City of Rivers

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The sound of drums, banjo and the harp vanished from my head as the man shoved me toward Nisvārtha, who caught me and sent his own symphony through my head, easing my frayed nerves.

I was beginning to notice the subtle differences in the music and started to wonder if the different instruments meant different things. Because the sound of the man was very different from my companions. The drums were harsh and loud, sending fear into my gut as the banjo matched its intensity, giving me the impression that I could not trust this man. The harp was present, but barely, and rather than lilting chords it was a plucking rhythm that made the overall song creepy.

The men in their dark clothes started leading us toward the dusting of lights in the distance. Although they made no move to harm us, the threat was heavy in the air.

So far the pattern was groups of three instruments, Nisvārtha being the only exception. So far there had only been three cases of repeating instruments. Drums in Sanna, Nisvārtha, and the dangerous guy. Harp sounds in the guy and Havala. Then the occurrence of strings in each of my companions.

I had no idea what the similarities meant, but there were two things I knew for sure. The first was that the drums of Sanna and Nisvārtha did not mean the same as the drums in the dangerous man who walked ahead of us. The second was just a feeling that the music was important, but I had no clue how.

As we walked the men started making subtle changes in their position, they weren't aggressive but I could see their goal. Separating us so that we were too far from the help of our friends.

I moved closer to Nisvārtha, the men didn't notice but he did, his violet eyes glancing down at me.

I met his gaze calmly, but kept quiet.

Without a word he looked away, but his hand gripped my elbow gently, comforting me in a silent way.

I tried to distract myself with the scenery, but the miles of long grass and the cloudless sky got old quickly. I sighed, it didn't matter. Soon I would be in the City of Rivers and they would leave me in the hands of these creepy ninja people. I'd never see them again.

I looked over to my new friends and opened Tale hādu, being careful to exclude the strangers.

Is everyone okay? I asked.

We should be asking you that, Śarat's voice replied, a smirk coloring her tone.

Where did you learn to fight, Kendra? Suruli asked.

My brother liked to wrestle and he and my father were pretty protective over me. I replied. So they taught me how to defend myself. But none of you answered my question.

We are fine, Sanna said. We are not the ones with blood on our hands.

I frowned and glanced down at my hands, a gasp escaped my mouth as I gaped at the dried blood covering my knuckles and palms. The scratches were only present as fading pink lines.

Horror flooded my mind as I remembered how the last time I was cut I'd ended up in this place. I had to be more careful, no blood could be spilled, it was too dangerous.

"Kendra." A deep velvet voice snapped me out of my thoughts and I looked up.

Calm down. Nisvārtha's voice said softly.

I tried to remember how to take deep breaths as I stared into those violet eyes, but I only succeeded in raising my heart rate.

He sighed and looked away. Tell me something, Kendra.

I frowned. Why? You won't believe anything I say.

Something flashed in those eyes too quick for me to name. Tell me anyway.

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