Chapter 18

“Lists,” Drake repeated. “Maps, reports, supplies, warnings, failures, friends and enemies. We have your lists.” He maintained that same even voice and demeanor, no condescension but no deference either. “This is not your world. Kenley’s no longer what either of you knew, and both of them are older, and we’ll give you lists since that’s why you’re here, but you cannot depend on them.”

Probably not, Jay thought, remembering Kenley Dirac’s face. Both Kenley and Luca were different now and older and lists weren’t going to make up for that.

“I’ll take them,” Marek offered.

Jay’s first reaction was a flat no, but he had nothing to work with, knew nothing about the land, had no power not even a flashlight, no ability to make use of whatever burned in that bowl if there was any use in it, and so far had seen nothing resembling a phone. Maybe the guy was showing off for Drake and Robanna, or Fiona, or maybe this was normal behavior here, or dismal thought, maybe he really was all they were going to get.

Nevertheless turned to Drake and asked, “Don’t you have a professional?”

Marek grinned at him. “It’s dark out there Jaegar Lombardo. You’ll need someone who can build you a fire.”

Stunned, Jay was pushed almost into laughter. He took one long step toward Marek, and then another until there was no more than an arm’s length of space between them.

“For someone who is desperately searching for a Lombardo, you don’t know much about us. I don’t need help to survive a night on a mountain or anywhere else short of a battlefield. I need a guide, but no Lombardo needs a bodyguard. I assure you, I can light my own fires.”

“Marek will go with you,” Robanna told them. “We were planning on it, and he can do a great deal more than light a fire.”

Marek had already turned his back on him, following Drake down the stairs. “Take them to Atropo,” Drake told him. “Vaun saw them last. If he’s there, the Colonel will know where to find him.”

“Do you know why he’s there again?” Marek asked they moved ahead. “He should be the one guiding them, not me.”

“He’d draw too much attention. Keep quiet, keep them quiet, head west.”

Robanna waited until there was a little space between them, then turned to Jay and Fiona and said, “Take care. As the dragon riders say, fast flight, fast kill, safe return.”

That was a good one. He thanked her, heard Fiona’s thanks, her voice quick and distracted as she went after Drake and Marek. She wasn’t waiting for him.

Drake and Marek had gone all the way down the path to the last mausoleum where Drake unlocked the door and stood aside to let Marek enter first before turning and saying to them, “Go on. It’s safe.”

The room inside was a little larger than it appeared from outside. Marek was kneeling by the back wall, and he leaned over, yanked on something, and up the floor came. It was a trap door.

He sat back and leaned on the trap door and looked down a ladder and then up with obvious amusement. “After you.”

Jay looked down. The tunnel below the trap door was finished and lighted. Whether they lived down there or it led somewhere else didn’t matter to him. Fiona murmured, “So that’s why the door is locked.”

Drake smiled. “We’re miners. One thing we know how to do is dig a hole. Let’s go home.”

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