Part of me wants to laugh at our predicament. Again, I am side by side with Cal in a cell, waiting for whatever fate has in store for us. But this time, my fear is tempered by anger. It won’t be Maven coming to gloat, but the Colonel, and for that I’m terribly thankful. Maven’s taunts are not ones I ever want to suffer again. Even the thought of him hurts.
The Bowl of Bones was dark, empty, a deeper prison than this. Maven stood out sharply, his skin pale, eyes bright, his hands reaching for mine. In the poisoned memory, they flicker between soft fingers and ragged claws. Both want to make me bleed.
I told you to hide your heart once. You should have listened.
They were his last words to me, before he sentenced us to execution. I wish it hadn’t been such good advice.
Slowly, I exhale, hoping to expel the memories with my breath. It doesn’t work.
“So what do we do about this, General Calore?” I ask, gesturing to the four walls holding us prisoner. Now I can see the slight outlines in the corners, the square blocks a bit darker than the rest, fixed right into the panels of the walls.
After a long moment, Cal pulls out of thoughts just as painful as mine. Glad for the distraction, he rights the other chair swiftly, pushing it against a corner. He steps up, almost banging his head on the ceiling, and runs a hand over the Silent Stone. It’s more dangerous to us than anything on this island, more damaging than any weapon.
“By my colors, how did they get this?” he mutters, his fingers trying to find an edge. But the stone lies flush, perfectly embedded. With a sigh, he jumps back down and faces the observation window. “Our best chance is breaking the glass. There’s no getting around these in here.”
“It’s weaker, though,” I say, staring at the Silent Stone. It stares right back. “In the Bowl of Bones, I felt like I was suffocating. This is nowhere near that bad.”
Cal shrugs. “Not as many blocks here. But still enough.”
“They have to be. There’s only so much Silent Stone and only the government can use it, for obvious reasons.”
“That’s true . . . in Norta.”
He tilts his head, perplexed. “You think these came from somewhere else?”
“There are smuggled shipments coming in from all over. Piedmont, the Lakelands, other places too. And haven’t you seen any soldiers down here? Their uniforms?”
He shakes his head. “No. Not since that red-eyed bastard marched me in yesterday.”
“They call him the Colonel, and he’s Farley’s father.”
“I’d feel sorry for her, but my family’s infinitely worse.”
I scoff, half-amused. “They’re Lakelanders, Cal. Farley, and the Colonel, and all his soldiers. Which means there’s more where they came from.”