Qeoe’s gaze shifted to the northern ridgeline. “I must go to this crater. You will take us there after you show us the green stone that killed Noa.”
Heartbeat pounding in his ears, Mirco gathered the corners of his pouch, clutched it in his fist, and stood. “No.”
Vieqi’s knuckles turned white on his knife hilt. He looked at Qeoe, eyes bugging with disbelief that she hadn’t yet given him permission to pummel Mirco into the dirt.
Her eyes were smoldering, but her voice remained surprisingly even. “The wither will not harm you while you are with me. Here you think you are safe, but who is to say the blight will not destroy this paradise? Look, I brought my carriers and sympath safely through the witherwilds, and with those glimmers I’ll have no problem taking us to the mine. I understand you don’t want to go, but we need you. Our land is dying, our people, too. You can help save us. Is that not what your friend Noa wanted you to do?”
“Don’t,” Mirco snarled. “Don’t you use Noa like that. Don’t try guilting me into doing things you want. When I decide to do something, I do it. Not before. Not for anyone. I don’t owe you, woman, and if you’re looking for pity, best keep searching. I’ll leave this place when I say. You don’t like that, kill me and steal these glimmers.” He rattled the pouch, the stones clattering together with force enough to make Qeoe and Neqeo raise their hands, pleading for him to be careful. “I’m going to go do some thinking on what you said. I’ll let you know tonight whether I’m leaving and if I plan on heading the same way as you. And I have to decide how much my glimmers are worth.”