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 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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 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.”


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

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Amadhay appeared back in Adrian's room loaded down by all six bags. “Did anything change while I was home?” she demanded, dropping them and moving immediately to the bedside.

The aelfe gave her a look. “He hasn't moved. I think you put a dead body in my bed.”

“He's not dead,” Amadhay snapped. She hoped he wasn't, anyway. She had done everything in her power to save him. All the necromancer books she read while at Palnoki had really come in handy, because if she had done her normal healing spells, he would have died on the spot.

“Wait. What's with the bags?” Adrian demanded. “Are you moving in here?”

“Don't get your hopes up,” she scoffed, “I'm going on a mission with Monkey and Benjy. I need you to—”

“No,” he said before she could even finish her request. So that's where Essie's been getting it, Amadhay thought sardonically. “I'm not nursing him back to health. I don't even think it can be done. You better take him with you.”

“On a mission?” she asked exasperatedly.

He glared at her. “It's bad enough that you put a dead body in my bed. I'm not going to let him stay there until he's a rotten corpse.”

“Adrian,” she pleaded, “Christein will kill me if he sees him.”

“Wait, why?” Adrian asked, his eyes turning sharp. He looked closer at Tenshu. “Who is this?”

She blinked quickly. “Just someone he doesn't like,” she lied. “You know how he is. He expects me to hate everyone he hates.”

Adrian looked suspicious. “Is he your secret twine? Did Christein walk in on you two and try to kill him in a jealous rage?”

“Yes,” she said in a flat tone, rolling her eyes. “That is exactly what happened.”

Adrian hesitated for a moment, as if he wanted to ask something, but instead, after a moment of consideration, he shrugged. “Either way, you've got to get him out of my bed. Why didn't you take him to Rea?”

Because Rea would recognize him in a click and alert Arne Riff, Amadhay thought before answering as calmly as she could. “He's not Phoegani. She's a stickler about that.”

“She does favors for you all the time,” he argued, eyeing her suspiciously again.

“We just had a falling out,” she lied. “So I'm not taking him to her. She'd probably kill him.”

“He's dead already.”

“No he's not!” Amadhay exclaimed, needing him to stop saying that. She had put too much effort in saving Tenshu for him to be dead. She refused for him to be dead.

“He's not breathing, I couldn't find a pulse, and he's icy.”

“He's in dead shock,” she bit out, not really wanting to explain, but not wanting Adrian to think she planned on leaving a dead body in his bed.

“He's in what?” the older teenager asked, crossing his arms over his chest. She could tell that he thought she made it up off the top of her head. She hadn't.

“He's a necromancer. They go into dead shock when they're hurt badly. The necromantic abilities put them closer to dead all the time, so it's harder to bring them back. You have to be careful and heal them just so. He's in the first stage, near death. He's breathing, but barely. His pulse is incredibly slow and faint. He's lost almost all of his body heat. But he's alive.”

“I'm definitely not dealing with him then,” he stated.

“Adrian,” she pleaded. “You owe me.”

“I don't owe you nearly this much.” He shook his head. “He's got to get out of my bed. Either take him with you or take him to a healer.”

“I can't,” she bit out.

“Why not?” he demanded. “He's definitely not more likely to heal up here than there.”

He was though. She had read enough on necromancers in an incredibly credible library to keep him alive long enough that his body's natural healing would kick in and take him out of dead shock. Healers would keep trying to wake him up, would keep poking and prodding at him. Necromancers were such a secretive, private race. They normally lived in large communes, far away from large cities or in large communities when in big cities. They so rarely allowed non-necromancers to work on them, that most healers would have no idea what dead shock was. Most healers had no idea what to do with a necromancer when they did get one. Nine times out of ten, necromancers died on the healers table.

Her conscience couldn't take him being one of them.

No, he had to stay with her so that she could nurse him back to the living. She owed it to him. She owed it to Ribbon.

Next Chapter

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Christein was scoping out the crowds again. He knew it wasn't necessary. Those that knew his face wouldn't be interested in what he was doing—unless they saw Amadhay, of course, which he was pretty good at avoiding. And then those that would be interested in what he was doing wouldn't know his face. That was the great thing about invisibility.

When he got back to the table, both Amadhay and Ben were absent. It didn't take too much thought to recognize that they were probably together. Even though it irritated him that the girl would ditch him, even for a short while (which he knew it had to be considering she hadn't said anything to him and she wouldn't leave without saying something to him), with Ben, he recognized that it only made sense to let her have her time with the phantom as well. He knew that she had a strange kind of relationship with the man, even if she refused to admit it beyond that short time when Ben had been truly dead, that verged on a possibly romantic relationship. It was only fair that she spend time with him before the two of them went off for Goddess only knew how long. Especially since, even if he died on the mission, it would take a necromancer out in space to keep Ben from coming back to her, which pissed him off.

He wasn't the only one she would miss and he needed to come to terms with that. Especially since he was denying himself any untoward feelings for his little cousin.

So with the two of them out of the picture, Christein didn't much feel like sitting around and eating by himself. He had only wanted to get food to be sure that Amadhay ate something. So instead, he crowd-gazed, checking out the different people milling around the shopping center. There were groups of blunderlusters in abundance, especially ones wearing brightly colored clothes and talking louder than anyone had any right to do in such a crowded, public place. They were joking around, playing with each other, running back and forth and disturbing the peace, but in such a way that most of the older patrons simply smiled benignly after them.

He'd never been able to have that sort of freedom. He'd only had a few friends when he had been their age, and the sorts of friends he'd had wouldn't have been going out in public and playing around. They had, almost expressly stayed in caves, learning of the Old Ways and making plans against his father. Those had been his blunderlust years. He hadn't been like Hynnkel, who'd had a friend almost from the moment he had been born to wander around with and make idiotic mistakes that would just be excused as blunderlust. He'd been held to a different standard from birth.

Just thinking about that made him angry. Angry with his brother, his father, the happy teenagers, even Amadhay, whose freedom was always so distracting to him at the worst of times.

His eyes caught sight of a familiar pair of teenagers. There was Amaya, Amadhay's nearly identical sister, and her closest friend, the Prince Croy-li du Kay. The two were on either side of a young, dark-skinned girl with thick hair in matted coils. Neither of them had noticed him yet, which he counted as a blessing. The last thing he wanted was to gain the attention of the girl who could make this relatively relaxed and enjoyable trip into a horrible nightmare. The last time he had seen his younger cousin, she had shot him. He didn't really want to see what she would do this time.

Casually, he stood up from the table, leaving his bags. He sneaked easily to the corner of a food stand, slouching so that he would blend in with the shorter people of the crowd around him. He kept a close eye on Amaya, determined to get far enough way that she wouldn't spot him.

“So, the bathroom's over there,” his cousin told the little girl in a much too loud voice, pointing to the same bathrooms Amadhay had gone to. He should warn her. “Do you need me to go with you?”

The little girl gave Amaya a look to tell her that the suggestion had been unwarranted. “No, Lady May. I can go to the bathroom alone. I promise.” She hugged a small, rather ugly doll to her chest before smiling a wide smile at the teenagers and dashing off to the bathroom.

Amaya rolled her eyes and glanced at Croy-li. “Don't give me that look. I know Ten told me to go with her, but I didn't feel it was necessary, okay?”

Croy-li rolled his eyes right back at the girl. “Just know it's your funeral.”

“Oh come off it, what could happen to her in a bathroom?”

“She could fall in?” the dark-skinned teenager jokingly suggested before rolling his neck and running a hand through his dyed-teal hair. “How long do you think it'll take Tenshu to get her a present?”

“Forever and a day,” Amaya replied. “You know he's probably going through every toy store here to find something perfect for her. Or a bunch of things perfect for her.”

Tenshu. Tenshu Tanhakinshu was here, in this mall. Christein smirked and, with a certain feeling of predestined inevitability, he pulled the slip of dark fabric, his mask, from his back pocket and pressed it to his face, feeling the familiar magic form to his face and conceal his identity. This would be an excellent time to get a little revenge on the necromancer. He and his partner had been a giant pain in his butt for the past year. Between killing Ben, kidnapping Amadhay, beating him unconscious, threatening the three of them, and just being nuisances in general, he wanted to give Tanhakinshu a taste of his own medicine. A time when he wasn't with his partner seemed like the best chance he was going to get. And he knew that the necromancer's vampire partner wasn't around, because Melani had just reported last spotting him Over the Water yesterday, during his debrief on her mission there.

He looked up to the second level of the mall, where the toy stores were all located. If the necromancer was attempting to buy a toy for the little girl, then he was sure to be up there. With ease, Christein fell into his invisibility Gift, knowing that even with his mask, that his irregular height and tell-tale limp would give him away long before he could find the other man otherwise. He walked right past his little cousin, who continued talking to the prince as though she had no worries in the world. Deftly avoiding running into other people, Christein limped up the stairs to the second level and searched for a head covered in auburn hair. Auburn wasn't a common natural hair color for Roadesian natives, and considering the hair trends seemed to be bright, unnatural colors, he felt pretty sure that he'd be able to find the necromancers by his hair.

The first three toy stores were a bust. There was no trace of the man, not even a hint of his necromantic abilities to indicate he'd been there in the past ten clacks. Christein had almost resigned himself to using a tracing spell when he caught a glimpse of long, straight, auburn hair turning a corner. Forcing himself through a group of aelfe around Amadhay's age and making them look around, spooked and yet excited, he quickly followed the hair around the corner.

And there he was. Tenshu Tanhakinshu stood at the window of a toy store, eyeing the display with a strange intensity. He had his arms crossed over his narrow chest and his hip cocked the way Amadhay did when she was in thought. His narrowed eyes were focused on a set of porcelain dolls, a variety set of different ethnicities. One, Christein noted as he sneaked closer to the man, taking care not to let him know he was there, looked surprisingly like the necromancer, with long auburn hair in a ponytail, green eyes, and olive skin. It even wore a necromancer's seal on its black dress. Tenshu nodded to himself just as Christein made it close enough to touch him.

“Definitely that one,” the man muttered to himself just as his DS went off. He answered it. “If you're calling to tell me you lost Semi, I will kick your ass,” were his first words to the other person, but they were drowned out by screams. Tenshu jerked to a straight-backed position, listening carefully. “Cole, slow down. I can't hear you. Where are you?” he called loudly into the DS, turning from the shop and straight into Christein.

Christein turned visible as Tenshu was knocked back to the floor by his own force. The smaller man looked up at him in horror as Christein smirked cruelly. “You have something of your own to worry about,” he taunted.

Tenshu looked around, assessing the situation for a moment, before moving forward into a crouch. “Really, Christein? You honestly think you can take me on your own?” he scoffed, making Christein angrier.

The taller man clenched his fists, ready to attack him, but the necromancer was faster. With an incredible ease, Tenshu swept his hand up, as if swatting at Christein and though the gesture didn't touch Christein, the blast of black magic did. It slapped Christein away and into the railing of the banister separating the second level from the air above the first level. Christein hit with a sickening sound, telling him that something had probably broken. He gave a soft groan, pushing himself up on his elbows and watched as

 the necromancer got to his feet.

“I'm here, I'm coming. I'll be down in a click,” the necromancer assured the person on his DS. “What? She what? Shit.” Tenshu didn't notice Christein standing and following him as he picked his way through the crowds. People were moving in masses in the same direction as him, pushing against him. “Don't let her move or the spell will increase, do you hear me, Cole? If you let her move, it will get worse.”

Christein was gaining on Tenshu, his appearance making it easier for him to intimidate those around him into moving and less likely to push back against him when he shoved them out of his way. His ribs hurt, and that was a major motivator to getting him after the other man. He wanted reparations for all the pain the necromancer had put not only him, but Ben and Amadhay through in the past year. He hadn't been able to do anything for her while she was with the Palnoki, especially since every time he'd come close, the damned necromancer had shown up and nearly killed him. But now? Now he could certainly get some sort of payback when someone needed him and he wouldn't be able to help because he was too weak.

He caught up with Tenshu at the bottom of the stairs. The necromancer seemed to know he was there, because the man turned at the last click, but it was still too late, because Christein grasped him by the throat and slammed him down, onto the stairs. He put too much force into it, and it knocked the breath right out of the necromancer, slamming his head against the corner of a step. Tenshu winced, the reality of the attack hitting him slowly. He clawed at Christein's hand, trying to get enough breath into his lungs to speak.

The aelfe clenched his hand even tighter, a sneer taking to his face as the necromancer began to turn a shade of blue to tell him that the asphyxiation was taking a very real toll in his body.

“Le...t go,” Tenshu managed in a whistling whisper, weakly snapping his fingers.

At the snap of his fingers, Christein felt a jolt, almost like lightning running through his veins and jumped back, letting go of Tenshu. The younger man gulped in air, gently touching his throat as the aftereffects of his curse rushed through Christein's body. The aelfe trembled for a few clicks, giving the necromancer time to refocus, grabbing for his DS.

“Cole, is she still alright? Croy-li?” Tenshu made it to his feet just as Christein recovered from the curse. Both of them heard a harsh, angry cry that sounded alarmingly similar to Amadhay’s voice. Tenshu wavered on his feet as he tried to run in that direction, pushing himself against the stair’s railing and stumbling awkwardly. All Christein could assume was that the necromancer was having a hard time getting himself back to normal after nearly being strangled.

Although he kept his ears attuned to Amadhay’s voice, Christein kept his focus on the necromancer. He refused to let the man go, even if it meant not helping Amadhay. Making sure that he could never touch her again was far more important than checking on her when she had Ben to keep her safe if she needed it. He doubted she needed any help. Truth be told, he had very little doubt that the necromancer was in fact, trying to save someone from her.

With that in mind, the aelfe focused inwardly, keeping his eyes tracking Tenshu, who was closing the distance between the stairs and the oversized fountain that separated the shopping area from the food court. He only had one chance to do this, one chance to catch the necromancer with enough magic to incapacitate him long enough for Christein to catch up and dole out the last, painful, blows. The necromancer was far superior with magic, but Christein had quite a bit more brute force and that roughness to his power was what was going to help take him down.

Christein could feel his magic gathering in his hands, could see the darkening of his skin from dark olive to brown as he lifted them and aimed at Tenshu, muttering the incantation as quickly as he could. The necromancer made it to the fountain just in time for Christein to easily plant a target right on his back. “Boom,” the chameleon aelfe said, using his trigger word to shoot dark brown from his hands and into the other man’s back, hitting him hard enough to knock the younger man into the fountain headfirst. It immobilized him as Christein limped as quickly as he could to get to him. Mentally, he counted the clicks as they passed, knowing that he had thirteen before the spell faded away. 4…5…6…7…8

One brave little man tried to stand between him and his prey. Christein didn’t even give him more than a quick look, his eyes flashing red to tell the man that he had no chance. It didn’t stop the man from attempting to tackle Christein away. His tail lashed forward and smacked the man away faster than he could take another step, making Christein smirk. 11…12…13.

He wasn’t quite to the necromancer when his curse ended, but he was close enough that Tenshu was only able to push out of the water and hack out several coughs, trying to get the water out of his lungs, before Christein landed a blow to the back of his head in time with a loud explosion from the other side of the fountain. Tenshu drooped forward in the water, barely keeping his nose and mouth above the water while Christein paused, considering leaving him here and checking on the other side, but a loud, strange laugh that was definitely Amadhay’s confirmed that all was fine. Instead, he focused him attention back on Tenshu, who had managed to lift his upper body and turn so he wasn’t lying face-first in the water.

His auburn hair floated in the water beneath him as he took in labored breaths, trying to focus his eyes on Christein. The lazy focus of Tenshu’s eyes told Christein that the necromancer was only barely holding on to consciousness. He punched him again, and was unpleasantly surprised when the necromancer tried to shock him again. Luckily, the power behind the attack was waning and it only felt like a minor shock, not the full intravenous lightning he had dealt with before. Unluckily for Tenshu, it only served to make Christein angrier. Grabbing the front of the necromancer’s shirt, he lifted him into the air and slammed him into the statue of an ancient Ora ruler, hard enough to put cracks into the rock. Now, instead of just spewing from the statue’s palms, water was dribbling from the cracks and there was red staining the light color. Red that had to be Tenshu’s blood.

Christein grinned savagely. “Looks like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” he taunted the necromancer, who seemed to be having a hard time keeping his eyes open. “Here, let me help you with that.” He tossed Tenshu back into the water and watched with a strange glee as the man struggled to sit up above the water. He was failing. His head kept falling under the water and the abject terror in his green eyes only served to make Christein more excited. He limped through the water, toward him, only to be stopped by a body flying into his path, through the statue.

The contained pandemonium broke out all around him and now that his focus was off of Tenshu, he could see that everything was quite a bit more problematic than he had thought. People were running around, screaming and hiding. A few bystanders even seemed to be injured, though he was almost positive it wasn’t from his battle with Tenshu. The statue was completely destroyed, there were abandoned bags and food everywhere.

The body that had been thrown through the statue was Ben. And on the other side of the water spout that had once been a statue, were both of his little cousins, the Prince du Kay, and the little girl. The little girl lay at the edge of the fountain, obviously unconscious, with Amaya next to her, struggling to stand in front of her. Amadhay was standing with her back to him, facing off against du Kay, a strange red and black speckled aura coating her and thankfully hiding her physical attributes from any onlookers that had yet to already flee. He could hear the sirens of the Local Force coming closer.

He glanced at Tenshu one last time, before realizing that getting a few more hits in to an already dead man wasn’t worth the chance of being caught by the Local Force. “Ghost Sparrow,” he snapped at Ben, who was slowly getting to his feet. Ben snapped his attention to him. “Erase evidence of us,” he ordered the phantom, who immediately looked ready to argue, his eyes on Amadhay.

“I will get Red Robin,” he said through gritted teeth, already making his way around the spout and toward her. He didn’t look back to Ben, simply expecting him to do as he ordered. While he didn’t have any higher ranking than Ben, he was supposed to be the leader of their upcoming mission, which he used to give him leverage this once.

“Red Robin,” he called, trying to get her attention away from the Prince, who looked as if he wanted nothing more than to get to Amaya and the little girl, not fight Amadhay more.

Her code name did nothing to get her attention. She cackled as she tossed a ball of strangely colored power at du Kay, who held up a small, opaque, shield, which bounced the ball right back at her. She absorbed it without a flinch. “Red Robin!” he tried again, louder this time.

She still didn’t look at him, though du Kay did. That click of inattention to her was apparently all she needed, because before either of them could blink, she was smashing du Kay’s shield against his own face, bloodying his nose. When he let go of the shield to grab his face, she dropped the shield to the ground and pulled her arm back, letting her power cover her fist.

She’s going to kill him, Christein realized just before she let her fist fly.

Before it could hit, however, Amaya, who no one had been paying attention to, knocked into Amadhay from the side and both sisters fell to the ground. Amadhay reared to attack her, but almost as if an off switch had been flipped, she lost the red glow. Something was whispered between the two sisters, and Amadhay’s eyes went searching, moving away from Amaya, who fell back in a crumpled heap. For a moment, he thought that Amadhay was looking for him, especially when she relaxed at spotting him. But then her eyes moved past him, into the fountain.

Before he could follow her eyes, she was standing in front of him, panting and holding her side as if she were injured. “You should take these and leave. I’ll help Benjy.” She pressed their forgotten bags into his arms. He started to argue that they should both leave, but she interrupted him. “You’re noticeable. You need to leave. I’m fast. Benjy is a phantom. They can’t catch us and we need to not leave a trace, especially not in videos. I wasn’t wearing a mask. So go. I’ll catch up with you.”

There was something in her words that didn’t sit right with him, but he did take the bags from her, noting that she had given him Ben’s bags as well. She was right, in a way. He was noticeable even when invisible. If they caught sight of him, they were in trouble. She, on the other hand, was small and could get in and out easily where he couldn’t. Ben could go completely incorporeal if he needed to, he could even go partially corporeal and still get the information out that they needed.

He nodded. “I’ll wait for you at Ben’s,” he told her, and she nodded. “If anything goes wrong, you call me.”

“I know. Go.”

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)

“You won’t forget to be at the station at eight, right?” Benjy called after the two of them as they were leaving the store. He had taken a bit longer than either of them to gather up his purchases, and Christein had ushered her away, trying to leave the phantom behind. Now she thought she knew why. He hadn’t wanted him to accidentally tell her anything.

Christein shrugged uncomfortably. “Don’t worry, I won’t be late. We won’t miss the ship.”

We being who, now?” Benjy asked, glancing casually at Amadhay, who gave him a brilliant smile.

“Amadhay’s just helping me pick out clothes. She’s not coming. It’s just you and me.”

Amadhay looked from Benjy to Christein and back, thinking over what the two had just told her. Their mission was at eight and they had to meet at a station to go on some ship. Meaning both of them were leaving her for this mission. Curious that Christein had forgotten to mention that to her. Curious that he had managed to keep putting off telling her anything about the mission, actually. Except that they were leaving tonight. At eight. For some reason, the time seemed important, that they were leaving at eight and not some other time. Why was eight so important? And what station had ships? Didn’t he meant the dock?

Benjy grinned down at Amadhay. “Maybe I should have you pick out my clothes too. How should I dress to pretend to be Christein’s best friend?”

“Like yourself,” she automatically answered, still trying to solve her puzzle. What happened at eight? Why was it important that they leave at eight?

“He’s not my best friend,” Christein snarled.

“It’s either me or Benjy. I’m pretty sure it’s him.”

“Aw, she bumped me up from rival. See how sweet our Mayday is?” Benjy joked, walking with the pair as they left the store. He took the bags Amadhay had been carrying, only to have them snatched from his hands by Christein, who was already overloaded with bags full of clothes.

“She’s not ours,” the aelfe muttered.

“Then whose is she?” the phantom countered.

“Her own,” Amadhay answered loudly to remind the two that she was, indeed, still with them.

“Well of course you’re your own,” Benjy said, not sounding the least bit put out by her statement. “But who else’s are you? You can’t be only your own. How selfish would that be?” he teased.

For some reason, that reminded Amadhay of a recurring fight she’d had with Ribbon, where the woman had claimed that she only cared about herself, that in the fifteen years she’d been alive, that she had never put someone else’s best interests before her own.

“Then I guess I’m yours,” she said before thinking the statement through. She looked at her cousin, who was glowering. “Both of yours.” Ben’s face dropped for a moment when she said that, but he kept grinning.

“So, how about food?” Christein suggested, giving Benjy a dark look to imply that he wasn’t invited.

“Eh,” Amadhay shrugged. “I’m not really hungry.”

“You haven’t eaten and you were feeling faint earlier,” her cousin reminded her, turning his attention back to her.

She tried to shrug it off again, being Benjy joined in. “You were feeling faint?”

“I was just feeling a little odd,” she corrected. “It could have been anything.”

“But you haven’t eaten, and I’m hungry, so let’s get food.”

“Yeah,” Benjy jumped in, “Let’s get food. The food court is pretty amazing. It should even have something for the picky eater,” he gave a glance Christein’s way. “And it’s close, so we can eat immediately.”

Amadhay sighed, but knowing that the decision had already been made, allowed her favorite males to lead her to the food court. It was weird, she thought, how both of them were being so attentive. Benjy hadn’t bothered with her in a few weeks. Christein had actively been ignoring her until the previous night. Now, when they were leaving at eight, they were being more attentive, more understanding and both of them kept touching her. Benjy had his hand at the small of her back while Christein had an arm swung over her shoulder, all the bags weighing both of them down. They had her walking slower than her normal gait and she found that she was incredibly suspicious.

They were hiding something from her, and she was pretty sure it had to do with the mission. They were lavishing her with attention, which was odd purely because the two of them weren’t fighting or trying to steal her away. They were being decent to each other, which was a rarity. It was as if they were being extra careful to make her happy.

If it had just been Christein, she would have understood it. He felt guilty about what had happened the previous night. She had assumed he was trying to make up for what he saw as a lapse in reason, a failure to her. In fact, if it had just been Ben, she wouldn’t have been suspicious. He had been avoiding her for some reason, and when he did that, even with good reason, he always paid her twice the amount of attention he normally gave her to make up for it. But both of them? On the same day?

It had to have something to do with the mission. The mission both of them were going on at eight, where they would meet at a station for a ship.

The realization smacked her just as they made it to the food court.

“What do you want?” Benjy asked her.

They weren’t just going Over the Water. They were going into space. Christein was the spoiled aelfen lord and Benjy was the accompanying friend. Christein needed clothes more befitting of his title because he was supposed to be pretending that he was some empty headed aelfen lord. Benjy had asked about dressing as his friend because that was his role. They were leaving her for an interplanetary mission. They would be gone far longer than a few days or weeks. If she was lucky, they’d be back in 10 months.

And they hadn’t planned on telling her.

“Amadhay?” Christein interrupted her thoughts. “What do you want to eat?”

She gave him a false smile. “I dunno. Surprise me,” she said before tugging at her curls. She had yet to put the needles back in her hair, having chosen to just stick them into the knife sheath in her sleeves.”I should go fix my hair,” she added, veering away from the men, who were heading towards food.

“Okay,” Benjy smiled at her. “We’ll be at that table,” he gestured to one in the center of the food court, partially hidden by an oversized plant. She nodded at the two, who headed to the table to set their bags down. Before she could head off, however, she saw something in Ben’s bag that caught her attention. There was a sword hanging out of his bag. A sword that was calling out to her. She paused, checking to see that both Christein and Benjy were watching her, before smiling and heading to the bathroom.

Once in the room, she pressed gently against the door, thinking the enchanted words to lock it from the inside and keep others out. She needed to get her thoughts together and there was no better place to do that than in the solitude of the bathroom.

Christein and Benjy were both going on a mission of interplanetary colonization. She didn’t know why they were going, how long they would be gone, or even for a fact that they would be back. Going off-planet wasn’t like going offshore. A ship in the water could sink and drown them or be hit by pirates, but it was highly unlikely if it were a mass passenger ship. A ship in space had many more problems. It was like a submarine. It had to keep oxygen flowing through the giant hunk of metal, not crash into anything else in space, try not to crash land, then on top of that, if they were to land on a planet, there was a high likeliness that the natives would be hostile and a low likeliness that they would be breathing the correct air. Even before getting into space, they had to get out of Resor’s atmosphere and, even with all the innovations towards space craft in the past century or so, over half of the space ships deployed burned to a crisp before even leaving the planet’s atmosphere. Those were all possibilities for her friends.

Then, on top of that, there were no friendly faces. On a ship full of humans and animal-kind, tension would run high quickly and almost immediately, the tables would turn from Roadesian society to a new, space society, where humans were the top of the social ladder. If that happened, they might just choose to kill off Christein and toss Benjy into space. She couldn’t stand that. They needed her with them. The mass hive mind tended to bend a bit more, be more willing to take direction from a woman, especially one in power.

She called Lizumeizei.

“What’s up, luv?” he answered immediately, a tiny image of him appearing above her wrist DS.

“I need you to get me in somewhere.”

He tilted his pretty head. “Where?” he asked.

“I need you not to ask questions, just do it. You have pull where I don’t.” She shoved herself up to sit on the countertop of the sink. His worried face turned to the blank slate he used for business.

“Are you asking me to use my sway to get you somewhere you don’t belong?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered honestly. “It will be dangerous and I need it done immediately.”

“Is it for Lord Phoeganis?” he asked, a certain bite in his voice telling her that he wouldn’t help her if it were.

“No,” she said, trying to keep eye contact with his image so that he knew she was being honest. “It’s personal.”

He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Since you seem to want to keep me in the dark, you’ll have to do it on your own. Just tell whomever is in charge that you’re either the Grand Mage or Qwuill Master’s consort and need immediate accommodations. They’ll see to it that you are treated as I would be, which will probably be more extravagantly than you would like. Suck it up and make sure to present yourself with grace. If I’m tying you to my public name, I’m going to need you to behave with decorum and not sully it.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m not going to tell people that I’m your whore, Lizumeizei.”

“You aren’t,” he said seriously. “You’re telling them that you are my second, and my intended knot. That’s what consort means here.”

“That’s not what it means here,” she argued. “I’d prefer to use the term promised.”

“Since you aren’t that just yet, you shouldn’t. I can assure you that they will understand what you mean. If that’s all?”

She paused for a moment, surprised that he was not only giving in as easily as he had, but that he was now dismissing her. They had barely talked since she’d dealt with the white witch and stone mage for him. In fact, she was feeling like she needed to say more to him, to assure him that she wasn’t just using him. He needed to know that.

“Lizumeizei,” she said before he could disconnect. He paused, looking to her exasperatedly. She changed from apologetic and assuring to worried in a click. “What’s wrong?” she asked softly, frowning at his image.

He rubbed his face. “I’m just dealing with a lot right now. It’s probably best if you don’t come around for a bit.”

“Is it the Huron clan?” she demanded, clenching her fists. She may not have much time, considering she had to ditch Christein and Ben, make arrangements to become part of the colonization, pack up her bags, and get there all before eight that night, when it was already two in the afternoon. But she could make time to strike some fear into their little hearts. She was already deciding where she’d hide Mother Sari’s baby boy to remind them once and for all that she could hit them where it hurt. No one was allowed to bother her Lizumeizei. No one.

“I can deal with it on my own,” he snapped. “The last thing I need is for you to mess things up any more than you already have.”

She stared at him for a long moment. He didn’t apologize. “Uh. Okay,” she said, reining in her temper.

Lizumeizei was dealing with pressure that she didn’t understand. She knew that. As the Qwuill Master, he was possibly the most powerful Qwuill for hire in all of Roadesia. His information system was astounding and he was wanted for hire as an informant or mercenary mage by all manner of powerful, important people. As the Grand Mage, he dealt with a whole different set of duties, being recognized as the most skilled mage in all of Roadesia. He was under scrutiny as the Qwuill Master, under threats as the head of the Silver Guild, the second most powerful wizarding guild in the world, regularly under threat of a coup as the Grand Mage on the Roadesian Army’s panel, and as her paramour, under a different type of stress. He needed some time to himself to figure everything out, to balance it out, and she had been taking up a lot of his free time, she realized.

Her going away would be good for him as well.

She nodded. “Alright then. That’s all I needed.”

“Good.” When she started to reach to disconnect, Lizumeizei stopped her by saying her name.

“Hmm?” she asked, trying for an air of calm and reserve she wasn’t feeling.

“Stay safe.” She smiled at him, ready to tell him to do the same, but then he added, “I love you.”

He hung up before she could respond. And then, before she could call him back, there was a soft knocking on the door.

“Amadhay, are you alright in there?” came Ben’s soft voice.

“Yeah, I’m coming right out,” she assured him, using her Gift to put the needles back into her hair. It hurt, it hurt much more than it ever had for her before. Even with exhaustion and being around Arne Riff, it had never seared at her skin to use her Gift before. She swallowed it down and patted gently at her hair. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do since she didn’t have time to do any more without either man becoming suspicious. It was then that she realized she hadn’t put her ever-present mirror spell on herself that morning.

He’s controlling it. She suddenly decided, trying to remember if she’d used her Gift or teleported at all that day. She hadn’t until just now, she was positive of it. That meant she could have been under Atlas’ influence all day. She had known there were too many coincidences. Stalia on the train, Christein needing clothes, meeting up with Ben, the outfit being perfectly Christein’s size. What was he planning? He had to be planning something, something to do with her and the mission. If she hadn’t already been decided, then that realization would have made her completely certain that she was going with them.

The two of them needed protection from Atlas Palnoki.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)

Amadhay wasn’t sure if Christein knew that she’d noticed him paying for the clothes with a black credit card. She had, and considering she knew his resources were limited, (being only what Arne Riff deigned to give him for successful missions, which was far, far less than he deserved and less than even a quarter of what other Phoegani agents received for much smaller jobs than he regularly did,) it wasn’t his. That meant that it was a Phoegani credit card, which meant that he was spending Phoegani money. And that told her that he had been given a clothes budget.

She knew exactly how many shirts and pants he had in his closet. She had counted several times when she was bored and waiting on him. He had sixteen white button up shirts, thirteen black ones, two formal shirts of the Hakinato teal, four black pants, two dark jeans, and one pair of pinstriped pants that were shades of gold and silver for court. Putting his court clothes aside, that left twenty-nine shirts and six pairs of pants. She had personally ruined one white shirt, two if she counted her lipstick on the one he was wearing. The last few missions had taken out one of his worn black pants, and at most five other shirts had been torn from missions. He wasn’t nearly out of clothes, so she had known from the moment he said he was, that he had been lying to her. She just hadn’t cared, assuming that he was trying to butter her up for some reason by allowing her to pick out clothes.

She hadn’t expected him to buy all of them. She had honestly only expected to be able to get him two outfits and then buy the one at the other store herself and force him to take the gift. Unlike him, she had an inheritance from her dead parents, as well as the basic living sum Arne Riff gave her (because she was his ward but living outside of the homestead), the nice amount Anne and Nolando sent her bi-weekly (which was the real reason Arne Riff was giving her money to live outside the homestead, so not to be shown up by them even though no one would have known but the four of them), plus her Phoegani pay (which, while also not as much as other agents received, was still nothing to stick up her nose at). So she was hardly hurting for money. But then, he’d bought all of it. It had come to nearly 2,300 credits, but he had bought it. He hadn’t even flinched or seemed like it was physically hurting him to spend money like he normally did.

And that told her that his character for this mission was important. He was being ‘modern’ for the mission, not because he wanted to. What was bothering her, however, was how many clothes he was buying. He had said that he needed ten outfits, which meant that he was buying enough for months, not just a week or so. How long was this mission going to take? Surely if it was going to be long, he would have told her…right?

He flashed her a grin as they waited for the sales clerks to neatly fold and bag all of his clothes. “Thanks, Mayday. I wasn’t sure what to get,” he told her.

She smiled back up at him. “We aren’t nearly done, you realize that right?”

He gave her an amused look of surprise. “Oh really, and where else do you want to go?”

“It’ll be a surprise,” she told him, knowing that his retainer for this mission must have been ridiculously large if he wasn’t reminding her that credits didn’t just appear out of nowhere. She couldn’t imagine why Arne Riff would have approved a budget as large as Christein’s seemed to be. Why would it be so important that Christein look like an average twenty-something aelfe?

“I’m not sure I trust your surprises,” he told her warily. “I’m not wearing anything tight or glittery.”

She giggled. “Oh drat, you found me out,” she teased. “I was going to dress you in a skin tight, glittery one piece.”

“Glad I caught you before we got there,” he replied, grabbing up the bags on the counter. There were five of them, all very full.

“Silly Monkey,” she said, rolling her eyes. “C’mon now. You’ll like this one.”

“Oh, I will, will I?” he asked, following her as she led him out of the store.

“You will,” she grinned back up at him. “It is entirely up your alley. I saw something when I came here with Lando and Anne,” she noticed the way he became slightly tense at the mention of his brother and sister-by-Binding and wondered what the two had said to him. “And it just screamed out your name. I wanted to get it for you then, but…”

“You didn’t want to deal with the two of them,” he muttered bitterly.

“Nah, I just didn’t know your measurement,” she countered, even though it was a lie. She’d memorized his measurements shortly after she had started being able to buy him presents with her own money. She could recite them in her sleep, but he didn’t have to know that.

“Right,” he said, sounding unconvinced.

She smiled up at him. “C’mon,” she said, choosing not to continue with the conversation, in favor of leading him to one last store. She couldn’t grab his hand and pull him along, since he was loaded down with bags he’d refused to allow her to carry for him. She had a niggling suspicion that he had done that purposely.

He gave her a half smile and trailed behind her. When she glanced back at him again, she noticed that he was having trouble keeping up with her. He did on his best of days, considering her speed and the fact that he had a limp, but his limp seemed more noticeable today, which might have been because he was carrying so many clothes, and thus was weighed down quite a bit. Whatever the reason, she slowed her pace. She tried to do it subtly, but knew that he knew when she slowed down because his half smile turned a bit sharper, the same way it did anytime she tried to do something he thought was pitying.

He walked faster.

She sighed, but didn’t walk any faster, pretending to like the strolling walk she had taken to keep closer to him. “So what else do you need for this mission?” she asked casually.

His step faltered for a moment. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that you’re getting clothes for your missions and got a large clothes budget, so is there anything I missed that you need? Undies? Socks? Ties? Formal wear? Please tell me I can buy you new formal court wear, because those pants are hideous.”

“Those were a gift from my mother,” he argued.

“They’re still uglier than a rabid rat Feral,” she quipped with a shrug.

He rolled his eyes. “I suppose I probably need court wear.”

“Anything else? What’s the temperature going to be on this mission? Should I be getting you some warmer clothes so you don’t freeze your tail off?”

“What you’ve chosen so far is fine,” he answered without answering her question.

She didn’t look at him, trying to stay casual. If she looked curious, he would clam up and she’d never get anything out of him. “So no extremes? I mean seriously, Monkey, if you’re going to need a coat, you should tell me. What about a swimsuit? Or what about sneakwear? Do you have any good sneakwear? I know that Cowboy ripped your old sneaksuit.”

Christein gave a long sigh and she chanced a glance at him out of the corner of her eye. He wasn’t looking at her, instead looking away from her, at the crowds around them as if he were looking for someone. She followed his eyes and surveyed the crowd as well, but didn’t see anything suspicious, so assumed that he was just avoiding eye contact.

“C’mon, gimme something to go on,” she pleaded.

He sighed again. “I suppose I probably need an insulated jacket. It can’t be bulky, but it has to regulate my body temperate no matter how cold it is.”

She paused for a moment, “Why?” she asked.

“No questions. It’s classified.”

Classified against her? She was liking this mission less and less. First he wouldn’t tell her where he was going, then he wouldn’t tell her how long he would be gone, now he wouldn’t even tell her the type of weather he’d be experiencing. She needed to figure it out or else she’d be worried the entire he was gone.

“Okay,” she said, shrugging. Christein looked at her suspiciously and she looked away from him again, but then glanced back as she said, “As long as you come home, it doesn’t matter.”

He flinched.

He might not come home to her.

She took a deep, settling breath and tried to push the tension out. I’m just reading too much into it. He’s probably just been told specifically not to tell me about it. Me pushing him is making it hard on him.

She didn’t believe herself for a moment, but she did stop questioning him. “Here we are!” she said after a few clicks of silence, smiling back at him. The store in question was a specialty store. It specialized in one of a kind leather, formalwear, sneakwear, magic objects, and weapons. It was basically an all-purpose store for assassins, mercenaries, peacekeepers, and hero-complexed do-gooders alike. And right in the front window was the outfit she’d known was meant for Christein three months ago. Good, she thought, no one bought it yet.

She heard Christein’s sigh of relief as they entered Rose’s Toybox. This store apparently had his instant seal of approval, unlike the other one, where he had only grudgingly admitted it was a good store after she’d created a third outfit for him. She had known he would like this place. It smelled of leather and gunpowder, and it oozed danger, suspense, and competence.

So much competence that once they were inside the rust painted doors, they were stopped by the store’s equivalent of a bouncer. “I need you to check your weapons up here,” she said, flashing her fangs. Amadhay just stared at her for a moment, until she recognized her as a blood elf, one that she had seen before. She opened her mouth to say something, but the elf put a single finger to her lips to tell her not to. Glancing at Christein, who was reluctantly handing over his knives, she nodded at the woman and handed her a single knife. It was always better to do as blood elves wanted. Their tempers were legendarily short, especially when they weren’t obeyed.

The elf raised an eyebrow. “All of your weapons,” she told them.

Christein cursed under his breath before reaching under his shirt and removing his twin pistols.

Amadhay eyed her challengingly. “Why?”

“Everyone gives us all weapons,” the elf stated. “We don’t want any bloodshed in here.”

“But doesn’t that only put the magic users in a superior position?” she countered.

“Magic dampeners,” the elf replied, gesturing to the glowing crystals evenly spaced throughout the store. “Any fights in here would have to be hand to claws and we keep those to a minimum.” She gave a sharp smile that told Amadhay she was merely prey to the elf and could be happy that she was meeting her in the store, rather than out on the field. It was a smile meant to intimidate her and it did its job perfectly. “No one fights in here. We don’t care about grudges you bring in. You leave your weapons at the door.”

Amadhay paused for another long moment before removing the second knife from her right arm sheath hidden under her jacket and the pair from her left. She reached into her boot and pulled out the knives from her calf straps and, only after the woman looked pointedly at her hair, removed the needles she had chosen to use as hair pins. Her hair tumbled into her face and the elf offered her a black lace ribbon.

Christein shifted behind her as Amadhay eyed the ribbon for a long moment. “No thanks,” she finally said, giving the elf the kind of smile that showed exactly how much she trusted her and her ribbon. The elf shrugged before gesturing that they could go on.

Once the two of them stepped into the actual store, Amadhay felt her magic go stagnant. The dampeners were good. She glanced up at Christein and took his scowl to mean that he felt it too. It was an impressed scowl, so she knew that mean that the longer he was in the store, the more he found himself liking it. She counted that as a success for her.

“Just about everything in here is awesome, so you can pick out whatever you’d like,” Amadhay told Christein, who laughed at her.

“Why thank you for your permission to pick out my own clothes,” he teased her. His eyes weren’t on her, though. They were trained on a gorgeous red leather, belted jacket. She wanted to see him in it. She wanted to see him in it with the other outfit beneath it.

So first, she had to go and get that gorgeous outfit. She smiled at him, gesturing for him to go on ahead of her. “I have to check on something,” she said in a tone that, if Christein hadn’t been completely enraptured with the jacket, he would have found suspicious. Instead, he just went forward to get a better look at the jacket. She grinned and rushed to an attendant.

“Hey! Yeah, hi,” she exclaimed, getting his attention. He was a relatively short man, maybe about five inches taller than her, which put him at five foot five, and gave her the idea that he was most likely a born-vampire before he even turned to her. When he did turn and she saw the familiar blood cult symbol on his collar, she knew she was right. “I need the outfit in the front window. Can you get that for me?”

The long look he gave her made her incredibly uncomfortable, before he pointedly turned his eyes away from her.  It was dominance play and she hated it. She hated vampires.

“I doubt it would fit you even if we rolled it up,” he taunted her, choosing not to even look at her as he spoke, his attention instead going back to polishing a set of blades. “Try the baby vamp store, unless you want to try something…” he licked his lips as he slid his finger over the sharpened edge of one of the blades, leaving a line of blood. His wound closed almost immediately and the blood bubbled on the blade before disappearing, “Specially done for you.”

She narrowed her eyes, knowing exactly what he was doing and hating that she had to deal with this any time she had to bother with vampires. Not only was it incredibly inappropriate for a worker to proposition a customer, but it was an insult to be seen as a lesser being purely because of her appearance. She recognized her height made her seem like an easy target, but she wasn’t. She wouldn’t be in this store if she wasn’t a real deal. She’d seen the blood elf turn away people who were poseurs. Yet here was this dim, bland vampire propositioning her and expecting to get away with it just because she was small and he was a vampire. She regularly dealt with vampires—both dead and alive—that could have eaten him for breakfast.

He had moved on to polishing a sword when she smiled sweetly at him. “I’m not getting it for me,” she said, trying to rein her temper in. If he worked here, she was sure he had some sort of strength. Otherwise, he would be a liability and they didn’t seem the type to hire liabilities. She didn’t really want to have to get violent and chance being thrown out, or worse, get into a fight and broadcast that Red Robin was there. She had a pretty distinctive fighting style when she got into it.

He pointedly looked right over her head. “Unless there’s something you wanted to say to me, I have work to do.” When he set the sword down and made a less than subtle gesture toward his crotch to leave no question about his intentions, she lost her temper.

She gripped his wrist. He gripped her wrist on top of his, flashing a fangy smile. Great, she thought, noting the elongated fangs, not only was he a blood practitioner, but a blood gorger. That explained his cockiness. She rolled her eyes and pushed in closer to him. “I want that outfit from the window in my arms in one clack. Otherwise, I’ll break your ribs too.”

“Too?” he asked right before she kicked his knee backwards, gripped his wrist tighter, and pulled him right over her shoulder, stomping on his shoulder once he was down. She heard the pop of it dislocating and let go.

“Don’t underestimate me just because I’m small. I can kill you faster than you can breathe.”

The born-vampire hissed at her, but got to his feet, holding his arm. “All you had to say was that you weren’t interested,” he snapped.

She narrowed her eyes and didn’t cringe when he popped his shoulder back into place, even though she knew how much it must have hurt. Blood gorgers always put her on edge. They didn’t seem to feel pain like normal born-vampires, not to mention they were possibly more depraved in their sexual interests than dead-vampires, which made him dangerous if he had his sights set on her.

Right,” she drawled sarcastically. She waved her hands for him to get her the outfit. She had to make herself seem more predator than prey, not submissive in the least or he would keep her as a target, and with the bruise on his pride from her dislocating his shoulder, he wouldn’t be too gentle.

“There are strict no fighting policies in here.”

She smiled sweetly again. “I’m sure there are strict policies against threatening and propositioning customers, too. So I won’t tell if you don’t.”

For a long moment, she was positive that he was going to try something, but after a few more clicks, he nodded at her and, skirting past her carefully so that he didn’t touch her, he went to gather the outfit from the window. Only once he was out of visual, she gave a silent, full bodied sigh before looking over the sword he had been polishing. Blood Thirst was the unoriginal name engraved into the blade of the sword and, when she eyed it carefully, she saw a film of red smoke on it. She took a step back, but the sword kept the dark tint, beckoning to her.

She glanced over her shoulder to see that Christein was nowhere to be seen. It was only her and this sword. She reached out hesitantly, knowing that it was never a good idea to touch an enchanted blade, but unable to hold back her curiosity. There was something about the sword that called out to her, something that made her need to touch it, to hold it, to use it. Her fingers were almost on the blade when the vampire returned with the leathers.

“Don’t touch that,” he warned her sharply. She turned her eyes back to him, not pulling her hand back. “Or touch it. I don’t care. Our insurance covers death of stupidity.”

She frowned, pulling her arm back reluctantly. She glanced back at the sword before shaking her head and turning back to the vampire. “I’m good,” she said as casually as she could.

He gave her a sarcastic smile. “I’m sure,” he said before pushing the leathers into her chest and dropping them. Only because she was fast, did she catch them before they could fall to the ground.

“What are the measurements?” she asked before he could leave her.

He turned an irritated glare back to her. “Didn’t think to ask that before getting them?”

“I just need to be sure.”

“I’m sure they’ll fit you just fine,” he said with as much sarcasm as he could before leaving her in the darkened corner of the room.

She frowned after him before sighing. “Fine,” she muttered. “I think they’re right anyway,” she said to herself before going to find her cousin, who was, unsurprisingly, looking at magic blades. She didn’t have to look at them very hard to know that they were true aim blades, which she knew Christein had been wanting for a few years. She’d been planning on getting him some for his birthday this year, or possibly Binding Day. It was strange to her that he now had money, probably enough that he could get himself a handful and still be able to afford the outfit she was holding if his nonchalance about it was anything to go by. She wasn’t even sure if she had that much to burn.

“Monkey,” she said quietly, getting his attention immediately. He gave her a lazy smile before taking the leathers from her arms on top of the red jacket. Up close, she could see the glimmer of magic on the jacket, telling her that it was both magic resistant and heat regulating. The spells had been fixed on there by unique magic, an adept skill she still lacked. He weighed them in his arms for a moment.

“A bit heavy, don’t you think?” he suggested. She gave him a dark look.

“It’s armor, Monkey. If it isn’t a little heavy, then what’s its point?” He nodded slightly, looking over the black leathers in his arms. “And don’t tell me that you don’t want to take armor. It’s specially made to not look like armor, but still keep you safe. You need it.”

“Well, don’t be disappointed if they don’t fit me,” he told her gently after a moment of deliberation. “You know these were probably made for someone shorter than me.”

She didn’t say anything. He hadn’t looked at the mannequin in the window. It had been nearly his perfect measurements, long in the legs, narrow in the hips, thick in the arms and chest. It even had a hole where his tail would go. If these hadn’t been made with him in mind, then there was apparently some unreasonably tall, rich animal-kind walking around.

Strange coincidence, now that she thought about it. A flash of suspicion hit her so hard that Christein gave her a questioning look. “What?” he asked her when she wavered on her feet for a click.

Coincidences do exist, not everything goes back to him. Atlas would have no reason to have put in an order for Christein to get armor. He was trying to kill him. She tried to convince herself, shaking her head at her cousin. “Nothing. I’m fine, just haven’t eaten yet.” When Christein gave her a worried look, she waved him off with a smile and a laugh. “C’mon, go try it on! I wanna see you in it!”

“I think you’d rather see me out of it,” he muttered, allowing her to usher him to one of the private dressing rooms.

“Not this time. This time I want to see you more clothed,” she teased him as she got him into the dark curtained back rooms. There were three stalls, gendered by the dolls hanging on the doors. The one in the center, holding a My Curious Immortal doll was for the non-gendered creatures, the one with the fully dressed My Secret Goddess doll was for women, and the one with the shirtless My Mystery Escort doll on the door was for men.

Christein knocked brusquely at the door and, upon receiving no response, pushed the door open. “Stay out here,” he ordered Amadhay when she moved to follow him.

She pouted. “But Monkey, I can help you. You probably won’t be able to figure out how to put it all on on your own.”

“If I can’t, then I shouldn’t get it, now should I? You won’t be there to lace me up on the ship.”

The ship? As soon as the word slipped from Christein’s mouth, he cussed under his breath. Before she could say anything, though, he closed the door tightly. She moved to the door and pressed her palm against the smooth wood. “What ship?”

“Amadhay?” the voice came from the other side of the room, meaning that it wasn’t from Christein. She turned in surprise, genuinely happy to see Benjym Base in the curtained doorway, a long cloak in his arms.

“Benjy!” she gasped, running to him. He grinned at her as she launched herself into his arms. He hugged her for a moment, lifting her off of her feet before setting her back down. “Where on Resor have you been? I haven’t seen you in ages!”

Benjy chuckled at her. “Just out and about on missions,” he told her in such a casual voice that she knew he was hiding something from her. Whenever she asked about his whereabouts, he would tease her, rile up her curiosity, maybe even joke about it. For him to give her a straight answer told her that there was more to it.

“What are you doing here?” he asked her before she could try to push him into answering more questions. “I’ve never seen you here before. I doubt they have anything your size unless you custom ordered.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m here with Christein,” she said. The light in his eyes dimmed for a moment at her cousin’s name. “He’s in the dressing room.”

“Hullo then, Christein,” Benjy said loudly enough for the aelfe to hear him. He received a grunt in response. “I didn’t realize that the two of you were together.”

Amadhay blinked in question a few times before Christein burst out of the changing room. “We’re not,” the man said defensively, stomping to a stop behind Amadhay. “We’re First Family of the same damned clan,” he stressed as if to emphasize why they weren’t a couple rather than that they weren’t. It made her smile. “Come on and help me get this on,” he added as an order to Amadhay before returning to the dressing room, his shirt only partially on, bracers untied, and pants awkwardly twisted.

“He’d be lost without me,” she whispered to Benjy before dashing after Christein.

She closed the door between her and the phantom before drinking in the sight of her scowling cousin. He was looking at himself in the mirror, twisted back to attempt to right the leather pieces on his back. His chest was partially bare, where the leather pieces for his chest were falling apart and giving her a full view of his muscled chest. His sandy olive skin, darker than her own by a few shades was dusted with a light spattering of hair on his lower belly, which was strange for a reptilian aelfe and even stranger for him, since she knew he kept himself smooth to avoid friction problems from the few energy or fire based spells he used. His pants were twisted to rights, but partially open, giving her the view of his black underwear. His bracers had been abandoned.

She started with the bracers, taking first his left hand down and retying the black laces tightly enough that they wouldn’t move, but not tight enough to cut off circulation, and then she let go. Making direct eye contact with her, he gave her his right arm, allowing her to tie those as well.

“I need you to bend down so that I can get to your back,” she said softly, batting her eyelashes lightly. He leaned forward into her, taking his time until his face was almost to hers.

“Lace my front first,” he ordered.

She blinked rapidly a few times, her fingers fumbling, before she looked away from his face and down to her goal. She shifted the breastplates so that the faux vest partially covered them to hide the obvious defensive armor behind it. Tying the front of the vest together, she gently pressed his chest so that he would turn for her. He did.

It wasn’t until she was lacing together his back vest that she realized he could have done all of this on his own. The leathers had been loosely laced together when she had given them to him, so he had unlaced them purely for the purpose of having her lace him back up. This was so incredibly intimate that she paused, looking past him, into the mirror. His eyes caught her gaze and they both stared at each other for a long moment.

“For just two cousins, you sure are taking a long time in there. Are you sure there isn’t something you wanna tell me?” Benjy called from the door, making Christein jerk forward. Amadhay rolled her eyes, but didn’t try to catch his gaze again, instead finishing lacing his back.

“I can take it from here,” Christein muttered, nodding at the door. “Better get out there before Ben starts making incestuous First Family jokes.”

She touched the loose lacing holding his pants together, but he flinched. “Seriously, Amadhay. I’ve got this, get out,” he said again, his voice firm.

“But Monkey,” she whined.

“No. Out.” He turned and pushed her to the door. She dug her heels in for a moment before giving in and going out of the room, running right into Ben, who had been directly outside of the door. Christein slammed the door closed behind her.

“How long’s he gonna take in there?” he complained in a winningly joking tone, holding up a pair of aquamarine pants that were far too short for him. “I wanted to try these on.”

She giggled. “Benjy, I hate to break it to you,” she paused, looking up at him with a smile, “But I just don’t think that’s your shade of blue.”

He barked out a laugh. “Well you may just be right,” he said, making a show of looking at the pants again before setting them on the returns rack. He was now wearing the hunter green cloak he had been carrying and, just looking at it, she knew it had been custom made for him. It was long enough to hit his calves, thick enough that she was almost positive it was insulated and probably regulated temperature, and had a hood that easily covered the black hair that wasn’t tucked into the cloak, and threw his angular face into dark shadows. It made him look mysterious, nothing like the joking man she was used to.

“I like that on you,” she told him softly, smiling up at him when he winked at her.

“Good. I do like to set the mood right for you,” he teased.

She rolled her eyes. “You’re such a tease.”

“I think that’s you, actually.”

She grinned at him again, ready to throw more flirtations in, when the door to the dressing room opened to reveal Christein. The black leather of the outfit settled nicely against his skin, somehow managing to look comfortable and threatening at the same time. While it didn’t look like armor, it certainly wasn’t something the man should wear when he was trying to come across as unassuming. The red jacket only emphasized the casualness of the outfit. While it, too, gave him a dangerous vibe with the belt buckles closing the jacket not only at his torso, but also at either wrist and at his neck, the dark red also softened the black to look more fashionable. His normal steel-toed boots were the only things breaking his image.

“New shoes,” she decided.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)

“Ya know, Monkey,” Amadhay started seriously, “If you grew your beard out, you would look dead on a monkey.” She smiled up at her cousin, staring fixatedly on the short, but very present hair growing on his face.

Christein sneered at her, leaning back against a wall and crossing his arms. “Aren’t monkeys supposed to be fast, physically?”

“Okay,” she conceded, “You don’t move like a monkey, but everything else is right.” She dropped onto the ground to sit near his feet with a soft huff, glancing up at his face in time to see him roll his eyes.

“Just be glad that you don’t have two different legs,” he told her, referring to the fact that one of his legs had been cut off when he was small and regenerated an inch longer than the other.

“I am,” Amadhay replied simply, staring at his feet as she decided what her next move would be. The two of them had been waiting for their target for twenty clacks so far and she was doing her best to keep them entertained, despite his best efforts not to engage with her.

He flicked her off. “Shut it.”

She gave him a sweet smile, “I’ll bite it off if you don’t put it down,” she warned him, now looking up at him as he loomed over her.

“Good thing I regenerate then, huh?” he spit on the ground only a little away from her knee, giving only the barest of smirks at her look of utter disgust. “How long are we going to have to wait for this guy?”

“Ah dunno,” Amadhay replied, scooting away from the spit with a single quick motion. She pinched his leg. “Spitting near me is unacceptable, Monkey,” she told him, trying for an imperious tone. Instead, she simply sounded whiny. To make up for it, she let out a glob of spit between his feet.

In retaliation, he gave her thigh a quick, hard kick. “Shut it!” he repeated, then, muttering more to himself this time, added, “Damn, talk about stupid people.”

Amadhay rubbed her leg, watching him thoughtfully. Ever since she had come back from Palnoki, especially after she had gone to Arne Riff to override his and Nolando’s decisions for her, Christein had been much colder to her. She was just trying to amuse them as they waited for their mark. He didn’t have to be so angry and uncooperative. He never had been before.

“For shears?” she responded, trying to annoy him this time. “Don’ be so mean tah me, monkey-breath.” She quickly stood as she spoke, not wanting to give him an easy kicking target when she recognized the irritated glint in his eye.

“You’re acting like an idiot,” he snapped. “Smart people have a right to criticize the stupid.”

He wasn’t even looking at her. Amadhay was ready to counter with ‘And how would you know, idiot?’ when he held his hand up into her face. “Here he is…”

Amadhay followed his gaze to a middle-aged human that Amadhay had been positive she had killed earlier that evening. Immediately, she knelt in the shadows, trying to blend into her dark silhouette as a smirk eased onto her red lips. This is what they had been waiting for. She watched Christein shift into the shape of their target’s knot, the one he had killed a zoot ago while Amadhay had taken care of the kids.

Watching him, she sighed, wanting to do the deed herself. It had been a while since she could really enjoy her job. If she was being honest, she really meant that it had been a while since she had been allowed to work with Christein or Benjy, which was the only time this felt right. Since coming back with such good intel on the Palnoki, all worries about her loyalty had been wiped clean and she had been able to go back to bloody and violent missions. It was the only thing keeping her sane, the knowledge that she still liked killing, and she did like killing, no matter what she might sometimes think when she was alone and thinking about Ribbon.

Regardless, knowing that it was Christein’s mission, she stayed out of the way. “Do your magic, monkey boy,” she whispered.

Not a monkey,” he hissed at her before running up to the man. Still guised as the man’s late knot, he spoke to him as her for a few clacks, gathering information that she wasn’t privy to. She wasn’t entirely positive why she had been brought on this mission, considering it had gone so smoothly. Christein had told her that there would be difficulties because the man had bought a guard, but so far she had yet to see hide nor tail of anyone who might attempt to intervene.

Once Christein was apparently satisfied, he gave a sharp, derisive laugh that she could hear all the way back to the building, before shifting back to his own form. The man took a step back, looking around as if searching for something, before focusing back on Christein. Her cousin seemed to enjoy the man’s horror of realizing that he had been terribly misled, just before he slit the man’s throat. There was something strange about the man’s expression though. She just wasn’t sure what it was.

“What else were we supposed to do?” Christein called over to Amadhay, who relaxed from her crouch and slunk forward, brushing possibly imaginary dust from her crimson coat, black tank top and shorts. The heat of this area had caught her by surprise earlier, so she was indecently underdressed for the job, having had to ditch her normal sneaksuit to keep from overheating. The full body black outfit was now tucked away safely at a Phoegani safe house a few blocks away.

She gave a one-shouldered shrug, eyeing the body, slumped beside her cousin. Yes, that was definitely the same person she’d thought she had killed. “Make sure he’s dead. He plays really well.”

Christein scowled and knelt by the body. Taking the seemingly dead man by his hair, he slashed the head completely off at the neck with his knife. He then tossed the head to Amadhay before standing at his full height. “There, he’s dead. Let’s go.” He was already walking away from the body.

Amadhay blew her hair from her face, irritated that the wind was fighting against her symmetry, but mostly appeased by the head she held in her hands. It felt somewhat like their old lessons, when Christein would show her best ways to kill a person or toss her body parts to help her past her original squeamishness. This was her comfort zone with him.

“Monkey, you’re so cruel,” she told him with a slightly endeared smile.

She had drowned the man and then watched as his body tangled with anchors, yet he had somehow, still been alive. She wanted to look into that, because that was something she might expect of a magic-use or vampire, possibly even an elf, but not a human. Not a human who was, as far as she knew, unconnected to all of the major names and associations. Still, the brusque execution was so purely Christein that she couldn’t help but be amused and ignore her curiosity about the man. She dropped the head when Christein turned back to her.

He gave her a disarming smile and handed her his blades. “Here, have a present.”

She frowned, staring at him in confusion, taking the blades so that they didn’t fall. He was fastidious about care for weapons, especially his own, and the last thing she wanted with him in this strange mood, was to somehow damage his favorite blades by dropping them. “What?”

“She did it,” he stated as he turned away from her, thrusting his thumb over his shoulder at her and holding his hands up as two Arachin Local Force officers stormed up.

Another day, Amadhay would have loved the present. But today she was incredibly irritated with her cousin, given the way he had just played with her emotions, how he kept messing with her head so much that she wasn’t sure if she was his favorite person or someone he wanted to be rid of. She was tired and just wanted to go see Lizumeizei. Mostly thought, she didn’t want to fight two full-grown Arachins on her own, especially not the half-scorpion-man that reminded her all too much of Sha’adahk.

“Jackass,” she muttered at him before launching herself at the scorpion guard faster than any of them could react. Wrapping her arm around one of the scorpion’s legs, she hid the weapons behind the bend of its knee. Sliding the blades into her empty sleeve-sheaths, she pressed her forehead against the reinforced leg armor and then started sobbing.

“Help me!” she cried to the Local Force, who eyed her skeptically, but had yet to attack, holding his stinger up in the air but not yet poised to do harm to either aelfe. “He just killed my uncle!” The wolf-spider started toward Christein, looking from the decapitated body to the head next to Christein’s steel-toed boots. “I told him I didn’t want him and…and he assaulted me!” It only took the briefest of thoughts to add a glamour and a deep purple bruise appeared on her neck, with the bruise Christein had actually left on her thigh deepening to a black against her sandy olive skin. “And my uncle tried to stop him and he…” she burst into harder sobs, her large, now brown eyes overflowing with fake tears. “He-he killed him!”

“Banshee!” Christein swore at her when the wolf-spider attacked. He was almost impaled by one leg, but managed to get a knife right into his soft abdomen and tore down to his spinneret, cutting the spider-man open and killing him almost instantly.

The scorpion shook Amadhay off of his leg just in time for Christein to slit his throat. Amadhay brushed herself off, looking to the three bodies and mentally calculating how much time they had to leave before the Local Force sent more officer to check on the fallen arcachins. Christein grabbed Amadhay before she could say anything, slamming her back into the shadow of the building and pinning her against the wall.

“You little banshee,” he cursed at her again, his teal eyes glimmering with anger.

She pursed her lips at him. “I loves you,” she told him sweetly. “We can go now,” she added calmly. He didn’t move, so she raised both eyebrows. “Well?”

He slapped her hard enough to make her cheek hit the wall. When she looked back at him, her eyes wider than she had intended, he let go of her. There wasn’t even his normal flash of guilt or shame to accompany his loss of temper. Otherwise not moving, Amadhay carefully yawned, stretching her mouth out to try to make some of the pain go away. Besides that seemingly bored reaction, the same she had learned to respond to his father’s slaps, she took the pain stoically. Even if she wasn’t used to that kind of abuse from Christein, she was, indeed, used to it.

He gave her no acknowledgment, turning from her to glance up to the rooftops. The clicks following were silent as he walked a few paces but when she had yet to follow, he looked over his shoulder and just as calmly as she had, said, “Well? Are you coming or not?”

She shrugged. “I dunno. I was thinking about just walking around, seeing the sights while I’m here. Not every day we get to come to this little rats nest,” she told him, walking backwards. “So seeya next time,” she told him. She didn’t want him to see how much he had hurt her.

“Amadhay!” Christein’s yell of her actual name made her jerk and jolt backward. He only used it when he was surprised. “Duck, you fucking idiot!”

She turned back to him and jolted to the side just in time to avoid being hit by a micro-arrow. “Geeze, Baron, no need to be so loud,” she blustered, turning to try to determine where the arrow had come from.

He didn’t verbally warn her this time. Instead, Christein just tackled her to the ground, just in time as another one sped into the wall right where she had just been. When she let out a soft oomph from the force of his body hitting hers, he clamped a hand over her mouth. “Shut up and stay down,” he ordered. He pulled her closer to him so that they were side-by-side on the dirty concrete of the alleyway, hidden by shadow. She tried to pull away from him, her eyes scanning for any sign of their attackers, but he clamped on tighter, pressing her lips against her teeth and making it hard for her to breath when he accidentally covered her nostrils as well.

She bit his hand, making him curse lightly, and he removed it. In her ear, he whispered the things he was going to do to her if she bit him again. She completely ignored him, glaring at the arrow lodged in the wall just past her. She had better things to imagine than his threats, such as gutting whomever was shooting her with their own arrow. Had everyone completely forgotten who she was? In the past four months, she had found more people trying their luck with her than ever before. She was Red Robin. There was no way she was taking being shot at lying down. Looking at the three arrows, it wasn’t too difficult for her to see where they had come from.

“Someone’s gonna die tonight,” she sang.

When Amadhay tried to get up, Christein kept her pinned. “Idiot!” he hissed, clamping his hand back over her mouth. “Now they know we’re still here.” When she gave him a look that told him she was going to remove fingers with her next bite, he removed his hand but added, “And I hate to break it to you, but people die all the time, even without our help,” in a hiss.

Another micro-arrow shot into the shadows, as if the archer knew they were there but not quite sure where. It missed them by a foot.

“Do you want to die as well?” she snarled at him, her red eyes glinting.

Christein glanced up, as if seeing something. “No, not so much,” he answered her before standing up. He melted into the darkness of the bricks, using his second Gift to blend in with the wall quickly. “Stay down.”

Amadhay rolled her eyes as well as her body from where Christein had left her. Her hand reached out and snagged the micro-arrow sticking up from the pavement and rolled it between her fingers, waiting. She crawled almost out of the shadows, only enough for Christein to see her and become distracted. She grinned where she knew he was from the slight shift of the smooth wall when he moved.

“Get back,” he ordered. She ignored him, waiting for her chance when another micro-arrow hit the pavement only a hair away where she lay.

“Gotcha,” she whispered, jumping up. Christein reached for her, but a long, silver arrow just barely missed Christein’s head, forcing him to pay attention to his surroundings and take his eyes from her, allowing her to dart up the emergency fireway.

She kept an eye on him as he ducked back down into the shadows, visible once again, and knew when he found that she was no longer where he left her when he hissed her code name. “Red Robin!” She knew he used her full code name to remind her that they were on a mission, his mission. “I’m in charge here! You listen to me.”

She snorted, “Sometimes,” she muttered. “But not this time,” she whispered, shifting in her Gift to give herself an extra push for the running jump she’d need to make it from the smooth ramp of the fireway, onto the rooftop. It was an easy feat, through she had to tuck into a roll to soften the blow of the metal rooftop. She hated this city. The rooftops were made for people to walk across them, which meant that there was no cover when she made it there, especially with the bright light shining into her eyes.

It took her a moment to adapt to the difference in light, and when she did, she stood face to point with a micro-arrow, this one more dangerous than the last with a tranq-shaft and needle head rather than the normal magically imbued steel. Now they were trying to sedate her? She stood slowly, hands up in the air on either side.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” a mature voice told her, making her raise an eyebrow as she took in the sight of a man, most likely human if she had to guess. He had tracking goggles on, which made her grin.

“Good for you,” she stated, glancing away from him, across the rooftop. There was no one else around, but she knew that he hadn’t shot the full arrow. That wasn’t a standard Local Force weapon. It was a specialized one, and since the man in front of her was definitely Local Force, given his full black ensemble with the appropriate golden studs on his belt to indicate he’d been an officer for seventeen years, she doubted he had a pundit weapon on him. Only a recently demoted pundit member would be using the advanced micro-arrows, mostly because BI Weapons Division had only come out with that, particular, one a few months ago.

“Tell your friend to surrender and no one will get hurt.”

“Besides the two arachins and that human, right?” she reminded him with a grin, glancing down to the shadows where her cousin was being suspiciously quiet. Had he left?

“You’re still an innocent in this,” the man started, making Amadhay laugh aloud.

“Oh, that’s good. I needed that,” she joked, smiling at him. No, there was Christein. He had apparently heard her laughing and was now cursing at her. She thought she heard something about obeying order, but she couldn’t be too certain.

“Look, I’m going to make this quick for you, okay?” she smiled sweetly, and just as she was reaching for the arrow she’d stuck in her waistband, another of the long, silver arrows landed between her feet. She raised her eyebrows, looking at the officer before her.

He gave her a fake smile. “My partner isn’t as willing to just take you in as I am.”

She nodded slowly, scanning the rooftop again. “And you, you’re just trying to be a good guy, shooting an unarmed girl right between the eyes.”

As expected, that made the man lower his arrow to her chest. It wouldn’t hurt any less if he shot her there, and considering it was only a sedative, it didn’t matter either way, but it gave her a slightly better time to react. She just needed to find his partner, because even at her speed, one of those micro-arrows shot in such a short distance, and with such little room for her to avoid it, would probably hit. She saw something shift out of the corner of her eye, but it wasn’t a Local Force given there was color, so she ignored it and instead focused ahead of her. The other had to be somewhere ahead of her to have made that shot.

“Well, my partner seems to think that you’re more dangerous than you look.”

She raised her eyebrows, looking to around. “Me? I’m just having a little fun.”

He nodded down to the bodies and Christein, who was leaning against a wall, in plain sight. “That fun for you?” he asked before holding up another micro-arrow, this one with a nasty looking mixture in the shaft, dead-vampire venom. Dead-vampire venom would probably drop her in less than a second if even a drop got into her system. Apparently, he wasn’t falling for her innocent girl tricks. “Would this be fun for you?”

There, she thought, spotting something behind the closest lightbeam. That was why she couldn’t see them, because they were hiding in her blindspot. She wasn’t sure if it was luck or if they had recognized her sensitive sight to be her weakness. Either way, it didn’t really matter now that she’d found them.

Again, she smiled sweetly. “Well, I can’t say this has been fun. And it’ll probably really suck for you, but thanks for playing.”

Two micro-arrows were loosed at the same time, hitting right where she’d been standing. She teleported away, to the partner, and easily slit the woman’s throat with the sharpest edge of the micro-arrow, pausing after to stare at the blood on her neck before closing her eyes and stamping her magical three-fingered claw mark on her face to claim the kill. It was all very quick, quick enough that the man hadn’t even turned yet. She closed the distance between them in a click with her Gift and paused for a moment, the arrow lifted to his throat.

“No, please,” he started to beg, but Amadhay didn’t feel like listening. She kicked his legs from under him, making him fall backwards, not wanting to stab him in the throat. One was enough for the night. He dropped his bow and she picked it up, using the quick shoot setting to shoot him with his own micro-arrows until he stopped moving. At that point, she kicked him a few times to make sure he was truly dead before stepping back, bow still in hand.

She checked the macro holder to see that there were still a few micro-arrows in the system. With a grin, she lazily aimed and shot them in Christein’s general vicinity. None of them came close to him, but that didn’t make him less irritated.

 “Red!” he yelled, and she could her how irritated he was, which made her decide to just leave the weapon and rejoin him. “If you’re the one fucking shooting me, you’re dead.”

Amadhay reappeared just out of his reach, purposely looking as sweet as possible, attempting to coax a laugh from him. “Me?” she asked innocently, hopping back when he made to grab her.

“We’re leaving now,” he ordered, glancing nervously back at the silver tipped arrow that had barely missed him.

“Okay,” she responded, not sure why he seemed so nervous. She had taken out the first responders. They had time before any more Local Force showed up and nothing to connect them to the crime given how no blood had stained their clothes. All they had to do was walk away.

“I’m not playing. Don’t make me have to carry you,” Christein warned.

She held up her hands in defense. “I won’t. I’m right behind you,” she promised. But when he disappeared, most likely teleporting back to base to report his findings, she stayed where she was. His mission was over and she didn’t have to listen to him anymore.

“What is his problem?” she asked no one, walking away from the scene. When there was only silence in response, she rolled her eyes, pushing her hair back against the wind as she made it down the abandoned block, heading for the safe house to pick up her clothes. This part of Ratigattan was always so deserted and she couldn’t help but feel like it was made for a good murder drop off, especially considering almost every job she’d had in this city had led her here. Pushing murder from her mind, she looked at her wrist DS to call Lizumeizei. It was weving night the following night and she wanted to know if she could come over sooner, like that evening, and just spend the night and day with him. She smiled when she got to the image of her cat-kin and she clicked on his icon to call him.

Suddenly, a full sized arrow zoomed past her, slicing a lock of her hair in half. She watched as it dropped down to the ground. She stared at it, feeling a stabbing pain in her chest, a tell-tale sign that something had gone terribly wrong and she was asymmetrical. She ended the call before it connected to Lizumeizei’s DS.

“I’m about to give someone a slow and painful death,” she said, glaring now at the arrow that had made her imperfect. She noted that the tip of the arrowhead was silver while the rest was a normal wood. It was definitely different from the tiny micro-arrows that had been zooming at them previously, but it also wasn’t the same silver one that had been shot at Christein either. This was made to kill, not tranquilize and capture.

Christein snickered from the shadows, becoming visible where he was leaning. He looked casual, but there was a tension in his body that made her think he was ready to run. “Bet you wish you had followed orders, huh? Little Miss Perfect ain’t so perfect now.”

“YOU ARE DEAD!” Amadhay roared, fighting both the urge to kill her most beloved cousin and the urge to find the broken hairs and tear them all out. She could fix her hair later.

Christein held both of his hands in the air so that she could see he had no arrows. “Hey, I didn’t do it,” he immediately replied, knowing how serious Amadhay might be about honestly killing him. “I know how you are about symmetry, remember?”

She did. Christein had once had the most perfectly symmetrical face Amadhay had ever seen. He had been verging on pretty. He had been the one to indulge her need for symmetry as a child because he understood it where the rest of their family didn’t. She still wasn’t completely sure what had happened, but she knew the basics of the story. Christein had propositioned one of Amaya’s servants—or friend as she truly was—because she was so cute. Blu, the girl, had decided the best way to say no was to cut his face. He was now left with several different jagged claw marks on his face, going from almost the center of his forehand and diagonally down to his ear, straight across his cheek and to the bridge of his nose, and a single one cutting right through his lip. The cat-kin had almost blinded him in his right eye. All of his symmetrical beauty was gone, instead replaced with rough skin where the scar had healed with thicker skin, making him look dangerous instead of pretty, a fact he tended to hide by brushing his hair over that side of his face.

 Amadhay had a vague acquaintanceship with Blu, vague in that she worked as Amaya’s servant and thus, had been under Amadhay’s scope of interest, regardless of her being the light Herald. Honestly, the two of them had never really gotten along though there had never been any real animosity between them. There had been no real feelings either way until she had come back from the Madra job and first seen Christein with those scars marring his face. She hated anyone who could willingly ruin something of such symmetrical beauty as Christein’s face had once been. Honestly, she just hated anyone who would dare hurt her cousin in general.

Amadhay was brought back to the present danger and hatred when another silver tipped arrow sliced through the skin on her left arm. Christein was luckier, having jumped as soon as one of the arrows shot into the wall an inch from his face.

“Shit,” he muttered, glaring at it as if willing it to change.

“Whoever is shooting at me had better stop!” Amadhay warned. She hated arrows. They were always harder to avoid than bullets because they made so little sound until it was too late to move.

“Red, we need to leave. Now,” Christein ordered softly, reaching for her.

She moved away from him, squinting in an attempt to see the rooftops. It was too late for her to just leave. Someone had to pay. “I’m going to kill you either way for ruining my hair, but I may show some leniency.”

A scoff came from high up, probably where the shooting was coming from. “Ooh, so scared,” another girl’s voice rang out, tauntingly. “Scared of a hair-drama faie. Come at me then.”

Amadhay started, looking in surprise to Christein. That voice had sounded alarmingly like one she knew very well. His pained expression told her that he already knew. Before he could respond to her, two figures dropped down, with one in front of Amadhay and the other in front of Christein, separating the two.

A familiar feline-kin girl looked down sharply, her eyes glowing strangely behind a pair of goggles. She tried to fan-kick Amadhay, who easily dodged, but still knocked the aelfe down with a bright clap of light right in front of her face. There were few people who could use light in its pure form.

“Christein. I should’ve known,” a male voice hissed. There was yet another voice Amadhay recognized. She groped at the ground, trying to get back up, but someone, who she was sure was the cat-kin, kicked her back down.

“Cur,” she hissed, but waited until she could see without blotches in her vision before trying anything again.

The first thing she saw was Christein throw a punch and get blocked by a man whose back was to her, his dark hair pulled into a loose braid. “What are you doing here, Hynnkel?” he demanded, obviously pointedly trying to keep the man’s back to Amadhay. She tried to get to her hands and knees, but the cat-kin knocked her back down, this time to her back.

“Just trying to clean the streets of filth,” Hynnkel’s voice shot back, sounding disgusted

Amadhay froze, her muscles tensing. If that really was Hynnkel, and it was, then the still hidden archer most definitely was Amaya, her sister. The same sister who she had utterly betrayed nearly a year ago, before faking her own death. The same sister who had sworn that the next time she saw her without Nolando around would be her last breath. Amadhay kicked the cat-kin away from her and another silver-tipped arrow hit the ground alarmingly close to her head.

“Don’t you hurt my Blu-belle!” Amaya called out.

She caught Christein looking past Hynnkel, to Blu, who stiffened when she glanced up and caught him. Amadhay’s eyes narrowed as she managed to kick off of the ground and up to her feet, never taking her eyes off of the auburn haired girl. In that instant, the thought of just teleporting away completely disappeared from her mind. She now had the chance to deal with Blu, the “cute cat-girl” who kept catching both Benjy and Christein’s attentions. She recognized her in a recognition of scent and coloring way, since puberty had definitely hit her hard, carving an attractive, pale, round face with pink lips, long, muscular legs, a chest larger than her own, and generous curves that never for a moment made her look anything close to cute. She wondered if Benjy would still call the catgirl cute when she was dead. She shot up and at Blu faster than anyone else could move.

Anyone other than Hynnkel, that is. She always forgot his ability to stop time. Suddenly Hynnkel was between them, his reaction time faster than anyone she had ever met, with his lips pulled back in a vicious snarl. “Leave her alone!” he growled.

Amadhay stopped short, her hair going forward into his face. “Woah,” she said softly, wondering how aware he had to have been of the entire situation to know what she had been about to attempt. No one had ever been able to stop her when she used her gift to full capacity, not since she had found the ultimate speed Sha’adahk had been trying to train into her. The wind suddenly stopped, making her hair fall.

“Kitty’s got bite,” she joked with a smirk before punching Hynnkel in the chest with a glowing red hand. He went falling back into Blu even though she was sure that she had only been able to graze him. The shape of her fist was scorched into his shirt, but it hadn’t burned through the fabric, meaning it hadn’t touched his skin. She faltered when his eyes widened, studying her face and she became aware that she wasn’t wearing her mask. It, like all the rest of her sneaksuit, was at the safe house. This wasn’t the first time in the past few months that she’d made this kind of mistake. It was the first time that it could really hurt her.

“Mayday?” Hynnkel spoke, staring up at Amadhay in stunned disbelief. Amadhay quickly looked away from him, hoping he would convince himself that she wasn’t herself, just as another arrow sliced through her hair.

At the sound of a thud, Amadhay glanced back in time to see Amaya hopping from the roof, onto a fireway across the street from her. Her sister chose another one hiding place in the shadows, closer this time, but Amadhay kept her eye on her, easily seeing her in her bright colors through the darkness of the poorly lit street.

“Step away from them, or the next arrow will be in your forehead,” Amaya ordered. She turned her bow at a slant and added another arrow. “And Christein. So nice to see you. Move and you’ll get one in your shoulder. ‘cause you’re family.”

Amadhay rolled her eyes, glancing back to Hynnkel, who still hadn’t taken his eyes off of her. “I can move faster than your arrows, idiot,” she snapped, glancing back to Amaya just as Blu pounced from behind Hynnkel, pinning her to the ground. She mentally cursed at herself for her inattention as her head hit the pavement.

“Good luck with that,” Amaya retorted sarcastically, and Amadhay watched her feet come forward, out of the shadows so that she was completely visible. “Hynnky. You okay?” she asked, making Amadhay glance at him again. He was still on the ground, his back to Christein, whose eyes were on Amaya and her bow. He had an easy target, but Amaya never missed, so she hoped he wouldn’t attempt anything.

“Fine,” Hynnkel spat to Amaya, standing up. He clenched his jaw as he gently pressed his fingers where Amadhay had punched him and bits of fabric fell away under his fingers, revealing his unmarked chest. He didn’t move any closer, but he looked down at Amadhay with a constrained anger. “We thought you were dead,” he accused her. She squirmed under Blu, the superior weight of the cat-kin keeping her effectively pinned, and considered putting a last click glamour up, but recognized that it was already too late. “Where have you be—”

Christein interrupted him by plunging a knife into Hynnkel’s side. “Shut up, you piece of shit.”

Amadhay and Blu both moved at the same time. Blu sat up, forgetting to hold onto Amadhay and instead turning to help Hynnkel. She didn’t get anywhere however, because Amadhay pulled one of the blades Christein had given her from the sheath in her sleeve and stabbed Blu in the back, aiming for the spine but just missing when an arrow came at her and she had to move. She shoved Blu off of her and rolled away to miss being shot. She felt a second arrow just barely miss her face as she rolled to the wall.

Blu cried out and dropped down, falling onto her side. Amaya didn’t say anything, but another arrow flew at Amadhay, nearly hitting her as she forced herself to her feet. Hynnkel tilted his head back, gritting his teeth as he fought Christein to get the serrated blade out of his side. He could have easily used any of his Gifts to beat Christein back, but his focus was on getting to Blu, not fighting his brother anymore and that gave Christein the upper hand. Amaya wouldn’t shoot at him, not with Hynnkel that close. She might have been able to shoot him, but it was far more likely that Christein would use his brother as a shield if she did.

Christein tugged the knife out and glanced at Amadhay, who was pulling a second blade out as she used her Gift to avoid another of Amaya’s arrows, “Finish her off now, Red,” he ordered, stabbing Hynnkel again, but not able to get it as deep this time, now that Hynnkel was expecting it. “While Hynnkel’s down!”

The brothers struggled and then Christein’s back was to Amadhay. She moved from the wall and then had Blu by the hair, holding her just so that she could use her as a shield against any of Amaya’s arrows. Immediately, the arrows stopped coming, which allowed Amadhay to focus on the cat-kin. Before that, though, she made eye contact with Amaya, pulling her friend’s head back so that she could see the fear in both of the girl’s eyes. Looking down to Blu’s pained face, Amadhay felt a warmth that always came with this. Blu was panicking and forgetting everything she could be doing, which made Amadhay smirk. She loved that look, the moment of absolute fear right before she killed someone, when their entire body was giving the acknowledgement that it was the end for them.

Amadhay had the knife to Blu’s throat hard enough to draw a line of blood on the girl’s porcelain skin. She gripped the knife harder, staring at the line, feeling her breath quicken. She tensed her muscles to slit her throat, but paused again, just long enough to miss her chance.  

“Now, Amaya!” Hynnkel barked, making Amaya loose arrow after arrow, the first one embedding itself into Christein’s shoulder.

At Christein’s cry, Amadhay dropped Blu, turning to see what had happened to him. She stood staring at the arrow in his shoulder long enough that she just barely missed getting an arrow shot through her hand. She dropped the knife and moved away from Blu, as the barrage of arrow was forcing. Amaya was trying to force her back against the wall, but Amadhay didn’t let her, instead using her Gift to speed through the arrow and to Christein’s side.

“Sorry, Baron,” she whispered, keeping Hynnkel, Amaya, and Blu all in her vision. Amaya notched another arrow and Amadhay knew that this one was aimed at her eye. If she allowed herself to, she could take out Amaya easily, but she wasn’t going to, and that made the entire situation incredibly dangerous for her and Christein because her sister didn’t have the same hold back. She ignored Hynnkel as he tried to tug Christein’s knife from his side, deciding that he was no longer a threat. Her only worry was getting Christein safe from the arrows. Hynnkel and Blu were distracted with their own hurts, but Amaya wasn’t. “But our lives come before ending hers, and that archer is dangerous.”

Christein gestured angrily towards Amaya, who was slowly but surely coming closer to them.“It’s just Amaya. You know sh—”

Suddenly Hynnkel’s short sword was all the way through Christein. Amadhay hadn’t even seen him pull it, much less get close enough to them to cut Christein down. Christein dropped when Hynnkel let go of the sword, falling to the pavement with his face making a horrible crack against it.

Hynnkel pinned Amadhay against the wall before she could so much as breathe, his hand around her throat. He didn’t squeeze, but there was something in his eyes that she’d only seen once before, when he’d been cursed. He didn’t say anything, only stared at her with a strange shadow in his eyes.

“What is it with men pinning me against walls today?” She tried to sound brave, but all she could think was Oh Goddess, Monkey. Is he alright? He’s regenerating, right? It will heal, right? He’ll be fine, right?

He slapped her hard enough to make her cheek hit the wall. It was the opposite cheek that Christein had slapped earlier and this slap made her eyes tear. Before he could react, her grabbed her face and turned it so that she was looking at him again. “She had better not be dead, Amadhay. And don’t pretend you’re not Amadhay, because I know you are.”

“Hynnky!” Amaya called from where Blu had fallen. Amadhay and Hynnkel didn’t look away from each other, though Amaya’s voice did seem to make the shadow back away and his mahogany eyes were a little softer, but still angry, still dangerous. “The stab was off. She’s bleeding pretty bad, but it’s not fatal if we get her to Squirrel.”

She tried to punch him in the side where Christein had stabbed him but he caught her hand with ease. “If Red Baron is dead,” she hissed when he slammed her hand against the wall. “I will start with Goggles, go to Archer, and then save your death for last.” Even as frightened as she had to admit she was, she was serious with the threat. She didn’t care that she had promised herself that she would never hurt Amaya again. She couldn’t see Christein over Hynnkel, but she thought she could just hear his wet breaths. He wasn’t crying out anymore, and she didn’t know what that meant.

“If you kill those two, I will take your fucking soul,” he threatened her, the shadow coming back full force and a strange red began to take over his eyes.

Amadhay watched the red with no fear. “I don’t have one left to take,” she stated simply, remembering the last thing Hlala had said to her. You are so covered in bad that your astral is almost gone. You’re barely even alive anymore. What happened to you?

Hynnkel leaning into Amaya until the red coated his entire eyeball, unlike her own simply over her irises, was all she could see. Images began playing through her mind.

There was a baby, a beautiful little girl with olive skin and a head covered by curly, black hair. She was suddenly aware it was her. There was a smoky fog reaching for the baby, crooning for her to help it. The baby reached out and a dark shadow smothered her hand, tried to follow the little hand up to her tiny face until she opened sky blue eyes. It dropped away from her.

The image disappeared and she stared at Hynnkel for less than a click that seemed like an eternity before another image hit her.

It was Amadhay again, a little girl dressed in all pink, the color of the soul Splinter, for a funeral. She had been to so many funerals, but this one was the funeral of her parents, she was suddenly sure. She stared at the ashes as they were thrown into the air. She wasn’t crying, but staring. Christein stood beside her, holding her hand. “It’s alright if you wanna cry,” he told her, but wouldn’t look at her.

She had simply stared at the ashes. “Why would I cry? Everyone dies.”

She took a deep breath and tried to fight away from Hynnkel, but she didn’t get anywhere.

Little Amadhay stared at a bird whose wing was broken. Hynnkel’s voice came out. “We can take it to the healers.”

She frowned and looked at him. “But then the snake won’t get food.” She pointed at the large snake slithering toward the frightened creature. She smiled. “That wouldn’t be fair.”

“Stop it,” she started to cry.

An older Amadhay lay in her bed, her head on top of a book of spells. She was muttering learned words in her sleep, summoning words. “Darelevan,” the dark voice whispered to her sleeping form. She kept muttering and a red fog started toward her. It was on her lips when her eyes snapped open. The sky blue was beginning to get a hint of red. She looked around, but the red fog was leaving her.

She focused all of her power on the words she needed. She couldn’t say it, because he had a feeling that speaking the curse aloud wouldn’t do her any good, she needed it at its full strength. The red eyes regarded her with amusement.

“You are mine.” The words echoed.

“Hynnky, she’s doing something weird…” Amaya warned.

A purple mist was beginning to form around Amadhay. She was determined to get out of this. The red eyes regarded her for a moment before Hynnkel’s lips slammed against hers. Amadhay gasped and Hynnkel opened his mouth. Amadhay felt herself choking on something, something shoving its way inside of her but she couldn’t stop it.

“What are you doing!” Amaya yelled, tugging on Hynnkel.

The last dregs of whatever Hynnkel had given her caught in her throat, but went down as Hynnkel was pulled back by Amaya, who was suddenly given the task of holding up the man who was a foot taller and close to twice her weight.

Amadhay stumbled away, falling to her knees. She could see Christein. Someone, she supposed that it had probably been Amaya, had removed the sword from his body. There was so much blood.

“A…Amadhay?” he whispered, opening his eyes only a bit. He coughed up blood.

Amadhay crawled to him as Amaya got Hynnkel to lean against the wall. Amadhay wrapped her arms around Christein gently, nuzzling her head into the crook of his neck. She held in a scream when a new arrow pierced her back.

Christein moaned. “Amadhay, I, I can’t hold on.”

“It’ll be okay, Monkey,” she promised softly as she teleported them away.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay is alive



Amadhay wasn’t doing so well by the time she got to Tierdom.

The ride had been long at nearly eight zoots, not counting the four times Grits had stopped to graze, drink, and rest. She was uncomfortable, which made plenty of sense, considering she had just ridden a pegasus for over eight zoots, only getting off of him when she had fallen asleep and the pegasus had somehow managed to get her off of him. It was a given that she wasn’t doing so well mentally. She had, ten zoots previous, killed one of her best friends—her lover—learned that her…whatever Atlas was, was planning to kill two of her other best friends, foiled a plot against her family and job, and been forced to ride, alone, one of the few creatures in the world that she could honestly say terrified her regardless of the good face she put up.

Physically, she wasn’t doing much better. Her neck still burned and she was positive that Ribbon’s blood had somehow dripped into the wound, which was why even though she attempted healing spells, the cut around her throat stayed. She was covered in Ribbon’s blood, even though it was dry and she barely noticed it any more. Her braid had come loose sometime during the flight and her curls were completely unmanageable as the winds battered at them. She was bruised and tired, and her legs were incredibly sore from riding Grits. Her leg was still partially burned where Ribbon had caught her and she was pretty positive that she probably had at one least black eye, considering they were both swelling so badly she could barely open them.

She knew that she should probably have tried to find a Phoegani safe house in Tierdom, but she didn’t. She was tired, scared, and sad and for once, she just wanted to be comforted. She didn’t know where Monkey or Benjy were, or even if they were still alive or would come for her. Atlas and Ribbon were obviously no longer the comforts that they had been not even a full day previous. With all of her normal options out, Amadhay did something she had sworn not only to herself, but to the Phoegani and Arne Riff, that she would never do.

She went to Nolando.

Or rather, she went to the Tierdom kingdom and hoped that he would be there, with his knot. By this point, Grits was doing most of the work to keep her on his back, keeping his wings up so that she wouldn’t slide off even though he was walking in the palace garden. A handful of horrified shrieks made her try to open her eyes, but she couldn’t get them much more than a crack.

“Is she alive?” a quivering female voice asked.

“I don’t know. What is she?”

“Did someone call the queen?”

“She’s coming. Should we try to help her?” the last voice gave another shriek after Grits gave a threatening squeal, stomping his feet. Amadhay clutched his mane, forcing herself to sit up.

“Princess Anne?” Amadhay asked hoarsely. Grits gave a soft blow before shaking his head experimentally. When Amadhay held on and didn’t fall back or down, he lowered his wings.

“Did she say something?”

“I don’t know.”

“We should do something.”

Amadhay took a deep breath and tried again, making her voice louder. “Anne?”

“I’m here,” finally a familiar voice said. There was the sound of shifting feet, and then Grits neighed in alarm, dancing to the side. “Amaya?” the woman asked.

Amadhay thought that she should correct the woman, but instead focused on calming Grits “It’s okay boy. She’s a friend,” she whispered into his ear. Grits moved in a semi-circle before blowing again. This time Amadhay knew he was blowing at Anne, because she heard the woman give a nervous laugh.

“I can tell you’re not alright, so I’m going to have someone come to get you off of the pegasus. Do you hear me?”

Amadhay nodded, but patted Grits’ head. “Let me down,” she ordered the horse, who was slow to do as she asked, but did eventually kneel forward so that she could slide down. She fell right into someone’s arms.

“Hey, I’ve got you,” Anne said softly, “You could’ve waited, but that’s fine. I’ve got you.” Grits pressed his head against Amadhay and the girl felt Anne shift her weight so that she was leaning more against the horse than her.

“Has someone found Nolando yet?” she asked softly of someone beside her.

“Yes, your majesty. His majesty is on his way,” one of the other female voices answered.

“Well someone might want to tell him that this isn’t Amaya,” she said in a low voice.

Amadhay forced her eyes open as far as they would go to see Anne looking at her with a mixture of fear, curiosity, worry, and confusion on her face. The blonde woman looked just the same as always, a golden tan color with dark blonde hair and round brown eyes, but the crown on her head was different from when Amadhay had last seen her. She had forgotten that Anne’s father had died, that she was the queen now.

“There you are!” Anne exclaimed, looking past Amadhay and Grits, to someone who seemed to be approaching quickly. “You need to get her on the lift and take her to the medical wing. She is to have immediate attention,” she ordered as a pair of healers in white garb came into Amadhay’s vision. She closed her eyes again, choosing to rest for the moment.

Grits made a soft nicker at Amadhay, which she responded to by weakly patting his flank. “Thank you, Grits.” The next thing she knew, she was being gently laid onto a stretcher.

Heavy, running footsteps approached and Amadhay forced her eyes open one last time to see her eldest cousin. Like his knot, he had dark blond hair and his light olive skin really offset his dark blue eyes, which went straight to her face. He was sweating and out of breath, making her wonder what he had been doing when the information of her arrival had reached him.

He gave a soft curse, and then as she was being lifted into the air, she felt a hand brush her hair from her face. “Amadhay,” he whispered.

“In the flesh,” she responded before the healers started moving.

“We have to get her to the medical wing as soon as possible, your majesty. I’m sorry,” one of them said, making Nolando back up. As she was closing her eyes, she saw Nolando begin to follow, Anne at his side.

“I thought she was dead,” she heard her cousin say.

“That’s definitely what I last heard,” Anne responded. “I think I might remember a funeral,” she added drily.

“But that’s Amadhay, isn’t it? It has to be.”

“It definitely looked like her,” Anne admitted.

“I’m Amadhay,” she added to their conversation, her voice scratchy. “I pretended to be dead but I’m not. But don’t tell anyone except Monkey. He already knows.”

“Why would you pretend to be dead?” Nolando wanted to know, his voice breaking for a moment. “Who did this to you?”

“Doesn’t matter. She’s dead.”

“You majesties, we really need her to stop talking,” one of the healers said. “The damage to her throat needs to be looked at right now.”

“Of course,” Anne offered, “We’ll talk after,” she promised both Amadhay and Nolando.

“I want to talk now,” Amadhay argued even though she really didn’t.

“But you can’t,” Anne stated matter-of-factly. “When you’re all fixed, we’ll talk. All four of us.”

“Four?” she asked, but neither the king nor queen answered her. Instead, one of the healers shushed her and began to work on her throat. She figured she probably should have told them it was useless, but figured they’d come to that realization on their own. Besides, she wanted to rest. For some reason, Anne taking control of the situation as well as she had was incredibly comforting and helped Amadhay relax.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 In which Amadhay eavesdrops some



Amadhay couldn’t help it.

When she heard voices talking in hushed whispers, it was physically impossible for her not to attempt to listen in. Call it curiosity, call it nosiness, she blamed the cat in her. Curiosity killed the cat, after all.

But satisfaction brought it back.

That was why she was currently perched rather precariously on one of the highest shelves in the library. She had been attempting to retrieve a book from up there on blood magic when the vampire and Nico walked in. Both blonds had called out and scoped around before coming to a stop only a few feet away from her. Neither had thought to look up and she supposed that being up there was masking her scent from Cowboy. Either that, or she was in the library so often that it was beginning to smell like her.

“I think Tenshu is getting too close to the Heralds,” Cowboy whispered to Nico, who nodded in agreement.

“I thought he was just doing his job, but the way he talks about the light and water Heralds makes me wonder if there’s something more.”

Cowboy winced. “You’ve noticed too, huh? Have you told Atlas yet?”

Nico was silent for a few clicks and both men simply stared at each other. “No, I haven’t. I didn’t think it was necessary to bring his attention to this, not yet.”

“Thank you,” Cowboy muttered, rubbing at his face.

Nico nodded. “I’m not doing it for you.”

“I know.”

“I worry about Vlad as well,” Nico added after another few clicks of silence.

“Oh? Why?” the vampire asked, surprise in his tone.

“He has yet to actively attempt to claim the fire Herald. I’ve been keeping my distance, as per his request, but he has yet to cement any bond with her. If anything, I would assume they were friends, not regnant and possession.”

The words made no sense to her, but she thought she might have been getting the gist of the conversation. Nico and Cowboy were both worried that Vlad and Tenshu had fallen for Wonder Girls and Co. and their feminine wiles. She wondered why that was such a big deal, what they were planning, but didn’t get to eavesdrop anymore because at that point, the library door opened.

“Red Bird?” Ribbon’s voice called out, making Cowboy and Nico tense. Both men nodded to each other and went separate ways. From her vantage point, Amadhay was able to watch both men avoid running into Ribbon by carefully navigating the book stacks. They were out of her sight when Ribbon was below her.

Deciding to put the strange conversation out of her mind because it had nothing to do with her, Amadhay grinned evilly before taking care to silently move down, one shelf at a time, until she was almost behind Ribbon and the woman was completely oblivious. She slipped behind the tall woman before yelling, “Surprise attack!”

Immediately, Ribbon jumped and turned. As she jumped, her leg lifted into the air into a swinging kick, luckily moving right over Amadhay’s head. “You little wormshit!” Ribbon exclaimed, smacking Amadhay on the shoulder. “I almost kicked your head off!”

“Not really,” Amadhay responded with a grin. “It was completely worth it.”

“We’ll see how worth it it was when I kick your ass,” Ribbon said, grabbing Amadhay in a headlock.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay isn’t kissed



“I could kiss you,” Ribbon said, hugging Amadhay from behind.

Amadhay tensed for a click, before relaxing. Ribbon had surprised her, because she had been so absorbed in checking out the library that she hadn’t even heard the woman come in. “Why?” she asked once Ribbon let go of her.

“You got us out of the Ice Castle. I think everyone wants to kiss you right now. Well, except Kimmy. She’s from Ice Land.”

“Oh,” was all Amadhay said for a moment, taking a moment to try to remember what Ribbon had said because she had been too busy watching her lips to listen. “You don’t think anyone is going to though, right?” she asked awkwardly.

“Going to what?” Ribbon asked distractedly, looking at the books Amadhay had been perusing.

“Kiss me?” Amadhay asked, looking away from Ribbon when she found her eyes gravitating to the women’s lips again. She uncomfortably rubbed the back of her neck.

“Nah. Atlas would skin us all alive if one of us got to kiss you before he did,” she responded with a wave of her hand, making Amadhay look back up at her. The blood-witch was squinting at one of the books, tapping her lips thoughtfully. Amadhay looked away again. Ribbon pulled the book from the shelf and tried handing it to Amadhay, tapping her arms with it when Amadhay didn’t look at her. “Read this.”

Amadhay took the book and looked it over to see that it was a novice book of dark magic spells and gave Ribbon a dry look. “I’m pretty sure that I’m better than a novice,” she stated, trying to push the book back into the woman’s hands.

Ribbon didn’t let her. “In some places you are. My wards were checking your proficiency, not just dampening your power. You have a lot of power, sure, but you use it like an idiot. I mean Atlas showed me the runes you used for binding him and all I could say was ‘I’m not sure how she’s still alive right now.’ I assume that you use big spells because you just don’t know the simpler ones, so read up.”

Amadhay glared past Ribbon’s ear. “I don’t need your help.”

“Sure,” Ribbon responded with a shrug. “But what else are you going to do? You got bored in the Ice Castle, you’ll get bored here too. Might as well work on your skill set.”

“Why? Not like I’m going to use them anymore.”

Ribbon gave her an amused look. “Are you honestly telling me that just because you don’t work for the Phoegani anymore, that you’re never going to want to use magic again?”

Amadhay shifted uncomfortably. “I assumed Atlas wouldn’t want me to do any—”

“Atlas doesn’t control you,” Ribbon interrupted. “Atlas might not want you to do combat magic, but he isn’t going to stop you if you want to learn it. We could even spar with magic one day. There’s no reason that you have to sit around and be a homebody just because you don’t have to kill people anymore.”

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay makes decisions



She was in the same room she remembered from when she had awaken in bed with him, only this time, the door was open and she was by herself. She lay in the bed, cloak sprawled out beneath her, and stared at the ceiling.

She kind of missed the canopy. She had become almost used to staring at the overhanging in thought. She turned her head, laying with her cheek on the bed as she stared at the door.

Atlas had led her into the ‘flyer,’ which she recognized as something similar to one of Base Inventions’ new aircars, though this one was much larger than she had ever seen before. Beside this one bedroom, there were two bathrooms and a large but relatively narrow room full of comfortable chairs with a round table in the center of it. The bathrooms weren’t as clean as she expected of Atlas, but she supposed she understood, what with the flyer regularly being used to shuffle Palnokians back and forth over the Water back to Roadesia.

Atlas had even told her where she was, which was nice to know. She had been Over the Water, in the dead center of a large kingdom ruled by a lord who called himself the Snow King. Atlas had been rather closemouthed about why they had chosen that location and their relationship with the Snow King. In fact, Atlas had been uncharacteristically silent altogether. She was used to him talking to her, even though she had refused to see him very much since being held captive. Every encounter she’d had with him had been with him talking freely and making her comfortable enough to talk back.

This time, she felt as if anything she said would be unwelcome. That was why she was lying in the bed, rather than out there with him. He had settled into a comfortable looking chair, which was already different. She had completely expected him to take the loveseat. She normally saw him in a seat where she could fit beside him, an unspoken invitation. She didn’t know how she felt about the invitation being revoked like that. To top that, he had taken out his DS and stared intently at it for a few clacks before she got the feeling that she was unwanted. So she had wandered and ended up back in this room.

It bothered her that it bothered her that Atlas was closed off from her. She hardly knew him. In fact, the only things she knew about him were the things she knew as a Phoegani member, nothing personal. It was an uneven balance, with him knowing everything about her and her knowing nothing about him. She felt the need to fix the difference between them, to get to know more about him than basic cursory information. Really, it was her duty as a Phoegani agent to get to know him, to learn information about the enemy. It had nothing to do with her personal feelings.

She had a wonderful opportunity, one that no other Phoegani operative had ever had or would ever have. She could stay and gather information, and it would all be worthwhile in the end. She wouldn’t be betraying the Phoegani or Benjy or Christein. She would be helping them. She could be a plant, gathering up information. Obviously, she wouldn’t be able to get the information to them until she had to go back, because if the Phoegani suddenly had insider information, it would lead immediately back to Amadhay and she would be compromised. But she would get them information and be welcomed back with open arms, instead of being thrown directly into holding cells for defecting.

This had nothing to do with her possible feelings for Atlas, who was honestly willing to let her go back to the Phoegani, who was honestly giving her a choice. It had nothing to do with the fact that she thought she could become good friends with Ribbon, Kimiko, and Tenshu or her lingering more-than-friendly feelings for Ribbon. She was just trying to do something good for the Phoegani. She wasn’t falling for Atlas’ words or actions, she wasn’t betraying the Phoegani or Benjy or Christein. She was just doing things a little differently than she had planned.

Now, all she had to do was tell Atlas about her change of heart without him becoming suspicious.

Taking a deep breath to steel herself, she pushed herself off of the bed and left the room. Pausing at the doorway, she focused on Atlas, who was still in the same chair, still staring at his DS. He didn’t even glance up when she reentered the room with her hands clasped at her front. She made her way to him, sitting in the seat directly beside him. He still didn’t look at her, so she leaned over and placed her head against his side, looking up at his face, waiting for him to look at her.

He finally did after a moment’s hesitance. Setting his DS on his lap, he looked down at her, eyebrows raised and expression carefully blank. “Is there something you needed?”

She tried to think of the best way to broach the subject, and decided that bluntness was the best option. “I don’t want to go back.”

He eyed her critically. “And why is that?’

Shrugging, she sat up so that she was no longer leaning into him. “I changed my mind.”

“What changed it?” he asked, looking away from her.

“Does it matter?” she asked in response, playing with the end of her left braid.

“Yes,” he said.

She sighed, staring at her hair as she pressed the ends of both braids together. “I…I just wanted to know that you actually would take me back if I wanted,” she muttered.

His eyes snapped from the wall, back to her. “What?”

She tried to focus on her braids, not the look he was giving her. It was skeptical but showed unabashed hopefulness. He really wanted her to stay, that was obvious. “I don’t want to go back.”

He nodded slowly. “Are you sure?”

“If I’m not, would you take me back?” she asked, finally looking at him directly in the eyes.

“I will take you wherever you want to go at any time,” he promised, holding her gaze.

She wasn’t sure why there was a chill going down her spine, when at the same time she felt a warmth spreading throughout her body. It was as if she were frightened of him, when she was sure she had no reason to be. “Then I want to go back to base. Your base.”

A slow grin came to his lips. “We just call it home.”

She nodded slowly, realizing that he wanted her to call it ‘home.’ “I want to go home,” she whispered, the words feeling strangely heavy on her tongue. She tried to convince herself that it was because it felt wrong to call the Palnokian base ‘home,’ but deep down, she knew it was because it felt right. It felt much more right than calling the Phoegani base ‘home,’ which she never did.

Atlas’ grin was wider now. “Alright then. Medica!” he yelled. “We’re going home!” A teasing tone came to his voice. “Are you still feeling all the snow?”

“I never was. Is there a choice?” Amadhay asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Of course. You can’t honestly think we always live in the Ice Castle. How about near a beach?”

“A warm beach?” she asked warily. She didn’t want to agree to go somewhere, expecting warmth and sunshine, only to be surrounded by icy waters and snow.

“Of course,” Atlas replied, reaching out to her. He tucked the loose curls that she had worried from both braids behind her ears on both sides, before allowing his two fingers to trail down to her cheek. He traced to the corner of her mouth before pausing there. There was a question in his eyes, one that she wasn’t sure how to answer. So she simply didn’t, looking away from him for a brief click.

His hands dropped from her face, back to his lap. “So this was all just a test?”

She blinked a few times, looking back up at him, before shaking her head in confusion, unsure what he meant. “All of what was a test?”

“You going back to the Phoegani? You never planned to go back?”

For a click, she thought about agreeing, but something told her not to. As much as she wanted to play with him at his own game, she didn’t want to lie to him, not yet. The lying would come later, it always did. This was just a brief interlude, a truthful interlude.

“No,” she admitted. “I was going to go back. I thought that was what I wanted,” she paused, not sure that was what she had meant to say. “But it isn’t.” She tried to look away from him, but his red eyes kept hers even, “I just needed to know that you were being honest, that you would actually take me back if I wanted to. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to know that I could trust you.”

It was that same moment that she realized that was the truth of the matter. She didn’t really plan on gathering information for the Phoegani. She didn’t plan on going back there. She loved Christein and Benjy, but they were part of the problem. They had pushed and prodded her into decisions, had withheld information from her that she needed.

She just wanted to know that there was someone in her life who would be honest with her, who wouldn’t take her choices from her, but allow her to make them. Atlas might be that person.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay is fickle



She wasn’t fickle.

That was what Amadhay had to keep reminding herself. She wasn’t fickle. Her allegiance couldn’t be replaced in twenty-one short (or twenty-one long, as they had been for her) days and those days couldn’t remove her allegiance to the Phoegani. The last twenty-one days with Ribbon couldn’t replace the past fifteen years with Monkey. Fifteen days spent in Tenshu’s company couldn’t replace five years working with, around, and under Benjy, they couldn’t replace those horrifying twenty-three clacks when she had thought the phantom was fully dead.

She wasn’t fickle.

Because twenty-one days with the Palnoki couldn’t replace the six years she’d had with the Phoegani, Amadhay was going home. She was happy about it, really, she was. She belonged with her friends, the ones who had helped form her into who she was, not these new ones who she could see helping her become the person she always dreamed of being. Dreams weren’t realities. Dreams were only fantasies made by a bored mind to torment her long waking zoots. Her reality was the assassin for the Phoegani; her reality was the mass slaughtering Red Robin, not Ribbon’s Red Bird. Red Bird was a girl with too much time on her hands and no real worries. She couldn’t afford to be that person.

But could she afford not to be Amadhay?

She tried to ignore the things Atlas had said, that to the Phoegani, she was just an asset. That Benjy had chosen the Phoegani over her. That Monkey had chosen the Phoegani over her. She knew that they wouldn’t do that, that neither man would ever dream of choosing the Phoegani over her, that they had to be looking for her.

Didn’t they?

She sat on her bed—no, on the bed in the room she had been staying. They weren’t hers because she didn’t belong here. They weren’t hers because she didn’t get to have things associated with the Palnoki. They weren’t hers. Her belongings were in her room in Roadesia, on the Phoegani base, where she was pretending to be dead.

She was tired of pretending to be dead just so that she could continue living. She wanted to openly be alive again. She could do that here. Here, she could walk around with Ribbon and Tenshu and no one would give her a second look. She could be unglamoured and not worry about being attacked. She could stop killing people for a cause she honestly didn’t understand. She could be done killing people for an uncle who would never see her as worthy of anything more than two words of praise. She could stop looking over her shoulder every five clicks, fearful that someone might recognize and attack her.

She could be free, and Goddess, how she wanted to be free.

But she wasn’t fickle.

She had signed an oath to do the work of the Phoegani so long as she lived. Which, now that she thought about it, was probably void since she was technically dead, legally speaking. Regardless, she had signed the oath and her life was dedicated to the Phoegani and all of its endeavors. It didn’t matter than she had only been nine when she had signed it, and had only been following Christein’s lead, had allowed Arne Riff to convince her that it was her only choice at the time. She couldn’t just decide that she no longer agreed to do the Phoegani’s work, especially not to, instead, be with the Palnoki. That was a betrayal of epic proportions. If she did that, there would be major repercussions in the future, repercussions that might even pit her against Christein and Benjy.

Except most of the Phoegani already thought she had betrayed them. She would bet all of her inheritance that no one was looking for her because they assumed she had been a part of the Palnoki’s plan. She had, after all, brought in four Palnokians in one day, and all four of those same Palnokians had wreaked havoc and left the same day. The fact that she had been abducted with them was probably glossed over, replaced with the idea that she had led the escape and gone with them. While she didn’t want to let those people be right about her, she also knew that going back was going to be incredibly difficult, especially if Atlas just dropped her off on their doorstep like a little gift. They would think that she was a ploy to get inside and destroy them from the ranks.

She was really better off staying. But she wasn’t fickle and she wasn’t a turncoat. Still, Atlas had said that he wasn’t recruiting her…

She stared at the bags at the foot of her bed. She had come back to the room after her conversation with Atlas and they had already been packed. All the clothes she had amassed since coming were packed right there. All of her belongings were there, including her weapons. On her lap lay her favorite blade, the one Monkey had given her on her thirteenth birthday. It was highly decorative, with a golden blade that had a wicked curve to it and an inlay of rubies that only seemed to become redder with every kill.

That was her life. She was a decorative knife for the Phoegani. Killing people was all she had been trained to do since she had been young; it was all she was good for. She didn’t know anything else. She had never had a choice. Arne Riff had taken her under his guidance almost as soon as her parents had died, when she was five. He had morphed whatever she had been then and turned her into a monster.

She knew she was a monster. Only monsters could kill for no reason other than orders and not feel remorse. She hated that she couldn’t see a life where she didn’t have to kill others for a living. She was at the point where she liked killing. She liked seeing the look of terror in a person’s eyes as they realized she was there to kill them. She liked the knowledge that she was seeing a person at their last moments. She collected those moments, those looks, their last words.

The door opened and Amadhay turned herself from her thoughts, looking up at Atlas as he walked in. He looked tired even if he still had that smile on his face. She knew he was faking it, that the smile was as false as his words to her. He wasn’t going to take her back. He was playing another game with her.

He looked around the room before focusing on the two bags at the foot of her bed. “Is that all you have?” he asked, leaning down to pick both up. He slipped the long strap for the larger one over his shoulder, choosing to simply hold the other by its short straps.

Amadhay nodded mutely, playing with the hem of her red cloak. Atlas nodded at her, gesturing with his head to the door. “Then I guess we should be going.”

She nodded again, getting to her feet. Taking care to tuck the beautiful knife into its sheath on her thigh, she watched Atlas to see if he had any reaction to her weapons. He didn’t. He simply waited for her. She took a new, deep breath, gently tugging at the ends of her twin braids. Tenshu had braided her hair for her before he had left her alone in the room to think everything over. He had said he thought it might make her feel a little bit more put together. She thought that maybe he had thought doing that for her would change her mind about leaving. It didn’t.

She paused for a moment as she made it to Atlas’ side, staring at him for a long moment before walking past him and out of the door. Once she was out, he used his free hand to pull the door closed behind him. The click of the door as it shut sounded foreboding to Amadhay, as if the door was closing in on her. She glanced back and up at Atlas again, but he wasn’t looking at her. Instead, he had a strangely focused expression as he steered her down the halls. This time, she was led directly to the front door, which was much closer to her room than she had thought after the long, winding route Ribbon had taken the other day.

“Amadhay,” Atlas muttered, making her look back at him as the door swung open.

“Yes?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Nothing. Go on,” he said, gesturing with his head for her to go out of the door.

She gave him a long look before turning her attention back to the open door. Taking a deep breath, she braced herself for the cold and stepped outside. The moment Atlas stepped out as well and closed the door behind them, once the leftover warmth from all of the heating spells interlaced with the walls of the building left, the chill slapped Amadhay in the face. Pulling her hood up onto her head and holding her cloak closed, she felt warmer, but the chill still sliced through even the latent heating spell on the cloak, gloves, and boots. Atlas stood close behind her, warming her a bit more where his body was pressed against hers.

“We’re going to have to go on the sled until we get far enough in that Medica can get to us in her flyer.”

“Flyer?” Amadhay asked, though ‘sled’ was just as foreign a word to her. She assumed the large wooden thing sitting atop snow and strapped to several wolf Ferals was the sled since Atlas was leading her to it.

“Have you ever been in a submarine?” he asked her, tossing her bags into the sled before he helped her into the center of it, settling behind her. He put his legs on either side of her, pressing her back to his front and grabbed the reins.

“Once,” she admitted, remembering the claustrophobic feeling of being stuck inside a small hunk of metal that could somehow swim both underneath and on the water and not sink.

“It is similar to that, only in the air,” he explained, snapping the reins to force the Ferals to start running. At first, the large lupines moved slowly on top of the snow until they gained momentum and they, and with them the sled, moved quickly over snow, practically gliding right on top of it and not sinking in.

“That sounds like a horrible idea,” Amadhay muttered. She had flown once, in an air carriage led by two overly large bird Ferals. It had not been an experience she had ever wanted to duplicate.

“You slept right through it the last time,” he reminded her.

“You had me forced into sleep,” she reminded him.

“You won’t even notice that you are moving,” he promised her, talking almost directly into her ear now that it was becoming hard to hear over the wind moving harshly against them. His close contact was the only thing keeping her hood up. They were now officially farther than she had tunneled the previous day, making her realize that while she had gone a decent distance, she hadn’t even put a dent in the distance between the base and the village she had been able to see in the distance from her room.

“That’s not the part I don’t want,” she said, the words slipping from her mouth before she even knew what she was saying.

He snapped the reins again. “Then what is?” he asked.

She tried to look back at him, but the cloak was in the way. Better that way, she thought before turning her eyes back to the Ferals. She didn’t want to be the type of girl to take one look at a guy and fall so hard that she forgot everything else. Above all else, she refused to betray Christein and Benjy, which meant that she had to go back. She had to.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which ribbon sleeps in



It was incredibly surreal for Amadhay to wake up in bed with three Palnoki members.

On the plus side, at least this time she remembered what had led to her waking up cuddled up with them, unlike when she had woken up with Atlas.

After Ribbon and Tensh—Tanhakinshu had found her, freezing but still functional, they had immediately taken her inside, to Nico and Kimiko, who had been sitting in front of a fireplace that Amadhay hadn’t noticed on her tour of the building. Kimiko had been a blubbering mess, apologizing for leaving her alone in the snow. Nico had silently removed himself from the entire situation as soon as he had been sure that she was alive and going to survive. Tanhakinshu and Ribbon had, as if they hadn’t even had that fight outside, worked together to do everything in their power to keep Amadhay from getting frostbite or any other nasty cold related problems.

She hadn’t said much, choosing instead to spend all her energy on getting and staying warm. They had stripped her of her cold, soaking clothes and Ribbon had redressed her, after Kimiko’s complaint against Tenshu seeing Amadhay’s naked body. Once she was all toasty and warm, they had coaxed her to eat something and given her medicine to ward off colds. Once all that was done, they had put her in bed and crawled in with her. She wasn’t sure if it was guilt, worry, or simple exhaustion that had landed them in her bed, but she was sure that whatever the reason was, they were there for her.

She was also completely positive that Ribbon had not put the wards back up on her room.

So with that in mind, she had easily made her way out of the bed, taking care not to wake the other three. She honestly wasn’t sure if she didn’t want to wake them because she wanted to sneak out or because she genuinely thought they needed sleep. The previous day had been a lot more stressful for them than for her. She hadn’t really been close to death. Close to being really cold? Yes. Close to freezing to death? Hardly. It had actually become warmer as it got later, which she didn’t understand, but had decided not to question either.

She might not be any closer to leaving, but she now knew one way she wasn’t leaving, and that was through all the snow by foot. They had been right when they had told her it was nearly impossible for her to escape with all the snow around and honestly, she wasn’t all that sure that escaping was high on her list of things most important to her at that point in time.

Maybe it was a silly, sentimental part of her speaking, the part that had always wanted Arne Riff’s fatherly approval and a sort of companionship with her sisters, but it had been nice to have been so completely taken care of, especially since it had all been her own stupid fault. While she would never say that Benjy and Christein didn’t care for her, she could honestly say that she doubted they would have pampered her as much as these three people she hardly knew had. In fact, she had a feeling that, for some reason she didn’t understand, these people would have done everything in their power to fix her if she had truly been hurt. Which was more than she could say for anyone else in her life, aside from Rea, whose job it was to fix her.

She was at the point where she had to call Ribbon her friend. Ten—Tanhakinshu was still up in the air and so was Kimiko, but they were on the fast track. She still wasn’t sure how she felt about the rest of the Palnoki. She wasn’t sure, especially, of how she felt about Atlas. But those three, those three she could honestly say she trusted. While yes, they were worried about how Atlas would react to her getting away or dying, there had also been genuine worry about her. They didn’t know her as an asset. They really just knew her as, well, Amadhay. That was nice.

That was what she was thinking about as she just wandered the Palnokian halls, not really paying attention to where she was going. She was aware that she should still be looking for a way out, but she wasn’t. She felt a bit like it would be wrong to take advantage of Ribbon’s mistake, especially after how they had taken care of her. Though, of course, it was really their fault that she had ended up needing to be cared for. She was being held captive, and sometimes with Ribbon she forgot that, but that didn’t change the fact that she had been abducted. If Atlas hadn’t abducted her, she wouldn’t have gone out in the snow to try to escape.

So, as nice as the three of them had been, they were still the enemy. Ribbon was still her prison guard. Tanhakinshu had still killed Benjy. And, while, she didn’t have anything particular against Kimiko, the girl was a part of the Palnoki, which meant that she had done something, at some point, to make Amadhay’s life harder. They all had. Making sure she didn’t get frostbite, keeping her warm and feeding her soup didn’t change anything. Ribbon had been stupid to leave the wards down.

Finally, she stopped in front of a window, looking out at the leagues of snow. In that instant, she made up her mind to scope out the building and find a way out. She went through the same halls that Ribbon had shown her the previous day, recognizing different pieces of art or oddly colored doors and walls. She knew the way to Kimiko’s room, which was likely to be unlocked, since Kimiko was in her bed. She planned to get weapons and break herself out.

Somehow, though, she still found herself outside of the same room in which she had met with Atlas that first day she had been there. It was quite a distance from her intended target. When she started to move away from it, reminding herself of her plan, she heard voices.

Her automatic instinct was to eavesdrop, to see if anything was being said that she could use at a later time, or if, more specifically, anything was being said about her. As far as she could tell, there wasn’t. She could hear Atlas’ dulcet tones against Stefan’s partially hissed words and Johannes’ louder voice, but none of it sounded all that important, at least not to her. She really had no reason to care about the Snow King Petri, considering it wasn’t a title or name she recognized, which meant that he wasn’t Roadesian.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed the door open. She didn’t even really understand why she did that. She could have just gone on her way. They didn’t know that she was free. There was no need to get their attention, but for some reason, she did. She wanted their attention, wanted to bring to their attention that she was free, could have killed them all, and yet hadn’t.

 Immediately, all conversation ceased and all eyes were on her. The initial reaction was surprise. She saw it on all three faces, which she wouldn’t lie, she enjoyed. She loved surprising Atlas, especially since he always seemed to be in charge of everything, to be orchestrating everything. She loved knowing that she knew something he didn’t, that she was the one controlling things for even the shortest moment.

After surprise, the automatic reaction was defensive. Both Stefan and Johannes moved in front of Atlas protectively, which was ridiculous considering she was very visibly unarmed and they all knew she couldn’t kill him. She held up her hands to either side of her head, fingers splayed out to show that she wasn’t holding anything or hiding anything, only wearing an oversized sweatshirt over a fitted sweater and baggy, incredibly long sweatpants (she had a feeling that they were Atlas’) over top two pairs of socks.

“I’m not here to hurt anyone,” she said, shrugging and looking directly at Atlas, who was watching her curiously with a small frown, as if he couldn’t understand something.

“What have you done to Ribbon?” Atlas asked.

“She’s sleeping. She was tired. We all fell asleep in my bed. We had a long day yesterday, so Tenshu, Kimiko, and Ribbon are still asleep in my bed. You can go check if you don’t believe me.”

Atlas nodded at Stefan, who quickly left the room to, Amadhay assumed, check to see if the three were actually sleeping in her bed and not dead.

“I just want to talk to you,” she said to Atlas, holding eye contact. “I’ve been thinking a lot.”

“How did you get out of the room?” Atlas asked, looking at her as if she hadn’t said anything.

Not wanting to throw Ribbon under the train, she shrugged. “I’ve been watching Ribbon and Tenshu,” she bluffed. Atlas smiled an impressed smile this time, relaxing back into his seat on a cream-colored loveseat.

“And what did you want to talk about?” he asked, gesturing for Johannes to stand down. She ignored him.

“Stuff,” Amadhay said awkwardly, moving from the doorway, further into the room. Keeping an eye on Johannes, she got as close to Atlas as she dared, seating herself across from him in a chair.

“Stuff such as?” Atlas asked, amusement coloring his tone.

“I…,” she paused when Stefan came back into the room.

Atlas looked expectantly to him and Stefan glanced curiously at Amadhay before nodding at Atlas. “She didn’t do anything to them. The wards are down, but they’re just sleeping. It’s a natural sleep.” He moved back to sit near Atlas, in the seat he had vacated when Amadhay entered. Johannes didn’t move, still guarding Atlas from Amadhay. The pure venom in the cyborg’s eyes made Amadhay uncomfortable, in fact, she was considering leaving.

“Well? What are you wanting to talk about?” Atlas asked again when Amadhay didn’t say anything.

“Oh, right,” she looked back at him instead of Johannes. He still looked curiously amused. That’s always a good expression for him, she decided. “I want you to answer some questions I have.”

Atlas grinned. “You know I’m not going to promise to answer them.”

“Yes, that I do definitely know,” she replied, frowning as she looked at her knees instead of him. “I just. I really need to know these answers so that I can make decisions,” she explained before deciding to chance looking at him again.

The amusement was less prevalent in his expression now, though the curiosity was still there. “What kind of decisions?”

“I’m the one asking questions,” she reproached him. In response, he dipped his head in an apologetic acknowledgement, which also served as a nod to tell her to go ahead.

“Why am I here?” she asked, starting with the most important question. When he opened his mouth, she held her hand up for a moment. “And don’t give me your ‘You can figure it out on your own’ nonsense. I just want a real answer this time.”

Atlas tilted his head for a moment, watching her, before he nodded. “You are here because I brought you here.” This time he held up his hand when Amadhay opened her mouth to say something. “And I brought you here because Benjym Base chose his alliances incorrectly. If he had done as I had told him, if he had taken you to safety instead of standing against me, you would still be there. You are not, because you intrigue me. You intrigue me and it pained me to see someone as exquisite as yourself being ruined by that place. You are here because I think you are too important to be left somewhere that you will only ever be an asset, rather than the person I can see every time I look at you.”

Amadhay shook her head. “Cut the flowers. Why am I here?”

“You are here because I want you to be. I knew from the moment I saw you as a child that you were born to be someone incredibly special and I don’t see that happening so long as your horizons were never broadened.”

“So my horizons will be broadened by not being the Phoegani’s asset, but the Palnoki’s instead?”

Atlas raised his eyebrows. “I don’t believe I ever implied that I was recruiting you.”

She jolted back. “Aren’t you?”

“No, I most definitely am not. As an assassin, you are incredibly wasted. You were meant for much more than that. You are a lady, Amadhay, not a commoner. There is no reason for you to be used for such base reasons. You’re far too precious to be used as you are.”

“Then what do you want from me?” she stressed.


Amadhay gave him a look to say that she didn’t believe him. When he raised his eyebrows at her, she rolled her eyes and looked to Stefan and then Johannes. The cyborg had a decidedly uncomfortable expression that Amadhay didn’t understand, while Stefan’s face was carefully blank, neither giving her any ideas.

“Everyone wants something. If you didn’t want anything, you wouldn’t have brought me here,” Amadhay argued, crossing her legs and sitting forward in the seat. “So what do you, Atlas Palnoki, want from me, Amadhay Hakinato, that led to you bringing me here?”

Atlas slowly, slightly shook his head at her, giving her a sad smile. “I only want to allow you to make your own choices.”

“Fine,” Amadhay said, “Then I choose to go back home.”

“Choices that are good for you,” he stressed.

“Choices that are good for you, you mean,” Amadhay countered.

He was silent for a moment, watching her. He laced his fingers together and tapped his lips with one pointer finger for a moment before speaking again. “If you go back to the Phoegani, what do you have left?”

Amadhay frowned, giving him a questioning look. “What do you mean?”

“What do you have left? You go back and what is left there for you? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life, killing for a goal you don’t understand, for men that don’t care about you as a person but only an asset? Can you really go back, knowing that Benjym Base chose the Phoegani over you? That Christein Hakinato wasn’t able to help you when you needed it? I walked right past him with you in my arms and he did nothing. No one has been looking for you, Amadhay. It has been 21 days and no one has so much as attempted negotiations to get you back. Do you really want to go back somewhere that you aren’t appreciated as much as you could be?”

Instead of answering his questions, Amadhay asked one of her own. “What do I have if I stay here? I belong there. Here, I’m nothing but a captive. Do I really seem so fickle to you that I would just change allegiance? Do you really think me so weak that I need saving? Am I just some prize you won off of Lord Phoeganis? Is that what this really is?”

No,” Atlas responded vehemently, leaning forward. He dropped his hands to his knees and Amadhay could see that he wanted to reach out to her. He didn’t. “You have never been just a prize.”

“Then what am I?” she demanded, “Why am I here, Atlas?” she yelled.

“You are here because I want you to be!” he yelled back. Sensing that she had finally broken through to him, she pushed some more.

“What if I don’t want to be?” she demanded.

Atlas was silent for a long moment, simply staring at her. Unlike before, when she had been sure he had been evaluating her, trying to decipher some unknown code, this time he was simply staring at her, sadness all over his face. He shook his head slowly until he closed his eyes. He turned his head away from her and, with his eyes still closed, he said the last thing she had honestly expected to come from his lips.

“Then I will take you back.”

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay’s a worm



“Oi, Lazy Bird,” Ribbon called from the doorway, “Up and at ‘em.”

“Why?” Amadhay sighed, staring at the overhanging above her. It was week three. She was bored of the bouncing game, especially since Atlas had ordered the wards to be strengthened once she had hit 52 bounces. There was no way she was going to beat it any time soon. She hadn’t left the room in nineteen days. She had been with the Palnoki for twenty, twenty-one if she counted the day they had taken her.

The tiny bathroom was without a door since day ten, when she had removed the doorknobs and used them as a weapon, giving Ribbon a really bad headache and then tried to catch Stefan in the door when he’d come with some message from Atlas she hadn’t listened to. She had more clothes in the wardrobe, all folded, not hung. They had taken the hangers after day three, when she had gutted Stefan, not that it had really hurt him. She had even lost all of her heeled shoes the previous day, when Tanhakinshu had effortlessly disarmed her before she could stab him with the makeshift weapon.

She couldn’t see any way to get out. Ever since refusing to talk to Atlas again after day two, the only people she ever got to see were Ribbon, Tanhakinshu, and very rarely, Stefan. She was seriously missing Monkey, Benjy, and Rea. Honestly, she was even beginning to miss Alphonse, and Essie. There was nothing for her to do except talk to the Palnokians, and they were tight-lipped about missions, which was normal topic fodder for her. At this point, she just didn’t see any reason to get up if she couldn’t go anywhere.

“Because you’ve been wallowing around in pity all day and it’s really getting to be a downer. So, Lazy Bird,” Amadhay rolled her eyes, tuning Ribbon out after the nickname. Ribbon had taken to calling her some kind of bird since day seven, when she had been Red Bird as a nod to her code name.

“Did you hear me?” Ribbon asked, throwing the curtains open before pulling the blankets right off of Amadhay and tossing them away from the bed. Amadhay didn’t move until the chill of the air forced her to sit up, shivering. “Get dressed warm,” the older woman ordered. “We’re going for a walk.”

Amadhay stared at her, not sure that she had heard her right. “I’m allowed outside?”

Ribbon shrugged. “I’m making an executive decision. You need out of this room and, let’s be honest, there’s snow piled up taller than you outside. If you run, you won’t get far.”

“I might teleport,” Amadhay warned.

“Where?” the brown-skinned woman asked with a shrug. “We’re too far for you to teleport anywhere you know, and it’s the same snowy conditions for thousands of miles around us before you can get to Palnoki ruled civilization.” She laughed at a sudden thought. “So go ahead. We’ll play hide-and-seek.” The self-assured grin on Ribbon’s face made Amadhay determined.

“Guess we’ll see,” she countered.

Ribbon laughed again. “If we’re going to play, I should invite Kimmy, Nico, and Tenshu. They’re always up for a game of hide-and-seek.”

Amadhay scowled at her, hugging herself for warmth. “It’s not hide-and-seek if you’re all looking for me.”

Ribbon grinned. “I promise we’ll be fair as long as you swear not to be a sore loser.”

“I don’t lose, Ribbon.”

“But when you do, are you a good loser or a bad loser?”

“If I don’t get away,” Amadhay thought over a good trade-off, though she had no plans of honoring it since she planned to get away, “I’ll stop trying to kill you all.”

Ribbon laughed. “Whoa, kitten. Let’s not go that far. You’re fun when you’ve got fight in you and let’s be real. Ten told me about the last time you agreed to that. Just promise to play more. It’ll be fun. I swear. You’ll have as many chances to run through the snow and freeze to death in an attempt to leave as you want.”

Amadhay almost laughed at the woman’s word choice, but controlled herself well enough to keep a stoic face.

Ribbon, apparently, however knew that she was close to laughter, because she raised her eyebrows as imperiously as possible. “Shall I invite the Borg Queen for your enjoyment?”

Amadhay snorted. Ribbon had always made it abundantly obvious that there was no lost love between herself and Johannes, in fact, the cyborg seemed to hate Ribbon more than she hated Amadhay. And considering Ribbon had told her that between stabbing and tasering Johannes and simply being a Hakinato, she had managed to land herself in the cyborg’s top three disliked people, that was pretty bad. That meant Ribbon was either number one or two. “I bet she’d love that.”

“A chance to off both of us? Undoubtedly. The cold? Not so much. She was pretty pissed when we moved here from the Green Castle,” Ribbon muttered, going through Amadhay’s wardrobe. She tossed a pair of thick, light colored leggings, white jeans, a long-sleeved, skull patterned shirt, and a white sweater on the bed. “Get dressed,” she said before also tossing a white, fluffy coat and a matching hat and glove set over.

The look Amadhay gave her showed how much Amadhay didn’t understand the weather. “I was thinking just this,” she gestured to the black, long-sleeved shirt and tight black pants she was currently wearing, “With the fuzzy boots and cloak.”

Ribbon outright laughed at her. “Not hardly. I’m not seriously going to let you freeze to death. I’d never forgive myself. Besides, don’t you want to hide well? Red and black isn’t going to blend very well with all that snow.”

Amadhay frowned, but when Ribbon crossed her arms in a way she was beginning to recognize meant that she couldn’t change the other woman’s mind, she gave a characteristic sigh to imply that she thought Ribbon was being ridiculous. “Fine. I’ll just lose some of it when I get away,” she grumbled before changing into the lighter colored ensemble. Once she was warm enough to feel like she was in a desert, she glared at the brooch on Ribbon’s silver cloak.

“Trust me. You’ll be happy once we’re outside,” the green-eyed woman promised before she opened the door to the room, leading where Amadhay hadn’t been since her last venture out to talk to Atlas. She gestured for Amadhay to leave the room first.

“This isn’t a joke, is it? I’m not going to walk right into the wards, am I?” Amadhay asked nervously, playing with her hair. She wished that she had time to have Tanhakinshu braid it before she tried to escape. It would have been easier to tuck her hair away if it were in two braids than with it all out and curling more like Amaya’s than her normally carefully groomed curls. She hadn’t wanted to admit that she would be there long enough to actually need her specialized shampoos, and that was one of the few things the informant hadn’t told about her, so she would have to suck up and ask Ribbon to get it.

Of course, she was going to get out of there today, so it didn’t matter. She would be back on base, with her shampoo and preferred lotions and warm weather by dinnertime. She hoped.

Ribbon rolled her eyes. “Just go, Red Bird. We can only play while Atlas, Scarlet, Mitch, and Stefan are all out.”

Ohh,” Amadhay drawled, immediately feeling less nervous now that she knew that Atlas was nowhere around. “I see. You’re being sneaky. Kids play while the parents are away,” she teased.

“Yep. I’m in charge of your stay right now, so I say we go outside and get some freezing fresh air.” Ribbon winked at her, who gestured for her to be the first through the door.

Amadhay walked to the doorway and, after giving Ribbon one more wary look, stepped over the doorway and into the hallway. “Well,” she said back to Ribbon, who was snickering. “That was anti-climatic.”

“I told you. No tricks. Just fun,” Ribbon said, closing the door behind her as she moved to stand next to Amadhay. She gestured with her head for Amadhay to follow her before heading down the hall.

For a moment, Amadhay considered splitting right then and there. However, she had found that Ribbon was nothing if not trustworthy. If she had said that she was taking her outside and giving her whatever chance she wanted to get away, she was going to do it. Besides, she had no idea where the exit was from here and even if she did get away from Ribbon, getting lost on the base would do her no good.

So she followed Ribbon. She doubted the other woman realized that she definitely saw her relieved smile. She didn’t say anything about it, wanting to allow her to believe that she was gaining her trust. She was just biding her time.

“We just gotta get the others and then we’ll go outside,” Ribbon explained unnecessarily. Amadhay wouldn’t have known that they weren’t going outside until they had ended up wherever she was currently being led either way.

“Okay,” was all she responded, sticking close to Ribbon as she was led down several hallways.

One thing she had to give to the Palnoki was that their decorating was wonderful. Her red room aside, every room she had seen had warm, golden wallpaper with black and silver accents. The hallways all had smooth, dark mahogany wood floors, something she only recognized because it was the same wood that her wardrobe and vanity table were made from. The lighting throughout was in the form of electric torches lined an even four feet apart, varying from right to left. A few times, they even walked under chandeliers.

There was no art hanging from the walls, but even without family pictures, it all had the feeling of a home, albeit a rich one, rather than a base. That was what got her the most about what she’d seen of the Palnoki. Most of them were like a family. Even Ribbon and Johannes were like family, if very estranged ones, which she completely understood given her relationship with her own family. The Palnoki were more of a cohesive family than her own was.

Ribbon paused at a door, a purple door. That caught Amadhay’s eye immediately, given that all the other doors had been the same color as her own, with a scent of apple wood. Ribbon grinned at her before quickly knocking four times.

“What do you want, you butt-monkey?” was called from inside the room. Amadhay raised her eyebrows at Ribbon, who rolled her eyes.

“It’s me, not butt-monkey, whoever that is. Come out Kimmy, we’re gonna play hide-and-seek.”

“Aren’t you on babysitting detail?” the same voice called from inside the room, though it was obvious the woman inside the room was coming closer to the door.

“Yup. She is part of the we who are playing.”

The door was immediately thrown open and Amadhay was given her first glance of Kimiko. Her first thought was confusion, because Tanhakinshu had called her his sister and this snowy-skinned girl who couldn’t be any older than she was, certainly couldn’t be the olive complexioned man’s sister. Her pitch-black hair had blazing purple streaks and was pulled into two precise ponytails with skull ponytail clips keeping them in place. Her lips were painted a solid purple, nearly black and her mismatched gray and gold eyes were heavily outlined by black makeup. The plaid miniskirt, ripped t-shirt and bare feet told Amadhay that the girl was faring much better in the cold than she was.

“Wow. You really broke her out,” Kimiko said, staring at Amadhay just as openly as Amadhay was staring at her. Without the door between them, Amadhay was able to appreciate the other girl’s husky voice. “Does Ten know?”

“I’m inviting him to play too,” Ribbon responded with a careless shrug.

Kimiko grinned, “Let me get dressed. I gotta see this,” she said before dashing back into her room. Almost immediately, she came back. “By the way, I’m Kimiko. Hi.” She gave Amadhay a wave before she dashed back into her room again.

That’s Tanhakinshu’s sister?” she asked Ribbon once she thought Kimiko was far enough away not to hear.

Ribbon shrugged. “As much as I’m their sister,” she explained.

“So they’re not really?” Amadhay asked, though she was pretty sure she knew the answer.

Ribbon glanced at her and back at Kimiko’s door before she looked at Amadhay for a long moment. “They’re more related than most siblings who share blood,” was all she said. It didn’t matter though, because by then, Kimiko came back out of her room, decked in all white and looking strangely like a white rabbit with her dark hair tucked into a white hat featuring long rabbit-like ears that were wrapped loosely around her neck as a scarf.

“Let’s get Ten!” she exclaimed, closing her door. She began leading them this time, moving much faster than Ribbon had. Amadhay hadn’t noticed that Ribbon had been walking slowly enough for her to take in all the details of the base, which she now wondered at. What was Ribbon’s endgame? What did she have to gain by letting Amadhay get a feel of the base?

She shook the thoughts away because they genuinely didn’t matter and Kimiko was asking her questions.

“So you aren’t going to try and kill any of us, are you? Because that is a sure way to ruin a good game.”

Amadhay was actually slightly intimidated by the other girl’s bluntness. She expected it from Ribbon, who was powerful and a known threat. She even expected that kind of bluntness from Tanhakinshu, who was a similar powerful and known threat. Something about Kimiko unsettled her. Maybe it was the way she seemed so eager and bouncy, because Amadhay knew that to be part of the Palnoki, she had to have some sort of major power. She was an unknown, and Amadhay hated unknowns.

“I dunno,” she responded after a moment. “If someone gets in my way, maybe.”

Kimiko glanced back at Ribbon. “I thought you said we were playing hide-and-seek.”

“We are,” Ribbon assured her. “Red Bird here just has a different goal than the rest of us. So we’re not gonna get in her way except as much as the game needs.”

“What does that even mean?” Kimiko asked, stopping in front of a black door. She knocked four times. “Ten! Nico! Stop making out, we’re playing hide-and-seek!”

“Is that a real thing now?” Ribbon asked Kimiko, making Amadhay look at her in confusion.

“Oh yeah. They started hooking up last week. Something about Nico getting blue balls from his vampire linsh,” Kimiko answered, giving four more knocks.

“Kind of gross,” Ribbon commented, wrinkling her nose slightly.

Tell me about it. Sloppy make outs galore,” Kimiko agreed as the door swung open to show Tanhakinshu and a blond man, looking rather disheveled. Tanhakinshu’s hair was out of its normal ponytail and his shirt was on backwards.

“I really don’t feel like playing right now, Kim,” Tanhakinshu said before his gaze locked on Amadhay. He looked accusingly at Ribbon. “What the deep Water pit is she doing out of her room?”

“I made an executive decision,” Ribbon responded with a wave of her hand. “We’re going out to play hide-and-seek. She’s playing with us. Are you coming? If so, get dressed quickly.”

Tanhakinshu looked from Ribbon to Amadhay, and then at Kimiko, who shrugged. “She says she has a different goal than the rest of us.”

Tanhakinshu sighed. “I’ll be out in a clack,” he said before ducking back into the room.

“Nico?” Ribbon asked the blond, who was studying Amadhay. She was pointedly not making eye contact with him because he was decidedly not wearing anything except for tiny black, briefs.

“Sure,” was all he said before following Tanhakinshu back into the room.

“We’re gonna go on out,” Ribbon called to the men, taking Amadhay’s arm and leading her away.

“Last one out is It!” Kimiko called over her shoulder, following them. “So, what is her goal?” she asked once they were a few hallways away from Tanhakinshu and Nico.

“Ask her,” Ribbon said before Amadhay could launch a complaint about them talking about her as if she weren’t right there with them.

“Kay,” Kimiko turned her attention to Amadhay. “What’s your goal for the game?”

“I’m getting out of here,” Amadhay stated calmly.

Kimiko scoffed. “You are aware that you are completely surrounded by snowdrifts taller than you, right?”

Ribbon snickered and Amadhay shrugged. “That’s not going to stop me.”

Kimiko laughed. “Typical. Have you ever even been in this much snow?”

Amadhay shrugged, but they all knew that meant she hadn’t.

Ribbon,” Kimiko whined, “This isn’t going to be any fun for her. She’s gonna sink into the snow and be stuck and get caught first and be It and hate it all.”

Ribbon shrugged. “Then help her?”

“You’re not going to?”

“No, why would I? I’m giving her the chance to get away. I don’t think that me helping her would make it fair.”

Kimiko gave a disapproving sigh and patted Amadhay on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I’m going to help you out as much as I can,” she assured her.

Amadhay gave her a wary look. “Why?”

“Why not?” Kimiko asked, sounding genuinely perplexed.

“Aren’t you worried I’ll get away and you’ll all be in deep with Atlas?”

Kimiko laughed. “If you are able to actually get away, even with my help, you deserve it. But let’s be real. You’d probably freeze to death even if you got far enough away to be in danger of getting out of here.”

Amadhay scowled and Ribbon bopped her on the forehead. “Remember your promise. You’ll have fun and keep playing even when you realize it’s impossible,” she reminded her as they finally reached the front doors. They were large glass and wood doors as wide as she was tall, with a single lock that had no key.

“Ripples,” Ribbon said to the door and it swung open, allowing them out. At the perplexed look Amadhay gave the door, she grinned. “All of us have a code for the door. It only works for us, so don’t think you can use it to get out,” she teased.

“Mine is Butterball,” Kimiko supplied for no reason other than to be part of the conversation.

With that, the three of them stepped out into the cold. Almost immediately, Amadhay turned to go right back inside. Laughing, both Kimiko and Ribbon linked arms with her and pulled her further out into the cold. The door closed behind them, effectively locking Amadhay out in the frozen wasteland.

“I’m not dressed warm enough for this,” Amadhay whined, trying to dig her heels into the cobblestone of the porch.

“You get used to it after a bit,” Kimiko promised, though Ribbon shook her head to tell Amadhay that she was lying.

“Just let me go back and get two more layers on. Then I’ll be all up for this,” she pleaded, but they just laughed at her.

“C’mon. We have a head start while Ten and Nico catch up,” Kimiko said, veering away from the base and toward the endlessly white landscape. Amadhay glanced back at the base to see that its exterior was a mundane looking cabin. She could tell that most of it must be underground, considering there wasn’t much to it. She could see her room from here, though. In fact, she could look right into it from the wall of window behind her bed, and that bothered her a bit. How often had someone stood on this porch and watched her without her realizing? How often had someone watched her sleeping?

And then that thought completely left her mind when she stepped into the snow because she was sinking into the whiteness. She squeaked, gripping tightly onto Ribbon and Kimiko, who had only sunk down to their ankles. She was down to her hips.

Pulling her back up to the top of the snow, both women laughed softly. “What kind of snow is this?” she demanded, giving up all pretense of standing and choosing to hang onto the shoulders of the taller women, keeping her legs up so that she didn’t slow down their progress.

“The deep kind,” Kimiko quipped. “You all don’t see this back on Roadesia.”

That gave Amadhay a pause. Back on Roadesia? Did that mean she was Over the Water or did they just not consider Palnoki part of Roadesia? She stopped thinking about it, however, when Kimiko and Ribbon dropped her into the snow again. She sank down to her hips again before scrambling back to the top. “Wait! Don’t leave me!” she called, trying to catch up with them and failing miserably. She kept sinking deeper and deeper into the snow. She was up to her chest by the time Kimiko came back for her, tugging her back up to the top.

“You can’t stand in one place too long,” Kimiko advised her. “You sink when you stop.”

“I sink when I move,” Amadhay complained, looking around for Ribbon. “Where’d Ribbon go?”

“She’s going to try to distract Nico while I get you somewhere you have a chance of hiding well.”

“Why?” she asked, having honestly given up any thoughts of getting away. She could barely stay on top of the snow with help, what chance did she have on her own? If she did somehow manage to get away, what was she going to do then? They were right. She’d freeze if she got away. She would get lost in the never-ending whiteness and freeze to death. Becoming an Amadhay-sicle had never been one of her goals in life. “I just want to go back inside. It’s too cold.”

“Nope,” Kimiko said, pulling Amadhay after her. “Come on, haven’t you ever walked on something fragile before? Walk lightly. Walk up,” she ordered, making Amadhay stare at her blankly. “When you’re trying to walk silently, how do you walk?” she asked.

“Quietly?” Amadhay suggested.

Kimiko rolled her eyes. “Walk like you’re trying to be silent.”

Amadhay wasn’t sure that it was going to help, but she recognized the look in Kimiko’s eye. That was the same look Christein had gotten right before he had forced her to learn to swim by swimming away and letting her flounder until she figured it out on her own. “Don’t you dare leave me here,” she hissed, but Kimiko grinned and let go of her, backing away quickly so that she couldn’t grab onto her.

Immediately, Amadhay started to sink. Instead of trying to walk, she attempted to jump. While it helped her get out of the hole a little, she didn’t get anywhere. She considered using her Gift, but decided against it. She couldn’t walk on water yet, so she doubted she would run fast enough to not sink in, and besides, she heated up when she used her Gift. Melting the snow would only sink her even farther. Without someone to pull her up, she couldn’t get up without making more room, so she started digging herself out. After a few clacks of trying to dig herself out, she found that she had less dug herself out than she had begun to make a tunnel of sorts through the snow.

“Well…that could work too, I guess,” she muttered to herself, teeth chattering. She continued digging, finding that she was no longer aboveground. She was underneath the snow, burrowing through it like a worm in dirt. Scrunching her nose at the thought of comparing herself to a worm, she went through a mental list of burrowing animals and changed that to a snake. While she acknowledged the part of her brain that reminded her that snakes didn’t actually burrow, she refused to compare herself to rodents, which actually did.

She wasn’t sure how far she had gone or even how deep she was until she popped up back on the surface. As it was, she still wasn’t sure of how far she had gone, but she was aware that she had been out for a while because the sky was darkening. Either way, she was cold as ice and was glad to be aboveground again. In fact, it wasn’t until she had settled there for a few clacks that she realized that she had actually figured out a way to stay on top of the snow. But the moment she thought about it, she began sinking again, which actually saved her from being caught. As she sunk back down, she saw feet approaching, so she froze as still as possible.

“Have you found her yet?” Ribbon called, sounding worried.

“No. You haven’t?” Tanhakinshu replied, equally as anxious.

“What about Kimmy?”

“Nico’s with her right now. She’s freaking out. She thinks Atlas is going to kill her.”

“Well…” Ribbon’s tone told Amadhay that the woman thought that Kimiko had a valid reason to think that Atlas would kill her.

“If anyone should be worried, it should be you, Ribbon. You brought her out here,” Tanhakinshu snapped, and made Amadhay aware that she was definitely the elusive “her.”

“Can we not make this about Atlas for one fucking click,” Ribbon snapped.

“Fine. Let’s make this about you. And how worried you should be that you lost her.”

“See I would be worried about me if I thought she had gotten away. But you didn’t see her. There was no way she got very far. She kept sinking. That’s the only reason I didn’t keep an eye on her. She’s probably in some hole closer to the Ice Castle.”

“And if she is, she’s dead,” Tanhakinshu stated as fact. “Have you thought about that?”

“Yes!” Ribbon yelled at him, “And that is why we’re looking for her, asshat. If she’s awake somewhere, she’s alive. And I know that she’s alive because she’s so stubborn that she wouldn’t let some snow kill her.”

“I don’t think she let some snow kill her,” Tanhakinshu snapped back. “I think you tricked her into a stupid fucking game she had no way of surviving and you let some snow kill her because you were impatient with waiting for her to come around, because you were bored maintaining her.”

“She’s not a fucking plant, Tenshu. I wasn’t maintaining her. I brought her out here so that she could have some fun, not die.”

“Well fat lot of good that did. I doubt she’s having fun wherever she is.”

Amadhay wanted to listen more to their conversation, but her body wasn’t a willing participant. Her teeth were chattering and no amount of gritting them made her able to keep them still anymore.

“What’s that sound?” Ribbon suddenly asked.

“I don’t know,” Tanhakinshu responded drily, “Is it the sound of your conscience?” he asked.

“No, asshole, it’s…it’s like…” she trailed off, but Amadhay heard the crunch of footsteps coming closer, then felt one of the tunnels collapse. Ribbon gave a loud curse, falling into her hole. When the snow settled and she could see again, Ribbon was staring at her in mute surprise.

“I found her!” she yelled up, reaching out for Amadhay.

“Did I win?” Amadhay asked.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which there is a deal



Amadhay had noticed that, at some point, they had given her a nice assortment of gorgeous, high-heeled shoes.

She wasn’t sure when the wardrobe had filled up with clothes for her, and honestly, she just chose not to really think too hard on it. The fact of the matter remained that she had clothes in her style (meaning lots of black and very clingy) and a lot of high-heeled shoes. The heels of a few of them, her favorites actually, were spikes. She had been eyeing them for the past few days since she and Ribbon had dressed up all pretty and been told that no, she still wasn’t allowed outside of the room. It had probably been in their best interest, considering she had already made escape plans involving the pretty pins Ribbon had put in her hair (that Stefan had pointedly taken out of her hair), but it was a bit depressing for her to still be stuck in the room. She needed to see something other than her own four, disgustingly red walls and the furniture inside. And the piles of snow.

“So, I have a deal,” Tanhakinshu said, standing in the doorway. The door was open and she knew for a fact that Ribbon was gone because the woman had told her that she would be gone for a day or two. The temptation was great, but the curiosity of Tanhakinshu’s deal was even greater.

“What is it?” she asked, standing up from the bed. The red shoes she was wearing gave her at least five inches of height. She was still shorter than him though. Her height didn’t matter, considering she had a hard enough time standing in the shoes now that she had sharpened the heel enough to a good weapon point. All that mattered was getting close enough to Tanhakinshu to stab him with the heel. After he told her the deal, that is.

“You want out of the room, right?”

“Right…” she said, wondering where he was going with it. She was almost standing directly in front of him.

“How about you promise not to kill anyone and I’ll give you a tour of the building,” he suggested.

She narrowed her eyes, looking into his olive ones to see how much he meant that. He seemed pretty sincere. Unfortunately, for him, she decided that she didn’t really want him around her when she got out. He was too much of a liability for her to get away. She smiled, and put her hand on his shoulder. “Sure. Just let me get out of these shoes. They’re too high,” she explained. He laughed as she bent down and took off the left shoe.

And then she used her Gift. Moving faster than almost any creature could, she jerked up and slammed the heel into his chest while he stood there motionless.

Or at least that was the plan. In actuality, he caught her by the waist when she jerked up, seeming to think she needed stability since she was only wearing one heel. He moved just as fast as her when she tried to slam the heel into his chest. In fact, he moved faster, tossing her back from him. She fell onto her back, but scrambled up, kicking her other shoe off. She had both heels in her hands now, and tried not to be too put off by the fact he was easily moving the same speed as her even though she was using her Gift.

The only people who had been able to do that to her before had been an arachin and the cyborg. A Palnokian arachin, now that she thought about it. All of the people who could match or beat her speed were in the Palnoki. She wondered, for a moment, if that was done purposely, if they were there specifically for her.

No, she decided, launching herself at Tanhakinshu, it’s just a coincidence. The necromancer once again caught her by the waist and tossed her back before kicking the door closed. This time he attacked, pinning her to the floor. If she hadn’t been so taken by the speed of him, she might have been able to struggle enough to get him off. She didn’t, though. Instead, she lost focus of her Gift and moved at her normal speed.

He snatched the heels from her and was back at the door before she could catch her breath. “All you had to say was ‘No deal,’ you know,” he said with obvious irritation before leaving, slamming the door behind him.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which ribbon tells stories



“They caught me by surprise, so I had to slice a little,” Ribbon explained with a shrug.

Amadhay stared at the new, still healing scar on the woman’s arm that hadn’t been there the day before, when she had left for a mission. She knew the woman was a blood witch, but until that moment, she had never seen any scars to indicate that she used her innate magical ability.

“So what did you do?” she asked, incredibly curious as to how strong the blood magic was. She had never talked to a blood witch before, much less been able to gauge ones power.

Ribbon leaned back in her seat, eyeing Amadhay for a long moment before she shrugged. “It can’t hurt to tell you a bedtime story,” she teased, poking fun at the fact that Amadhay had been frozen on her bed, lying on her back with her head and upper body propped up by pillows. It was one of the few times she had been stuck in a comfortable position.

Amadhay rolled her eyes. “Are you going to free me?”

“Maybe,” Ribbon teased before jumping into her story. “Okay, so there I was, looking for the Rift Lair. I had been told that no one was there. I was told that it was supposed to be an easy mission, right? Well, I get there and it was an ambush.”

Amadhay scoffed. “I could have told you that.”

“You don’t know my sources,” Ribbon countered, sitting on the edge of the bed. She absentmindedly played with the sheer gold curtain of the canopy. “When they tell me there’s no one there, it normally means no one is there.”

“Sounds like you have a hole in your safety net,” Amadhay muttered.

Ribbon sighed and rolled her eyes. “Do you want to hear the rest of the story or not?” she demanded.

“I do. I’m just saying. You should plug that.”

“I know. I’m going to.”

“Good. I need you around to keep unfreezing me. You can continue now.”

“Well thank you so much,” Ribbon drawled sarcastically before rolling her eyes. “It was an ambush. Ten of them were on me, two relatively small arachins, a wolf feral who was the leader, and seven aelfen goons. The leader was, of course, telling me all the things they were going to do to me while the arachins held me down and the aelfe just stood around, feeling all proud of themselves, which, once I got over the shock, was hilarious.

“ ‘Do you know who I am?’ I asked them and the leader grinned down at me like I was dinner.

‘You’re the Palnoki’s fairy,’ is what he told me. Me. I mean honestly. I love everyone here, but I’m definitely not giving them love. How awkward would that get?” Ribbon gave a huff when Amadhay rolled her eyes, still apparently fuming about the insult. “What? I’m no one’s fairy.”

Who cares?” Amadhay asked. “He’s dead.”

“True enough.” Ribbon nodded. “Anyway, I obviously took offense to that. The arachins holding me were holding me like this,” she stood up and stretched her arms and legs out so that she looked like a star. “But what they didn’t know was that my boots do this,” she hit the heel of her foot against the leg of the bed frame and a blade popped out of the bottom of the shoes, making Amadhay recognize the practicality of the platform styled boots. She couldn’t imagine that they would be very comfortable though.

“So I was able to kick the legs that were hooked around my ankles to push the blade out and then I just used them to cut the legs holding me. It wasn’t the best way, but it was the only way I had at that moment. They dropped me to reach for their fucked up legs, okay? And I just kicked one of them in the face. In case you couldn’t tell,” she held her foot up higher so that Amadhay could better appreciate the long, thin blade attached to the woman’s foot. It wasn’t serrated and really didn’t look like the type she would use to cut people up.

“These aren’t exactly made to fight with. It’s sharp enough but not super durable for much other than skating. So it didn’t hack, but it worked well enough to off the one I kicked in the face. The other one though, he stood up higher so that I couldn’t reach high enough to kick him in the face. I mean I’m tall, but I’m not seven feet tall. My leg doesn’t go that high unless I jump and with both blades out, I was probably going to hurt myself instead of them.

“Then the aelfe all started at me. They had been shocked when I had started to fight back, but now they were in the mood to try me. One pulled out a gun on me and I was just lucky enough to grab another one as my meat shield. He must have shot at me at least three times before I was hit from the other side by a fucking pole.”

Amadhay was feeling the story. She was so enraptured that she was fearing for Ribbon even though the woman had obviously triumphed, since she was sitting right there. “What’d you do?” she asked, sitting up.

Ribbon sat back down on the edge of the bed, leaning forward so that the urgent tone in her voice made Amadhay  lean forward, to her. “Nothing. I couldn’t. There were eight of them and only one of me. Even if I could take one of them out, I would probably get shot. Even though the boss was in the back, cowering, they still had me down. And while the arachin was in too close range to be any danger, the aelfe were all close range fighters. So I let them beat me down while I figured out what I could do.”

Amadhay frowned, looking her over. “But you’re fine.”

Ribbon smiled at her. “Blood witch. I use my blood magic and I automatically heal everything but the cut. Duh.”

Amadhay nodded slowly, suddenly aware that she wasn’t still frozen to the bed. This was her chance to take Ribbon out and get away. It would be easy now that she knew there were blades in the woman’s shoes. If she got one shoe, she could take her out.

But she wanted to hear the rest of the story first. Damn her curiosity.

“They beat me down until I stopped fighting back and the arachin held me up again, only this time a knife was to my throat. Now that all the danger was gone, the leader came back over to me, the coward.

“ ‘You’re at my mercy,’ he told me, gripping my face and squeezing my cheeks to purse my lips. ‘So I’d think real hard on whether you’re going to behave. I don’t need you. I might just kill you unless you make yourself useful.’ I tried to ask him what he wanted, but he didn’t let go of my face. ‘You’re gonna be a good girl, aren’t you?’ he asked me and I felt sick. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what he wanted from me.”

Amadhay clenched her fists in anger for Ribbon. She had been in similar situations before, but she had always had an out or Tairyn, Benjy or Monkey in the background, ready to get her out. The only time she had been in that situation and genuinely worried had been when she and Maria had been partners. She had been captured by a handful of the Huron clan’s vigilantes and if it hadn’t been for her own quick thinking and a crazy amount of luck, they would have raped and killed her. Maria hadn’t even tried to save her. So she could understand how Ribbon must have been feeling at that moment and that made her angry, angry that she was feeling for the enemy.

 But she wouldn’t deny it, she was angrier with the people who had tried to hurt Ribbon even if they were dead.

There could be honor in killing that was preferable to the ruin that came with rape. Even torture was a better thing, couldn’t compare to the incredible brutality of rape. Rape took that act, that interaction between lovers, an intimate action meant to supply the strength of love, of good emotions, and perverted it. Even just using sex to get something wasn’t as brutal as rape. While being just as emotionally scarring, it didn’t ruin a person like rape did. She was happy, even though she still planned on killing the other woman, that Ribbon hadn’t been hurt like that.

“How did you get away?” Amadhay whispered.

Ribbon grinned. “I struggled. He decided to cut my arm as a warning.”

Amadhay stared at her in disbelief. “He didn’t know?”

“Why would he?” Ribbon countered. “It’s not like I broadcast it. He just thought I was an average killer. That was his mistake.”

“I can imagine,” Amadhay replied, staring at the long cut on Ribbon’s arm. She couldn’t though. She knew that blood witch’s power came from the shed of their blood and that a cut created more power than a nosebleed. She had heard that cuts hurt blood witches more than others, but she’d also heard that cuts gave blood witches ecstasy. She wasn’t sure which was true. She wanted to ask.

“When they cut me,” Ribbon continued after a click of silence, “It hurt. It hurt more than it had the last time, and that was my fault because I haven’t cut to let it out. All the power beneath my skin came tumbling out at once, and it was simultaneously the best feeling I’d ever had and the worst pain I’d ever endured.

“Even without a focus word, or a spell, the unfocused power slammed into all of them, shoving them away from me. The wound kept bleeding, even though it shouldn’t, but I didn’t mind. I coated my fingers in my blood and,” she paused, glancing at Amadhay, who was staring at her in rapt attention. “Said a few spells and boom, they all died.” She smiled and Amadhay was incredibly aware that something had been left out of that story.

“Now I’m gonna get out of here before you decide to try and kill me with my own skates,” she joked in a tone that made Amadhay stay still. She knew that she should still try, but she couldn’t. Ribbon gave her another smile before leaving the room.

She came back, though, after only a few clacks, her boots gone and dressed in loose pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a green cloak similar to the ones Stefan wore. She unceremoniously dropped onto the foot of Amadhay’s bed, making the girl look at her questioningly.

“I’m not frozen?” Amadhay said questioningly. She glanced to the open door and then back to Ribbon, unsure what the woman was playing at. Ribbon had never come in without Amadhay needing her first. They didn’t just sit together in companionable silence. They weren’t companions.

“I know. But I figured that it gets boring in here on your own, plotting your escape and all of our deaths. ‘sides, I’m bored.” Ribbon stayed there on her bed, eyes closed and her normal smile on her face. This was so strange.

Amadhay looked to the curtain of the canopy, trying to determine how difficult it would be to strangle the woman. She looked to the door, recognizing that it wouldn’t be too difficult for her to use her Gift and run out—if the doorway itself wasn’t warded to keep her in. She glanced at the overhang, knowing that she could kill the blood witch by knocking her head against it.

She didn’t do any of that. “Why do you look so familiar to me?” she asked instead.

Ribbon looked up at her in surprise before rolling to her side. She was still far too relaxed in Amadhay’s opinion. She hadn’t made up her mind just yet if she was going to kill her. She just wasn’t going to kill her until she answered some questions. They’d been banging around in her head for a while.

“You recognize me?” Ribbon asked, her green eyes lighting up happily.

Amadhay frowned. “No,” she responded, making the excited glint in Ribbon’s eyes dim a bit. “I said you look familiar. I just don’t know why.”

“We’ve met a few times,” Ribbon answered with a slight shrug. “Nothing really memorable, I guess.”

“Have I fought you before?” Amadhay guessed.

Ribbon laughed. She seriously laughed, and hard, her eyes squinting shut as she held her sides and turned her face into Amadhay’s blankets. For a moment, the girl considered pressing her head down and suffocating her, but she didn’t. Instead, she waited out the laughter.

“Sorry,” Ribbon panted, glancing up at Amadhay once her laughter subsided. She gave a peal of giggles before clearing her throat and sitting up. “No,” she said. “I can assure you that we have never fought.”

“What’s so funny about that?” Amadhay asked, not sure whether she should have been offended.

“I can assure you that you would remember fighting me, Red Bird.”

Amadhay narrowed her eyes, more at the sudden nickname than at what she assumed to be a slight. “I fight a lot of people. I don’t remember them all,” she responded, disliking how certain Ribbon was on this. Was she implying that Amadhay wasn’t a good fighter? She was. She wasn’t the best, but she was nothing to scoff at.

“I’m the Executioner.”

It took Amadhay a moment to process that. “Oh,” she said after a few clicks of Ribbon looking at her with immense amusement.

She understood now. She knew she hadn’t been pitted against the Palnoki’s Executioner. If she had, she wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. Because she’d be dead. No one who Palnoki’s Executioner had gone after was still living to tell the tale, and if they were, they were being completely silent about it.

Ribbon grinned at her, the same reassuring grin the woman had given her when she had seemed a little too concerned about the new scar. “So no, we never met Executioner to Red Robin. It was Princess to ladyling.”

Princess? Amadhay thought for a moment, confused, before remembering that Atlas was indeed the king of Palnoki and had a ragtag family of orphans as his royal line. Ribbon was Princess Ribbon Palnoki, which, had she thought about it for more than a few clicks, she should have been able to realize on her own. Ribbon was a popular name, but there was only one Ribbon close to Atlas Palnoki. His oldest adopted daughter.

She couldn’t believe she hadn’t realized this already.

“But I guess it wouldn’t hurt to be completely upfront with you.” Ribbon said, giving Amadhay a knowing grin as she leaned back against the footboard of the bed. “We also met when I was undercover.”

Amadhay raised her eyebrows, looking at her curiously. “When?” she asked. “Where?”

“It was less than a year ago. I was working for your cousin.”

Amadhay frowned, thinking through her four cousins. She knew everyone who worked with Christein a year ago. Hynnkel had been focused on helping new-Amaya. She doubted Nolando or Kelly had any interactions that would involve the blood witch. That sent her back to Christein or Hynnkel.

“I was his servant.”

That confused Amadhay. All servants were the same gender as their masters to keep illicit pregnancies at a minimum. So, for her to have been one of her male cousins servants, she had to have been undercover as a male, which made no sense to her. Ribbon was undeniably female, with her elfin features, full mouth, slender frame. Putting her in male clothes and binding her chest down wouldn’t have done much to change it. And considering all servants went through serious testing for magical or any other alterations, she couldn’t really imagine the woman getting through. Unless blood magic was that strong.

“I was his personal servant, his shadow.”

Now that she thought about it, she did distinctly remember a servant Christein kept much closer to him than his others. He had been Christein’s Indigo, an oddity that he kept close for curiosity’s sake. His name had been…something familiar. Something important to her.

“Robin, remember? I was gathering information. I left right before the entire Sha debacle with you and your sister.”

Amadhay honestly wasn’t sure what she was talking about with the ‘Sha debacle,’ but assumed it had to do with them, the Palnoki, tricking her into handing Amaya over and embarrassing her when she had tried to double cross them.

But that wasn’t what she was thinking about. She was looking at Ribbon, trying to find ‘Robin’ in her face, when a completely different—or rather the first of the same—Robin came to her mind. Robin. Princess Robin. It was definitely her. She had the same chocolate skin color, the same light green eyes, the same smile, even the same tiny, silver, nose ring.

Ribbon, Princess Ribbon Palnoki had been her first crush, though she hadn’t realized it until right then. When she was eleven, right after she’d hit her first puberty, she had been forced to attend a holiday party. It had been the absolute worst. Monkey had opted out of it, Amaya had been no help, and she had been incredibly uncomfortable in her new body under the eyes of all the older, horny lordlings and ladylings.

And then she’d met Ribbon, or who she’d then been told was Robin. Robin had made the entire evening worthwhile. Amadhay had been excited to go to parties after that, just hoping for a glimpse of Robin, and never received one. By that time, she had been pressured into making a name for herself in the Palnoki because she was a new field agent, pushed out between Monkey and Benjy for training. Everyone had expected her to become something reminiscent of her two guides, and she had. But she’d chosen something as personal to her as she could.

She’d used Robin’s name to become Red Robin.

It was an uncomfortable feeling, looking at Ribbon and realizing that the teenager she’d been pining over for four years was now right there with her, in touching distance, and instead of wanting to play out her old daydreams of making a life with her, she was making plans to kill her. That was just how Amadhay’s life went, she guessed.

“What, not curious? Not going to ask me what information I was looking for?” Ribbon teased, breaking Amadhay from her thoughts.

Amadhay shrugged. “It doesn’t matter.”

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay is bouncing



It was day six of her captivity and Amadhay was literally bouncing off of the walls.

Five zoots into being alone in the room after Atlas had finally left her alone, and Amadhay had learned that the wards binding her there did strange things when she attempted to teleport out. First, and most strangely, it let her. She physically left the room, could see the barest glimpse of her intended location, which was right outside the window, in the piles of snow, and then was bounced right back, every time, without fail.

Second, it was a guessing game where she would end up in the room when she returned. The first time she had left from the window and when she returned, it had landed her nicely on her bed. The second time, however, she had left from her bed and ended up stuck inside of the wardrobe, which had been uncomfortable to say the least.  The time after that, she had literally been bounced back, with force, into the wall, which prompted her Gift to take action, sending her into a type of warp every time she hit the wall. She bounced thirteen times before the other wards on the room froze her in place. She had to give props to the whomever had thought up the wards though, because they softened her crashes into the wall so much that it was as if she were bouncing against a mattress, leaving her completely unharmed if a little disconcerted.

Ribbon, a familiar looking tall and slender dark-skinned woman, had to come to unfreeze her. That had, at least, solved the mystery of who the blood witch was. Ribbon had explained that any time Amadhay moved fast enough to be in danger of combustion, the wards would freeze her for her own good. All that Amadhay heard was that if she moved fast enough, she might break the wards.

The second time Amadhay had made it to bouncing on the walls, she found she only made ten bounces before the wards caught her. With that, she had decided that she would keep at it until either one of three things happened: (1) she broke the wards and got out, (2) she was allowed out of the room, or (3) Ribbon killed her. Ribbon was getting really tired of having to come unfreeze her every few clacks, a matter she made very vocal.

The older woman had even threatened to make her wait for a zoot before coming, but Amadhay had called her bluff. She might not understand much of her situation, but she knew that Atlas wouldn’t want her uncomfortable, beyond her obvious captivity, for more than a few clacks at the most. Besides, she had the feeling that Ribbon liked her too much to leave her hanging.

Really, it had become kind of a game for the two of them. Ribbon would ask every time she came in how many times Amadhay had bounced, and Amadhay would tell her, with a strange sort of camaraderie. So far, she was at 27, which was, in her opinion, a horrible number, so her current goal was an even 30. She was also pretty sure that she had grown on the woman. They were almost close to what she would call friends, despite their power balance with Ribbon being the maintainer of her cell and her being the celled. In fact, the woman was now the one to bring her food starting day five. Ribbon claimed that Stefan was holding a grudge against her for shooting him (even though she had explained to him that she hadn’t known he was like Atlas, and shooting him in the head had been a mercy killing, not an act of spite) and other acts of similar destruction in attempts to get out. Amadhay didn’t really believe that, considering Stefan healed almost instantly no matter what she did to him.

She bounced to 27 and felt the familiar heat of the wards begin to warm up to freeze her, but still she pushed herself to move a little faster. She hit 28, 29. Come on, one more, she pleaded with her body and crashed into the wall once last time before she was caught, frozen in place except for her face.

“Yes!” she exclaimed, hearing footsteps coming to her door. “Beat the record and got thirty!” she called to the person who entered, assuming it was Ribbon since she couldn’t see as she had been frozen upside down and with her back to the door.

“What are you even talking about?” a male voice responded to her.

The unknown voice had the immediate reaction of stripping her of all the joy she had been feeling.

“Who are you?” she demanded, wishing that she wasn’t in such a vulnerable position around this nameless Palnokian.

Through her hair, she saw black clad legs walk in front of her. “I don’t think we were introduced properly yet,” the male said before crouching so that his head was nearer to hers. He pushed her hair up from her face with his arm and allowed her to see him. It took her a moment to recognize him until he tilted his head as far as it would go to the side, so that they were almost looking each other eye-to-eye. “I’m Tenshu.”

The ponytailed necromancer gave her a shy smile that she immediately didn’t trust.

“I hope there’s no hard feelings about Base,” he stated, his olive eyes regarding her closely.

She narrowed her eyes. “You killed my best friend. Would you have hard feelings if I had done the same to you?”

He shrugged. “I also unsealed him. I didn’t have to.”

She gave him an unimpressed look. “Except if you hadn’t, we would have tortured you until you did.”

He shrugged. “And it all would have been pointless, because I would have sealed him to eternal torment if you had.”

She raised her eyebrows. “And then I would have killed you.”

“And Base would still have been dead.”

They stared at each other for a few, long clicks, neither blinking. They were both aware that they were trying to outdo each other, but it wasn’t until Amadhay couldn’t think of anything to counter that with that she realized she had to give that round to him. The sheer audacity of him asking for her to pretty much forget he had tried to kill her friend actually impressed her. She kept his gaze, and neither blinked, yet another war of their wills, until they both began to smile. Amadhay was smiling because she could tell that she had met her match. She wondered if that was why he was smiling as well.

“I’m still not going to thank you,” Amadhay stated.

I will thank you for not hurting Mitch. I know it must have been hard for you,” Tanhakinshu responded, giving her a full smile. She felt a traitorous fluttering in her stomach at that. He was a very pretty boy. Prettier, by far, than most of the men she knew. Prettier even, than many of the women she knew.

“Don’t thank me. I was under orders not to harm him if it wasn’t necessary.”

“You were?” Tanhakinshu asked, raising his eyebrows. “Who gave that order?”

Amadhay started to answer, but then she paused. She frowned. She couldn’t actually remember ever being given the order, only that she had been told not to injure them. Christein had said something about it, but…she couldn’t actually remember ever hearing the order for herself.

“Someone,” she said vaguely. “Can you get Ribbon? I kind of want to get down.”

“Can’t,” Tanhakinshu answered, lowering his arm so that her hair covered her face again. “She’s on a mission right now.”

That surprised her. Amadhay had honestly just assumed that Ribbon’s job was to make sure that she was nice, comfortable, and still stuck in the room. “What type of mission?” she asked.

“A secret one,” he said before pulling her hair up again. This time, he finger-combed her hair into some semblance of control before putting it into two braids. While she wasn’t exactly comfortable with him touching her as if he knew her, it was calming the way he combed through her hair in even strokes, giving two to one side and then two to the other. He even braided her hair using four parts, which, while it definitely made her wary of him, she did appreciate.

“Who taught you to braid like that?” she asked.

He grinned at her, gently playing with her braids. “My sister, Kimiko, is obsessed with the number two. Everything has to be in twos. Atlas told me you were obsessed with symmetry, so I figured you might be similar there.”

She wanted to roll her eyes, but she had to admit, at least to herself, that it was nice that he had thought it through enough to try to comfort her. Whatever his intentions, he had done something nice for her and she couldn’t help but respect that.

“It’s all part of the job,” she said.

“What?” he asked, giving her a confused look. He let go of her hair and it dangled between them.

“You killing Benjy. I would have done the same thing in your position, so I figure I can’t be too judgmental.”

“Is that your way of saying you’re not going to hold it against me?”

Amadhay looked away from him for a moment. “Maybe.”

“I’ll take it,” he said with a laugh in his tone. “Also, I guess, maybe I should let you down from there.”

“Can you do that?” she immediately asked, curious about the powers of a necromancer. She had once heard that they were adept in all forms of dark magic. She wondered if that were true, or if necromancers were only naturally good at necromancy and had to learn other magic forms if they wanted to use them.

“Sure. Ribbon told me how to do it before she left. She also said that I should leave you stuck until Atlas made me let you down, but I figure our new understanding of each other could be better cemented if you weren’t upside down.”

“Yeah, maybe just a little,” she said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. By the time she was done rolling her eyes, she was unstuck. She dropped unceremoniously, partially on top of him.

“Okay, that might not have been fully thought out,” he admitted, making her laugh even though she didn’t want to.

“If I have a concussion, I hope I get to break your leg,” Amadhay said, which made him give a shock of laughter. He helped her sit up before he dropped from his crouch to sit cross-legged on the floor with her. He studied her expression for a moment and she kept it perfectly deadpan, getting another laugh from him.

“I’m not sure if that was twisted humor or you’re being completely serious.”

Amadhay grinned at him. “Maybe you’ll find out someday.”

“I’m sure I’ll find out when you get that concussion,” he joked, making her feign a headache.

“Oh, the pain. Black, I’m seeing black,” she spoke dramatically, watching him from the corner of her eyes as she flailed about.

“You might be color blind,” he replied. “All I see is red. It’s kind of overpowering.”

“I know right?” Amadhay exclaimed, forgetting that she was only pretending to play around with him to make him lower his guard enough to use him as leverage. Whatever Project Apocalypse was depended on him living long enough to become a father. She could use that.

“I take it Atlas didn’t ask you about your opinions before painting?” Tanhakinshu asked. “I mean I figured you didn’t want the meadow scene that had been here, but the red is kind of…”

“Garish? It’s garish,” Amadhay stated, wondering whose room it had been, since a meadow scene sounded very particular. “Honestly, I would have much preferred a meadow scene. It’s harder for invisibility spells to blend with scenes than just one color.”

“Really?” Skeletal Smile asked, looking genuinely interested.

“Definitely. Patterns, pictures, it takes more concentration. They have to blend different parts of their bodies differently and be sure not to miss anything.”

“But what about the ones who  just reflect? Wouldn’t it be easy?”

She snorted. “Reflectors have to stay still.”

He eyed her for a moment. “How would you even know? I doubt you’re much for being unseen.”

Amadhay started to mention Christein’s hardship blending in, even with his second Gift of camouflage from the chameleon of his aelfe before remembering that she was still talking to the enemy. Just because she was pretending to be friendly with him didn’t mean that she had to tell him secrets, especially not secrets about her cousin that could get him killed.

Instead, she went in a different direction. “Tell me about the Palnoki,” she demanded. “Because I’m kind of confused.”

He raised a single, slender eyebrow. “What about?” he asked.  

“I figure there are a lot of you, but I seem to only see the same recurring ones. There’s you and the vampire, Ribbon, Atlas, Stefan, the cyborg, I know of an arachin, and I’ve heard stories about another vampire and a reaper. It sounds like a weird assortment of people.”

Tanhakinshu nodded slowly. “Atlas brought us all together,” was all he said.

She waited a few clicks for him to continue, but he didn’t. “How did you meet Atlas, then?” she asked, hoping to get even the smallest bit of information.

He gave her none. “I have to go,” he said, standing up with an easy speed that made her narrow her eyes and watch him a little closer. “But I bet Atlas would answer any questions you have,” he added over his shoulder as he left the room before she could argue or ask any more questions. She knew that he was implying she should talk to the man, but she had no plans of doing that.

She sat there silently, thinking everything over. All that she could determine was that she had two babysitters. She had two very good targets to use for her means. Or, if she looked at it the way she was sure Atlas would prefer she did, she had two people who could easily become her friends if she let them. She certainly planned on letting them.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay ignores atlas



Amadhay was pointedly not speaking to Atlas.

In fact, she wasn’t even looking at Atlas. He had left her alone for the rest of the previous day, only to come to the room where they were holding her the next. She had spent the first zoot trying to convince him that there was no point in keeping her captive, that it would only hurt his people in the long run, but he wasn’t listening. He kept talking to her as if they were equals, as if he hadn’t kidnapped her and was refusing to let her leave the room.

So, to get back at him, Amadhay decided to give him the silent treatment. It was working surprisingly well. Sure, Atlas was still talking, but his chatter had gone from conversational the first zoot of silence to hard-pressed the second zoot, and now he was practically pleading with her to talk to him. He kept moving into her vision to try to make her look at him. It was pathetic, honestly. If it weren’t the situation it was, she would have laughed at him. But they were in that situation, so she didn’t.

The first zoot she had chosen complete silence. She had sat staring at the red wall, not moving, not talking. She gave no indication that she heard anything Atlas was saying. She did absolutely nothing. While it bothered Atlas, it nearly drove her crazy. She wasn’t meant to be that still for that long. Her Gift gave her the need for regular movement. In fact, all of the energy had pent up inside of her until she absolutely had to move the second zoot.

The second zoot, she moved around the room, but continued to ignore both Atlas and Stefan. Stefan sat in the corner, watching her like a hawk, while Atlas continued talking at her. She stretched out and jogged in place first.

Then, she danced. Normally, she wouldn’t have. It was strange, really, to dance when she wasn’t on a seduction mission, especially without music. Except she sort of was on a mission, when she thought about it. She was trying to trick him into getting so bothered that she could get away.

Or maybe she was just trying to get him as frustrated as she was.

The third zoot, once she had pushed enough energy out of her body, she decided to talk to Stefan. She enjoyed this one. She simply held a relatively light, mundane conversation with Stefan, who obviously knew what she was doing. He seemed to enjoy it as much as she did. Atlas kept trying to invade the conversation, commenting on what Amadhay was saying. Amadhay acted as though she didn’t even hear him.

He was practically kneeling in front of her, pleading for her to talk to him by the fourth zoot. It was then that she finally looked at him. Giving him a frosty smile, she caught eye contact. “I’d like you to leave now.”

He jolted back. “Are you talking to me now?” he asked hopefully.

“I’d like you to leave,” she said again as if he hadn’t even asked her anything. “I’m not talking to you. I don’t want to see you again. Now leave.”

Atlas stared at her critically for a whole clack before nodding slowly. “Alright then,” he said with a smile even though there was a definite sad tone to his voice. “I won’t bother you again until you come to me.”

Fat chance, she thought, but didn’t say anything, turning her attention away from him before he even left. She sat on the bed, pulling the canopy closed around her and turned to stare out of the giant window.

Next Chapter
amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay isn’t saved



“I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon,” Atlas said to Amadhay, smiling up at her from his low couch.

Without looking from her, he gestured for Scarlet and Mitch to go. Both paused, but seeing that Stefan stood directly behind Amadhay, they nodded to Atlas and left the room.

Amadhay didn’t smile back at him, which he had expected. “Who is your informant?” she demanded.

“What?” he asked, genuinely surprised at the road this conversation was taking. He had been ready for most options such as ‘Where am I?’, ‘Why am I here?’, ‘I remember you,’ or even ‘You kidnapped me before,’ but not this one. He glanced to Stefan for illumination, but the snake-like man merely shrugged. He didn’t seem nearly as surprised as Atlas was, though to be fair, Stefan had implied that sending him in was a bad plan to begin with.

“Your informant, Atlas,” she reiterated. “What you know is informant information. You wouldn’t be able to know as much as you do without an informant that is close to me. You know things only my friends would be able to know, only my best of friends. So I want to know who is giving you information.”

Atlas gave a soft laugh and shook his head at Amadhay. “Of course I have an informant. But why on Resor would you think I would tell you his name?”

“So it’s a male?” Amadhay raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest. “Of course it’s a male. Rea is the only female and she wouldn’t sell information on me for anything.”

Atlas narrowed his eyes, not liking the look in hers. “Have you figured out your little puzzle?” he asked, trying to distract her.

She gave him a vague questioning sound. “Which one?”

“All those questions you were asking me yesterday. Why you, why I have you here, why now?”

Amadhay shrugged as if she honestly didn’t care, which threw Atlas for a moment until he realized what she was doing. She was feigning disinterest so that he would feel the need to give her information. He opened his mouth to do just that, but she beat him to it.

“Tairyn. Tairyn is your informant, isn’t he?” she nodded to herself. “He’s been away for a while, so getting me to bring your assets in was necessary to learn the grounds. You didn’t just wander to my room, you wandered to figure out where everything was. You knew that I would hurt the cyborg, or maybe you made sure that I would, so that she would go to the hospital wing, which is close to the Procedures, which is where we keep all of our files.

“Tairyn would know that, because he worked there before he was sent on an Over the Water mission. Tairyn was my best friend and the only one besides Christein, Indigo and pre-amnesia Amaya who I told about the dragon and canopy dream. Amaya has lost her memory and even before didn’t know me nearly well enough to tell you everything. Monkey and Indy would die before either set me up. It’s Tairyn.”

Atlas honestly couldn’t help but to stare at her in surprise. He was amazed by the tracks her mind went to figure out a question she should not have been able to guess the answer to, not that quickly. She couldn’t have been thinking about this for longer than she had been awake. He wondered what gave it away first, them putting her back in the remade bedroom from her childhood, or Stefan coming to her. He had wanted to refresh her memory, not out his informant.

He smiled at her either way. “That would be a great deduction, Amadhay, if your dream were only a dream. I thought you would have realized that by now. You’ve been here before. You know us.”

She frowned. “I think I would remember being somewhere this cold,” she stated.

Atlas raised his eyebrow. “Don’t you? What are those dreams then?”

“Nothing but dreams,” she replied firmly, looking away from him. She glanced back at Stefan, who had his arms crossed over his chest in a warning to her that she was being watched.

Atlas leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. “Were they? Then how do we know about all your games pretending to save the princess and defeat the dragon? Hm? What about your food patterns or the juice? I doubt any of your current friends could tell us that.”

“Then you have Indigo too. I was wondering who made the golems,” she said.

Atlas didn’t change his expression, though he did mentally pause and eye her more closely. He had known she was intelligent, probably the second most intelligent of the Hakinato first family, and a quick thinker, but hadn’t expected this kind of quick thinking. She was right, though not for the reasons she thought, since he had made sure Ribbon made the golems to keep Amadhay from recognizing her former servant’s magic. Regardless, she was very right on all accounts except one. He needed to press that one to make her doubt her other ideas.

 “Amadhay, you know you were here before. You remember it.” She shook her head, but there was a hesitance to it that he jumped on. “On your fourth birthday, the day of your party, Mitch and Stefan took you and your sister and brought you here. We entertained you for two months before we gave you back.”

Alright, he was lying a little. They hadn’t brought her here specifically, because this place hadn't existed eleven years ago. It would have been insane to take her back to the other place, because that was the first place Riffle would look. And no, they hadn't given them back, but had been outmatched by the Phoegani, though things had certainly changed since then. If the ease with which they had infiltrated the Phoegani and taken what they wanted was any indication, either they were much stronger than they had been (which was a given), or the Phoegani was greatly lacking (which he was thinking might also be the case).

She frowned, staring at him. He could see her going over the memories she had thought to only be dreams. She looked around the room, which was a perfect duplicate to the planning room in the other safe base that she would have recognized. She quickly took in every detail, moving faster than he could see so that she was almost a blur of motion. Honestly, he was a little surprised that she didn't attempt to attack him. Maybe Stefan was a good enough incentive, if she remembered enough about him to know how easily he would take her down.

“Why?” she finally asked, now standing directly in front of him. Stefan didn't move forward, though he did uncross his arms.

Atlas raised both eyebrows. “Why what?”

“Why did you kidnap us?” she asked. He couldn't begin to pretend that he knew what was going through her mind, but he assumed that she was thinking the same reason then was the same reason he did it now. It wasn't.

“To give your parents a message.”

She frowned. “What kind of message could you want to give the second brother of a clan and the somewhat powerless sister of the Lady of the Lake that wouldn't be better suited for their siblings?”

Atlas almost laughed. She didn't know. “Or should I say it was for Arne Riffle. He, after all, claimed you, which made you a prize. Both of you.”

“What about Hlala? She was claimed too. Why didn't you take all three of us? I'm sure you could have gotten whatever you wanted better that way.”

“We didn't need her. We only needed the two of you. The point was made perfectly then, just like a new point is being made now.”

She gave him a sharp smile. “So you kidnapped me to give Arne Riff a new message? What happened to trying to give me a new life?”

“Oh, I'm going to give you a better life. The message to Riffle has nothing to do with you. You weren't the point of this, but taking you does make everything much easier to manage. Now they'll be so focused on saving you that no one will notice anything else that may be missing.” He gave her a haughty grin. “Not that it really matters either way.”

She narrowed her eyes, taking a few steps back until she was back against Stefan. “I agree,” she said sweetly.

She looked up at Stefan with an innocent twinkle in her eye that he fell for. Atlas knew what she was about to do the moment he saw the relaxing in Stefan's posture. He had to smile when she took Stefan's moment of softness toward her to steal his gun from his belt. She shot Stefan twice, once in the throat and the second time directly between his eyes, before spinning and shooting Atlas in the chest. He felt the pain, there was no denying it, but he couldn't stop smiling at her. That was the Amadhay he expected.

“It doesn't matter because I don't need to be saved. I'm going to get out of here with whatever you took from us. It may not be today, but it will happen. And when it does, you won't be smiling,” she promised even as she watched the powder in the bullet sizzle and bubble out of the bullet hole before the hole closed around the bullet. He hissed as the bullet disintegrated inside of his body, but held his hand out to Stefan, who was reaching for Amadhay.

Amadhay didn't move, studying the hole in his shirt as if she could still see the bullet wound. “What good was that, Amadhay?” he asked her, straightening up and touching the hole, before giving a sigh. “Now you've upset Stefan, ruined my favorite shirt, and wasted three good bullets.”

“Go drown in the Water,” she cursed him, but still didn't move.

He sighed. “Stefan, take her back to her room until she can be trusted to play with others.”

Next Chapter
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 in which dreams are reality




When Amadhay woke up, she immediately knew that she was in a different bed.

This one wasn’t as soft, the pillows were more like her own, and the covers over her were thicker, warmer. She knew she still wasn’t home, though, even without opening her eyes, because it smelled wrong. While she didn’t have a vampire’s nose, the feline of her aelfe gave her slightly stronger senses than some, and her room smelled like incense and smoke. This room smelled clean and like freshly cut roses. Even so, she hoped that when she opened her eyes, she would be back home.

She wasn’t. Instead, she was in a relatively large room, at least two of her own back on base but still smaller than her old room in the Hakinato homestead. The walls were red, which, honestly, she thought was rather garish even as she wondered if it had been specially painted for her. Sitting up on the bed, she looked the room over and decided that yes, this room had been decorated specially for her. The floor was carpeted in what looked like a soft black carpet, but when she squinted her eyes, she was able to see what looked like intricate, ancient runes in a silver color underneath the fabric.

There was a large, dark, wooden armoire dresser with a matching vanity table that took up almost the entire right wall. That table was covered with long stemmed red roses, which was where that smell was coming from and she didn’t have to give them more than a cursory look to know that they were the same kind of rose from which her middle name derived. Two doors were the only light colored wood, with one that was absolutely coated in wards, and the other opened enough that she could see it led to a bathroom. There were three windows, one on either side of the room and one, wide one that took up a large portion of the wall behind the bed. The bed itself was a canopy bed with a gorgeous overhanging in the center of it, held up like a chandelier and spilling the gauzy curtains down. She dropped onto her back with a heavy sigh, trying to remember falling asleep. She couldn’t, which meant she actually hadn’t, but had somehow been forced into unconsciousness before she could fight it, because she didn’t even remember feeling drowsy. She sighed again and looked up at the overhanging of the canopy.

She stared at the overhanging for a long moment, feeling like there was something she was missing until, suddenly, she recognized it. She had seen it before in her dreams, or at least what she thought had been dreams. The dreams were always of herself and Amaya when they were tiny, playing princess in a castle, the bed being the castle and Amaya being the princess. A man, a man with scaly skin and a wicked smile, had always played the dragon guarding the princess while Amadhay was the brave warrior coming to save her sister, except for those times when Amaya would save herself and they would defeat the dragon together.

Why would Atlas have it? What did that mean?

Shaking her head and deciding to ignore that strangeness, she crawled out of the bed and slid through the opening in the curtains. She didn’t even glance back at the large window, knowing that even if it wasn’t physically barred, that there was no way it wasn’t magically sealed to keep her from going that way. Instead, she went over to the window on the far right of the room, the only one that she could easily reach, and looked out. It took her a few clicks to realize that what she was seeing was snow, piles upon piles of snow clinging to tall trees. Given that it was halfway up her window, Amadhay figured that it was probably in her best interest not to even attempt an escape until she knew for sure where she was on a map.

Her teleporting had limits, and considering she had no idea what the distance was between her and anywhere she knew, she was going to assume that she was outside of her limits and that teleporting from here to base was completely off the table. Atlas seemed to know everything else about her, so she expected that he knew her physical and magical limitations and would have acted accordingly. With that in mind, she decided she would have to go past her limits to get out of this place. But first, she decided, recognizing that she was shaking not from irritation or fear, but from the cold, she needed to find some warm clothes.

She was hesitant to open the armoire, worried that it might be a trap, or worse yet, that she would find clothes for her in there. She wasn’t sure how to handle this entire situation just yet. She hardly knew anything about Atlas, yet he seemed to know her entire life. And for some reason she had yet to determine, he wanted her, or at least for her to be wherever she was. She wasn’t, not even for a click, believing his spiel about trying to give her a better life or whatever he had tried to claim when they were in the other room. He had some ulterior motive, and before she left, she needed to figure that out.

But first, she needed to not be cold. With a deep, calming breath, she swung the armoire open. It was almost empty, save for a pair of warm looking boots with fur lining, a pair of black gloves with red fur lining and a full, red cloak, with similar fur lining. The cloak was a shock to her system, yet another thing that was reminiscent of the dream. Just touching it, she could tell that the red lining wasn’t fake and it didn’t look like dye, which meant that whomever had made the cloak had actually skinned several red animals for it. That didn’t sit with her well at all. While she was all for animals dying for food or their other body parts, animals dying for fashion only served to irritate her.

But she was so cold. She touched the fur to find that it was warm, which she assumed meant some heat spell she didn’t know. She faltered for a few more clicks before deciding her morals could take the backseat to her needs. She kicked her boots off, still slightly intrigued by the fact that Atlas or one of his people hadn’t undressed her. She was happy that they hadn’t, because it made everything easier on her, but she wondered if it was due to respect for her or an attempt to get her comfortable before doing worse to her.

The boots were warm, much warmer than her simple cloth ones had been, and fit her perfectly, which didn’t surprise her in the least. The gloves were just as warm and made her sigh with happiness when she wiggled her fingers to get her circulation flowing correctly. She stared at the cloak for only one more brief click before pulling it out of the wardrobe and over her shoulders. She clasped it with the purple brooch on the front of it and nearly giggled from amusement when she looked in the mirror. It was a sight too large for her just as it had always been in her dream, dragging behind her like the train of a ceremonial dress and nearly swallowed her, but considering it was the warmest thing she had ever felt, she didn’t complain. She pulled the hood onto her head and the heat was complete.

She just stood there for a moment, basking in the warmth before turning her attention to the third window. It was higher than the other, standing above the mirror that was about a head taller than she was. Luckily, the chair seated at the desk beside the mirror looked sturdy enough to take her weight. She moved it in front of the mirror before climbing up onto it, holding onto the mirror to keep her balanced on the chair. This window gave her a better understanding of where she was. There were leagues of fresh snow, just like in the other, but in the distance, she could see smoke, which meant there were living people in that direction. Whether or not those living people would be help to her was still up in the air, but at least it was a start.

“Knock, knock,” an unfamiliar voice called before giving two knocks. Not knowing how many other people were in the same place as her, who the other people were, how big the place was, and still not knowing whether she was in Palnoki or not made the decision not to attack pretty easy. Instead, Amadhay was sitting calmly on the bed when the door opened.

A man walked in with a tray perfectly balanced in his hands as he used his hip to keep the door open. His long, black cloak was the same style as the one she wore, only it fit him perfectly, hanging at his ankles. He had no hair, which wasn’t surprising seeing that his skin was scaly, similar to a lizard or snake’s and a light brown color that seemed to have a slightly green tint to it. He had a wide, lipless mouth and when he smiled at her, she saw two rows of sharp, but small teeth. His bulbous eyes were large pupiled and brown, and as she stared, they blinked once to her five times. Amadhay wasn’t breathing, just staring at the man from her dream, her dragon.

As if he didn’t notice her stillness, the man still walked forward and set the tray on the bed beside her. Hoping for something to help her steady herself from the disorientation his presence had thrown her into, she looked at the tray. That only worked to make her more flustered. On the tray were three chicken and cheese sandwiches cut into precise triangles and six pieces of fruit put into a circular pattern she remembered well from her childhood. It was the pattern she and Amaya developed to counter her obsession with symmetry and Amaya’s obsession with helping her eat everything. In the center was a cup. She didn’t even have to look inside of it to know that it was grapefruit juice, which had been her childhood favorite.

This was getting out of control. What? Were they going to have Amaya walk in next?

“Is there anything else I can get you, Little Warrior?” the man asked, hissing his s’s. When she flinched at the expected nickname, he tilted his head. “Do you not remember me?” his tone was purposely mocking, but she didn’t fall into his trap.

Or maybe she did.

She stood up, not paying attention to see if the tray would fall, and moved so that she was right in front of the man. “Take me to Atlas.”

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November 2016

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