As a rule, Amadhay normally didn’t hurt animals unless they hurt her first.
But for Mayday, she was going to have to make an exception. The first part of her plan was to put the cat out of commission. She still didn’t understand how the Palnokians understood the cat, but recognized that since the cat made it a habit of following her since he had been brought over, he was a danger to her. She knew he was watching her somewhere and that he could ruin her plans surer than anything else could.
All she really had to do was put him out for, at most, a zoot and everything was a go. In fact, it was rather simple to do, surprisingly. Mayday practically ran to her the moment she set foot out of the building. He meowed urgently at her, butting his head against her ankle.
She laughed softly. “It’s okay, Mayday. I’m just going for a walk.” Mayday meowed at her, curling around her feet. “You can even come with me to make sure I don’t go and drown myself in the mud puddle.”
Mayday gave a meow that sounded positively unamused at her joke. She scooped him up into her arms. He kneaded the knit of her black top as if questioning when she had changed.
“I was tired of feeling like a five-year-old,” she muttered defensively at the cat. He rubbed his head against her chest. “And I’m defending myself to a cat,” she said to herself, shaking her head. She passed the mud pools. Remembering her way through the maze, Amadhay petted the cat to make him purr contentedly. She liked the sound of his false sense of security.
“I would say that I was sorry for this, but that would be a lie,” she told Mayday as she paused at the center of the maze. The cat was slow to stop his purring and before he could meow a question at her, she tapped his nose a little harder than was strictly necessary for the paralytic spell to work. Once he was frozen, she hid him in the brush, tying his body to the base of one of the bushes. She wasn’t sure how long the spell would last, given it was her first attempt with it as a silent invocation. When she said the spell aloud, it always lasted fifteen clacks. She was hoping for more than fifteen with it having been silent. She was hoping for at least 30.
She had just barely made it to the end of the maze, and was sitting down and finishing her plans when a worried Ribbon found her.
“Tired Escort!” the woman exclaimed, heaving a sigh of relief when she saw Amadhay sitting there. Amadhay looked up at her as blankly as she could.
“What?” she asked softly.
Ribbon ran a hand over her own bush of curly hair before sitting next to the girl. “Well considering how you’ve been the past few weeks, I was kind of insanely worried about your ass when I didn’t know where you were,” she answered, putting her arm around Amadhay in a half-hug, which the teenager forced herself to relax into.
“I just wanted to be outside,” Amadhay said, which was partially true. She had also wanted to go to one of the last places anyone would look for her so that she would have time to plot. The only better place would have been the meeting room, and that had still been occupied when she had stopped eavesdropping.
Ribbon nodded, looking out over the hedges, at the bloody sunset. “Is it helping?” she asked after a few clacks of silence.
Amadhay nodded. “I’m good today,” she claimed.
Ribbon gave her a long, disbelieving look that Amadhay feared meant that Ribbon knew she had been eavesdropping. It didn’t. “You don’t have to pretend to be strong for me,” the woman said.
Amadhay gave her a weak smile. “I know,” she responded, leaning her head against Ribbon’s side. She waited a few more clacks before she found an appropriate segue. “I want to see Tairyn.”
Ribbon sat up straight abruptly, frowning. “No,” she started. “Red Bird, that’s a bad idea. You’re just starting to—”
“I want to see him,” Amadhay said firmly. “He’s part of all of this. I need to talk to him.”
Ribbon made a sound to make it very obvious how much she didn’t like the idea. Amadhay didn’t care. “At least promise not to hurt him?”
“No,” Amadhay said with absolute conviction. “I can’t promise not to.” In fact, she could only promise the opposite. She had to. While partially blaming him for Indigo’s death was a part of her needing to see him, it wasn’t the most pressing point. She had so many different reasons to want to hurt him that she honestly couldn’t come up with one why she shouldn’t. Which was going to make that part of the plan that much easier. “I want to kill him.”
“Don’t. Red Bird, please? Do it for Kimiko?” Ribbon tried, apparently not realizing that the other girl held no sway for Amadhay any longer.
“I would if I thought Atlas would let me,” Amadhay breathed, testing the waters for her next actions.
“He probably would,” Ribbon muttered before thinking. She covered her mouth, looking askance at Amadhay. “But you still shouldn’t,” she added hurriedly. “It would break Kimiko’s heart.”
Then maybe I actually should, Amadhay thought. So she’ll know how it feels. But she shook her head, forcing herself to forget petty vengeance. She had a plan and she had to stick to it. “I won’t,” she whispered. “I just want to see him.”
Ribbon frowned, looking at her worriedly. “I really don’t think you should.”
“If you won’t take me to him, I’ll go on my own,” she stated. “But I’d prefer you went with me. You’ll stop me before I do anything horrible.”
Ribbon sighed, rubbing her brow before she nodded. “Fine. But if you do anything rash, I’m going to have to stop you.”
“I’m counting on it,” Amadhay said earnestly. She gave Ribbon another weak smile, completely playing the part Ribbon expected from her.