As I looked up at the night sky, a star fell….
I wondered what it was, a star. Such tiny things sparkling out in Everdeep, past the waxing and waning moons.
Mother – my gut wrenched and I gagged sourly as I thought of Mother, and tried not to remember the taste of her blood in my mouth, after i had severed her Bloodsource and Breathsource…
I retched again, and, this time, I found myself pressing my belly hard into the sea-soaked rocks, the entirety of the three fish I had eaten at nooning pouring forth from me, all at once, and with great force.
And there, out on the island, were the Canivaarii – far enough away that I couldn’t prove they were trailing me.
Except that I could feel Hallii, there was no doubt.
She followed me, staying just out of Tacivaarii holdings, just within the lands of the Canivaarii.
And she wanted me to know. Know, and wonder,and worry.
That thought was only slightly less sickmaking than thinking about Mother – I’d heard two merchants talking as they went along the Road with far more than their usual haste, and twice as many bodyguards.
“She’s gone and had the AllQueen placed in her own jeweled walk, although rumor has it her throat was torn out, and she won’t be ordering anyone, anymore, ever.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the beast killed her, herself. Where was the child, all these years. And where is Jeniah, who is meant to be the Heiress-Princess. Where is she? Has her throat been torn by the savage, too?”
I had been low in a tree, only a twentypace from them, hidden by arytana blossoms and my coat, which mimicked the sun and shadows. But the merchant women, like most of the Untribed, only saw their own fears and dreams, and not the truth of these rich lands they hurried through, on their way from one Untribed and helpless settlement to another.
Now, though, not wanting to think of either Kaitiiraan and what I had done, nor Hallii and what she was doing to the Untribed, now, at Kaitiiraan’s Keep, I held to the memory.
“Merchant women. Fine thing I pick to waste my life upon,” I told myself. But, still, there was Hallii, with two large male young Canivaarii flanking her, silhouetted there on the island. I could see moons silvering their stiff neck ruffs, and glinting on their fangs.
Better to think of the merchant women – No.
Everdeep, where he awaited, dreaming of her as she did him, and thinking her nothing beyond a dream he treasured, and feared for its intensity and naturalness and persistence.
“Well, my reality is just those things, my Chosen,” I whispered now, as I decided that there was no logic whatever in giving any more attention to Hallii, since there was nothing I could do to curtail the shadowing. Why not give it to he who makes me feel a though a part of her had slipped Aletris’ gentle embrace and flown, as free as the winged nectar-sippers that fluttered about the arytana when spring warmed them into life, out into Everdeep to join with him.
And, suddenly, I felt him again, had that weightless, spinning feeling that I always got when I felt his thoughts…
Because he was traveling THROUGH the Everdeep – to him, it was as rich and varied and powerful as the Huntlands she loved. The tugging of his call to it was a thing I understood; maybe that’s what first drew us, one to the other, across the vastness of Everdeep – that which all others thought as an emptiness, but I knew, from him, that it was a fabric, a world, a living thing as any world -
I rinsed my mouth with the salt water, and then went to chew on some seagrass, before slipping back into the woods, heading more deeply into the Huntlands, where Hallii was not yet daring enough to follow.
I found a circle of spicepines, releasing their sweetly sharp scent to blend perfectly with the night-blooming arytana, which drew potency from the moonlight….
I wove a bower of branches and vines, my breath coming too fast, but I did nothing to slow it. It fed my awareness of him; he was asleep, and slowly overcoming his own resistance – it was not something he did easily; he was no easy prey.
But he couldn’t resist as strongly as he had, once – as I could feel Everdeep in him; so, too, could he feel Huntlust and arytana and spicepines in me…
He wanted me, and was compelled by me -although he still held the distance between us, and would only come to me when his aloneness was too much to bear…
When the bower became watertight shelter of arytana blooms, I curled into it, and allowed sleep to come….
And somewhere out there, he awaited me…..