The back door opened onto a perfectly ordinary kitchen, dim with the lack of any active fairy lamps or torches. There was both a modern arcane stove and an old-fashioned hearth, neither showing signs of having been in recent use. The apprentices crept through with all the silence their training had granted them, even Meesie perching still and quiet on Jasmine’s shoulder. It was hard to tell how intelligent the little fire elemental actually was, but despite her clear agitation over Schwartz’s abduction, she was able to follow orders well enough, at least once Jasmine had explained the necessity.
In truth, there was some cover for their movements, as Bishop Syrinx had evidently found someone, to judge by the raised voices echoing from somewhere in the house—both female, one hers. Tallie took the lead, gesturing for the rest to follow, and peeked around the kitchen door the way she had been taught: approaching it backwards, leaning her head to the side around the corner and presenting the smallest possible profile while glancing rapidly about with one eye.
She gestured them again, indicating that room was clear, and they slipped into a parlor that was just as ordinary in appearance, and just as dim. The only light came from the windows; a lack of drawn drapes suggested someone was in residence and awake (one of the signs a thief was trained to look for), but there remained no sign of the house’s inhabitants, aside from Syrinx’s confrontation.
They froze at the ring of metal upon metal, accompanied by a shout. Jasmine started to lunge forward, but Tallie seized her by the arm, and she restrained herself in response, nodding acknowledgment of the silent reminder. Tallie resumed point position, creeping up to the other way into the room, which had no door and appeared to lead into an entrance hall.
She paused at the sound of heavy footsteps, and then more scuffling and another shout much closer at hand—just around the corner, in fact. There came a thump and a shriek, and then the distinctive ascending sound of booted feet running up a carpeted stairwell.
Tallie peeked carefully around the edge again, then glanced back at the others and beckoned them forward as she stepped brazenly into the foyer.
They found Jenell slumped against the banister of a staircase, shield dangling from her hand and sword lodged in the wall nearby, with her free hand pressed to the side of her head. Blood seeped from between her fingers. Syrinx was just arriving from another direction, also carrying a bared blade. She gave the apprentices a single dismissive glance, then her aura flashed alight and she raised a glowing hand to touch Jenell’s.
“I suppose after having you do secretarial work for months on end, Covrin, it’s not fair to expect you to be able to stand up to a real Legionnaire in a fight. Hold still, you flighty hen, this won’t take a moment.”
“Hey, that’s a head wound,” Darius said, crowding up behind Jasmine and Layla. “Shouldn’t she go to an actual—”
“Boy, if I ever ask for your opinion, it will mean I am possessed by a particularly inept demon and I want you to shoot me on the spot.” Syrinx lowered her hand and her glow, already stepping around Covrin to peer up the stairs. “Heading to an upper floor is a quick way to corner yourself, unless… Whatever that girl is up to, I had better put a stop to it. Covrin, come.”
“Wait!” Jasmine said quickly. “Show us where that soldier was standing. The exact spot.”
There was a pause in which the other apprentices frowned in confusion, while Jenell cast a wary look at Syrinx as if expecting some kind of outburst, but after a second the Bishop nodded thoughtfully.
“Quite right, well spotted. Straight down the hallway here is a small library; she was standing in front of the bookcase with the bust of Theasia on one shelf. Come, Covrin, time’s wasting.”
Once again they parted ways, and in much the same manner as before: Syrinx charging ahead and dragging Covrin along in her wake, while the apprentices moved most cautiously deeper into the house.
“Psst,” Darius whispered as they filed into the library, which was roughly the size of a bedroom, lined with laden bookshelves, and actually lit with fairy lamps. “Anybody know what Theasia looks like?”
Tallie swept a stare around the room. “Well, we do now, since there’s only one bust of anybody in here. Her Majesty was a handsome lady!” She crossed to the case in question, which was heavily laden with books, apart from the spots kept clear by bookends to create display space for the small bust, a unicorn horn in its own stand, and a bottle full of thick liquid that glowed faintly and moved in a continuous slow swirl. “Jas, you’re thinking secret entrance?”
“Only thing that makes sense of this,” Jasmine replied, still hovering by the door. “If they’re really short on personnel, like if they didn’t have enough to post guards at all entrances of the house, they might have just posted one on the sole entrance to wherever they’ve gone. Then, if the guard came under attack and couldn’t quickly retreat through it, she’d logically try to run to draw the attacker away. Meesie, is Schwartz behind that door?”
Meesie squeaked once, and leaned forward off Jasmine’s shoulder to point straight down.
“Layla, you’re the best with locks,” Tallie said. “Can you find the hidden whatchamajigger?”
“Ah, yes, in fact I know a trick for situations just such as this,” Layla said primly, stepping forward. The pulled a book off the shelf, then another, and another…
“Are you just trying every book?” Tallie demanded, softly as Layla continued to build a stack on a nearby table.
“If someone knows a faster way, that would be delightful. I know locks, not secret bookcases.”
“Careful, there,” Darius warned, hovering around her worriedly. “This is a warlock’s house and that’s apparently the door to his secret basement…”
“So be wary of traps, yes,” Tallie said, “but…I don’t think this guy is home. If there was a warlock in residence, it stands to reason we’d be having demon problems by now, after Syrinx blew the hell out of his wards.”
A hefty thump sounded from directly above them, followed by scuffling, a muffled shriek, and then more footsteps stomping away. They all stared at the ceiling for a moment, then Layla and Darius resumed dismantling the bookcase.
“One problem I see with your theory, Jas,” Darius grunted, setting an atlas down on the floor as quietly as possible. “Posting a guard on this entrance basically revealed what it was. That doesn’t seem smart.”
“How many of their actions so far have been smart?” she countered. “If the warlock’s not here, this may just be Legionnaires; remember the Bishops were out rounding up other members of the conspiracy. Some Avenist personnel are trained in intelligence tactics, but most rank-and-file won’t—”
“And click goes the mechanism!” Layla said smugly, her hand on an economics treatise which had not come all the way loose. Indeed, she and Darius then had to back away as the half-unloaded bookcase swung silently outward. Behind it was a dark stairwell, descending in a steep spiral into the unknown.
“Okay,” Tallie said grimly. “Slow and silent, people. This has got to be the last leg of the journey. We get down there, we scout, we do whatever needs doing. We all know our strengths. Any fighting, Jasmine takes point, followed by Darius. Layla’s best with nimble fingers and a silver tongue, so you’re on any filching or sweet-talking. I’m a cat burglar; I’ll do any stealthy clambering around the situation calls for. We may not be able to talk once we’re down there without revealing ourselves, so keep your eyes open and watch each other’s backs. Ready?”
A chorus of soft affirmations followed, including one from Meesie. Tallie nodded once, then turned and stepped into the darkness.
Gauging distance by feel was among the skills Guild thieves learned, but it was one that required practice to develop judgment, which none of them had had. It was clear, though, that this stairwell went down below the level of a basement. Below that would be the sewer system, which made sense; the Guild used the broad tunnels when they weren’t flooding, as did various other troublemakers, but that very fact made it unlikely that a warlock would use a sewer space for any secret purpose. Somebody would likely come across it, and it would be swept clean by the regular torrential runoffs from Tiraas’s heavy rains which were the reason its sewer tunnels were so broad.
Then again, rumors of secret, sealed-off chambers hidden within the tunnel system were as old as the sewers themselves…
Jasmine walked second after Tallie, with Meesie on her shoulder; the elemental’s glow wasn’t bright, but it was the only light they had, and barely enough to find their footing in the cramped stairwell. Darius, bringing up the rear, had the least illumination and descended with one hand on Layla’s shoulder.
They decreased their already slow pace as voices began to sound from below. The words were garbled beyond comprehension by distance and echo, but if nothing else it was a sign that they were close. A minute later, the faintest glow of light appeared.
The group paused, Tallie turning to look up at the rest of them. Jasmine picked Meesie up off her shoulder, lifting the mouse to her lips and whispering a few almost silent words. The little elemental sat bolt upright in her palm, whiskers twitching, and then nodded once and quickly squeezed herself into Jasmine’s sleeve. Without her reddish glow, the paler yellow of lamplight from below was all they had to go on.
It turned out they were closer than they’d realized; immediately around the next turn of the stairwell, a doorway appeared. Tallie crouched next to it, peeking carefully out, and then dropped to crawl on her belly through the opening. The others followed suit, each as the one in front cleared a space for them, emerging from the stairwell into an underground chamber lit only by a single fairy lamp.
Finally, they had a stroke of luck; this place might as well have been designed to give anyone entering from the stairs a tactical advantage over the room’s occupants. In fact, judging by a few rusted chains still bolted to the walls, that might have been literally the case. It was laid out exactly like the Pit back at Guild headquarters, only a fraction of the size; a stone path ran all the way around the edges of the room, at the level of the entrance, with a single flight of steps descending to the cubic depression below. Crawling along as flat as they could get to peek over the ledge, they had a perfect vantage.
And of course, by the time they emerged from the stairwell they could clearly hear the conversation taking place, and listened while getting themselves into position.
“But it’s different if it’s someone you know?”
“Yes! All right? Is that what you wanted to hear?” Ildrin Falaridjad’s voice cracked and she paused before continuing. “I have worked with Herschel, and he’s a sweet—look. I didn’t decide to kill the gnome, nor did I do it, nor would I have approved of that! All of that was on Tanenbaum!”
“Or on whoever he got his orders from…”
“I am the liaison to his Holiness!”
“You’re certain you’re the only one, Sister?”
Tallie was the first in position to peek over the edge; the others spread themselves out to the right, avoiding the steps which would be the first place the pit’s inhabitants would look for intruders.
Ildrin had been pacing up and down in agitation, and now stopped to glare at the Legionnaire wearing sergeant’s stripes, who was the one arguing with her. Two other Legionnaires, both privates, were standing against the wall, looking nervous.
Both their missing friends were against another wall. Schwartz lay in an awkward position; he had his wrists bound together in front of him (a rookie mistake as they all had been taught; you tied a prisoner’s hands behind them, especially if they were spellcasters) and was slumped on his side, clearly unconscious. Ross sat next to him with his back to the wall, awake and apparently perfectly calm, watching the argument unfold. It was hard to take cues from that. Ross was always calm.
“What are you insinuating, Raathi?” Ildrin demanded, glaring at the sergeant. Tallie gently nudged Jasmine, then tilted her head once significantly and received a nod in return. The Legionnaires were only carrying their traditional melee weapons, but Ildrin had a wand in her hands. In fact, she was twisting it nervously in both fists in a manner that would send anyone schooled in basic wand safety into a rage.
“I don’t mean to insinuate anything,” Sergeant Raathi said, meeting the priestess’s gaze without flinching, “but we need to face the fact that this situation is completely out of control. Tanenbaum was supposed to be here to tell us our next steps, but he’s not. You are supposed to be acting on orders directly from the Archpope, but he was just in a public pulpit yesterday denouncing people exactly like us!”
“His Holiness is wise, and clever,” Ildrin shot back. “Obviously, he had to deflect attention from—”
“And were you told that or did you assume it after the fact?” one of the other soldiers interrupted.
“Can it, private,” Raathi barked. Ildrin glared at the girl who had spoken, who shrank back against the wall, all the military stiffness leaking from her shoulders.
Tallie, meanwhile, had been instigating a series of nudges to get everyone’s attention, and now began gesticulating. She pointed at Jasmine and then Darius, and then to the stairs down to the pit, finally making a sign to wait. Tapping her own forehead, she indicated the far corner of the room, behind Ildrin, then pointed at Layla and made a couple of hand signals at which the girl in question frowned in confusion.
Jasmine nodded once, though, and Darius leaned close to his sister to whisper directly in her ear. He and Jasmine would draw attention via the main stairs; Tallie, being the most limber, would ambush Ildrin from above and behind and take that wand out of play, and Layla was to hang back until the scuffle got underway, the intervene in whatever manner opportunity provided to tip the balance. They had no way of waking Schwartz, but with the wand down Ross would be able to help. Hopefully, they would collectively be enough to fend off the Legionnaires.
“Insubordination aside,” Raathi was saying, turning back to Ildrin, “she has a point. Do you know what is happening, Sister?”
“I…” Ildrin trailed off, turning a helpless stare on Schwartz and Ross, and swallowed. The hair at her temples was slick with sweat. Again, she fidgeted dangerously with the wand, and both privates began edging away from the direction in which it happened to be pointed.
“Aimless grunting is not what I want to hear,” Raathi snapped. “Goddess, we just abducted an apprentice of the Thieves’ Guild! Arresting them was one thing, but this. Tricks will send enforcers after our families if we don’t have a plan to get out of this situation, and here you are, making goldfish faces and stammering!”
“I did not tell you to do that!” Ildrin shrieked. “What were you thinking?!”
“Well, we had to do something! He was following and—it’s done, now, regardless. What about the witch, Falaridjad? You said he fought off Athan’Khar monsters! I had exactly one sleep dart, and he’s going to be waking up in minutes. What then? He’ll demolish us! Unless—”
“I am not going to murder an unconscious boy!” Ildrin snarled.
“Then him murdering us, that’s all right with you?”
“He won’t,” the priestess insisted. “I know him. Hershel wouldn’t harm anyone who didn’t… That is, unless he was…”
“Was what? Threatened? Abducted? Tied up and drugged? Falaridjad, you’re supposedly in charge, here. That means you need to come up with a plan. If you’re not going to kill him, what are we going to do?”
“We could surrender,” suggested the soldier who had spoken out previously.
“Private, you will shut your mouth!” Raathi growled.
“Ya could, though,” Ross said suddenly.
Jasmine and Darius were in position, flat on the ground out of sight just behind the stairs, she whispering to the quivering lump in her sleeve. Tallie had just reached her spot behind Ildrin, creeping low along the wall, and was in the process of worming forward to peek over the edge again; Layla just huddled in the far corner, looking surly at not having something more specific to do. All of them froze, as did the abductors in the pit.
“You just…be quiet,” Ildrin said at last with an unconvincing effort at authority.
“The thing is, you’re all right,” Ross said. “I mean, all correct, I don’t think anybody here’s all right. This mess is out of control, an’ it’s not really any of your fault. Well, maybe not all of it.”
“Shut up,” Ildrin snapped, brandishing the wand. “The last thing I’m going to do is listen to you!”
He shrugged; Darius, Jasmine, and Tallie had all wormed forward to peek carefully over the ledges, watching for the right moment. They had to time this precisely, and Ildrin was the dangerous element here. She was agitated and playing around with a deadly weapon. Unless they neutralized her quickly…
“I think you tried to do the right thing at every step,” Ross continued, his voice oddly nonchalant. “Started out want’n ta be moral an’ stand for what you believed, right? Dealt with the problem in front of you the best you could, an’ then the next thing, while it all got more an’ more outta control, till you’re ass-deep in kidnapping an’ murder an’ don’t really know how it happened. I can relate, a bit.”
Ildrin and the soldiers were all staring at him now, apparently stunned into silence. The apprentices above barely dared to breathe. If he could talk them down, this could all be over in the most perfect outcome they could hope for.
“I mean, not the kidnapping an’ stuff, that’s outside my area,” Ross continued. “But…doin’ your best and it all goin’ to hell anyway. I’ve been there. The private’s right. Sorry, miss, didn’t get yer name,” he added to the soldier. “Maybe you just gotta stop and realize what a mess you’re in, and… Y’know, stop. I think we’re in a thing now where doin’ anything more will just make it worse for—”
“All right, enough, shut up,” Ildrin said suddenly, gripping the wand again and holding it up. Behind her, Tallie tensed, preparing to burst into motion if she had to. Not that she could move faster than a lightning bolt… “Just…stop. You’re just trying to confuse me. We’re working on behalf of the Archpope. He is right, we are in the right, and this will work out. His Holiness has a plan. We just have to…to stay the…”
Ross grunted, then moving slowly as if to avoid spooking a skittish horse, began standing up.
“Stop it!” Ildrin said shrilly, pointing the wand directly at him. Sergeant Raathi rested a hand on the hilt of her sword, but didn’t otherwise move. “Don’t you—just sit down!”
Disregarding her orders, Ross finished straightening, and took one step, placing himself between her and the unconscious form of Schwartz. He held up his hands, palms forward, and spoke quietly.
“Look, lady, I dunno your story. But just from listening to you, I can tell you’re better than this. You just wanted to do the right thing. Well, everything’s a mess right now, but… It’s time to do that. You gotta stop.”
“I—you don’t…” She had the wand clenched in her fist, pointed straight at him; it quivered from the tension in her arm. “You’re just… You sit down, and be quiet. I will shoot!”
“No ya won’t,” he said quietly. “You’re better than that.”
Ildrin emitted a strangled noise that might have been part of a sob, then squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head away. She did not lower her hand, though. Ross watched her face, while Jasmine and Darius watched the tip of the wand in mounting alarm.
The priestess was distracted but wouldn’t lower the weapon; Tallie rose smoothly to a crouch, gathering herself to pounce like a cat. Hesitation could be fatal, and there would not be a better opportunity.
But in doing so, she brought part of her body above the edge of the pit. Raathi, watching Ildrin from the side, caught the motion and turned toward it, letting out a yell and drawing her sword.
In the dim, enclosed space, the flash of lightning rendered everyone momentarily blind; the crackle of the wandshot, ordinarily no rival to a real thunderclap, was absolutely deafening.
The apprentices moved, though, blind or not, several with anguished yells. Darius lost his footing on the steps, slipping painfully down them and fortunately not tripping Jasmine, who had leaped straight off the edge. Tallie flung herself from the rim of the pit, but with her eyes closed, missed Ildrin, who had skittered back amid all the noise.
They landed there and froze again, Ildrin having backed up to stand next to Raathi, and turned the wand on them.
“Freeze! Everyone stop right there!” she screamed. Tallie crouched with her arms spread, clearly preparing to spring at her, but obeyed. Jasmine, though, ignored the order, rushing to Ross’s side.
He had fallen back against the wall, partially on top of Schwartz. His clothes smoked faintly.
“You bitch,” Darius snarled, his voice half-choked. “You fucking—”
“No,” Ildrin cried, turning her stare on Jasmine and Ross. “I didn’t—no, that’s not, I wasn’t… Oh, goddess.”
“It’s a little late for prayers, Falaridjad,” Basra Syrinx stated, striding into the room from the staircase above. She descended the second flight of steps in three long bounds.
“You!” Ildrin shrieked, turning the wand on her.
Basra lit up, a golden sphere snapping into place around her, and in the next moment a wandshot sparked against it harmlessly.
“I suggest you cut that out before you make this any worse for yourself, Ildrin,” Basra said flatly. She strode across the pit floor, apparently unconcerned with the wand being fired at her, and knelt next to Jasmine, the light surrounding her brightening further. “Give me space, girl.”
“Is he…” Layla’s face appeared over the rim of the pit above, but she couldn’t finish the question.
“You—all of you—you just freeze,” Ildrin stammered, clutching the wand in both hands now. Tallie started forward, then halted as the weapon was turned on her.
Basra let out a soft sigh, and the glow about her diminished. “…damn. There’s nothing I can do here.”
“No,” Tallie shouted, turning to her and seeming to forget for a moment about the wand trained on her. “No, it’s… People get shot by wands all the time, and walk away. You’re a priestess, you can…”
“Lightning is unpredictable,” Basra said evenly. “It might give you a mere burn, or nerve damage, but if it strikes the heart, or the brain…”
“No!” Tallie protested again. “You have to do something!”
“Vidius himself can’t fix this,” the Bishop said, shifting to kneel over Schwartz. She began lightly slapping his face. “Come on, Schwartz, it’s time to get up. What did you do to this boy? You’d better hope you haven’t left two bodies in your wake today, Falaridjad…”
She paused when Meesie came skittering out of Jasmine’s sleeve to perch upon Schwartz’s head, pointing up at her and chittering furiously.
“Two,” Ildrin whispered.
“Put. The weapon. Down.” Jasmine rose slowly to her feet, fixing her cold glare on the priestess.
Ildrin swallowed once, heavily. “Sergeant… Soldiers. Weapons up. We’re already—”
“Falaridjad,” Basra warned, “I know what you’re thinking, and you are wrong. You have no idea the danger you are in right now. Lower the weapon.”
“Already have blood on our hands,” Ildrin said, her voice firming by the moment. “If they all just…disappear down here—”
“Absolutely not!” roared the more outspoken of the two Legionnaires suddenly. “That’s enough of this. Sister, lower the wand.”
“Private,” Raathi shouted, “I am not going to tell you again—”
“Go right to hell, Sergeant!” she snarled back, drawing her sword. “This is insane! That boy was talking the only sense I’ve heard in days, and now…” She stepped back from the others, bringing her sword up. “No more. Your Grace… Orders?”
“I suggest you step away from the murdering traitors while the stepping is good, private,” Basra said dryly.
“Raathi, swords up,” Ildrin said, baring her teeth. “It’s us or them, now.”
“I don’t…” The sergeant trailed off, swallowed, and raised her weapon. The remaining Legionnaire looked on the verge of panicking, but did the same.
Ildrin turned the wand on Tallie. “I’m sorry it had to be this way.”
“It didn’t, you unmitigated cunt,” Tallie hissed.
Then Jasmine stepped right in front of her, placing herself in the path of the wand.
“I’ll tell you again,” she said coldly. “Drop that weapon, or I will take it from you.”
Ildrin swallowed heavily. “I really am,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”
Once again, the burst of light was blinding. But this time, it didn’t stop.
The glow of divine light blazed from her, annihilating the presumptuous lightning bolt and putting Basra’s aura to shame. Dimness was banished from every corner of the room by Avei’s light, and yet it was strangely gentle to the eyes. Though it was as if a miniature sun had risen in the chamber, they could all see plainly through it.
Golden wings extended upward almost to the edges of the pit from behind her. The silver armor materialized out of the air, first as simple lines of light and then hardening into metal and leather. The shield, marked with the golden eagle, appeared in the same way on her left forearm, and last, the ancient sword of Avei coalesced in her grip.
Trissiny shifted to point it straight at Ildrin’s heart. “DROP THEM.”
Raathi and both privates instantly did.
“…oh,” Layla said softly.
Ildrin had not dropped the wand, but she slowly lowered her arm, the weapon dangling loosely from her grip now. The expression with which she stared at the paladin of her goddess was lost, desolate.
“I…didn’t mean…any of this.”
“I don’t care what you meant,” Trissiny snapped. “Now there is only justice. Put down that weapon and face the consequences of your actions with some honor, for once. I will not tell you again.”
She took one step forward, still glowing, and the golden wings shifted, arching out behind her.
Ildrin closed her eyes for a moment.
Then she opened them, and raised her arm again to aim the wand at Trissiny. Her grip, suddenly, was perfectly steady.
“Don’t do it,” Trissiny warned, shifting to a combat stance, shield partially upraised between them.
“I…can’t,” Ildrin said quietly. A strange little smile hovered about her lips, though tears began pouring down her cheeks. “I’m sorry. I’m just not strong enough. If everything I believed was…”
“Falaridjad, don’t you dare,” the paladin barked, shifting forward. “Drop it and—”
Lightning blasted against her, having no effect. The bolt sizzled out a foot before it even reached the shield. That didn’t stop Ildrin from firing another, and another yet behind it. Her face was calm, resigned, and still streaked by fresh tears.
“Stop it!” Trissiny bellowed over the vicious crackling of electricity.
“Sister, stand down!” Raathi pleaded.
“I’m sorry,” Ildrin said again, “but I won’t.”
Then she turned to aim the wand up at Layla.
Trissiny, apparently unencumbered by the metal she now wore, uncoiled like a spring. She was too far distant to effectively rush with her shield, but Ildrin was just barely within the range of her sword, fully extended.
The tip lodged in her throat just below the chin.
Blood poured as if from a faucet, quickly staining her white robes, and then the ground around her as she stumbled backward to slump against the far wall. Raathi retreated, staring down at the dying priestess in open-mouthed horror.
Silence finally descended, cruelly, forcing them to listen to the wet rattle of Ildrin’s last breaths. Even had either of the remaining Light-wielders wanted to, that was beyond their skill to heal. Too much blood lost, too much of it pouring into her lungs, the wound itself a total disruption of a delicate piece of anatomy. A random burst of healing light would only consign her to die more slowly, and in more pain.
Basra shook her head. “A coward to the very end.”
The armored paladin simply stood in the middle of the room, staring at the floor with all eyes on her. The sword she held in a firm grip, pointed down. Scarlet blood dripped slowly from its tip.
The remaining apprentices had gathered themselves, now, and crept hesitantly forward.
“Jasmine?” Tallie asked uncertainly. “…Jas?”
Layla softly cleared her throat, reaching out to lay her small hand on one silver pauldron.
Trissiny drew in a sudden, heavy breath through her teeth, threw her head back, and let out a wild, piercing scream of pure, helpless rage.
“WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER!” she roared, stepped forward, and viciously kicked Ildrin in the chest.
The priestess only slumped sideways, already beyond feeling it.
“You’ve got some things to deal with,” Basra said calmly, “but right now, you need to suck it up, soldier. Grieving has to wait until the battle is done.”
“Oh, my fucking gods,” Darius snarled. “Lady, don’t you ever stop—”
“She’s right,” Trissiny interrupted, turning around. “And don’t bother arguing with this one, Darius, it’s a waste of time even when she’s not right. We still have work to do, here. The innocent and the guilty, the living and the dead, all must be dealt with. And then,” she added, curling her lip in a snarl, “I am going to go find the one responsible for all this, and deal with him.”
“No, you are not,” Layla stated, glancing at the other two apprentices before returning her gaze to Trissiny’s. “We are.”