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Chapter 55: Gorin's Last

Updated: Apr 11



Every time Eni blinked, she saw Nergora's burning footprints.

She had only stood in place for an instant after the Visitor's disappearance, gaping at the evidence that she really had been there, but it had been enough. Even as the sanctum shuddered with horrible groans and debris rained from the ceiling, even as Tsar grabbed her paw and they sprinted for the stairs, the image wouldn’t leave her.

Eni shook her head, trying to clear it as she pushed herself as hard as she could, but the way back to the surface had become treacherously unstable. The instant that she and Tsar had left the chamber with its few dying flickers of light, they had been plunged into complete darkness. Tsar was wordlessly guiding her, weaving left and right as he avoided missing or damaged steps.

Once, her foot caught on the lip of a stair that had cracked into pieces, and if Tsar hadn't caught her Eni would have fallen flat on her face. The idea of tumbling down a staircase in pitch blackness, falling toward a chamber of horrors, was far from pleasant, but it was at the very least a respite from the awful memory of Nergora.

And the Archivist.

Eni wanted to believe she had heard him breathing and seen his chest rise and fall after the Woemaker had caught him. She hoped that Astrasa hadn't been lying, that somehow the arrogant leopardess was making an escape of her own, but she wasn't sure.

That made it worse, in a way. It would have been easier if she could be certain about her mentor's fate, but everything had happened so quickly that Eni was left with nothing but doubt. Maybe he had still been alive, or perhaps it had simply been a trick of the light making it look that way. Perhaps she had heard the truth in Lieren's words, the same way that Tsar could smell it, or maybe it was nothing more than what she wanted to believe.

Eni swallowed hard, so lost in her thoughts that she nearly missed it when Tsar spoke for the first time since leaving the chamber. "Duck," he said quietly, and it took Eni a second before she realized what he meant and tucked her head down.

The tops of her ears still scraped against a rough piece of stone that must have collapsed across the staircase, utterly invisible in the gloom, and Eni forced her attention to Tsar. She couldn't see him any more than she could see how much further they had to go to get to the surface, but she could sense him at her side, his paw warm as he gripped hers. Through his fingers she felt his heart, beating steadily but far more rapidly than usual. "Thanks," Eni said, and she could hear her voice crack.

The stairs shook under their feet, a sound like distant thunder coming from below them, followed by a great rush of water. She realized that the catacombs must have completely flooded and she urged her legs for more speed, desperate to make it to the surface before the entire sub basement succumbed. Her face was stung by a sudden shower of sharp grit, and then Tsar pulled hard on her arm.

"Stop!" he said, a note of warning in his voice.

Eni stumbled to a halt, spinning her free arm to keep her balance as her feet slipped in the dust and debris covering the stairs. "What's wrong?" she asked, her voice low and urgent.

She was still completely blind, but her words had echoed oddly, as though they were in a much more open space than she knew the relatively small stairway to be. There was only one possible reason, and as Tsar answered he confirmed her idea. "Part of the staircase’s gone," he panted, letting go of her paw, and Eni heard Tsar's cloak being cast aside and a metallic click before his whip-sword flamed with light.

Eni squinted, throwing up her arms to shield her eyes; after their climb his weapon was painfully bright. As she blinked away the spots of color, she looked forward and her blood ran cold. They were standing on the second to last intact step before an immense void in the staircase, nearly ten feet of its vertical travel simply missing. Eni shivered as she looked down; the bottom of the stairwell vanished into the darkness, too far below them to see.

Tsar was carefully studying the missing span, his face briefly thoughtful as he put his paws on his knees and caught his breath. He straightened after a moment and pressed one paw against the wall, experimentally pulling at the gap between two of the massive pieces of stone that formed it, and withdrew his paw, his face twisted in distaste. "Soft," he said, "Couldn't support us both."

There was another great rumble from beneath them, and the rush of water grew louder. Before Eni could ask if he had any ideas, Tsar launched himself at the wall, still holding his flaming weapon, and immediately caught hold. He shimmied along its curve, unerringly finding toeholds in the gaps between the blocks even as chunks came loose and plunged into the darkness, until he at last reached where the stairs continued. Eni gave a cry as the first step crumbled beneath him, but he lunged forward, scrabbling for purchase with his one free arm until the stone stopped giving way.

The wolf turned around, looking down at her from his elevated perch, and Eni swallowed hard. "I… I can't do that," she said, and the edges of her vision began throbbing as her heart raced.

"Not leaving without you," Tsar said, his voice very nearly gentle.

In the light of his flaming weapon, his face didn't quite look the way it usually did. There seemed to be pain written in his features, and Eni was sure it had nothing to do with any injury caused by the ropes and chains he had burst free of. It was a hurt that had to be deeper and far more personal, but his eyes were steady as he regarded her. "Can pull you up," he added, gesturing toward his whip-sword, "Just need to put it out first."

The last thing Eni wanted was to be blind once again, but she couldn't see any other possible way to get up. She hoped that they were nearly free, although the flames of his weapons didn't provide very much in the way of illumination; it could have been another ten feet or another thousand before they reached the surface. 

Eni nodded, and then the flames winked out.

She could hear the metallic ring of the segments of the whip-sword rubbing against each other as Tsar reversed it, lowering the hilt toward her face, and she strained her ears to keep track of the weapon. She was dimly aware of the sound of stones splashing into water somewhere far below as the stairway shook once more, and Eni reached out with both arms, straining her fingers as she groped for something she couldn't see.

At last her paws closed around the textured grip, and she let out a sigh of relief. "I've got it!" she called, and Tsar began smoothly pulling her upwards.

Eni's stomach lurched as her feet left the safety of the stairs, and she squeezed her eyes shut as she tilted her head toward Tsar. It wasn't as though she could have seen anything if she had looked down, but she didn't want to consider that the only thing separating her from a terrible fall was the strength in her arms and paws.

And Tsar.

She listened for him, allowing the slow and steady sound of his breathing and pulse to fill her awareness, and clung to it as tightly as his weapon. She could sense the distance between them closing as he reeled her in, but then there was something else. "Do you hear that?" Eni asked, listening carefully.

There were the continued complaints of the tower's foundation as water filled it and stones came loose, but underneath it there was a faint clattering that didn't quite seem to fit. "No," Tsar said, "What's it sound like?"

Eni frowned, but she couldn't tell what it was. "It's getting louder," she said, but even as her ears filled with the strange noise she knew she wasn't quite right.

It was getting closer.

Tsar must have finally heard what she had, because he suddenly redoubled his efforts. Eni felt almost as though she was flying as he heaved her up to the safety of the intact portion of the stairs, and she barely had time to let go of the whip-sword's hilt before Tsar reversed it and made it burn. As before, the light was momentarily blinding, but as Eni got to her feet and looked back what she had heard came into view. She clutched at the wall, gaping at the nightmare surging their way.

When she had seen the illustration in Procerus’s office, she had known that it had to be showing the monster stalking Terregor at night and murdering citizens. As Eni stared into the fathomless depths of the stairwell, she realized that despite the accuracy of her deduction she had still been horribly wrong in a crucial regard.

There wasn’t only one.

The first thing she saw were eyes. Dozens of them, small and beady and all focused on her and Tsar. The creatures the terrible eyes belonged to hissed and squealed their displeasure at the light despite how faint it was and how far away they were. The loathsome beings were perhaps twenty feet below Eni's feet as they clung to the walls and stairs with limbs that were hideously wrong.

The monsters looked almost like six-legged rats or rajahs, and some of them were no bigger than either. The smallest of the beasts couldn't have been more than six inches long, its awful staring eyes like drops of oil, but the largest of them was nearly twice as long as Eni was tall. The creatures coated the inner surface of the stairway, so many of them overlapping each other that Eni couldn't have possibly counted them. There might have been hundreds, or perhaps thousands if there were more lurking in the darkness beyond the tiny circle of illumination that Tsar's whip-sword provided, and all the ones Eni could see had frozen in place.

The creatures chittered, opening terrible three-part maws that didn't belong to any sort of mammal and revealing row after row of circling fangs. Their flesh was red and raw, grotesquely wet as though they had been skinned alive, and they bulged and pulsed with each rapid breath.

Tsar stood in place, dispassionately watching the terrifying creatures, and then the flames of his whip-sword sputtered. For a second, they burned ever so slightly brighter, but then the fire faded until darkness once more filled the stairway. The wolf cursed in his native tongue, and then Eni felt him scoop her up in his arms and begin sprinting up the stairs.

There was a brief moment of silence, and then the terrible skittering sound of the monsters climbing filled Eni's ears again. Tsar's arms were locked around her waist, her head over his shoulders, and she gave a gasp of alarm as something thick and strong wound its way around her torso. Fear filled Eni's heart as she was sure that one of the monsters had been faster than the others, but then she realized it was only Tsar's tail, pulling her onto his back so as to make it easier for him to run. 

"What happened?" Eni asked, feeling her head bobble against Tsar's as she squeezed herself close to him, "Do… Do those things eat fire?"

"No," Tsar said shortly, "Out of fuel."

Eni laughed in disbelief that the reason his whip-sword had burned out was something so mundane, but there was a sharp edge to the sound. They were trapped in utter darkness, and all Eni could do was pray to the Mother that Tsar could see well enough not to slip and fall to the awaiting monsters. Eni gripped him as tightly as she could as he wove back and forth, avoiding loose stones she couldn't see.

The monsters plunged unrelentingly onward; the sound of the claws at the ends of their misshapen legs digging into the walls was horribly loud and increasingly close. "Do you have any spares?" Eni asked, desperately thinking back to the time she had briefly held his weapon.

"Pouch at base of my tail. Left side," he answered, but he was clearly in no position to dig a fuel canister out himself.

His tail was pressed against her back, keeping Eni sandwiched tight to him, and she could tell his arms were pumping at his sides, maintaining his balance even as he leaped up the stairs. Eni dared to let go with her left arm, groping it around Tsar's body until her paw met the series of pouches secured against his tail. She pressed her fingers against each pouch in turn, trying to feel what was in them even as she bounced up and down, and at last came to one full of cylinders slightly smaller than the diameter of his whip-sword.

Eni fumbled the pouch open, doing her best to ignore the ever-closer monsters and the continued crumbling and shaking of the stairwell itself, and dug into it frantically. She emerged with two identical and cold metal objects, clutching them tightly as she withdrew her paw and grabbed back onto Tsar's chest. 

"Give it to me!" Eni cried, and with her empty paw she reached out, grabbing at nothing until Tsar brought the hilt of his whip-sword close.

She almost dropped it as he let go, and she heard its long and segmented blade dragging behind them, occasionally throwing up sparks as the metal struck stone. Eni brought her head closer to Tsar's and stuffed the two spare fuel cylinders in her mouth, feeling their sharp metallic taste on her tongue as she bit down as lightly as she could. With both paws free, Eni blindly maneuvered the heavy hilt between her fingers, groping for the base as she tried to remember how it went together.

The whip-sword was nearly ripped from her grasp as its end snagged on something, but Eni gave it a sharp tug until it pulled free. At last she heard a soft metallic click as the hilt popped open, but the spent fuel cartridge was stuck. She rapped it firmly until it came loose, tumbling to the depths of the stairwell with a metallic clatter. Rongen won't be happy, Eni thought vaguely, and she smiled through her mouthful of cylinders at the absurdity of the thought.

Whatever the irritable raccoon would think about Eni misplacing part of the weapon, he had built it well. When Eni spat one of the replacement cylinders into her palm and then pushed it into the hilt, it snapped into place smoothly and without any resistance, even as Eni could barely keep her paws steady to close the base back up again. "Ready!" Eni called out, the word slurred and muffled by the remaining cylinder lodged against her gums, but Tsar clearly understood.

He gave a grunt of acknowledgement as he took the whip-sword from her grasp, and it violently flared to life. Eni chanced a glance backwards through the dazzling flames, which confirmed her fears. The terrible monsters were scarily fast; the lead Tsar held had vanished almost completely. No more than four or five feet separated them from the closest vermin, although that rapidly changed as Tsar struck out with his weapon.

Eni had no idea how he aimed the weapon so precisely without even facing his target and while running flat out, but the tip of the whip-sword seared through its awful eyes before Tsar jerked the blade free. The monster gave an agonized cry that was unnervingly mammal-like, and although it was slain its fellows were not deterred. The creatures pouring toward them did not cease; they simply spread out, maneuvering along the walls to be just barely out of reach of Tsar's swings.

Eni forced herself to look forward, desperately hoping they were nearly to the door at the top of the stairwell, but the feeble glow of Tsar’s weapon showed that the stairs ahead had caved in entirely. 

They were trapped. 

Tsar was undaunted, spinning around to face the ravening horde, but Eni could feel his chest heaving with exertion as he lashed out again and again. She let go of his shoulders and raced for the pile of debris where the stairs had been, searching for a way up. 

She told herself it couldn’t be impossible, that there had to be a path, but there wasn’t. The fallen blocks were too large and heavy to budge, and even if Tsar could climb them with her on his back there was no telling how far up they went. For all she knew, the ceiling might have come in just a few feet beyond the weak illumination of Tsar’s whip-sword, and climbing would only trap them further.

Eni’s heart raced as she turned around, her ears flicking in every direction as she searched desperately for something she might have missed, but there was nothing. Tsar had nearly backed all the way up to where she was, his blows slowing down as the monsters threatened to overwhelm him. One of the vermin leaped at him and although his weapon rose with lightning speed it still wasn’t quite fast enough. 

The awful thing’s terrible maw bit down ferociously on the wolf’s leg, and Tsar gave a scream of raw fury and pain that was almost too loud to come from a mammal’s mouth. He savagely tore the monster from his thigh with his free paw, his blood arcing across the cramped space and glittering in the dull light, and threw it against the nearest wall with such force that its body simply came apart.

The entire stairwell trembled, and for the briefest of moments Eni felt something.

The fur of her ears had rippled ever so slightly, as though in a breeze, but Eni couldn’t see any possible source. The walls and piled debris were as obdurately solid as ever, and the monsters were still pressing in. Tsar was almost touching her, panting as he grimly kept up his hopeless fight, and Eni spoke without thinking. 

“Put out the light!” she cried.

Her words were still muffled by the fuel canister in her mouth, but Tsar obeyed without question. As the whip-sword’s flames winked out and plunged them into complete darkness Eni had a sudden moment of terror, certain that she had doomed them both on a desperate hunch. She could feel the beasts closing in, feel them savoring their victory as Tsar gave up their greatest advantage.

But there was something.

An incredibly faint light was coming into the stairway, a gleaming spider web made up entirely of right angles. Eni had just enough time to realize that she was seeing gaps in the wall before Tsar bodily threw himself at it, his whip-sword cracking at the largest of the spaces before his elbow followed. There was an awful noise as the blocks gave way, and then he pulled her through.

Tsar skidded neatly to a stop on a polished marble floor, the claws of his toes digging grooves into it, and he spun around with an almost casual ease that made Eni's stomach lurch. She had a quick impression of the grand lobby of the Terraces of Gorin before she was facing the hole Tsar had made in one of the walls. Pieces of stone the size of her head had come free, forming a gritty mess across the floor, and the resulting opening looked to have been barely large enough for Tsar to pass through. 

Almost immediately, the vile monsters were making their way through the hole, and Eni could distantly hear screams and shouts of fear as the creatures emerged.

Tsar's whip-sword lashed out again and again, each blow killing one of the things, but there were just too many of them. Their burning corpses rapidly clogged their access point, but the swarm skittering up the stairway looked undiminished. The smaller ones were still forcing their way out, the largest one ravenously devouring the flesh of its fallen brethren.

Without thinking, Eni pulled the fuel canister from her mouth and threw it as hard as she could, aiming for the maw of the ponderous monster. For a moment, she was sure she had missed, that her aim had been off, and as she desperately hoped she hadn't the cylinder almost seemed to jerk to the side.

It was as though it had been caught by an invisible thread, deflecting its path ever so slightly, and the tiny tank landed right in the creature's terrible open mouth-parts. The thing placidly ignored it, biting down on the canister as it used its claws to hungrily pull a shred of burning monster flesh closer.

And then it exploded.

The fireball wasn't quite as large as Eni had hoped, but it was more than enough. The creature's head turned into a gory mess, a searing wave of flame briefly illuminating the stairwell as a thunderclap of sound brought more stones down. The stairs inside the hidden passage seemed to simply crumble, falling down on themselves as the wall itself toppled, the opening vanishing. Eni looked to Tsar, her ears full of a high-pitched ringing, and although she couldn't hear what he said she could read his lips as he spoke.

Clever.

There was a ghost of something on his face, some emotion that Eni almost never saw, but it passed like the sun going behind a cloud. His face turned serious as he considered the motionless pile of rubble, and then he grabbed Eni's paw. "—to go," he said, his words becoming intelligible as the din in Eni's ears faded, "Now."

As if to underscore his point, the floor gave an almighty shake under their feet, followed by a horrible cracking sound. Before Eni's disbelieving eyes the fine marble tiles covering the floor split crazily apart, yawning chasms opening as the ground gave way. Eni ran with Tsar for the main door, which was hanging on its frame at an odd angle, and debris rained down all around them.

Tsar batted away a potted plant with his tail as the grand hanging gardens began to fall apart, and when Eni dared to look upwards she saw the massive buttresses supporting the upper floors were splitting as they gave way. The floor suddenly tilted downwards beneath them, Eni's feet slipping against the slick marble before she managed to jump to a more stable section. 

The closer the exit got, the rarer those sections became; huge parts of the floor simply gave way, plummeting into the basements below. Burst pipes were spraying everywhere, drenching Eni in frigid water, but at last the door was in reach and Tsar pulled her through. Outside, the sun was beginning to set, but Terregor looked anything but picturesque.

Pedestrians were running away from the Terraces of Gorin, screaming in terror, and an uncountable number of monsters rampaged after them. Eni came to a sudden stop, her entire body frozen with awful fear as she took in the scene. The rat-like monsters were just as nimble and agile in water as they were on land, and they were everywhere. They ran across bridges and swam through canals, ignoring everyone who didn't get in their way. 

Eni watched in horror as a pangolin, his City Guard uniform resplendent, valiantly tried impaling one of the creatures upon his spear. The beast, which was nearly as large as he was, nimbly dodged the blow and then tore his arm off; the guard keeled over as he clutched at the stump, his body immediately overrun by the wickedly sharp claws of the monstrous horde.

A deep groaning rumble filled the air, waves splashing up that swamped the canals. The shrill cries of avians, hundreds or perhaps thousands of swans and storks blotting out the sky as they took flight and fled, weren’t enough to drown out the screams of mammals. Boats filled the lake as everyone who couldn’t fly frantically tried paddling to safety, but the creatures were relentless as they swarmed. Some of the smaller and unluckier watercraft capsized beneath the weight of the awful beasts, and the mammals aboard didn't surface. 

Eni looked around desperately, her nose twitching even as the rest of her body felt utterly numb. "Dock," Tsar said, and Eni tore her gaze away from the carnage to look at him.

"What?" she said, and it was as though she wasn't the one speaking; what she was seeing felt too entirely unreal to be happening.

"Nearest dock," he said urgently, "Tower's about to collapse."

He gestured emphatically at the Terraces of Gorin behind them, and Eni shook her head. "No," she said, "No, no, you're wrong. It can't collapse. Do… Do you know how long it's stood? How strong the foundation is? It—"

"Eni," Tsar interrupted, his voice kind, and helpless tears filled her eyes.

"It can't happen," she said, and her voice broke, "It has to stand. We… We have to be able to rebuild. Don't… Don't…"

Sobs began wracking her body, but she couldn't stop even though the words felt as heavy as lead. "This can't be for nothing," she said, "The Archivist couldn't have died for nothing! Those… Everyone out there…"

Her eyes were too full for her to see anything, but awful screams and cries still filled the air, along with the relentless skitter and splash of monsters as they surged outwards. 

"We have to save them," Eni said, her voice barely more than a trembling whisper as she pleaded with the Slayer, “Please, save them.”

Eni felt Tsar's paw under her chin as he lifted her head toward him. He brushed Eni's tears away with his free paw, gently but firmly, and then held her cheeks as he made her look into his pale and solemn eyes. "We're not done," he said, his voice unshakable, "But we need a boat."

Eni raised her arms, gripping Tsar's paws in hers even as he kept his hold on her cheeks, and drew strength from his familiar warmth as she nodded weakly. She pointed vaguely, stumbling as she wordlessly led the way.

It wasn't far to the nearest dock, and Eni saw no reason to protest as Tsar stole a small and sleek gondola, cutting it free of its moorings with a single efficient slash of his whip-sword. He scrambled aboard and then offered Eni his paw to help her join him. As the boat rocked beneath her, she had a sudden vivid memory of the first time she had traveled by gondola in Terregor, and she choked.

The wolf maneuvered the craft out of the canal and onto the lake with surprising skill, expertly wielding its single oar, and Eni dully wondered how he had learned to handle a boat. It didn't seem to matter very much; her heart felt as though it had sunk into her stomach. She looked out toward the far shore of Lake Linra, where mammals and watercraft were already piling up like driftwood after a storm. The fearsome rat-like creatures didn't seem concerned with the survivors whatsoever, scurrying away from Terregor to serve whatever inscrutable purpose drove them, and a faint flicker of curiosity came across Eni although she was too exhausted to consider any further.

When they were about halfway across the lake, dozens of other small boats nearby, a great thundering roar came from behind them and Eni turned around. The Terraces of Gorin, standing tall and proud over every other building in the city, had developed a noticeable tilt. The top third of the tower cracked free and slid off, falling into the lake with the bellow of a hundred brimstone batteries going off at once. A massive wave surged from the point of impact, swamping some of the boats that were still too close and shattering piers.

Eni couldn't bear to watch anymore. 

She turned her head away, squeezing her eyes shut, but there was no closing her ears. She heard a series of sharp cracks like the bones of a giant being shattered, the city itself shrieking in pain. The din of steel girders snapping and solid stone crumbling to an onslaught of water sounded almost like pleas for mercy, overlapping like voices. Eni wept, unable to stop the tears, as she felt her city call out and she was helpless to save it. She was alone, her world reduced to the dying gasps of everything she had ever known or loved.

And then Eni felt something warm against her paw. 

She reached out instinctively, her fingers intertwining with a grasp that was strong and vital. She could feel a pulse, vibrant and steady, and for a moment Tsar could almost drown out the assault on her senses. Eni had no idea how long it took before reality asserted itself once more, but after an eternity she slowly opened her eyes. The only sounds were the hatefully placid murmur of the waves and the cry of distant voices, Tsar utterly silent and still as he watched her. She let go of his paw, instantly missing its presence in hers, and turned to look back.  

The Terraces hadn't fallen alone.

Nearly a quarter of the downtown had tumbled away with it, vanishing beneath the surface. The familiar skyline was almost unrecognizable, dozens of the city’s oldest and tallest buildings reduced to nothing more than slowly spreading pools of debris and clouds of dust. Eni felt painfully aware of Tsar's eyes on her, and she spoke without thinking. 

"How many this time, do you think? Hundreds? Thousands? How many more?" she asked bitterly.

Eni looked at Tsar; the wolf was still quietly paddling the gondola, each efficient stroke bringing them closer to the far shore and away from the ruins of Terregor. "Not your fault," Tsar said in a low voice.

“It’s entirely my fault,” Eni snapped.

The vehemence in her voice as she thought about her old mentor surprised her, and a terrible rush of emotions she couldn’t sort apart threatened to overwhelm her. “He manipulated me. Used me,” Eni said, the words all coming out at once, “This power I have… I was so desperate for answers I didn’t even notice he was exploiting me. I was blind to all of it because he was my friend. And what did he do? He poisoned himself to play us against the Harbinger, and then he let a poor hedgehog take the blame. I never questioned him, either! I was so sure I could trust him that I ran in circles while he hid in plain sight!”

Her voice had gotten louder and louder, but as Eni spoke the last word her voice cracked and tears escaped her eyes. “And now he’s gone,” Tsar said, and Eni choked back a sob.

She sniffled, brushing a paw against her nose as she cleared her throat. “Does it get easier?” she asked, the words thick and congested.

"Does what?" Tsar replied, but there was no confusion in his face.

Eni was sure he knew what she meant, but maybe he wanted her to say it. "This," she said, gesturing feebly to take everything in, "Loss."

He didn't reply immediately, but Eni couldn't stop herself. 

A dozen possibilities flew through her mind, but Eni couldn't finish her thought. It hurt too badly, and instead she moved on. "It was all for nothing. So many dead… So much knowledge lost forever… And for what?"

Tsar was silent a moment, looking out across the water, and then he answered. "If you're lucky," he said slowly, "If you're lucky… Doesn't get easier."

He looked at her, and although his face was nearly expressionless Eni's heart almost broke. "I'm sorry," Eni said, "I… I'm not… I can't imagine how hard it's been for you."



Tsar said nothing, simply continuing to paddle the gondola. They were so close to the shore that, even in the dying light of day, Eni could make it out perfectly. Huddles of mammals milled about, some talking and some looking too shocked for words, and members of the Terregor City Guard were trying to keep the crowds organized. A number of tents had already been set up, and Eni could see doctors at work, working feverishly as they tended to the wounded.

"We have to find Invermir," Eni said, her voice suddenly firm, "And end this."

She had never heard of the place before Nergora spoke its name, not even in the oldest atlases or the most ancient of legends. It should have felt very nearly hopeless, but as Eni watched the survivors of Terregor coming together she felt her resolve strengthen. She would make her way to Invermir, no matter whether it was in the frozen wastelands to the far north or on the moon itself. 

No matter what obstacle stood in their way, no matter what horrible monsters the Archons or Nergora herself tried to distract them with, Eni would not give up. She would find the terrible being and make her answer for her crimes, and Eni saw her own certainty reflected in Tsar's eyes.











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