Chapter 14

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GEDIEL RUSHED FROM THE GATE OF OTZAR. He parted from the others in pursuit of Evocati Luthias, whom he sent at Mikhael's request to prepare for a small reconnaissance. Uriel easily gave his release, seeming to know more than she let on, and with that came Voil's acceptance. With Dominic out of the way and the girl set to intercept their wayward erela, he felt more at ease to find the answers to his questions. Whether they wanted to reveal the truths they kept locked away or not, he would  eventually dig them up. In the meantime, he was confident Maiel could hold her own until more help was available. A slight indication of trouble and he'd break the barrier himself. He knew she didn't take the track of a rogue, working alone to defy the king. He knew her too well, despite what others thought. She was the same girl he entrusted with the care of his beloved Argus. The dedicated officio sought to reweave a tapestry that unraveled around them all. If she failed, it would wreck her family and those too close.

"Gediel," a voice called his name.

Turning back, he sighted Joel trotting after him.

"Where are you off to so quickly? We should stick together in case we're needed."

"I have an assignment to attend—Voil has a task. If you need me, call. I'll be in Elysion preparing for a short time. After that, I'm not sure you'll be able to find me easily until after the moon rises."

Joel's eyes narrowed. The sun-soldier knew he was on more than a simple assignment from the watcher leader. Gediel excused himself, hoping Joel would accept his request with no further explanation. Halfway through the room, Joel called him again. Gediel slowed to a halt. He turned, gripping the hilt of his sword and grinding his teeth. Joel approached him with that narrow gaze.

"Does this assignment have anything to do with my khata?"

"Indirectly," Gediel replied, unable to lie.

Joel set his hands on his hips and puffed out his chest. Gediel eyed him, thinking he'd gone mad believing he needed to defend her against him.

"I'm going to find a duta who went missing not too long ago. It seems the

council's team was unable to retrieve him yet," Gediel continued.

"Gamael," Joel said the name.

Gediel stared, careful not to betray his emotions.

"If you'll excuse me, I don't wish to waste another moment. He's been lost too long and there are too many answers to be had from him."

"Yes, of course," Joel said stepping back.

Gediel saw many unspoken questions cross Joel's face. Taking the silence for his chance to retreat, Gediel turned from him and continued into the outer halls of the citadel. Luthias would be waiting at the kennels and he couldn't delay this mission any longer.

Reaching the front gates of Zion, Gediel looked over his shoulder to be sure none of Maiel's family and friends, or anyone else followed him. Both seeing and sensing he was alone, he took a step out of the gate's entrance, disappearing into the next opening. His foot fell on the grass outside of a sprawling earthen compound. The sculpted structures were merged to the hillside and around a stream, all curves and bends that created a surreal smooth-lined cob dwelling. Among the trees, a white wolf rested, watching the moon hung high in the blue sky and the sun's descent. The wolf took no notice of Gediel's approach until he stood at his front door. Then the animal stood on his four legs and joined him.

"Captain Chiron, has Evocati Luthias come?" Gediel said to him.

The wolf's thoughts told him the guardian had arrived. He waited by the kennels as they arranged themselves. Chiron's mate, Imnek, looked after him. Gediel patted Chiron's head and went inside his home. In the dim interior, he wandered through the maze of rooms seeking his bedroom. He entered the space, an amorphous room fashioned by his own hands from clay when he was just a youngling. It encompassed the hill and the streams. The water made an island on which his bed stood, a large and rustic piece of furniture made of twined branches and carved panels. He wouldn't use that anytime soon. Rest was a distant dream. He sighed.

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