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He leaned back on the tree and sighed, his hands over his head. Something had, of course, gone wrong. It always seemed to, despkite his best intentions and attempts. He wondered who had let in the dark this time, which head he'd wish on a pike by tomorrow. He wondered if the soothsayer had been right, if the revolutionaries had been the only ones he could trust.

She watched him, from the gates of the wall, where the dark still roiled outside, where forces mustered and gathered and rallied and all that could be heard from atop the ramparts was the shouting of the damned and the lost. IIt had been a long time, and she wasn't sure, as were any of them, if this would ever end. Something seemed to have gone wrong. Again.

Lia walked up to her, her boots clicking on the cobbled stone like drums.

"The spears are set again," she said, leaning on the wall, tentatively. There were places where touching it was certain death, and sometimes they came unawares upon them. Not today, though, apparently. Better to know now than let them go until the nexta ssault; perhaps that had beent he problem. They both knew it was probably more complicated than that.

"Good. Another day we've got, then."

"Another day. At least."

Jil set her shoulders and walked to the tree, where he sat, tired-- exhausted, mentally and from a deeper place. "Spears are set," she told him.

"Good. We've got another day. Maybe two."

Wishing she didn't have to, she asked the question. "Do you know why?"

"This time, no. I feel like I'm getting closer, but I can't... reach it. It's just a touch out of my way, by the teeth of my skin. I miss it every time - if they overran us, I'd figure it out as they tore me to shreds." He grinned at her, his eyes wild and grim and fey. She grabbed his shoulder for a moment.

"I'll hope it doesn't come to that. In the meantime," she pointed to the halls, "Since the spears are set, you should go eat - sleep while you can."

He shrugged against the dark skin of the tree, roughly. "I don't sleep. I can't. Sleep is another way in, Jil."

There were no words, in the face of this. She only nodded, touched his shoulder again, and walked away. Lia joined her as they walked along the inner walls, towards the last well that was, for now, safe.

"He still doesn't know," she said quietly. "There's never going to be an answer, not for us."

Lia shrugged and began to lower the rope. "We chose him as leader for a reason," she replied. "No one could've seen the rebels from the start, but he did. No one could've predicted the darkness that destroyed them, even him. If there is an answer, he'll be the one to find it."

Jil helped her pull it up. "The rebels were the only ones we could trust," she said. "I wonder, sometimes, if it was here from the start. If we built on it. Sometimes I wonder if it lives in him."

"Hear that? The moon is rising. We'd better get some sleep, anyway."

They turned away, hauling the light along.

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thulcandran

May 2013

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