“No. Someone needs to go for her, or . . . or I’ll go in search of her myself!” As Nina spoke, she glared at Mara, as though defying her to rise to the challenge of taking a trip to Chiran.
Jules, now standing at her side, encouraged her to take back to her seat.
Chaya bit her lip. “I understand,” she said. “I’m sorry for interrupting.”
“That’s quite all right,” Mara said. “You should always feel free to share your thoughts in these meetings. We don’t all agree on everything, every time, but we value one another’s opinions.” She looked the group over. “Are there any volunteers then?”
Marshall raised his hand.
Chaya shook her head at him and whispered, “You can’t go back there. You know what it would mean. Besides, I can’t do this without you. I need you.”
He turned her way, his brow furrowed.
“She’s right, my friend, you can’t go,” Jerrett said to him. “If you’re caught there and they discover you’re responsible for Cark’s death . . .” He glanced back at Mara. “I suppose I could go,” he said.
“No,” Jules said to him, “you’ve done your turn there.”
Nina scowled at her husband.
“It’s all right,” he told her. “We’ll find someone.”
“We’ll go,” said someone sitting in the back of the room.
Mara looked up. “Thank you, Liam. And you too, Rafal. I suggest you meet with Marshall and Jerrett to learn what you can before you set out.” She paused, tapping her fingertips together. “Now, as you all know, once the twins gained Ehyeh’s favor, a few things changed—not the least of which is that any current or former Oathtaker to a seventh of the Select now has the same attendant magic power to travel that I have—although with only a single additional person at a time. So, tomorrow morning, the twins and I will oversee things here while Lucy and Dixon take Liam and Rafal to see Ezra.”
She turned to the volunteers. “It won’t take you long to get to Chiran from there.” Then, glancing at Nina, she asked, “Will that be acceptable to you?”
Her lips pursed, her arms folded, Nina tipped her head, signifying her agreement.
Lucy stood. “Liam,” she said, nodding his direction, and then “Rafal,” she added, turning to his companion, “I’ve been working on a trinket you can use to communicate with us.”
She approached them, then handed Liam a case. Similar in appearance to the compact that she’d created years ago, and that any Oathtaker to a seventh of the Select could use to send messages back and forth, it was a small, silver thing.
“A compact,” Liam said, grinning. “Won’t this be rather odd for two men to carry?”
“Open it,” Lucy said.
He did. “Ahhh, a compass,” he said.
“Yes, but it works the same as the compact—except of course, that you won’t be able to see the person with whom you communicate. As with the compact, you just open it and voice your message. Then I’ll retrieve it from my compact when I can.” She frowned. “I’m sorry. I know the flits can get word back and forth between us, but as they require travel time, their communications are not quite as ‘instant’ as I’d like. So this, I’m afraid, is the best I can do considering that neither of you ever had a seventh for your charge.”
“It’ll work,” Rafal said.
“Very well then,” Mara said, once again addressing the crowd, “this meeting is adjourned. Now, let’s all plan to get an early start come morning. Fall is already well upon us, and our goal is to reach the palace before winter sets in with a fury.”
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