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: Originally, this scene started with them waking Agache, but it needed much more than that.

Rushing to the Aftermath

“He is late. Dangerously so. He was only supposed to tell the queen that he wanted her to go across the border. Given her typical reaction to that, he should have returned to us by now, with orders to sedate her and take her across the border. He made me promise to do it if he could not convince her to go willingly.”

Gekin nodded. “I know. He asked me before if I would take her if it became necessary, and I am not surprised to hear you say he feels it is. He is… You know what he is.”

Anokii closed her eyes. She did not want to think about it. She’d seen too much already, and she knew her cousin was struggling. He should be resting, but he never did. “Come. He must be with the queen still—or he has been found by the king. Either way, we must know what has become of him.”

Gekin took her hand, leading her through the catacombs. She did not need him to guide her, but she didn’t want to let go of his hand, either. She was comforted, knowing he was with her, since she feared the worst for her cousin, again.

“Something is going on outside. I cannot make it out, but there is a great noise out there, some shouting—the walls prevent clarity, but something is wrong.”

Anokii grimaced, though she could not deny her husband’s words. She could hear something outside the passage as well, though she’d thought that she heard wailing, not shouting. Perhaps it had been a scream. They would not know until they returned to the castle.

“Quickly,” Gekin said, pushing her into the hall outside the queen’s chamber. She ran toward the door, shoving it open. She could make out more of the commotion now, and she did not know that she trusted her hearing. “Who is dead? Did they say a name or—”

“I thought I heard the king, but that is not possible,” Anokii said, rushing toward the balcony. She leaned over the edge, backing away when she understood. “Gekin… If I am right about those robes, the clothes… That is the king and Malzhi.”

Gekin frowned. “Impossible. And yet…”

Anokii let the curtain fall down, covering the room in some darkness, needing to find the queen and her cousin. She should not have stepped into the light of the suns—she could not make out much until her eyes adjusted. “Oh, no. The queen. She’s…”

“Tell me what you need, and we will treat her.”

“Where is Agache?”

“It matters little when she bleeds so,” Gekin said, kneeling down beside the queen, pressing his hand over the wound. Anokii ran to the cupboard with her herbs, hoping that she would not find her cousin in a similar state—and yet he would never have allowed that to happen to the queen if he were able to prevent it, so he must be hurt as well.

Anokii carried the bowl over to the queen, crushing some ozaa as she did. “Here. The ozaa will help stop the bleeding. Find Agache for me. He must be wounded as well, and he will also need treatment.”

Gekin nodded. “He would never have let this happen to her if he was not. Still… you only saw two bodies in the courtyard, neither of which had a cloak, right? I did not get much of a chance to look, but that was what I saw.”

She tried to take comfort in that, ripping open the queen’s dress and sprinkling the ozaa onto her wound. “She will need much more than this, but if the king and Malzhi fell from here, the troops must be on their way. She’ll be killed even if she was nowhere near them when they fell.”

“We’ll get them both out of here. If you think you’ve stopped the bleeding, come see to your cousin and what he might need before we move him,” Gekin said, and she bit her lip, uncertain if she’d done enough for the queen yet. They did not have much choice, though. They had to get both the queen and Agache out of here before they were discovered.

“Cousin?” Anokii knelt down beside Agache as he started to stir, putting a hand to his head. She let out a breath. “There you are. We were waiting for you in the catacombs, and then when you did not come, we rushed here, but we were too late.”

He grimaced. “I’d forgotten how petty Malzhi was. My head is—Jis. Where’s Jis? The king had her and he—”

“The king is dead.”


“He and Malzhi fell to their deaths, it would seem. I do not think it had anything to do with either of you since you are here—I didn’t see you at first and thought perhaps you had fallen, but you were only out of sight—and the queen is there, both quite removed from that balcony. I don’t believe either of you had anything to do with their fall, only what passed before that happened.”

Agache dragged himself over to the queen’s side, heedless of the puddle around her. “She’s bleeding. Anokii—”

“I have already begun to tend to her. If you can move, then we must get you on your feet.”

“We can’t move Jis, not like this.”

Gekin shook his head. “We don’t have the luxury of letting her heal here, Agache. They will realize that the king and Malzhi fell from here, and even if she is bleeding, she will be blamed. We must get her out of here before the guards arrive.”

“We do not have long.”

“To the catacombs, then,” Agache said. He reached to lift the queen, but fell back with a curse. “My arm. I don’t remember them hurting it, but I can’t—”

“I will take her,” Gekin said, lifting her up into his arms. “Anokii, help him. We must go.”

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