He didn’t know what was happening. Why Aria wasn’t in his arms. Why there was no greeting or smile on Roar’s face. Then Aria’s temper hit him, and it was so heavy and dark that he felt himself sway, overcome by it.
“Perry …” She looked at Roar, her eyes blurring.
“What is it?” Perry asked, but he already knew. He couldn’t believe it. Everything Kirra had said—everything he’d tried not to believe about Roar and Aria—was true.
He looked at Roar. “What did you do?”
Roar wouldn’t meet his eyes, and his face was white.
Rage ignited inside of him. He lunged and shoved Roar, swinging, curses pouring out of him.
Aria shot forward. “Perry, stop!”
Roar was too quick. He gave ground, and trapped Perry by the arms. “It’s Liv,” he said. “Perry … it’s Liv. ”
Finally Roar spoke, and Aria’s heart broke at his words.
“I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t stop Sable. I’m sorry, Perry. It happened so fast. She’s gone. I lost her, Perry. She’s gone. ”
“What are you talking about?” Perry said, shoving Roar away. He looked at Aria, confusion flashing in his green eyes. “Why is he saying that?”
Aria didn’t want to answer. She didn’t want to make it real for him, but she had to. “It’s the truth,” she said. “I’m sorry. ”
Perry blinked at her. “You mean … my sister?” The tone in his voice—vulnerable, tender—destroyed her. “What happened?”
As quickly as she could, she explained Hess and Sable’s deal to reach the Still Blue together, and about Talon as well. She hated to do it, but he needed to know Talon’s life was in danger. Liv, she saved for last. She felt light-headed as she spoke, breathless and detached, like when she’d been invisible in the Realms.
She hadn’t spoken for long, but when she finished, the woods felt darker, fading into the night. Perry looked from her to Roar, tears brimming in his eyes. She watched him battle with himself, struggling for focus. Struggling to keep himself together. “Talon is trapped in Reverie?” he said finally.
“Talon and thousands of people,” she answered. “They’ll run out of oxygen if we don’t get them out. We’re their only chance. ”
He was moving to his horse before she’d finished speaking. “Go after Cinder,” Perry told Twig.
Aria had forgotten Twig was there. “What happened to Cinder?”
Perry swung into his saddle. “The Horns took him. ” He rode up and held his hand down to her. “Let’s go!”
Aria glanced at Roar. Whatever she’d expected of today, leaving him hadn’t been part of it.
“I’ll go with Twig,” he said to her. The tension between him and Perry was still there.
Quickly she hugged Roar. Then she took Perry’s hand. He pulled her up behind him, and the horse began to move before she’d settled her weight.
Aria reached out instinctively, wrapping her arms around him as the horse galloped into the woods. Liv was forgotten for now. Roar and Cinder, too. Everything except Talon.
She could feel the ridges of Perry’s ribs through his shirt. The shift of his muscles. He was real and close, just as she’d wanted him to be for weeks—for months. But nothing had changed. He still felt far away.
Perry pushed the horse toward Reverie beneath a night sky writhing with Aether. Snatches of the horizon showed through the trees, pulsing with the light of funnels. They were heading south, right into the heart of a storm, but he had no choice. Talon was trapped.
Images of his sister flashed before his eyes. Senseless things. Liv pinning him down, when they were young, to run a brush through his hair. Liv wrapped in Roar’s arms at the beach, laughing. Liv arguing with Vale over the arrangement with Sable, almost going to blows. He couldn’t accept that he’d never see her again.