An air of uncertainty, ever threatening to become mistrust and suspicion, still hung in the air as Tyrel, with the straps of his pack digging into his shoulders, cushioned by his coarse robe, turned to give me a last look before beginning his descent to the Cancelers Palace.
He seemed to be waiting for me to say or do something to make sure we were still connected.
“I’ll be here when you return, Tyrel.” That was all I could give him; the weakening of my powers in his presence, and Abdiel’s anxiety that came with it, made it hard for us to bond on a level that circumvented our abilities. Whether that would turn out for good or evil remained to be seen.
He took the offering, meager as it was, and gave me a small smile and single nod of his head. He was out of sight in the next moment, but I could hear the crunching of his boots on the path’s small stones. I didn’t really want him to go, preferring to just begin our attack, but I didn’t want to fight him. Indeed, I couldn’t.
And it would be easier if he could persuade them to let us carry out our attack on the Traitor’s Guild unhindered. I didn’t expect them to aid us in any way, but it would go faster if they weren’t attacking us either.
What happened to me now would be solely between me and Abdiel. Zephyr had done his part for now; he looked almost dead, as well as diseased. His black eyes were filmed over, and his beak stayed slightly open, his throat working, as if he was having trouble inhaling.
Sitting cross legged before the small fire, I picked him up and placed him in my lap, stroking the top of his head with my thumb. “Abdiel?”
We are here, Tina.
“Come out of him. Tyrel says it’s safe.”
You trust his word.
It wasn’t a question, and I bristled at it. “I do, and you’re killing Zephyr. His power and senses, his life, is fading.”
We know. The path he has taken is the path home.
“Neither of you told me about…this…being a possibility.”
We were not at risk.
I snapped at him. “That doesn’t–“
“No, Tina.” Zephyr interrupted. “He’s right. I did this for the love I bore Hannah. and I do it now for you.”
“Are you dying?”
He stirred in my lap and fixed his filmy eye on me. “I don’t know.”
“I’m sorry, Zephyr.”
“These days come, little mother. Mine just came later than most of my kind.”
I remembered how shadowy and sad the day became when Gran’s time had come; once he released the spirits back to me, he’d be gone. I felt bad, but there was nothing to be done for it either way.
I had to try again: “Abdiel, come out of him.”
Cut your hand, Tina.
“This isn’t a blood spell.”
No, but we can enter through it as a funnel; it will ease the pain.
“Didn’t think it would hurt.”
Transfers always do,
“Did it hurt Gran?”
She never let on that it did, but she was the kind of woman who wouldn’t.
Still balancing the barely breathing raven on my thigh, I unsheathed my knife and sliced into my palm.