‘In that case, I hope they will not mind Hector and I tagging along,’ said Garovel.
“I’m sure they won’t,” said Xuan. “I’ll take you to them after this. They won’t be leaving without me, so just stay close.”
‘Appreciated, thank you.’
Asad had questions for Rayen and Octavia. “You are sending all of the Sebolts and Delagunas? That is nearly a third of your forces, no?”
“It is,” said Rayen. “They will need no less than that in order to breach Marshrock.”
“Even then, we may have trouble,” said Xuan. He eyed Asad another time. “Your assistance would be most welcome.”
Asad pursed his lips. “I came here in order to help free Zeff.”
‘Be that as it may, I think you should accompany Xuan,’ said Axiolis. ‘I know Zeff would tell you to prioritize his children over himself. And besides, this way, the Vanguard won’t become aware of Hahl Najir’s involvement. You’d be assisting us without doing anything that might cause reprisal against you and your family.’
‘Axiolis is right,’ said Qorvass.
“What about the fight here in Rheinhal?” said Asad. “If you send so many of your fighters to Marshrock, will you still be able to take the Keep?”
“Breaching Rhein’s Keep may not even be necessary,” said Octavia. “Thus far, we have only been testing their defenses, and while they have proven quite solid, it won’t make much difference as long as we continue to hold the city.”
“Our opponent has a time limit,” said Rayen. “Sanko is coming. When she arrives, she will settle the matter for us. All we need do is prevent the enemy from escaping.”
‘You make it sound so easy,’ said Qorvass.
“Simple, perhaps,” said Rayen. “Not easy. Our forces are going to be spread thin. But if Asad wants to put his skills to the best use, he should go to Marshrock.”
After a beat, Asad gave a reluctant nod. “Very well.”
Garovel posed another question now. ‘What more can you tell us about the children’s captors?’
“Xuan can fill you in on such details,” said Rayen. “However, do be aware that Melchor Blackburn is not a man to be trifled with. Do not attempt to fight him unless you have him absurdly outnumbered or Xuan is with you.”
Xuan laughed. “Stop, you’ll make me blush. I’m nothing special.” Then he wiped his mirth away and turned to Garovel. “She’s right, though. Don’t try to fight him without me unless you want your servant to be turned into a fleshy pudding.”