It was late at night when the cloaked Daeva slipped in the dark against the rocks of Eracus Desert. He waited, his hands near the weapons, listening to every sound, every movement. The night was dry and cold and a light wind was moving some mound of sand which irritated his eyes.
Dust… I’m used to snow, not dust. I hate this forsaken place.
He tensed up when a soft noise approached and swiftly confused himself with the shadows of the night, waiting to see what the source was.
A short figure was moving fast, the cloak hiding any feature but it was useless as the shape was unmistakable. The Daeva revealed himself and the Shugo squeaked in fear before recognizing him.
“Want to kill Shaoranyerk? And then who will help you, nyerk?”
“It’s not my fault you almost die of terror everytime, even if you know it’s me waiting for you. Now tell me the news.”
“Money first, nyerk.”
A light jingle echoed in the night as some kinah found a new owner.
The voice was low and cold, emotionless.
“The girl is fine, nyerk.”
“Shaoranyerk is curious, what if she’s sentenced to death?”
“That’s no concern of yours, Shugo. Just tell me how’s the trial going.”
“Her father talked for three days nyerk, says she’s just a silly girl. The Ranger is helping too, nyerk.”
“Will she be condemned?”
“Shaoranyerk knows. But Shaoranyerk wants more money, nyerk.”
It was fast. The Daeva grabbed the female Shugo by her throat and held her high, squeezing bit by bit. His red eyes were shining in the dark.
“I’ve been paying you every night for three weeks, Shugo… my patience is running short. Will she be condemned? What do you know?”
“No, no! She was released today! Let Shaoranyerk go!”
The Shugo was wiggling, trying to keep breathing when the Asmodian suddenly let her go, hiding his hand in the cloak again.
“Today? Then the trial is over? They let her go?”
“Shaoranyerk saw her leave with own eyes! Nyerk.”
“So she’s free to go home? To Agairon Village?”
“Yes, nyerk. But father told Judges he brings the family away, where there are no rifts, nyerk, and the girl stays there.”
A cold feeling pinched the Daeva’s heart, but his voice remained neutral.
“That’s why they let her go… they think she won’t be a threat. When will they leave?”
“Father told them two or three days, nyerk.”
“Good. Take this and go back to the fortress. You and me are over, Shugo.”
A small bag full of kinah was handed to Shaoranyerk who grabbed it greedily.
“Always good deals with Shaoranyerk!”
She turned around to walk back but she stopped when cold metal landed on her throat.
“Remember, Shugo.” The voice was still terribly impersonal, but it was no more than a whisper now. “If you tricked me, if you tell anyone about our meetings, I’ll open your soft fluffy belly from side to side and I’ll watch you die the most painful death.”
Then he was gone, swallowed by the cold night.
Eilan was laying on her bed for the first time in three weeks, still unbelieving of her luck. She was free. The trial was over and she wasn’t sentenced to death.
The condition was of course Exile, to Verteron or directly to small Poeta, where no Asmodian could reach her and where she couldn’t reach any enemies anymore.
She knew she had to be happy, but all she wanted to do was cry.
The last three weeks had been a nightmare… for everybody.
Her father still couldn’t forgive her for what she did or forgive Yurnik for turning her in to the Daevas, but Eilan knew her friend had no choice. He was a soldier, a fighter for Elyos and he had to follow the rules, no matter what; he made it clear to her some years ago and so she didn’t blame him at all.
After all, along with her father, it was his credit too if she was free now, he stand up for her on the trial, claiming she was a kind hearted girl and only her kindness was to blame for what happened.
In two days I won’t be here anymore. I’ll be away from the desert, the mountain and all that remembers me of him. That’s for the best. It really is.
Still her eyes were full of tears and when her sister silently sat down on the bed and hugged her, Eilan started weeping uncontrollably.
“It will take some time…” Myrielle whispered, “But you’ll get over it. People will stop talking and you will move on. I know you will.”
Strange enough, the twenty years old girl never blamed her sister like all others did. She always defended her when she heard people accusing her of treason, knowing it wasn’t Eilan’s case. She wasn’t a traitor, she was in love.
“Father will never forgive me…” Eilan sobbed. “I disgraced him and I’m forcing him to give up his job and his house and leave for a faraway place…”
“He will forgive you, he will.” Myrielle caressed her sister’s black hair. “He just can’t understand yet, but he will.”
“And you? You’re in this too, because of me… people are already looking at you as the traitor’s sister.”
“I’m stronger than this.” She replied with a hint of steel in her voice. “Nobody will ever hurt me just with words. Besides, I understand why you did it.”
“You do?” Eilan raised up her teary eyes, looking at her sister with hope.
“You’re in love, dear.” Myrielle smiled. “Love can do weird things to people. Love is blind and knows no rules… you can’t decide who you fall in love with. I think you saw something in that Asmodian that made you think he was worthy of your love… and I trust you weren’t mistaken. Because I trust you.”
It wasn’t her intention, but at those words Eilan bursted into tears even more.
What a relief it was to have someone who understood her! Someone who have the courage to say the words she couldn’t and would never say to herself… she was in love with Karlis. She would always deny it, to keep her sanity and go on, but she was glad someone else knew it.
Myrielle cradled her until Eilan fell asleep, something she really needed.
Looking at her sister with a soft and sad smile, she blew off the light and went to sleep herself.
Tomorrow would be a hard day for their family. It was time to start packing.
“I keep thinking this is just madness.” The Asmodian shook his long, white hair with a disapproving expression. “You’re pressing your luck, Karlis.”
“The Archons listened to me.” The Assassin was sitting down, a glass of wine in his hands. Everybody else would say he was perfectly at ease, but Dasphit knew better. They had been blood brothers since too long, he couldn’t be fooled.
“Only because you went on talking for three weeks and you’re near to becoming one of them. But if you bring an Elyos here, you will loose everything you worked for!”
“When they see with their own eyes she is no threat, they will even forget she’s in Altgard. That’s why I’m bringing her there, so the local Daevas can report she’s harmless. Besides she wouldn’t be the first Elyos to live in Asmodae. I loose nothing, Das, but I gain everything.”
“But those Elyos lived here as prisoners! As slaves! That’s not what you mean to do, you want to keep her as your companion, as your mistress!”
A sharp look from Karlis made him istantly regret his words. That whole situation worried him; he knew the Assassin was a passionate man, a capable Daeva, his election to Archon was behind the corner already, but this time he was making a huge mistake.
The Sorcerer sat down as well, pouring himself a glass of wine too. “And your human child agrees with this plan? I recall you telling me you asked her before and she refused.”
Karlis put down the glass and his eyes shot a sudden glimpse of anger. “She’ll have no choice this time. I won’t give her any.”
“That’s a very bad idea, brother. From someone over a century of life I’d expect something more…”
Karlis stood up, clenching his fists. “I have no choice! In two days she’ll be out of my reach forever, I can’t allow it! I won’t!”
“Brother…” Dasphit stood up as well, putting a hand on Karlis’ shoulder. “Have you ever thought this could be for the best? An Elyos child here… in Altgard, surrounded by Asmodians and Daevas, she wouldn’t survive long. And you can’t stay with her all the time, you have duties out there! Let her go, Karlis. Let her live her life and go back living yours!”
The Assassin shrugged the hand away, his eyes suddenly bright red. “She’s mine. She belongs with me. I won’t let her slip through my fingers, not now, not ever.”
“This is insane!” Dasphit finally lost his temper. “She will be dead the instant you bring her to Asmodae and all your careful made plans will be wasted! Your election to Archon, your whole life, you are willing to give everything up to have that Elyos girl in your bed! Come to your senses!”
“Enough!” Karlis shouted, feeling his blood boiling in the veins. “Gather the Legion and tell everybody to meet at the headquarter. We’re crossing the rift to Elysea in two hours!”
“Tonight?” Dasphit protested, taken by surprise “It’s too unexpected!”
“Tonight I’m sure she will be there. I won’t risk anymore!”
“Do as I command, Centurion!”
It was over. When Karlis roared that way, nothing could make him change his mind. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Dasphit felt a brief sense of pity for the poor girl who was probably sleeping in her bed, not knowing that would be the last time. And he hoped with all his heart Karlis wasn’t going to pay a price too high to have her by his side.
But whatever. He was his sworn brother and Dasphit was going to help him, no matter what, if he was so resolute.
With a deep bow, the Sorcerer finally surrendered. “Yes, my General. Blood for blood.”
“Blood for blood.”