AFTER AVESTINE LEFT Rook found it difficult to speak to Kami, not least because she never spoke back. She seemed to have gone dumb, though in her eyes, he could see her thoughts swarming like flies. Whenever they stopped to make camp, she obeyed his commands to unpack or sleep, though he expected she might try to escape into the trees.
To see Kami so obedient was disturbing, and he assumed Avestar had taken her spirit when he took her hands, as Kami had accused Avestine doing to him. But that brought up the question of why she yielded to Avestine or stayed now. If she was bound to Avestar, she should not have run away.
Rook had her bed made in his tent and watched her sleeping.
Seeing her hands gone took something from him, but he couldn’t quite name it. He had no reservations about the importance of the ritual, believed in it utterly. He decided the mutilation itself didn’t disturb him, but how it manifested in her. She obeyed Avestine, but she couldn’t, unless it was more for love than duty.
She swore her oath to Avestar. He hated the idea of that man possessing the powers that belonged to Avestine, but he disliked even more the notion of an Essanti capable of disregarding nearly a thousand years of tradition. There was an order to things. There was duty. Without duty there was only chaos.
She rolled onto her side and looked at him, her eyes in shadow. He tried to hear her thoughts, but she was as opaque as any ordinary woman.
“I thought you were dead,” he said.
She didn’t say anything. “I’m glad you’re not.”
Published in Darklaw |
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