Gren shook his head. “Sorry, Per. I didn’t know. ”
Perry cleared his throat. “It’s all right. She’s not anymore. ”
“Enough, both of you,” Reef said, glaring at Strag and Gren. “Where do you want us to start, Perry?”
More people filed out of the cookhouse. Gray and Wylan. Rowan, Molly, and Bear. As they looked around the compound and up to the sky, Perry saw the worried looks on their faces. Were they safe now, or would they see another storm soon? Was this the beginning of Aether year-round? He knew the questions were on all their minds.
Perry got them moving through the compound first, assessing damage to roofs, checking the livestock in the stables, and then working out to the fields. He sent Willow and Flea in search of Cinder, regretting last night. He’d been out of his mind, and he needed to find Cinder to apologize. Then he headed northwest with Roar. An hour later they stood before a smoldering field.
“This won’t help,” Roar said.
“It’s hunting land only. Not the best we had. ”
“That’s sunny of you, Per. ”
Perry nodded. “Thanks. I’m trying. ”
Roar’s gaze moved to the edge of the field. “Look, here comes cheerfulness himself. ”
Perry spotted Reef and smiled. Only Roar could entertain him at a time like this.
Reef gave him a repor
t of the rest of the damage. They’d lost forestland to the south, adjacent to areas leveled by fires they’d had over the winter. “It just looks like a bigger stretch of ashes now,” Reef said. Every last one of the Tides’ beehives had been destroyed, and the water from both of the wells at the compound had been tainted and now tasted like ash.
With Reef’s report finished, Perry couldn’t avoid what had happened at the jetty any longer. Roar was spinning his knife in his hand, a trick he did when he grew bored. Perry knew he could say anything in front of him, but he still had to force his next words out.
“You saved my life, Reef. I owe you—”
“You don’t owe me anything,” Reef interrupted. “An oath is an oath. Something you could stand to learn. ”
Roar slid the knife back into the sheath at his belt. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Reef ignored him. “You swore to protect the Tides. ”
Perry shook his head. Wasn’t Old Will part of the tribe? “That’s what I did. ”
“No. What you did is almost got yourself killed. ”
“Should I have let him drown?”
“Yes,” Reef said sharply. “Or let me go in after him. ”
“But you didn’t. ”
“Because it was suicidal! Try and understand something, Peregrine. Your life is worth more than an old man’s. More than mine, too. You can’t just go diving in like you did. ”
Roar laughed. “You don’t know him at all, do you?”
Reef spun, pointing a finger at him. “You should be trying to talk some sense into him. ”
“I’m waiting to see if you’ll ever shut up,” Roar said.
Perry shot between them, pushing Reef back. “Go. ” The fury in Reef’s temper shimmered red at the edge of his vision. “Take a walk. Cool off. ”
Perry watched him stride away. Beside him, Roar cursed under his breath.
If this was happening between the two people most loyal to him, what was going on with the rest of the Tides?