Chapter 25

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LILY nearly gasped, but remembered to stay silent and listen, her hand drifting to the daggers at her waist, hidden under her dress.

She knew how Dezhayan men looked, Hosun having described them to her before —skin varying from walnut brown to the color of the night sky. It was the biggest tell. Then there was the jet-black hair, not unlike Lily's, and the almost-black eyes.

The tall Dezhayan man was dressed in armor, two large swords crossed at his back. Was Brennon in trouble? No, he didn't seem to be. She couldn't see his face, but he was standing tall, now wearing armor as well.

"None of them suspect anything. The Head and his wife have gone to plant their tree, but the majority of the soldiers are still in the grove of redwood trees."

The Dezhayan man tipped his head to the side, "Plant their tree? Never mind, is it safe to charge?" His accent was lilting, exotic. Strange.

Brennon gave a sharp nod, "Yes."

The Dezhayan nodded as well, "Then, as soon as my soldiers assemble, we attack."

He turned around—Lily knew she should have gone to alert the others, but she had to see what was happening when he bent, his face staring into a hole beneath a large root—a tunnel.

Her eyes widened and she backed up. There were tunnels under Arrian. Of course, the soldiers could be hiding there. They were probably there, ready to attack—

She turned, being as quiet as the leaves on a still day, walking back until she was sure she was out of earshot—then she sprinted for the wedding party, not caring about the branches smacking her face or the mud staining her gown.

She burst out into the grove, her appearance attracting attention almost immediately. Vena hurried up to her, "What's wrong? You look like—"

Lily didn't know what she looked like as she finally caught her breath, holding up her hand, "We're under attack!"

Vena stilled. The words had burst out loud, much louder than she'd expected, and the crowd immediately quieted.

"What did you say, girl?" Colonel Ulima, Bruto at her heels, ran up to her. The Colonel's eyes searched her face, darting over it as if to check for a lie. "Hurry up!"

"There are rebels coming to attack us!" Lily said, looking the Colonel dead in the eye.

"How—" Vena started, but the Colonel cut her off.

"Everyone!" The Colonel's voice bellowed through the field, in a way that no one would be able to ignore, "We are under attack! Soldiers, stay here! Non-soldiers, run back to your houses and send all your fighters here! Barricade your doors—we will send protection soon!"

Lily watched as a few of the people ran away, but most of them stayed, silver now gleaming in their hands. The Colonel and Bruto strode away, and Lily turned to Vena.

"We're in dresses—" Vena fretted, but Lily stared at her. Hard.

"Doesn't matter. You're a soldier. So am I. You have your sword?"

Vena nodded.

"Then take it out and be ready!" Lily did the same, reaching under her dress—this was no time for propriety—and taking out her twin daggers.

Venix, Ada and Iressa rushed up to them, weapons held tight in each of their hands. "How did you know, Lily?" Venix asked, his mouth pressed tight.

"I saw them—there was a Dezhayan man leading the rebels and with him was . . . " Lily's voice faltered. Brennon. Up till now, she hadn't processed the fact that Brennon, one of her closest friends in Arrian, was a traitor. A traitor.

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