“I’m not made for this,” Ambrosine grumbled. She’d found a shady corner of Amnoon and was painstakingly applying sunblock to every exposed inch of skin. Once she was done, she handed the pot over to her fellow pasty ginger.
“Tell me about it,” Niklas replied. “Though I’m not a Norn at least, so there’s that.”
“Oh gods, have you heard Tove bitching too? And she’s not half as bad as Pyri. Our little warrior from the great white north is going to just die about every five seconds.” Ambrosine thought about putting her gauntlets back on but…no. Not yet. She leaned back against the stone and sighed happily because it was only lukewarm against her cheek. Oh how her standards had fallen.
“At least Tove is eloquent about it.” Nik slid the pot back into Ambrosine’s copious backpack and tried to find his own not-scorching slice of wall. “How long until the caravan to the Temple heads out?”
“Not long. I already spoke with the drover. How do you like the raptors?”
“When it comes to riding them I’d rather not, but I’d rather not walk through the desert more, so I guess I’ll adjust. I know you swear up and down they won’t eat me but I _saw_ all of those teeth.”
“Any idea why the Priory shipped you out here? I mean, it’s easy with me. I’m a healer and meat shield. But you’re a researcher, Nikky-Nik.”
“Specifically a researcher of diseases, so while I don’t know exactly why I’m here, I’m more than mildly concerned.” The necromancer stared off towards where the dolyaks were being gathered. “They handed me copies of everything we had on the scarab plague before I left.”
“Oh fantastic. Nothing horrifying about that at all. Nope.” They lapsed into silence as each quietly tried to not think of how dreadful everything could possibly be. It didn’t work very well.
The caravan continued to put itself together, and now packs were being slung over dolyak backs.
Nik inspected his nails carefully before he spoke next. “So how are things at home?”
Ambrosine was glad he didn’t ask the exact same questions everyone else had asked, and smiled faintly. “Things are well. Jess would be here, but she’s off at Jim’s to have something on her rifle adjusted. She’s a mess but she’s my mess, Nik. We’re all right. The anxiety is a beast but what is all my training for if not dealing with that?”
“You have Kormir’s own patience.”
“But always with her?”
Ambrosine draped her arm over her eyes. “Would I have broken up with her to begin with if that was the case?”
“Yes,” Nik said, “Because she needed to fall on her face. But I’m glad to hear that her climb up from the bottom seems to be going okay. As okay as such things ever go.”
“She had a lot of help before she even came to me. It’s the trauma and anxiety that I’m mostly left with. I can handle those. It’s not as if I don’t have my own share.”
“Didn’t take the airship over here, then?”
“Oh _fuck_ no.” She shuddered. Never Again An Airship. After heaving herself to her feet, Ambrosine offered Nik a hand up. “Well, I think the caravan is ready to go. Let’s get you to your post, yeah?”