Author’s Note: Agache finally gets to do what he wanted to do for so long. Of course, that also means doing something he does not want to do, but he will do what’s best for the people.
“How is it out there? Is it still chaos?”
Gekin nodded, sitting down. He shook his head. “I had never thought—it is worse than we believed it would be. I do not think there is any sort of organization to the fighting. No one knows who they want to support. Though at least most of the resistance has been smart enough not to fight at all, some of the Nebkasha have been hurt as well, just for being what they are. We need… order. I do not know how we will get it, but we will tear ourselves apart soon.”
Anokii glanced toward her cousin. He would not like what she would say, would not want to leave the queen’s side. “Agache, it is time to—”
“Why won’t she wake?” Agache asked, his hand moving toward the queen and then pulling back. “If she was awake—”
“She has a fever. The wound became infected. I am sorry, cousin. The catacombs are not ideal for treating the sick, and I fear this place was not fit for her to recovery. Not at all.”
Agache looked down, letting out a breath. His arm still pained him, but Anokii knew he did not care about that right now. She did not think anything mattered to him except the woman he could not have. “Gekin, how long does it take to get to the border?”
“I have made it in two days before, but you are in no condition to do that, and neither is she. There is too much unrest and you are both injured. Did you not hear what I said about what it is like out there? We would not make it close to the border.”
“Yes, you could,” Agache said. “You could if there were a reprieve, if the fighting were to lessen, if someone stepped forward as a clear leader…”
“You know what you must do, cousin,” Anokii said, touching his good arm. She knew how much he would hate this, but what else could they do? Hiding would not save anyone. “You are the heir. You have no choice. You must reveal yourself and take the throne that belongs to you.”
He winced, but then he nodded, his posture stiffening. “I will do what must be done. I need you to take her across the border.”
“It will not be easy to wrest power from those now vying for it, even if Malzhi is dead. There will be plenty that wish her dead, not just for her role in what we have done but also for what she is—a possible heir or a way for their country to seize power if they realize we are in the middle of a revolt. There are plenty here who would want her dead. Her people may want to use her as well. She is better off on their side of the border. Take her, now, or I will say nothing to anyone of my survival.”
Gekin started to object again, but Anokii shook her head. “Agache is right. She is not safe here. She should be returned to her people.”
“I will take her, then.” Gekin sighed. “Be careful, both of you. I know it is his birthright, but it will not be easy to overcome the prejudice of many.”
Agache knelt next to the bed, brushing back some of the queen’s curls. “I shall miss you, my esibani. I almost wish you would wake and make another of your threats. Strange to think I welcome you saying you would stab me, but I already miss your voice. You are too quiet, and silence has never suited you.”
Gekin turned to Anokii, placing his hands on her face before pressing his lips to hers. She could sense his desperation, and she echoed it. She did not want to let him go any more than he wanted to go, but they had little choice.
“We are at the end, my niniamant,” she whispered. “Soon it will all be finished. We will have a true and just leader—or we will leave to settle in other lands—and we will be free at last. We must be strong only a little bit longer.”
“I know, but this is the part that is the most dangerous, when it is almost done,” Gekin said, frowning with worry. He gave her another desperate kiss. “Zigaime.”
Anokii knew he would return for her. She believed that. “Always.”
So, he’s in love with a woman who stabbed him? Talk about disfunctional! Interesting scene you’ve painted! 🙂
No, he’s not, actually. The queen/Jis never stabbed Agache. She threatened to several times over their alliance because he kept waking her at night, but she never did. It’s one of the dysfunctional parts of their friendship that they both take comfort in the joke, but she tries not to use her training unless it’s in defense.
Sorry about the confusion. I tried to fix that part so it’s clearer that’s what he meant.