“None of them will thank you,” Inaris murmured sulkily.
“I don’t do it for thanks, silly. Now lie back,” Narys responded quietly, smiling sweetly as she gathered Inaris’ long, platinum locks to one side.
Making sure her grumbles of protest were heard, Inaris slowly lowered herself down, every muscle in her body screaming with fire and poison and a half dozen other sorcerous tricks as her head was cradled in Narys’ lap. “Then why do it? You’re only delaying the inevitable.”
Humming softly, Narys measured out drops of one of her herbal oils onto her hands and began to rub Inaris’ temples. “Do you want to be kept up by their screams? They deserve a better quality of life than reliving their days in their dreams.”
“Mmmh… They will just die in a week… two weeks…. a month.” Inaris drew a deep breath, wincing a little as she exhaled. “They are all cowards and traitors, anyways.”
Narys’ hands slowed, and she frowned down at Inaris. “They are afraid. And you think they trust you any more than you do them? Everyone hates the favorite, my dear.”
“He who trusts first, dies first.” Unable to look back at the lipid brown eyes that peered down at her, Inaris turned her head to look over her friend’s knee. “Do you hate me? Even a little?”
“Of course I don’t. And I know you trust me.”
A wry smirk curled up her painted lips as a soft hand cupped her cheek. “You think I do.”
Narys chuckled, turning Inaris’ head to make her look at her as she massaged the healing oils under the young woman’s jaw and along her neck. “I know you do.” Hesitating for a moment, she then asked, “Will you let me? At least once? Just a little hypnotism… after the feast in a few days, perhaps –”
“No,” Inaris interrupted firmly. Then with an apologetic smile she shook her head. “No, but thank you. Remembering is how I know how they move and react, and remembering fuels my hate.”
“Just… just don’t hate too much, hmm?” Narys responded, concern in her soft, ethereal voice. “Hate too much and it will do more damage to you than they ever could.”
For a long minute Inaris stared up past the dark waves of brunette hair. “Don’t let them know,” she whispered quietly. “I think you’re my only sanity in this forsaken place.”
“And you mine,” Narys responded, bending to kiss her cheek. “I know what you do when they summon you for their… lessons. Only you could get away with it.”
Inaris sighed, closing her eyes as her arms coiled around Narys’ waist in a small embrace. “When the war is over I need two years. We just have to make it till then, and they will all pay.”
Narys smiled, combing her scented fingers through Inaris’ hair. “I would like that, seeing you in the great chair before the Masters… Mistress of the Blue Door,” she added with a grin.
A wicked smile rippled across Inaris’ features as her eyes opened, bright and welling with purpose in spite of her weakened, used form. “Mistress… and I will paint it red.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Jade’s eyes snapped open. The fire in the hearth had died down to coals, and instead of a cushioned nest she was on the carpet of the cottage. A pang of disappointment and loss tugged in her chest, but it quickly faded in the warmth of the body snuggled against her. Smiling softly, she took care to not wake Yusraa as she peeled herself away from the sleeping woman. There was no telling what hour of night or morning it was from beneath the canopy of the trees, but she knew a chill would creep up through the floor long before the others would wake.
First she fixed the quilt over Sadie, careful not to startle little Izzy as the pup peeked open a sleepy eye to see what Jade was up to. Retrieving the throw from the back of the couch she paused near the curtained window. Hidden in the darkness she peered through a crack in the drapes, careful to not disturb them. The yard, and road were empty, but she lingered, daring the darkness to reveal to her it’s secrets.
Satisfied, she quietly took a moment to ensure the lock on the door was fixed before returning to the thick carpet. Yusraa stirred a little as Jade lowered herself back down to spread the heavy throw over them. Curling back up with her friend and slipping a protective arm over the woman’s waist, her thoughts drifted to Dorsett, then to Sadie and Soron and the rest of her new wealth in friends. Mind finally settling on Yusraa, then Drew, the waves of sleep slowly tumbled over her.