Darklaw – Episode 67


AFTER SUNRISE, ROOK escorted Wald from the room while Avestine sat with Gerard at his table. She had food brought.

He wasn’t hungry and seemed tired. He loosened his tight robe so that his arm could rest on the table. His skin was still ashen, his eyes, black. Avestine remembered only two people brought back from the dead while her father was alive. Their eyes, too, had turned black and remained that way.

“What do you remember?” she asked him.

“We were eating, weren’t we?”

“Yes. A man attacked. You threw your body in front of me and took a dagger in your back.”

He winced and reached behind him. “How am I alive?”

“Your lover is an Essanti of Mercy. He’s in training now.”

“Wald?”

“Of course Wald. How many do you have?”

Gerard raised an eyebrow.

Avestine studied him for awhile before pushing a peeled apple toward him.

He grimaced.

“Something to drink?”

He grimaced again.

“You’re not dead any longer, Gerard. You need to eat. Get your strength back. Get your color back. You look like Eldon.”

Gerard perked up at the name. Intelligence filled his eyes again. “We’re in Ureth Mourning.”

She nodded.

“I saved your life.”

“Only I don’t know why.”

“You’re my queen. Do I need another reason?”

“Yes. A good one. You don’t love me. You have only ever been interested in what I can do for you. You’re a pragmatic man, and I admire that. I understand that. I can work with that. This sacrifice is disturbing. Tell me why you would die for me.”

“It disturbs me, too,” he said after a moment. “I have no answer.”

“You mean you felt a compulsion. An unthinking reaction?”

“And it is not the first time.” He paused, as if he wanted to say something and couldn’t.

“Say my name.”

He tried, but his voice caught in his throat. “What is wrong with me?”

Avestine’s heart sank. “You’re a man who serves power, so you will do whatever I need you to do. It’s always been that way.”

“I’m not Sahr. I’m not Essanti. I don’t serve the Emissary.”

She nodded, thinking about that. “Until I went to Avjakar and then Koledoon, I didn’t know if other races would feel the same compulsion. But they did. It didn’t take long before they did what I told them to do. They gave me men, an army. They believed my lies. They were fools, but they could do nothing else.”

“I’m not a fool.” Gerard was shaking his head. “Perhaps you’re just a persuasive woman.”

“Yes, I am that. I’m also the Emissary.” His doubtful gaze intrigued her. “Why don’t you believe it?”

“Because I have no thoughts of Sahran gods.”

“The Tribes of the Sun sacrifice to Sula. Even he once served Arujan.” She sighed and rose from the table. “I don’t care what you call me; I’ll still need your counsel when you’re back to normal.”

“Will I be back to normal?”

“As normal as a resurrected man might be. Only twice have I seen it. They remained rather odd the rest of their lives, but their skills remained intact. That means I expect your cunning ambition to greet me when next we speak.”


Published in Darklaw |
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