A Perfect Sunset

- A Serialized Novel -

A reluctant queen becomes involved in intrigue in a kingdom ruled by a tyrant and on the verge of revolution.

Author’s Note: So any conversation after their last interaction was bound to be awkward. And painful.

In the Light of the Suns

“I believe you are aware that there is to be a party tonight.”

“And you came to speak to me about that yourself?” She did not know that she kept the bitterness from her voice. She thought she must show so much even if he could not yet see her face. Agache should not have come. “Why not send Anokii?”

“Do… Would you prefer that after what happened?”

The queen closed her eyes, trying to control her emotions. She could not be so foolish. She knew her place. She knew his place. They were not together, and they would not be, not now, not ever. Whatever that moment between them was, it was to be forgotten and ignored as they went on in their separate lives. “I suppose that depends on how much of a distraction such a thing is.”

Agache’s steps were careful as he drew closer, soft and almost hesitant. “It… The eclipse happens only twice a year, Jis. What I did was foolish, but such madness is not… typical of me. I have already said that I should not be forgiven, and I am still not going to ask for it. I came, in part, to see if it was possible for us to continue our work, or if we should have an intermediary at all times. I can send word through Anokii or Gekin or anyone else if you should prefer it.”

A part of her thought that was for the best, that if she did not see him, she could avoid rousing such feelings as were stirred the night before, but another part of her was desperate to have even what little time with him as she might. This was almost done, and if they were forced to speak through intermediaries, how would they finish it? Surely they could behave as they should until they had removed the king and Malzhi from power. “It was just the eclipse?”

His hood bobbed as he nodded. “I assure you—I have not—I know what you are, and I know the position that put you in, and that is not something I would have done were I thinking properly. It is said that many youthful follies can be traced to the nights of the eclipse, even some lives, and I see now that there is truth to those legends.”


“I do not mean to offend you. We both know that the situation is… impossible. It is better if there is nothing of that sort between us. We are not—you are the queen. You are married to my cousin. I am not Malzhi. I do not know why I behaved so contrary to my nature except… I must say that it was the eclipse.”

She nodded. He had not treated her as Malzhi had, nor shown any interest in her that was beyond what they should have as allies. Concern, friendship, but no more, not before last night. She found him amusing and infuriating, and sometimes she thought she might hurt him because he was so infuriating, but what she felt—it was curiosity, nothing more. She’d given some thought to someone she might give herself to rather than let Malzhi or the king have her, and Agache was the only man she knew that she’d come close to considering for such a thing, but that was because she had contact with no one else. Of course this situation confused things. She had few people to trust, and if she were to imagine herself feeling anything for anyone, it would be Agache since he was the only man she knew that did not repulse her or was not married or in another country, like Wikan. Gekin seemed a very admirable man, but his heart was Anokii’s, and that was not something she could interfere with, nor did she want to.

“Sometimes I think we think the most foolish thoughts. I do, at least. A product of feeling so trapped. I have considered things that I would not think were I free.”

“Were you free, I doubt you’d have any need to dream of ways to be so, no matter how small they might be,” Agache said, almost as though he knew what she’d been thinking. “It does not help having me stumble, causing more problems.”

She sighed. “I do not know that you can be the only one who is to blame for what happened during the eclipse. I did not force you away, after all.”

“Perhaps it affected you, too,” he said, and she thought he was smiling under that hood. “The eclipse has passed, and let us hope this… awkwardness will as well. We shall return to our roles and our duties and not think of this again. The king will expect you to be by his side tonight. He may well intend to prove that he is not weakened by the poison. He may hurt you, but I hope all he will do is keep you beside him and watch you.”

“That is not much of a hope.”

“I know. If I had some sort of reassurance—”

“What are you planning? You said you’d come to discuss it with me but the eclipse distracted you, and you did not—”

“I must give that matter more thought. I cannot be certain of the right course at present, not after…”

She knew he would doubt his judgment after what they’d done, and she knew she did not trust herself, either. “Where will you be?”

“Gekin and Anokii should meet me in the catacombs later, since I must… I am going to meet with the other leaders of the resistance soon, and there are a few instructions that I would pass on before I leave.”

“You’re leaving?”

“I must go.”

She swallowed. She did not want to think about why she wanted him to stay. They both knew it was best if he did go. They would not be tempted again. “I… Yes, of course. I should not have been so foolish as to think you never traveled. You were called away from your last trip, and you have… been here too long, I must assume.”

“The court was my place, has always been so, and I have perhaps lingered for too extended a time out of… a need for that comfort. I also tend behave as a man that does not answer to anyone, and that is not true. I am not the sole leader of the resistance, I never have been, and I should not do so much on my own—it has been nothing but a failure.”

“That is not true.”

“You are too forgiving, my lady, and you should watch that, for I am not the sort that deserves it.” Agache tugged on his cloak’s sleeve, turning away from her. He began to pace, talking as he did. “Malzhi should not attend this party, but he may, and if he does, he may make a move against the king. It could be quite dangerous for you.”

“Everything I do is dangerous.”

Agache stopped and put a hand on her arm. She almost winced. He should not touch her, not now, not when they had made such a mistake during the eclipse. “I have told you that we can send you across the border. Things are close to an end, and Malzhi and the king will be at war before the king can turn on your people. Go. Just go.”

She thought perhaps she should go, too, but that was a galling thing to admit. She had failed in so many ways, and she would return home in shame no matter what happened with the king now. “Who will watch the court while you are gone?”


“Am I only a tool to you? Now you send me away when I am no longer useful to you?”

“Only a fool allows his most valuable tools to be broken. It is best if you are safe.”

She shoved his hand off her arm. She should not have asked, but even so, his words still stung. “You are such a liar. Go then. Leave me. I have much to do before the party tonight.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *