I wanted to cheer, to dance, to grab Emara by the shoulders and kiss her. Hells, I wanted to grab Jotian by the shoulders and kiss him. We’d finally found the map that could guide us to the teth-morae’s hiding place. We could kill them in their sleep, as long as we got there before the year was up.
“Open it up, open it up,” I insisted. Emara had the map’s case, a little round metal tube, and was working its lid off.
“I’m trying,” she said. “It’s stuck. It’s old and something probably rusted on.”
“Here, you take one end and I’ll take the other, and maybe we can pull it apart,” I suggested. I grabbed the lid and turned it in Emara’s hands so she had to hold on to the other end. Grinning, made silly by relief and the impending end of the threat of the teth-morae, I acted like a child on a holiday.
“One, two, three,” I counted, and hauled back. Emara pulled against me. For a long moment, it seemed like nothing would move, and then finally the lid popped off. Emara stumbled back with the tube in her hands, and I nearly fell flat on my rear with the lid. Carefully, she shook the map out, and unrolled the crackling parchment.
Curious, I got up and hurried to her side. Jotian looked over her other shoulder, and we saw what she held: on the parchment, a map of the whole world had been inked. No single spot was marked, no coordinates labeling the precise location of the teth-morae.
“What is it,” I asked. “What does it mean? Where’s their hiding place?”
“Maybe it’s written in some kind of enchanted ink,” Emara said, half a question. “Maybe there’s something we have to do to reveal the coordinates?”
“No,” Jotian said, his voice quiet and horrified. “I know what it means.