Urchin had asked Sepia if she wanted to talk to Juniper, but she told him to go on alone. She just wasn't ready yet. The last thing she remembered was a moment of confusion in the caves. Then a blur of stormy seas, twisted rock, and burning heat.
Too much news. Corr left Mistmantle to find her. Lord Crown joined him. Mossberry almost set fire to the tower. Urchin was a captain And Crispin—
"Sepia, are you awake?"
Sepia squeezed her eyes shut, barely daring to breathe. The Queen, it was the Queen; of all Mistmantle, that was the very last person she wanted to see.
Sepia slowly opened one eye. Nothing there, except the sunlight streaming through the window.
"Aha!" Cedar stepped into view. "I know you were awake. How are you doing?"
"Fine—a little sleepy, your Majesty, but—" Her tongue, heavy as the stones of Mistmantle Tower, formed the only words she could say. "I'm sorry."
"Crispin," Sepia swallowed tears. "He…"
"Sepia of the Songs, look at me." Cedar's voice softened. "Crispin's death was not your fault. He's been in pain since the Raven War. He knew he was dying."
"You know what he told Urchin? Crispin said that if his life has counted for anything, he wanted his death to count for something too. You should have seen how happy everyone was the night your came in. Catkin had your choir singing for you, and the otters fought to bring your boat in. Hope was so happy just because you were there. As it should be. And Crispin would have loved it too."