Chapter 26

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LILY was as relieved as she could be to find Ada alive. Alive, breathing—but unconscious. The girl hadn't woken up, and the blood soaked into her dress, visible even in the dark blue fabric, was only a reminder of what had occurred. Her skin was pale, and her eyes shut. She looked dead.

The healer had said that she was out of danger, and would wake up soon—but Lily could see how torn up the twins were about it. They'd been childhood friends, and for them to lose Ada, especially due to Brennon's blow . . .

Lily hoped Ada would wake up sooner, if not later. But she wouldn't die. Her attention was mostly on Arlo and Arianna. She couldn't see them anywhere, so she waited by Ada's bed for Iressa to return.

She did, finally, and Lily stood up, her eyes frantically flitting over Iressa's face, as if she could find out what had happened. The woman looked grim.

"What happened?" Lily breathed, the twins' attention turning to Iressa as well.

"They're fine," Iressa said, and Lily's relief was so overwhelming she swayed where she stood. "They were far away—after they planted their tree, they just kept walking, so they weren't around during the attack. They're both unharmed – they just learned about the attack, and Arlo's trying to figure out how it happened."

Lily breathed out, her shoulders caving in. How horrible would it have been for the two to come back, imagining their friends waiting for them, only to find out that the Gongjensu had attacked, leaving dead and wounded?

"I can't believe Brennon—" Vena's voice broke, and Venix put an arm around her shoulder. Lily glanced at Iressa. The other woman was stone-faced, her eyes harsh and dark.

"I can't believe it," Venix said, his head dropping onto Vena's. "He's been betraying us this whole time."

"Where did they take him?" Vena asked.

Iressa's voice was brittle as she answered, "They're keeping him for questioning."

"Iressa—" Lily breathed, reaching a hand out—but Iressa shook her head.

"I don't want to talk about it."

Lily pursed her lips and looked down, nodding. She wouldn't pry. She had no idea what Iressa must've been going through, and she would wait till Iressa was ready to talk. If she ever wanted to.

"Is Ada going to be okay?" Iressa said, her eyes turning to the girl. The twins didn't respond.

"Yes, " Lily said firmly. Iressa gave her a quick nod.

"We should go clean up," Iressa said, her eyes lingering on the blood stains on all their clothes.

"I'm not leaving Ada," Vena said, her voice choked up.

"We can take turns. That way we won't miss it if Ada waked up," Vena said, his tone gentle. It was the first time Lily had heard him speak since the attack.

Her stomach turning, she realized that the blood on his shirt wasn't only his—it was Ada's.

"I'll stay, you guys can come back later," Iressa offered, sitting down on the chair beside Ada's bed. Lily nodded, and took Vena gently by the elbow, leading her out, Venix following behind them.

They separated silently, and Lily walked to her own house – she'd kept the key in one of the flowerpots in front of the door, knowing that now, since Arianna wouldn't be there, there would be no one to help if she forgot it.

She walked in, the silence coating the walls. The noise in her head made up for it, but it felt lonely. She'd known it would—she was prepared for it. But it was her first time in an empty house.

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