Ruan crept up the stairs, listening carefully for more sounds from above. It was quiet for a time, and he started to wonder if he’d imagined the sound. But then, softly, a voice. Two voices. Behind the door just to the side of the top of the stairs.
Quietly as he could, he moved to the door, eased it open. It swung easier than he expected, pulling free of his hand and opening wide. It left him exposed to the two people in the room. Two people he recognized.
“Why don’t you ask him yourself?” Varajas said as his eyes met Ruan’s.
A number of things ran through Ruan’s mind all at once. The first was simple awareness of the scene. Varajas propped against the wall, injured, weak, a pool of his blood gleaming wetly in the firelight. Samir was leaning over him. Healing him, no doubt. Or trying to. It didn’t look as if he’d been very successful.
The fire—that was a welcome site. Warm and more alive than the rest of this place seemed to be.
Everything else was disorienting. This scene was strangely familiar and completely new all at the same time. This was the first time he’d stood face to face with Varajas in years. Except it wasn’t. It couldn’t be because he felt—remembered—almost remembered—why couldn’t he get his mind to work right?
This place. This god-damned castle that wasn’t real and couldn’t be real and had to be real all at the same time.
Samir turned and looked at Ruan, his eyes sliding over the black and silver tunic, the twin swords, the cross at his neck. And there was that same disorientation in Samir’s eyes as Ruan expected was clear on his own face.
“Blades. Both of you,” Samir said.
“No.” Ruan practically spit the word. “Not him. Not anymore. He betrayed the Brotherhood and joined the enemy.”
Samir’s head swiveled back to look at Varajas. “Only three left,” he murmured. Words that made no sense to Ruan. “Didn’t know if you had a future.” Samir sighed. “Of course. You’re a knight.”