Balrus: If I don’t return, they’re doing the carrion snake ritual. If I go in there, and die, it sets them back a few months, maybe even to the start.
Olivia: Let us help. We have thirty guys back with Shen at the entrance, you stand a better chance working with us.
Balrus: You can’t save me. The venom of the asp is in my body now. It’s only a matter of time before it reaches my heart.
Olivia: Go back to Shen! He’ll be able to help you.
Balrus: I’m beyond help. Any kindred who comes near me gets a stake through the heart. I’m going to the ritual chamber.
Olivia switched to a private channel.
I died alone and it sucked. Let one of us come with you.
She remembered her own death, in the black water of Dinah’s cave.
I would never be what you are. It is anathema to me.
I wasn’t offering that.
“No…” Olivia slammed her keypad down. No way was she going to let him die down there. She stepped out of the van. “I’m going down there, I’m going to get him out myself.”
Behind her, the sound of someone clearing their throat, and she spun to see the infiltrator standing there. She paused. “What you you want?”
He tried to meet her eye, but finding he could not, turned his back to her, his hands up. “I have an offer for you.”
“Yeah?” Olivia glanced over to the pit. “Talk fast, then.”
“We can get you what you want- we can get your friend back.”
“What’s your price?”
“Two things. A servant of ours in a nominal position in your company, to act as a messenger. And a favour.”
Olivia closed her eyes. “Fine. Do it. Save him.”
The infiltrator nodded. “He’ll hate you, you know.”
“I know. It doesn’t matter.” Olivia felt a sour taste in her mouth. “Just do it.”
“You’ll want to get your men out of there before it happens,” he said. “And you should know I’m not the only spy here. There’s one of Victor’s, up on that roof.” He gestured.
Olivia followed his hand but saw nothing. Probably Victor watching for Shen, she decided. “Please keep him human, if you can. If it’s possible.”
“Oh, we’ll try. But no promises.”
She picked up her handset and typed a message for all parties.
Get out of there, guys. We’re leaving.
No sooner had she sent it than the unmistakable chill of a wraith descended.
And the crate of paralyzed Setites sitting by the edge of the pit had vanished.