The original group from Born of Water travel different pats in Rule of Fire, which doesn’t always result in the best decisions. This is especially true for the youngest in the group . . .
“Why do you think he wouldn’t take us tonight?” Ria asked Zhao.
“I don’t know, but why is it so important we stay that he posted a guard to keep us on the ship?”
Ria’s gaze shifted to the sailor standing in the shadows at the bottom of the gangplank. Her hands tightened on the ship’s rail.
“What do you think the Church would pay for you?” Zhao asked.
“He wouldn’t,” Ria said, but there was a line between her golden brows.
“We told him everything.”
“He isn’t friends with the Church,” she protested.
Zhao paused a moment. “I think I could get us past the guards. We could go find out what he is doing.”
Ria held her breath, finally letting it out in a puff. “I don’t know, if we got caught . . . .”
“You sound just like Niri,” Zhao said, annoyed.
Anger flashed on Ria’s face. She crossed her arms. “We don’t even know where he is!”
“So, we check the market and, if he isn’t there, come back. Wouldn’t you rather know he was returning with a Priest while we aren’t locked on his ship.”
Ria flinched. “Fine. We’ll go to the market and then check the docks. If we don’t see him, we come back and wait.”
Zhao stretched out his hand with a grin. “Agreed.”
Ria took it. They both disappeared. Zhao had been practicing making small objects disappear as they’d traveled across the Steppes. Mostly it had been simple things like a stirring spoon when a guide’s back was turned. He’d found the easiest way to make something large fade from sight was when he was touching it. Like the one time in irritation of Kailal’s incessant lectures, he’d made himself and his horse invisible for an hour. He’d paid for it by falling asleep in his saddle later, but at least he hadn’t had to listen to Kailal in either case.
Now he tugged Ria over to the gangplank. It creaked under their weight, but no louder than the sounds the ship made as it shifted against the ropes holding it to the canal’s stone side. Ria paused halfway as if doubts crept over her the closer they went to shore. Zhao’s heart was pounding. If someone went to use the only access on or off the ship, they would bump into Ria and him. He tugged harder and Ria finally came along.
Feet on the busy road lining the waterfront, Zhao scurried around carts, pulling Ria with him. He ducked into a narrow alley, releasing Ria’s hand. She was pale as she reappeared, her eyes darting down the length of the dark passageway.
Zhao grinned at Ria. “Okay, we are off the ship. Which way is the market.”
Ria bit her lip, glancing back to the quiet movement and light along the canal. “I don’t know. I don’t think is the same place we docked when I was here before. I don’t know if this is such a good idea, Zhao.”
“You saw everyone out there. It is quiet and peaceful. I’ll keep us invisible if you want. No one will see us, please?”
Ria sighed, her shoulders relaxing. “Okay, if you keep us invisible. We should be able to follow a merchant or listen for the music. Stay on the main roads though.”
Zhao’s pulse leapt with excitement.