Interlude II: Confess

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i.*

The drake felt death breathing down his neck.  He laughed.
“I cannot imagine killing me will end well for you⁠ ⁠—⁠ or accomplish your goals, for that matter,” he said, peering down at nothing.  He smelt the holly.
“One day I’ll find the will, you know.”
“What has it been?  Ten, fifteen gyras?”  He fluttered his tongue.  “I don’t glimpse you doing this out of any lingering hate.”
Something sharp slid into a sheath.  “I still don’t like you.”
A smile she couldn’t see.  “Understandable.  But as long as you do this, I can’t help but still see the knee high little moltling who couldn’t hold a knife steady, or even pronounce ‘kill’ correctly.”  Quietly, he knew she wouldn’t do it, knew she wasn’t like him.  Not Mlaen’s little flower.
She said, “I’ve come a long way.”
“You have.  And some things never change.”

Sifting VIII: Reglaze

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i. *

Would this day ever end?  This entire adventure had passed in one day, in one evening.  Yet, in my mind, in my aching legs, and in my relationship with Hinte, a whole cycle might have passed.  More had happened today than in any other cycle of my life.
Routine dominated my days. Wake up before the second dawn ring, Kinri. Check by the coutiers, maybe your brother finally sent a letter.  Go to moil at the Llygaid Crwydro every day, except (stars, don’t forget!) not on the purportedly-sacred crestdays and troughdays.  Hope Cthwithach-sofran has time to teach you anything, else you’ll have nothing else to show the day wasn’t waste.  Let Uvidet-gyfar drag you out to play cards at the Moyo-Makao every other day.  Check by the courtiers again, you never know.  If you grow bored of things⁠ ⁠—⁠ when you grow bored of things⁠ ⁠—⁠ you can beg the guards at the south gate to let you out, and fly some laps in the pretty red ravines south of town.  Then sneak out at night and look at the endless stars.
All of the excitement and terror of this break from routine had exhausted me…  but it was worth it, to spend some time with Hinte that wasn’t just phatic fumbling.

Sifting VII: Anneal

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i.*

Along the roads into Gwymr/Frina the scattered lamp- and sign-posts mixed with bright-colored signs warning of trenches and sudden drops. Little glider-scorpions emerged from the deeper crevices, flitting in the night with the short, sporadic glides that named them.  Often the whirring of bats rose with the calls and buzzes of the scorpions, but when one appeared, the other would grow silent, hiding or hunting.
We passed a few houses dotting the ravine at its widest, where the posts instead fenced off their yards.  Here, netting rose from the fence-posts, and blocked any inward flight.  The nets met big poles rising from the roofs, making the houses like spiderly pyramids.