Scent of Magic Page 76

“How many?”

“Hundreds.” Danny stared at his hands in his lap.

“Do they have fevers like Hilmar?”


“Plague?” The word left a bad taste in his mouth.


“How bad is it?”

“They’re dying.”

Dread lumped in the pit of his stomach. Was this another killing disease? “Can you heal them?”

“I’ve studied Avry’s book.” Danny laced and unlaced his fingers together.


Danny met Kerrick’s gaze. Confusion creased his young face. “I think I can help them.”

Kerrick waited.

“But should I? They’re killing our people, invading our land. Why should I help them?”


Not a rustle of movement. Not a sign of activity. Not even a cry of a bird. Nothing all day. As each hour passed, the anxiety level rose along with the temperature until we sweated through our uniforms. The news of our situation spread through the camp as fast as a stomach flu.

When would Tohon spring his trap? The question hung over our heads like the sharp blade of a guillotine.

I remained in the infirmary, concentrating on my patients to avoid thinking about the inevitable. And the few times I stopped to consider my future, fear ripped through my heart. By late afternoon, I needed to be with my friends—the ones who hadn’t abandoned me. I clamped down on that line of thought right away.

Even if Ryne had warned me and invited me along, I wouldn’t have gone. At least, I hoped I would have refused. And that my terror over being Tohon’s prisoner again wouldn’t have made me break my promise to Estrid.

I left Christina in charge of the patients and sought Saul. Strained faces and haunted gazes followed me as I wove through the eerily quiet camp. Saul and Lieutenant Thea’s other sergeants huddled together near his and Odd’s tent. Their intense whispered discussion consumed their attention, so I waited.

“...we’re to team up with Dagger Company,” Saul said.

“Everyone is to have a partner,” Liv said.

“No, Wynn. The only way you are going is over my dead body.” Odd thumped his chest with his fingers.

Too curious to wait until they noticed me, I asked, “What’s going on?”

“We’re organizing for one last desperate offensive,” Odd said.

“What’s the plan?” I asked.

“A concentrated attack of all our forces in one area,” Saul said. “General Jael is hoping we can break out of the encirclement.”

Not a bad idea. “Will it work?”

“We hope so. Otherwise, we’re screwed.”

I would need to prepare for casualties. “When?”

Saul lowered his voice. “Late tonight.”


“Only General Jael knows,” Odd said. “But I’m thinking to the northeast since there’s a stream there that we could use to get past their line of horror. Plus, Marisol can use her water magic.”

“Even with her, we’ll need every single person,” Wynn said.

Odd appealed to me. “Avry, tell her she can’t go.”

I examined her wound. She had kept the cut clean, and small scabs dotted her jawline. Her stitches could be taken out in a few days. “As long as she doesn’t rip open the sutures or reinjure the area, she should be fine.”

Odd growled. Wynn smirked. I wished them all good luck before returning to the infirmary. So much for spending the evening with my friends. Calling in all the caregivers, I organized our supplies and rearranged the beds.

* * *

The first wave of wounded arrived just after midnight. The injuries matched what I’d been treating since midsummer’s day. However, the mood was...different. Not as glum or defeated.

Stitching up a sergeant’s leg, I asked about the battle.

“We’re getting through,” he said. “It’s not easy, but we’re making progress for the first time since we encountered those blasted things.”

The second group of injured acted almost buoyant. They laughed and joked. My fear eased a bit. Perhaps we would break out of Tohon’s trap.

A private with a broken arm arrived with the third batch. “We punched a hole!” he announced to the entire infirmary. Cheers rang out.

The jovial atmosphere continued. Happy patients healed faster, so I encouraged the optimistic comments. A few more casualties trickled in as the night progressed. By dawn, no more soldiers had arrived for the past couple hours. We took it as a positive sign. I sent half of my caregivers to get some sleep.

Saul entered the infirmary as I was checking on my patients one more time before heading to bed. Blood dripped from a nasty gash on his shoulder, and deep lines of exhaustion etched his face. Hurrying over, I guided him to my exam area, sitting him down on the bed.

When I tried to remove his chest armor, he grabbed my arm. “Liv and Thea are gone.”

His words stabbed deep into me, igniting horror. “Dead?”

“No idea.” Saul let me go to rub his bloodstained hand over his face. “They disappeared during the fighting, after we punched a hole in their defenses.” His unfocused gaze stared through me as he remembered.

This time when I yanked on his chest plate, he let me pull it over his head. “Maybe they are free of the trap.”

“There was another line of defenders beyond the ring, waiting for us.”

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