Just a couple of weeks ago we saw Janner truly become a Throne Warden. Now Artham, who has rescued the family time and again, needs help. Janner has learned much about facing his fears and acting to protect those he loves—but the way this plays out is never what I expected. Janner’s empathy. Leeli’s smile. The leap.
“We have to stop them,” Leeli said. “They’ll kill him.” She pointed across the room at a group of men stringing bows and fishing arrows from a barrel.
Before he realized what he was doing, Janner ducked behind Rudric, climbed up the back of his throne, and jumped for the lowest branch of the tree. As soon as he caught the branch, all the hours he’d spent climbing glipwood oaks, swinging from mossy limb to mossy limb, scooting after Kalmar either to catch him or to keep him from hurting himself, suddenly felt like practice for this single moment. He climbed the tree as lithe as a thwap, swinging under limbs, scooting along others, closer every moment to the upper corner of the chamber where Peet trembled and twitched like a trapped bird, his talons flexing, his wings flapping madly.
Artham was terrified, and he was terrifying.
Janner edged along a branch of the tree as thick as his waist, calling Artham’s name again and again, but if Artham heard he showed no sign. The men with bows had nocked arrows and trained them on Artham, waiting for either a signal from Rudric or a movement from the birdman. Janner was sure Artham could defeat every warrior in the room if he wanted, but these were old allies, kinsmen, people acting not out of evil but out of fear; there must have been enough of Artham’s sanity left to restrain his fury— but why didn’t he flee? The main doors to the hall were flung wide open, and it would be an easy thing for him to fly through and away to safety.
Janner had started climbing the tree with an idea in his head, but now that the floor was so far below he wondered what he’d been thinking. “Uncle Artham!” he cried again, but Artham only shook his head and goggled his eyes everywhere except at Janner, whimpering to himself in nonsensical words.
If Janner was going to act, he had to do it now. The archers were hungry for a reason to shoot, Rudric was shouting, Oskar was waving his hands, and Nia’s head was buried in Podo’s shoulder. Only Leeli saw Janner in the tree.
Their eyes met, she smiled at him, and Janner said, “Uncle Artham, HELP!”
Then he jumped.
Discussion: What calms you when you’re in a panic or meltdown?
Who teaches you to be brave?
What feelings do you have as you see my people’s reaction to Kalmar? What do you think Kal is feeling? What do you do when it seems you have to make a choice between protecting your own people from outside threats and protecting a child fleeing to you from violence? Let’s talk about this in the forum. (Other good conversations from this section can be found here, here, and here.)
What was your favorite passage this week?