Lynae is waiting for me when we return to the Hall of Law.
“Arq-" she begins, but I cut her off.
“Hey,” I interject. “Sorry I disappeared for a bit. But you never got me a bow, so I had to go out and get one of my own.” I pull the shortbow out from under my cloak. She gapes. “So yeah. Sorry. I’m fairly exhausted now, so I am going to sleep. Wake me up when it’s time to go.”
I turn my back on her and walk to my room.
* * *
I wake to one of Muilon’s men jostling me.
“Hey,” he whispers. “Wake up. We’re wanted.”
There is food laid out and I help myself to bread, cheese, dates, olives, and strips of cooked fish and eat with the others as Rien, Raichon, and a handful of Rien’s enforcers wait. It’s a feast for Elftown. The room is tense, the men taut like a pulled-back bowstring. Lynae avoids my gaze and that is fine with me. Mýldir glances curiously at me and then at Lynae, then back at me. I shrug.
Raichon is wearing some sort of large pack. At one point during the meal, I see the pack shift slightly. The hell is in there? As I watch, the flap lifts a fraction, and I see two little glowing eyes on stalks looking out. Scuttlers. I hate those things. Raichon sees me staring and reaches back, pulling the pack flap down.
As the sounds of eating subside, Rien speaks.
“It’s time,” he says brusquely. “We leave here in three teams. When the sign comes, we act.”
“What is the sign?” I ask. Rien looks annoyed at the interruption. Too bad. I’d kinda like to know what’s going on with a little more specificity.
“You will hear the sound of many alarm bells ringing from across the wall, in the human part of the city,” he explains. “That means the Captain’s men will have lit the fires in the human port, burning ships and placing the human’s warehouses at risk. The bells mean the humans have discovered the fires and will be focusing all of their attention on saving their ships and merchant’s stores. Hopefully, they will be distracted enough that we can act unhindered.”
“You all know what you’re doing, but here is what the others will be doing.”
“Muilon and our archers, joined by Lynae and Raichon, will move from here to the ambush site on Gate Way, where others of my men are waiting. There will only be one human patrol on duty as soon as the shift changes. When the afternoon and evening patrols have left Elftown, and the night patrol is coming down Gate Way, they will take it out. Then the strike force will go to the olive oil warehouse and assault the sea wall on this side of the harbor by stealth, clearing out the human guards who are positioned to see the exodus on this side of the wall. Finally, just before the first group of elves leaves, the strike force will move through the wall, clearing the way through the village opposite and taking the bridge tower. They will hold the tower and keep the bridge passage open as long as they can.”
“Mýldir and two enforcers will light the fires and set off the bombs in an arc, starting from the southeastern end of Elftown and ending near the smelter. When he is done, there will be a wall of flame between us and the human gate, which will shield us from intervention by any additional patrols the humans decide to spend once they figure out what we’re doing. With any luck, the whole of Elftown will burn behind us as we go, devastating the city’s industries.”
“Oh, it’ll burn,” smirks Mýldir. “Trust me.”
“Arq and Enturi will come with me and my enforcers. We start with the elves of my ward, who will be gathered in the warehouse. I will tell them what is going on, Arq will sing them to courage and Enturi is on deck to deal with any naysayers. One of my lieutenants and his men will lead the elves through the escape tunnel, through the village outside the wall, across the bridge, and north along the coast. Then we will move to the next ward and the next until all of elves are led out.
“What of the elves in Jet’s ward?” I ask.
“We haven’t forgotten about them,” he says. “The other ward bosses and I have split up his territory. We are each rounding up a portion of the elves who lived in his ward.”
Rien pauses. He looks a little uncomfortable.
“Look,” he says finally. “We’re kind of a rough bunch. Everyone here has done things – a lot of things most likely - that they are not proud of, that they know are wrong. We may not be pure of heart like the heroes in the songs that Arq may sing tonight. But that doesn’t matter. No one else could do this but you. You are heroes, and tomorrow, everyone will know it. Tomorrow, thanks to what you have done so far, and what you will do tonight, everyone in Elftown gets a fresh start. We get to be who we want to be. We get to go home. We get to be free.”
He looks around at each of us and nods.
“All right,” he says. “Let’s go.”