“I wouldn’t go so far as to say avoiding,” Lizu replied as conversationally as possible, glancing over to the couch where Amadhay was still engrossed in the movie.
“Got company?” the woman asked sweetly, smiling at eser. “Can we join?”
“It’s kind of an invite only weve night,” Lizu replied easily, leaning against esers doorframe. They couldn’t get in without ever allowing them in the wards, but that wasn’t eser worry. Ese knew eser wards were good. No half-pint witch and her muscle man were going to get through. Eser worry was how much noise they were going to make, and how much time ese had left before Amadhay’s curiosity was piqued. Ese glanced at her again and this time she was looking back at eser questioningly. “Just some friends,” ese explained to her. “They wanted to do something. I forgot they were going to come over.”
“Ooh, you have friends?” Amadhay cooed, crawling over to the edge of the couch and leaning over so she could try to see outside. Ese moved to try to cover the whole doorway so she couldn’t see their guests.
“Oh come on,” the blonde practically whistled. “I want to see your twine.”
“It’s a girl. I have to see her. Make sure the competition’s down,” Amadhay teased, getting off of the couch and moving to eser. Her eyes narrowed just slightly when she looked at the two. In an instant, faster than the blink of an eye, her appearance shifted just enough to make her not look like herself, but not enough that the two at the door would be suspicious that she had glamoured herself. Her eyes turned brown and larger. Her lips became even poutier and her lashes grew longer. Her spoors disappeared and her hair became wavy, the curls smoothing down and lengthening to her waist. She thinned just enough that ese would notice, but not enough that the other two would realize.
She looked up at eser accusingly for a moment, before softening her expression to sweet. “Hi,” she said, holding her hand out to the two. “I’m Amadhay.”
“Yori,” the wisp of a woman stated, fluttering her eyelashes and gripping Amadhay’s hand before Lizu could make Amadhay pull her hand back into the ward. Using Amadhay’s hand as a bridge, the woman stepped forward and into the ward. She reached back to the stone mage, taking his hand and the two entered Lizu’s wards.
“Amadhay,” Lizu sighed.
“What?” she asked innocently, looking up at eser.
“Yes, what, Qwuill?” Yori said, handing the food over to Amadhay before turning to eser. “Why haven’t we seen you recently? Mother has been asking for you and your information.”
“I don’t have any,” ese lied, glancing down at Amadhay, who watched with a sweet, confused smile that ese knew was faked. She knew exactly who Yori and Mont were. If ese had to guess, she’d probably watched Christein or Benjym take the two down on missions before, though ese doubted she’d had to sully herself dealing with them with her own hands. Luckily, however, they had no idea who she was. If they had, there would have been fighting already.
“Really?” Yori questioned, raising her pale eyebrows. She turned back to Amadhay, who had somehow put the food down somewhere. She pointedly reached forward and played with Amadhay’s hair. “You’re such a pretty little thing.” She cut her eyes to Lizu, missing the calculating look in Amadhay’s eyes. “I bet you’re fragile too. Easily hurt.”
“Not really,” Amadhay said, taking Yori’s hand by the wrist. “In fact, I tend to hurt others more than I get hurt,” she stated.
Yori stared down at her for a long moment before looking at Lizu. She laughed. “What is this? Your attack poodle?”
“I prefer to think of myself as a bird. A red one. Maybe a robin,” Amadhay said sweetly before breaking Yori’s wrist. It was necessary, ese knew, because Yori used her dominant, left hand for her magic. In fact, ese would go so far as to say without her left hand, she was rather useless.
Mont roared and swung at Amadhay, who easily ducked under his slow moving arm. As his arm swung back around, she caught hold of it and allowed the man’s momentum to swing her right into him. She had to have put all of her weight into her doubled footed kick, because when her bare feet slammed into the stone mage, he rocked back.
All of that happened in under five clicks. Lizu watched her, aware that she wasn’t doing anything in eser favor. If she killed Yori and Mont, the Huron clan would come after eser harder, and they would be after blood instead of just information. If she let them leave, the two would go straight to Mother Sari and tell her that Red Robin was currently with the Qwuill Master, that ese was involved with the girl.
Lizu sighed. Amadhay just didn’t think before she acted.
The girl launched herself from Mont, back to Yori and wrapped her arms around Yori’s head, holding it with her elbows on the taller woman’s shoulders. “Rock man, stop moving. Look at me. Step away from the Qwuill.” Mont did as she said. She gave a fierce smile. “Now. I will not break this lovely woman’s neck if the two of you think you can take a message to your darling boss.” She turned Yori’s neck to the side. “Are you listening to me?” she whispered into Yori’s ear.
Lizu took a step back, from the landing and back toward the couch. Ese leaned against the back of it and watched Amadhay do her thing, hoping that this could work out for eser in some way. Eser mind was moving through different scenarios, trying to think of one that didn’t end with eser dead or being tortured for information on her.
“Good,” Amadhay said. “Now, the message is that my pretty Qwuill Master here? He’s under my protection. He will work for you, but he’s mine. You touch one hair on his head, and I will kill every single one of you, starting with Saria’s sweet little baby boy. Are we understood?”
“We’re clear,” Yori whispered.
“Good.” Amadhay let go. “Now get out of here before I decide that I don’t need both of you to give the message.”
Lizu and Amadhay watched the two flee. Ese felt the ward snap in place just before Amadhay turned to eser. “And you,” she snapped. “The next time someone is roughing you up, you tell me. You may be some all great and powerful wizard, but I’m the brawns of this operation.”
Lizu laughed. Amadhay looked ready to explode on eser, so ese cupped her face, choosing not to correct her terminology and instead focusing on making her less angry with eser. Ese could deal with Mother Sari and her people later. Right now, ese had to deal with eser favorite five-foot-tall kitten full of danger.
“Sweetheart. You’re the brains, brawns, and beauty of this operation.”
“Christein!” she yelled again, hoping that he was near enough to hear her this time.
Her grip on the necromancer’s hair loosened and they both dropped to the floor. “Christein, please come help me,” she cried out, her voice wobbly as she tried and failed to get to her feet. All she could think about was Benjy. Benjy was lying on the ground, getting colder by the click. Benjy was lying still and he was never still. Benjy might not wake up. Benjy might not smile at her again or tug on her hair or surprise her with little gifts or annoy Christein anymore. Benjy was—
Christein appeared and began swearing like a pirate. When she looked up at him, hoping—no, knowing that he would fix everything for her, he scowled at her.
“Amadhay, what the deep Water pit is your problem?” he demanded, his true irritation showing in the slip up of using her name rather than title. She felt for her mask, which was still in the same pocket she’d put it in earlier, before taking a step towards Christein. It was then that she realized that he was staring not at her, but at Skeletal Smile, who was limp and slightly battered on the floor beside her. She started to speak, but Christein cut her off. “A, you were only supposed to bring ‘em here. He’s no good nearly dead. And B, where’s Ghost Sparrow and the other two targets? You failed.”
She was tired of that word failed. She was tired of hearing it aimed at her and she was tired of caring about it. Right now, all she could care to think about was Benjy’s body lying in the woods, not moving, and Christein wasn’t helping. Amadhay glared directly at him, not caring that it was disrespectful or that she needed something from him. She glared to make him stop talking—rather yelling—at her and it worked. He paused. He stared at her with his eyebrows slightly raised and his lips pursed to say more but no words were coming out.
“Benjy is dead, Monkey,” she told him in a slightly wavering voice, trying to sound like herself. She wasn’t feeling like herself, but she knew that with every word, she was a step closer to helping Benjy, so her voice got stronger with each word. “He’s back at the acquisition point. I didn’t cover him like I should have and now he’s—” she broke off and Christein moved toward her.
“He was already dead, Amadhay, that’s kind of the point of being a phantom,” Christein said slowly, reaching to help her up. That sentence sent her from strong to hysterical. He didn’t understand. If he didn’t understand, then he wouldn’t help her. He had to help her. She couldn’t do it on her own.
“He’s sealed, Monkey. The necromancer sealed him.” She whispered before looking at the limp body of the pretty man. It only made her angrier, more hysterical. He was still pretty when damaged while Benjy was dead and cold and didn’t look like himself anymore.
“He is dead until that piece of trash unseals him and I’m too damn weak to carry him so I need your help!” she practically screamed, pushing herself to her feet. Without a second thought, she turned from Christein, putting her full attention on the necromancer and kicked Skeletal Smile at the wall.
“Don’t do that,” was all Christein snapped at her. When she turned her glare back to him, he flinched. “I’ll help!” he exclaimed, reaching out to pull her away from Skeletal Smile before she could do him any more damage. “I’ll help,” he said softer when her glare weakened and she rubbed her eyes roughly. But she didn’t cry. Assassins don’t cry.
At Christein’s insistence, they moved Skeletal Smile to a more secure area, a room she had never seen before, and bound him to keep him from escaping. She would admit to not using nearly enough rope for protocol on Palnoki members because she was in a hurry, but Christein didn’t say anything about it. Just as she was tightening the last rope binding his legs together, she noted that he seemed to be coming to. With a glance at Christein, who was watching her closer than was normal even for him, it took all of Amadhay’s willpower not to just kill Skeletal Smile then and there. Instead, she took satisfaction in gagging him tightly and silently hoping that he would choke on it and die.