The jab doesn’t hurt as much as I expected it to. “How is he?”
Kilorn tosses his head, gesturing out to the hallway. “Farley carved out a nice little medical station for the wounded. He’s doing better than the others. Cursing a lot, but definitely better.” His green eyes darken a bit, and he turns his gaze away. “His leg—”
I draw in a startled breath. “Infected?” At home in the Stilts, infection was as bad as a severed arm. We didn’t have much medicine, and once the blood went bad, all you could do was keep chopping, hoping to outrun fever and blackened veins.
To my relief, Kilorn shakes his head. “No, Farley dosed him good, and the Silvers fight with clean bullets. So that’s big of them.” He laughs darkly, expecting me to join him. Instead, I shiver. The air is so cold down here. “But he’ll definitely be limping for a while.”
“Will you take me to him or do I have to figure out the way myself?”
Another dark laugh and he extends his arm. To my surprise, I find that I need his support to help me walk. Naercey and the Bowl of Bones have certainly taken their toll.
Mersive. That’s what Kilorn calls the strange underwater boat. How it manages to sail beneath the ocean is beyond both of us, though I’m sure Cal will figure it out. He’s next on my list. I’ll find him after I make sure my brother is still breathing. I remember Cal being barely conscious when we escaped, just like me. But I don’t suppose Farley will set him up in the medical station, not with injured Guardsmen all around. There’s too much bad blood and no one wants an inferno in a sealed metal tube.
The banshee’s scream still rings in my head, a dull whine that I try to ignore. And with every step, I learn about new aches and bruises. Kilorn notes my every wince and slows his pace, allowing me to lean on his arm. He ignores his own wounds, deep cuts hidden beneath yet another set of fresh bandages. He always had battered hands, bruised and cut from fishing hooks and rope, but they were familiar wounds. They meant he was safe, employed, free from conscription. If not for one dead fish master, little scars would be his only burden.
Once that thought would have made me sad. Now I feel only rage.
The main passage of the mersive is long but narrow, divided by several metal doors with thick hinges and pressurized seals. To close off portions if need be, to stop the entire vessel from flooding and sinking. But the doors give me no comfort whatsoever. I can’t stop thinking about dying at the bottom of the ocean, locked in a watery coffin. Even Kilorn, a boy raised on water, seems uncomfortable. The dim lights set into the ceiling filter strangely, cutting shadows across his face to make him appear old and drawn.
The other Guardsmen aren’t so affected, coming and going with great purpose. Their red scarves and shawls have been lowered, revealing faces set in grim determination. They carry charts, trays of medical supplies, bandages, food, or even the occasional rifle down the passage, always hurrying and chattering to each other. But they stop at the sight of me, pressing back against the walls to give me as much room as possible in the narrow space. The more daring ones look me in the eye, watching me limp past, but most stare at their feet.
A few even seem afraid.