He wonders how much time he had left. Even though Cedar knew—without a word between them, he knows she understood. She's a healer, after all. But more than that, she's his wife, the mother of his children.

He can't tell them yet—he doesn't want them to worry. It's painful enough for them now, watching the flames leap from Brother Fir's boat as it drifts into the mist. Juniper and Urchin, both limping back towards the tower, shoulders heavy with new responsibilities and worries. Sepia's song still fills the air, a melody as wistful and strange as the mist itself.

Crispin waits until the others have gone, all except Cedar. She turns to him and offers a hand without saying a world. Not until they shut the doors of their room behind them does either speak. When Cedar does, she says only one word. "Crispin."

He shakes his head. "Don't treat me like I'm dying. I'm not ready for it."

"I saw your wound," Cedar's voice is low, calm even, the practiced calm of a healer who has to sooth the dying. "Crispin-"

The door swings open, and Oakleaf runs in. "Daddy, oh, I've missed you."

Cedar cuts herself off, hugging her son. "We missed you too."

Crispin wraps his arms around Oakleaf, holding to Oakleaf like an anchor. "I'm right here. I'm still here."