“It took three days,” said a familiar voice behind me. “We spent three days breaking the fortress-cities, and took no rest. Of the battle you missed by far the most exciting part.”
I slowed to let Julius walk up alongside. He carried a long, slim rod made of silver Profusionist metal I thought I recognized from Temple teaching. “I owe you my recovery,” I said, “and probably my life.”
He shook his head. “It was poor work done quickly. I was only a doctor once. Without them, you’d be dying of infection.”
I knew he meant the White Swarm. “What happened in the Well, I...”
He sighed. “The result of a disagreement they should have settled elsewhere. Without your involvement. Marcus and Jerem Cozak –”
I raised my hand to stop him. “I was going to say I understood. I hindered what needed to be accomplished. I knew I was not ready, but I let Jerem Cozak advance me because I wanted to be as important as everyone has always said. But I’m not. I’m just a person. I needed to defy him. I needed...”
Now he put his arm to my shoulder, and we both stopped walking. Never-born and those whom I supposed had once been Augers of the cities of the Profuse Hand filed past on either side.
“You are no swordsman,” he said, handing me the rod. “Marcus was correct. But what is the point of being omnifex if you cannot try something different?”
I took the silver rod in hand. Long as my arms could spread, it was no thicker than two of my fingers side by side. Much lighter than a quicksword, it still had sufficient heft that I would, I knew, be able to hold it steady.
“Do you know what this is?” Julius asked.