“Battalion commanders, form your companies!” Uud-Rement roared. “We part when the sun reaches its zenith!”
Anders and Paign were dazzled by how quickly the gargoyles assembled into their units. For Peter and Johann, it reminded them of their younger years, when they had served in the military.
Kimar and Ercen strode up to them. Kimar announced, “We will be divided into two special squads. The rescue squad will be led by Ercen and include Johann, Heidi, Paign and Tiny, along with five other gargoyles. The squad assigned to the destruction of the Key, I will lead, along with Danielle, Amy, Peter and Anders. This squad will also include five more of our best fighters.”
At first, Paign was upset that someone assigned him and Anders to different squads. They fought well together and could depend on each other in battle. But when he observed the relief on Anders’s face—that he would be on the same squad as Danielle—he realized that he probably had a similar look on his face. His desire to rescue Freida, he guessed, was just as strong as Anders’s was to protect Danielle. Nothing would divert him from being part of Freida’s rescue team. Not even Kimar, had he chosen to keep the cousins together.
Ercen added, “We part at the sun’s zenith, which is about twenty of your minutes from now. Make your final preparations, at once.” Then she walked off with Kimar in the direction of Uud-Rement, who now stood on the valley floor alongside Quarastohr and the other members of the War Council.
The entire area of the Ten Pinnacles was electric. Tiny began barking and jumping up on humans and gargoyles alike, overcome with excitement and nervousness.
Peter leaned over to Johann. “Well, my friend, I don’t know about you, but I wish I’d eaten something now. Guess it’s too late.” Peter clapped the farmer on his stout shoulder. “Good luck to you. I’m sure she’ll be fine!” he added, hoping he sounded more confident than he felt. Even more, he hoped to bring calm and certainty to his friend. He knew, firsthand, the agony of not knowing if his daughter was safe.
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