Tuesday, 13 September 2016

amadhay: (Default)
 The dreamscape didn’t immediately change. She wasn’t sure if it was because Tenshu wasn’t fully determined or if it was just because it had to sort through his mind to find another fear worth their time, stronger than his own guilt and worthlessness. When it changed, she knew exactly where they were going.

The dreamscape formed the familiar shape of the Sand Castle Palnokian base and Amadhay held her breath. She didn’t want to go in, didn’t want to see Ribbon or Stefan or any of the others. It was an automatic response and she had to swallow it down, pulling Tenshu to his feet from where he was still sitting, staring at tombstones. She tried not to notice the name on the one he sat before, but it was branded on her mind as she led him away.

Tairyn du Regen. She shouldn’t have felt anything, given that the man had betrayed her. He had sold her out to the Palnoki, told them everything about her. He had led them to her Indy. He had chosen Kimiko over her. He was nothing but a traitor to the end of his days. Still, she remembered the days when he was her only friend, when he had comforted her and been there for her.

She pushed him out of her mind completely as soon as they stood in front of the Sand Castle. This time, she was the one stalling and Tenshu impatiently pushed the doors open.

“What? Scared of what you might find?” he taunted. “Not excited to have a chance at killing Ribbon again?”

No. She wasn’t. In fact, she was anxious, afraid that that would be what she had to do. Because if it was, Tenshu would die. She couldn’t do it again, not when she dreamed about it, thought about it, tried to imagine all the ways that she could have changed the outcome. If it came down to killing Ribbon again, even a fake Ribbon, she would rather die.

So, honestly, when they roamed the building and found room after room empty, it was a relief. They went to all of the common areas, and Amadhay was positive that she smelled gingerbread cookies in the kitchen. She heard laughter in the sitting rooms. Thought she saw flashes of black, flowing skirts and cloudy puffs of hair at every corner. By the time they reached the rooms, Amadhay completely refused to go in.

She wasn’t sure if it was her own guilt lending to hallucinations, if part of Tenshu’s fear included Ribbon, or if his dreamscape was genuinely trying to mess with her. She didn’t care. She just wanted to go. She needed to get away from all the memories, but when she started to leave, the pulsing of the link reminded her that she couldn’t leave Tenshu, no matter what she was feeling. So instead, she focused on keeping her breathing even, standing just behind Tenshu so that he could check the rooms and she wouldn’t see anything, but also wouldn’t be shut outside if the door were to slam closed.

They had gone through most of the rooms and even Tenshu was becoming antsy. “We should have found something by now,” he said, slamming Kimiko’s door shut.

“Maybe this is all about the expectations?” she suggested hopefully, noting that he couldn’t stand to be touched by her. Where before, they’d been holding hands to keep close and to strengthen his energy, the longer they were in this place, the further he stood from her.

He barely spared her a glance, as full of scorn as it was, before stalking toward Nico’s room. It too was empty. That only left three, the three that they honestly should have check the moment his own was empty.

“Atlas or Ribbon?” Amadhay asked, her voice wavering. They could either go to her room, Atlas’ or Ribbon’s.

“I dunno, which one would you prefer killing?” he snapped.

Atlas, she wanted to say, but instead shook her head. “Which one are you afraid of?” she asked, not particularly sure why he’d have been frightened of either. From what she remembered the familial bond between Tenshu and those two had been incredibly strong, as if they were truly related.

He didn’t answer, and when he led them to the hallway she and Ribbon had shared, she tensed, not ready to go into Ribbon’s room. They didn’t. Instead, they entered her room. As the others, no one was in there. Unlike the others, all of her belongings were there, torn down and thrown around in someone’s anger. The canopy above her bed was pulled close.

They were leaving when Amadhay felt every hair on her body stand up. It was only her instincts that had her dropping and rolling out of the way, barely missing a spell so harsh that it made the stone floor bubble. She hopped to her feet, glancing to Tenshu, who was staring back into the room in horror, rather than shock, that told her he, at least had expected this. Knowing that there was only one place left in the room for the attacker to be, she turned back to her bed.

Sitting there was Atlas, with Ribbon’s dead body on his lap. She held back a cry, dropping down to her knees. A sob got caught in the back of her throat as she stared, unable to look away from the limp body of the woman, cradled to Atlas’ chest. His red eyes only focused on her and he couldn’t miss her when he threw another spell, this one slamming her against the wall hard enough that had she been in reality, it would have knocked her unconscious or, at the very least, dizzy.

She slumped against the wall, her eyes still focused on Ribbon. Her eyes were still open, a pale unseeing green. Her mouth was partially open and the ugly gash on her throat was so red, as if she had just killed her.

“You betray us,” Atlas whispered, sounding broken. She was ready to take another hit, she deserved it, but the magic that left him hit Tenshu. With a pained cry, Tenshu dropped to his knees as well, his body convulsing. “You betray Ribbon.”

“No,” Tenshu swore. “Never. I would never—” Atlas cut him off with another ball of magic that Amadhay felt keenly, now that her purple aura was nearly covering Tenshu.

“You would give up all that I’ve done for you for her. Turn your back on your family for her. Forget this,” Atlas’ hands went to Ribbon’s hair and for a moment, Amadhay feared that he would pull her head back to show her neck. He didn’t, instead petting her brokenly. All three of them were silent for a few clicks as Amadhay and Tenshu recovered from their hits.

Once Amadhay was able to stand, she avoided looking at Atlas and Ribbon, instead focusing on crossing to Tenshu. She didn’t make it, because the spell that came at her smelled of death and she threw herself back. She turned her attention to Atlas, who was gently lying Ribbon on the bed as if she were only sleeping and he didn’t want to wake her. His attention was on Tenshu and she was reminded that though he had attacked her, this was about Tenshu. Atlas wasn’t really there. She had to remember that.

“You know what happens when you betray the family,” he said menacingly, “You are removed from the family.”

Tenshu just nodded in reluctant agreement.

“Get off your ass,” Amadhay growled. “And fight him!”

Tenshu shook his head. “I can’t,” he whispered. Atlas paid no attention to Amadhay when she slowly approached, following behind him.

“You agreed to this from the beginning,” Atlas said sadly. “Though I never thought I’d have to do it.” Tenshu bowed his head when Atlas pulled his hand back for some kind of attack. Amadhay wasn’t sure if it was magic or if he planned to beat Tenshu to death, either way, she couldn’t allow it. She hadn’t come this far just to let Atlas kill Tenshu.

So she latched herself onto his back, doing her best to distract Atlas enough to get him away. When Atlas stopped and focused on detaching her, she barked at Tenshu. “Move out of the way!”

He barely moved in time before Amadhay and Atlas went tumbling down, into the wall. Atlas’ head hit, but she knew better than to hope that that would stop him. Taking a deep breath she readied herself for the kidney punch she saw coming even before he moved. She didn’t let that move her. Atlas was stronger than her, though, and it was only a matter of time before he got the upper hand and slammed her into the wall. She breathed rattily, feeling as if something had been broken, but didn’t let that stop her. She had to keep him down.

The red covering his hand made her jerk away to avoid a fireball to the gut. “How come he can use magic if I can’t?” she demanded softly, using her wit to keep her on her toes. She always had when sparring with Ribbon.

At the thought of Ribbon, she faltered, looking over to her lover. It was enough of a distraction for Atlas to grip her throat and squeeze even as his attention went to Tenshu, who was just standing there, though his fists clenched and his arm muscles flexed.

“Come here,” Atlas ordered and Tenshu did it.

And of course he did, because all of them just did whatever Atlas wanted. Everyone, everywhere did what Atlas wanted them to, whether they knew it or not, and the thought just made Amadhay so angry. Tenshu, Kimiko and Ribbon had befriended her because Atlas wanted it. She, herself, had stayed with the Palnoki because Atlas wanted it. Benjy and Christein had been hurt, so badly, so many times because Atlas wanted it. Ribbon had lied to her, attacked her, hurt her, tried to stop her, tried to kill her because Atlas had wanted it.

The violence in her permeated every muscle of her body and she vibrated with it. She could hardly feel his grasp on her throat. Her hands, her claws, because that was what they were, covered in some white energy she didn’t recognize, cut into Atlas. The first cut wasn’t hers, wasn’t her action because despite everything, she couldn’t imagine really hurting Atlas. She didn’t think she was strong enough, she didn’t think it would have made Ribbon happy.

But when she stabbed him again, it was all her. She kept stabbing until the white energy disappeared and she was just sticking her fingers, broken nails and all into him. Tenshu made a sick noise, and that was the only thing that made her stop, the reminder that someone was seeing the part of her that she tried to keep hidden. There was a line between someone who killed for a living and someone who enjoyed the suffering they could cause with a sadistic glee. There was an even bigger line between someone who killed and someone who ripped another person apart. One was a murderer, the other, a Feral. She wasn’t a Feral.

She jolted away from Atlas’ corpse, feeling worse by the click. Ribbon’s body on the bed, Atlas’ body on the floor, her covered in blood, reeking of it. She looked helplessly to Tenshu, who flinched away from her eyes.

“I did what I had to,” she whispered, her voice raspy in a way she remembered far too well.

Tenshu didn’t agree with her, but neither did he disagree with her. Instead, he took one last look at both his father in all but blood and his sister in the same, before leaving the room and leaving Amadhay there. It took her a bit longer to get up and follow him. Even though she knew it wasn’t real and was only a figment of Tenshu’s mind, she couldn’t stop herself from getting on the bed and lying beside Ribbon, breathing in her scent.

It was sick and she knew it, but she didn’t want to leave her, not again. The link throbbed and pulled taut, reminding her of what she was really doing there, but she didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay with Ribbon forever and she didn’t care if she were alive or not. She just wanted to be with her.

You are, Ribbon’s voice said in her mind. I’m always with you.

She shook her head. “Not really,” she whispered, wanting to cry but not capable of doing it on this plane of reality. “You’re gone.”

Only in body. A warmth came from nowhere, enveloping Amadhay for a moment before disappearing. And even if she were hallucinating, which she was used to because she hallucinated about Ribbon at least once a week, it felt better. She felt stronger. She felt closer to the dead woman. Taking a deep breath, she let go and immediately, the setting around her disappeared, leaving her floating above the ground, outside of the same bubble Tenshu had been stuck in to begin with.

He was inside again and she was outside, watching him as he paced there. Breathing deep, she turned her back to the bubble and entered, letting the remnants of it from before rejoin so that it was a solid barrier once more. She avoided eye contact with Tenshu, who watched her with a strange look in his eye.

“I thought you had left me,” he said.

“I didn’t,” she responded unnecessarily.

A whimper from the corner of the barrier made her turn her attention to see Tenshu again, this one in a ball, trying not to look at the other. That one was the one she was attached to via the link.

The other crept up behind her and spoke in her ear, one hand on her hip and the other on the side of her face, tilting her head away from his mouth. “You should have just left us,” he breathed into her ear.

She turned into him, vaguely aware that he hadn’t moved his hand and that now his arm was curled around her head, in the perfect position to twist her head and snap her neck. That was a careless mistake. “Isn’t a bit egoistical to be afraid of yourself?”

He gave her a sharp smile. “You would know.”

She tried to move from his grip, but instead of dropping to get away, she only gave him her hair to roll around his fist and he pulled her face up toward his own. Still, she continued their rapport. “I wouldn’t, actually. I don’t do the whole fear thing.”

He laughed in a mocking way that made her eye his torso. His muscles wouldn’t be the best to punch, but his stomach or throat would be. “You fear more than I do,” he taunted her. “Only I’m capable of fighting my fears.” He pulled her in close. “How about my desires? I don’t think I want to fight them.”

She tried to push away, but he had too good of a hold on her, because while she’d been thinking up a plan, he’d been implementing one. Christein always said that planning to the point of inaction was her largest flaw. “If you’re about to tell me that rutting with me is your biggest fear, I can assure you it’s unwarranted.”

“Shame,” he responded, running a finger up her spine in a way that made her shiver. “I think we’d have fun.”

“We’re not already?” she asked just before she kicked up her legs and dropped her weight, throwing him off-kilter when he suddenly had to hold all of her weight. He stumbled and falling on her backside gave Amadhay the upper hand. She kicked his legs from under him and flipped on top of him.

“Now we are,” he said with a smirk, easily flipping them when she wasn’t able to perfect her hold. She didn’t give him time to either, slithering out from under him and landing a quick, desperate kick at his spine. It hit, but it barely even effected the necromancer, because before she was standing again, he’d pulled her feet down and had a knee to her chest.

“I think I like you beneath me.”

She had a vague memory of Ribbon saying that before and that was what gave her the strength to roll to the side, taking him with her until she was on top with her knees at his throat. She glanced to the other Tenshu. “What do I do? Do I kill him? Try to combine you? What?”

That Tenshu didn’t get a chance to respond, before the one beneath her gripped her hair and used it to pull her down. She wished she’d listened to her instructors when they’d told her to either cut it or always wear it up and out of the way, even when she wasn’t expecting a fight. He head butted her, making her fall back on her back. A swift punch to her face was followed by a kick and she curled into a ball, knowing that he wouldn’t give her the chance to stand and that she couldn’t use her Gift in this plane.

Then again, she’d been able to somehow use a spell that she didn’t even known, so she figured trying wouldn’t hurt. Her attempt at teleportation was hit by a wall so hard that she was breathless. Tenshu took advantage of that to pull her to her feet.

“Oh, what should I do with her?” he asked the other Tenshu, mocking her previous question. “Fuck her? Kill her? What would you hate more?”

“Let her go,” the real Tenshu demanded, standing up. She wasn’t sure what had made him intervene, but she appreciated it, because the fear-Tenshu dropped her as if she were inconsequential.

“Finally,” he said, moving to the other Tenshu. The fight that ensued was rather, impressively short. She doubted that if she’d been pitted against herself it would have been nearly as short, but apparently knowing his own weaknesses was all Tenshu needed. Or perhaps the game was rigged for him to win. She wasn’t sure and she didn’t care. All she knew was that she was grateful when real Tenshu had used her hands to twist the neck of fear Tenshu. Because it was finally over.


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 The only reason she knew that she was out of the dreamplane when she opened her eyes to find herself in bed with Tenshu was the pain radiating through her body and the incessant knocking on her door.

“Consort? We haven’t heard from you for a few days. Are you still sick?”

Her head throbbed, she felt burned and blistered all over, not to mention she was fairly certain that at least three bones were broken. But no, she wasn’t sick. She cleared her throat to speak, but found nothing came out but a faint whisper. More knocks and basically the same words made her realize that she needed to answer the door before someone knocked her door down and came in out of some misguided idea of security.

Trying to get up, she found, from the unexpected excruciating pain, that her right leg was, indeed, broken and in several places if the pain was anything to go by. The longer she was awake, she found, the more pain came forward. She dropped to the floor onto her side and cursed softly, wishing she hadn’t been so dumb. She should have done a self-heal the moment she had awakened, and so she did one while lying there on the floor.

It only mildly relieved the pain, which she expected but had wished otherwise. Her self-healing needed a lot of work, though it did fix her ribs and inner organs. It also, though she didn’t check because she knew it would, healed her face and any surface bruises. Her leg, on the other hand, we beyond her ability, so she clenched her teeth to ignore the pain. Her left leg was fine, luckily, so she was able to stand so long as all of the pressure was on it. Moving was more difficult, so she didn’t. Instead, she used a quick spell to open the door and turn off the security spells.

Immediately, both Kit Rain and Harpess entered, her mute servants following behind and looking decidedly judgmental. Kit Rain and the humans looked over the room, but Harpess kept her attention on Amadhay.

“We’ve been calling to you for almost a zoot. We were almost to the point of breaking the door down. What happened?”

Amadhay shrugged. “I was sleeping,” she said. “Didn’t hear you.”

The look of disbelief on the two human’s faces made her smile innocently at them. She stretched her arms, but didn’t move from her spot. “Was there something you needed?” she asked.

Eyeing her suspiciously, Kit Rain nodded. “We are setting down on Phellimore soon. You need to be ready.”

She nodded. “Of course,” she answered with another smile, while inwardly wondering how she would be able to do anything without fixing her leg and the pounding in her head.

“And you read the book?” Harpess pushed, making Amadhay want to roll her eyes.

“Yes. I know what is appropriate,” she promised. “And I know my duties. So, if I may?” She prompted for them to leave the room and, after a moment, the two did, leaving her mute bodyguards.

Legs, broken. Need help, she spelled out painstakingly to the men once the door was closed and locked.

Faeo immediately scooped her up, while Prillo picked up her handheld DS and handed it to her.

We don’t heal, Prillo signed with his free hand as he pressed the DS into her hands. She clenched her hands around the DS, knowing that he was suggesting that she contact someone who could tell her what to do.

She sighed softly, but turned the device on and quickly sorted through contacts. She didn’t have the time to be dragging her feet. Catching Rea’s name, she pressed on the woman’s name. Her call was answered on the first ping.

Wherever you’re hiding, stay there,” Rea said in a rushed voice. “After that stunt at the Mall, you’ve been suspended indefinitely. There is a warrant out for Red Robin by order of the Roadesian Army, and Lord Phoeganis wants you held in one of our holding cell until everything dies down and you are fit for duty again. Stay away and don’t trust anyone.

Amadhay took a deep breath. She hadn’t expected that. She supposed she should have. Her uncle had told her upfront, when restoring her status as an active agent, that if she did anything he didn’t like, no matter how small, he would lock her away until she had been retrained enough to be trusted. Well, attacking the du Kay princeling and water Herald in broad daylight, at a public venue, for no apparent reason was definitely not a small matter.

“Okay. That’s not a problem. I have no plans to come back any time soon. But, Rea, I need help.”

I don’t know how or why you expect me to help you,” her voice was sharp, and Amadhay wished that she could turn on the holo-avatar and see her friend, but she didn’t. Amadhay didn’t need anyone to know that she was on the ship and while she trusted Rea, she didn’t trust that her DS or that wherever she was was unbugged. The dragon was notorious for not being observant about things like that.

“I just need a spell. I broke my leg.”

Rea’s voice was suspicious. “How? Where are you?

“I’m sorry, but I’m not going to tell you that,” Amadhay stated, nodding at Prillo when he showed her the purple outfit Lizumeizei had chosen for her first diplomatic meeting. Of the ones she’d seen in the closet, she liked that one the most, with the thin material and golden embroidery of the outer wrap. The outfit beneath the wrap, a darker purple with similar golden embroidery in a thicker material and light beading, was perfectly modest enough to calm Kit Rain and Harpess’ nerves about her while still looking like her. They needed to know that she could do what was required of her as their envoy even though she was young and untried. She needed to know that she could do it, regardless of what Arne Riff repeatedly told her.

How broken is it?

Amadhay shrugged. “Very?”

Rea sighed. “How many times is it broken and which leg? Please tell me it isn’t your right leg again.

“Alright, I won’t tell you,” Amadhay quipped as she tried to focus on how many separate points of pain there were. It was difficult, considering they all blended together, but after a moment, she nodded to herself. “Twice. Maybe three times?”

“And there’s no chance of you going to a proper healer-medic?”

“You just told me not to trust anyone,” Amadhay reminded her and was met with a long silence that, if she hadn’t been able to hear the tell-tale sounds of machines working on the dragon’s side, she might have thought they’d lost connection.

You don’t have to trust someone to let them fix your breaks,” she finally responded, but it didn’t particularly sound like she was pushing for Amadhay to go to a medic. “And I suppose you don’t want anyone to know,”

This time, Amadhay was the silent one. She allowed the mute brothers to help her to the bath, but refused to undress with them there. I do it, me, she signed, shooing them away before sinking into the warm water Faeo had run for her. It was easier to get her clothes off when she was surrounded by water, despite the nightgown and shorts clinging a bit.

“Are you in a tub?” Rea asked. “Please tell me you’re in a tub and not trying to swim with a broken leg.”

“I’m in the tub,” Amadhay replied, having almost forgotten she was talking to her friend. Her DS was on the floor beside the tub and she considered picking it up, but didn’t want to chance dumping it in the tub. As waterproof as it claimed to be, soapy water was notoriously technology’s undoing.

“Good. That makes this easier. Get your leg out as straight as you can. If you have to move the broken parts into alignment, well, you have to. Once everything looks straight, the spell is ‘more minu ma.’ Say it.”

“Mor-ay mee-new-ma,” Amadhay repeated slowly.

“Minu and ma are two different phrases. Try again.”

“More minu ma,” she tried again.

Good. And when you say that, imagine the pain gone and your leg whole while rubbing down from your thigh to ankle. Six times, no more, no less, and then you soak it for five more minutes. It will be healed when you step out of the water if you did it right.”

“Got it. Thanks.”

“But if you could perhaps have someone help you?”

“No time. I can do this on my own. Thanks Rea. I’ll call you again when I have time.”

“Don’t.”

Amadhay couldn’t blame her for that. Fraternizing with a known fugitive of the Phoegani was the same as being one for all the trouble it could cause her. Still, the response hurt. “Oh. Okay.”

“Be safe,” Rea added before disconnecting their call.



Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 Phellimore was a very different type of place than Roadesia. Though the air was the same, or at least similar enough that she didn’t notice anything, everything else was different. While she was used to a fair amount of trees and forest, the city in which they set their shuttles down upon was a veritable jungle. The people all had rather feline appearances and actions, and she wasn’t entirely certain who the natives were, considering she recognized a few cat-kins—or at least people who looked like cat-kins—interspersed with what she could only call cat Ferals and talking cats. The clothing ranged from fully clothed, like herself and her entourage, to wearing only scraps to cover genitals, to wearing absolutely nothing. And it wasn’t just the talking cats who opted for the latter.

There were no roads or pathways and there seemed to be an unspoken rule that if one could walk in the trees, above everyone’s heads, they should. The only hint of technology was the docking port, and if she hadn’t already known better, she wouldn’t have believed that Resor had a good system of trade with this planet, specifically one where the transporters of the planet moved Roadesian goods to this planet, where they were subsequently shipped onward.

She smiled at Harpess, who was relaxed, walking beside her. Kit Rain, on her other side, was quite a bit more tense and he flinched every time someone leapt over their heads from tree to tree. It amused her to see him so uncomfortable.

“Don’t spend much time in the wilds?” she asked innocently, receiving a sharp look.

“These aren’t wilds. This is a city,” he corrected her as if someone might be insulted. She doubted it.

She snorted, but didn’t say anything more to the man, instead focusing on the trio who led them. All three stood on their hind legs and stood about Kit Rain’s height. Each wore a single length of cloth wrapped about them similarly to Amadhay’s, but it was their only clothing and was as sheer as hers, not that their fur left anything visible. The one closest to her, which looked like a puma, glanced back at the three of them and Amadhay’s bodyguards. She wasn’t sure that she liked the look in its eye, but it didn’t look long. It exchanged looks with the lion and tiger at its sides before shaking its head slightly.

They were led to a tall tree with a growth in the base that opened enough for them to walk into it. The puma entered, while the other two stood on either side of the entrance like guards. Prillo and Faeo looked to her for orders and she looked to Harpess.

“They stay outside,” the woman said softly. “But we are allowed to enter with you.”

“Goodie,” she muttered.

“You could have had the company of the lord and his knight. It would have been more appropriate. You were the one to turn them down.”

She had. Phellimore was still too close to Resor. If Benjy or Christein were to spot her, she was sure that they would make her go home. Or at least they’d try to. She didn’t want to fight with them just yet. “I know,” she said. “I’m not complaining about your presence. Simply a little stuffy in this get up,” she lied, using her obvious inexperience to cover up for her.

Both of the humans grunted in acknowledgement before gesturing for her to enter first. She made a face. She recognized that that was the custom, but given how utterly unsafe it was, she wasn’t particularly interested in following that one. She had no idea what was inside the tree. It could be an ambush for all she knew.

She smiled dumbly at Kit Rain, gesturing for him to go first, who she knew was impatient for everything to be over, and he went through first. She followed quickly after him before Harpess could follow his lead, wanting to be between them if anything happened. What she lacked in strength, they had in surplus and it made sense to be between the walls of muscle.

They walked a foot or so forward before finding the puma, who was pausing on a spiraling staircase, waiting for them to catch up to it. It led them up, all the way to the top and pulled a sheer curtain to the side to allow them to leave the tree and walk forward to a sort of balcony, high up, above many of the trees surrounding them. It would have been a horrible place to be during an air attack.

Sitting around a trunk that seemed to double as a table were three more large cats. One of them sat in a seat, sprawled out like a person, but the other two sat on the floor. The one laying more than sitting caught Amadhay’s eye because it was the only one clothed, in a bejeweled top that was definitely holding magic, but a kind that she’d never seen before. Thoughtfully, she fingered the amulet on her necklace, feeling her own magic swirling inside and letting out the smallest bit to touch the other magic. It moved, unseen aside from a faint glitter in the air that only she and—apparently—the cat-people noticed, because they all watched it approach the jewel and circle it.

The one whose jeweled gown was being touched by Amadhay’s magic gave a mouth twitch that, on a different face could have been a smirk. It sat up, slowly, before moving to them on all four. Once it was before them, it stood up, eyes on Amadhay, making Kit Rain and Harpess close in tighter on either side of the girl.

It caught her magic around one paw and held it forward, making a soft sound in its chest.

“He says, ‘I think this belongs to you,’” The puma stated, clarifying her presence as translator.

Amadhay flushed at being so blatantly caught and reached out to take the magic, but paused, making eye contact with the lynx who stood only a little taller than herself. “No offense meant,” she stated, soaking her magic without touching it to make it clear that she wasn’t weak. It was obvious they thought she was, since they were acting like predators. She wasn’t their prey, and she wanted that to be plain.

It didn’t seem like she impressed them, however, because the lynx turned his back on Amadhay and sprawled out on his side. He was telling Amadhay that none of them were frightened of her by exposing his sensitive bits.

“Magi Hei, Momma Zue and Poppa Ferv receive you, Consort of the Master of Resorian Magi.”

Amadhay was almost positive that the three in the room understood Roades and that the translator was only there as an excuse for them to speak in their native tongue without being rude. Though that was still speculation, she was certain that they didn’t think she could hear them talking, given that the humans certainly couldn’t. She smiled nicely as they conversed in strange noises.

“Momma Zue would like to remind that the Resorian contract has expired and been null for several cycles now,” the translator said. Amadhay was pretty sure that the black panther was the ‘Momma’ Zue, the Phellimorian equivalent of an empress. Her green eyes gave a long blink, locked on Amadhay. In fact, all four of the cats were staring at Amadhay, which made her uncomfortable. She didn’t like being the center of attention when she wasn’t putting herself there.

“Expired?” Kit Rain demanded in a tight voice. The translator nodded. “We apologize for the inconvenience, then and appreciate you allowing us to dock regardless. We will leave immediately.”

The other cat, a serval who had to be the Poppa, their emperor, looked lazily to the man. His unblinking stare stayed on Kit Rain and Amadhay knew the human was uncomfortable, but he didn’t move. Dealing with large cats was like dealing with vampires: no sudden movements, show no fear, don’t try to intimidate.

“Poppa Ferv wants to know if Resor no longer wants their agreement.”

“We do,” Kit Rain assured them. “We are unprepared, however, to do any negotiations and for that, I apologize. If we had known, we would have brought a kylit with us.”

The translator didn’t wait for the other three to respond, and by doing that, made Amadhay sure that it was more than a translator. “You have. The Consort of the Master of Resorian Magi is kylit.”

“What is your aelfe?” Harpess asked, looking skeptically to Amadhay.

“Leopard,” she answered uneasily, not taking her eyes off of the ‘translator.’

“You should have mentioned that before now,” Kit Rain said quietly, as though to keep the others from hearing, which was impossible given the space they were all in. He cleared his throat to get attention back to himself. “Our envoy here is still new. We don’t have the proper diplomat to—“

“Christein and Benjy are authorized to make diplomatic decisions and, as the emissary of this mission and consort to the Grand Mage, I am allowed to stand as him in the event that it is necessary to make any Roadesian Army decisions. So, unless there’s an actual reason for you not wanting to reinstate the deal, I will wait here while you retrieve them.”

Amadhay was glad that she’d read the books Lizumeizei had sent for her. She needed some time alone with these people to find out why they were looking at her as they were, and if alerting Christein and Benjy to her presence early was the price of learning that, she would deal with that.

Kit Rain tensed and looked at Harpess, “Christein and Benjy,” he muttered to the woman, who simply nodded in a knowing way. “Of course, Lady Consort,” he said stiffly before he left.

She looked pointedly at Harpess. “Two sets of eyes is better than one,” she said, dismissing the woman.

“Don’t insult them. Try not to talk until we come back,” Harpess whispered before leaving as well.

Once it was just her and the four cats, she squinted at the translator. “I’m taking a guess here, but are you the, uh, I don’t want to insult you by calling you the wrong one,” she sighed dramatically. “Are you the Sissy?” she asked.

The translator, or rather the Sissy, looked to the panther, who no longer looked so lazy. She tilted her head at the same time as the Poppa, and the Magi sat up slowly. “Why do you ask that?”

“Just curious,” Amadhay said with a shrug. “Making conversation. Just, one thing. If you’re going to pretend to be a translator, you should probably make sure you’re speaking when they speak or after, because it’s noticeable when you don’t.”

The Sissy hissed, but the Magi relaxed and, apparently taking cue from him, the Momma and Poppa calmed their tails. In a low, grumbling noise, the Poppa spoke to the little puma, whose tail was twitching angrily.

Amadhay watched closely. While the puma didn’t look much like the blank panther or serval, she acted like them. She walked as comfortably on her hind legs as Amadhay, and that was strange here, much less than she did it with so much grace. Only the “royalty” did that because it was hard to get respect from other planets when they already looked like animals rather than intelligent beings.

“I’m Amadhay,” she introduced herself. “What’s your name?”

“What does it matter?” the Sissy snapped.

“Because I think we could be friends,” she answered honestly, looking around them. She had only seen cats so far. Did the food-animals live somewhere else or were they just good at hiding?

“Not interested,” she growled.

“Alright.” Amadhay turned her attention to the Magi, who would either be the Sissy’s older brother or her uncle. The first born of all Phellimore natives became a magician and the royal magician was an important part of the ruling body. She had a feeling he was the brother, because he seemed younger than both the Momman and Poppa, but older than the Sissy. “How about you? Friends? I’d like to learn about that cool magic there.”

The magi rolled to his feet and crossed the room again. For a brief moment, Amadhay felt uncomfortable when she was all alone, with four large cats, but she brushed it off. They could try to intimidate her all they wanted, but they wouldn’t hurt her. They wanted something from her. She could tell.

“Are you nervous little kylit?” he purred into her ear. “Do you talk when nervous?”

Amadhay smiled. “No, I attack when nervous,” she answered, pushing his muzzle away from her face. Their brief staring contest was cut off by a low growl that had the magi move back from her and look at the Momma. Her teeth were bared and Amadhay mentally counted how many knives she had on her. She wasn’t sure if her gift would work this far from Resor, but she was willing to try if it came down to it.

“I like her,” the Magi said in response to whatever the Momma was growling at him. The Sissy hissed and spit at him, but the Poppa kept his eyes on Amadhay as she side stepped so that her back was to the entrance.

He growled at her when she started to take a backwards step down the stairs. Immediately, the cats turned their attention back to her.

“Oh, Mumu, look, you’re scaring her,” the Magi purred, looking and sounding strangely pleased. “Calm little kylit. We mean no harm.” He looked to the Sissy, who gave half of a growl before he interrupted her with his own.

She eyed Amadhay mistrustfully. “The Magi would like to offer you permanent asylum on Phellimore given that you do not leave.”

Slowly, Amadhay tilted her head in question, narrowing her eyes. “And why would I be interested in that offer?” she countered.

None of the cat people blinked, giving her a long look before exchanging glances. “Are you unaware of the price for you?”

Amadhay gave a long blink. Arne Riff put a price on my head? She thought incredulously. How did he know I was out here? She chose her words carefully. “Hmm. How much of a price?”

“Alive, 30 million Galactic Credits. Dead, 15 million.”

It definitely wasn’t Arne Riff in that case. While the Hakinato clan was wealthy, she wasn’t sure if even with the combined Phoegani treasury he could scrounge together 30 million Galactic Credits. That was equivalent to nearly three times as many Roadesian chips. Whoever it was, wanted her alive pretty badly to half the price for her dead, but not enough to even offer a prize for her dead.

“And who, may I ask is the bounty for, specifically?”

The Sissy spat in irritation. “For you. It is for you.”

“For the Consort of the Master of Resorian Magic.”

Ah. It was about Lizumeizei, not her. She would have breathed a sigh of relief if the price didn’t imply that whomever it was knew that she was a good bargaining chip. Moreso, she knew that a dead bounty implied that they had an idea of just how hard she would be to capture. That was…problematic at best, and she decided to think about it at another time.

Instead, she smiled sharply. “And should I decline the offer?”

“Then we cannot promise your safety in leaving the planet,” the Sissy hissed, only to be reprimanded with growls from the others.

“We will not threaten you,” the Poppa stated, his words slower and a bit stilted.

“Good to know,” Amadhay responded, keeping eye contact with the lesser threat, the Sissy. “Because I came here with people who would die to keep me alive.” And you’re about to meet two who would kill for me. She smiled with that knowledge, but chose not to disclose it. It was better to keep that knowledge close to the chest, otherwise it might get around.

“Are you threatening us?” the Sissy purred, giving Amadhay a much sharper smile than the aelfe could have possibly given.

“Never,” Amadhay assured over her head, looking to the three representatives of the world. “I am merely warning in such a case that action must be taken.”

The posturing and threatening could have gone on until someone attacked, but instead it was cut short by rushed footsteps. She tilted her head forward in respect at the entrance of her cousin and friend, and looked directly to the true power in the room, the Magi. He may have attempted to seem less powerful through titles and by giving respect to the Momma and Poppa, but Amadhay knew that he would have been capable of destroying Lizumeizei at his absolute best. And that meant that her team’s main strength was gone.

You could kill him easily enough, that same dark voice muttered in the back of her head and her arm twitched, something she covered by tucking her hair behind an ear. “Momma, Poppa, and Magi, I present to you Christein Hakinato, Lordling of the Hakinato clan and Sir Benjym Base, Knight Loyale of Empress Kellinara’s regime.” She had gone deep into her memory for the correct titles of her cousin and friend and still wasn’t sure she was completely correct.

She supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised that the rulers focused on Benjy. Empress Kellinara was well known, the primary figurehead of Resor’s Galaxy-wide known history and recognized by many planets in their system as the conqueror of earthlings, savior of worlds, and Herald Supreme. Her Knight Loyale and her Knight Royale were nearly as well known, though Benjy had put a lot of effort into disappearing the last century or so.

She glanced to her friends and recognized that she had done them a disfavor by having them first know of her presence in front of an audience. Still, it did well for her, because Christein’s entire posture screamed out that he wanted to murder someone, and he was focusing instead on the Momma and Poppa, who seemed to recognize his posture and were just as bothered, since they kept glancing to him.

Benjy, on the other hand, was much more composed. He stood tall, eyes on Amadhay and giving a protective aura that even someone as blind and dumb to magical and emotional auras as herself could recognize. She smiled sweetly.

“So, about those negotiations, hmm?”



Next Chapter

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 Little Red and Her Wolf
In Which The Game Begins
In Which Amadhay is Rude
In Which Amadhay Meets Darach
In Which Atlas Slips Up

In Which Benjy is Hurt

In Which Amadhay is Compromised

In Which Amadhay Hurts Christein

In Which Riff Learns Something

In Which Alphonse is Angry

In Which Atlas Gets Punched

In Which Amadhay Fight Golems

In Which Johannes is Difficult

In Which Rea Trusts Amadhay

In Which Amadhay is Playing

In Which Amadhay Annoys Essies

In Which Amadhay Is Amaya
In Which Riff compliments Amadhay
In Which Amadhay Surprises Atlas
In Which Ben is Dumb
In Which Christein Deserves It 
In Which Amadhay Doesn't Panic
In Which Amadhay Thinks Hard
In Which Dreams Are Reality
In Which Amadhay Isn't Saved
In WHich Amadhay Ignores Atlas
In Which Amadhay Is Bouncing

In Which Ribbon Tells Stories

In Which There's A Deal

In Which Amadhay's A Worm

In Which Ribbon Sleeps In

In Which Amadhay Is Fickle
In Which Amadhay Makes Decisions
In Which Amadhay Isn't Kissed

In Which Amadhay Eavesdrops Some

In Which Amadhay Gets Hurt

In Which Johannes' Not Rea

In Which They Go Swimming

In Which Amadhay Asks Questions

In Which There Is Sparring

In Which There Are Reconciliations
In Which Amadhay Saves Herself
In Which Atlas Is Pissed

In Which Everyone Is Mad

In Which Stefan Hugs Amadhay

In Which Kimiko Is Annoying

In Which Amadhay Races Sha'adahk

In Which Atlas Is Playing

In Which Mayday's A Busybody

In Which Lots Isn't Said

In Which Tenshu's A Brother
In Which There Are Pegasi
In Which Amadhay Is Confused

In Which Palnoki is Phoegani

In Which Amadhay's Heart Breaks

In Which Atlas Washes Hair
In Which Ribbon's A Possession
In Which Atlas Is Truthful
In Which Amadhay Is Sneaky
In Which Amadhay Tells Lies

In Which Amadhay Keeps Promises

In Which Hands Are Forced

In Which Amadhay Breaks Promises
In Which Amadhay Chooses Wings
In Which Amadhay Is Alive
In Which Nolando Calls Christein
In Which She Could've Asked

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November 2016

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