Chapter Fifteen – In Darkness Bloodlust Birthed
Calhalla Holt, Mossreign Dale, Southern Dagger Fells Cord
1st Set of Temperance, Month of Foundations 8178
Leaning an elbow on the wall, Zakeriel ducked in front of Khes, blocked her vacant stare up through the barred window. With a languid blink, she rolled her head to the side then shifted back on the bed to lean back against the wall.
“You have a lovely room waiting for you upstairs… not in a prison. With a lovely bath- you remember baths? I remember baths. Warm, cozy… very comfortable.” He grinned, “that naked part is nice too, not that I’m proposing I be present.”
“You are welcome to my bath if you want it Zakeriel,” she hugged one knee with a smirk. “I’m certain most would agree you need it more than I.”
A hand fell to his chest. “Now that hurts. I put on scented oils just for you. Tried to make it special to lure you out of your cage.”
Her lips parted in an ‘oh‘ as she nodded then flicked a finger toward her tray of food. “I actually thought the meat had gone off.”
The Shae’s brow set as he sat up, gripping the edge of the bed. “You’re right terrible. This his doing? I don’t remember you being so mean before.”
“Not mine,” Atirian smirked from the doorway. “I imagine she has more than a fortnight’s worth of saucy tales to tell of my exploits. I never shy from an opportunity to bed a young soldier.”
Zakeriel’s nose and ears flamed red as he stammered for a retort. Looking to Khes for help, she dropped her gaze, remained quiet. As he rose, Khes lifted her eyes to watch him, concerned he might start a fight. It was not very clear to her where everyone stood even after a few days to sort things out.
“Not this Knight. And I’ll thank you not to turn her into that, either.” Zakeriel stood glowering at the man.
Reaching over, she took Zakeriel’s fingertips. “He isn’t turning me into anything, Zak. That isn’t… I thought we talked about this?”
“Clearly, it didn’t sink in.” He shifted his weight, then looked down and softened his voice. “You want me to stay?”
“Not if you are uncomfortable.”
“I would be more comfortable if you would come rest in the room Sahaan granted you.” His scowl wavered on a pout. “You don’t belong down here… like a criminal.”
Catching Atirian’s gaze from the door, feeling his presence in her thoughts, she nodded then breathed. “All right. After Atirian and I speak… I’ll come out.” Catching his hand again before he left, she murmured, “is the journal? Did you bring it?”
Concern creased his features as he nodded, “of course I did. It’s right here. Nothing happened to it.”
She sighed in relief, then nodded. He touched her cheek a moment then turned to leave. She could tell by the set of his shoulders, the passing look to Atirian as he left was a silent warning. Both sadness and amusement brushed her heart at the thought. So protective, but foolish.
Once alone with the Jasuuk, her conjoined, she averted her eyes and waited for him to close the door. The sound of the latch, though quiet was a loud metallic pound in her ears. He kept his voice low. “You are afraid, and angry, hate me as much as you understand me.”
She narrowed her metallic black eyes at him. “Don’t speak for me just because you know me. That is not your right.”
“I am sorry.” He slid to a crouch near the door. Gesturing with a weak hand toward the general hall he murmured, “you could tell him… tell them everything if it would soothe you.”
“To what end? That repairs nothing, simply destroys all of them. None so much as Zakeriel.” Her brows quivered as she stared at her hands. “A convenience every assassin dreams of, I suppose.”
Atirian nodded, then swiped at his face. “Can I offer any recompense?”
Head twitching with a sharp glare, she eyed him with every ounce of incredulity the absurd question warranted. To this he only nodded again, then whispered, “so we are to be forever entwined and at war?”
“Of course not…” she gasped, eyes filled with tears. She crossed her legs and leaned on her elbows. Lengths of hair spilled forward to hide her face. “I cannot even hate you properly…”
“Now that you have felt true hatred,” the man crooned with regret to finish her thought. Like a dancer, he rose to his feet, then, cautious with each step, drifted closer to her. He waited to sit until he was sure she would not push him away. “Not only my own, but… you truly know your own hatred now as well.”
“I don’t like the world through your eyes.” Brow pressed to her knees, she wobbled her head, hid her tears from him, futile as it was.
Raising a hand to her shoulder, he drew her to him. “I know, and I am sorry. But can you say you truly didn’t know? Or was it a comfortable lie, as I told myself with Keilla?” She sobbed against him a moment. He stroked her hair. “These moments are richer for us both now. Your eyes are opened to the lies the world tells you, and my heart is softened. It has meant tears for us both, for very different reasons, but is this not a good thing? Pain and tears feel like weakness but they are not…”
She completed Lihaan’s words in Elhia, touching his mind for the first time since waking. ~…it requires great bravery to be so exposed, and after we are stronger for it.~
~Like the tender raw skin that weeps beneath a blister but leaves a callous.~
Draping her legs over his lap, Khes allowed him to hold her as she relented. ~I don’t want to lose who I was. I don’t want to be who you were.~
~You will be who you are. It is not the same. You cannot be the same. Neither of us can.~ He brushed her cheek with a smile, protective and loving. ~Where did all that sage wisdom go Sahaan spoke of after you first woke?~
~I’m not sure that was me. It was, but… I don’t know. It was something else too. You don’t feel it? Lingering in the whispers?~
~It was you, US, sound and thoughtful. Then you shut me out. These are your emotions talking. You are not a child anymore. And I can no longer hide behind the shield of my anger and lies. We are meant to be one.~
Shaking her head, she rest her brow on a clenched fist. ~How do you accept this so freely?~
~Because, I am made better for it.~ Sorrow and guilt flooded through her as he bowed his head to her shoulder. She felt tears on her neck. ~The goddess should have chosen better for you.~
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