He crept up to one of the windows and glanced through it. On the other side was some sort of indoor path or road. It may have been a hallway once upon a time, but now the moonlight was illuminating the pathway; the ceiling had caved in all the way around. Bellamy realized that the outer wall was just that: a protective wall, unconnected to the rest of the structure. Maybe if they could find some way to get beyond this wall, they could get their people back.

Felix sprinted ahead, pointing to the flash of light along the horizon to the right. Bellamy peered toward him and spotted it too: a wide river running alongside the building, a smaller lagoon spilling from it practically all the way to the walls themselves. The only thing between the rippling water and the building was a large, terraced, rectangular green field, somewhat less unkempt than the other surrounding spaces, along with a riverside “beach” so rocky that Bellamy suspected it was probably once used as a road.

He wanted to keep going, get a closer look, but the way there was jagged with dunes of debris; it would be hard to pick their way out if they ran into trouble. Felix was already racing away, though, no doubt thinking about Eric, held prisoner somewhere nearby. His back was turned and he was too far to hear a whistle of warning, so Bellamy followed, darting from dune to dune.

Then he spotted movement in the field ahead of them. He froze, watching as five figures emerged from the fortress, none of them a soldier with a shaved head. They were all women, most draped in rippling gray fabric. The one in the front was an older woman in white with long dark hair, her hands raised toward the hazy outline of the moon.

Shivers ran down Bellamy’s spine at the sight of them. There was something overly deliberate about the way they were walking, like the raiders during the attack, timing each step down to the precise measurement. And they were humming, making low, guttural noises, like bees emerging from a hive. Bellamy didn’t know what was going on here, but he didn’t like it.

The woman in front crouched down to touch the grass and the others followed suit, pressing their fingers to their mouths when they finished, then up to the sky.

“Great Earth,” the woman called out. “We have carried out Your wishes and will do so for the rest of our days. Now we humbly entreat You for a sign. Is this our home? Is this where we shall remain? Our stone, our hearth, our keep?”

Behind him, Bellamy could hear the wind traveling through the forest in a nearly imperceptible whisper. The woman on the lawn cocked her head. She heard it too.

“If you wish us to remain, Great Earth, send Your wind to embrace us,” she called out. Bellamy barely had time to blink before the wind reached him, whipping his hair into a mop, continuing on to rustle the skirts of the ladies on the lawn, all of whom looked amazed and exultant.

Except the dark-haired one, of course.


What a bullshit artist, Bellamy thought. If there hadn’t been any wind, she would have ordered the air to keep still.

“We have our answer, friends,” she said, a little lower, then turned, arms raised, to herd them back inside. But just before she’d turned completely around, she stopped, still as a statue.

Bellamy held his breath. Her eyes scanned over the rubble-strewn valley, straight past him and away.

“Let’s rest,” she said pleasantly, her shoulders relaxing, then disappeared back into the wall with the others.

After a careful moment, Felix crossed over the debris to huddle beside Bellamy. “What the hell was that?” he whispered.

“Someone to look out for,” Bellamy whispered back. “I think we’ve pressed our luck enough for one day.”

“Yeah,” Felix said, already starting away. “Agreed. Let’s head b—”

The ground roared as the rocks gave way beneath Felix’s feet, swallowing him up in one clattering gulp. Jaw agape, Bellamy scrambled on his hands and knees, peering into the spot his friend had vanished into.

Then he let out a breath, panic giving way to relief.

Felix was crumpled, confused but uninjured, on the floor of what looked like a cellar. He peered up at Bellamy sheepishly. “Looks like I found a way in?”

Without a moment of hesitation, Bellamy slid his legs into the opening and dropped silently down beside Felix. He looked around, seeing a dim light in the distance. This had been a tunnel once, then.

He pulled the little makeshift dagger he’d carved from rock out of his pocket and positioned it in his hand, in case of trouble. Then he nodded forward, toward the light. “Let’s go.”

Felix followed in a fast crouch, their footsteps echoing lightly in the cavernous space despite their best attempts to keep quiet. This was reckless, this was foolish… and this was by far the best shot they’d gotten yet.

Bellamy’s step slowed. Something was blocking the way ahead—a cart, maybe, loaded with something he couldn’t identify. He listened for the sound of raiders, but made out nothing. With a nod to Felix, he continued, reaching his hands out for the edge of the wagon so he could push it clear enough to give them space to edge past.

Then his hand grazed the top of the wood, coming away with one of the objects inside. It was round, ridged, with a little metal pin on top. Bellamy’s breath turned to ice in his throat. He put it back, carefully, and let his fingers travel lightly along the rest. Then he backed up a step, wonderstruck.

“Holy. Shit.” He let out a silent laugh. “This cart is full of weapons. There are guns, bombs… just what we need.”

Felix shook his head, peering past Bellamy to check for himself. “You have got to be kidding me.”

Bellamy smiled. “If this is a joke, it’s on them. They’re probably guarding the inner door to this hallway. They think it’s a dead end. And it will be, soon enough.”

“What’s your plan?” Felix asked eagerly.

Bellamy lifted one of the grenades up so that he could see it in the light. “We’re going to stick these in every little window we can find. We’re going to blow down these goddamned walls, walk right into the middle of the fortress, and take back everything and everyone that was stolen from us.”

A smile spread across Felix’s face. “You want to raid them, you mean.”

“They did it to us,” Bellamy said, carefully pocketing the grenade as he turned to go, a new fire igniting his step. “It’s time we returned the favor.”




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