Marron’s blue eyes widened. “Peregrine?”
Nearby, Reef stared at the sea, arms crossed, unmoving.
“I can’t take this with me. ” Perry didn’t need to say why. With storms striking so often and the borderlands teeming with dispersed, leaving would be more dangerous than ever. “The Tides trust you,” he continued. “Besides, you like jewels better than I do. ”
“I’ll keep it,” Marron said. “But it’s yours. You’ll wear it again. ”
Perry tried to smile, but his mouth twitched. He wanted to wear the chain more than ever, he realized. He wasn’t the Blood Lord that Vale or his father had been, but he was still worthy. He was the right leader for the Tides now. And he knew he could carry the weight—his own way.
He handed the chain to Marron and headed up the beach with Reef. Twig waited at the trail with two horses. The only ones Kirra had left behind.
“Let me go,” Reef said.
Perry shook his head. “I have to do this, Reef. When someone needs me, I dive. ”
After a moment, Reef nodded. “I know,” he said. “I know that now. ” He ran a hand over his face. “You’ve got a week before I come after you. ”
Perry remembered the day he’d gone after Aria. Reef had given him an hour that lasted ten minutes. He smiled. “Knowing you, that means a day,” he said, clasping Reef’s hand. He pulled his satchel over his shoulder, and picked up his quiver and bow. Then he mounted up and set off with Twig.
Perry’s throat tightened as they rode away. Weeks ago, he’d planned to leave his tribe behind, but now it was much harder than he’d expected. Harder than it had ever felt before.
His thoughts turned to Kirra as the afternoon wore on. She’d been after Cinder all along. Her questions about the Croven and his scarred hand hadn’t been about him. She’d been probing him for information, waiting for the right time—the right way—to snatch Cinder. She’d deceived Perry, just like Vale had.
Sable was behind this. Perry didn’t want to think about what use he had in mind for Cinder. He should’ve trusted his instincts. He should’ve sent Kirra away the day she’d shown up.
Kirra’s tracks moved north on a well-worn trader’s route. They’d been riding a few hours when Perry glimpsed movement in the distance. Adrenaline sparked through him. He spurred his horse, shooting forward, hoping to cut off Lark and Forest.
His stomach seized when he saw that it wasn’t either of Kirra’s men.
Twig pulled his horse alongside. “What do you see?”
Waves of numbness rolled through Perry. He couldn’t believe his eyes. “It’s Roar,” he said. “And Aria. ”
Twig cursed. “Are you serious?”
Perry’s impulse was to call out to them. They were both Auds. If he raised his voice, they’d hear him. It was what he would have done once. Roar was his best friend. And Aria was …
What was she to him? What were they to each other?
“What do you want to do?” Twig asked.
Perry wanted to run to her, because she’d come back. And he wanted to hurt her, because she’d left.
“Perry?” Twig said, jarring him back.
He urged his horse on. They rode closer, and the moment came when Aria heard the horses. Her head turned in his direction, but her eyes remained unfocused, unseeing in the dark. He watched her lips form words he couldn’t hear and then heard Twig’s answer beside him.
“It’s me, Twig. ” He paused, sending Perry a worried glance. “Perry’s with me too. ”
Messages passed between Auds. Heard only by Aud ears.
Perry watched as Aria looked at Roar, her face tensing in a look of plain regret. No. It was more than regret. It was dread. After a month of being apart, she dreaded seeing him.
She reached out and took Roar’s hand, and he knew they were passing a message between them. Perry couldn’t believe his eyes. They didn’t think he could see them, but he did. He saw everything.
He was in fog as they reached each other. He dismounted and felt like he was floating. Like he was seeing
everything from a distance.