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The Writing on the Wall CH10The thought of going back to that horrible house, by the front gates or otherwise, made me want to pull at my hair and break out in hives. It was not possible to bring about the latter on command, and though I could have managed the former right there in the car, I would have likely thumped Soterios in the back of the head with my knobby elbow. And that would have been a pity.
So there I sat. Sullen as a baby denied a favourite plaything.
Safe from my erstwhile wrath on the opposite side of the backseat, Demetrius contemplated. Occasionally he would sit up straighter and make as if to speak, but then he would glance at me out of the corner of his eye and relax back in the seat.
I knew this because I watched him like a hawk the entire time. Just to unnerve the bugger. It was the least I could do to make him as uncomfortable as I possibly could.
At last, I gave him a break. Rolling my eyes that anyone his appare
The Writing on the Wall CH9Once we hit the main road, everyone's moods improved. The skies were clear, as if the rain of the previous day had been a fluke rather than a sign of summer. I had already given up on my idea of imparting wisdom to Soterios. His life in Zurhykeh had been more useful and well-spent than mine had been. It was embarrassing to realise that for all the time I had spent out of it, I had nothing valid to offer.
He'd tried asking me questions about the city and what was expected of the people who lived there, but I didn't actually know. Not in finite terms that would have meant anything.
It didn't help that he asked absurdly practical things, such as what jobs were generally available or what the cost of living was. Rather than turn to Demetrius or even Noni for help, I slumped my shoulders and said, "I guess I have been a bit spoiled. I attend university."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that her life is paid for by
The Writing on the Wall CH8Everything looked different in the morning. Or rather, I felt less annoyed. That helped my perception a good deal. My first thought was that my back hurt. My second was that someone's arm was in my face.
Then I remembered where we were, and sat up far too quickly. The arm ended up in my lap, and my torso gave me what for. Gingerly holding a hand over my side, I stared blankly at the hand in my lap. It belonged to Demetrius.
I scowled at it and slapped it aside. Unfortunately, this petulant act woke up, and he was sitting up and stretching as if he had already been doing so before I'd even moved.
He mumbled a good morning, smiling like an absolute fool. His eyes were bright in the guttering candlelight. Like tiny blue mirrors. I could actually see myself, tousled and annoyed. "Why were you sleeping next to me?" I asked, not sure why I cared.
A shrug. &
Writing on the Wall CH7Before one of my companions could ask what a sunakake hag actually was, she howled again. It sounded more and more human as she got closer, more like a weeping or cursing. When I'd been a very small child, I had thought that our neighbours were just having a row outside. I hadn't understood why my father had barred the door and boarded the windows.
Then he had left, and I'd found out the reasoning behind a lot of things.
I struggled to stand, first hindered by Noni, then helped. She insisted that I rest, but I turned to her, knowing my eyes were dilating with fear. Old fear made fresh.
"We have to move," I said. "We have to find shelter."
Demetrius drew a dagger, and for the first time, I realised that he was not carrying his full arsenal. He was dressed much the same as he had been when I'd first seen him, but the shotgun and the pistol were gone. All he had in the way of weaponry was the dagger in
The Writing on the Wall CH6If anyone had laughed at me then, I would have lashed out and hit him or her, even if Demetrius had tried to stop me. I spun to face him, hands balled into fists. "How long have they been here?!"
He raised his hands in casual surrender, his ruddy face innocent and maddening. "I haven't a clue. If they had come before my father sent me for you, I would have sent you home with them. I promise you that."
I believed him too, blast me. It was all I could do not to weep openly. It was more than I could do not to run for the wide open double doors and tear out past them as fast as I had ever run in my life.
Outside, it was raining. I'd been out in the rain plenty of times before, being restricted to the university had never meant that I couldn't go out, only that I never leave the grounds. But before it had always been the tame spring rain that had ambled steadily to the city. This wa
The Writing on the Wall CH5It took a remarkably short time to get to the grandmaster's study. With Demetrius leading the way, it seemed almost a straight jump from one hallway to another. Either Noni had been leading me around in circles waiting for me to explain myself and my 'guest' status, or she didn't know her way around half so well as she knew how to appear as though she did.
I had to admit, thinking that it must be the latter gave me a little thrill of humour that I dared not speak aloud. After her tantrum in the garden, I was still a bit wary of her.
Inside the study, though, she fell into a demure lady's silence, her hands clasped delicately in front of her. The walking stick was cradled in the crook of her arm. Even her hair seemed to darken a bit, to a light red colour that made the pink seem like it had been an earlier trick of the light.
Apparently even his son's fiancee held Grandmaster Trevino in some awe. It was worth noting.
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