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Relegating her new worry about Cassandra’s safety to her trust in King Arnie, Queen Lilian faced her duty to interview the Alliance leaders she had requested to visit her. Too many lives depended on their secret plans for her to trust Fen’s fate to leaders she didn’t know.
“Commander Torlex of The Arids’ Rebel Army, Sirehta of the Viper Brotherhood, I invited you here to share your plans so that we may coordinate our strategies.”
Chuckling deep in his throat, rain dripping from his protruding chin, and his eyes thoroughly bloodshot from lack of sleep, Commander Torlex turned to Sirehta. “It was your brilliant idea, I think you deserve the honor of sharing it with the Queen.”
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“I remember the process you’re talking about, Arnie.” With her eyes closed, Queen Lilian gazed at the pointed end of a memory that still cut into her heart. “We haven’t used it since Mother died.” She opened her eyes and willed her face to smile.
King Arnie asked, “Could we use it for Randall?”
“Of course. We’ll prepare a work area tonight, and they can bring his body in the morning.”
“Thank you, Lilian.” The King looked at his feet. “I tried to keep him safe, and I failed.”
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Sini followed Viola to the salty playa where the Nocturnals of the newly formed Arids’ branch of the Alliance Army stood ready to deploy south to join the Freelands’ forces.
“—and my brothers will continue to coordinate the Alliance’s covert missions while the forces of Bog engage the enemy from the west,” Cahret said. Nodding toward the dignified iguana on his left, he indicated the next speaker. “Commander Torlex of The Arids.”
The Commander raised his chin, accentuating his underbite. “We who live in The Arids are tough. Our lives are hard, but we don’t abandon our homeland looking for something easier. Our ancestors handed us a history filled with scarcity and endurance, strength and survival.” He scanned the faces in front of him.