“Ain't that the truth. So you’re training the patriarch’s boy, now?” Hanif wrestled playfully with his son's grip. “That’s a damned honor. Damned waste, too, if you ask me. Like five cats in one dog, that young man is. Think you’d be willing to give this little beast of wrath some lessons?”
Shardae kept her mouth shut. If she said Siskin, they would surely send her back. A life of holy discipline must be better than slavery, but somehow Shardae still felt like she hadn’t run far enough.
Her name was Zoya Nia. She was a foreign slave of an aristocrat who had ended the service for her crime a long time ago, and her owners paid her well. They trusted her with tending their babes and selecting the best of Árai’s horses for the warriors they sponsored.
Her first battle came only two days later. A gang of straggling Demons fell on them, rising from hills of mulch. They had no choice but to stop and stand their ground.
Crushed between two pages bookmarking a section on home fertility remedies, Shiori found a head of dried hydrangeas. He plucked it out gingerly—the petals were veined and brittle as fly wings. They shuddered quietly in his grasp. Shiori's eyebrow ticked. He hated dead things.
Khurshid tapped her chin with the tooth of his curved sword. Umi flinched.
“Tell me, Umi Siskin, great hero of the Margins,” he said. “Tell my why a Demon is a Demon.”
This is what the stars have shown us. From this day forward, the Lumisary Legion is disbanded. By the turning of the final lunar month this year, all services for the dead will be concluded. The War of Bleeding Margins is, henceforth, not to be written, mentioned, or preserved in any distasteful way. From thirty-three years of suffering, let us build thirty-three more of perfect peace.
They were indoors. The crowd was spread, but it was still a crowd, and in unpredictable motion. Umi switched from the hilt of his Major to the hilt of his Minor.
He killed any fondness for his favorite game, of spotting the nervous buttonquails when they ran. He thought not at all of being sent off to bed without haggard carers and squabbling sisters.