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She looked flatly at Tats. “And what else?” she demanded.

“The silver dragon isn’t here. And neither is Relpda, the little copper queen.”

Thymara sighed. “I wondered if they would survive. Neither was very smart, and the copper was always sickly. Perhaps it was a mercy that they went so quickly.” She looked at Tats, wondering if he would agree with her. But he didn’t seem to hear her words. “Who else?” she asked flatly.

A small stillness followed her question, as if the world paused to prepare itself to grieve. “Heeby. And Rapskal. They aren’t here, and no one saw anything of either of them after the wave hit.”

“But I left him with you!” she protested, as if somehow that meant it were Tats’s fault. She saw him wince and knew he felt the same.

“I know. One moment we were standing there arguing. The next, the water slapped us down. I never saw him again.”

Thymara crouched down on the tree branch and waited for pain and tears to come. They didn’t. Instead a strange numbness flowed up from her belly. She had killed him. She had killed him by getting so angry at him that she’d stopped caring about him. “I was so angry at him,” she confessed to Tats. “What he told me ruined my idea of him, and I thought I’d just have to stop knowing him, stop letting him be near me. And now he’s gone.”

“Ruined your idea of him?” Tats asked cautiously.

“I just never thought he’d do a thing like that. I’d thought he was better than that,” she said awkwardly.

Too late she saw that Tats accepted that judgment upon himself as well. “Maybe none of us are quite what the others think we are,” he observed shortly and stood. He walked back toward the trunk, and she could not think of any words to call him back.

Alise called after him, “No one can know that he and Heeby are dead. He might have made it to the Tarman. Maybe Captain Leftrin will bring him back to us.”

Tats glanced back at them. His voice was flat as he said, “I’m going to tell Jerd that you saw Veras. It might give her a little comfort. Greft has been trying to encourage her, but she hasn’t been listening to him.”

“That’s a good idea,” Alise agreed. “Tell her that when we saw her dragon, she was afloat and swimming strongly.”

Thymara let him go. Let him go to comfort Jerd. It didn’t matter to her. She had let go of him when she had let go of Rapskal. She hadn’t really known either of them. It was much better to keep her heart to herself. She wondered if she were being stupid. Did she have to hold on to her hurt and anger? Could she just let it go and forgive him and have him back as her friend? For a moment, it seemed as if it were purely her decision; she could make what he had done an important matter or she could let it go as just something that had happened. Holding on to it was hurting both of them. Before she had known what he had done with Jerd, he’d been her friend. All that had changed was that now she knew.

“But I can’t unknow it,” she whispered to herself. “And knowing that he could do something like that does show me that he’s a different person from what I believed.”

“Are you all right?” Alise asked her. “Did you say something?”

“No, just talking to myself.” Thymara lifted her hands and covered her eyes. She was safe and her clothing was starting to dry out. She was hungry, but the hunger was beyond her tiredness and hurt. She could wait to deal with it. “I think I’m going to find a place to sleep for a bit.”

“Oh.” Alise sounded disappointed. “I was hoping we’d go and talk with the others. Find out what they saw and what happened to them.”

“You go ahead. I don’t mind being alone.”

“But—” Alise began, and Thymara suddenly saw her problem. She’d probably never climbed a tree before, let alone clambered around through a network of trees. Alise needed her help but didn’t want to ask. Thymara suddenly longed for simple sleep and time alone. Her head was starting to pound, and she wished there were a private place where she could go to weep until she could sleep. Rapskal wandered through her thoughts with his insouciant grin and good humor. Gone. Gone from her twice now, in less than one night. Gone, most likely, forever.

Her chin quivered suddenly, and she might have given way right in front of Alise had Sylve not saved her. The girl came clambering up the trunk like a squirrel, with Harrikin close behind her. He climbed like a lizard, belly to the trunk, as Thymara did. Once they had gained the branch, he folded up his long lean body and perched with his back to the trunk. Sylve dusted her hands on her stained breeches and informed them, “We’ve got Sintara afloat and resting. Harrikin helped me and we got a couple of logs under her chest. We’ve jammed the logs against trees and the current should hold them there, but we roped them with vines just in case. She’s not comfortable, but she’s not going to drown. And the water has already begun to drop. We can tell from the water mark on the trees that it’s going down.”

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