Where the Shadows Beckon

Where the Shadows Beckon

Blood of Eith, Book 1

Now Available

Get ready for the journey of a lifetime in the first book of an all-new, captivating fantasy series from thrilling debut author Gillian Grant.

A world without gods. A dangerous quest. And a secret that will shake Eith to its very core.

As a hunter, Evren Hanali of Orenlion has probably seen it all and done even more, even though she likes to fade into the background. She prefers a solitary existence, doing the jobs she’s commissioned for and not much else. But fate has other plans. It seems she has a destiny—one she is only beginning to unravel. And unlikely companions and exotic places are only the beginning of her journey.

When circumstances beyond her control—and gravity—send her plummeting to what she fears may be her death, walking away unscathed opens a world of possibilities. Somehow, she becomes the leader of a motley crew of allies with a shared mission. Only it’s not clear what anyone’s end goal is, and trust is hard-earned. Still, the merry band of adventurers finds solace and friendship along the way—not to mention dangers galore.

In the instance of the Yawning Deep, as above is not as below. Add magic and mayhem to the mix, and Evren has the fight of her life on her hands. When one hard-fought win leads to revelations of lies, deceit, and murder, Evren and company must be willing to fight for what they believe—and each other.

Or die trying.

Read an Excerpt

The slack-jawed head of the beast was at least half the size of the woman who carried it and dripped a crimson trail of blood down the streets. The frost crunched under the hunter’s footsteps and sizzled, hissing at contact with the still-warm blood. The progress was a slow, almost limping march. And not a single soul bothered to do more than stare and whisper.

“Fucking dwarves,” Evren murmured under her breath, tightening her grip on her prize. The worg’s head was bulky and uncomfortable to carry, and her leather-clad leg was already slick with its blood—but at least that part of her was warm.

Her cold-numbed fingers wound tightly around the worg’s matted, coarse fur. All around her, the upper levels of Dirn-Darahl stood rigid, rimmed in the mountain’s frost, the elegantly carved homes resolute and proud next to the barely standing wooden shacks. Small fires dotted the stone streets, their warmth and smoke not nearly enough to drive back the chill of the wind. Below her feet, Evren felt the stone thrumming like a beating heart. The true city was below, those who lived aboveground were just gatekeepers, merchants, or the poor. It was cheaper to live outside Dirn-Darahl, but that seemed to ring true with any city, not just the dwarves’.

Evren stumbled closer to the massive gates, stepping into the shadow of the mountain they had been carved into and trying not to shiver. The gates were at least fifty feet tall and made of pure granite. They were beautiful, and she struggled not to crane her neck to look at them. She was being watched, after all.

She veered off to the side, shuffling to a halt before a dwarf and his sturdy tent. The four armed guards surrounding him drew back, their hands on their weapons. Evren groaned in effort and brought the worg’s massive head up and over, slamming it on the wooden desk between them. The wood visibly cracked under the sudden impact but held up well enough. The golden-haired dwarf sniffed at the worg, its black tongue lolling out of its maw, hitting some official-looking papers.

“What’s this?” Beregal finally looked up at her. It was still unnerving, although impressive, that despite how tall Evren was comparatively, she never felt as if she were looking down on him.

“That’s a worg.” She crossed her arms, trying to keep her breathing slow and even. Can’t be seen as weak here, she reminded herself.

“Yeah, one worg.” Beregal looked her up and down. “Are you hiding the rest of the pack up your ass?”

She gritted her teeth. It was fine. She had known this would happen. She’d rehearsed this in her head over and over on her long hike up the mountain.

“One worg is what you get,” she said flatly. “Keep out of the western hills, and your men shouldn’t have a problem with the pack.”

“I hired you to take out the whole pack, half-breed,” Beregal spat.

“You said you were up to the job,”

“And I was. Until I figured out the reason your men are being attacked. It’s past mating season for this pack. They’re raising their young.” She gestured to the head on the table. “They’re more protective of their territory than normal and will be for the next seven months until the pups are old enough to take care of themselves. Stay out of their territory, and you won’t have a problem. They won’t expand or change their hunting habits during this time.”

“So, you expect us to work around these beasts just because of a few pups?” He laughed, and the guards around joined in. But their gazes—their eyes the only things not hidden beneath their helmets—never left the worg’s head. “You’re out of your damn mind.”

“By all means, keep going into their territory.” Evren shrugged. “I can’t stop you. But I also can’t stop the worgs from defending their young—which they will do without hesitation. I met this one on the outskirts. He was one of the hunters. Sweet boy even gave me a warning before trying to rip off my face. I doubt you’ll find such hospitality if you continue encroaching on their home.”

“One big worg doesn’t equal a whole pack,” he said firmly. “I shouldn’t even pay you for this.”

“The deal was twenty gold pieces a head,” she argued. “The head is here. The body is just outside the city limits, clearly marked for your men to find. The pelt is in good condition, and the worgs obviously had a good hunting season, so the meat is in fine form. Fifty pieces for the whole body, which will feed a good many of your soldiers for a while.”

“Fifty?” He laughed again. “My, they obviously didn’t teach you any bartering where you were raised. I’d do thirty, at the very most.”

“Fifty is more than reasonable given the size.”

“Let’s just say I’m not so pleased with your production so far. Thirty is all you’ll get from me.”

Evren pursed her lips, the rough and chapped edges scraping against each other. “Thirty pieces and free room and board for the night.”

The dwarf started to open his mouth, and she quickly held up a hand.

“Lower levels, Beregal.” She nodded to the doors. “I’d like to get out of the wind for a bit.”

He seemed to think about the offer, stroking his chin, the only bare area of his jaw. The rest contained a finely combed and braided beard of coarse, blond hair. Why he would expose such a weak chin was beyond her, but she kept her mouth shut. Beregal didn’t need to be likable or smart, he was just supposed to pay her.

“Fine.” He sighed. “You’ve got a deal.” He went to pull out a piece of paper but scowled at the head leaking all over his desk. “Just tell the guards at the lift that I sent you. The Bed Rock will put up with you tonight. Second level right off the lift. Can’t miss it.”

He waved at one of the guards, and they pulled out a sack of gold, handing it over to her. Evren took it, weighing it in her hands, mostly for show. Beregal wouldn’t short her on gold, or his entire reputation would be at risk. So, she tied it to her belt and gave him a nod.

“Pleasure doing business with you.”

He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I wish I could say the same. I’ll hire an actual hunter next time.”

Evren bit her tongue and gave the worg head one last look. It was strange that she didn’t want to leave it with Beregal. The beast had tried to kill her. But if she’d learned one thing in her years, it was respect. The worg had only been protecting its family. If Evren had to die, going out that way didn’t seem like such a bad thing.

Without the head slowing her down, she took off to the streets again at a much quicker pace. She still ignored the dwarves around her as she headed straight to the mountain’s grand gates. It was no surprise that a small army of dwarves watched the gate, their spears shining in the weak sunlight.

“Beregal Athem has vouched for my presence in the city for one night,” she explained as she walked up.

The dwarf in charge frowned behind her helmet, her thin lips disappearing almost entirely. “You’re the hunter?”


“Right.” The dwarf looked Evren up and down, taking in her worn leathers and tattered cloak—both now splattered with blood—as well as the sturdy bow on her back. “Keep that to yourself if you know what’s good for you.”

Evren smiled thinly. “I don’t hunt dwarves.”

The captain chuckled at that. “We’re a tough game anyway. Velx!” she shouted over her shoulder. “Open the gates. I’ll escort the half-elf in.”

Velx nodded, his shining helmet bouncing as he ran off, spear tucked under his arm. About five minutes passed before the gates started to move inward. The loud scraping sound of stone against stone echoed harshly in Evren’s ears. The massive slabs moved inch by tiny inch, though she couldn’t see or hear any chains. It didn’t take long for the doors to open just enough for Evren and the captain to walk through, side by side, the grand vestibule beyond as tall as the doors themselves, and with no sliver of sky visible at all.

The air was warm but not still as Evren stepped inside. This time, she couldn’t stop herself from admiring the beauty of the architecture. There was no rough stone to be seen. It was all smooth and almost glassy. Thick yet somehow elegant pillars of stone ringed the large hall, supporting the ceiling, carved with some mosaic she couldn’t quite make out in the low light. A raised platform stood in the center of the room, four chains as thick as she was on each corner. A couple of benches were scattered around the area. To her surprise, they weren’t empty.

“We’ve been getting a lot of visitors.” The captain seemed to read her mind. “You’re only the most recent. Those two came late last night.” She pointed to two figures huddled on one of the benches, one significantly shorter than the other.

“Why haven’t they been allowed in?”

“It takes a lot to operate the lift.” The captain shrugged. “Can’t do it for just a couple of outsiders. But with you and a couple of the hunting party returning, we’ll have the lift ready in a few minutes.”

“Right.” Evren breathed out. “Thanks for the escort.”

“I’m in charge of the city guard, so I’ll have eyes on you in case you cause any trouble.”

Evren snorted. “It’s only for one night, Captain. I’ll stay out of trouble and be out of your hair come sunrise.”

“I’ll hold you to that, hunter.” She issued a stiff, half-bow before walking back out of the gates. Only a minute later, the rumbling picked up again, and the gates slowly inched closed before sealing shut, blocking out the outside world with a soft hiss.

Evren looked around. The hall was grand and almost quiet once the doors were closed. Fatigued-looking dwarves in icy armor kept to themselves in the corners of the room, not giving her even a passing glance. But as she got closer to the lift, the two figures the captain had pointed out became more and more curious.

Their whispers were louder now and bounced off the walls incoherently. The smaller figure was completely covered in a tattered and stained grey cloak and seemed to burrow farther into it. The other figure was tall, and . . . human now that she got a good look at him. Deep brown skin paired with long, black dreads that tumbled past his shoulders and seemed to glitter with gold in the low light. He noticed her, his honey-colored eyes brightening instantly as a wide smile grew over his face.

“Ah! Finally. A taller friend appears!” he proclaimed loudly, his voice bouncing off the walls. The cloaked figure seemed to shrink even more. “Come, sit with us, stranger. No, no, it’s fine, she looks fun,” he whispered quickly to his small friend.

Evren took the bench adjacent to them, resting her elbows on her knees. Now that she was in front of the cloaked figure, she expected to see a face. But the hood was so big, she still saw nothing but shadows.

The human shifted to face her, still grinning brightly. “Fancy meeting a new face in these parts. I was starting to see shapes in the stone. Although . . . that might just be my boredom.”

The cloaked figure scoffed and shifted away from him.

“Anyway.” The human brightened again, focusing on Evren. “My name’s Sorin Trinity, most recently of the Boreal Sea.” He extended a hand, an intricate tattoo of three overlapping circles marking the dark skin. Evren slowly took it and gave it a firm shake, finding the palm and fingers rough and warm.

If his introduction hadn’t been a dead giveaway, the tattoo was. Evren didn’t know much about the Vasa, other than they were a strange culture of people who lived solely on the Boreal Sea. There were more humans among them, but she’d heard of them accepting all races, no matter what they were.

“Evren Hanali.” She smiled and took back her hand. “You’re a long way from the sea for a Vasa. What brings you this far north?”

“Ah, well. My friend here, Arke, convinced me to swing by.” He shrugged. “I was on my way to Tal-Mashad, so I figured . . . why not?”

Evren blinked. “Tal-Mashad is on the other side of the kingdom,” she told him, bringing up her mental map of Etherak. “You’re quite a ways off course.”

“Well, yes. But that’s half the fun.” Sorin waved her off. “Besides, there are no dwarven cities on the sea. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Evren hummed in agreement. “And your friend?”

“Oh, Arke?” Sorin looked at the cloak. “He’s just shy. He’ll warm up in no time. Isn’t that right, Arke?”

Arke the cloak didn’t reply.

Almost as if an unspoken order had gone out, all the dwarves started to get up and shuffle onto the lift. Evren took that as her cue and stood, also, adjusting her bow and quiver as she did.

Sorin and Arke sprang up, as well, following her lead as she got onto the lift. Arke’s cloak was much too big for whatever he was and trailed out a good foot behind him. When the cloaked figure stood next to a dwarf, she saw he was easily a foot shorter. Evren tapped her finger on the strap of her quiver, staring intently at the mysterious figure.

“I’ve never been on a lift before,” Sorin said cheerfully. “You?”
Evren’s gaze moved back to Sorin, and she shook her head. “First time.”

“I wonder how far—?”

The sound of rattling chains and heaving stone cut off the Vasa’s words. Bright blue runes shimmered to life at the edges of the lift’s stonework, and Evren could feel the power radiating from them. Her stomach dropped as the lift descended, and the raised platform they were standing on moved down. Sorin laughed a bit beside her, wobbling to keep his balance. The dwarves weren’t fazed at all. Evren curled her toes in her boots and tried not to shift her weight. There were no rails on this platform, and the last thing she needed was to fall.

As the lift descended, the floor of the hall rose until it was over and above their heads entirely. For a few breathless minutes, all she could see were stone walls. They were so close, she could almost touch them. Reaching out a shaking hand, she tried to, but just as her fingertips were about to meet stone, it all fell away into open air, and she staggered back a couple of steps.

Below them, Dirn-Darahl sprawled like a glowing, breathing thing. The city was massive, extending for miles in all directions. Massive pillars kept the cavern roof above them steady, and homes had been built along the walls and even in some of the columns. A rim of fire curled around the perimeter and between the streets, giving the whole city a warm glow. The grand houses and enormous statues seemed to shimmer and shine in the flickering light, the flecks of precious metals and gems visible even from so far up.

Beside them, one of the dwarves chuckled. “And this is only the first level. Impressed?”

Sorin sputtered behind her. “First level? How many are there?”

“Five. This is mostly for the richer folks. Lords and their families and such. It’s also where our King lives.”

“Shiny,” Evren muttered. Now that they inched closer to the buildings, she saw the gold and silver etched into their walls and even along the streets. Large mansions had clusters of like-colored gems at their gates. One with a blood-red ruby glittering next to the fire. Another with a sapphire framed in silver. In the distance, towering over all the other glittering houses, stood a palace of incredible beauty, its rooftops seeming to glow with a bright white light.

“Second level is for merchants, the middle-class, and visitors, like you,” the dwarf went on. “Third is agriculture and food. Fourth has the forges and military encampments. And the fifth is the prison.”

“That’s . . . efficient,” Sorin said as they finally got to the street level and sank below once more. Another grand sight soon broke the darkness, although this one was less impressive than the first level. No shining gold or gems glittered back at them, but the second level was even bigger than the first. The smell of food and spices hit them, and Evren’s stomach growled. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten.

She found herself eagerly anticipating the lift coming to a stop. Foot by foot, it descended. The dwarves milling about the streets paid them no mind, instead chatting easily amongst themselves and trading back and forth. The idea of a warm meal and a decent bed to sleep in was all that filled Evren’s mind. She tuned Sorin out as he continued chatting with the dwarves, staring hungrily at the city below. They were only twenty feet from the ground when the lift suddenly stopped.

Evren frowned, turning back to the dwarves. “Are we supposed to jump?”

The dwarf looked equally confused, his large, curly brows knitting together. “No, we shouldn’t have stopped yet. Jalaa’s great arse, what are they doing up there?”

Everybody followed the dwarf’s gaze upwards, staring accusingly at the unseen workers supposed to be working the lift. As they did, a thunderous boom echoed around the cavern. The ceiling shook; pieces of stone falling away into clouds of dust. The lift started swaying slightly from side to side, the glowing runes flickering.

“What in the hells was that?” Evren asked.

Before she got her answer, the cavern shook again. This time, she heard the screams of the people below. The chains started rattling furiously.

“Hold on!” The dwarf’s panic was thick in his voice.

“To what?” Sorin cried out.

The whole lift shook beneath their feet. Evren wrapped her arm around the thick chain closest to her, just as the runes flickered out, and the lift started to plummet.

Evren’s heart was stuck in her throat as they fell past the second level and moved below ground again. It was all she could do to keep from screaming. Air rushed past her, hot and fast as they descended in a frenzy. It seemed to scream for her. She forced her eyes open. No, Sorin was the only one screaming.

Sorin hadn’t found anything to hold onto and fell just a few feet above them. Evren gritted her teeth as the cavern suddenly opened around them again. Ignoring the fast-approaching floor, she focused on the human.

She forced her muscles to relax their death grip on the chain and started climbing up, little by little. The air seemed eager to help, lifting her as she struggled to keep her feet on the chain.

“Hey!” The wind nearly snatched away her voice. “Sorin, look at me!”

The human twisted in the air, his hair flying up all around him.

She extended her arm, hand outstretched to him, but she still wasn’t close enough. “Grab on!” she urged. “I’ll pull you in!”

“But Arke—”

“Is fine!” she snapped. She barely spared a glance for the cloaked figure wrapped tightly around the adjacent chain. “Now, grab on!”

Sorin’s honey eyes were thick with fear, but they suddenly hardened with understanding. He nodded and, with a grunt of effort, reached his hand out to hers. Not quite meeting, their fingertips brushed just as they fell into another level of darkness. She heard him curse in the shadows, and then another grunt of effort sounded. She felt a worn, callused hand grip hers like steel just as the fourth level lit up all around them. She used all her might to pull Sorin towards her.

He grabbed onto the chain, breathless and visibly shaking. “Thanks for that.”

Evren just nodded, turning to the dwarves across the lift. There were about half as many as she remembered. Only three now.

“How do we stop the lift?” she yelled over the screaming air.

They looked terrified, the whites of their eyes showing like cornered animals. Evren couldn’t help but think of the worgs.

One shook his head. “This doesn’t happen! We don’t know!”

“What happens when we reach the bottom?” Sorin asked from beside her. The grim look on the dwarves’ faces was the only answer they needed.

“Great.” Sorin laughed a little to himself.

Evren forced her eyes away from the fast-approaching forges below. It would be seconds before they hit the darkness again. “How are you laughing?”

“I’m coping.” His bright eyes suddenly lit up, and he turned to Arke, still wound tightly against the chain with his cloak flapping in the wind. “Arke! Do your thing!”

The darkness swallowed them again. From it, a raspy voice spoke, almost sounding annoyed. “What thing? Be more specific.”

“Stop the lift from falling.”

“I can’t do that. It’s massive.”

“You stopped a boulder once.”

“A big rock! There’s a difference.”

Light broke once more. This cavern was huge but low-lit and covered with a thick layer of smoke. Evren couldn’t see the bottom, but she didn’t need to, to know that this was their final stop.

“Fuck the lift!” she yelled over Sorin. “What about us?”

Arke said nothing for a bit, but she saw him moving beneath his cloak. Beside her, Sorin nodded.

“Yes, yes. Do us!”

“I can’t do everyone.”

“How many?” Evren asked, not sure exactly what she was asking. She focused on Arke. The dwarves’ panic told her all she needed to know about how close they were.

“I don’t know . . .”

“How. Many?” she repeated.

“I really don’t know. I’ve never done it on more than one object before.”

Suddenly, smoke enveloped them. Panic seized Evren’s heart. This was not how she was supposed to die. Not like this.

“Just do it. Quickly!”

She couldn’t see anything through the haze of smoke. It clawed at her throat and burned her panicked lungs. She felt Sorin’s grip on her arm tighten more and more by the second. Over the wind, she heard a dwarven prayer, the words choked with tears.

“Arke, please!” Sorin’s scream was tight with panic, just as Arke answered.

“Everyone let go. NOW!”

Evren didn’t hesitate to loosen her grip on the chain. Sorin pushed off completely. For a brief moment, Evren was weightless. The rushing air cradled her like a warm embrace, but she was still falling.

The smoke suddenly cleared, and Evren saw the ground approaching fast. Too fast. She had seconds to live. The lift was only a few feet below her, still falling at a high speed. It would hit first. She couldn’t tear her eyes off the ground, the instrument of her death. It swarmed her vision and was all she could see.

Sharp pain shot up her arm as their descent suddenly jerked to a halt. Evren cried out, gripping her arm in an attempt to keep her body weight off it. Sorin held it tightly, teeth gritted. He seemed to be floating effortlessly, slowly drifting to the ground as she dangled. She barely had time to acknowledge the fact that the spell had missed her, and Sorin was the only reason she was still breathing.

He let out a shaky laugh. “Hey, I guess that makes us even, right?”

Evren couldn’t keep her breathing steady long enough to get out a word, so she just nodded at him, fear still riding her. Just beyond him, Evren saw Arke’s cloaked figure floating down, a large tome in his small, clawed hands. His face was still hidden. The three remaining dwarves were still screaming but nobody was falling.

Seconds later, a loud boom and crash filled the cavern as the lift hit the ground. Evren looked up, watching in horror as the steady stream of chains suddenly started snaking down in a wide arc.

“Watch out for the chains!” she cried.

Everyone’s heads immediately turned, and panic filled everybody’s expression once again. The dwarves desperately tried to swim through the air, but whatever magic Arke had cast on them didn’t seem to allow it. The four massive metal chains reached their end and then came whizzing towards them. Arke curled into a ball, one chain clipping his cloak but missing him. Another chain took out two dwarves, and they fell screaming. The last dwarf barely evaded the other.

Evren saw their chain coming. She thanked the banished gods that Sorin had pushed off, but she didn’t think it would be enough. She swung her legs violently backwards and then forwards. Arke’s spell had missed her. She could use that.

“What are you—?

“Lean with me, damn it!” she yelled at Sorin.

The human didn’t have to be told twice. Evren swung her legs back again, and with one last extended push, she swung forward with Sorin’s help. Just in time. She felt the chain whiz past her ear, the metal clinking almost musically as it plummeted and finally crashed to the ground.

At that, Sorin started laughing again. “That was brilliant.”

All Evren could do was nod and pray that her shaking didn’t cause Sorin to lose his grip on her. They’d made it, if only by the skin of their teeth. Her entire body practically buzzed with adrenaline.

“Right, hold on, we’re about to reach the bottom.” Sorin looked at her. “Ready?”

She nodded, preparing her legs for contact with solid ground. However, the moment her boots touched the rock, she completely crumpled, her knees weak and shaking. Sorin let go of her, settling on the ground beside her. The dwarf landed a few feet from them and immediately started crying. The only one who landed with any grace was Arke.

With his cloak billowing out around him dramatically, Arke let his toes reach the floor before delicately resting on the rest of his feet. Which, now that she could see them, Evren noticed were bare. Pale and clawed, as well. She followed the short, skinny legs clad in rags up to an almost potbellied torso, and then finally up to the face. What stared back at her was almost feral. Large, yellow eyes with feline-slitted pupils stared at her like two giant moons. The nose was small and crooked as if it had been broken. The mouth was wide with rows of jagged, sharp teeth peeking out from between his lips. Long, almost cartoonish ears stuck out from his head, drooping slightly at the pointed ends.

“You’re . . . you’re a goblin,” she breathed.

Arke, the goblin, bared his teeth at her in what could’ve been a grin—or perhaps a show of dominance.

“Sharp eyes, half-elf.” A grating voice like sharp nails against stone came from his mouth.

“Hey, now.” Sorin got up quickly to stand between them. “Arke is good. He just saved our lives, right? I vouch for him.”

Evren didn’t have the strength to argue. The dwarf stood a few feet from her. Dirt and tears stained his face, and his eyes were hard as he stared at Arke past Sorin’s legs.

“Goblins are raiders and thieves,” he spat. “Not wizards. No goblin is a good goblin. Not even a dead one.”

“This one is.” Sorin’s voice had a hard edge. “He saved your life. You’d do well to remember that. As well as the fact that goblins only raid in severe cases now. Many, especially those farther south in Terevas, are traders and hunters like the rest of us. All of our people have more violent pasts than we’d like to admit,” he reminded him. “Let’s keep in mind that this goblin chose to save your life when it would’ve been far easier to let you fall. Our blood doesn’t define us.”

The dwarf grunted and seemed to back off a little. “Maybe down here. For now, anyway.”

“Speaking of which . . . ” Evren cleared her throat to bring them back to the problem at hand. “How do we get back up? There’s got to be a second way out.” Then she turned to the dwarf, a little unsure. “Right?”

“On most levels, there is.” He seemed to age ten years in front of them. “But this is our prison level. There’s only one way in and out.”

“Fine dwarven engineering,” Arke sneered.

Sorin raised a hand at him to keep him from going any further, his gaze moving to the ceiling where they had come from. “So, what? We wait for rescue?”

“That’s all we can do,” the dwarf muttered darkly, sitting amidst the rubble. “But it’s unlikely they’ll come looking for us. We shouldn’t have survived that fall.”

“You’re welcome,” the goblin muttered, stalking over to another rock farther away.

“Well, we’re in no danger of losing air.” Evren started her survival checklist. “And I have enough rations on me to last a few days.”

“Only for you, though,” Sorin said. “Arke and I were low when we got here, and I don’t think our stout buddy had any on him.”

“I can split the rations,” she admitted hesitantly. “But they won’t last long between the four of us. A day or two at most. Water will be an issue.”

“Prisoners need water,” Arke muttered from his rock.

“Right.” Sorin pointed a finger in his direction. “Worst-case scenario, we break into the prison. Which . . . is a first, I’m sure.”

“A few days should be all we need.” Evren looked at the dwarf. “Right?”

He sighed, running his hands through his now-knotted mass of ginger hair. “Assuming the damage we heard wasn’t too severe, they should get down to us before then. Hopefully, anyway. I don’t like the idea of going into the prison for food and water.”

“So, it’s just a waiting game, right?” Evren turned to Sorin. “We just have to sit tight and wait for them to find us. Besides, we’re still within the city limits. We shouldn’t have to worry about anything else.”

Almost as soon as the words had left her lips, a high-pitched, unearthly screech pierced the air and broke the smoke-choked silence. The clouds of dust even seemed to shift as if whatever had made that noise had physical form. A shiver ran down Evren’s spine, and her hand instinctively went to her bow. Whatever it was wasn’t close, but she didn’t like the noise it made.

Beside her, Arke snapped his book shut and sighed. “You just had to say something, didn’t you?”