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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tenshu just nodded in reluctant agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I thought you had left me,” he said.

“I didn’t,” she responded unnecessarily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think I like you beneath me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 Weapons

Her stomach emptied the moment she came together. She fell to her knees, vaguely aware that she was somewhere new. The veil between her and this realm had shifted once again, and instead of seeing everything through a fog of their combined black and purple auras, she now saw everything clearly. Tenshu stood in the center of a strange circle burned into the ground and though he tried to get out of it, he was stuck inside.

As she looked him over, she knew they had to be in his mind because he was a much darker, almost uglier version of himself. His hair wasn’t so much dark auburn as it was brown, with dried blood changing the color. His black clothes were an extension of his aura, made more of shadows and roiling darkness than fabric or any solid shapes. His hands were covered in gloves, blindingly clean white gloves and there was a tiny M cut into his chest, leaving a hole in his body. His angular face was sharper, as if it could be used as a knife. His arms, as much as she could see through the aura jacket, were covered in angry, red marks. They went deeper than any self-inflicted wound she’d been able to see on him and were open, but they were also the only wounds he still had.

But Goddess, he was still beautiful. His olive eyes were brighter than in reality, and shined a light that reflected all across the strange dreamscape, illuminating where he was looking. His hair was down, rather than in his normal ponytail and despite the dried blood, it worked to soften his face the same way it always did, making his features more feminine. He was as slender and lean as ever, and as far as she could tell, he hadn’t gained any height. If anything, with his hair down, he seemed a bit shorter. His every move exuded power and intelligence as he tried every way he could to leave the circle. His olive skin glistened with sweat and that was when Amadhay was able to realize that she was hot. This place was blisteringly hot.

When she made it back to her feet, wiping her mouth against the back of her hand, his eyes had landed on her and the difference was immediate. His face contorted with absolute hatred and he lost his senses, instead choosing just to slam against the invisible barrier separating them and she was happy to have ended on the other side, rather than in there with him. While she hadn’t expected him to welcome her with open arms, she still hadn’t expected that kind of reaction. She should have.

He and Ribbon had been incredibly close. They had been siblings, if not by blood, by bond. He had warned her that if she broke Ribbon’s heart he was going to hurt her. She had done much worse than just break Ribbon’s heart. She had stopped it. He had every right to hate her and she would have hated him if he hadn’t, but that didn’t change the fact that the difference hit her hard. The last time they had seen each other, he had comforted her. Now he looked like he wanted to kill her.

She took a step forward purely to counter her immediate instinct to take one back. That step was followed by another and another until she was standing directly in front of Tenshu, only the barrier separating them. She swallowed the lump in her throat, ignoring the taste of vomit on her tongue. This close to him, she could see that her aura was sustaining his, a thin strand of purple heading from her navel to turn into, or maybe meet, a similarly thin strand of black midair and flow into his navel. It moved right through the barrier and she hoped that nothing would sever it because his aura looked very weak in comparison to hers.

“What are you waiting for, huh?” Tenshu snarled, making her eyes snap up to his. “It’ll be easy for you to kill me too. I can’t do anything.”

She frowned, choosing to stay silent rather than say anything in response. It was best, because he went on when she didn’t.

“Did you just come in here to gloat? Killed Ribbon, now you get to kill me. Bet it makes you feel powerful.”

“How do we get you out of that?” she asked, the words coming out of her mouth without her permission. That hadn’t been what she wanted to say. She’d wanted to apologize, to beg for the forgiveness she knew he’d never give her. She wanted to swear that she’d never wanted to hurt Ribbon, that she was saving him for Ribbon. That she’d never kill him. But that was what came out instead.

He eyed her warily. “Why? So you can kill me first?”

“Why would I kill you here?” she asked, still not saying what she wanted to. “Sounds like a waste of my time and energy. The danger is coming soon and you need to be out of there.”

Tenshu laughed aloud. “Of course. Of course you aren’t the second task. My mind made you my guide. Had to pick the one person I hate more than myself.”

“I don’t know how to remove the shield. If you do, tell me.”

Tenshu snorted. “You can’t, which I know, so I don’t know why you’re asking me about things I know. I have to have another’s aura get me out. I need my weapon. I’m stuck here until I die. So you can stop torturing me, mind. I don’t want to see her anymore.”

He thinks I’m a figment of his imagination, Amadhay realized. “I am your weapon. I have my own aura. Tell me.”

Tenshu glared at Amadhay before shrugging to himself. “If it works, I’ll get out and get rid of you. I don’t know why my brain would have made a person into a weapon. That’s stupid.”

“You need me.”

“I guess I do. Press yourself into the wall.”

“What will that do?” she eyed the line forming the circle warily, not sure that she could trust Tenshu.

“It’ll make a hole I can escape through.”

She nodded, but didn’t move any further forward, though she meant to. “And when I do, will you attack me?”

“I’m going to reform you into a working weapon.”

“I’m not a creation of your energy. I am your guide and weapon, but I exist outside of your mind. I ask again. Will you attack me when I free you?” There was a strange formality to the way she was talking that confused her, but she assumed it had to do with being in his mind. He needed her to talk clearly.

“Yes,” he said venomously. “If you aren’t just a part of me, I am going to kill you, Atlas be damned.”

“It will kill you,” she replied, and she frowned, aware that her voice was emotionless. It was strange.

“If it kills you, I’ll be fine with dying.”

“Ribbon wouldn’t want that,” she responded instantly, and the way the words fell off of her tongue, she knew she was saying what she meant to. She bit her lip and stared him in the eyes, stepping forward even though his eyes were murderous. “She always said that you only win if you’re alive. Dying to kill me won’t help anyone. It won’t make you happy and she wouldn't have wanted it.”

She gave a soft hiss at the unexpected frostiness of the barrier. It froze her skin, a stark contrast to the blistering heat. She wasn’t sure when she’d closed her eyes, but when she opened them, the thin film of her aura was blinding her. She opened her mouth to say something, but instead felt magic entering there, closing up her throat and cutting off her air supply.

It was then that she realized she wasn’t seeing her own aura, but the magic of the dream realm. While it was the same glittering purple, it was pungent on her tongue and in her nostrils, thicker inside of her, heavier on her skin. She couldn’t breathe around it but it kept forcing itself inside of her. Close your mouth or you will drown, both voices yelled at her and with surprising ease, she snapped her mouth closed and fell backwards.

Before she could even gather her wits, something heavy landed on her. She shoved at it, still unable to see, but that didn’t help her. Her wrists were pinned above her head and a hand was around her throat.

Tenshu, she knew. Tenshu was trying to kill her, just as he said he would. She could feel his hair on her face, could smell the blood in his hair, the spicy tang of his aura, the scent of necromantic death. The choking sensation took her right back to Ribbon and she didn’t move. She didn’t fight it, just lay there, letting him squeeze her throat. After a few pulses of aura that she was sure indicated their hearts beating in sync, she could feel that his hands weren’t squeezing anymore, but were just touching her neck where the scar was.

When she opened her eyes this time, she could see, even if her eyes burned and felt wrong in a way she didn’t understand. Tenshu was kneeling on top of her, his eyes focused on hers as he gently fingered the mark Ribbon had left with her wire. There was something about the way he was looking into her eyes that made her not want to break the connection. He didn’t seem hostile, just broken. He was so sad, but in a strange way, almost accepting. Neither of them said anything, but she was sure that he was seeing the same thing she did on her bad days. He saw Ribbon in her eyes.

She blinked and the moment was gone.

Tenshu stared at her for a click before getting off of her. “Just remember how you did it so that when we come back here, you enter the barrier with that side outwards to allow you entrance and close it.”

She nodded mutely, looking away from him, over the empty flatlands. There was nothing there. She cut a look at Tenshu, who was looking wary. “Aren’t we supposed to be fighting something?” she asked.

Tenshu gave her a bitter laugh. “You missed the welcoming committee. Now you’re supposed to guide me through this place.”

She blinked. “I am?” she asked, looking around. There were no obvious paths. Nothing gave her any indication what she should do.

“Yup, you,” he said with obvious distaste. “Why are you even here if you don’t know what to do? Is Atlas just trying to punish me for something?”

She frowned, focusing on trying to find even the smallest sign of where to go. “I’m the only option right now.”

“Why not Atlas, then?”

She gave a huff of frustration. “Why do you keep assuming Atlas is here? He isn’t. It’s just you and me. If you’d prefer I just leave you to it, I sure as anything can do just that.”

“Why am I with you?” he asked suspiciously.

“Because you got hurt and I decided to help you out,” she said through clenched teeth.

“Where are Amaya and Cole? The last thing I remember is being with them and Semi.”

She gave a shrug. “I wouldn’t know.”

“You don’t know what you’re doing here. You don’t know where my friends are. Is there anything you do know?”

“Since I’ve kept you alive for the past six days, I’m going to say that yes, there are quite a few things I do know.”

Tenshu regarded her with an unimpressed look. “You should have just taken me to Mitch or Atlas.”

“Well, I didn’t,” she yelled, turning to face him fully. “I didn’t have time to look for anyone else and since I’m pretty certain that Cowboy would kill me on sight, I didn’t try too hard either way. So you have me, and you’re going to stop fucking complaining about it, or I will let you die, I swear to Goddess, I will.”

Tenshu opened his mouth to respond, but then his eyes went past her. “Well, at least you know how to bring the monsters out.”

She glared at him before looking behind her and flinched. The evil looking pegasus looked a little too much like Grits for her not to feel like this was catered just for her.

“I fucking hate pegasi,” Tenshu muttered under his breath, reaching for Amadhay and pulling her with him away from the barrier. “Whatever you do, don’t hit the barrier or else we won’t be able to get back in.”

She nodded, keeping her eyes on the black-eyed beast with large, flat teeth and enormous wings. Its hooves were as large as her head and the way it flicked its tail made it clear that even the creature’s hair was a weapon.

“What weapons did you bring?” Tenshu asked.

Amadhay stared at him blankly. “I was supposed to bring weapons?” she asked, flinching when the pegasus gave a loud, angry whinny.

“What the fuck did you think you were supposed to do? Stand around and look pretty? Of course you were supposed to fucking bring weapons, you mutt brained clear. We can’t use magic here!”

“How was I supposed to know that?” she demanded, shoving Tenshu to the side just in time to miss getting a hoof to the head. The pegasus gave her a long, calculating look before turning its attention back to Tenshu.

“You are the most useless—” Tenshu was cut off from what Amadhay knew was going to be a curse laden series of insults by the pegasus spreading its wings and effectively separating the two of them. And then it kicked back at Amadhay.

Only her natural mistrustfulness around horses kept her from having a hoof shaped dent in her head. She dropped down and rolled to the side. The pegasus snorted and she watched as the link between her and Tenshu pulled taut, going right through the creature. Think. Think. She watched Tenshu dodge the horses’ attacks with an easy grace that only came with practice, the same kind of practice she had with avoiding horse kicks, stomps and headbutts. He even had the foresight on how the pegasus would use its wings to attack him.

She was angry with herself for having come without any weapons. She knew better than to go anywhere without weapons, even if it was to a dreamscape. Even if she hadn’t been sure that she would be able to use them, she should have at least brought a knife. But no, she had been lounging in her room, in reaching distance of a gun. She could go back to reality and grab one, but Ribbon’s voice was telling her not to. She didn’t really think it was a good choice anyway. Tenshu seemed to get less alive every time she separated from him. She was pretty sure that it might actually kill him this time.

Don’t think, just do, a new voice whispered into her ear. She wondered, for a moment, just how many voices were going to occupy her mind in this dreamscape before doing as the voice instructed. She ran as fast as she could without using her Gift and once the link between her and Tenshu had some slack, she launched herself at the pegasus. Without it even looking, it tried to shove her away with its rump, but she grabbed hold of its snowy white tail hair and hung on.

When she slammed against its rump, with her full weight on the strong hairs, it let out an enraged whinny and turned in a circle, stomping its feet and attempting to use its hind legs to kick her off. While a few kicks managed to hit her pretty hard, she kept holding on until she saw an opportunity to climb higher. It trotted in place, making her bounce up and down in time. On one such upward movement, she grabbed its back mane and let the pull of gravity back down help her. It only took a few attempts of that before she was on its back. Once there, she looked down, to Tenshu who was distracting the pegasus by making it run into the barrier.

That barrier was the only thing they had working for them. With its attention split by trying to shake Amadhay off and trying to stomp Tenshu to death, it wasn’t exactly a threat to either of them.

“Now what?” she asked aloud.

“Did you manage to bring anything of worth with you?” Tenshu yelled to her, dancing to the side when the pegasus tried for his head again.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be doing any fighting!” she yelled, gripping tightly to the mane when it took to the air and flew in circles. She felt nauseous.

“Nothing? A hair pin? A fake boob? Anything?”

She wanted to hit him, but was too busy trying not to be sick on the pegasus’ back. “Don’t you think I would have stabbed this thing or bludgeoned it to death if I had something?” she demanded.

“Then I guess we’re dead.”

Wings are fragile one of the voices muttered in a tone that told Amadhay that the speaker was irritated with her. The pegasus landed heavily, its breathing heavy.

 “Sounds like we’re wearing it out!” Tenshu called.

Amadhay lifted her leg. She only had one chance. If she messed this up, she was going to fall off and it would stomp her to death. When the pegasus reared up again, with its wings poised, ready to take flight, Amadhay kicked the center of one wing as hard as she could.

She could hear the fragile bones breaking under the sound of the pegasus crying out in pain. Its wing fell limp at its side and just by pure luck, she landed heavily against its other wing, falling off. She caught onto the wing and that one, too, seemed to break under her fingers. She fell hard on her back on the ground, but quickly rolled away from the injured pegasus. Once again, luck prevailed, because she rolled into Tenshu, not the barrier, and both watched the injured pegasus.

When it didn’t automatically heal, Amadhay took a deep breath in relief. It was going to be difficult enough to take it down, even with it injured, without it healing itself like real pegasi did. She wasn’t sure whether she should thank the dreamscape or Tenshu’s mind, so she mentally thanked both before focusing on how she could manage to take down the creature before them.

“How strong was its neck” Tenshu asked her, breaking into her impossible thoughts.

“Strong enough that I wouldn’t be able to break it,” she immediately responded. “Otherwise it would be dead already.”

“Strong enough that I couldn’t either?” he asked, getting to his feet and pulling her up with him.

Amadhay nodded. “Even if we both tried to snap his neck at the same time we would probably fail.”

“But not definitely,” he countered. “If we do nothing, it will definitely kill us. So get back up there.”

Amadhay started to argue, but didn’t, finding her mouth strangely shut despite the many things she wanted to say. Instead, she took a deep breath and focused on the pegasus. It appeared to be getting past the pain, because its eyes were set on her, a deep intense hatred shining through.

“I think we should run,” she stated, turning to Tenshu and pushing his shoulders to get him moving. Tenshu kept his eyes on the pegasus behind her.

“Running won’t kill it.”

“And not running will kill us,” she snapped, shoving him. There was a hard whinny from behind them, and Tenshu turned his eyes to her. This time, he frowned and looked at her neck. Automatically, she put her hand to her neck to cover up the scar from Ribbon.

“How many times is that wrapped around your throat?”

“What?” Amadhay asked before her fingers moved down from the scar, to Lizumeizei’s necklace. A pulse came from the pendant, and she looked to Tenshu with surprise. “I wasn’t wearing this,” she said.

“Well, you are now, so how many times is it wrapped around your neck?”

“I don’t—” The pegasus was galloping at them now, shaking the ground with every step. Tenshu’s fingers were on the clasp of the necklace, opening it, and then he was working quickly, unwinding the necklace from around her neck. The chain uncoiled again and again until he was holding a length of the chain and more was still wrapped around her neck.

“Give me a boost,” Amadhay said. The pegasus had stopped its gallop, eyeing them with intelligence. It gave a huff, ready to charge them, but still didn’t close the distance between them.

“How many times is this wrapped around your neck?” Tenshu asked in disbelief, not paying attention to what he was saying.

“Listen to me. I’m going to need your help.” Amadhay looked away from the pegasus, to Tenshu, to see that he was string at her necklace. She had no doubt that it still looked the same, despite the coils of chain he held. Now she understood what Lizumeizei had meant when he said it would come in handy one day.

The pegasus charged, taking advantage of neither of them paying it any attention to close the distance between them. Just by luck, Amadhay was able to push Tenshu to the ground and miss having both of their heads crushed in by its hooves.

“You need to get on its back,” Tenshu commanded, leaving his haze of confusion. He gripped her waist, pulling them both to their feet. Together they wove through the pegasus’ hooves, managing not to be stomped on.

“We both need to get on its back. If we can use this as reins, we can get it back to the bubble and it can do the work for us.”

Tenshu glanced at her for a moment before nodding, kicking the pegasus’ hind leg when it stomped on the chain. Amadhay didn’t even feel a tug and more chain fell from her necklace. The pegasus gave an angry whinny and lifted its hind legs to attempt to stomp them into the dirt. Tenshu pulled the chain up, wrapping it loosely around his waist a few times, before grabbing Amadhay’s arm and tugging her from underneath the horse. They nodded at each other and Amadhay used Tenshu’s cupped hands as a catapult for her foot, jumping up and landing on the pegasus’ rump. Once again, it tried to force her off, but she grabbed hold of its hind, digging her nails into the flesh to keep herself there, and then crawled up the small distance left to its back.

Once there, she gripped the chain and crawled forward until she was at the center of its back. She couldn’t see what Tenshu was doing, but she could tell that he was keeping it distracted from the fact that it had yet to attempt to buck her off.

“Can you get up here on your own?” she called down to Tenshu and received a grunt in response. Carefully, she stood, using the broken wings for stability. The pegasus screamed its pain and tied to shake her off, but she kept a tight hold to the wings and the pegasus didn’t move them, so she stayed where she was. She followed the chain with her eyes, seeing it go under and around the pegasus’ legs several times until it was to Tenshu, in front of the pegasus.

“Are you coming?” she demanded when Tenshu was focusing on its legs.

“New plan,” he called. “We need to get it down.”

“No new plan,” Amadhay countered. “The old plan is a good plan. It works.”

“The old plan was your plan and won’t work. The new plan will.”

Amadhay let out an annoyed noise, tugging on the chain. The pegasus didn’t even seem to notice. “We don’t have enough strength for this!”

“And we have enough to force steer it to its death?” he countered, moving under the pegasus where she couldn’t see him. The pegasus turned in circles, trying to get to him, but to no avail.

“I’m coming up.”

“Oh, now you want to,” Amadhay muttered under her breath, holding tight to the pegasus’ wing. It let out a pained noise when its movement forced her to move the broken bones. She jerked back in surprise when the beast let out an angry whinny when the other end of the chain came up to her. She almost let it fall back down, but caught it at the last moment, hooking it precariously around the edge of the wing to allow the pegasus to lever Tenshu up rather than her. Its pain was obvious, and for a moment, she wished that she were giving it the quick death it deserved instead of this prolonged pain.

Finally, Tenshu was up far enough that she could give him her hand. He allowed her to help him up and then immediately let go of her, moving forward on the pegasus as though he walked on an oversized horse every day. She supposed that he could do it because it was his dreamscape. Either way, still holding the chain, he got a running jump off of the pegasus.

Before Amadhay could yell at him and demand to know the point, he had swung back, on the other side of the pegasus’ neck. “Got it,” he said, holding out the chain to her.

She frowned for a moment before realizing that he had effectively wrapped the pegasus with the chain. And now he was handing the reins to her. She looked from the chain to him and then to the pegasus. “What are you giving it to me for?”

“You’re my weapon,” he said as though it should be obvious. It wasn’t.

“And?”

“And you have to kill it,” he explained irritatedly. “If I kill it without using my weapon, it will come back.”

She frowned, but took the end of the chain. “Do me a favor,” she ordered, gesturing to the back of her necklace. “Reclasp it. I think that’ll cut this off.”

“What?” Tenshu asked, eyeing her warily.

“Just fucking do it.”

The pegasus was tired. Amadhay wasn’t sure how a figment of Tenshu’s imagination could be tired, but it obviously was. It wasn’t even attempting to get them off anymore, just swaying from side to side, panting. Once the chain fell when Tenshu reclasped her necklace, Amadhay took hold of the reins and pulled. It moved back and forth, seeming to regain some of its fight, and Amadhay looked back to Tenshu.

“You need to help me,” she said, struggling to keep the chain tight against the pegasus’ throat. Without a word, Tenshu moved in behind her, putting his hands on hers and adding his strength behind the pulling of the chain. The pegasus was panicking and Amadhay tried not to care. It ran in circles until Tenshu helped her lead it to the barrier. It hit, hard. Harder than Amadhay had been expecting, and if Tenshu hadn’t been keeping them grounded, she would have flown off. Unfortunately, the pegasus was still alive.

“Again,” Tenshu whispered into Amadhay’s ear. “Once it hits, we can deal with it.”

She nodded and led the pegasus away, making it run around until Tenshu once again helped her lead it back to the barrier. It hit even harder this time, and Tenshu pulled Amadhay and the chains back. When they went falling off of the pegasus’ back, the chains tightened, using their weight as a focus. It was easy, surprisingly easy to Amadhay, for the chains to tighten so much that the pegasus’ legs fell from under it and it slammed headfirst into the barrier again.

That time did it. The pegasus dissolved into the silvery purple that everything on the dreamscape was made of and then disappeared. The chain dropped to the ground and then instantly coiled into a bracelet. Both Amadhay and Tenshu stared at it for a few clicks before Amadhay pushed off of Tenshu and stood up, picking up the bracelet and putting it onto her wrist.

“Now what?” she asked.

Tenshu rolled his eyes, standing up and brushing nothing off of him. “Now we walk. Which way?”

“How would I know?” she asked, eyeing the blank scenery. There was nothing but the semi-transparent barrier and a landscape of sand.

“You’re my guide. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

The sarcasm in his tone wasn’t appreciated and she turned to him to tell him just that, but the words caught in her throat when a path appeared behind Tenshu. “How about that way?” she suggested instead, pointing.


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 Voices

While it had only taken Amadhay a day and a half to become proficient in Hand, it took five more days for her to get a decent grip on the mute brothers’ version of the language.

Unlike with the tutorials, she couldn’t speed through it and get to the meat of it. She couldn’t rewind them if she missed something. They weren’t patient and neither was she, so quite a bit of the four days was the three of them taking breaks so that she could work on the hand signs they’d taught her already that she wasn’t doing correctly. The breaks were also so none of them got hurt, because she had refused a break the first day and it had nearly ended with her smashing a chair on Prillo’s head when he gave her an exasperated look for the fifth time in one clack.

It was during such a break that it happened.

One moment, she had been lounging on her bed, too frustrated to even consider working on Mute Hands—as she liked to call the new language—and the next, she felt her everything being pulled in Tenshu’s direction. She barely had time to look to him before she found herself moving to lay beside the necromancer. The moment their skin touched, she felt drained. There was a throbbing in the back of her head and she could only draw in shallow breaths. She pressed closer until there was no space between them and was gratified to feel that his body was already relaxing.

It was lucky, she mused, that this stage had come while she could still claim travel-sickness. Harpess had implied that they wouldn’t bother her for up to a week while she got used to the equilibrium difference of space. That gave her three days to deal with this before she had to answer to anyone or chance a clandestine meeting with Christein and Benjy. If the books were correct, it was likely this would only take a day or two, which would give her an extra one to be rid of any evidence of whatever happened to Tenshu in the dreamscape.

Turning her attention fully to the man beside her, she noted that he wasn’t much warmer than before, but his limbs weren’t like marble anymore. Somehow just knowing that he needed her closer, she maneuvered his arm until it was around her so that she was pressed against his side. She looked up at his face just in time to see a quick frown before his face smoothed back to the expressionless canvas it had been the past few days. Something in her, a foreign voice, told her not to touch his head, but she dismissed it and brushed her fingertips across his forehead, feeling for a fever.

She hadn’t expected for the world to disappear into a swirl of their auras.

She quickly pulled back, unsure what she should do. While that same voice in the back of her mind was being very vocal about her leaving the necromancer to fight his own battles, another voice, Ribbon’s voice told her to do all she could to help him. The last voice, the only one she really felt was her own, didn’t really agree with either of the voices, but she was curious about the swirling auras. None of the books had really described what she had to do, other than stay close, to help him in this stage.

Either way, she wanted to know what the swirling of their auras was doing, so she was more firm with her touch to his forehead this time, pressing her palm rather than her fingertips, to his forehead. The reaction was instantaneous. Once again, she was floating in a swirl of their auras. In the distance, she could see figures moving, but all of them were blurry and she found that she couldn’t move.

Closer, Ribbon’s voice whispered ad she could feel the voice in every fiber of her being. It made her jerk away, holding her hand to her chest as if she had been burned. It took all of her willpower to sit up and away from Tenshu’s body, especially when he seemed to become paler, less lively, the moment she did. The foreign voice made noises of appreciating her choice and for the first time, she wondered where that voice was coming from. It was new.

Help him, Ribbon’s voice insisted, making Amadhay look back at Tenshu’s body. He looked stiff again, as if her tiny bit of distance completely cut him off from her power. She scooted closer to him, but he didn’t look any better until she touched his hand.

But the moment she touched his hand, she lost all vision. She heard labored breathing, could feel it coming from her own lungs. Tenshu’s voice gave a vicious curse and in response some other creature gave a hungry cry. She felt something hit her head and hard, and in surprise, she dragged her hand away from Tenshu’s, though it felt like she was lifting a wolf feral rather than just her hand.

Once she was no longer touching him, her vision returned. Her breathing came easier. Her head no longer throbbed. Everything was fine with her, but a single glance at Tenshu told her that he was doing worse. There was a strange pallor to his paling skin. She could feel his aura thinning by the way it felt on her mind as it reached for her. He was becoming stiff again and she had a feeling that it she let him, he would go further than deadshock this time. He would die.

Ribbon would want me to save him, she thought before the voice could say anything. The darker one was strangely silent and she associated that with her making up her mind. She was going to save him even if it felt strange. She had decided to save him the moment she picked him up from the fountain. She couldn’t change her mind now that it was something that would affect her.

She took a deep, steadying breath, and slowly leaned back down. Heads together, palms together, Ribbon’s voice instructed. She closed her eyes and, forcing herself to move the last few inches, she pressed her forehead to his and her palms against his. It wasn’t as instantaneous this time, in fact, she had the time to take five breaths before she felt a pull start at her navel and pull her, it felt, inside of Tenshu.


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 Study

A sharp knock on her door made Amadhay glance up from her DS. Once returning to her room, she had immediately gone to work. She had finished up checking over Tenshu and had even looked through one of the necromancer physiology books to determine whether she was doing anything wrong. After that, she had painstakingly found and destroyed each and every camera and audio recorder in the room. Knowing that it was the captain watching her had made her feel more comfortable about making it stop. Then she had delved into the hardest job.

For the past few zoots, she had been checking through every search engine that she could find for some hint of her. To her immense relief, the latest was from a year ago from a conspiracy theorist that no one put much stock in, claiming that she wasn’t dead, but was truly the Goddess in disguise and had ascended back to the other realm. She had, with a snicker, decided to send that article to Lizumeizei. The pictures that had been posted of “the Grand Mage’s consort” were shadowy at best and the only one that wasn’t a blurry mess had her looking taller and slimmer than she really was.

 The consensus was, so far, that she was merely a common aelfe that had caught the Grand Mage’s attention. In fact, most of the blogstreams dedicated to gossip were spending more time comparing her, “the mysterious consort,” to Lizumeizei’s past lovers, all of whom had been much more public, none of whom had been given the title of his consort. She wouldn’t deny that that detail made her feel superior. No one had mentioned the names “Hakinato,” “Graceling,” “Amaya,” “Water Herald,” “Amadhay,” or “Red Robin” so she was feeling pretty secure.

Amadhay’s eyes flickered to Tenshu when the knock came again. He hadn’t changed in the past few zoots, still pale, barely breathing, and catatonic. She counted that as a success. If he were going to crash, she knew he would have done it by now. The book she had opened at the foot of the bed said so. She flicked her fingers at the bed sheet so that it was up under his neck, leaving the bed appearing made to another’s eyes. She kept him invisible to all but herself and looked to the door, squinting as she used the through-vision spell to see who was knocking.

It was Lizumeizei’s pet mutes. Rolling her eyes, she ended the spell and jumped off of the bed. “Yes?” she called, knowing that neither could answer her. There was a triple rap on her door. “Who is it?” she asked, smirking as she leaned against the door. The triple rap that answered her made her give a soft puff of an exhalation for a laugh before opening it.

Prillo gave her a knowing look before walking in.

“I don’t remember inviting you in,” she muttered under her breath as Faeo followed him in. Once both were in, she closed the door behind them and turned to see the two of them checking the room. Instead of telling them that she’d already done a search of her own between leaving the room and coming back, she allowed it, watching as they moved in sync, checking everywhere. She had been ready to stop them from checking the bed, but to her surprise, they left the bed alone completely, not even checking underneath it. Likewise, though both glanced at the chest, neither opened it to check inside.

When both were satisfied that no one had sneaked in or left new cameras, Prillo held out a small data chip, placing it on Amadhay’s upturned palm when she held her hand out to him.

“What is it?” she asked, eyeing the nondescript chip. There was no labeling on it other than the Base Inventions logo. When she received no answer, she looked to the men before mentally smacking her own forehead. They were mute. She needed to figure out a system to communicate with them.

Neither gave any attempt to answer her question, instead choosing to stare at her, so she sighed. Yes or no questions it is then. “Is this yours or did you find it?” she asked, before restating her question once again. “I mean, sorry. Is this something you saved to the chip?”

Faeo shook his head.

“So this is just something random that you found and thought I should look at?” she asked, making a face. She had expected Lizumeizei to send intelligent bodyguards, not just muscle. He knew she didn’t do well with stupidity.

Prillo shook his head. He gestured at the chip, and then at Amahay’s wrist DS. He didn’t need words for Amadhay to know he was telling her to check the chip. Amadhay shook her head. “I’m not putting some random chip that you found in my DS. That’s asking for a virus.”

Both men gave her an exasperated look. Faeo made a few gestures that meant nothing to her until it was obvious that she was understanding nothing he was trying to convey before dropping his hands in consternation.

“Are you a hundred percent certain that this chip isn’t going to shut down my DS or plant a tracking bug or something?” she asked, her curiosity getting the best of her as she played with the chip, turning it over again and again in her fingers.

Both men nodded ecstatically. So ecstatically that she eyed them mistrustfully for a few clicks before deciding that it really didn’t matter. Her wrist DS only had her personal information anyway. After she had lost her old DS sometime during the Palnoki incident, Nolando and Anne had foisted a wrist DS and a handheld DS on her, claiming that it was to be sure that she had no excuse not to talk to them on a regular basis. Her handheld DS held all of her sensitive information, like her mission data and all of her contacts. The most anyone would get from her wrist DS was that she knew Benjy, Christein, the Tierdom king and queen, Essie, and Lizumeizei. She wasn’t too worried.

Inserting the chip into her DS, she held a bated breath as she waited for the screen to show some virus or a hacker’s emblem. What she saw instead made her smile. The blueprints of the ship, both the official ones and the ones she assumed to be the developers copy were superimposed over each other, showing her at least three areas that weren’t supposed to be there. There was also data on each and every person on the ship, which she mentally made note to read over that night. All of the supplies were listed, as well as their intended traveling plans, such as where they were planning to stop and hesitant dates for each. Most importantly, this seemed to still be a part of the main system, granting her access to information as it was entered. She could see the last addition to a file was under “Grand Mage’s Consort.”

She quickly clicked on it, walking around the room in an even eight figure as she read over the concise information. Lady Consort: Has brought along two bodyguards, which could mean a chance of danger. Aelfen female of the name Amadhay. Fifteen years old and small by aelfe standards. Unidentified familial relations. Seemingly ignorant of noble duties, so possibly not originally of noble birth, however the choice not to give a family name implies importance. Similar in looks to Water Herald, possibly a Ha. Unidentified gift, and unusual face markings, so unidentified animal. Claims to have joined for refuge from press, however, as she had until now been unknown as the Lady Consort, the claim is unfounded. Possibly in connection to the Ha lordling, but the assumption is currently unproven. Magical ability and hyperawareness of being watched. Covered all cameras in her private rooms and has silenced all audio.

“Someone is seeing too much,” she muttered to herself before looking at the two humans once again. “Thank you,” she said earnestly, smiling at the men who nodded in response. “Now I feel somewhat bad about telling Kit Rain that you want to bunk with the crew.”

Prillo shrugged, while Faeo gave a suspiciously pointed look to her bed.

“Okay, next order of business. How do I talk to you two?” At their expectant looks, Amadhay continued. “You don’t have DS’s, so we can’t talk via those messages. Paper and pen is incredibly dangerous. I don’t know any spells to give you voices. How do you talk to Lizumeizei?”

Both of them gave her blank looks. She was beginning to feel like that was always going to be their answer when she didn’t ask a question they would be able to answer without frustrating her when she didn’t understand them.

“Did Lizu make some special way for you to talk to him?”

Prillo shook his head, but Faeo nodded.

“How can he have not, but also have?” she asked, before remembering that she had to use yes or no questions. “Did you talk to him? I mean verbally?”

Both shook their heads.

“Okay, but you did talk to him in some way?”

Both nodded.

“Was his way a way that I could copy?”

Both nodded.

For a moment, she considered using her DS for them to write out responses, but remembered how long it had taken Prillo to write down seven words and decided that this difficult communication was better than suffering through them slowly writing responses to her.

“Is there any writing involved?” she asked distastefully.

Both shook their heads before once again, one attempted making gestures with his hands.

That was when it hit her. They talked with their hands. She took a long, irritated, breath before focusing on Faeo, whose eyes told her he knew she’d finally caught on. “You taught him Hand language?”

When Prillo nodded and Faeo shook his head, she understood that opposite answers meant ‘somewhat.’ She rubbed her temples.

“How did you somewhat teach him Hand? Did he already know it?”

Once again, they both gave different answers. Trying to keep herself from getting too irritated, she glared out of the window and then immediately looked back to them. She still wasn’t ready to acknowledge that they were flying thousands of miles in the sky, past the sky, into space. Every time she thought about it, her stomach started to turn in somersaults. She was just lucky that the gravity center and air filters kept the ship feeling as though they were still on land, otherwise she would have lost everything she’d eaten so far. As it was, it was enough to keep her from wanting to eat anything and so she hadn’t gone to dinner when Harpess had come for her. She wasn’t sure how long she could sequester herself within her room, but had a feeling that the air-sick excuse would wear off long before she was ready to face Benjy and Christein.

“So he knew some hand language and you taught him more?”

Both hesitantly nodded and Amadhay had a feeling she knew what the problem was. These two were prized for their inability to communicate with anyone except their chosen few. If that were so, they couldn’t possibly have been using normal Hand language. While she didn’t know it, because none of her missions had ever involved needing to know it considering her targets tended to be wealthy and could afford the Mental Speech Implant if they were in fact mute, she doubted it was all that difficult to find a book on Hand language and decipher what they were saying. In fact, she knew the blogstream had to have at least ten different people teaching it.

“He knew official Hand and you taught him a new, personalized Hand language, right?”

This time their nod was ecstatic, as if the two were just as annoyed by her repetitious questioning as she was.

“Good,” she said, already scrolling through her DS for the datastream and searching for easy Hand tutorials. “I’ll learn Hand tonight and you can teach me yours tomorrow.”

She ignored the doubtful looks they gave her. They didn’t understand that she knew memory sponge spells, that with her Gift she could get through any tutorial in a few clacks flat, so long as she found a book version. She’d learn much more complex things in the same amount of time, and that was before learning the memory sponge spells. Learning was easy for her. The hard part was going to be actually using the hand gestures. Ribbon had always told her that her understanding of the spells and words were flawless, but her incantation cues were sloppy. With Hand, she was depending entirely on her hands to get her point across, so she couldn’t chance being sloppy and saying something completely different from what she meant.

Removing the chip from her DS once she found a few appropriate tutorials, she slipped the chip into a small jewelry box, in the false bottom. She completely ignored the humans presence as she began to run through the elementary bits, like learning the alphabet, larger numbers, easy phrases and such. When she was partially through learning how to say common words like races and places, she glanced up at the sound of her door closing, and saw that the two had left. She checked on Tenshu to see no change and then delved right back into learning the language.

It wasn’t long after that, or at least it seemed like a short time to Amadhay, that there was another knock on her door. She sighed and flicked at the door to unlock it. “Come in,” she called, expecting the two men to have come back in some misguided need to protect her from absolutely nothing.

It wasn’t them, however. It was Harpess.

Seeing the woman standing in her doorway, eyeing her a bit too closely for Amadhay’s liking, the girl closed the tutorial and smiled at the woman. “Did you want something?” she asked.

Harpess was silent for a moment, looking over Amadhay’s room as if she were looking for something. Amadhay made sure not to give a relieved breath when the woman looked right over the invisible shape of Tenshu. Her eyes snagged on the pictures on the mirror, but other than that, it could have been a cursory glance had Amadhay not known that the woman was looking for something. She just didn’t know what yet.

Harpess took a step into the room and that was when Amadhay noticed that she was holding a medium sized book. She couldn’t read the cover, given that Harpess’ arm was covering it, but Amadhay approached her nonetheless, holding her hand out for the book. There would have been no other reason for the woman to bring it than to give it to her.

Harpess gave Amadhay a short nod, handing her the book and Amadhay was able to recognize it as one of a series she’d skimmed through back when she had been tutored by a Ha educator. It was about the duties of a noble in different situations. The Duties and Customs of Nobility Aboard Interplanetary Vessels was exactly what she needed.

“Thank you,” Amadhay said earnestly. “I’m incredibly embarrassed that I came here without knowing this kind of stuff.” She smiled at Harpess, who gave her a smile in turn.

“The Qwuill sent it, along with a few more specific ones just in case you weren’t aware of customs,” the human explained.

Amadhay nodded. That sounded like something Lizumeizei would do, especially since he was worried about her making him look bad. She smirked slightly. “There’s a book about appropriately dressing, isn’t there?”

Harpess gave a slight chuckle. “That was the book he told me to give to you no matter what,” she said with an eye roll. “I can’t imagine why.”

Amadhay tried to keep a straight face. She had, for a moment, thought the woman was being sarcastic in the most deadpan way possible, but then it dawned on her that the human honestly thought this was how she dressed on a regular basis. She would be surprised soon enough.

When she laughed, Harpess stared at her in confusion, but didn’t say anything until after Amadhay shook her head and said, “You should probably give me that book as soon as possible so that I don’t offend anyone.”

“Of course. I can have all of them brought to you tonight. I simply thought you might not want to be bothered with work.” She glanced at the books piled on the windowsill. “But I could be wrong.”

Amadhay plastered on a smile. “I love learning new things. And if it’ll help out my Qwuill, then I’m ready to do all the work necessary.”

Harpess gave her a discerning look before shaking her head. “You’ll have plenty of time. You don’t have to rush, unless you’re an incredibly slow reader. We won’t be reaching any other planets for a week if everything is optimal, and I’m sure all that you need to know for that stop is in that book.” She tapped the book she had brought with the tip of her pointer finger.

Amadhay nodded. “I’m sure.” Her interest was piqued. “What’s in the other books then?”

“Culture of the known planets we will be approaching, specifics so you, as our envoy, won’t insult them.”

Amadhay nodded. “Like what?” she asked.

Harpess thought for a moment. “Well, on Phellimore, the first planet we’ll pause on to refuel and restock, the people are basically all cat-kins and refuse to deal with anyone without a feline aura. We wouldn’t have been able to get anything from them if not for our previous agreement with them.”

Amadhay thought that over for a moment. Feline aura? Would I have that? She wondered before she nodded to Harpess. “So what will I do there?”

“Very little,” Harpess answered. “Like I said, they are only willing to deal with us due to a previous agreement. We simply need you as an ambassador to sign the papers to get us through and to talk to any Resorians who need an ambassador. I’m not aware of any Resorians there, since their air isn’t compatible to ours.”

“So I just stand there and look pretty, sign a few papers, and otherwise keep my mouth shut?”

“Exactly. See? It’s not that hard.”

Amadhay snorted in a very unladylike manner, gaining an honest smile from Harpess. She had a feeling that she was going to have to go out of her way to make all of the humans understand that she wasn’t someone they had to be on their best behavior around. Tensions would run high otherwise.

“Have you been outside of Resor before?” Harpess asked after a moment of silence.

“No,” Amadhay responded, glancing to the window and instantly regretting it. There was a swirl of meteors and the remains of a few ships in the not too far distance. She clenched her fists and swallowed to keep herself from letting loose the food from earlier.

“Ever been out of Roadesia?” Harpess asked, apparently oblivious to Amadhay’s problem.

“I’ve gone Over the Water a few times.”

“Have you ever flown before?”

The mention of flying was the last thing Amadhay needed. Just hearing the word ‘flying’ usually made her nauseous. Considering she’d already been holding down her lunch, she lost the battle. She gave a sharp nod and quickly scanned the room for something to puke into. She couldn’t keep it down this time. Just as she spotted a wastebasket near the door, Harpess held out a strange bag. Holding her hand over her mouth, Amadhay looked at her questioningly.

“You look like you’re about to be sick. Do it in this bag instead of the basket so the smell doesn’t spread,” she responded calmly.

Amadhay didn’t even have the chance to respond before she felt the bile rising into her throat. She grabbed the bag and turned her back to the woman, emptying her stomach. Harpess stood behind her and didn’t say anything. Amadhay was glad that the woman hadn’t felt the need to try to comfort her by rubbing her back or pulling her hair back. She hated it when people touched her when she was sick, especially this type of sick.

Once she was done, she tried to determine what to do with the bag. When she turned back, Harpess had a small plastic bag open to her. “Close the seal at the top,” she said, miming pressing the top of the bag together with two of her fingers pressed together. Amadhay slid her fingers across the top, sealing the bag and looked expectantly to Harpess. “Please put that in here. We’re trying to contain all of that since we won’t have a waste station for a hundred more miles.”

Amadhay nodded, refusing to meet the woman’s eyes. This time, Harpess did touch her, though it was only a quick pat of her shoulder. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Most do it on their first time out. Space travel is different from flying in Resor’s air.”

Again, Amadhay nodded and kept her eyes firmly focused on the wall.

Harpess sounded amused. “You lasted longer than anyone expected. You must travel regularly.”

“I don’t like flying,” was all Amadhay could think to say.


Next Chapter

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Rendezvous

 Amadhay wasn’t sure how she felt as she led a pair of humans after her, to the oversized room she had been given as her quarters. As the Lady Consort she was allowed first boarding, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was a media circus around the ship, with flashing and recording DS’s everywhere. Everyone wanted to see the voyagers who would be going on this trip, though she had no doubt that a large percentage of the crowd was due to the leaked news that the Grand Mage’s consort would be joining the trip.

She planned on finding out who leaked that as soon as she was settled.

Either way, getting onboard the vessel a whole zoot before the crew would be able to had its other pluses. Besides being able to hide from the gossip hungry tabloids and news crews, she was also able to scope out the ship a bit. Or at least she would be able to once the helpful muscles set all of her luggage in her rooms. Not only were the two men holding three bags each, they held a long chest between the two of them.

They didn’t know that they were carrying an injured necromancer in it. While she hadn’t officially asked if she would be able to bring the man along with her, she assumed that they weren’t going to say no to her. She was, after all, an incredibly important person, according to the organizer, who had gone out of his way to meet her. She was to get the best room, which had previously been meant to home the other unwelcome guests, Christein and Benjy. She would be given the best of the food. There would be a cleaning service, free of charge. And apparently, she had first dibs on the escape chutes should anything go wrong.

So she didn’t see the point of bothering them with worries about Tenshu. She’d take care of him, he’d stay in her rooms, and he’d eat her food. No harm done, right?

Honestly, she just doubted that their interest in complying with all of her needs would extend to the man who, as far as anyone unaware about necromantic healing could tell, looked to be dead. If they had known about Tenshu, she feared that she’d then have to sneak him on and they’d be wary about it and it would all just be very complicated. She didn’t want complicated. She wanted easy and quiet. Sneaking Tenshu in without any questions about why the Grand Mage’s consort was bringing along another male, what she wanted with a dead necromancer, who she was, and who he was, would hopefully keep things quiet enough that she could get far enough into space. That way, by the time Christein or Benjy realized she was there, it would be too late to eject her right back.

For now, though, her worry wasn’t on her cousin or friend. All of her attention was focused on learning her way around the ship. So far, she knew her way to her room, the cafeteria, the medical bay, and the pool. She hadn’t asked about the engine room, because she didn’t want them nervous about her, but as soon as she ditched the muscle twins, she was going to check it out. She still had to find the green rooms, the food bay, the kitchens (which, for some reason weren’t connected to the cafeteria, which made her uneasy about the food), the dormitory for the crew, and most importantly, the cargo hold. She wasn’t going to go into space blind about her surroundings.

The doors to her room slid open after scanning her iris, her magically altered blue ones, and she led the men to her bed. “Set that down on the bed,” she ordered them when they looked ready to drop the chest right there in the middle of the floor. “And be gentle with it.”

 She rolled her eyes at the quick look between the two, one that she was used to being the source of from her time as a precocious lady in the Hakinato homestead and her short tenure in the Tierdom kingdom. She knew she was a terror for servants, but it kept them on their toes. And it made them keep their distance from her whenever possible.

However, the two did as she ordered without a single grumble, lifting the chest up high and setting it gently down before dumping her other bags on the bed as well. Amadhay had to admire the bed for a moment. It was large enough to fit her, Christein, Benjy, Tenshu, Atlas, Ribbon, Rea, and Kimiko. She couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would need a bed that size.

She smiled at the men. “That’s all I needed, thank you.”

They didn’t leave.

“You can leave?”

They shook their heads and the one closest to her handed her a slip of paper. On it, read:

Dearest Consort,

These two men were a gift from the Grand Mage. He wanted to be sure that you were safe. He told me to be sure that you know they are mute, but very observant. I tried to convince him that you needed no extra protection here, but he was quite persistent. Please tell me if you need extra rooms for them or if they will be making their quarters within your own.

Kit Rain

After reading the letter, Amadhay closed her eyes and took eleven deep breaths before reopening them and focusing on the men. “I don’t need protection.”

The further one shrugged. They both held up their wrists, to show that they had been marked by Lizumeizei as her guardians. Narrowing her eyes, Amadhay held out her hand for the closer one to lay his hand on hers so that she could examine the mark closer. His hand was easily the size of her face, which she couldn’t help but to think was dangerous. Hammy hands meant strength, and strength was one way she was easily bested, considering she was so small. These men could pick her up, throw her over their shoulders, and she would be helpless. Or as helpless as she ever got.

Pushing those thoughts away, she traced the insignia of Lizumeizei’s Qwuill Master mark, a single crane with the mane of a lion. The purple and red of the runes burned on top of the mark told Amadhay that she had no hopes of breaking or changing the mark. Until Lizumeizei was satisfied, or they were dead, she had bodyguards. Pursing her lips, Amadhay pulled out her DS. She’d had no plans of using it for the next few days, knowing that her use could be tracked to the ship, which would lead to her being found out, but she needed to talk to Lizumeizei.

He answered on the first ring.

“I’m not taking them back,” he said, his hologram appearing in front of her. He was leaning against something she couldn’t see, but he was dressed quite impressively in the silver and purple of the Grand Mage, telling her that he was going somewhere for a public appearance.

Lizumeizei Qwuilleran,” she hissed, turning her back on the men because their knowing looks were irritating her. “I neither want nor need them. You and I both know that I can take care of myself.”

“The last time you went on your own into completely new territory, you were taken advantage of, beaten, and sent back home with a bow around your neck,” he said, reminding her of Madra.

“I’m not here on my own,” she whispered, wishing that she had taken the time to check the room for bugs when she’d been given the tour earlier. “Benjy and Christein are here. And I have a bit of unexpected back up.”

“Their presence only reassures me that I did the right thing.” His image disappeared for a moment, as if they had lost contact, and then reappeared. “And what do you mean unexpected backup?”

One of the oversized men touched her shoulder and shook his head. Amadhay shrugged him off, not understanding what he wanted. “Doesn’t matter. The problem is you sicking your pet muscles on me.”

“I didn’t sick anything on you. I merely gave you protection. You will thank me later.”

“Will I?” she asked, turning away from the men who were trying to get her attention. “Because I think them being around me makes it difficult for me to,” she paused, watching the men in the mirror as they gestured as subtly as they could while still gaining her attention. They kept looking and gesturing to the same three places: the mirror, the reinforced window, and the main light hanging above her. Perfect places to put bugs, she realized. “Makes it difficult for me to get alone time, which is why I’m here, remember? Alone time?”

Lizumeizei didn’t even seem fazed by her change. “I remember. But you can get alone time and be safe. People are going to want to get to you to get to me. I’m not there and I want you safe.”

She pouted, playing the part of spoiled lady as well as she ever had. “Lizu,” she whined, trying her hardest not to look directly into what she assumed were cameras. The men were searching the adjoining bathroom and closet, each subtly holding up one finger to tell her that she was bugged everywhere. And she had nearly blown her own cover.

“You can ‘Lizu’ me all you want. They’re synced to you right now, and will be, either until I unsync them, or they die. So unless you plan on killing them, suck it up.”

She shook her head. “Fine, I’ll keep them. But they have to make themselves useful. Work with the crew when they need a hand. Give me time on my own to do what I want with worrying it’s going directly to you.”

“As long as you’re safe, I’m sure they’ll find ways to entertain themselves.” Through the DS, she could hear someone calling for the Grand Mage. Giving her a knowing smile, Lizumeizei blew her a kiss. “I’ll hear from you tomorrow?”

“Of course,” Amadhay replied, trying for a besotted tone, but given that she still wasn’t completely used to her new voice, it just sounded seductive. The scratchy voice that accompanied the scar from her fight with Ribbon made it nearly impossible for her to sound sweet anymore. “I love you, Lizumeizei,” she added, blowing him a kiss back.

He paused for a moment before giving her a full smile. “I love you too.”

Once they both hung up, Amadhay took the moment to determine what she was going to do with the bugs. She could easily take them down. That would be no problem for her, especially now that she knew where they were. But that would not only alert whoever was trying to watch her that she knew, but it wouldn’t tell her who was watching her, or why. On the other hand, she could hardly leave the cameras up. Doing that would make her room unsafe for her. She needed this area to plot her next move, to talk to Lizumeizei, to…

To work on Tenshu. She stared at the chest. She needed to get Tenshu out of there, and she couldn’t do that so long as she was being watched by some unknown entity. She barely wanted to do it while being watched by Lizumeizei’s goons. So, she needed to obscure the vision of the cameras without making it obvious that was what she was doing. Once she did that, she had a feeling that the men would leave her alone.

She looked pointedly at the men, who were still just standing there, watching her. “Since I’m stuck with you two, you might as well make yourselves useful and help me unpack. Just the bags, okay?”

Their questioning looks made it obvious that they didn’t understand why she wasn’t dealing with the cameras, so she gave them a slight shake of her head before opening the smallest of the bags. It contained all of her undergarments. It dawned on her, after she began packing away clothes, that she really should have looked through the bags before just bringing them along. Anything could be in them, a curse, a phantom, sensitive information, and the first time she was going to open it was while she was being watched.

Brilliant, she thought, emptying the last of her underwear into one of the drawers of the dresser beside the window. Underneath the underwear was a bundle that she didn’t recognize, and even though she was worried about a curse, her curiosity got the better of her, convincing her to open it. Inside, were pictures, pictures that she hadn’t known existed. She scanned through them, seeing the story of her time with the Palnoki unfold in a series of pictures.

It hurt.

The worst was when she looked at the last picture, one with her and Ribbon. Ribbon looked beautiful, her mouth open in a wide smile and her eyes squinting as she laughed. She was wearing a green dress that matched her eyes and her hair was soaking wet. She was leaning over Amadhay, hugging the girl to her chest and soaking the otherwise dry girl, who was also laughing. Amadhay had her arms around Ribbon’s waist, her eyes open and staring adoringly at Ribbon. It was a picture taken the day before everything had fallen apart, before they had gone to the Mud Castle. She and Ribbon had been walking along the beach when a sudden rainstorm had caught them unawares. She had rushed inside, but Ribbon hadn’t been nearly as fast and had been soaked by rain when she made it into the Sand Castle.

“I see how you are, Red Bird. Just leave me out there.” Ribbon had come in, dripping wet with her normally thick curls were plastered to her skull, rather than in a halo around her head.

“Not my fault you’re slow,” she’d said, laughing at Ribbon’s state. She had, though, reached out and used a spell to instantly dry the dress.

“I’ll show you slow,” Ribbon had mock-growled and launched herself at Amadhay, who could have easily avoided her. Instead, she squealed and stayed in place, letting Ribbon grab at her. “Who’s slow now, huh?” Ribbon exclaimed, laughing as she hugged Amadhay to her chest, her still wet skin chilling Amadhay’s and wetting both of their clothes. She rubbed her head against Amadhay’s and that was when she squawked indignantly.

“Hey! You know what my hair does when it gets wet!” she complained, but she was laughing too hard to be taken seriously.

She wasn’t sure how long she stood there, staring at the picture when one of the men nudged her. When she looked up at him, she was aware that her eyes were wet. She quickly brushed the moisture away from her face and looked to him questioningly. He showed her the contents of one of the bags. It was all weapons.

Glancing back at the mirror, the closest camera, Amadhay forced a shrug. “Just put it under the bed. I’ll sort it out later.”

She started to set the pictures down, but then looked at the mirror again and grinned to herself. Decorating could easily take care of the cameras, and it wouldn’t be obvious so long as she did it right.

Punni,” she said the sticking spell aloud, touching the mirror. For a moment, she remembered Ribbon using the spell to stick her to the wall, back when she was her guard, before they’d become friends, before they…

She shook away the thoughts, wishing that she hadn’t started to think about Ribbon. Once she started, she had a hard time stopping. Crawling onto the desk, she stood on it and began pressing pictures to the glass, starting at the top of the mirror. Her overwhelming vanity wouldn’t allow her to completely cover the mirror, but she didn’t need to. The camera, she knew because she’d been able to see a strange reflection of glass, was in the center of the wooden frame, right at the top, which was where she put the picture of her and Ribbon.

Satisfied, she hopped down from the table and turned back to the bed. She was surprised to see that most of the bags were empty. The closet was partially open, to let her see that the men had neatly hung and folded her clothes. The same hanging that had hung above her bed at Palnoki was now hanging off of the ceiling light, obscuring the camera, and the canopy that hung off of it had been finagled into a sort of swing for her. And though the men didn’t know it, she was actually quite happy to have it up like that because it brought the comfort of old surroundings without the memories of her last few weeks with the Palnoki, when she had to imagine that overhanging to fall asleep.

Seeing that, she had no doubt that the men had taken care of the cameras in the closet and bathroom. That left one camera, the one in the window. She looked through the remaining bags on her bed. One was full of miscellaneous junk, things that she would have to go through at a later time. The other one was full of books she had been reading, and not just the magic books. The ones on succubi, vampires, necromancers, and blood witches were there as well, as if her touching them had tainted the books. There were even two that she didn’t recognize in the bunch, but she didn’t think too hard about them. They were probably just ones Ribbon had tossed into her room that she had never really looked at.

But the books could work.

There were just enough of them that, if she were to stack them on the windowsill, they would cover up the camera, which had been fixed in the center of the window, made to look like a star. It was only noticeable now, honestly, because the view from her window was that of a sea of people trying to catch a glimpse of the crew as they filed in. Seeing that, Amadhay tapped her wrist DS to see that she had lost most of a zoot, looking at the pictures and “decorating.” She shoved the last of the books onto the windowpane and rushed to the door.

And then she paused, looking back at the chest. She needed to get Tenshu out of it, but she also needed to scope out the rest of the ship before everyone was on it and would notice her wandering around. She looked to her two bodyguards, who appeared ready to follow her, and knew that she had to get rid of them before dealing with Tenshu. And despite what she wanted to do, she needed to deal with Tenshu now, because in his state, being unmonitored, in a chest, despite the spells she had dumped in there to keep him stable, wasn’t going to help his condition.

So she made the only decision she really could. She allocated the work.

Unsure whether there were also sound bugs hidden around the room, Amadhay typed out orders on her wrist DS and lifted them into a small hologram screen. Both men moved forward to read her instructions. It took them nearly five clacks to read seven sentences, which told her this wouldn’t be a good way to continue talking to them.

I need the two of you to scope out the ship. I need to know where everything is. If you can find and steal a map of the ship, that would help, otherwise, you need to create one. I’ll stay here. With the cameras down, I’m safe. Lizumeizei said you were synced to my safety, yes? Well knowing the schematics and possible hiding places all over this ship will increase my safety.

The larger one, who she had begun to mentally refer to as Prillo (in reference to the strongest Watcher that guarded The Lake), brushed his hand over the message to erase it. Painstakingly, as if he had only barely learned how to write, he took three clacks to write a response to her in large letters.

Both of us don’t have to go.

She pursed her lips, irritated that he was making this difficult on her. Before she could respond, however, the smaller one, who she was mentally calling Faeo (in reference to the most vigilant of the Watchers guarding The Lake), touched “Prillo” on his arm and shook his head. He nodded to Amadhay before both men left the room, closing the door behind them with a solid thump.

She took a moment to ponder about that, but finally decided to push it to the back of her mind and she rushed to the chest. When she unlatched the physical latches on the chest, the magical locks reared their defensive attacks toward her until she quickly and easily disarmed them and unlocked the invisible lock as well. When she opened the chest, the scent of healing magic hit her hard. Tenshu still didn’t look any better, but from the scent of the magic, how heavy it was, she could tell that something was healing.

Clicking her tongue softly, she gave the only necessary invocation for the levitation spell she’d mastered a month ago. With her right hand, she leveled her focus on the necromancer and he began to float up in the chest. Gently, she lifted Tenshu from the chest and set him down in the center of the bed before waving her left hand and using the same spell to toss the chest off of her bed. Before it could clatter to the ground, she held her hand steady and lowered it, gently, below the window, where it would take the least amount of space and wouldn’t impede her movement around the room.

Now that Tenshu was settled in the bed, Amadhay glanced nervously to the door. She didn’t want anyone to walk in on her and see him. That could certainly prove to be disastrous. So, with a silent incantation, she locked the door to give herself a bit of privacy. She would need to put wards on the door sooner rather than later to keep out unwanted visitors, but that could wait until she had worked on Tenshu a little bit.

Crawling onto the bed, Amadhay was careful not to jolt Tenshu too much. While what she’d read didn’t say movement had much of an adverse affect on a necromancer in this stage of dead shock, she figured that it was probably safe to assume that someone in a rigid full-body state would not be helped by being moved around all the time. She didn’t think that moving him would be kind on his body, and she’d once read somewhere that a necromancer in dead shock had brittle bones, which was a stark change from normal, when their bones were thicker than an aelfe’s.

She felt his skin and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was no colder than when she had last touched him. It seemed that he might come out of this relatively soon. She hoped he would. Most of the books said it took close to a week or two for dead shock to fully end. Nowhere did it say how long this stage was. After this first stage, of catatonic stiffness, he would go into a dreamscape in the Astral Realm. His body would relax as he went through it, but what she was worried about was the fact that during that time, she couldn’t leave his side. He needed her energy to fight off whatever would attack him in there, and whatever attacked him was also attacking her. If she emerged from that stage, looking worse for wear, it would be difficult to explain why she was harmed when she hadn’t left her room.

But once they got through that stage, everything else would be simple. He would sleep calmly for a while, then wake up, though he would be delusional until he hit stage five. Stage four was when she would be able to heal any of the physical injuries that she hadn’t already been able to for whatever reason. At stage five, he would begin to calm down, and the delusions would die away. At stage six rational thought came back, but he would think that he was still in the situation that put him into deadshock. After that, the panic would go away, and then he would be fully healed.

She just had to get him that far.

She took a moment to remember the particulars of the spell Rea had taught her to check a body’s stats. There were no words to be spoken aloud, only a chant to mentally repeat as she softly blew on his body. So, taking a deep breath, she began the chant. Ore oru ira. Ore oru ira. Ore oru ira. She began to blow starting at his head and went down first his left arm, back up to go down his right arm, and then she went down his torso. As she lost air, she sped up, because the spell had to be done in one breath or it didn’t work. She made it down his right leg before she couldn’t blow any more air out.

So she tried again. It took her five attempts to finally finish the spell, and once she did, she sat back on her heels and looked over his body. There were red and black smudges over him, showing where he had been hurt. His entire head was a black smudge, telling her that he had received a pretty hard blow to the head, which she had already known, but it was the red leaking into it that worried her. It was very small, but there was still apparently a bit of bleeding. She had no doubt that deadshock would contain it for now, but that was going to be the first thing she fixed once stage three came around.

Other than his head, he had black littering most of his body, but mostly concentrated around his throat. There was a light red all over him, which she hoped were scratches and not internal bleeding. There was only one incredibly red spot, which she thought might be on his back, not that she could tell, considering the magic only showed her the basic spot where the injury was. She needed to see the skin for herself, she realized. The spell was good for seeing what was under his skin, like the broken arm, sprained wrist, and multiple cracks in his bones on his torso and hips, but topical injuries were ones that she had to see for herself, especially if there was an open, bleeding wound somewhere.

Reaching under her dress to the holsters she wore, she fingered the distinctive handles of four of her knives before finding the sharpest one. After carefully removing it from the sheath strapped to her skin so as not to cut her thigh, she leaned over Tenshu again, this time pulling at his black shirt. She put her knife to the seams and neatly cut first his shirt open, taking the top off of his body while leaving the back of it under him. She then moved down to his pants. Pausing only to touch the tip of the knife to be sure that it would be sharp enough to cut through the thicker material, she nodded when it easily cut her finger. Doing the same as she had with his shirt, she set the front of his black pants beside the black shirt. She set her knife down and quickly removed his black boots and socks, leaving him in only his black underwear.

When she looked over his body, she winced. Tenshu’s body was a myriad of bruises, ranging from a pale yellow, to a dark purple, almost black. He had scratches all over, which made her feel a little better because it meant that the red on the scan wasn’t internal bleeding. Clicking her tongue to use the levitation spell, she lifted him up only enough for her to crawl under him and, snapping her fingers, she made a small orb of purple light to look at his other side. His back was similar to his front, with scratches and bruises, but with one major difference. There was a piece of the fountain sticking out of his back.

It was enough to the side that she didn’t worry that it had severed any of his spine and didn’t seem deep enough to have damaged any organs, but it was slowly bleeding around the chunk of marble. Realizing that she needed both of her hands, she closed her right hand around the orb to extinguish it and slowly rotated her left hand to turn Tenshu onto his side. She gently laid him back down on the bed before getting a better look at the wound with natural light. It wasn’t a horrible wound, but given that the rock had been inside of him for zoots, she had a bad feeling that it was probably going to be infected soon. Either way, she needed to remove it.

There was a knock at the door. “Lady Consort?” A woman asked.

She flinched. Between her automatic reaction to the title and her alarm at being interrupted in the middle of dealing with Tenshu, she was uncomfortable and wanted the woman gone.  “I’m busy!” she called.

“Of course,” the same voice came again. “We only meant to introduce you to the other passengers of prestige and have you wave off.”

“We’re going to be in space for a while. I have no doubt that I’ll meet them by the end of this week,” she stated, wrapping her hands around the chunk of the fountain.

“Of course. It’s just that, as the highest ranking—”

“Give my duties to the next highest ranking,” she said, tugging it out of his back. Tenshu didn’t make a sound, which she expected, but she knew it had to have been painful.

“That’s not how—”

“It’s how it works now. I’m sure he’ll do it better anyway.” She didn’t even know what the duties were. She hadn’t even known that there were duties. She realized that she should have talked to Lizumeizei about that before jumping in here.

A more familiar voice, that of Rain Kit spoke next. “Lady Consort, it is tradition for the highest ranking person on the ship to be the final wave off as we set off. I only agreed for your presence on this trip because the Grand Mage assured us that you would be willing to do any public appearances, and we were in desperate need of someone of rank. While we are more than willing to hand off your other duties to the next highest, given that he has the experience in administration, it is your duty to do this, as he is under strict orders not to make any public appearances. I don’t mean to be so forceful, but you need to come out here and do just that.”

While Rain spoke, Amadhay had bandaged up Tenshu’s wound, not that it was bleeding much more than before.  She was listening closely, filing away everything the man said for future reference. It was a given that being kept a secret made Christein a pretty cruddy ranking member of nobility to be their face. But why didn’t they already have one? She remembered a little bit of information regarding this from her long ago discontinued schooling on nobility and court importance in government. All exploration teams were supposed to have someone of rank with them, usually a Major or Colonel from the RA or a noble who was funding it.

So why didn’t this one have any? Was it because it was a colonization mission and that those on it weren’t expected back for at least a year? That would be an extraordinarily long time for any Colonel, or even a Major, to be gone. And considering most of those on this trip were humans, it was easier to guess why there wasn’t any nobility. This had nothing to do with nobility, which also somewhat surprised her. Something wasn’t adding up very well.

She was turning Tenshu onto his back when the man made the demand of her. She would need to have a talk with Lizumeizei about just what he had been thinking. Her going out in public was a bad idea. It was a horrible idea, really. She had been claimed dead for over two years. She wasn’t supposed to be on this voyage. She didn’t want to be linked back to Lizumeizei. It was especially bad since she had no idea what she was doing. Her rudimentary nobility training hadn’t gone this far and what she did remember was questionable at best. She’d make the Hakinato First Family and the Grand Mage look bad at the same time.

But to stay on the ship, it appeared she had to try. She could do a glamour, but given that she was going to be with these same humans for an undetermined amount of time, putting on a glamour for the public would only make them wary of her. Wary humans led to suspicion and attempts to discover whatever she was hiding and then, inevitably, fighting. She didn’t really fancy having to kill the crew or anyone else on the ship. She especially didn’t want to have to kill any of the crew, since they were going to be keeping the ship flying. She had no piloting or engineering skills, not to mention just thinking too long about the fact she was about to go out into space on a giant space submarine made her queasy.

So she was going to have to go out there with her real face and hope that she was far enough that the cameras weren’t able to see her properly. Though, once she thought about it, or rather once she thought about it rationally, it wasn’t that big of a deal. As long as her hair covered her spoors, it was fine. She and Amaya looked almost identical from any sort of distance. In fact, most of their distant female Graceling and Hakinato cousins looked very similar to them. And they didn’t have a monopoly on olive skin, black hair, and blue eyes. Plenty of female aelfes looked just like her.

She rubbed the blood on her hands off onto Tenshu’s shirt.

“Lady Consort?” Rain’s voice held tension in it this time and it made Amadhay wonder about him. How much of Christein and Benjy’s mission did he know? How deep into this was he? Or was he just stressed by the RA to do something worthwhile? She couldn’t help but to feel like there was something more to this, something other than just her being stubborn that was bothering him.

Once her hands were no longer bloody, she waved her hand and thought a silent spell to make Tenshu invisible to everyone but herself. If she was going to leave him in an unwarded room, she was certainly going to put some sort of protection in place. She closed her hands into fists and then snapped them open, flicking her wrists up and apart. A quick purple glaze went over the room, leaving an alarm system for her so that she would know if anyone came in while she was gone, and she would know who they were and what they did.

One of the people at the door began knocking as Amadhay slid her knife back into its sheath. Patting her thighs to be sure that all four knives and her miniature gun were still in place, she went to the door and opened it, nearly getting a fist to her face for her trouble.

At her door stood Rain Kit, an impressive looking man, if a bit short. His brown hair was in neat waves around his face, the length of it pulled back into a low bun. He wore the uniform of a captain, which had surprised her, since she knew it was rare for coordinators to actually be a part of the crew. His dark, almost-black eyes took in her appearance, from her neatly curled hair, framing her face and hiding her cheeks, down to her coiling necklace, a magical pendant from Lizu, down her sleeve-less, navy blue dress, to her four-inch heeled shoes that matched the dress. He focused on her eyes for longer than he should have, making her uncomfortable for a moment, before smiling at her.

The smile was strained. Even then, it did nothing to make him look less commanding. His honey-colored skin was scarred, a mark going down his cheek and to his lips keeping him from being very attractive to her. She wondered how he got it. Standing maybe six inches taller than her own five feet, he was probably around three inches shorter than the woman who stood by his side. Her uniform was similar to his, telling Amadhay that she was his co-pilot and the second-in-command. What he didn’t have in height, he made up for in width. He was much pudgier than she had imagined, with a round belly and barrel chest, making the muscular woman beside him look like a wisp of a thing.

“Alright,” Amadhay smiled, closing the door behind her. A subtle twist of her fingers locked it behind her. “What was it you needed me to do?”

The woman nodded. “Thank you for working with us,” she started, already turning to lead Amadhay off. Amadhay followed her, very much aware of Rain Kit following behind her after a long moment of staring at her door. “I understand from Captain Kit that you’re here to get some time away from the media involved being the Qwuill Master’s consort.”

“The Grand Mage,” Amadhay corrected. “I’m the Grand Mage’s consort.”

“Same difference,” the woman muttered only loud enough for her to hear, and Amadhay was positive right then and there that she didn’t trust her. Few people knew that Lizumeizei was both the Qwuill Master and the Grand Mage, and ever fewer talked about it with such nonchalance. “Either way, considering that after today, we’ll be in space, and only stopping to either refuel or gather up some resources, for the most part, you will have no worries about the media.” She smiled a large smile that made Amadhay uncomfortable. “We only need you to wave us off and be our face when we stop on other planets, but that will be rare. Otherwise, you’re free to do as your heart desires.”

Somehow I doubt that, Amadhay thought, but just nodded along. She glanced back at Rain Kit, who was watching her closely enough to make her wary. “As for the two men the Grand Mage sent with me? They’d like to sleep in the Crew dormitories. They want to be as much help as they can, considering there won’t be much here to threaten me.”

Something flashed in his eyes, making Amadhay sure that he knew more than she had first assumed. The second-in-command, however, was an open book. “Oh, that’s good. We were hoping they would. We needed the extra muscle and those two definitely have some to spare.”

Amadhay forced herself to laugh with the woman. “How soon are we setting off?” she asked.

“Well, most of the crew is settled in. The lord and his knight have already found their places. So, really, if everything is optimal, which I think it is, we can begin lift off as you wave off.”

Amadhay supposed that letting the two know of her ignorance wouldn’t be such a big deal, especially not if she quickly fixed her lack of knowledge once she had time. “And why is this important?” she asked, making two steps for every one of the woman’s.

The human glanced down at Amadhay with surprise before giving her a longer look. “Aren’t you a bit young—”

Rain Kit jumped in before the woman could insult Amadhay fully. “Good luck,” he answered, walking beside her. Amadhay felt like she had to walk close to the wall to give him space, though he wasn’t truly that large. “Having the highest ranking person on board wave us off tells the Goddess that our voyage is wanted by the nobility so that we will be able to leave the atmosphere.”

The woman huffed. “Superstitious nonsense to remind everyone who is in charge,” she corrected, making Amadhay look her over appraisingly. “Benjym Base himself developed the new technology in our ship to give us less than a 1% chance of atmospheric combustion. He even developed new technology to help recycle the air.”

Amadhay nodded slowly. She was obviously knowledgeable about the ship. “I didn’t catch your name,” she said, recognizing that she needed to stay close to this woman in the future to get more information.

The woman gave her a distracted smile. “I’m Gilia Harpess, Co-Captain and Second in Command of this ship.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Amadhay,” she responded, knowing that her not using her last name was noticed. Only elves and Ferals had no last names and for aelfe, last names were incredibly important for connections.

They were both watching her closely as they continued to walk to the opening that led to the main window panel that they had been using as a sort of balcony. She had a feeling that they were comparing her face to Amaya’s, but she didn’t give them anything more to go on.

“How long have you been with the Grand Mage?” Harpess asked.

“Since my blunderlust began,” she answered. To them, that would mean since she’d been ten. To her, it meant since she’d been fifteen, which wasn’t a lie. She had been with him, in a way, during the Madra mission, and since she’d considered herself to have been in love with him, she decided blunderlust started there. Especially since restarting her relationship with him had been lust, but now was starting to look like love. She wasn’t sure what she was with Lizumeizei. Whether it was love or lust was a question she’d been asking herself since he’d told her he loved her earlier. It was all part of blunderlust.

“And how old are you now?” Harpess asked before Rain Kit could stop her.

Amadhay grinned. “Nearly sixteen,” she answered, enjoying the look of relief on Harpess’ face. She wondered how young the woman had thought she was. She knew that she looked older, by human standards, but by aelfe standards she did look younger and even a human would catch that—especially if said human had regular contact with aelfe, which Amadhay had suspicions that Harpess did.

All of those thoughts stopped the moment they stood a few inches from the door. Pausing in the shadows as they reached the doorway, she began to overthink her situation again. This was it. She took a deep breath. This was the first time in over two years that she’d gone somewhere with a media circus. If she stepped out as she was now, she would be chancing her picture getting out. She could see without getting into their sight, that there were enough people that it was impossible to even hope that none of them would get a picture of her. The best that she could reasonably hope would be that it would be blurry.

Her biggest worry was about Mother Sari’s gang realizing that Lizumeizei’s protection was gone. Or at least that’s what the rational part of her brain said it should be. Her biggest worry, no matter how irrational it was, was that someone would recognize her as Amadhay Hakinato. They would make a big scene about her not being dead, would question what was happening in the Hakinato house that all three of the triplets had taken relatively drastic means to get away from the homestead. Hlala had taken refuge with Guy, who had used his Gift to get her away. Amaya had actually demanded emancipation, and when she’d been denied, had run away, only agreeing to the clan’s demands when she was appointed Hynnkel as her guardian. And now there would be her, pretending to be dead to get away.

Goddess. She took a deep breath and tried to force herself to take another step. She couldn’t. Her legs honestly wouldn’t move. She looked at Rain Kit, who had a bit of an annoyed expression, to Harpess, who had an understanding look, which the woman quickly covered when she turned her attention to the captain.

“Captain Kit?” Harpess took his attention off of Amadhay. “I’m sure that Lady Consort would feel more comfortable if we started to take off?” she suggested.

Amadhay immediately nodded. “You said that we could take off as I waved, so I’d like to do that.”

The man looked uncertain for a moment. “I could—”

Harpess cut him off. “You should go and start flying. The sooner you do, the sooner we’ll be off the ground. And when we’re off ground, Jaxley can take the navigation and you can take a well-deserved nap.”

Amadhay felt like she had missed some joke, because Rain Kit gave an obnoxious burst of laughter and patted Harpess on the back hard enough to make the woman make a face, though she didn’t move. The man turned on his heel and made quick work of disappearing down the halls. Harpess put her hand on Amadhay’s shoulder, but when the girl started to speak, she put a finger to her lips to silence her.

After almost three clacks, Harpess gave a slight nod. “Alright, he’s almost to the cockpit.” She smiled at Amadhay and turned to face the girl head on. “I apologize. Rain has bugged your room because he doesn’t trust Qwuill Master. I’ve made plans to fix that, but for now, please be aware of that and what you do and say in there.”

Amadhay nodded. “I noticed. You keep saying Qwuill Master.”

Harpess made a face. “I mean to say Grand Mage.”

“You work for Qwuill, don’t you?”

She pursed her lips. “I worked for the Roadesian Army. Yes, your Qwuill Master has shown interest, but I do not work for him.”

Her eyes and the tone told Amadhay that she was trying to say something more than that, but the teenager wasn’t sure what. There was a loud noise and the ground beneath her feet began to shake. Amadhay felt her stomach quiver.

Harpess gestured for her to begin the wave off. Amadhay started to walk out to the panel, but only got as far as the doorway. They’re going to recognize me and kill Lizumeizei and Arne Riff will kill me when I come back. I can’t do this. I have to go back. She started back, but Harpess was like a wall, keeping her in the doorway.

“You will be fine,” the woman promised in a low tone. “An impromptu sighting of a certain songstress and her siren posse caught the attention of all but the most desperate. Most of those out there are family and friends of the crew. Any picture they take will be distant.”

Amadhay was wary that the older woman knew all of this. At first, she feared the coincidence, her mind immediately going to Atlas, but when she took in Harpess’ cool, she knew this was all part of Lizumeizei’s plan. Lizumeizei had gone out of his way to make things easier on her.

So instead, she smiled and nodded, turning on her heel and going to the railing to wave, a smile plastered on her face even as she began to pick at her feelings for Lizumeizei once again. Did she love him or was it lust? Did she trust him? Did she deserve him?


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 Drop

She had to stabilize him. That was all that she knew. His bleeding seemed to have stopped, but he was also becoming stiff enough that she was having trouble carrying him upright. That was the first sign of death shock. If she could stabilize him before it fully hit, she could save him. She had to save him.

Amadhay had Tenshu partially propped up by her body, using all of her strength to keep him on his feet and moving. The necromancer was no longer conscious. She wasn’t even sure that he was alive. She had saved him from Christein, but she had no idea how close he was to death. She wasn’t a healer. She needed a healer.

But she couldn’t take him to Rea. After the Palnoki had invaded the Phoegani, Rea had memorized the faces and known abilities of every Palnoki member. If Amadhay took him to the dragon, the woman would immediately recognize him and give him up to Arne Riff. Besides, Amadhay wasn’t even sure that Rea knew what to do with a dying necromancer.

So no, she had to figure this out on her own. Looking around, she recognized that in her fearful state, she had gone to the Phoegani base. She was in Prisoner Securer dormitory area. In fact, she was right outside Adrian Thyme’s room. The falcon aelfe had been one of the few Phoegani members who felt only mildly threatened by her, and then only on her bad days, and one of the even fewer who still trusted her completely. She had only been friends with him since returning to the Phoegani, but the friendship was worthwhile for her. For him too, considering she had been the one to introduce him to Essebelle and the two were now promised.

He also owed her a major favor for covering for him with Christein when he had lost an oversized Arachin her cousin had brought in. She thought it over for a moment. She needed to lay Tenshu down so that she could figure out what to do with him. All Phoegani beds came equipped with the technology to calm the person lying in them as well as restraints in case he wasn’t quite into death shock and suddenly woke up. Restraints would keep him from hurting her, her from having to hurt him, and help keep him in place as she checked him over.

But Adrian’s bed? She wasn’t sure she knew the man well enough to trust him not to rat her out. But then again, what choice did she have? Rea would report him immediately, Essie’s room was completely on the other side of the building, both Christein and Benjy would probably try to finish the job if they saw him in this vulnerable of a position. She didn’t have a room here anymore. And taking him to her place was completely off the table. It had been long enough for Benjy to get back to his place, and once the two realized that she wasn’t showing up there, they’d look for her. That would be the first place Christein was going to look for her. She didn’t want him to know that she had saved someone he had tried very hard to kill.

So she knocked on Adrian’s door.


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 Retrieval 

Once Christein was gone, Amadhay glanced behind her, where her sister, Croy-li, and the little girl were. They were busy focusing on each other and hadn’t so much as glanced her way, which was precisely how she wanted it to stay.

She had no idea what had happened. All she remembered was being angry that Amaya could just be out and about, could obviously be herself and not have to hide, and then she had attacked her sister. Not only had she attacked her sister, but then she’d attempted to hurt her more, despite her personal vow never to harm Amaya again. And then she had almost really hurt that little girl, who had nothing to do with any of this. If it hadn’t been for Croy-li and her horrific doll, she honestly could have killed that child. And all because she had called her mean and kicked her.

She had a temper, but her temper wasn’t that bad.

If it hadn’t been for Amaya, or whatever had taken over Amaya, tackling her, she would have killed Croy-li. That she wouldn’t have felt as bad about, given their history, but it would definitely have caused real trouble. She didn’t even remember what not-Amaya had said to her, but she knew that it had calmed her down enough that the red film had disappeared from her vision and the dark whispers in the back of her head had silenced. And then she was sitting there, forehead to forehead with her sister, staring into her ocean blue eyes, confused and hurting. The last words not-Amaya had said before crumbling had been, “Save him.”

Save him? Save who? It hadn’t been that hard to figure out who, though. She had scanned the area for Christein and Benjy. While Benjy was absent, she could make an easy assumption that he was trying to cleanse the security footage of their presence. Christein was standing in the water of the ruined fountain, staring at her in a strange mixture of fear and confusion. But beyond that, beyond his emotions towards her, she could see exuberance, accomplishment, and a kind of malicious glee. It was that that made her stomach fall. He had hurt someone. He had hurt someone that she needed to save. She knew it had to be the person that not-Amaya wanted her to save. It had to be.

And when her eyes went from Christein, to follow a groan she couldn’t possibly have heard across the fountain but she had, she saw Tenshu.

She knew it was Tenshu, even if his face was planted on the seat of the fountain, keeping him above the water. His auburn hair was only his. She had never seen hair that color, that long and that silken smooth except on him. And once she had been able to discern that it was him, that he was alive, she knew that she had to get Christein away from him before she could help him. She knew that Christein’s hatred of Tenshu ran hot and that he would kill him as soon as look at him, and with Tenshu in that state, it was incredibly likely that the necromancer would die.

So she had shooed Christein away. He had to have been confused if he had gone along with her story, considering she had absolutely no computer abilities. She would be about as much help to Benjy as Christein, less, in fact. The only thing she had going for her was her size. And given her strange actions previous, it was protocol to remove her from the situation, yet here she was.

And there he was.

She rushed to Tenshu’s side almost as soon as Christein had left. She had waited a few clicks, just in case he was doing his normal disappear, reappear invisible thing. When she didn’t smell him, she went to Tenshu. Tenshu groaned softly, his skin paling further by the click and he was bleeding from his head. Don’t heal a head wound, she reminded herself, pulling him further out of the water. He helped her as much as he could, which was very little. She could tell he was weak by the way he only barely opened his eyes to look at her. His pupils were pinpricks and his breathing was shallow and getting slower.

“C’mon Ten. Don’t you dare die on me,” she whispered, using the stability of the seat and Tenshu’s own weight to help her lift him up. Once she had him upright, he wrapped his own arms around her shoulders. She thought he was trying to say something, but she couldn’t understand it, so she ignored his murmurings.

“What are you doing to him!” she heard someone cry out as she tried to walk with him away from the fountain.

“One of them is over here!” another voice cried out, alerting Amadhay to the arrival of the Local Force. For the briefest click, she considered leaving Tenshu, but she didn’t.

“Don’t let go of me,” she warned Tenshu. Then she teleported the two of them away.


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which Tenshu’s a Brother

 

 

“I need to talk to you,” Tenshu said, grabbing Amadhay’s hand and pulling her away from Ribbon.

“About what?” Amadhay asked, looking back at Ribbon, who shrugged.

The taller woman blew her a kiss. “I have to go talk to Vlad about our next mission anyway. Meet in your sand castle?”

“Sure,” Amadhay called back as Tenshu pulled her around a corner. “Seriously, Ten, what’s the deal?”

Tenshu glanced back at her. “We just need to talk,” he stated, continuing to pull her down halls. The two of them were walking fast and Amadhay noticed that he was pulling her almost to the point where she needed to use her Gift to keep up with him.

Where was he taking her and what was so urgent that they had to get away from the others to talk about it?

“About what?” she asked.

“Ribbon,” he stated, slowing down now that they were at the less frequented part of the Sand Castle.

“What about her?” Amadhay asked warily.

Tenshu glanced back at her and pushed open a door. “Your intentions,” he said before letting go of her hand and entering the room.

Amadhay paused outside of the door before following him in. The room was nearly empty, aside from two chairs and a table between the two set with cookies and some steaming drink. Tenshu was already seated in one of the chairs with his hands interlaced in his lap as he watched her. Amadhay frowned, but moved to the seat opposite him, dropping into it gracefully.

“What do you mean?” she asked softly before picking up a saucer and cup to occupy her hands. She poured some of the drink into it and when cinnamon assaulted her nose, she knew that it was Ribbon’s cinnamon peppermint tea.

“What are you doing with her?” he asked, leaning forward and picking up a gingerbread cookie in the shape of a girl. He bit its head off and chewed slowly, his eyes never leaving hers.

“I dunno, what does it look like I’m doing with her?” she drawled sarcastically before taking a sip of tea. Of course, she was just deflecting. That was actually a very good question, one she wasn’t sure how to answer herself.

“Well it looks like you’re leading her on to make Atlas jealous.”

Amadhay had been mid-sip when Tenshu had said that. She almost spit her tea back out, but instead forced herself to swallow it, her eyes glaring at the ribbon holding his ponytail together at the top of his head. It wasn’t symmetrical. “That is not what’s happening,” she stated angrily. She would never do that to Ribbon.

“Really? Then what is?” he demanded, munching on the headless gingerbread girl so that she now had no legs.

“I’m…” she paused, trying to think of a word to describe what she was doing with Ribbon. Entwining wasn’t exactly it. Entwining, to her, implied a purely romantic relationship and their relationship was so much more than that. They were friends, best of friends, who sometimes kissed and held hands. They loved each other and would put down their lives for each other. They were there for each other and would never hurt the other one, not intentionally. They came first for each other.

“You’re?” Tenshu prompted, biting the gingerbread torso in half. His olive eyes were boring holes into her, demanding an answer.

“I’m in love, I think,” she whispered before taking another, longer drink of her tea. She stared at the saucer in her lap rather than Tenshu.

“Well Ribbon actually is,” Tenshu stated. “She is completely caught up with you. So don’t fucking hurt her.”

“I won’t,” Amadhay swore.

“Just don’t,” he repeated. “She’s been hurt before and I refuse to let you do it to her.”

“I’m not going to hurt her,” Amadhay stressed, setting the cup and saucer back on the table. “I would rather die than hurt her.”

“If you hurt her, you will,” Tenshu promised, making Amadhay narrow her eyes.

“Are you threatening me?”

Tenshu grinned. “That’s what brothers do for their sisters,” he told her before standing up. He ruffled her hair in a way he knew she hated, before finger combing the curls back to symmetry. “I did the same shit to her.”

“You did?” she asked softly, frowning.

He grinned again. “Of course. You’re my sister too. My icky wittle baby sister.”

She rolled her eyes. “All the incest in here is getting suffocating,” she joked. Between everyone claiming familial ties, yet the somewhat sexual, definitely romantic overtones to the relationships between Vlad, Nico, Tenshu, and Kimiko and her new relationship with Ribbon, it was getting strange.

“It only gets weird once you start rutting with Atlas,” he said with a shrug.

“Well since I have no plans of doing that—”

Sure,” Tenshu said, “If the sexual tension between the two of you doesn’t bubble over, then I’ll rescind my fairy ways,” he joked, making her roll her eyes.

“I wouldn’t do that to Ribbon.”

“Ribbon doesn’t mind sharing. Do you?”

Amadhay frowned, watching Tenshu as he left the room. “Yes,” she muttered softly to no one, “I do.”


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which everyone is mad

 

 

Well, Amadhay thought, this is awkward.

And it was.

Since Atlas had gone off on her and Ribbon, she had taken to avoiding him, which was surprisingly easy, which told her that the man was avoiding her just as much as she was avoiding him. In fact, he wasn’t the only one avoiding her. Ribbon was also avoiding her since the cowboy and cyborg had come back from a mission. While Amadhay couldn’t, for the life of her, figure out why they were pissy with one another, she was pretty sure that Atlas had told Ribbon to keep her distance.

The asshole.

But the three of them not talking wasn’t what was awkward right now. It wasn’t even that Nico and Tenshu seemed to be having problems. Tenshu, she knew, was one to fight loudly, but apparently, Nico wasn’t, because the entirety of the fight was fought behind closed doors and in looks rather than words. The current awkwardness wasn’t even that Cowboy and Johannes had been at each other’s throats since coming back. Johannes was, if it was actually possible, meaner to Amadhay and Ribbon than before, which was strange because Amadhay couldn’t think of a single thing she’d done wrong to warrant the abuse.

In fact, the only two people in the entire place willing to talk to her and not be frostily polite or outright rude, were Sha’adahk and Stefan. That was both strange and somewhat expected, really, considering the two of them had gone so far out of their ways to befriend her.

What was awkward right now, at this moment, was that she was standing on her stepladder in the kitchen, trying to reach a bowl on the top shelf. Normally, someone would have helped her, considering there were four others milling around the kitchen. They didn’t. Tenshu was staring intently at the toast he was buttering. Ribbon was focusing on the counter she was scrubbing. Cowboy was pouring soup into a bowl, though she didn’t know why, considering he couldn’t eat it. Their bird-kin, who wasn’t even part of all this, was in a corner, munching on cereal and steadfastly avoiding making eye contact with anyone else.

Amadhay just gave up. She wasn’t that hungry anyway.


Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which they go swimming

 

 

“Oi, Sexy Bird, we’re going swimming. Come with,” Ribbon commanded, pulling Amadhay’s attention from the book she was reading.

Because she wanted to better understand the others, she was reading in depth explanations of different races. She was working on a blood witch book and had already finished one on succubi and two on necromancers. The one on succubi had been a bit of an eye-opener on Kimiko. It made her far more understanding of the pair-obsessed girl’s mood swings. Her emotions completely depended on the emotions surrounding her and how sated she was at any given time. She thought that had to be worse than being an empath.

“No,” Amadhay said, turning the page of her book. She wasn’t really feeling going out in the sun and getting asymmetrical tan-lines and jumping into the water and having sand stick to her. She’d done that the first few weeks they had been here, until she had wounded herself, and since then hadn’t even left the building. The novelty of being away from the cold had already worn thin.

Besides, every time she hung out with Kimiko, Tenshu, and Ribbon in a group, the three of them kept asking her questions about her sexuality and her sexual experience. They were embarrassing and she was tired of dodging answering.

“Wasn’t asking,” Ribbon stated, pulling Amadhay up to her feet. She glanced at the book and rolled her eyes. “Besides, instead of reading about a blood witch, you can hang out with one in the flesh. It’ll be just like you’re still reading.”

“Only not at all,” Amadhay countered. “I’m sorry. Not really. I just don’t want to go out today. My head still hurts.”

Ribbon sighed. “Red Bird, I will carry you outside if I have to. I don’t want to, but I will if you force me. Your wound healed last week. You’ve been inside almost since we moved here and that’s unhealthy. There’s a sun, warmth, and fresh air outside. You need to have fun.”

“I have fun,” Amadhay complained. “I have loads of fun. I just want to read today.”

“Nope. C’mon,” she pulled Amadhay by her hands, smiling sweetly. “I even got you the cutest swimsuit yesterday. I wanna see you in it.”

Amadhay rolled her eyes. “Now I see what’s really going on,” she whined, but allowed Ribbon to pull her out of the library. Ribbon grinned, turning and pulling Amadhay after her. The woman put Amadhay’s small hands on her narrow hips. “You just want to see me in a different swimsuit.”

Amadhay squeezed Ribbon’s hipbones. The swimsuit she had asked Atlas (because she knew Ribbon and Kimiko would ignore what she wanted) to get her was perfect for her. It was black one-piece, with long sleeves and a brief-styled leg, almost a wetsuit and just as durable if she were to get lost in the water and go drifting for a while. She just liked to be prepared.

“I cannot tell a lie. I wanna see you in a real swimsuit.”

“My swimsuit is a real swimsuit,” she argued.

“Real ugly,” Ribbon gave her a look. “You wear it and all I can think is that you’re planning a deep sea mission. The one I got you will make your ass look fantastic.”

Amadhay snorted and moved faster so that she could press against Ribbon’s back. “Just my ass?” she teased.

“No, you’re right. I got it with your boobs in mind too. It’s going to make all of you look fantastic. And I wanna do it today ‘cause Atlas isn’t around to hog you.”

Amadhay snickered. “Just tell me it has enough fabric to actually be called a swimsuit.”

Ribbon let go of Amadhay’s hands to hold her hands to her own chest in a gesture of mock insult. “Me? Trick you into barely wearing anything? Why I never!”

“That wasn’t an answer,” Amadhay pointed out.

“I didn’t hear a question,” Ribbon said, sticking her tongue out as she looked back at Amadhay, who rolled her eyes again.

“What if I don’t want to swim?”

“Fucking cats and water,” Ribbon muttered before shrugging, “I can assure you that I won’t mind it if you just lay out on a towel. I can rub you down in lotion to make sure you don’t burn,” she said with an exaggerated wink that was purely intended to make Amadhay laugh, which she did.

“You’re such a pervert,” Amadhay told her as they entered Ribbon’s room. She didn’t have to look very far to see what she knew had to be her swimsuit. The gold one, consisting of three simple straps of fabric to cover only the chest and intimate bits, connected by thin string was obviously Ribbon’s, given that neither the top nor bottom would have fit much of Amadhay. While they were able to occasionally share clothing, Ribbon had a very tall, slender frame while Amadhay was incredibly curvy and short.

No, her swimsuit was also a one-piece, but thankfully had quite a bit more cloth. It was red, with a full top to hold her chest in, tying around the neck. The bottom was cut quite a bit higher than she’d normally wear, but considering it wasn’t a thong, she chose not to complain. There was a rectangular cut out pattern going from under the chest, down to her hips. It was strange, but symmetrical, so she couldn’t complain. All in all, it was a revealing swimsuit that she couldn’t really complain about.

When she looked at Ribbon’s smug smirk, she knew the woman knew it, too. “You’ve hidden my swimsuit, haven’t you?” she asked with a resigned sigh.

“Please,” Ribbon said. “I destroyed that thing as soon as I got this one.”

Amadhay sighed again. “And I suppose if I say no, you’ll dress me and carry me out?”

“Correct,” Ribbon nodded.

Amadhay gave a long sigh. “Fine.”

“Good. Hurry up!” Ribbon said, tugging her sundress over her head. “Kim and Ten are already out there and Kim burns like a piece of toast, so the sooner we go out, the sooner I can slather her in lotion.”

Amadhay rolled her eyes, trying not to watch as Ribbon stripped all the way down. She was always a little self-conscious when she had to get unclothed around Ribbon. While Amadhay knew she was attractive, she couldn’t help but envy Ribbon’s long legs and slender frame. She always felt fat around the woman, which she knew was silly because she was too muscular to be fat. Curvy and still plump? Yes. She hadn’t hit aelfen puberty yet, so she was still carrying her growing fat, which only served to make her curvier, not fat.

But that didn’t make it any easier when Ribbon just stripped in front of her. She had no fat anywhere on her, just pure, lean muscle. So when she donned the tiny swimsuit, Amadhay wasn’t even going to attempt to say she didn’t look hot. That would be a lie. Even if it was quite a bit less than Amadhay would ever feel comfortable wearing, that was what amazed her about Ribbon. The woman was incredibly comfortable with her body, which was somewhat surprising, considering the scars all over her lower torso, especially the really bad ones close to her groin.

Amadhay was self-conscious about the minor scars she had gained from missions and training, though of course that was more because they made her asymmetrical than because she was embarrassed or ashamed of having them. She was an assassin. Scars happened. If she didn’t have scars, that would mean that she hadn’t learned anything.

But those same scars were part of the reason she really didn’t want to put on the swimsuit. The cutout parts would show the three mostly vertical claw marks from the Feral she’d almost botched in capturing two years ago. It would show the burn mark on her right hip, from being too slow to avoid Rea’s fire breath in training. It would show the still healing scars from Madra, especially the one on her back and the worst of the bite marks on her shoulder. It would even show the scar right at her tailbone, which she got when she tried to heal Indigo and had only transferred his wound to herself.

Ribbon poked her in the stomach. “C’mon. Kimmy’s probably turning into a lobster out there.”

Amadhay smiled, pushing back all of her worries about her own imperfections. “You go first. I’ll catch up.”

Ribbon’s disbelieving look was expounded upon when the woman crossed her arms over her relatively small, but surprisingly perky, chest. “And then you’ll never come out. Nope. Change.”

Amadhay sighed. “I’ll come out, I swear. I just need a moment.”

Ribbon looked from Amadhay, to the swimsuit, and then back at the girl questioningly before raising her eyebrows, a look of realization upon her face. “You’re being shy.”

“I am not!” Amadhay disagreed, flushing as red as the swimsuit. “I just need a moment to figure out how to stuff myself into that.”

“I’ll help you,” Ribbon responded with a wink, making Amadhay roll her eyes.

“Can you not?” she suggested, pointedly tossing her tank top off to prove that she wasn’t shy about her body. She stepped out of her shorts and paused, glancing back at Ribbon, who was staring at her back. “What are you looking at?” she asked defensively.

“What’s that from?” Ribbon asked, closing the distance between them. She lightly traced the scar from Madra, from the curve of her lower back, almost up to the center of her ribcage in the back. The skin was still sensitive and the touch made Amadhay shiver and almost purr.

She pulled from Ribbon, turning so that her back was no longer to the woman. She had a feeling that telling her the specifics of Cowboy’s attention on her would only make pointless difficulties. “I made a mistake,” she said simply, crossing her arms over her chest. She knew she had to take off her underwear to put the swimsuit on, but Ribbon’s rapt attention on her body was a little discomfiting.

“Did it hurt?” the woman asked, her eyes finally trailing back up to Amadhay’s.

“Yes,” she admitted freely. It had hurt in more ways than one.

Ribbon turned her back. “Okay, I’m not looking. You can change now, scaredy cat.”

“I wasn’t scared,” Amadhay muttered, but did take the chance to quickly lose her underwear. She grabbed the swimsuit off of the bed and shimmied into it as quickly as possible. Tying the bow tightly behind her neck as perfectly as she could without actually seeing herself, she fixed the swimsuit. Making sure that the cutoffs were on either side of her navel, her boobs were mostly equal, or as equal as they could get with the left one being slightly larger.

“I’m decent,” she announced to Ribbon, who laughed.

“You were decent when you weren’t wearing anything,” the woman corrected as she turned around. She gave a wolf whistle. “Looking good, Sexy Bird.”

“Why thank you,” Amadhay said, smirking. “You’re not looking too shabbily yourself, Ribby.”

“It is physically impossible for me to look bad,” Ribbon said with a shrug before she tossed her arm over Amadhay’s shoulders. “Now let’s go save Kimmy from burning.”

Grabbing up lotion from the dresser nearest the door, Ribbon steered Amadhay out of her room and out of the building as quickly as possible. Once they were outside, she slowed a bit, as if getting outside had been some great obstacle.

From the front steps of the base they all called Sand Castle, Amadhay could spot Kimiko and Tenshu running around the beach, splashing through ankle deep water. Kimiko was laughing loudly while Tenshu was brandishing what Amadhay thought looked like a starfish.

“Look who I got outside!” Ribbon called loudly, making not only the two other Palnokians, but also other people enjoying the beach, look at them. Amadhay flushed when Tenshu gave a loud wolf whistle and Kimiko squealed, making a beeline for them.

“Yes! That is exactly what I was talking about!” she exclaimed, tackling Amadhay with a hug. Both of them fell into the sand, while Ribbon had sidestepped just far enough to avoid going down with them.

“I knew there was hot underneath all that gear,” Tenshu said, giving Ribbon a high-five.

“I like to think I’m hot wearing clothes,” Amadhay sniffed.

Kimiko took a deep breath, something Amadhay now knew meant she was feeding from her, and smiled blissfully. “This is officially one of my best days ever. Definitely top twenty-four,” she decided, still hugging Amadhay.

Amadhay honestly thought it was weird how excited Kimiko was to see her in a skimpy swimsuit. They didn’t have that type of relationship, or at least Amadhay hadn’t thought they did. But Kimiko had still yet to let go of her and their chests were pressing together. In fact, Kimiko’s black swimsuit top was barely holding her chest in, which, Amadhay thought, was a definite con to the cute thing. Kimiko probably shouldn’t be running around in it; the strings holding the top together were coming loose in the back.

 Amadhay, taking advantage of the fact Kimiko was hugging her, tied the top a little tighter, making sure that the tie was directly in the middle of her friend’s back. Kimiko, likewise, let go of her and fixed the bow tying Amadhay’s top to her neck, making it equal on both sides of her neck.

“That’s better,” Kimiko muttered.

Ribbon sighed. “You two are really weird. You know that, right? I feel like you two fixing each other’s symmetry is the equivalent to a hot and heavy make out session for me.”

Amadhay and Kimiko both rolled their eyes at the same time. Catching that, they burst into giggles. “Maybe,” Kimiko said, putting her arm over the shorter girl’s shoulders. “Jealous?” she teased Ribbon.

“You have no idea,” Ribbon drawled. A strange look passed between the two when Kimiko smirked, leaning down to take a deep breath from the air right at Amadhay’s face. The aelfe raised an eyebrow at the blissful look on the succubus’ face, looking questioningly to Ribbon, who had a bit of a strained smile.

Tenshu broke into the conversation again and ended the strange moment by tossing the starfish at Kimiko, who squealed even though it missed. (Which Amadhay knew had to be purposely. She’d seen Tenshu actually throwing and if he didn’t miss with a blade and seal, he sure as anything wasn’t going to miss with a starfish. It was basically a living throwing star.) She let go of Amadhay and started running again.

Amadhay looked questioningly at Tenshu, who grinned as he picked up the poor fish. “She hates starfish,” he explained before running after his sister.

Amadhay looked to Ribbon. “Well. I’m going to go find some starfish to chase her with,” she alerted the woman before darting off into the water to do just that.

Ribbon followed after her. “Wait! I haven’t lotioned you up yet,” she called.

“Don’t need it!” Amadhay called back.

“My ass!” Ribbon exclaimed, making Amadhay giggle. Instead of looking for starfish, she was now dodging Ribbon, who had the bottle between her hands. “You might not be as pale as Kimmy, but you’re still light enough to burn.”

“You’re gonna have to catch me to win the prize,” Amadhay called, laughing. She and Kimiko crisscrossed paths, nearly hitting each other, but just barely managing not to. Amadhay hopped over an intricately made sand castle, noting the detail even as she kept her attention on how far Ribbon was behind her.

“How is my prize making sure that you don’t burn?” Ribbon demanded.

“Please,” Amadhay scoffed, dashing back into the water. “This is all some ploy to be able to rub all over my body.”

“Oh no,” Ribbon exclaimed drily. “You saw right through my ploy. Whatever shall I do? Grab her!”

Amadhay ran right into two men, both of whom fell down with her. One did, however catch her by the waist. She wriggled, but since she didn’t want to hurt the unknown man if Ribbon knew him, she didn’t try too hard to get free.

“Aha!” Ribbon cried, closing the distance between them in three clicks. She had run right through the sand castle, which Amadhay thought was a shame. The man let go Amadhay go once Ribbon had her foot on the girl’s chest, lightly holding her down in the sand “Now I have you at my mercy!”

“I call cheats!” Amadhay cried out. “You had randoms catch me.”

“Amadhay, meet Diable and Riacaro,” Ribbon gestured to the identical men. Nothing about them really stood out to Amadhay other than that they were identical. “There, see? No longer randoms, so no cheat. Now stay still so I can keep you from burning.”

Amadhay sighed. “Fine,” she said, reaching up to Ribbon, who moved her foot and helped her to her feet. “But I get to help you catch Kimiko.”

“As long as I get her before she burns, I don’t really care.”

“Obsessive much?”

“You haven’t heard Kimiko whine when she’s burned. I’m going out of my way to do a favor for all of us. And since you’re just as obsessed with twos, I figure you’d probably be just as bad.”

She was admittedly whiney when she got uneven tan lines or burned on one side and not the other, so she couldn’t say that she blamed Ribbon too much. “It’s symmetry, not twos,” Amadhay corrected instead.

“What. Ever,” Ribbon stated, squeezing lotion into her hands. “Be ready, this is cold.”


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November 2016

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