“There is a Palnoki member trussed up in my office, and I want to know why. What happened?” The Lord Pheoganis, Arne Riffle Hakinato, roared.
Amadhay and Christein both straightened up, Amadhay averting her eyes in hopes the man wouldn’t see that she had been close to crying. Arne Riffle approached the duo, merely glancing to the limp body over Christein’s shoulder before focusing his cerulean blue eyes on Christein. “Debrief,” he ordered as his security detail lined up behind him.
Amadhay swallowed quickly before stepping forward to indicate that it was her mission. “Base and I went to gather Skeletal Smile, Palnoki’s Wrangler, and Borg Queen. We were apprehending the two men when Base was,” her voice caught in her throat and she glanced to Benjy’s body. An impatient noise from Arne Riff made her eyes snap forward. “He was attacked. I fell his attacker, the necromancer, and we put him in your office. But Benjy…” she cleared her throat. “Base is dead,” she finished, her words hard. Her normal stoic face for debriefing their leader was showing cracks and she hated it. She couldn’t stop herself from glancing back to Benjy’s body, however, noting the stiffness of him.
“Benjym Base is already—” he looked from Amadhay to the body over Christein’s shoulder, this time looking to the light brown hair, hair that should have been black. “Oh.” He glanced back down to Amadhay, this time catching her eyes focused on the body and she mentally cursed herself for being caught. “Oh. Get the necromancer, then, and have him unsealed.”
“Yes, sir,” Amadhay replied instantly, moving to the office before the words left her lips.
Christein tried to keep up with her, but she inevitably made it to the office first, storming into the room and grabbing the Palnoki member by his shoulders, pulling him up. She kicked him in the stomach before he could register surprise at her abrupt entrance. The man coughed, his gag suspiciously missing, and fell back, eyeing her in mute surprise. It all happened in a matter of clicks and by the time his body fully hit the ground, Christein was at the door.
When Christein entered, she backed from the necromancer at the pointed look her cousin gave her. Behind him, Arne Riff entered the room, eyes first going to the man laying on the floor, breathing hard but cursing viciously, and then to the girl, standing as far from the necromancer as she could.
“Well?” he demanded, cutting his eyes from Amadhay, to Christein. Christein set Benjy’s body gently on the floor beside Skeletal Smile and Amadhay started toward the body. When she noted that her uncle was watching her, she, instead, crossed her arms over her chest, and pressed her back against the wall, attempting to appear less invested in Benjy’s revival.
“Unseal him. Now,” Amadhay ordered from her corner.
Christein moved back to stand beside his father, watching the scene dispassionately. She understood why he appeared not to care about Benjy, even though it bothered her. He was doing the same thing she was trying to do and having much more success. He didn’t want Arne Riff to have any reason to question any of their actions. He was trying to cover for her, just like always.
Skeletal Smile wiggled his tied arms behind his back, looking to Amadhay, who narrowed her eyes. Her body seemed to move out of sync with her mind before her mind slammed back into place when she tried to use her Gift to move to the necromancer with ultraspeed. She glanced at Arne Riff, who looked at her expectantly. She always forgot that she couldn’t use her Gift around him until she tried.
Either way, the jolt made her feel slightly better, if a little sore. She tried not to show the pain radiating down her spine as she moved behind Skeletal Smile, leaning down to untie his hands. When her hair fell, hiding both her and Skeletal Smile’s faces from the view of the men standing in the doorway, she wondered when her ponytail had come undone.
Using the obstructed view to her benefit, she put her lips to Skeletal Smile’s ear as her hand lightly glowed a heated red. She pressed it to his back, letting the warmth of her power seep into the burn at the top of his shoulder from her earlier blast. “You fix him, or I will kill you so slowly that you’ll wish Lord Phoeganis had you,” she whispered before backing up, letting the rope fall to the floor behind him.
The red was actually a quick spell she had learned to heat her meals and couldn’t get any warmer than her body temperature. While her body temperature was warmer than his was, it certainly wasn’t going to hurt him, but he didn’t know that. He didn’t know that she didn’t know any quick or subtle lethal spells, and she certainly wasn’t going to tell him that.
She glanced at Arne Riff and Christein, both of whom were eyeing her suspiciously, though Christein’s eyes held a warning for her. Giving them a quick nod, she was back in her corner by the time Skeletal Smile put one of his hands to Benjy’s chest.
Skeletal Smile looked at Amadhay and, keeping eye contact with her, he moved his fingers around, as if he were gently massaging Benjy’s chest. He quirked a challenging eyebrow at her, which she responded to by narrowing her eyes threateningly. She didn’t like the way he seemed to be taunting her when she was the one with the power. He didn’t know it, but that was the moment he became her personal problem. One that she was going to exterminate as soon as her Benjy was alive again.
When a dry heaving came from Benjy’s body, she broke eye contact with Tanhakinshu. The most noticeable thing, aside from the breathing, was the darkening of Benjy’s hair. While not black, it was losing its color, desaturating to a gray. His eyes were screwed tightly shut, which gave her hope. Those unseeing green eyes had been disturbing for her in a way that nothing else had been.
The breathing came easier as the silver blade reappeared in his chest as if it had never dematerialized. Amadhay made eye contact with the necromancer once again, and his hand slowly trailed up the blade, as if taunting her.
‘You’re welcome,’ Tanhakinshu mouthed before he gripped the handle of the blade. Yes, it was far too personal to think of him as his codename any longer. He was officially Tanhakinshu to her, an enemy of Amadhay, not the Phoegani’s Red Robin.
She flinched when he pulled the blade out of the phantom’s chest and shot forward. Ready to hurt the necromancer, she shoved Tanhakinshu away, in the direction of the door. However, when the phantom began to inhale, she forgot all about the other man and dropped to her knees at his side, eyes widening as his chest rose and fell once, twice.
She only had eyes for Benjy. Her Benjy, whose hair and eyes were black again, whose skin was still pale as porcelain, but warm again. Benjy was coughing, lying there on the floor, very much alive, again, or at least as close as he was going to get. She held her breath when he stopped coughing and just laid there, unmoving.
“Benjy,” she said, gripping his hand. “Benjy?” She asked worriedly when he stayed limp. He squeezed her hand weakly. “You’re okay!” she exclaimed, sniffling back a cry. “Goddess and Escort, you’re alive,” she whispered.
There came a disgusted noise from the door. She wasn’t sure if it came from Christein or his father, and she didn’t care. She heard shuffling and a cry from the necromancer which she assumed to mean that they were leaving her alone with Benjy.
“Ama…Amadhay…” he coughed again, putting the hand she was holding to his head. His skin was still paler than normal, but warmer now.
She swallowed back a sob, making herself stronger. “Yeah, Benjy. It’s me,” she responded, placing a kiss to his forehead. “Are you okay?” she asked.
He groaned. “It hurts.” She heard the door close firmly. She didn’t look up.
“Benjy,” she closed her eyes, “I am so happy you’re still alive.”
“Comparatively,” he joked, looking at her. “Hey now,” he said slowly, forcing himself to sit up. “You’ve been crying.”
“Allergies,” she lied with a shrug. She knew that he knew that she didn’t have any allergies that affected her eyes, but hoped he would just let it go. He did, though she could guess that it had more to do with the apparent exhaustion it was being brought back from the dead than because he took her signal.
“I think I’m going to just nap here for a moment.”
“You probably don’t want to do that,” Christein said, making Amadhay start. She looked up to find him still standing at the door, his face expressionless. “Lord Phoeganis is going to want his office back sometime soon.”
Benjy’s eyes snapped open. “I’m in Arne Riff’s office?” he demanded.
Amadhay nodded. “We had the necromancer in here so—”
“You got Skeletal Smile? What about the vampire?”
Amadhay shook her head. “I had to—”
“You let Hunnigan get away?” he demanded, suddenly appearing to feel better enough to take issue with her decisions.
“Benjy,” she protested. “You were dead.”
Benjy paused, taking in her expression. He looked past her, to Christein, who was still expressionless, but he nodded at Benjy. “You can’t just fail your missions like that,” Benjy scolded her softly, turning his head back to face her. Amadhay let go of him with a slow nod. Benjy started to apologize when he saw her face close up, but she didn’t give him a chance to speak.
“No. You’re right. I shouldn’t have saved you,” she snapped. “I should have just gone after Hunnigan. And then found Johannes. And then interrogated them. Then I should have gone back and made the necromancer fix you.”
It was true. She recognized the truth the moment she said the words. Both Benjy and Christein watched as the realization came over her that he could have been unsealed at a later time. She had failed a mission for no reason other than her emotions. She stood up and moved robotically to the door, ignoring Benjy’s calls after her. Christein gave her a long look before allowing her to pass him.