Ozero. Her honey skin tone and cat-shaped brown eyes matched the others from that region.

“Then send someone to the market,” I said.

“Uh, the High Priestess must approve all purchases.”

“Not if I give you the money.”

Since I’d been a soldier in Estrid’s army, I hadn’t needed to buy food or clothing, and Kerrick had given me more than enough. A pang of longing hit me. I allowed an image of him smiling at me to fill my thoughts for a moment before I retrieved the coins for Christina.

Once I was satisfied with the progress Christina and the others were making, I headed toward the door.

Flea blocked my path. “Where are you going?”

“To talk to Ryne.” When he didn’t move out of my way, I added, “It’s important.”

“Send him a message.”

“Too risky, I need—”

“To stay put like you promised Prince Ryne. I’ll send a message to the prince, requesting his presence in the infirmary so you can talk to him.” Flea kept his expression neutral, but a smugness gleamed from his eyes.

Not much I could do. “As long as you stress to him that it’s vital and time sensitive.”

“Of course.” A hint of a smirk curled as he turned to find a messenger.


He looked over his shoulder. “Yes?”

“Kerrick would be proud.”

I was rewarded with one of his full-blown smiles before he hurried away.

* * *

I helped pack herbs and write instructions while I waited for Ryne. With every slight noise or scrape of a boot, I glanced at the entrance. What was taking him so long?

When he finally arrived a few hours later, I couldn’t miss the commotion that heralded his approach. At first, I thought a fight had broken out in the hall. Flea pulled his sword and stood by the door. Voices called, and a big group of men burst into the room followed by Ryne, Thea and Major Granvil.

It took me a heartbeat to recognize a couple jumping jacks among that first clump. They carried an injured man. I pointed to a bed. And only when they laid him down did they allow me to get close.

Ursan. One part of me cried out in dismay, but another catalogued his injuries. A deep gash on his head bled profusely. He hugged his stomach, and his right leg bent at an impossible angle. Broken. His eyes were squeezed shut, but they opened when I touched his neck, feeling his rapid pulse and sweat-slick skin. Pain-filled eyes met my gaze, and I knew there was another deeper wound.

Magic bloomed from my core, but I held back while I sought the injury. It wasn’t hard to find as his men had tried to bandage it. A huge chunk of flesh had been gouged from his side as if an ufa had taken a bite out of him, damaging his spleen and a kidney. Fatal for him. I wasn’t sure about my chances, but I didn’t hesitate.

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