Author’s Note: Anokii needed to see a bit more of the potential that Agache does when it comes to their new ally the queen.
“I do not know why I agreed to this,” the queen said, and Anokii almost smiled as she helped her into her dress, smoothing down the skirt before tightening the laces in the back. The woman’s finery was unequaled in the land, as it should be, since that befitted a queen, but it was still a nuisance to get her into and out of, more trouble that neither of them needed.
Still, she could not blame the queen for questioning this choice and what she was supposed to do. Anokii would not want to be in her place. No one would. Agache’s request would make her situation that much more dangerous. Many in the queen’s position would have refused his request, and they would be right to do so.
Anokii did not know what to think of the fact that the queen had agreed. She did admire it, to a point, but on the other hand, she didn’t. Agache trusted the queen, or at least he wanted to use her, but Anokii continued to struggle with her understanding of the other woman.
She studied the dress, reminded of the one that had been soaked in Omamhi’s blood—a fight the queen should not have won. Agache was right—the queen was more than she seemed. “You agreed because you would do it anyway. This is your role, it is what you need to do, and you are a woman who fulfills her duty.”
The queen grimaced. “I should rather not be. Are you certain that these bruises do not show? If anyone asks me about them, I do not know what I can say. I have not managed to create a story where I explain them to any sort of satisfaction. I have not heard that Omamhi’s body has been found, but if it is and they see me…”
“They will not be noticed,” Anokii told her, coming back around to face her. “You will be in the suns, and this jewel of yours should catch the light and reflect everything away from your neck. Keeping these curls here will create shadows that they will not be able to distinguish from the bruises, even if they were looking for them, and no one should be.”
The queen nodded, closing her eyes. “I wish that made it so that I felt confident in what I was about to do. Malzhi has had me at a disadvantage too many times.”
“He has, but Agache believes you are capable of this.”
“I do not know why.”
“You were able to kill Omamhi. That should not have been possible.”
The queen’s eyes opened, and the look in them rather worried Anookii again, especially when combined with that strange smile she had. “Oh? Am I so frail and helpless in your opinion? Or was Omamhi truly so fearsome?”
“Omamhi was not much of a threat. Malzhi is and always has been the greater one.” Anokii stepped back. “You… I do not know what you are.”
“I do not know what I am, either.” The queen turned to adjust her skirt. “Would you check to see if Malzhi is here? I believe he would want to escort me, as much as I don’t want to be in his company any longer than I must.”
“I will see. Is there anything else you want or need before you meet him?”
“A set of wings,” the queen said, laughing. She shook her head, her hand on her forehead. Anokii almost offered her something for the ache, but she was not certain that it was necessary. “I would rather not go anywhere with Malzhi again, and were it possible, I think I should like to see my homeland again. I despise the lack of night, the heat, and the infernal suns.”
“As do we.”
“Perhaps if our peoples had been allies before yours were conquered…
Anokii nodded. “Yes, I do think that would have been better for us all.”