My hand flew up toward the dart to pull it out but began slowing down around waist height. Joras stopped where he stood in front of me. I found myself staring at one plait of his braided hair, the shine of the moonlight on it. I hadn’t fallen. I stood, like a stump in the middle of the road.
A word drifted up into my mind like a bubble rising up through oil. It popped through the skin that seemed to have formed between my will and my thoughts and I found myself looking at the word ‘Accedence’. But it had nothing to do with me. Part of me had been removed a thousand malas away. I was aware that he… that separate part of me… was screaming things.
I could not hit the ground and get out of the way. It was up to Kaneka and the others. The Mahid would lead or carry me in and I fervently hoped that their timing would be perfect. Fervently, but distantly, at the same time.
My thoughts were slow, vague, slug-like, as Itasas took my elbow and pulled the dart smoothly out of my face. He was as careful as a Mahid could be. Amitzas led Joras. It was up to Kaneka’s timing. He and the others could not move immediately because there was likely a double squad of Mahid in these woods. Of course. Even if 2nd Amitzas believed I was coming back, he was suspicious enough to be sure of me… of us… to dart us and truth drug us first. Shen. Shen Shen. Our dark workers had to be dead quiet and undetected until the Mahid moved, or we were just as dead, throats cut, gates shut and all go home.
I couldn’t look down and Itasas didn’t think to command us, so we stumbled over every tiny roughness, any twig, any vine. This was good. It slowed us down. Kaneka…. I was yelling at him… in my glass cage inside my head. Get us out of here the moment we see the camp! Don’t let them drag me up in front of 2nd Amitzas. I’m counting on you to get us out… Mahid squads usually put one man high if they could. It made him more vulnerable but once they grabbed us they would become the rear guard. Kaneka…
It was dangerous… most dangerous for Joras actually, but he insisted on accompanying me, in the odd Mahid way of insisting while submitting totally to his superior’s decision. Kaneka… haven’t they moved yet? Can you not dart them yet? Haven’t the squad or squads started to move yet? The world was black and white, as sharp as tile edges in the Marble Palace though not so regular. Odd shapes. I found I wasn’t seeing things with any depth but seeing things as if they were flat. Did they overdose me? Perhaps I am sensitive.
Muunas, High God, please let this go well, please let Kaneka’s timing be perfect. All they need to do is get to where they can see the first sentries… we’re stumbling around deer trails in the… I tripped and fell, unable to stop myself from falling like a half-empty gain sack, dragging my elbow out of Itasas’s grip. He managed to keep me from smashing my face against a tree trunk and I flinched my eyes shut as I hit the ground. Ow.
A good thought floated up from somewhere. He’ll have to wait for the Accedence to wear off before he can put Truth drug in me.
“Spark of the Sun’s Ray, get up.” Without any direction from me I climbed to my feet. There were bits and pieces of things stuck in my hair and upon my face but I could not brush anything off, even though they itched.
“Yes, Senior.” Assist him doing what?
“Joras, carry him.” They hoisted me upon Joras’s back and he held me as though he were a city fire-fighter carrying me out of danger. “Carry him carefully. Do not fall. Do not drop him. Do not knock into trees, yourself or him.” Of course. Everything would have to be laid out with Joras under the influence.
All I could see was the ground below, my own hands hanging down, dangling. My fingers were just hanging, looking something like JiaKlem’s tentacles but more limp. Joras’s back and legs and feet. His hands on me were surprisingly gentle for a Mahid. Kaneka… any time would be good now… anytime… Joras lurched a bit as the ground changed under his feet.
We were all heading downhill now. Kaneka… Itasas stiffened and lurched another step, fell to his knees. Darts whipped through underbrush, thumped into trees or clattered. They wouldn’t want to stun either Joras or I. Funny. Sometimes men reacted badly to Accedence and Stun in their systems at the same time. “Joras! To the left tents! Run!” Amitzas yelled. “ALARM! To the First Wi…”
Joras began trotting down hill as fast as he could as commanded. “Joras! Stop!” That was Kaneka. Oh good.
Someone else yelled, “Joras! Keep running!” Oh, shen. Amitzas gurgled behind me. Dart in the throat… I could hear shouting rising all around. I couldn’t look I couldn’t turn my head. “No! Joras, STOP!” I couldn’t do anything.
“ARISE! ALARM!” “Joras! RUN TO INENSA!” “ALARM! AAAAAAIIIII k… Mahid!—SURRENDER!” Whose idea was that? Mahid just would not--- “Kill them all!” “DEFEND! DEFEND!” “DIE YOU MURDERING SCUM!” “MUUNAS! MUUNAS!” “JORAS STOP!” “JORAS RUN!”