As the sun began to rise over the mountain, she stared at the blood covering her hands and wondered what had just happened. Her dog pushed into her side, nose slipping by her face. She tried to get to her feet, but her knees weren’t bending as she wanted.
She checked them. They were fine, they weren’t broken. She just couldn’t bend them to get up.
The dog pushed into her again. The girl tried to push him away. “No.” Where had this blood come from? She couldn’t remember.
She wiped her hands off on her jeans. They looked like she would have to get new ones. Her mother had always told her the ripped jean look was dumb anyway.
Her dog grabbed her, mouth on her arm. “Ow! What are you doing? Stop!”
The dog didn’t stop. He started to pull her. She tried to protest, but she couldn’t. He was strong and she couldn’t get up.
As she began to pass out from the blood loss, the dog dragged her past the corpse of her captor.
It was hard to tell when she had closed her eyes. Robin occasionally glanced over at her, but in the dim light the young woman’s eyes were difficult to make out until she blinked. The blood of the moth in her was strong, maroon coloring her eyelids the same exactly pattern as the orbs that lay behind them.
“Have you caught your breath?” Robin asked her.
She nodded. “Yes, thank you. It’s so cold here. I’m not used to this weather.”
“They take you from far away?”
She nodded again. “My name is Min-hee. My father has to be looking for me. Is he looking for me?”
“I have no doubts.” Robin spoke as he usually did, without hesitance. “Let’s get you out of here. We can talk about what’s happened once we make sure you’re safe.”
Jay had a way of doing that simultaneously, but Robin hadn’t felt like he developed that skill yet. Still, they found a missing person. Perhaps they would finally find out why so many with signs of their beast blood were being kidnapped.
Deston looked out over the road. Kya remained down in the brush, waiting for his signal. She knew Roland had to be nearby still, but whether he and Shields would be able to see Deston was another matter. They could not afford to mess this up.
The caravan began to pass them. Deston shifted his position, his leg pressing against her shoulder. She did her best not to move.
“Deston! You can’t!” Vidvan whispered, at the very least. Kya glanced back at him, quizzical as to why he would protest now. “This will cause a backlash to heights you cannot comprehend. We have to find another way!”
Deston looked at the old man, then looked down at Kya. She realized that Deston was leaving it up to her.
Hauke. Not that it mattered, not if Roland and Shields acted.
“We can’t afford to miss this opportunity,” she said to Vidvan.
He nodded several times. “I know, I know. It has to be done during the movement, but not like this. Not a grab and run, even if you could accomplish it easily with that surprise.”
Kya closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. Opening them again, she looked up at Deston.
He trusted her judgment. The corner of her lip twitched upward. “I might have something to help with that.”
The water was up to his chin, but Shields held on to the rope he knew he’d wrapped around his hand. He couldn’t feel it anymore, not with the cold water, but he knew he hadn’t loosened his grip. If he had, then he would have been washed away.
He could barely hear Roland calling out his name. If he turned his head, he would have a mouthful of water. Instead, Shields screamed out his words without turning.
“Temp! She’s further down!”
Hopefully Roland knew what he meant. Shields would be fine. He drew on the rest of his strength to turn and reach for the rope with his other hand. He could save himself. Roland knew that. Roland would save Temperance, where Shields could not. Again.
Shields couldn’t see. Without being able to see, feel, how could he pull himself to shore with the hemp? He had to be able to see what he was doing. Squinting through the current, he tried to focus on where he knew his hands had to be. Once he thought he had seen it, he adjusted his left hand, wrapping his arm with the rope. Then he let go. As he wasn’t swept away, he assumed the best and repeated the process.
Save her, Roland. Like you always do.
Gritting his teeth, Shields made his way to shore.