March 13, 2013 by Lyn
Sunday, February 8, 2004
Niassa was gone for hours, possibly for eons.
Wylie got bored enough to clean the suite, scrub the bathroom and kitchen, wash all his clothes, offer to do Lemon’s laundry, talk Cody into letting him do their laundry, pointedly ignore Olifur’s laundry, cook dinner, cook dessert, cook tomorrow’s dinner (he wasn’t a very good cook, but he could make casseroles, and Lemon was getting round and slow with her twins), bother Hylakaros some more, and, finally, do a little homework.
It wasn’t all boredom, of course. Some of it was anxiety. Some of it was the bond telling him he should be doing something. What, he didn’t know. But Niassa was off hunting monsters and here he was, pacing around doing the laundry.
“Better come back with her shield.” He muttered it at the stubborn stain on the floor. “Why aren’t there cleaning Workings?”
Distracted or not, miserable or not, he was up faster than even he thought he could move when the door opened, pride be damned. Yolanda and Niassa limped through the door, leaning on each other and dripping blood all over the tile Wylie had just cleaned.
He didn’t care. He didn’t care one bit. “Cody!” He barely remembered to shout it before he ducked under Niassa’s free arm. “Shouldn’t you be at Dr. Caitrin’s?”
“They’ve got their hands full. We’re walking wounded, anyway.” She was leaning on him. Wylie couldn’t remember her ever leaning on him. “Bathroom?”
“Come on. What…”
“I think it was a unicorn. For the record, I hate unicorns.”
Behind them, Cody rushed out of her room. “Yolanda! Wylie’s right, we should be at Caitrin’s!” She ducked under Yolanda’s free arm. “Where are you hurt? Wait, working… Idu Tlacatl Yolanda…”
“Easy, kiddo, easy. It’s not that bad.” Yolanda sounded amused – but she also sounded a bit strained. Wylie glanced at the two of them.
“Wait, unicorns?” He didn’t know whether he wanted to look at Niassa or Cody right now.
Cody was trying to support Yolanda, all protests ignored. “Not that bad! Someone put holes in you and it’s not that bad?” She went from concerned to glaring at her Keeper. “Then apologize to Wylie for getting the floor all bloody if it’s not that bad. He’s been working hard cleaning everything.”
“Hey…” Wylie was ignored.
Cody took a long, clearly measured breath. “After we get you two patched up of course.”
“Dr. Caitrin,” Niassa repeated carefully, “is very busy right now. But Wylie…” She pushed Wylie gently away from her. “Go wake up Olifur, please. He’s better at Tlacatl than I am.”
Wylie found he agreed with Cody; he didn’t want to leave Niassa’s side. But that was too close to an order to ignore at all.
Olifur was roused from his room with little effort. “Shit, you two…” He glanced at the room Lemon shared with Hylakaros. “No, we’ll let them sleep. Cody, go get a couple sheets. Wylie, go get the scissors.”
“Scissors, what?” He didn’t have to do what Olifur told him. Didn’t have to – if he didn’t want his Keeper patched up. “Wait, what’s this about a unicorn? Is this some Addergoole thing?”
“I don’t think Addergoole’s ever had a Unicorn Change, but – well, there was Azumi. I take it back.” Niassa and Yolanda let Olifur get them settled on the floor that Wylie had just scrubbed.
“Masks down, both of you.” Olifur was being bossier than Wylie had ever seen him around the Crew. Somehow, the two of them obeyed. Wylie was impressed. Niassa never listened to him.
And then Olifur pushed it further. “Shirts off.”
“Off. You know I’m a professional.”
The shirts came off. Wylie glanced away and then peeked. And then stared.
“Those aren’t… small… holes, Niassa.”
“I did say unicorn.” Her voice was sounding thin. Wylie swallowed a tight whine.
“Less talking. More healing.” Olifur’s voice didn’t sound very happy, either. “Wylie. Cody. I don’t think you kids want to be here.”
“Yeah, I do.” Wylie sat a little more firmly. “She’s…” His voice caught, and he just ended it there.
“No.” Cody was quieter than Wylie, but no less firm. “I’m not running.”
As firm as she spoke she still paled at the sight of the wounds. Twisting the sheets Wylie didn’t remember her fetching in her hands.
“All right. Here we go.” He began Working, the words resonating, almost shaking the room.
He had to be good at those Words to get that much reverb. That’s what Dr. Mendosa had said, at least; the stronger you were with your Words, the more the world sang back with you.
He hadn’t expected the school psychiatrist to have a poetic side. And he didn’t know why he was thinking about his Mentor right now, except that thinking about anything else was easier than thinking about the massive gouges in Niassa’s side, or the long cuts ripping up Yolanda.
They didn’t look sexy. In movies and stuff, girls that had gotten all bloody looked sexy. They looked hurt, and messy, and a little bit gross.
Watching the wounds heal was almost as gross as looking at them all beat up. First things closed together under the skin, and then the skin closed together, and then everything seemed to be grey for a moment, and then the color returned.
Niassa was missing some feathers on her arm. Wylie stroked the wing-like appendage closer to him carefully, the way she had taught him to. “Do the feathers count as Panida? I’m good at that one.”
His Keeper still wasn’t sounding good when she laughed, but she sounded a lot more human. Well. Superhuman. “No, sorry, pup. It’s all Flesh of Makers. Even the feathery bits.”
Yolanda twisted to look at him. Her skin was getting some blood back, too, not looking so ashen. “You never tried on yourself?”
“Well… yeah. Of course I did. But maybe it’s different for other people?”
“Nope.” Niassa squeezed his hand. “Don’t worry. The feathers will grow back, or I can heal them later.” She looked down at the floor. “The carpet, on the other hand… and these pants. I really liked these pants.”
“I really liked those pants, too.” They were leather, and they fit her like a second skin. It had made watching her go off to battle a little easier. “Oh!” He facepalmed with his free hand, the one that wasn’t still clinging to Niassa’s hand. “Hylakaros.”
“What did he do?”
“Yolanda, lay down. I can’t heal you if you’re wiggling all the messed up bits around.”
“Lay down. Wylie, shut up if you can’t be helpful.”
“He didn’t do anything bad. But he’s Kept, too, and his Keeper went off to fight monsters, too. You know?”
“Oh.” Yolanda lay back down.
“Hunh.” Niassa squeezed Wylie’s hand. “Didn’t think of that.” She glanced over at Wylie. “You okay?”
“I’m not the one with the holes through me!”
“Neither am I, now. Look. Doug’s fine. Doug is a tough old lizard.”
“Good.” He didn’t feel like leaving her side enough to tell Hylakaros right now, and he wasn’t entirely certain the former Nedetaka actually cared, but he made a note to make sure he told the guy later.
“What did you guys run into?”
“Told you, unicorn.”
“The unicorn was second.” Yolanda sat up slowly. “The critter thing was first. The cute little… tiger-bird thing.”
“Cute.” Niassa snorted. “Cute.”
“Well, it was. Until it bit.”
“Yeah. Tell Leo that.”
It began to sink in that other people had been involved, too. Wylie swallowed, hard. “Is everyone okay?”
They both fell silent.
Wylie squirmed. “That’s not an answer.”
Cody kept staring at Yolanda. Wylie was pretty sure what she was thinking. Niassa was healed now, and she had Wylie. Now Cody could give her Keeper all of her attention. She might want to care about everyone else. She might not have the room to worry right now. She just wanted to hug Yolanda without being yelled at.
All that was important was that Yolanda was safe now and they’re together.
Wylie knew how that felt. He was feeling pretty much exactly that.
Yolanda cleared her throat. “Nobody died.”
“That doesn’t exactly sound like a rousing endorsement.”
“It’s not supposed to. There were a lot of injuries. And, early on – well, the Doctor is still working on Arundel and Lee.”
“Lee?” Wylie didn’t really know the winged guy, but Lee was his friend, at least as much as Lee was allowed to have friends. “What happened to Lee? Why was Lee involved?”
“Luke thought it was a good idea.” Niassa never spoke ill of her Mentor. Ever. But it sounded like she wanted to, this time.
“Luke’s kinda weird.” That much, he could get away with. Nobody was going to yell at him for that. Probably. “What happened to Lee?” He’d keep repeating himself as long as he had to, until he got an answer.
“The medusa.” It was Yolanda who managed to tell him something. “Sybil. I guess she ran into their little away team and got pissed.”
“Medu… shit.” Wylie knew what that meant. “Shit, shit. I thought you said nobody died!”
He didn’t have any choice, but he glared at Niassa anyway. “I really hate it when you do that to me.”
She patted his shoulder. “You need to be calm, now, because I can’t handle you flipping out while my guts are still sort of misaligned. You can flip out later, okay?”
“…okay. So. Stone?” It felt really, really weird to not be able to get worked up about that. One of his friend had been turned into rock. “What about the others?”
“Quintus and Belfreja and the upperclassmen got out fine; Leo, of course, stayed as long as he could to hold off the monsters. I believe his Kept is giving him hell right now.”
“Smart Kept.” Wylie patted Niassa’s side. “How can they be turned to stone and not dead?”
“It’s really, really, really hard to kill an Ellehemaei.”
“Without rowan or hawthorn,” Yolanda inserted.
“Without rowan or hawthorn. Those’ll do it but usually just with an arterial strike.”
“This is stuff that is useful to know.”
“I didn’t really want you knowing that you could survive jumping off a hundred-foot bridge.”
“I was fairly certain you’d try it.”
“Where am I going to find a hundred-foot-bridge around here?”
“Wylie, you managed to get in trouble before you even got to Addergoole. You almost got yourself Kept in the airport. I’m sure you’d find a way.”
“You’re as healed as I can make you.” Olifur’s interruption seemed designed to shut Wylie up, so he shut up. “I’d suggest cleaning up, and then rest. Lots of rest. Wylie, that means stop yelling at your Keeper.”
“I’m not yelling at her!” He stood up, because he could still do that, at least, and offered Niassa his hands. “Come on, boss. While I wash you off, you can tell me how being hard to kill means being a block of stone isn’t still dead.”
“A block of hawthorn would be different.” Yolanda turned her attention to her own Kept with that little nugget. And, in a move so unlike her that Wylie almost started to worry all over again, Niassa let Wylie help her up.
“Yo’s right.” She didn’t lean on him. Much. But she had her arm around his waist as they headed to the bathroom. “Being turned into stone is really, really tricky to reverse, but as far as I know, it’s not fatal.”
“But being turned into a block of wood would be?”
“Hawthorn has this nasty habit of making Working around it nearly impossible. And it’s poison to get into your bloodstream. Which means…”
“Yeah.” Wylie shuddered. “Yeah, I get it.”
Showering together wasn’t Niassa’s style, so, while they’d shared a shower on a couple occasions, usually when really dirty, Wylie still wasn’t sure where he should put his hands, or, for that matter, his tail. He settled for taking the washcloth and soap and very gingerly working on the caked blood and other gore covering his Keeper.
“I’m not made of china, you know. You can be a little rougher.”
“You had holes in you a half hour ago. Let me be careful?”
“I don’t like being coddled.”
“I can tell.” Her complaints were pressing against the bond, making Wylie feel awful. “You don’t usually whine this much about anything. You didn’t whine this much about getting stabbed by a unicorn.”
“I am not whining.”
“Yes, ma’am. Turn around and let me get your hair, ma’am?”
“You’re being a brat on purpose, aren’t you?”
“I’m this way naturally, ma’am. I think it’s just my name, or my upbringing, or something, ma’am.”
“Wylie, if you call me ma’am one more time, I’m going to… to…”
He grinned at the back of her hair. “Sorry, ma’am.”
“You!” She turned around, narrowly missing getting his hands full of shampoo in her face. She was, he noted, smiling. “Are you trying to get me to punish you?”
“I don’t have a clue what punishing me would look like, ma’am.”
“There was that time I made you sit in a corner.”
He shrugged. “I wouldn’t sit still, and you were having a bad day. I figured it was your way of getting me to hold still. My mom used to do the same thing. Ma’am. I can’t wash your hair like this.”
She turned around. “Are you comparing me to your mother?”
“No, ma’am, I think you’re doing that.” He loved the way her hair felt in his hand. “I mean. I’m yours, Niassa. And you’re home safe. You can do whatever you want to me. Times two.”
“Once for the fact that you can, because of this magical bond thingy. And once because, today, you’re home and I’m not going to argue with anything.”
“Anything?” She turned around again, this time with a steamy look. Wylie gulped.
“You’re injured…” He knew it was a weak protest. He didn’t know why he was even trying to protest.
“I’ve been healed. I think I can handle it.”
“You’re in charge.” He found a smile and gave it to her. “Ma’am.”
Wylie was up, dressed, and already drooling over the Dining Hall’s Sunday Brunch when Niassa woke up.
“Where are you going?”
“Brunch?” He felt his ears going flat and a whine forming. He hated it when his Change decided to do things without asking him first..
“We can’t leave our suite. Well, you can’t.”
“What? What did I doooo?” He groaned it out, swallowing his whines. “Come on, it’s Sunday.”
“And there are still monsters in the halls.”
“…Wait, what? Why are we just sitting here, then?”
“Because my Mentor and my father ordered me back to my room for at least twenty-four hours.”
“…oh.” He thought back to the evening before, which suddenly didn’t seem as much fun or romantic as being a convenient distraction. “Oh, I see.”
“Come here, Wylie.”
“Yes, ma’am.” The term was a little dryer in his mouth tonight than it had been yesterday. But, well, he came, and sat down on the edge of the bed.
He was a little surprised at the firmness of the hug she yanked him in to. “You’re transparent, Wylie cy’Mendosa oro’Niassa.”
“I like you being transparent. Since you’re still male and you don’t actually tell me what’s going on in your head.” She tapped his forehead.
This was not going the way he’d expected. “Uh… Uh, I don’t think…”
“Obviously.” She squeezed him. “You’re sulking. Why are you sulking?”
“Niasssssa. I don’t want to talk about it.” He squirmed, trying to get away, but she had him held tightly. “Niassa…?”
“Wylie. There’s monsters in the hall and I got jabbed by a unicorn yesterday. Could you at least tell me what you’re thinking?”
The thing was, they both knew she could make it an order, and they both noticed that she wasn’t. Wylie tried to stop the low whine that came out of his throat. “Glad I could distract you yesterday, from being stuck in here with me.”
“…Wylie.” She shook her head. “Look, I told you when I collared you that I was no good at this romance shit.”
“Neither am I! I don’t like romance! Having a girl… Keeper… owner thing who isn’t into romance is great!” Could they, please, stop talking about this before he put his foot in his mouth again?
“Yeah.” She sighed. “Obviously. Okay. Look, yesterday wasn’t about ‘let’s pass the time until I can kill monsters again.’ It was ‘holy fuck I’m still alive, let’s celebrate that.’“ She stared at him, like she was trying to read his mind. “You understand?”
“…Hunh.” He hadn’t thought about it. “It was that bad?”
“It was that bad. And coming home – to you, you little dipshit – was that good.”
“And you’re going to go out and do it again, aren’t you?”
“I am. It’s what I do.”
Wylie sighed, and wrapped his arms around her. “Not yet?”
“Hasn’t been twenty-four hours. Which means you, mister sad-puppy, get at least a few more hours to, ah, distract me.”
Wylie grinned at her. “But no waffles?”
“I think Lemon would forgive us invading her kitchen long enough to make waffles.” She smacked Wylie’s butt, in the way only she could get away with. “Get your pants on, puppy-boy, and find me a shirt. We’ll make you your waffles.”
Happily, Wylie bounded out of bed to do as he was told. It was only as he saw the healed pucker of a wound in Niassa’s side that he thought about the severity of the situation.
“How bad is it?”
“Well. It depends on if they care about our sanctity, or if they come crashing through our doors.”
Wylie half-expected to hear a boom as she said that. He looked around, and, when no crash was forthcoming, finished getting his pants on. “But we’re not allowed out in the halls.”
“Not yet. They’ll probably cancel classes tomorrow. And as far as I know, they’ve never done that before.”
“Woah.” He found a shirt, too, just because being topless around Cody and Lemon made him uncomfortable. “So it’s really bad.”
“Yeah. But I mean, we’d gotten pretty far when Doug sent us back. It was just…”
“Just the holes through you, right.” Wylie shrugged his shoulders and tried not to think too hard about it. “So you’re going to go back to the fighting?”
“Yeah. If there’s still fighting to go back to in twenty-four hours, or if, well, if nobody else is in any shape to fight before then.” She tied a bandanna over her hair.
“Can I help? I mean, it’s not like I need to wrap bandages or anything, but there’s got to be something I can do…”
As he’d hoped, the joke let her smile about his question while giving a real answer, too.
“If you wanted to stay behind a barricade and use Pan… animal control on them, that would probably help a lot. I’m told it works. Not always well, and not always easily. But every little bit.”
“Let’s have waffles, then, and then I’ll go enlist myself.”
“Woah, cowboy. We’re still on more experienced students. It can wait until I go back on duty.”
Wylie felt a bit relieved, and a lot guilty that he felt relieved. “You’re the boss, boss.”
“And, besides.” She pulled him close again. “I might need a little more nursing back into health before I go off to war again.”
Wylie’s cheeks heated up. “Yes, ma’am! Uh… after breakfast?”
His Keeper had a lovely laugh, low and mellow like velvet. “Of course I have to feed my growing boy, yes. After breakfast.”
Two hours left. The clock was ticking, slowly, and Yolanda and Niassa had gone from cheerfully distracting themselves to pacing back and forth like caged tigers. Olifur had gone off to play field medic, at the behest of a very strained Nurse Jo. And Lemon and Hylakaros were wisely spending most of their time in their room.
Wylie risked turning on the TV, because if he stayed staring at Niassa walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, he was going to go as mad as she seemed to be going. A little bit of…
…static and snow. “Great.”
“We’re at war and you want your CSI?” Yolanda snorted it out impatiently.
“We’re at war and I can’t do anything until you guys can do something. And I don’t know how to knit.”
That didn’t get either of the responses he’d expected; they didn’t yell at him, and they didn’t laugh. Both women stared at him like he’d said something horrible.
“What? You’re looking at me like I’m killing babies or som…”
Niassa grabbed Yolanda’s arm a split second before her hand would have connected with Wylie’s face. “Yo. Yo, stop it. Stop it. He’s just being himself. He didn’t mean…”
“He should watch his fucking mouth.”
“Oh, come on, Yolanda. He didn’t mean anything by it.”
Wylie watched the two women, afraid to say anything at all. Okay, the joke had been a little crude, but unless Yolanda had…
“Shit.” He tried to become one with the cushions. “Yolanda, I didn’t mean anything by it…” But why had the knitting pissed them off. “I’m sorry, whatever I said…?” Please?
Yolanda stopped fighting against Niassa’s hold and just stared. “Ni. Ni, does he know?”
Did he know what? Shit. Shit. “Probably not, I don’t know anything.” Come on, guys, just joking, right? Ha-ha? He made his most hopeful sad-puppy face at the two of them, ears and all.
Niassa took a long breath. “No. He doesn’t. None of it. I’ll tell him after this, though.”
“Which this? This conversation, this fight, this school year…”
“Yolanda. Yo. I’ll tell him after this fight. Okay?”
“Tell me what?” He was whining again. Damnit.
“Something I’ll tell you tonight. Wylie, it’s okay. I just don’t want you distracted going into this.”
“…there’s some big thing you won’t tell me and you don’t think I’ll be distracted, somehow?”
“I think you’ll be more distracted if I tell you. Or you could stay here in the room, while Yolanda and I go fight again.”
“No, no, man.” He shut his mouth before he could say anything stupid, and then opened it again anyway. “I just… why now? Why about knitting?”
“It’s complicated, Wylie. I promise you I’ll explain when today’s fighting is…”
A loud crash interrupted her, and then another one. Doug’s head peeked through a new hole in their wall. His face was bleeding and half his hair had been burnt off. “Break’s over.”
“Shit. Wylie, get behind something and start working control beasts. Come on, Yo. We got this.”
She was wild when she was in combat. It was like watching some predator take down a zebra, except that Niassa was a third the size of the creature they were fighting, which was some sort of dragon-armadillo hybrid.
Okay, dragons might not really count as Panida, but armadillo definitely did. He stared at the rear end of the thing, and started muttering his Workings.
He wasn’t all that good at Greek. That kept throwing him. But he was sitting in his own living room, so after he did a first hasty Working, he grabbed the English to Greek textbook and starting flipping through.
Okay. Armadillo, armadillo. He could find that. And dragon, which was worth a try, wasn’t it?
“Why isn’t there a word for armadillo in Greek?” He knew he was whining, but that thing was burning Niassa. “Damn it! Okay, okay, beast. It’s a beast all right. Thirío! Tempura panda.. Tempero Panida thirío páfsi!” Stop, stop this. Stop it!” He grabbed hold of the creature’s will and held it as tightly as he could.
Across the hall, he could hear someone else shouting out the same Working. As long as they weren’t pulling it in separate directions!
“Damnit, damnit. Okay.” He had gotten behind something. Technically, he had done what he was ordered to. He could move over there…
“Lemon!” Hylakaros’ voice was gruff, and momentarily distracted Wylie. “You don’t have the Word for this and Doug was quite clear about keeping you out of harm’s way.” He was standing in her doorway, stopping the pregnant girl from surging into the living room. “Don’t make me sit on you.” He glanced over his shoulder, “Besides, Coyote’s got this.”
Wylie grinned at the former Nedetakaei and turned his attention back to the hall, just as someone dashed across, under the flailing neck of the beast. A shortish, stocky girl with red hair and goat hooves – Fran? Frances? A Sixth Cohort, he was pretty sure, and now she was shouting into the hole in the suite’s wall. “Okay, can you grab its tail and I’ll get its forefeet, and we can pin it with Tempero that way?”
Wylie nodded. “Can do. Okay. Tempero Panida thirío…”
“Ourá,” the goat-girl offered.
“Ourá delta!” He put all of his energy into it, concentrating on the idea of holding the beast’s tail and hind legs still. Like tying them together. They were hog-tying a dragon.
He stifled a mad giggle and repeated the Working again, and again, until Niassa and Yolanda drove their weapons through the creature’s thick hides, until it stopped spurting out blood, until it stopped moving altogether.
“There.” The goat-girl leaned against… nothing, as far as Wylie could tell, in the hole in the wall. “Good job, kid.”
“Thanks.” His voice was a croak. He walked to the sink, filled up two glasses with water, and pushed one through the hole for the girl. Fran. For Fran. “You’re pretty strong with animals.”
“My best Word.”
“That’s awesome. My best Word is Intinn, but I don’t get to play with it much. People don’t really want you tampering with their minds, much.”
“Yeah, makes sense. At least you can’t blow up the school with that.”
“Yeah, I can’t do kw… the quick word, at all.” He shrugged. “I’m support staff, or so I’m told.”
“You’re pretty damn good support staff. Are you any good at Abatu?”
He felt his ears go down. “No. No, I can’t even think it too hard.”
“That’s okay. Everyone has their bad Words. I’m gonna take this thing apart before it starts to stink more. Thanks for the water.”
“Wish I could help more.”
“Can you come out? It looks clear out here, and we could use the help with clean-up.”
It was kind of a humiliating question, but Wylie understood it. “Is Niassa still out there?”
“Down the hall, dealing with a squid-thing.”
“I should be fine.” He ducked out through the hole. “And I’ve got lots of practice cleaning up.”
Late Sunday, February 4
“Go fish.” Damaris looked at her hand, and then at the pot, as Miryam picked up a card. “There has to be something better to do with the time.”
“I have an idea.” Kendon leered it. Miryam smiled at him, which at least shut him up for a few minutes.
Professor VanderLinden had told her that her trick with the smiles – or the kisses, even more so – was addictive. She’d figured that out by the time the Professor had bothered to mention it. When it came to people like Kendon, she didn’t really mind.
“We could watch movies.” Kat stared at her own cards.
“Good luck getting even three of us to agree on movies. Kat, give me an ace.”
“I don’t have one, Damaris.” She bit her lip. Miryam risked poking Damaris in the arm.
“Damn. Sorry, that wasn’t an order. Agra, that’s a silly order, anyway.”
“Why are you arguing with her having to do what you want?” Kendon’s voice was dreamy, but still far too coherent. Miryam contemplated kissing him.
“Because then I have to watch my words.”
“Go fish, Damaris. Agravain, do you have a two?”
“Here, kitty-Kat. Damie, it’s not a big deal.” Agra shook his head. “Is it, Kat?”
Kat turned a bit ashen. “No, sir.”
“Seriously, Damie, you’ve been criticizing like everything I do with Kat lately. Why don’t you just challenge me and get it over with?”
“I don’t want Kat as a Kept. I prefer guys.”
“You couldn’t beat Agra anyway.” Kendon laughed like he was being clever. Miryam smiled at him again. “Come on, Damie, you know you’re worthless in a fight.”
Miryam leaned back. This could get bad, fast. “I know that, do I?”
“If you don’t, you’re more of a stupid bitch than I thought. Of course you can’t beat Agra in a fight.”
“And what about you?”
“What, me? You don’t have anything to challenge me for.”
Oh, this could get really, really bad. “Agra…” Miryam lowered her voice. “Can Kat and I…”
Agravain spared her a glance. “Yeah. Kat, go with Mir. Stay with Mir until Damie or I come get you.”
“Yes, Master.” She and Miryam fled to Miryam’s room, where they could watch from within the doorway.
The fight had continued to escalate. Damaris was standing on top of the table. Kendon was sneering up at her. “You know you might as well just give up now.”
“I’m not one of your little Kepties, Kendon. It doesn’t work the same way.” She looked uncertain, though. Kendon did that to people.
“Tempero Hugr Kendon cy’Ginger.” Miryam whispered it under her breath, quiet enough that Kat might hear her but no-one else would. If she could knock him off his game, too, it might level the playing field.
“You might not be…” He began to sound uncertain. “Well. You know you can’t beat me in a fight.”
“But I don’t have to beat you.” She began drawing on the table with a sharpie. Oh, this was going to get interesting. “I just have to stay out of your way.”
Before Miryam could say anything, Kat grabbed the door and pulled it shut. “Mind if I do a seal?”
Damaris had some wicked sandstorms when she got going. “Seal sounds like a wonderful idea to me.”
They didn’t need to worry about the war outside. They had their crew, and that was worry enough.
Art by the Inventrix
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