Chapter XVIII: Harrow

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Clouds drew in asudden and hid the suns, bearing down on the world.  The ninth long ring came to a close like it was seeking us out in the cliffs, faintly.
Out here little skinks slithered along the cliff faces, hunting the last glider-scorpions and tentacle-snails before the gray season in full fell.  The calls of the ax-crested pterosaurs filled the air, sounding reedy and warbly.  I saw one swoop down all asudden and fly off with a dust turtle I hadn’t even seen, hiding behind a low fern.
“Poor little turt.”
“Pterosaus have to eat too.”
I looked around.  Past the Berwem gate, all the guards had pulled ashcloaks over themselves, though they maneuvered the red sash onto the outside.  We walked up that same ravine that wound us back into town last night, limned almost adventurous in the sky light.
The pink guard was slinking back beside the dark-green wiver, more subdued, but not so much as when talking under Rhyfel or Adwyn.  “Hey, uh, Hinte, was it?  Everyone called you Gronte-wyre, but I don’t think that was your name.”

Chapter XVII: Anticipate

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When the eighth long ring chimed, it didn’t stop on the sixth note.  The timbre turned from the bells of the highest carillon to the raw or piercing double trumpets you only heard in the cliffs⁠ ⁠—⁠ because of course the cliffs lacked the restraint and poise of sky music. And yet, the sound closed in like a coming doom.
The trumpets remembered the carillon’s melody inf repetition, and they melted, culleted and reglazed it in the logic of the Frinan anthem: Mlaen’s anthem, the one she’d commisioned only days after taking the throne.  It shone out, because you always heard Dwylla’s anthem blaring at Dim-Fflamio games or being played out of key somewhere in the Moyo-Makao.  Above, the doom drew closer.

Chapter XVI: Repine

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“I can’t imagine killing me would end well for you⁠ ⁠—⁠ or accomplish your goals, for that matter,” Adwyn said, peering down at me with a look of patience and recognition⁠ ⁠—⁠ as if he’d had this conversation before.
In front of me the orange drake flicked his tongue.  I had to look up to meet eye with him, and I broke it just as quick.  “Granted you even had it in you to do it⁠ ⁠—⁠ and you don’t⁠ ⁠—⁠ you wouldn’t survive my assassination.  And if those two conditions didn’t hold, I⁠ ⁠—⁠ personally⁠ ⁠—⁠ wouldn’t recommend this.  And not simply because my life is in question, either.”  He paused.  “Can you tell me why? What purpose could it serve?”
I looked up⁠ ⁠—⁠ further up, at the sky.  “Well… like I said, Highness Ashaine sent me here to gain influence over the faer, and I sorta…  completely failed at that.  They⁠ ⁠—⁠ he wants faster results, and um… you have the most influence over the faer.  So with you out–out of the dance, I would have an easier time.”
The orange drake shook his head.  “I suppose that would show the ignorance of the Specters.  Or their utter disregard for your life.  I am hardly the one Mlaen likes⁠ ⁠—⁠ no, loves⁠ ⁠—⁠ most of all.  And there is no chance of you influencing or even breathing upon the one whom she cherishes.  Your efforts would be in vain.”

Chapter XV: Agnize

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As the knife plummeted, my hope fell with it.  I hung there on the net for a few beats and then Adwyn arrived.
He didn’t glance at me; he unsheathed a short blade.  In a half-dozen quick, precise swipes, he slashed at the netting.  But instead of trying to cut all the way through like me, he resheathed the sword, gripped netting and pulled.
It came right apart, and Adwyn had flown through before my eyes unclouded.  I flapped after him, frills folded, tail coiled.
Glancing behind me, the flock of guards had reached the nets.  But they didn’t all try to squeeze through Adwyn’s hole, they just followed his example, without swords, ripping the net with their claws.
I turned away, looking for the thieves and finding them, after moments of scanning, both flying low over the town.  Nothing much had changed, aside from my falling behind Adwyn — about five or six wingbeats — and thieves now having a crushing lead on us: they were more than thirty wings in front of Adwyn.

Chapter XIV: Concede

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“The bodies are gone?” I said with a snap of my tongue. “Where did they go?”
Adwyn was still prodding the tarp in front of us, and still speaking, thinking aloud, “These are sandbags, decoys.”
The orange drake, face hidden behind a dust mask, turned from the cart. When he did, every careless scale had been shed. This Adwyn, I could imagine, was the last thing Raganari had seen before her end. “We have been robbed,” he said.

Chapter IX: Relate

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Oleuni’s lonely light slipped into my room and glowed the curtains.  I roused awake… and then it faded, just as when the first dawn ring stormed in some time earlier; after that, it’d only taken the moments to find the pillow aflung somewhere and bury my head under it before I floated back to sleep.  I murmured promises about getting up soon and that’s all I remember.
I only had to fly out to the Llygaid Crwydro and plop myself down behind a counter after the second long ring of the day, and that gave me enough time to convince myself awake somewhile later.
A note of something like a forgotten worry rung somewhere in my mind.
Some time after, an insistent short ring prodded at me.  When it sounded I was laying somewhere in the valley of half-sleep, and stayed there awhile.  It wasn’t until the light in my room exploded into full day⁠ ⁠—⁠ Enyswm rising, the second dawn ring chiming⁠ ⁠—⁠ that I started to have any trouble with my half-sleep.
My eyes, even clouded, couldn’t hide from the loversuns’ combined light. The day pressed over my brilles, even as my frills covered them.  Stretching and curling under the blanket, I settled into another comfortable pose.  I’d almost drifted back⁠ ⁠—⁠ not to sleep, but to something⁠ ⁠—⁠ before thoughts of my responsibilities flared suddenly across the surface of my bleary morning mind.  I had to get up.