Kari pushed away her steak, half-eaten. “Can this place be real?”
Rathik looked up from his turkey. “Sometimes I can’t believe it myself, and I headed the revolution.”
Ari leaned over his plate, eyes widening. “You did? How?”
“From within the town itself. I was on the guard. I hid myself, too.” Rathik looked at Kari. “My commanding officer believed I had a skin disease.”
A sudden memory pricked her attention. The day she’d run into a guard in Snow Shade—after stealing the magic book for Kiki—she’d glimpsed scales on that man’s face and forgotten all about it.
Guine snorted. “Nice.”
Rathik inclined his head. “My position enabled me to sneak demons in. I was just trying to help sickly ones at first. Eventually my name—different than the one I used as a guard—became infamous.” He laughed, shaking his head, and took a sip of ale.
“I…I remember your name. Rathik.” Kari wracked her brain, remembering the first bolt of lightning she had called down; it had been glorious, though it also represented the first time she had felt the burning fire of the Catalyst. She’d been attacked by a demon yelling about a Rathik.
Rathik grimaced. “I became a rallying point for many demons in the north, and it wasn’t long until the Lord Isaac was looking for me.”
Kari, nodded, recalling that, too.
“Lord Isaac became frantic, especially when a man and his wife were found dead in their homes. He ordered searches, and it wasn’t long before my friends were found out. One died, trying to protect the others.”
Kari’s throat tightened. Ari shifted so she could grab his arm. Guine glanced at them.
“It was me,” she muttered in a hoarse whisper.
“What?” Rathik asked.
“It was my fault your friend died. I…I was the one who killed those two humans.”
She’d had no choice, she’d told herself, yet that hadn’t been true. How many times had Kiki tried to convince her they could run away without leaving any bodies behind? And Kari had refused, sure that killing Anne and Joseph was the only true way to honor her parents.
If she’d listened, Kiki may have lived, and Rathik’s friend wouldn’t have died.
Rathik leaned over the table. “No. Trust me, Kari. It was only a matter of time before Lord Isaac snapped. Even Dorn, from Isaac’s council, said he was well on his way to madness without anyone’s help.”
“He’s right,” Ari said, rubbing her. “Even we’d heard some stories in Raziac. You aren’t to blame for his actions.”
Kari caught Guine’s eye, his expression indiscernible, then frowned at her plate.
Rathik nodded. “His own people saw it. Some of them helped us, guiding our peaceful speeches to fellow humans, and reconciling began. Now we have this.”
He waved his hand, gesturing at the room.
“Even though I’d heard of the revolution, I can hardly believe my eyes,” Ari said. “This place is unimaginable.”