Samir didn’t have the first idea what he was supposed to make of all this.
Ruan, who had been hiding who he was, pretending to be just a soldier.
Varajas, who had been hiding who he was, pretending to be just a soldier.
Both of them, pretending to be Samir’s friends.
As Varajas struggled to his feet, Samir played back through everything he could remember. There was still a big, gaping hole with the question of how they had gotten from the road to…this place. But some truths were irrefutable.
“You were lying to me.”
“Yes,” Varajas said.
Ruan was silent.
That was fine. Samir had more to say. “All this time. Following me,” he said to Varajas. “Chasing me down to talk to me,” he directed at Ruan. “Trying to convince me you were a friend.” To both of them. “Why?”
They glanced at each other, a gesture that screamed habit and familiarity. Ruan’s mouth twisted into a grimace and he turned away.
Varajas kept looking at Ruan, but he spoke in answer to Samir’s question. “I suspect Ruan did it for the same reason I did. Because you’re a wizard, and you were headed south, for no reason I could fathom other than you were about to stick your nose in places it didn’t belong.”
“You don’t speak for me!” Ruan snapped.
“Then speak for yourself. Tell Samir that I’m wrong.”
“You have no right!” Ruan was yelling. Too loud against the unnatural silence of this place. “You don’t get to—”
“Shut up!” Samir yelled back. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!”
This was worse than the spider. Samir’s head pounded; his heart was beating too fast. His chest was too tight and his stomach too loose. He couldn’t breathe.
He couldn’t stand to be in here. He backed up several steps, felt the edge of the other door at his back. Wrenching it open, he fled.