Rien begins to speak, explaining to the gathered elves what is happening. They listen in shocked silence. Here and there, I see the glimmer of hope light up in amethyst or emerald or sapphire eyes. Mostly, though, the elven eyes remain dull with despair or dark with fear.
As Rien addresses the crowd, the whore’s accusation keeps pushing itself back into my mind. What she said is nonsense. If people do believe her, though, I’ll be starting my new life, assuming I survive the night, with the reputation of a betrayer. Great. I could end up unwelcome with the northern elves, banished from the homelands, cursed to wander and never find peace. I shake the thought away. Even an uncivilized wilderness would be better than life here in Elftown. I would be free.
Ironically, it is lucky for the girl from the Bouncy Tart that Jet was killed by the humans. On our way back to the underground hall this afternoon, Enturi told me that the other ward bosses were a tough sell on the escape plan, even when faced with the argument that the humans would destroy them as they had destroyed Jet, and that he had to use his special talents on every one of them.
Jet was Rien’s biggest rival. There is no way he would have bought into the story Rien was telling. And without Enturi to help Rien convince him, the effort would have been hopeless. Jet would have dismissed it as some devious trick or plan to take over his territory. Then he would have used the information we had intercepted from Jeamo to begin some devastatingly precise strikes against Rien’s forces and operations. If Jeamo’s divination was good enough, it would have even revealed the underground hall or the escape tunnel. Jet could have used that information to kill the escape plan. We’re all better off with him dead.
The thought reminds me of something I have been meaning to find out.
“Enturi?” I whisper. He is standing beside me, watching the crowd, prepared to step in if there is vocalized opposition, to impose his will upon any naysayers.
“What?” he whispers back, not looking at me.
“What were you looking for in Jet’s chambers after the massacre?”
He glances at me sideways, surprised. “The scrolls from Jeamo. I thought maybe we could use the information to start our own organization to replace the void left by his. Or sell the information to the highest bidder amongst the other ward bosses to make enough money so we could live comfortably and quietly until our place in Jet’s organization was forgotten.” He turns back to watch the crowd again. “But they weren’t there. The humans must have taken them when they raided.”
But if the humans took them, why didn’t they take out the rest of the ward bosses? Were they waiting to see if their message had an effect? Or were they waiting so that enough time had passed to lull the remaining ward bosses into a false sense of security before striking again?
The door to the alley opens, and the sound of the rain surges in. Everyone’s head turns to see who is entering. The crowd looks panicked, as though they are expecting the humans to break in, releasing the red tide. But it is Raichon, Lynae, and Muilon, followed by Muilon’s archers and a group of Rien’s enforcers armed with swords. They look fierce, with bloodied blades and savage smiles. I don’t see any elves missing. None of the strike force team have any obvious wounds. It looks like the escape plan is off to a clean start.
Raichon nods to Rien and leads the strike force through the crowd to the stairs at the front of the warehouse and up into the rooms above the storage alcoves. Somewhere up there is a hatch to the roof of the warehouse, from where they will throw grappling hooks and assault the sea wall.
“It is begun!” yells Rien in a clear, strident voice. “The blood of the humans runs down Gate Way, and there are no patrols left in Elftown this night!” The gathered elves look cowed, uncertain, fearful. But Rien’s men cheer bravely, triumphantly, fists in the air. Their enthusiasm hits pockets of hope amongst the other elves, and there are a few answering cheers, quieter than the guards’, almost tentative.
Rien resumes his narrative instructions, and the elves listen intently.
I glance at Enturi. He is scanning the crowd intently, though there is no sign of any dissidence, any challenge to Rien.
I am troubled. There is something else I am trying to remember. Something else important. Or at least, that Enturi thought was important.
Then I remember.
Enturi above me, whispering through my curtain of sleep.
“Who killed Bolin?”