Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Page 997 -- CXIII.

--Non-donation bonus in order to make up for poopy February (Page 1 of 3)--
“Jackson might very well be second only to Sermung now,” said Imas, unable to conceal her smile. “I know we are currently in conflict with the Vanguard, but I am so excited about this news.”

“Why?” said Asad.

“Because! The Radiant Sentinel! The Star of the West! He’s done it again! And this time, he probably saved millions of lives! Oh, a man like that--I wonder what he’s really like.”

Asad exchanged glances with Orjand. “I didn’t realize she was such a fan of his.”

...I did.

“Have you ever seen him?” said Imas. “He is so handsome. And I bet he’s amazing in bed.”

Asad was incredulous. “You’re a lesbian!”

She shrugged. “Yeah, but I wouldn’t say no. Not to him.”

Asad just sighed and laughed at the same time.

“Everyone has their exceptions,” said Imas. “I’m sure there’s at least one man you’d make an exception for, right? There has to be.”

Asad returned a flat stare.

“Just give it a little thought,” she urged.

He shook his head.

“Whatever. Big tough Sandlord can’t even admit when he when he wants to have sweaty, passionate sex with another man. It’s not like I would tell anyone.”

“...Is there a reason you’re still in my room?”


Chapter One Hundred Thirteen: ‘O, worldly warrior...’
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Rezamaar wouldn’t stop fidgeting.

Would you relax?’ said Dunstan. He wasn’t exactly comfortable, either, crammed into the back of a plane with the rest of the Seventh Watcher’s Unit. ‘You’re going to lose your grip on my arm.

Ugh. Fine.

The concern wasn’t that she would fall through the plane. The aircraft’s hull had been soul-empowered to prevent that from happening. But unfortunately, that also made circumstances more dangerous for her. Save only for the planet itself, reapers were not affected by relative motion in physical reality. If she let go of Dunstan, she would become suddenly stationary relative to Eleg but not the aircraft. The result, therefore, would be her smashing into the side of the cabin at eight hundred kilometers per hour. And even a reaper would not be able to survive that.

This was why soul-empowering airplanes was generally never done, with the one exception being in the transportation of captives. Technically, they were being “reassigned,” but the Gargoyle clearly didn’t want any of their reapers escaping.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Page 996

“Relaxing already?” Imas said in Valgan. “Where is Qorvass?”

“With Hector and Garovel,” said Asad.

They seem to have become fast friends,’ said Orjand. Her little scorpionfly wings buzzed as she hovered there in midair. ‘Qorvass is usually the last of us to warm up to new people.

She wasn’t wrong, Asad knew. It had taken Qorvass years to finally accept his friendship with Zeff. “I think he senses an opportunity for an alliance,” said Asad. “Or maybe he just wants me to stop calling him a surly bastard.”

“An alliance?” said Imas. “With the young Atreyan lord? Why? Not to knock the boy, but his strength is not his own.”

“So you noticed it, too,” said Asad.

“Of course. And I am a little annoyed that Haqq did not give that shield to me. Or something like it, at least.”

“Be sure to chew him out when we get back to Kuros.”

“Oh, I will.”

Orjand hovered closer. ‘By the way, have you heard the news? We just heard about it downstairs.

“Which news would that be?” Asad scratched his cheek absently.

The war between Jesbol and Horsht. It’s over.

Asad blinked and sat up straighter. “What? Since when?”

Since earlier today. Jesbol won. They’re already talking about dissolving Horsht completely. It seems Jesbol will have territory on the mainland now.

“So sudden,” said Asad. “How long has that war been going? It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten.”

Oh, it’s been a collection of wars, really,’ said Orjand. ‘The one you’re familiar with started about thirty years ago, but it’s been on and off for more than than a hundred now. I’m still not sure whether to believe it. If it were merely news of another “cease in hostilities,” I wouldn’t buy it for a moment, but this is the first time that one of them has been reported of conquering the other.

“And there’s more to it,” said Imas. “The victory is being attributed to Field Marshall Jackson. They’re saying he cut through Abolish like a knife and killed Gunther and Dunhouser both.”

Asad’s eyes widened. “By himself?”

She nodded. “And in order to pull something like that off, the smart money says he achieved emergence.”

If it’s all true, then this means a major victory for the Vanguard.

Page 995

Asad took a seat on the edge of his bed and rubbed his forehead, trying to think. If he was being completely honest with himself, he had no idea what he was doing, bringing the Rainlords to Dunehall. Sure, the Vanguard wouldn’t find them here, but how was he supposed to explain this to Abbas and the others? It was only a matter of time before they found out.

And of course, there was still the matter of the Rainlords themselves. Hopefully, they would be able to reach a peaceful solution concerning Ibai, but if that didn’t happen, then Dunehall might well become their new battleground. Asad just hoped he wasn’t a fool for trusting them in this place.

He hadn’t visited Dunehall in months, but it wasn’t for lack of wanting to. Really, he would have liked to simply live here again, but his wife’s family lived in Kuros, and for most women, that might have given them cause to leave, but not for her. Samira was very much a daddy’s girl. Asad had tried bringing her here after their marriage, but it made her miserable, and her happiness was much more important than his nostalgia. And besides, Kuros wasn’t so terrible. It just didn’t really feel like home to him, even after twenty years--or at least, not like Moaban did.

It felt a shame to leave Dunehall without a Najir to watch over it, but he’d tried passing the reigns over to Haqq or Imas, and to his surprise, both had refused him. Haqq cared only for the Golden Fort’s research facilities and nothing for tradition; and Imas said she didn’t wish to live so far away from her brothers--an argument Asad could hardly refute, given the sacrifice he was making for his wife.

Dunehall, therefore, had passed into the hands of the lesser lord Yasir Faheem, a blustery man who had been following Asad around for much of the evening and rambling about so many different things at such high speeds that Asad had only caught about half of them. Most of it had been assurances that the staff in Dunehall had been doing their jobs thoroughly and properly.

There came a knock at Asad’s door, and he half expected it to be Faheem again. “Enter,” he said in Mohssian.

Orjand phased through the door before Imas opened it and followed, closing it again behind her.