Darsihm melted out of Harper’s back, a formless mass at first, then slowly becoming an ethereal crow again.
“You conscious?” said Roman. A beat passed. “You alive?”
“Hmm. I suppose if you were dead, there wouldn’t be anything left of you.” He picked the reaper up with a soul-empowered hand and then hoisted Harper over his shoulder.
That only left Hector. And with all the rubble around, the kid could be just about anywhere.
‘Hey, is Hector even alive?’ he asked.
There was a pause, and then Voreese said, ‘Garovel can’t recreate him from scratch, so he must be there somewhere.’
‘Dammit, why’s that kid gotta be so resilient? I don’t wanna search through all this shit.’
‘What about Harper?’
‘Yeah. Already found him. Pretty sure he’s just unconscious. Darsihm, too.’ He flipped over a bisected tree trunk. ‘Aha, hey. Think I see Hector.’ He moved closer and pulled a pair of legs out of the ground. ‘Aw, shit. It’s just his legs. Hmm. Guess he’ll be wanting these pants, though.’
‘Y’know, you could try calling out to him.’
‘Good idea.’ Pants and belt draped over one arm, he started shouting. “Hector! Where are you, pal?! If your lungs still work, then say something!”
Rather than a voice, a sudden spire shot up on the other side of the rock formation. When Roman made his way over, he found Hector’s upper body in the midst of regeneration. Crumbled chunks of his helm remained around his head, and he had one-and-a-half of his arms, but his chest had yet to fully reform. Roman could see Hector blinking at him.
“Well, now,” said Roman. “This brings back memories. You managed to stay conscious this time, though.”
It took a while to reach the nearest rallying point. Karkash didn’t even know where it was. Because he didn’t need to. Hoyohté had all the fallback locations and contingency plans memorized. This one was a long-abandoned gas station, and it stood some fifty kilometers north of the Carthrace Nature Reserve.
Karkash was the first to arrive, of course. He took a seat on the roof, which groaned under his weight but held together.