Chapter 26, Part 3 (End Chapter 26)

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"What about your friends who arrived after you did? What about you?" Ezra asked Jules.

Dixon explained about Therese and Basha, allowing Jules to relay his and Samuel's history.

"And the two other young women? The ones who are tending the infants?"

"Nina is a Chiranian refugee. She lost her child while escaping to Oosa. We met her in Polesk and she agreed to join Mara to help with the girls."

"And the other young woman?"

"Adele?" Dixon chuckled. He explained how Mara had rescued him from Lilith's grip. "Adele came along for the ride rather unexpectedly."

"Traveling? Why, that is an extraordinary power."

"Yes, indeed."

"And you're all part of the girls' army?"

"Every last one of us," Jules said.

"You've all sworn an oath for their protection?"

"That's right," Dixon said.

"And you all received the same confirmation?"

"Yes. Isn't that amazing? Have you ever heard of anything like it?"

"No, I most certainly have not," the innkeeper said. He took a drink.

The three discussed the group's travels to date and their expectation of joining up with Lucy.

"Do you have contact with her?" Dixon asked.

"Occasionally. Now and again she sends someone to the city to leave, or to get, information."

"When did she last do that?"

Ezra brushed his hand against the whiskers below his chin as he thought. "Well now, let me see. I last had a guest from her camp a few months back."

"Any particular reason for the visit?"

"No. I believe she just wanted to know if we'd heard any news from out of the palace." Ezra looked around the room, then motioned to Celestine to see to a nearby table that was running dry. "How long do you think you'll be in the city?" he asked as he turned back.

"Don't know. A couple of weeks? Maybe longer. It'll be up to Mara."

"You plan to take the children to sanctuary?"

Dixon shrugged. "Actually, I can't think of a safer place for them. I don't know if Lilith would go there."

"If what you say about her is true—about her trying to usurp their position—then you can't be too careful. But your other idea merits some discussion as well."

"About passing out false information?"


"This sounds good," Jules said. "What's this all about?"

"Dixon thinks we might put my network to use." Ezra turned to him. "So what have you got in mind?"

"I'd rather hate to impose Lilith on anyone, but maybe we could pass out word that we've been seen in different places—places we haven't really been and have no intention of going."

Ezra chewed his lip. "You remember I told you how most of my agents were checking in but that some were . . . Well, I assume they're just late. It's unusual, but not unheard of."

"What's this?" Jules asked.

"Some of my agents haven't checked in with me as they usually do," the innkeeper said, scowling.

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