“What can you do?” Andrea asked.
“Well, the simplest way to explain it is that we are Asimatics,” Polla said. “There is a certain energy, a certain magic in the world, and we know how to harness it. Magic has the potential to do anything. We can control that potential.”
“Asimatics,” Andrea whispered, testing out the word. “And you’re trusting us with this secret?”
“Well . . .” Verna’s cheeks reddened. “When I first found you two, I did a test of trustworthiness on your mind. And don’t worry,” she said when Andrea paled. “It didn’t harm you. I was simply seeing if I could trust you.”
“She did it on me too,” said Darian.
“You can leave at any time you wish,” a male Zahteva with turquoise hair said. “Verna was just healing you so you can go back home.”
“That was Umbrus,” Verna said in her ear. It was hard to keep all of the names of the small crowd before her straight.
But her mind was buzzing with something she’d tried to ignore for so long.
A wave of dizziness hit her, and she had to focus on breathing before she said, “I don’t have a home to go back to.”
Darian grabbed her wrist gently. “I wanted to make sure it was okay with you before I told them.”
Andrea nodded through her tears.
“Well,” Darian said. “A monstrous plague attacked all of the royals except us. We are the only living monarchs left.”
The realization left the Zahteva tribe stunned silent. Verna finally whispered, “I’m so sorry. Both of you.” Andrea’s lips trembled as Darian pulled her into a hug.
“I think it’s time we took Andrea back inside,” Verna said, sharing a meaningful look with the rest of the tribe. Polla stepped forward, helping the two others carry Andrea’s cot back into the Hollow.
Andrea pulled a sharp breath in as Darian took a seat in a wooden chair next to her cot, after Polla and Verna stepped aside into the room of the supplies to talk. “You don’t have to do this, you know,” she mumbled.
“Do what?” he asked.
“Just sitting. And watching over me. You should be having fun somewhere, not watching a sick girl lie in a cot.”
“I have nothing else to do,” he said in a trembling voice, his eyes taking on a teary sheen. “Everyone is dead. We’re broken. And . . .” His face paled.
“What?” Andrea asked.
“There is a point,” he muttered.