Chapter 90

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Leithan trailed after Sunzar, to the wall-screened section of the basement that had been hers.

Her clothing, accessories and products were indeed strewn all over the place. Sunzar slid her suitcase from under the bed – a large, rectangle-shaped, solid copper-brown leather affair with a brass lock. The key hung from a chain around Sunzar's neck, which she slipped from under her dress to unlock it.

Leithan got to work, helping with gathering all her things and folding her clothes. He found he was grateful to have something mind-numbing to do.

Once they were done, they made their way upstairs, Leithan carrying her suitcase. Not that she'd asked, but he did so anyway.

In the main room, Rilien was waiting for them at the bar, alone, a drink in his hand. When he offered it to Leithan, he saw it was only water.

Leithan gratefully drank some, because on top of everything else, he was desperately thirsty.

Can't believe those assholes drugged my water yesterday.

. . . Really need to be more careful when accepting drinks from people.

"Feeling better?" Rilien asked.

"Not really," Leithan admitted. "But I'm ready to leave this fucking place."

Rilien chuckled, then addressed Sunzar, "So are you, I'll bet?"

"More than you can imagine," Sunzar replied, smiling.

Leithan noticed the small puddle of fresh blood on the floor, next to the bar, and asked Rilien about it.

So, Rilien told him what Rami had done, and what he'd said to Henten.

'I do hope you lose that hand.'

"It was badass," Rilien concluded. "Don't tell anyone I said that, okay? But it was. I wish you'd been there."

I wish I'd been there, too. Leithan wasn't sure what to say, it was a lot to process. But he couldn't deny how right it felt that someone had finally stood up to Henten.

"Where are they now? Henten and the others?" Sunzar asked as the three of them found their way out, leaving the empty room and the puddle of Henten's blood behind.

Sunzar and Rilien led the way, and Leithan was fine with just dragging his feet behind them, carrying the suitcase. He listened as Rilien explained that all the men that were mentioned in Frista's article would be held in temporary cells at the City Watch. Then, they'd probably be released for a while, but on house arrest, until the trials were over.

When they stepped outside, Leithan caught Sunzar breathing in the cloudy, rose-scented air. The comedown may have been dragging his mood to a dark place, but in some deeper sense, he knew today was a great day. He knew they'd done an important thing.

Since Leithan wasn't in a talking mood right now, Rilien took care of the conversation as they walked, and he convinced Sunzar that she should stay at the Happy Monkey. It was safe, and the manager, Gina Dancingeyes, was a great lady. Even if he'd felt like talking, Leithan wouldn't have argued with any of that.

About ten minutes later, as they got to King's Road and stopped before the charming sandstone inn, Leithan asked Rilien for a moment alone with Sunzar. Rilien politely took a few steps back.

"If you just, um," Leithan said, hesitant. "Maybe give it to me, tell me how to use it?"

She reclaimed her heavy leather suitcase, but made no move to open it. She just smiled at him, taunting.

"Not a chance. I'm coming with you."

Leithan frowned, and stepped out of the way to let an older lady stroll into the Happy Monkey, ornate cane in hand, large-brimmed hat adorning her head. Leithan turned back to Sunzar. Her eyes were very bright in the daylight. Amused.

"Teshin's Yoxai, you know," he argued. "We'd have to go through the forest. It's roughly two hours' walk."

She grinned, undeterred. "Good thing I packed my walking shoes, then."

Leithan tried again, "I plan on going in the evening. Makes it easier to sneak around. But, the forest can get . . . scary, in the dark."

"Clever of me to bring my pocket light in my travels," she praised herself.

"Why do you even want to come with me?" he asked, slightly curious. "What if it's dangerous?"

She sighed, her tone turning serious, "The truth is, after being cloistered for two weeks, I crave a good old adventure. And after the constant menace of rape hanging over me for those weeks, I suppose I'm not afraid of anything. Plus, I've never seen a native of these islands, and I'd like the opportunity."

"Actually Teshin looks kind of Cieltz, but with a better tan," Leithan said, with some amusement.

"Then I'm sure he's handsome," Sunzar replied.

Won't argue with that.

Leithan exchanged a glance with Rilien, who was still waiting on the sidewalk. He turned back to Sunzar.

"Okay. I won't deny someone an adventure, it's not in my nature. We both get some rest today. I'll try to see if I can sleep off this shit-fest hangover. And I'll come pick you up here at, say, 5 PM," he decided.

This way, they'd still have some daylight on the journey there. They would make it to the compound around the same time as the sunset.

"Wear warm clothes," Leithan advised, "and your walking shoes. Bring your light thingy and the medicine. Maybe ask Gina for a bottle of water."

"Understood," Sunzar said. "Five o'clock. I'll be here."

Leithan conjured up a small smile. "See you then."

And they parted ways.

Rilien escorted Leithan back to the Golden Temple, and even all the way to his room, to make sure he was okay. Leith told him not to worry, that he just needed to sleep it off.

He also told Rilien that he was a good friend. And that they would talk later, promise. It gave Leithan a déja-vu feeling. Been kind of a shitty friend these days.

Which didn't help his mood.

Once alone in his room, the door closed, Leithan paused before his bookshelves. He drew out Book Ten of Veya's Teachings – Infinity, his favorite – and clutched it to his chest as he moved to his bed. He let himself fall across it, with the book.

Not to read it, just to hold something he loved, as he waited.

And waited, for it to pass. 

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