After another arrow flew by the rock Cato and Kyros were taking cover behind, Cato decided it was time for another survey of their situation. Carefully and quickly, he risked a glance around their cover. To his frustration, it was mostly the same scene he remembered from seconds earlier. About twenty feet of nothing between their rock and the glowing red object he’d thrown out earlier. Just behind that was the line of tents that formed the rear position of the army that was currently laying siege to the walled Citadel beyond. It was an impressive city, with towering stone walls lit only by moonlight and torches as the army surrounding it continued to hurl large chunks of rock from catapults.

None of those things were particularly problematic in Cato’s mind. It was the group of soldiers nocking another round of arrows to loose at Kyros and himself that was proving to be the current problem.

“Why aren’t they giving up with that and trying to stab us?!” Kyros grumbled as he shifted to keep his sword arm behind the rock.

He had a point. The rock was barely large enough for the two of them to huddle behind, but it was surprisingly effective at protecting them from the arrows. Cato could only assume that these soldiers weren’t very practiced archers, as they shouldn’t have been having so much trouble arcing the arrows over the rock itself. Or maybe they just weren’t very smart. That was always a possibility.

Before the next wave of arrows could come their way, Cato turned back and managed the best shrug he could while still staying in cover, “Maybe they don’t want to get too close to that thing I threw at them.”

Kyros shook his head, “It’s a stick that glows red. They have to have seen more dangerous things.”

“Maybe they’re worried it’ll do something more,” Cato shook his head, “That’s what I’m hoping, at least…”

There were a few small swishes in the air past them, a couple of small impacts on the other side of the rock, and a moment later, an arrow dug into the ground closer to Cato’s foot than he liked.

The brothers exchanged a brief concerned look before Kyros simply continued their conversation as if nothing had happened, “I still don’t understand why we weren’t told this great plan.”

Cato put his head back against the rock and looked up at the stars, “I’m actually surprised Anica was willing to speak to me long enough to tell me to throw the damn thing.”

“Her blaming you for Pel’s death is really making my life difficult, you know,” Kyros always did have a specific way of looking at the world.

“I’m sorry it’s inconveniencing you,” Cato rolled his eyes, “I’ll see what I can do to work on that once people stop trying to kill us.”

Kyros, undoubtedly, had some annoying response to that already prepared, but it never came. For a moment, Cato didn’t quite understand why. It was unlike his brother to let an argument end without at least trying to get the last word. But then Cato felt the ground shaking, too. No, not the ground. Everything was shaking.

A low pitched groan began to grow behind them, and against Cato’s better judgement, he decided to glance around the rock again to see what was going on. Everything that had been there the last time he looked was still mostly where it was, save for a strange glow emanating from the tents and the soldiers.

Before Cato had any time to process this, the groan became a deafening screech, and the entire world in front of him went blindingly bright white.

And then it was all gone.

Rather, the entire army was. The glowing red object he’d thrown out was still there, as were the two off on either side that Anica and Maeira had thrown out, and the Citadel was in the distance continuing to loom over everything. But everything in between was gone. Even the grass was gone, the ground an unnatural black that made Cato uncomfortable when he considered what it might be.

Then, as usual, Kyros had to speak, “I am really glad I didn’t just charge those guys now…”