Andrea repeated her question.
“We came into the woods for a reason,” he said. “It’s like when you got injured, the part of me focused on our goal faded into the background. But . . .”
Andrea’s mind exploded with a new thought: The cure. The cure. The cure.
“We came here for a cure,” she whispered. “And we’re not leaving without it.”
“But how?” he asked.
“Well, naturally, we can ask Verna,” she smiled, feeling better already. They could. They really could.
“Verna!” Darian called. The Zahteva rushed into the room, a panicked look on her face.
“What? What’s wrong?” she asked.
Darian looked her straight in the eyes. “There’s something we arrived with that we can’t leave without.”
“What is that?” Verna asked.
“The cure to the plague that has killed so many humans,” he said. “We barely escaped with our lives. And we need to get our revenge.”
Verna’s features softened. “A plague is not something that can be fixed with medical supplies,” she said gently.
“But . . . but . . . what about magic?” Andrea asked.
“Now that is something that I need to discuss with the rest of the tribe,” Verna said.
“Does it really need to be discussed, though?” Andrea asked. “It would save the world.”
“I don’t mean that,” Verna chided gently. “I mean that all of our powers combined is the only thing enough to cure a plague that powerful.”
Andrea dug her fingernails into her palms. This was big, bigger than she’d realized. All of the Zahteva needed to agree. Not just Verna. “Just please,” Andrea begged. “Try to get them to.”
Verna’s eyes shone. “I will,” she whispered, taking brisk steps to reach the room of medical supplies, disappearing down the stairwell.
Darian held her hand through the long moment, ever stretching. It was the only anchor through her swirling thoughts.
Eventually, Verna arrived back up the stairs. She entered their room, and for once, Andrea had something louder than her thoughts: her pounding heart.
“I’ve got some news,” she said. Not “good” or “bad.” Just “news,” which made it ever more impossible to read Verna. “The rest of the Zahteva have agreed to try to not only cure the plague, but to prevent it from ever recurring.”