4.8 Places to Go

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Alex could sense, from where he stood, that Migyatel no longer had a life spark. Healing would not help her.

He dared not give the dead prophet much of his attention, when everyone who wore a Yeresunsa mantle stood, ready to hurl spears at Thomas. All pretense of kindness was gone. There were even deadly students; children cloaked in Yeresunsa mantles, eager to kill the disabled boy who looked so small and alone on the vast stage.

"I didn't kill her," Thomas told the audience, pleading for mercy.

His life spark was weak. Too weak. Thomas's scabs and sores were cleaned up, thanks to Alex's healing, so why was he still unwell?

Had Jinishta's team of jailers been abusive? Had they deprived Thomas of his NAI-12 medicine? Or food? The boy looked more like a bundle of sticks than a living person.

Jinishta had promised to keep Thomas healthy. The jailers had looked Alex in the face every day and smiled, and assured him that the rekveh was fine.

An elderly warrior vaulted out of a box seat and onto the stage, and threw herself next to Migyatel's motionless body, heedless of her proximity to Thomas. "Grandmother?" Her white hair was rolled and pinned in a foreign style. She made a hasty examination of the corpse, and wailed.

Judging by her grief, she must be one of Migyatel's many children or grandchildren. Her soulful cry echoed off the granite cliff. "Migyatel is dead!"

Albino faces turned to each other in shock throughout the grand plaza. They had gathered to witness their beloved prophet announce prophecies. They had not come to see her die right in front of them.

Thomas turned to Alex. "She died from an aneurysm, or an embolism, or something along those lines," he reported in English. "I promise. I didn't kill her."

"I know." Alex felt pained that his friend needed to spout reassures that he wasn't a murderer. "I believe you."

But he was the only one. Yeresunsa glowed, crackling with furious blue-white sparks. Some jumped onto seats or balustrades for a clear shot.

"Die, rekveh!" The granddaughter of Migyatel hurled a spear at Thomas.

She threw it with such power-enhanced force, the point dug into granite, and the spear quivered from the shock of impact. But she missed hitting Thomas. She blinked at the space he had occupied a split second ago, not yet aware that Alex had used his powers to yank the boy into his protective arms.

"That rekveh murdered the prophet!" a warrior shouted with savage rage. Alex recognized this one as one of Thomas's smug jailers.

"It was a natural death." Alex cradled Thomas, shielding him. He had to wrench his awareness out of the granite cliff. Monstrousness wouldn't help the situation, but he kept his awareness puffed out, ready to deflect projectiles. Alashani Yeresunsa could throw weapons at nearly supersonic speeds. With so many of them ... they could do a lot of damage. They could tear apart the grand plaza.

"Alex." Jinishta spoke without mercy. "The rekveh needs to be in our custody." She pointed to the empty prison cage.

Several warriors joined her on the stage, armed with spears, while a sea of pale Alashani faces watched from the plaza. Their white hair shone like dust.

Alex's awareness whipped outward, eager to encompass more of the plaza. Urns and goblets floated. He ripped himself out of those items, struggling to stay small and normal.

"I made a promise to protect Thomas with my life," he told Jinishta. "I honor my promises. And I remember that you made a promise, as well. You promised to keep Thomas safe."

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