As the girl began to tire, overcome by the strain of her ordeals and depravation, Ruya shifted more of their weight onto herself despite the protests coming from her ankle, helping the girl continue onward. As she gave release to her sorrow and frustration, Ruya simply looked away. “I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner, that I couldn’t help your family.” It was a futile gesture, and even Ruya knew it. There was no way she could have restored the zombies that had been created from the girl’s family; none save the gods could truly restore the dead. There was no way she could have known to come sooner, to prevent Varlest’s torments from ever taking place - her divination would only answer the questions she knew to ask. Suffering was everywhere in the world, she was still learning, and everywhere, what little Ruya could do to alleviate it had only rarely been enough. “If you want, you can come with me. I won’t drive you away if you have nowhere to go, though it may be dangerous. My name is Ruya Perist. What’s yours?”

After a little ways longer, the gatehouse came into view. Ruya knew the two of them would cut an odd sight, soot-stained and injured, particularly her companion. She still wasn’t certain about the constabulary of the city, but she couldn’t simply set it aside, and they did ostensibly have a duty to protect the city’s denizens. “Hello!” she called out. “Guards?” It was oddly quiet, she realized. She wasn’t the only one who had awoken to the danger: she could hear others behind her shouting, from the buildings or from near the fire itself. From the tone of the shouts, it didn’t sound like Varlest had been found yet, so it was likely he had already made his escape or at least biding his time. It was the fire itself that posed the greatest risk. The light of the flames had grown behind them, casting reddish smoke and ash into the sky, and fire was one of the greatest menaces to any city. Some places adopted an apathetic view of their poorer districts, perfectly willing to let them burn rather than risk involvement, but the silence from this nearest guard post felt somehow wrong.

She stopped near a small alley between two tall buildings, shadowed from direct sight of the gate or the street. “I think something’s wrong. I’m still new to Amaranth, but shouldn’t the guards have come out with the first signs of fire?”