amadhay: (Default)
 in which atlas is truthful



If nothing else, it was waking up alone in Ribbon’s bed that made the decision for her.

The spot where Ribbon had lain was still warm, telling her that the woman hadn’t been gone for long, but the fact that she was gone was what gave Amadhay a moment to let the silent part of her mind speak. She had come here because she had seen something in the Palnoki that she hadn’t seen in the Phoegani. But the longer she stayed, the deeper into it she became, the easier she was seeing more aspects of the Phoegani in the Palnoki than she liked. There were still secrets, there were still innocents being hurt, there was still an ingrained hierarchy and a goal that she didn’t know furthered by pain she didn't understand.

The family aspect that she had once seen was starting to lose its finishing. Atlas was still very much in charge and he had no problem using his power to make the others do what he wanted. The faces were different, but the problems were still the same. She had traded in one evil for a newer one and while she wasn’t going to lie and say that she wasn’t part of the problem, she could honestly say that at least in the Phoegani, she knew where she stood. Here everyone kept changing their stories, everyone kept adding new dimensions to something she had thought to be a linear. The only thing she knew for certain was that Atlas hadn’t lied to her when he had explained why she was here.

“You are here because I want you to be.”

That was the only reason she was there. As much as she wanted to, as hard as she had tried, she didn’t fit into their tight knit community. No matter how much Atlas wanted her to be there, she couldn’t stay. As long as she was there, she would always wonder what they weren’t telling her. She would always wonder if Ribbon was only her friend, her lover, because Atlas wanted her to be. She would always wonder if they would target other people she cared about. She would always fear that one day she would open a door and find Monkey or Benjy or even one of her sisters being held captive, tortured, killed.

She wasn’t going to let that happen. Never again. She was determined that Indigo was going to be the last person she cared about to die right in front of her eyes without her doing anything. The thing was, she knew that going back to the Phoegani wouldn’t make it any better. Atlas had been right. There, she was simply another asset, another well-trained killer. She didn't know their goals, and doubted she would stand by them given a chance. She was just another piece of the puzzle, or worse, just a replaceable tool to be discarded when she was no longer of use. 

The true problem was that she feared that here, with the Palnoki, she was no better. Despite what Atlas and Ribbon, or even Tenshu and Kimiko told her or tried to make her believe, she couldn't help but to believe that there was more going on than she was seeing. And that was why she needed to go back. Not just for Christein and Benjy. Not just for her sisters and family. But because she needed to see more than she was. She needed to figure out what was going on, who was truly in charge, what everyone was trying to do. At least with the Phoegani, she could work her own agenda. She couldn’t be the Amadhay Atlas wanted, not while they were still killing people all around her and she didn’t know why.

Finally made up about what to do, Amadhay sat up. She set her feet on the floor and it felt strange. It wasn’t the plush carpet from the Ice Castle or the smooth wood from the Sand Castle. It was cobblestone and for some reason she couldn’t explain, that caught her attention. Cobblestone is so hard to wash blood out of.

Shaking her head to push away the strange thought, Amadhay got off of Ribbon’s bed. She paused at the wardrobe, momentarily thinking about changing, but decided not to. There was no point in drowning herself in Ribbon’s clothing when she was leaving her behind. It would only confuse her and make it easier for Atlas to convince her to stay. It was already going to be difficult in the clothes Atlas had dressed her in, but it would nearly be impossible if she were wearing Ribbon's. She would feel protected if she were wearing Ribbon's clothes and she didn't need protection; the weak needed protection. She had to be strong.

Purposely avoiding the mirror, Amadhay smoothed her hands over her hair, knowing that it was a curling mess and not wanting to see herself looking wild and untamed, especially since that was how she was feeling on the inside. For a moment, she almost laughed, thinking I bet I look just like Amaya. But then she pushed that thought back as well, leaving her hair in its natural form. Instead, she focused on what she could fix, straightening her purple dress so that the ribbons at the waist fell in neat bows at perfect points on either side. She ran her fingers over the lace collar to make sure it was all laying flat. The kitten pin that Ribbon had put on the dead center of her chest, she took off, setting it on the bed.

She nervously fixed the pinstripe stockings so that the lines were straight and the pattern was mirrored perfectly on both legs. Taking a deep breath to set herself, she left Ribbon’s room, closing the door softly behind her. For a moment, she paused, looking down both sides of the hallway to try to reacquaint herself with the set up of the building. It was different from both other Palnoki buildings she’d been in. She had mildly wondered if all the Palnoki buildings were different. Now she’d never know.

There were only three places she knew in this building, not including Ribbon’s room: Atlas’ room, the mudroom that led to the gardens, and the meeting room. She doubted that Atlas would be in the mudroom or the gardens, so she decided to try his room first. She wasn’t ready just yet to go to the meeting room, where Indigo had died.

Of course, however, she had to pass the meeting room before getting to Atlas’ room since Ribbon’s room was on the opposite side of the building, closer to the gardens than his was. It was purely by luck that she happened to hear voices coming from the meeting room as she passed it. In fact, she still would have passed it if she hadn’t heard Atlas’ voice, sounding angry.

“You are honestly telling me that you can’t get anything off of that chip?”

She paused, considering making her presence known, but Kimiko’s response changed her mind.

“I’m assuming that they had Base fix it.”

“And you aren’t skilled enough to break his coding?” Atlas demanded. “Maybe I should replace you. You haven’t been much of a help lately.”

“She almost had it,” Tairyn defended. “But then Ghost Sparrow and Red Baron got in the way. Again.”

“What were they doing there?” Atlas demanded. Amadhay moved closer to the door, listening more closely now that she had heard Benjy and Christein’s code names.

“I’m going to assume they were looking for Red Bird,” Ribbon stated sardonically. “Since they keep showing up. Everywhere.”

“They’ve shown up more than once?” Atlas was sounding even less pleased.

“I’ve run into them three times,” Ribbon admitted.

“They tried to corner me and Tenshu a few months back,” Cowboy added. She could hear a savage grin in his voice. “They won’t be trying that again.”

“Why is this the first I’m hearing about their interferences?” Atlas asked. Amadhay had to strain to hear him because his voice had gone low and quiet.

There was silence for a moment.

“They haven’t really been an interference until now,” Kimiko said slowly. “Just minor annoyances.”

“Annoyances large enough that they stopped you from being able to use Base Inventions mainframe,” Atlas reminded them in the same, even tone.

“If we could just kill them it would be easier,” Tairyn said, making Amadhay clench her fists in anger. He had been their friend. How could he even suggest that?

“Then why haven’t you?” Atlas asked, almost conversationally.

There was another silence. This time Johannes broke it.

“You told us that they were off limits.”

“Did I?”

“Because of Amadhay?” Cowboy reminded him.

“Amadhay would never have to know,” Atlas said, his voice sounding tense. “She hasn’t heard from them since coming here, has she?” he paused for a click, but no one answered him. “She hasn’t. For all she knows, they aren’t even looking for her. Kill them. If she finds out, we’ll comfort her later. But right now, I need you to get them out of the way so that we can get the information we need.”

Ribbon was hesitant when she spoke. “Is that an order?”

“Yes,” Atlas said, “Kill the phantom and the Hakinato. They’re not in my plans.”

“I’ll do it,” Cowboy volunteered when Ribbon didn’t say anything more.

“No. Ribbon will do it,” Atlas stated. “It’s her job. I have another job for you anyway.”

“With Tenshu?” Cowboy asked, “Because it’s getting more difficult to bring him out. The Heralds are getting fond of him, enough so that they ask too many questions when he leaves.”

“Just you and Stefan. Don’t worry. I need him right where he is. He’s vital in bringing the Heralds to us.” There was a pause in which Amadhay imagined Cowboy nodded his head. “You need to bring me Darach. He’s been playing with the Hakinato’s far too long. He’s forgotten who he really belongs to.”

Someone laughed, and since Stefan’s voice was still amused when he spoke, Amadhay assumed it was him. “I was wondering how long you were going to let him hide out there.”

“Darach Devalier is one of us?” Tairyn asked in a shocked voice.

“The game with Darach goes much farther than this one with the Phoegani,” Stefan answered, giving another laugh. “Though I doubt he’d call himself one of us.”

“I don’t understand,” Kimiko said.

“You don’t have to,” Atlas snapped, causing silence to fall again. “You just need to get to decrypting that personnel chip. I need to know who else to bring from the Phoegani before we destroy them.”

“I really don’t think there’s anyone else worth your time,” Tairyn spoke, sounding sure of himself.

The ice in Atlas’s voice mirrored Amadhay’s own feelings toward Tairyn at the moment. “I’m sure I didn’t ask you.”

There was a loud thump against the door and an accompanying grunt, making Amadhay jump back, but the door didn’t open. Instead, she was able to hear Atlas perfectly, telling her that he was at the door.

“In fact, I’m trying to decide if you are even worth keeping around anymore. Your information is outdated. I have Amadhay. Really, the only reason I can see to keep you around is to keep Kimiko happy, since you being here makes Amadhay decidedly unhappy.” She could hear the sound of a series of flat slaps, which she imagined was Atlas patting Tairyn’s cheek.“So if I were you, I would be silent and hope that Kimiko is able to decrypt the files soon, because if not, I might not be so easily persuaded to keep you around.”

“Atlas…” Kimiko started.

Atlas gave a low chuckle. “Just playing, Sweet. I won’t hurt your banshee. He makes you too happy. Just know that I won’t be happy until you’ve decrypted that chip.”

“I get it,” Kimiko said in a tense tone.

“I hope you do,” Atlas said. Someone, probably Atlas, clapped their hands. “Everyone knows what they’re going to be doing?”

There was an assortment of different confirmations. Someone started to pull the door open. “Oh wait, wait.” Atlas stopped them from leaving. The door was closed again.

“Has there been any success with the Heralds?” he asked.

“Other than Tenshu becoming close to Amaya and Blu? Not really,” Cowboy answered. “If anything, they’re more closed off since the Feral wolf incident.”

“Closed off in what way?” Atlas asked.

“It’s going to be difficult to bring them here. More difficult than expected. They’ve settled in Ratigattan and the Pirate King has decided to become their protector. Any move to change that will be met with with extreme resistance. I doubt we can keep them and fight him and the Phoegani all at once.”

“We can wait,” Atlas decided. “If push comes to shove, we can have Amadhay infiltrate. They didn’t notice the last time, right?”

Cowboy seemed hesitant. “She wasn’t under much scrutiny then. One wrong move and—”

“You can train her on how to be more like Amaya,” Atlas dismissed. “But as I said, it’s our last case scenario. I’d prefer not to have to put her into this.”

“She’s always talking about wanting to help,” Ribbon mentioned. “I think she’ll be thrilled to know she’s part of the plans.”

There was a certain sarcasm to the words. Or maybe Amadhay just imagined it there because no one said anything about it. Amadhay backed from the door, feeling betrayed on too many levels to count. Atlas had played her. She had been the game. She had been the game and he had played her so expertly that she had fallen for it, for him.

No more, she decided.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which Palnoki is Phoegani



She was still in her hiding place when Atlas and Stefan came into the room.

When she heard Atlas’ voice, she started to come out, but there was a whimpering that caught her attention. It caught her because maybe she was just being paranoid because Tairyn was a big shock to her system, but it sounded like a whimper she knew far too well.

So she didn’t move. Instead, she tried to remember the amateur spell Ribbon had taught her earlier that week, the one for shifting her vision through solids. Ribbon had, of course only taught her as a joke so that she could see into rooms to see if anyone was busy before she barged in, but she was thinking this was a good use for it, a better use for it, actually. If only she could remember the hand gestures. She could remember the words, Sha mi re.

As she thought it over, she listened.

“I’m telling you, she is here. She can control him if you just give her a chance. Getting rid of him is an incredible waste, Atlas.” Stefan was arguing against something, but Amadhay hadn’t listened enough to the conversation to know what they are talking about.

“I’m not taking the chance,” Atlas said, sounding tightly wound but in control. “I don’t think she is in the place where we can ask her to do something like this for us, not yet. Maybe not ever.”

“What use is she if we don’t—” Atlas cut Stefan off before he could go any further.

“She isn’t something to use,” he hissed.

That was when Amadhay remembered the hand gestures. Pressing her forefinger and thumbs together to form a long teardrop shape and pressing the rest of her fingers together at the knuckles, she put her hands to her face so that her forefingers were at her hairline and her thumbs were at her chin. “Sha,” she whispered before slowly spreading her fingers until they are all forming an oval around her eyes, with her thumbs pressed together on her nose. “Mi,” she whispered before flicking her hands outwards at the seat, which was obstructing her view, and whispering, “Re.”

It worked instantly and Amadhay froze when she could see Atlas with his hand around Stefan’s throat. He was squeezing, making the other man choke. “And you don’t make the decisions about her. I do.”

He let go of Stefan and the man coughed, trying to get air back into his lungs as he turned away from Atlas, bracing his hands on his knees.

“Do you understand?” Atlas asked, bending over so that his face was inches from Stefan’s. They stared at each other for a few clicks before Stefan nodded.

“I understand,” he hissed, his voice sounding rough.

“Good,” Atlas said, turning from Stefan and, coincidentally, Amadhay, to face the whimpering mess on the floor near the door.

It was Indigo.

Atlas knelt down to be on Indigo’s level, pulling the cat-boy’s head up to look at him. “Indigo, I’m only going to give you one last chance. If you would only agree to help us, none of this would be necessary. We wouldn’t have to keep you here, locked up. You could be free to wander as you please.”

“Indy only makes mud men for Mistress Kitty,” Indigo spat in a hoarse whisper. Amadhay could see marks on his throat, a dark red against his pale skin. From her distance and possibly because of the spell, she couldn’t tell what they were from, but she would guess that hands probably left them.

“We have your Mistress Kitty, Indigo,” Stefan claimed, making Amadhay angry. Why wouldn’t they have just asked her to talk to Indigo? She would have. She hated the thought of him being chained and hurt.

“Mistress Kitty would never work with bad men,” Indigo claimed, once again freezing Amadhay in her spot. “Mistress Kitty is good.”

Atlas sighed. “We are good, Indigo. I’m sorry that we’ve hurt you, but we need you to make golems for us. If you will help us, I’ll take you to Amadhay. I’m sure she’d like to see you.”

“Indy only makes mud men for Mistress Kitty,” Indigo said again, before adding, “Indy would die before letting bad men close to Mistress Kitty. Bad men want to make Mistress Kitty bad too!”

“No one wants to change Amadhay,” Atlas crooned, reaching out to pet Indigo’s head. The cat-kin tensed, as if waiting for pain. When Atlas didn’t hurt him, only stroked his head, the catboy hissed and bit Atlas, who didn’t so much as flinch, before pulling his hand back. “That was unnecessary.”

“Bad man hurt Indy before,” the small man whispered, curling up, and facing the wall. “Bad men hurt Indy and bad man will hurt Mistress Kitty. Indy will die before Indy lets bad man hurt her.”

“I would never hurt her,” Atlas said, starting to sound irritated that the situation wasn’t changing.

“Bad man will. Bad men always do.”

Atlas finally scoffed, standing up at his full height as he shook his head in disgust. “It isn’t working,” he said, more to himself than to either of the known occupants of the room. He turned and stared thoughtfully directly at Amadhay, as if he could see her, even though she knew that he couldn’t. After a moment of silence, he glanced back at Indigo. “If we told you that Amadhay—”

“Nothing bad men say will change Indy’s head. Indy only makes mud men for Mistress Kitty. Mistress Kitty is good. Bad man isn’t.”

“This is pointless.” Atlas spat as he shook his head. He knelt down to Indigo and forced the catboy to look him in the eyes. Amadhay couldn’t see what he was doing, but she knew that he was saying something softly to her former servant. After a few clicks of that, Atlas stood back up, ignoring Indigo. “Kill him however you want,” he waved at Stefan before stepping over Indigo and leaving the room.

Stefan shook his head, looking away from the door, to Indigo, where he was curled into a ball. “Waste. Such a terrible waste,” he muttered. “And all we had to do was bring my Little Warrior here.” He shook his head again, but this time, a grin started to take over his face, a look Amadhay wasn’t used to seeing on him. His lipless mouth widened and curved at the corner, showing a hint of his sharpened teeth.

He took his time moving around the room as though he were setting the scene, rolling his crisp white sleeves up to his elbows and pulling his cloak open and behind his hips to reveal a gleaming silver gun in its holster at his hip. The closer he got to Indigo, the more Amadhay wanted to reveal herself and save her friend.

But she couldn’t.

It was as if she were five again, hiding in the trunk, watching as her parents were murdered. She couldn’t move, even though she knew that she could save him. All the same terror and powerlessness came back to her. It was happening all over again, and all because she was too much of a coward to move.

She had almost pulled herself out of her paralysis when he knelt in front of Indigo and the voice he used sounded gentle, like the one he used to comfort her. “Want to hear something funny?”

Indigo shook his head, his ears folding down as he whimpered. Stefan’s grin turned into a full, open-mouthed smile, showing off his teeth, which were becoming even sharper, much like a vampire’s did with increased bloodlust. Amadhay didn’t even breathe, the fear coming back at seeing the change in someone she had stupidly trusted.

“Your Mistress Kitty is much worse than any of the rest of us combined. We’re trying to make her good. If you saw her now, you probably wouldn’t even recognize her.” He gave a sharp laugh, “Now that I think about it, having her here probably would have just killed you faster.” He slapped Indigo none-too-gently. “Be happy. You get to keep your ideal Mistress Kitty with you.”

He shot Indigo three times. It happened so quickly that, had Amadhay blinked, she would have missed him drawing the silver pistol, aiming with haphazard looking precision, pulling the trigger three times, and then tucking the gun back into its holster. Then the man was stepping away from the cat-kin.

“Bleed out quietly, will you?” Stefan asked, a serious expression on his face as he rolled his sleeves back down and straightened them. He looked down at Indigo, who made no sound, his violet eyes closed as he silently cried. “I don’t want the girls to hear you. Their bleeding hearts would make them try to save you and then I’d have to kill you all over again.”

He smiled at Indigo before he, too, stepped right over him and closed the door behind himself.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which Stefan hugs Amadhay



“C’mere Little Warrior,” Stefan called from her doorway.

Playing with a single curl, Amadhay eyed him for a moment before deciding that she had nothing better to do. Dropping the book she had been reading on her bed, she launched herself through the curtains. Stefan whistled at her to hurry her along, so she took a moment to stretch out and smooth her hair back over her shoulders. Bouncing on the balls of her bare feet, she continued to fidget with her hair as she stood before the scaly skinned man.

“Yes?” she asked.

He turned in her doorway, looking back at her as he nodded toward the hallway. “I want to show you something,” he told her.

She narrowed her eyes, always suspicious, especially given the way everyone had been acting lately, but nodded, following close behind him. “Something like what?” she asked, moving to his side.

He grinned down at her. “You’ll see,” he told her, scratching the top of her head to purposely muss up her hair. She fixed it back over her shoulders and gave him a look, but his teasing made her feel slightly better about his presence.

“Gimme a hint,” Amadhay pleaded, batting her eyelashes innocently.

“I know that look, little one. You gutted me the last time I fell for it.”

Amadhay giggled. “But this time I want something from you, so I’m just being sweet so that I can get it,” she teased him.

He tugged at her hair, making her sigh. He seemed to have a strange fixation on her hair because he was always touching it, always tugging at it. “You’ll see when we get there,” he told her, tossing his arm over her shoulders.

She didn’t pull from him like she normally would have because it comforted her to know that someone still liked her. Even if it was Stefan, it was nice to have someone willing to touch her. She leaned her head into his side as they continued walking to the front door. He paused once there, not saying anything, and after a click Amadhay realized that he was waiting for her to call out her pass code, which made her smile.

“Green sleeves,” she said, standing up straight.

Stefan ruffled her hair as he moved his arm from her shoulders. “This way,” he gestured to the beach, which was empty of all people, as it had been since the trouble with the twins. If she had to guess, she’d say that Atlas was feeling unwelcoming to everyone outside, knowing that any one of them could be another spy. As she looked over the empty beach, one thing caught her eye. Sitting in the middle of the beach, far enough back that the water wouldn’t take it out, was an intricate sand castle. It was even better than the ones she had seen before, which was saying something because the more she had gone to the beach, the more she had seen intricate sand castles (that Ribbon or Kimiko invariably ran right through).

This one, though, took away her breath. It was almost life size for her, standing taller than she was, with functional archways and carefully sculpted windows. She forgot Stefan as she moved closer to the castle, staring at it in enraptured intrigue. It reminded her of a much more well formed version of the castle she, Amaya, and Hlala had painstakingly drawn when their father had asked them what kind of secret hideout they wanted. He had never gotten around to making it for them, because right when he had been gathering the materials, the Ridden War had started and then when he had come back, it had only been a few months before he had been killed.

She reached out and touched the sand, finding it well packed enough that it didn’t crumble under her touch. She blinked rapidly a few times, feeling a silly burning coming to her eyes that she tried to ward off by smiling.

“Do you like it?” Stefan asked, making her look from the castle and to him.

He had made this, for her. She wasn’t sure how he had found the schematics or how he even knew about the castle at all, considering the only other people who knew about it were Hlala and Indigo. The two of them still had copies of the drawing, which meant that either somehow he had stolen the picture from one of them or that Atlas had gone through her personal belongings and taken it, for some reason, from her room. She was betting it was the second option. No matter how Stefan had found out about it, the fact remained that he had made this for her. And only her.

“I love it,” she told him honestly, running her fingers over the sand lightly.

“I was thinking that we could make you your own castle, call it the Red Castle.”

“As long as you don’t paint it red,” Amadhay laughed, still staring at the sand castle.

“You can go inside of it,” he urged her, but she couldn’t. It was enough for her to just stare at the outside. To look inside of it would have completely floored her. It was a system overload, much like her first full day with the Palnoki had been, when she had realized her dreams of Stefan and the room hadn’t been dreams. She knew that if she were to go inside and it looked as she had always imagined it, that she wouldn’t want to leave. It didn’t matter that it was sand. It was hers.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Don’t just thank me,” he stated, making her look back at him. “Someone who really cares about you gave me the picture when I told him you were sad. He said that making this might cheer you up.”

She nodded, assuming that to be confirmation that Atlas had given the picture to him. Even when they weren’t talking, the man still wanted her happy. It almost made her want to forgive him for being such a complete jerk, but she couldn’t. In fact, it only made her more irritated. He had stolen it from her room on base with the Phoegani. He had taken something incredibly valuable and personal to her, one of her few belongings that truly held sentimental value. And then, to top it off, he hadn’t had the decency to do something himself, instead delegating making her feel better to someone else.

Stefan pulled her in for a hug before she had a chance to say any of that. Only for a few breaths did she fight the hug, trying to pull back from him, trying to stay angry and distant. After that, however, she relaxed into it, pressing her head into his shoulder. She missed this, this physical contact. With Ribbon avoiding her and her avoiding Atlas, Kimiko being gone on some mission, and Tenshu busy with other things, she found that she was missing her Monkey and Benjy more and more. Or rather, she missed their hugs. They had never stopped touching her just because they were irritated with her for not listening to them.

“I know sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but everyone here cares about you. We’re all just incredibly protective of each other, and you are now one of us. So with that comes dealing with having others be upset with you when you do something stupid.” He paused for a moment and Amadhay frowned, upset that even Stefan thought she was in the wrong. Even though he couldn’t see it, he seemed to know she was frowning because he stroked her hair gently to calm her.

“I’m not going to defend Atlas,” he quickly continued when she started to argue, “Because he’s wrong. You were right to fight and it was within your rights to deal with the bones. But you have to understand that he thinks he’s doing the right thing for you,” Stefan spoke gently before placing a kiss to the crown of her head, making her sigh.

“How? First he yells at me for not letting Diable hurt me, then he tells me to sit on my hands and do nothing, he makes Ribbon avoid me, and he won’t talk to me, but sends you to make me happy.”

“Atlas didn’t send me,” Stefan stated, “I did this on my own.”

“Fine, Atlas gave you the picture.”

Atlas didn’t give me the picture.”

Amadhay frowned, pulling back so that she could look Stefan in the face. He let her, and she studied his serious expression. If Atlas hadn’t given it to him, then who had?

“And you don’t have to do nothing, Little Warrior. I know of so many things you could do if Atlas would only stop seeing you as a child he has to protect. You’ve been a warrior since birth.”

“Can you make him?” Amadhay asked hopefully, gripping his forearms.

Stefan laughed. “No one can force Atlas to do what he doesn’t want to do.”

She deflated. “Then can you at least tell me what I could be doing so that I can go around him?” she suggested, doubting that he would even consider it.

He did, though. He regarded her for a moment before looking around, to see who else was there. Seeing no one, he leaned in to her. “Atlas can never know that I told you,” he stressed, making her nod seriously.

“Atlas can never know what?” Atlas’ voice came from within the sand castle, making Stefan and Amadhay jump apart from each other and look guiltily inside. Well, Stefan looked guilty. Amadhay merely looked annoyed that he interrupted them. Atlas stepped out from inside of the sand castle, standing up tall and straight once he no longer had to lean down to avoid knocking the castle down or making a hole.

“Nothing,” Stefan quickly stated, crossing his arms over his chest. Amadhay slanted a glance first at the snake-man and then at Atlas.

“Stefan was just showing me the castle he made for me,” she said, glaring at the sand wall beside him. “But apparently you found it first. Hope you didn’t ruin it,” she snapped, making him glare down at her.

“I can assure you that I didn’t ruin your present,” he replied before turning his angry glare to Stefan. “Come with me. I have a mission for you.”

Next Page

amadhay: (Default)
 in which there are reconciliations



Sha’adahk made a horrifying face at Amadhay, momentarily making her freeze.

She looked behind her, even though she knew that no one was in the library except for her. She watched as his legs shifted awkwardly, some crawling right over the short table separating their parts of the room as he walked closer to her.

“Um,” she started, closing the magic book she had been reading. “Do you want something?” she asked.

His expression never wavered and for a moment, she wondered if he were giving her his version of a smile. It was hardly reassuring, but she was hoping, considering the alternative. The two fleshy parts that on a normal spider would have been the mandibles (but weren’t on him and she wasn’t sure if it was because he was an even more screwed up arachin than the normal ones) separated, and the fangs tilted upwards, making her unsure if he planned on eating her or if she were right and he was trying to smile at her. “I just wanted to talk,” he said, getting far too close to her for her comfort.

Amadhay shifted up from her seat, trying not to show that he was scaring her. Arachins were similar to vampires in that if they saw weak prey, it took a lot of effort for them not to attack. Considering she was already tiny compared to him, nearly half of his height and definitely less than half his weight, she knew she already let out all the signs for easy prey. She didn’t trust staying seated and vulnerable, especially not with his mouth open like that.

Also, she wasn’t too proud to admit that he intimidated her. He had ever since he had shown his true colors back when the Palnoki had tricked her into helping them kidnap Amaya. He was fast, possibly faster than she was, and definitely had a faster reaction time than she had. Factor that in with the fact that he could easily pick her up and carry her while climbing, and she put him right below Stefan and Atlas on the list of people she didn’t want to have to fight one on one. Ever. She wouldn’t win.

Though, of course, she tried to calm herself, giving him a strained smile, I’ll never have to fight any of them again. That did comfort her,  a little. Enough to speak to him without a tremble in her voice. “What did you want to talk about?” she asked.

“What happened between the two of us.” There was a strange click as he spoke. Amadhay thought it might have been his fangs clicking.

“We really don’t need to,” she said, feeling better now that she had managed to subtly shift them so that she was no longer backed into a corner. If things got serious, she could run. But they won’t, she tried to remind herself, because we’re all on the same side now.

“But I’d like to,” he said, still not changing his expression.

“For Escort’s sake, Sha. Stop smiling at her. You’re going to give her a heart-attack,” Stefan said from behind her.

Amadhay jolted, not having heard him sneak up behind her. She looked shiftily from Sha’adahk, to him, and then back, shifting again, but far less subtly this time so that her back was to neither of them. She wasn’t liking her odds. They aren’t odds. They’re not going to hurt me.

Sha’adahk closed his mouth. “It didn’t seem to bother her,” he said to Stefan, who scoffed.

“She was about to run screaming,” he assured the arachin, “Weren’t you Little Warrior?”

Amadhay shrugged, not really sure what to say there. To admit fear to the predator was never a good idea. Besides, she wasn’t sure what Stefan’s angle was. Sha’adahk, she decided, probably wasn’t going to eat her. He’d had all sorts of chances since Atlas and Ribbon had been gone for two weeks now. Stefan, on the other hand, had been creeping around her both weeks, showing up when she least expected him with little comments and that same childish nickname.

“I apologize then,” Sha’adahk said. The click in his voice was recognizable now and quite a bit less frightening now that he wasn’t smiling at her. “I only meant to put you at ease. I want to start over with you.”

Amadhay made a face. “Why?” she asked warily. She wanted to keep her eyes on the arachin as she spoke to him, but Stefan kept moving closer to her in tiny increments. She was positive he thought he was being sly. He wasn’t. He was distracting.

“We didn’t leave each other on the most amicable of terms the last we interacted,” Sha’adahk said.

“Yeah, well kidnapping my sister and tying me to the top of a tree tends to leave things pretty hostile.”

Stefan snickered, now close enough to Amadhay that he began playing with her hair. “Are you really one to talk there?”

Amadhay turned to him and swatted his hands from her hair. “Yes, I am. I was being friendly. He tied me to a tree.”

Sha’adahk gave a slightly frightening throaty laugh, making Amadhay flinch into Stefan, which made her flinch again, away from him. “I’m not sure if friendly is what you can call conspiring to double-cross me and have me killed.”

Amadhay shrugged. “As friendly as I get when you try to kidnap my family.”

“I’m not so sure that’s true,” Stefan pointed out. “Atlas kidnapped your sister twice.”

“Technically, he kidnapped both of us twice, so I cancel them out,” Amadhay said with a shrug. Both men laughed and she tried to suppress a smile.

“Sounds like a double standard,” Stefan said. Amadhay snorted at the horrible pun. “And a kidnapping fetish,” he added, making Amadhay shove at him.

“It is quite an unfair double standard, really. In fact, I feel that since we were both planning to betray each other and I was simply faster, that my past mistake should be cancelled out,” Sha’adahk tried.

“My double standards don’t have to be fair to anyone but me.” Amadhay said before giving him a look and adding, “You tied me to a tree. I’m not forgiving you.”

“Would you feel better if you tied him to a tree?” Stefan suggested.

Amadhay gave him a look to tell him how little she thought of that suggestion. “It’s not the tree that’s the problem. The problem is the wound to my pride.”

“How about we transfer the wounds then?” Stefan suggested. “You wounded my pride when you shot me.”

“How about when I gutted you?”

“No. That just pissed me off.” He twirled a curl around his finger as he gave her an admiring grin, “And actually impressed me. I wasn’t expecting that use of the hangers.”

The compliment threw her off enough that she didn’t smack him away from her again. Instead, the girl beamed, glad that someone saw the ingenuity in her past escape attempts. Using the hangers as a weapon had been a stroke of genius, evil genius, but genius nonetheless. “Glad to know that I could get you off guard,” she said.

“We’ve held a good number of people,” Stefan started. Sha’adahk knocked one of his long legs into the snake man. “What?” he snapped at the arachin.

“I’m sure that she’d prefer not to hear about prisoners that we’ve had,” he said pointedly.

“Why not?” Stefan demanded. “You want to hear what I was saying, don’t you?”

“Well…” Amadhay drawled, going back to her previous seat. It was pretty obvious to her at this point that neither man wished her any harm. If anything, they both seemed to be trying to get on her good side. Only once she was seated again, propping one of her elbows up on the book she’d been reading did she continue, “I dunno. Hearing about other prisoners when I used to be one could be so traumatizing,” she joked with a dramatically upset expression twisting her lips down and turning, with her eyes almost closed.

Neither man seemed to realize that she was joking, though, and Sha’adahk practically fell over himself, apologizing for Stefan, who stood there like a statue, staring at her. She kept a straight expression for a few clicks, staring at both men until Stefan opened his mouth to say something.

It was then that she cackled. “You guys. I’m kidding. I want to know what you were going to say. No trauma, I swear.”

Stefan narrowed his eyes at her as Sha’adahk opened and closed his mouth mutely a few times, as if unsure what to say to that. “Now I’m of a mind to just let the curiosity eat away at you,” Stefan said, turning away from her.

She didn’t have to see his mouth to know he was smiling. There was a strange way his entire body curved when he was enjoying himself. She had a feeling it was rare, but he seemed to always have that when he was around her, unless, of course he was furious or unsure.

“You know when I get a case of the Curiosities, it’s deadly if not tended to,” she said, making the man shake his head. He was still smiling and it made her smile. She put both elbows on the book and propped her head up on her interlaced fingers. “So, really, it’s your duty to tell me what you were going to say now that you’ve piqued the Curiosities.”

Sha’adahk let out a choking sound that she was pretty sure was him laughing. It had a grating quality to it, but at the same time, it was somewhat warm. “The child has a point,” he added, making Amadhay grimace. She hated when they referred to her as ‘the child’ or ‘the lady’.

Fine, fine,” Stefan said, as if he had genuinely been considering leaving, which Amadhay greatly doubted. She didn’t know why, but the man seemed to go out of his way to be around her when he could. He finally turned back to her and Sha’adahk, who had apparently found comfort in his position with his back legs propped up on the bookshelves and front legs on the table, almost reaching to Amadhay. His middle two sets of legs just hung below him, barely bending.

“As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted,” Stefan began again, giving Sha’adahk a look. The arachin clicked his teeth in a clearly threatening way, making Amadhay sit back a little. “We’ve held a lot of people, most of them powerful, some of them less powerful, but no less tricky. In all that time, I have to say that you were definitely the most difficult one to keep.”

“Really?” Amadhay asked, feeling proud of herself.

Sha’adahk seemed to disagree. “What about the White Soldier?”

Stefan rolled his eyes. “He broke after less than five clacks with me.”

“And you never used your ability on her.”

Stefan was silent for a few beats, before focusing on Amadhay. She began to feel a nauseous movement in her stomach return from earlier that day, when she’d nearly eaten some fruit salad concoction with bananas in it. After a click or so of the nausea, her stomach became sore. The soreness slowly turned into a dull, throbbing pain. That pain escalated to a sharp one, and Amadhay was suddenly reminded of when she was small, when the Palnoki had kidnapped her and Amaya. When she had fought him the first day, Stefan had merely glared at her and made pain appear.

She narrowed her eyes for less than a click and then raised an eyebrow. She didn’t know what Stefan was playing at, but she wasn’t going to give him anything to go by. She had dealt with far worse pain than this before.

“Why are you staring at me?” she asked when it felt like her ribs were broken. She’d dealt with worse. And most of all, beyond that, she knew it wasn’t real. He might be making her feel as though she were in pain, obviously taking Control and expanding the slight upset in her stomach, but the pain wasn’t actually there. All that was there was the aftermath of a taste of banana, a very, very weak allergic reaction.

And then the pain stopped. Stefan looked to Sha’adahk, who looked unsure. “And there was the five clacks under my ability,” he stated to the arachin, who jolted upright.

“What is the matter with you?” the man demanded, looking over Amadhay. Aside from a slight rub of her ribcage, she gave no indication that she had been in pain. She shrugged.

“Just proving a point. There is a reason Atlas didn’t pit me against her.”

“Other than your psychotic tendencies?” Sha’adahk spat, making Amadhay even more curious.

“Psychotic tendencies?” she questioned. Sha’adahk refocused on her, as if he had forgotten that she was still there.

“None of your concern,” the arachin assured her.

Amadhay rolled her eyes. “I’m not worried,” she stated, making Stefan grin a wide, almost disturbing grin at her. “I’m sure I could take him if he started having psychotic thoughts for me.”

Sha’adahk shook his head. “You don’t understand.”

“And I won’t unless you tell me,” she pointed out.

He shook his head again. “It’s not my place to say.” She looked to Stefan for an explanation, but Sha’adahk cut in before the man could say anything. “It’s not his place to tell either.”

“It’s not his place to tell me about his psychotic tendencies?” Amadhay asked in disbelief. “I think it’s probably only his.”

Sha’adahk shook his head, and after a moment, Stefan shrugged. “It’s nothing to think too hard on,” he said, reaching over Sha’adahk’s legs to pat her head. She pouted at him, making sure to make her eyes as wide and pitiful as possible while jutting out her lips into a perfectly saccharine pout.

“But now I want to know,” she whined, allowing Stefan to play with her hair even though she knew he was messing it up.

“How about I tell you about some of the people we’ve held captive?”

She continued pouting for a clack before remembering something she’d once heard. “Did you really have the Thief Lord after Ainran was destroyed?” she asked in a whisper, as if it were a secret.

“Until the day he died,” Stefan said, a cruel smirk spreading onto his face. It was then that she thought she might understand his particular brand of psychotic tendencies. They looked a lot like they were the same as her own.

“Did you kill him?” she asked, glancing at Sha’adahk, whose face was a mask of disapproval, though even she could recognize an arachin smirk.

“I didn’t mean to,” Stefan bluffed. She knew it was a bluff because he did the most hilarious fluttering of eyes she’d ever seen in her life. And she was counting the one time that Alphonse had come in on her fluttering her eyelashes to get what she wanted from Benjy and Rea and then mockingly mimicked her. “It was just too much to keep myself from torturing the worm, and to make it good, I needed him to be hurt to exploit the wounds with my Gift and then…” he trailed off for a moment and then gave an apologetic shrug. “He just couldn’t take it.”

There was a smirk on his lips that Amadhay recognized as her own when she was remembering a particularly satisfying kill. A glance at Sha’adahk told her that the arachin had probably had some part in the kill, since his smirk had completely overtaken his other expression. She grinned. It was nice being around people who understood the thrill.

Next Chapter

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 In which Johannes’ not Rea



Amadhay honestly couldn’t put into words how horrified she was that the cyborg had a sharp, pointy object to the back of her head.

Kimiko had rushed off to get Johannes and come back with almost everyone in tow. Ribbon and Atlas had immediately fussed over her while Stefan and Johannes had checked over the wound. The arachin, vampires, and reaper all stood in her doorway, looking in, and Amadhay felt like she was under observation.

“I don’t think everyone was needed to stitch up this scratch,” she muttered under her breath. The looks she received told her that they didn’t appreciate her comment.

“It’s a bit more than a scratch,” Atlas reminded her, holding hair out of Johannes’ way as the cyborg stitched the wound closed.

“And she was going to heal it herself,” Kimiko added, making Amadhay glare toward her when she received more disapproving looks.

“I didn’t know,” Amadhay whined, flinching when she felt the floss-like thread tugging at her skin.

Johannes had immediately numbed the area with a salve before doing anything else, something Amadhay was thankful for. The cyborg had even put gloves on and snarled at anyone who got too close to the wound without her permission. That was the only way this reminded her of Rea. The dragon was incredibly possessive of Amadhay’s wounds, had been since the first time Amadhay had needed medical attention, when she was four and Amaya had nearly drowned her accidentally. For some reason the dragon still refused to explain, Rea had claimed Amadhay as her patient for as long as the girl lived. No one but Rea had ever healed Amadhay, so this was a strange experience for her.

The dragon did things differently than the cyborg did. For one, Rea would have been talking to her, while Johannes had yet to say a single word. Rea had always knocked her out if she had to put in stitches or set a bone, claiming that Amadhay was too whiney and fidgety of a patient. Rea always made her go to the medical wing to be treated, whereas Johannes had brought everything to her.

“There,” Johannes finally spoke, dropping the bloody needle on Amadhay’s vanity table. Amadhay looked at her by way of her reflection in the mirror. She attempted a smile, but the cyborg had a deadly serious look on her face. “If I ever hear of you attempting self healing again, I will tear your brain out,” she threatened, making Amadhay stare at her in surprise.

“Got me?” the cyborg demanded when Amadhay didn’t say anything. Amadhay glanced to Ribbon and Kimiko, who both gave her looks that told her to answer the cyborg.

“Yes?” she tried, glancing to Atlas, who was struggling to keep himself from laughing.

“Good.” Scarlet dropped a piece of mint chocolate in Amadhay’s hand and left the room, taking the four in the hallway with her.

Yeah, Rea had never given her candy either.

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