Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)(4)

None came.

Perry cursed. Roar would have heard and whistled back.

He swept his bow off his shoulder and nocked an arrow, his gaze never leaving the bend in the path. Gren drew his bow as well, and they fell silent, bracing for anything.

“Now,” Gren said murmured.

Perry heard the horses, thundering closer. He drew his bowstring back, aiming at the trail, as Roar tore around a stand of birches.

Perry lowered his bow, trying to sort out what was happening.

Roar approached at a gallop, his black mount kicking up clods of dirt. His expression was focused—cold—and it didn’t change when he spotted Perry.

Twig, one of the Six like Gren, rounded the bend behind him. Like Roar, he rode alone. Perry’s hope of getting Cinder back crashed.

Roar rode hard until the last moment, and then checked his mount sharply.

For a long moment, Perry stared at him, unable to speak. He hadn’t expected to look at Roar and think Liv, though he should have. She had belonged to Roar, too. The loss landed like a blow to Perry’s stomach, as hard as it had days ago when he’d first learned.

“Good you’re back safe, Roar,” he said finally. His voice sounded strained, but he got the words out at least.

Roar’s horse stamped in agitation, tossing its head, but Roar’s gaze held steady.

Perry knew that hostile look. It had just never been directed his way.

“Where have you been?” Roar asked.

Everything about that question was wrong. The accusing tone in Roar’s voice. His implication that Perry had failed in some way.

Where had he been? Looking after four hundred people who were withering away in a cave.

Perry ignored the question, asking his own. “Did you find Hess and Sable? Was Cinder with them?”

“I found them,” Roar said coldly. “And, yes. They have Cinder. What are you going to do about it?”

Then he put his heels to his horse and rode away.

They returned to the cave without a word. The awkwardness clung to them, as dense as the smoke hanging over the woods. Even Gren and Twig—best of friends—said little to each other, their usual banter banished by the tense mood.

The hour of silence left Perry plenty of time to remember the last time he’d seen Roar: a week ago, in the eye of the worst Aether storm he’d ever been in. Roar and Aria had just come back to Tide territory after spending a month away. Seeing them together after weeks of missing Aria, Perry had lost his mind and attacked Roar. He’d swung his fists, assuming the worst of a friend who had never once doubted him.

Surely that contributed to Roar’s dark temper, but the real cause was obvious.


Perry tensed at his sister’s memory, and his horse shied beneath him. “Whoa. Easy, girl,” he said, settling the mare. He shook his head, streaked at himself for letting his thoughts slip.

He couldn’t let himself think about Liv. Grief would make him weak—something he couldn’t afford with hundreds of lives in his hands. It would be harder to stay focused with Roar back, but he’d do it. He had no choice.

Now, as he took the switchback trail down to the protected cove below, he caught sight of Roar up ahead and told himself not to worry. Roar was his brother in every way except by blood. They’d find a way past a fight. Past what had happened with Liv.

Perry dismounted on the small beach, staying behind as the others disappeared into the dark crevasse that led into the belly of the mountain. The cave was his personal torture, and he wasn’t ready to return to it yet. When he was in there, it took every bit of his concentration to quell the panic that tightened his lungs and stole his breath away.

“You’re claustrophobic,” Marron had told him yesterday. “It’s an irrational fear of being trapped in close spaces.”

But he was also Blood Lord. He didn’t have time for fear, irrational or otherwise.

He drew a breath, savoring the outside air for a few moments longer. Afternoon ocean breezes had blown away the smoky haze, and for the first time that day, he could see the Aether.

The blue currents rolled across the sky, a tempest of luminescent, twisting waves. They were fiercer than ever—more violent than even yesterday—but something else caught his eye. He saw tinges of red where the Aether churned most intensely, like hot spots. Like the red of sunrise, bleeding through the crest of a wave.

“Do you see that?” Perry said to Hyde, who jogged out to meet him.

One of the best Seers in the Tides, Hyde followed Perry’s gaze, his hawk’s eyes narrowing. “I see it, Per. What do you think it means?”

“Not sure,” Perry said, “but I doubt it’s good.”

“I wish I could see the Still Blue, you know?” Hyde’s gaze had moved to the horizon, across endless miles of ocean. “It’d be easier to take all of this if I knew it was there, waiting for us.”

Perry hated the defeat that gathered in Hyde’s temper, a flat, stale scent like dust. “You’ll see it soon,” he said. “You’ll be the second to see it.”

Hyde took the bait. He grinned. “My eyes are stronger than yours.”

“I meant Brooke, not me.”

Hyde shoved him in the shoulder. “That’s not right. I have twice her range.”

“You’re a blind man compared to her.”

Veronica Rossi's Books