The night's battle with insurgents is over, but for Tyna the war is just beginning.
Light crested the eastern peaks, rimming the mountains with lines of gold. Clouds shimmered in pearly pink, already under the sun’s influence. To the west a gray sheath of frothing clouds rose high into the sky, ready to cover the rising sun. Icicles hung from the wagon’s roof. Inside felt colder, too. She dressed warmly and wrapped a heavy cloak around her. Rising, she stepped out of her wagon’s door and descended the three steps to the ground, ready to wake Jebe. She turned in a circle, confused and then expelled a breath she didn’t know she held.
The other two wagons, all the oxen, and Jebe, were gone. A gasp of awareness left her breathless. Tears prickled her eyes as the betrayal stabbed her heart. Then she fell back against the wagon’s side, laughing helplessly. In trance, her attention inside the city, she had missed everything that had happened around her. She wrapped her arms around her body.
She had noticed Jebe’s growing fear. He avoided her, held only the briefest conversations with her. He had guessed why all the Talents visited, and afraid, had fled. Could she blame him? She stepped to the back of her wagon, sank onto the bottom step and waited.
Sometime later Sussi and Tam arrived, somehow already privy to Jebe’s desertion. Tyna stepped away from the wagon, already sensing approaching Talents. She knew she had only a few minutes left.
Sussi hugged her. Tyna ran fingers over her face to wipe away her tears.