The Rogue Knight Page 102

“Jace!” Mira scolded.

“What?” Jace complained. “My feet hurt.”

“It’s okay,” Cole said. “He’s just mad his rope is dead again.”

“Don’t remind me.” Jace groaned. “You saw how fast we won once I had my rope.”

“There were a few other factors,” Mira said.

“Not too many,” Cole said. “Jace was awesome.”

“At least somebody gets me,” Jace said, taking a large bite of his biscuit.

Dalton came over. “Honor wants to talk to everyone.”

“I just sat down to eat,” Jace griped.

“You snooze, you lose,” Dalton said, popping his last bite of sausage into his mouth.

“You can eat while we talk,” Mira pointed out.

Everyone gathered at the center of the camp in a loose circle. Honor and Sigmund stood in the middle.

“We have a plan,” Honor said. “It’s time to take our rebellion seriously. We’ve stalled for too long, mustering support, waiting for the right moment. The shapecrafters are unleashing too much mayhem. They, and my father, must fall before they destroy the five kingdoms. I don’t know how many Morgassas we can survive. It’s time for the Unseen to arise. And we must find my other sisters.”

“Where are they?” Brady asked.

“Based on their abilities,” Honor said, “we can assume Constance is in Zeropolis, Destiny is in Necronum, and Elegance is in Creon. As the oldest, Elegance is the most able to care for herself, and since Creon is the farthest kingdom from here, I suggest Mira, Joe, and her friends go to Zeropolis and find Constance. Desmond and Oster have volunteered to accompany me to Necronum in search of Destiny. Whoever succeeds first can move on to Creon.”

“Brady will stay with me and my men,” Sigmund said.

“But I’m almost taller than you!” Brady complained.

“You’re not taller than my men,” Sigmund told him. “Raul will remain with us to offer protection and training. We’ll get the rebellion heated up here, then branch out to other kingdoms. Without our changings, we’re free to cross borders.”

“What about me?” Skye spoke up.

“We deliberately left your path open,” Honor said. “You’re now the Grand Shaper of Elloweer. You’re free to follow Callista’s advice and visit Trillian or to do whatever else you deem prudent.”

“I never aspired to be Grand Shaper,” Skye said with little emotion. Though she seemed to have physically recovered, Skye had acted subdued ever since the fight with Morgassa. “I’m not equal to the office. I’m good with seemings, but I’m little better than an amateur when it comes to changings. I’ll have to visit Trillian if I hope to succeed in my new role.”

“You don’t have to go to him,” Mira said.

Skye shrugged. “Only if I believe in the revolution. And I do. The contest with Morgassa revealed my limits. A strong Grand Shaper could lend much support to the Unseen here in Elloweer. Though it makes me feel like a frightened child, I’ll go to Trillian and learn what I can.”

“Very well,” Honor said. “Are there any objections to the plan we have presented?”

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“No objection,” Cole said. “But Dalton and I will also be looking for our friends. Especially Jenna. Otherwise, we’ll help Mira, like always.”

“Understood,” Honor said. “We’ll do our part to help you succeed.”

“Can’t I go home?” Brady asked.

“Not yet,” Honor said. “Maybe not ever. At least not to stay. Once you’ve been to the Outskirts, Brady, you tend to get drawn back in. We’d send you home if we could, I promise. Your best hope is the Grand Shaper of Creon, who is in hiding at the far side of the five kingdoms. For now, you’ll have to accept Sigmund’s protection and remain in Elloweer. You will not be forgotten. I’ll do all I can to get you home.”

“I’m looking for a way home too,” Cole said. “I won’t forget you if I find a way.”

“Okay,” Brady sighed.

“Anything else?” Honor asked generally.

Nobody spoke.

“Then I suggest we stay the night here,” Honor said. “We can split up and travel in the morning.”

As the group dispersed, Cole and Dalton followed Joe. “Tell me about Zeropolis,” Cole said.

Joe smiled and shook his head. “None of the kingdoms are like Zeropolis.”

“Are you excited to go home?” Dalton inquired.

Joe paused. “Zeropolis is the kingdom I came from, but it isn’t my home. I’m from Outside, just like you two. Before all this, I lived in Monterey, California.”

“Really?” Cole exclaimed. “Why didn’t you say that before?”

Joe shrugged. “Never came up. I’m not big on talking about myself. But it looks like our fates are tied together. Can’t say I mind. You kids are pretty remarkable.”

“Have you tried to get home?” Dalton asked.

“Sure did,” Joe said. “With a vengeance. I made it back. Didn’t stick, though. It’s like they say—people forget you, and you get sucked back here. Brutal combo.”

“Do you think we can find a way to get home and stay there?” Cole asked.

“Believe me, I’m just as interested in that as you are,” Joe said. “I’ve never spoken with the Grand Shaper of Creon. It would be worth a shot.”

“But first we go to Zeropolis,” Dalton said.

“That’s the plan,” Joe acknowledged.

“How is Zeropolis different from the other kingdoms?” Cole asked.

“In Zeropolis, shaping is used largely as fuel,” Joe said. “It also gets used to produce building materials. In some ways, they’ve surpassed the technology we had on Earth. Zeropolis makes the rest of the Outskirts look primitive. You’ll see.”

“You don’t sound excited to go back there,” Dalton observed.

“It’s the least friendly kingdom toward the rebellion,” Joe said. “The Grand Shaper of Zeropolis sided with the High Shaper. He’s his right-hand man. Plus, I have . . . personal issues. I volunteered for a mission that took me away from Zeropolis for a reason.”

“Why?” Cole asked.

For a moment, Joe looked very weary. “It’s a long story. I’ll fill you in sometime. On the bright side, Zeropolis has many conveniences you won’t find elsewhere in the Outskirts, and I know my way around there. We’ll talk more later.”

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