The Mission

“Okay. This is the spot, which is a very good thing, because I absolutely hate it here.”

Races-the-Dead sat heavily on the ground—a little too heavily, having a flair for the dramatic—and plunged his feet into the river. He cracked his knuckles and smiled wearily up to his companion. “And I find it very difficult to keep up with you.”

Speaks-of-Silence laughed as she lay down. “That’s hardly my fault. It’s your old age that’s slowing you down.” She only laughed harder when Races-the-Dead flung a handful of mud at her.

“I’m two years younger than you!”

“Not in spirit. Now, will you tell me what this is all about?”

“Ah, yes. The mission.” Races-the-Dead ran one hand through his hair, either forgetting or not caring about the mud still dripping from his palm. “We know that there are Solars coming and going from Nexus.” He grinned when he heard her gasp.

“Solars! You mean—”

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t interrupt me. I’ve been looking forward to surprising you for the first time. Don’t wreck this for me.”

She grinned, showing hints of her teeth. “Fine.”

“Okay. You’re to observe, okay? We want to know more about them. We want to know what they intend, and why the Wyld Hunt hasn’t taken them out yet.”

“What if one of them is my—”

Races-the-Dead rifled another wad of mud. “What did I say about interrupting?! Observe. Use your judgement. At some point, Star-of-the-City may want to meet them, if all goes well.”

This left Speaks-of-Silence suitably impressed, her eyebrows raising, but she kept her mouth shut. Races-the-Dead shook his feet to dry them and clambered up. “Any questions?”

“You’ve got mud all over my clothes. What do I do about that?”

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Look… I want this to be real as much as you do. Just stay alert, okay? I care about you too much to see you get done in by Lawgivers.”

Speaks-of-Silence grin softened. “You know I’ll be careful. I always come back, don’t I?”

“That’s why we chose you. You survive.”

“That’s what I do best.”

“And if one of them is your… just…”

Speaks-of-Silence nodded. She allowed herself one shiver before letting her clothes fall off her, transforming into her familiar fox form. She ran through Races-the-Dead’s legs once, flicking his calf with her tail, and took her position in the reeds, waiting for a moment to slip into the massive city.

Races-the-Dead sighed, transformed himself, and withdrew—just enough to keep an eye out—so that he could take on his own mission.

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