Scent of Magic Page 66

“I’ll talk to Saul,” I said to Loren in a low voice as we waited for our turn. “If he doesn’t have the map anymore, I’m pretty sure I can find the Peace Lily again,” I said.

“Good,” Loren said.

“How do you plan to move—”


“But it’s been a day, and with this heat...isn’t he...” I couldn’t finish.

“We have him on ice.”

“Where did you find ice?”

Loren glanced around and then whispered, “Marisol, the water mage. Prince Ryne is acquainted with her and the specifics of her power.”

“Does she know why you needed it?”

“Probably not. Prince Ryne made the arrangements. The wagon and horses are ready. They’re over by the woods next to the POW camp. We’ll meet there an hour after the service. Prince Ryne wants us back tomorrow.”

Which was midsummer’s day. “But what if the Lily doesn’t spit him out right away?” I asked.

“Then we’ll return on another day.”

I faced forward as we drew closer to Ursan’s grave. When it was my turn, I grabbed a fistful of moist earth. It hadn’t rained at the camp in weeks, but the grass out here was a lush green. Was Marisol’s or Jael’s power keeping it watered?

Leaning over the open grave, I let the dirt pour from my hand onto the top of Ursan’s coffin. My emotions swirled into a confusing mix of sadness, guilt and dread if our plan didn’t work. I closed my eyes and made a silent promise to do all that I could for him.

After the ceremony, the sergeants approached me. Although time was an issue, I wouldn’t hurry away. No humor sparked in Odd’s gaze, Liv and Wynn looked glum, and lines of grief creased Saul’s face.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I tried—”

“We heard,” Liv said. “The jacks told us.”

“Typical of Ursan to think of the bigger picture even when dying,” Wynn said.

The others agreed, and silence descended as each of us mourned our colleague.

“Any news about Belen and the others?” I asked.

“No. Not even a rumor,” Wynn said. “We’ll let you know if we hear.”

She squeezed my shoulder before she, Liv and Odd headed back to camp. Training and preparations continued despite the loss. If anything, Ursan’s death was an added reminder to be extra diligent.

Saul lingered behind. He waited until the sergeants had moved out of hearing range. “When?”

“When what?” I asked.

He pulled out a paper from his pocket and handed it to me. I unfolded it, revealing a rough sketch of the area around Zabin marked with the locations of the Lilys. He had copied the original.

“That obvious?” I asked.

“For those of us who know.” Saul glanced at Flea, who hovered a polite distance away. “Major Granvil requests that you take me along in exchange for his cooperation.”

Interesting. “His cooperation for what exactly?”

“For keeping his mouth shut about your young friend. He wants to be kept in the loop regarding any future attempts to duplicate the...incident.”

Saul was uncharacteristically verbose. I suspected he had quoted the major word for word.

“That’s rather brave. Isn’t the major worried about Jael eventually finding out?” I asked.

“The major is taking a wait-and-see approach. If this doesn’t work, then he won’t look like a fool for believing you.”


He smiled. “Yes, you. Now that your true identity has been revealed, you’re not trustworthy, so we can blame you for lots of stuff that goes wrong.”

“Great. What if it works?” Again a swell of hope threatened to push the sadness away.

“Then he has some good news and proof for his commanding officer.”

“I see. I’ll consult with Ryne and let you know.” And then it hit me. I’d never discussed with him my theories regarding Tohon’s dead soldiers. With everything that had happened with Ursan and then Belen, it had slipped my mind. I spotted Ryne talking with Estrid. The monkeys stayed close to him.

Saul nodded and returned to camp. When Ryne broke away from Estrid and her retinue, he joined me. The monkeys trailed behind with Flea.

Ryne gestured to the sea of tents below us. “No time to waste.”

We headed back.

“Did Loren tell you where to rendezvous with them?” he asked.

“Yes, and Saul wants to accompany us.” I repeated my conversation with the sergeant to him.

“Major Granvil is putting a great deal of faith in us,” Ryne said. “Saul can come, but he’ll have to ride with you.”

“I’ll tell him. And I also need to talk to you regarding those disappearing soldiers.”

His full attention focused on me. “What about them?”

“This is pure speculation.” I explained my theory about the buried soldiers. “Feel free to tell me I’m crazy. I won’t mind.”

Instead, he stared at me with shocked horror as if I’d just plunged my stiletto into his heart.

“Please tell me I have an overactive imagination,” I said.

“Give me a minute.” Ryne’s voice cracked.

Uh-oh. I wondered if he was also acquainted with Ulany, the earth mage, and the extent of her powers.

“It sounds impossible, but I...” He sucked in a deep breath. “I need to...”

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