The moment she saw the ancient family crest dangling from Arya’s neck, Alara knew this wasn’t just some ordinary mission. She could feel Arya’s power edging just beneath the surface, calling to her own. It was enough to spare Arya’s life, but if she turned out not to be who Alara thought, she was content to spill her blood, andthat of the male stealing glances at Arya when he thought no one was looking.
Alara pulled at the fabric of the world until she came to a familiar place. She drew her shadows inside her and the world finally came into focus. Both Arya and the ogler fell to their knees, trying not to purge their stomachs.
She recalled the first time she’d traveled using this particular gift and had promptly emptied her stomach onto the porcelain floor of the pleasure house she’d been sold to.
Arya glared at her and Alara responded with a sly grin. “The effect will wear off eventually,” she assured her.
Hands propped up on her knees, dry heaving, Arya waited until the world stopped spinning. It took longer than Alara expected. “You’ve brought guests?” Preceptor Tomich, smiled. There were questions in his eyes. Alara had never brought anyone home to him before. In truth, she was a notorious loner who only tolerated the belligerence of the withering old historian.
Although she’d only been gone for two moons, Tomich looked frailer, his hair grayer, and the pits beneath his eyes seemed to have sunken even more. He was dying. They knew it for some time now they just didn’t know how much time he had left, so they made it count.
Tomich taught Alara everything he knew about the Litri House, including those who may have knowledge he didn’t possess. Alara had many questions, but he’d only been able to answer some of them.
Alara motioned for Arya to approach. She reached for the medallion around Arya’s neck and was met with a stiletto to her throat in response. “I simply want to show him your medallion,” Alara held her hands up. Without moving the stiletto from Alara’s throat, Arya brandished the medallion. Tomich’s brows rose. He came closer to Arya, his frail liver spotted fingers tracing the crest on her medallion, examining the symbols on the back.
“Well?” Alara asked.
Tomich nodded, “She is the one.”
A smile spread across Alara’s face. She’d searched for her long lost sister ever since Tomich told her she had one. A twin.
Tomich smiled at Arya who slowly removed the stiletto from Alara’s throat. “Who am I?” She asked. Tomich motioned for her to sit while he finished the meal he’d started to prepare. Arya sat, the ogler beside her and waited impatiently for Tomich to explain to her all he knew of our home.
“You’re the daughters of Fayrah and Cassian Vale. They were servants for the Royal House of Litri…the Seelie Court or Light Court as some have called it,” Tomich began to explain.
“Light Court?” Ihsan joined the conversation. Judging by the look on his face, Alara sensed he knew something.
“What is it?” She asked.
“Nothing,” he shook his head. Liar.
Arya’s eyes slid to the ogler and he returned her gaze. There’s a bit of tension between the two of them, and Alara would get to the source of that tension later. For now, she wanted to hear more. “What do you know of the Royal House of Litri or the Light Court?”
“I told you, I know nothing, just rumors,” Ihsan kept whatever information he knew tight to his vest. “I’ve heard rumors that an entire lineage was wiped out.”
“Aye,” Tomich nodded, “that would be the Litri lineage…Alaric and Kaliz Litri. They had a son and daughter, Kamaya and Khel Litri. The Litri’s were like any other family if you ask me, but they were too welcoming to others. The rumors suggest the King’s brother of the Unseelie Court seduced Kaliz. It was that affair that tore two kingdoms apart, annihilating one and isolating the other. The only citizens of the Royal House of Litri to escape with their lives were the Vale’s. Although, there are some who suspect Kamaya and Khel escaped and went into hiding.”
Ihsan muttered beneath his breath, “Why am I not surprised?”
“You know the King’s brother?” Arya asked.
“Something to that affect.”
“Who are you again?” Alara asked. She knew who he was; she just wanted to irritate him as much as he was irritating her at the moment.
“I’m a Red Son,” Ihsan replied, irritation lacing his tone.
“So our parents…you said their names are Fayrah and Cassian?” Arya asked, changing the subject.
“Aye,” Tomich nodded.
“Where are they? What happened to them?”
“I can’t be sure really, they’re always on the move. They never stay in one place for too long for fear of being discovered.”
“We need to find them. There has to be a way.”
“Aye, there is.” Alara tells her. “It’s why I asked you here. I didn’t want to do it alone.”
Understanding shone in Arya’s eyes, but her counterpart was still suspicious of me…as he should be. There are things at play that won’t wait for Arya to figure things out. I have to speed things along or it’ll be too late.
Turning to Tomich, I gave him a nod. He quickly exited the room, or as quickly as one with his ailments might move, before returning with a hand drawn map. It took him seven weeks to perfect this map of where his memory tells him the ruins of the Royal House of Litri lay. We will start our journey there.
“So what now? Do we stay here staring at this withering old man or are we going somewhere?” Arya asked impatiently, staring at the map.
“Are you in a hurry?” Ihsan’s carefully veiled words rendered Arya still. On the surface it seemed like a simple question, but given Arya’s reaction, it had a much deeper meaning. She whirled around to face him and they engaged in an ocular showdown before she said, “If you have something to say, out with it. You can’t torture me any more than I’ve been torturing myself about this.”
“Is that what you call sleeping with the man who tore us apart?”
“Yes, because had I have known what he was doing, I would have…”
“Walked away?” Ihsan finished her sentence.
Arya nodded. “He broke me and then he helped put me back together. I was dependent on him and after a while I knew he felt something for me, but I fought it. I fought it for as long as I could, but again, he broke me,” she sulked. “Everyone around me had someone, except me because I was afraid of what he might do to them. So rather than subject someone to the same torture you experienced at his hands, I conceded. It was better than being alone.”
“That’s pathetic,” Ihsan scowled at her.
“After losing you, that’s exactly how I felt. I thought you were deadIhsan.”
The more Alara had to listen to the two of them profess their undying love for one another the more she wanted to gouge her own eardrums out. “Not to break up this happy reunion, but we need to get going, and you two need warmer clothes. It’s below zero where we’re going.ns22.214.171.124da2