Author’s Note: So it was time that Agache showed a bit of weakness, that he revealed that he was hurt and seemed more real, I thought.
Anokii crossed over to Agache’s side, undoing the ties that held his shirt around his neck and slipping it off of his shoulder, down his arm. He stiffened, but he made no attempt to stop her as she exposed the wound that lanced his arm. She shook her head, aware of Gekin cursing behind her as she tried not to think about what the king would have done to create such a deep and lasting mark upon him. She could see that it had started healing, but it would scar, a mark that he would never lose.
“Are there others like this one?”
He shook his head. “Not as bad. That one was torn open when I escaped and again when I was dealing with… a problem. It is improving, but today it throbbed, and I blame that on my conviction that the king is in the city.”
Anokii nodded. “Such fear does make us imagine things to be worse than they are.”
“This problem… That was not Omamhi, was it?” The queen asked, moving over to him. “Please tell me you did not injure yourself on my account.”
He shook his head. “It was before I took him from your room.”
“Then you are a fool for doing so,” the queen said, and Anokii had to agree with her. She sat down behind him, starting in on a low hum that reminded Anokii of their own hymns. She did not recognize the tune, but that did not mean that it was not what she thought the queen intended it to be—a soothing melody meant to relax Agache while Anokii treated his wounds.
“What is that you are doing?”
The queen stilled. “Oh, I… It is a habit, I suppose. When one of ours is ill or injured, we sing a wind song. No, truthfully, we hum one. None of us remember the words anymore. They have been lost to time, since they came from the time when we flew, according to the legends, at least. My mother made her own words sometimes, but I have not her voice.”
“I am surprised,” Agache said, frowning. “Such a thing seems so unlikely with your upbringing. It would not suggest a great deal of… tenderness or affection.”
The queen laughed. “I suppose you would assume so, but it was not like this place at all. Who do you think my first trainer was?”
“Yes.” She grinned, and Agache smiled before closing his eyes. The queen touched her hand to his forehead and grimaced. “Is he that warm because he is glowing, or is he feverish?”
“He is feverish. We all know we have so little time left to do what we must to stop the king, but he is doing too much without any rest at all that I can see.”
“He said he wanted his ‘death’ to have a meaning.”
Gekin snorted. “If he is not careful, he will end up dead, and there will be no escaping this time.”
“Take him to somewhere he can be treated properly and keep him there if you can,” the queen said, rising. “If the king is back, I will do my best to distract him, and though it repulses me, I know I am already a distraction for Malzhi. Agache will help no one if he dies now.”
“Very true. Will you be able to make it back to your rooms alone?”
“I will be fine,” the queen said with resolution, pulling the cloak’s hood over her and turning to leave. Stubborn, that was what she was.
Gekin whistled, shaking his head as he bent to lift Agache into his arms. “I think I can see why he values her as an ally so much. She’s stronger than she knows.”