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Arya and the other alumni gathered to hear Ihsan’s announcement. She was surprised when Navi took the reigns instead. Her eyes scanned the assassins gathered around her but he was not among them. “Where is Ihsan?” She whispered to Lumi.
“I don’t know,” Lumi shrugged, “but if his companion is in charge I would keep my head down if I were you.”
“As you have all noticed, preceptor Rayne has been called away on a charge,” Navi pinned Arya with a glare, “In his absence, I will be taking his place.”
“Pardon me Navi, but what do you mean he’s been called away on a charge? What charge?” Arya asked.
Nudging Arya with her elbow Lumi whispered, “This is the exact opposite of keeping your head down.”
Navi locked eyes on Arya. The amount of tension between the two filled the room in an instant and it grew deathly quiet as Navi approached Arya. “Speak only when spoken to girl,” Navi commanded.
“Or what?” Arya drawled.
Navi took a step closer, hand on her stilettos, staring Arya down. She wasn’t afraid. Good, then she wouldn’t hold back if Arya decided to come for her head. The room grew even quieter still as if everyone were holding their breath now.
“If you think that ring on your finger spares you from training you are sorely mistaken.”
“I presume nothing, I just don’t like you. If you have something to say to me, out with it or sod-off.”
Navi took a swing and Arya blocked it, shoving her backwards. “The price of your insolence shall be blood,” Navi growled. She lunged at Arya again and Arya blocked then shoved her back each time she lunged.
As Arya defended herself against Navi’s charges she felt conflicted. Navi had tears in her eyes and pain strewn across her face. She didn’t want to punish Arya for her insolence; she was punishing her for Ihsan. Arya had never backed down from a fight before, but this was one fight she didn’t want. She knew that kind of pain. For Navi, this was a fight to defend her heart, her love.
“Stop.” Arya pleaded.
“No! Fight back!” Navi shouted.
Arya dropped her weapons and held her hands up in the air. Navi lunged at her with her sword and stopped just short of pricking the skin at her throat. Her sword hand trembled. She wanted to do it. She wanted to end Arya and be done with the threat to her relationship with Ihsan.
“You won’t get another chance,” Arya told her.
Clenching her eyes shut, tears falling from her eyes Navi asked, “Why won’t you fight?”
“I am not interested in taking your life.”
“You’re such an arrogant bitch,” Navi half laughed, lowering her sword.
“Perhaps, but I am not your enemy Navi.”
“As long as he loves you, you will always be my enemy.”
“I can’t control what he feels,” Arya sighed, “All I can tell you is I don’t feel for him out of spite for you, that love was born before either of us knew you existed. It isn’t fair to you and I get it, but this is the hand we were alldealt.”
“But you have a mate. Why can’t you let him go?”
“Ihsan and I have unfinished business. And to be honest, I don’t know if it will ever be finished, but soon I’ll be married off, cutting off any and all possibilities for Ihsan and I. Let that give you comfort.”
“If you think marrying the Majii is going to stop him from coming for you, you don’t know him as well as you think. He’s stubborn and strong willed.”
Arya chuckled, “Aye, that he is, but he’s also a just man. He would not capture your heart only to torture it.”
“True,” Navi nodded, “But hasn’t he captured your heart as well? Or did you think the Majii sending him on this charge actually had something to do with the safety of the Red Legion. He sent him out there because of you…because of how the two of you look at each other. He sent him on a suicide mission.”
That got Arya’s attention. “What do you mean?”
“There’s a threat to not just the Redlands, but every place within the planes. People are dyingArya. Spies are sent out but they don’t return. Rumor is either your sister, or someone like your sister is out there murdering people.”
Arya swallowed hard. She clenched her fist to stifle her anger. Of course Malich would send Ihsan to his death. She needed to get to Ihsan before something terrible happened.
“I’m going after him. If it is my sister we are up against then he’ll need all the help he can get,” Arya picked up her sword, sheathing it behind her back.
“He’ll have you beaten for this,” Navi warned, but none of them tried to stop her.
“Probably, but bruises don’t exactly go with my wedding gown so I’m hoping he’ll postpone it until after the wedding,” Arya winked.
Navi huffed a laugh, “You’re insane.”
“So I’ve been told.”
Navi surprised Arya by embracing her. She was caught off guard for a moment but quickly snapped out of it and hugged the petite girl back. “Perhaps under different circumstances we could be friends,” Navi suggested.
“Bring him back in one piece,” Navi inhaled a shuddering breath.
Arya nodded and set off to leave when four figures stepped out to greet her. “If you’re going, then so are we,” Lumi smiled. She, Jax, Rayu and Zahn were all armed to the teeth and ready to go.
Turning to Navi, Arya asked, “Stall for me?” Navi nodded and the five of them quickly set off on foot.
“Not that I’m not on board with this plan of yours, but where exactly are we headed?” Zahn asked.
“We’ll start with the last known death. It just so happens to be in the Redlands.”
“And if we should happen to find this threat, what are the five of us supposed to do?” Jax asked.
Arya smiled over her shoulder at him, “That’s easy, don’t die. Whatever we do, we need to do it together.”
They were almost to the door exiting the season’s plane when Dax called out to them. Arya whirled around, sword unsheathed, ready to fight if she had to, but Dax held up his hands in surrender. “I am not here to stop you, I agree with it. I’m only here to provide you with the information you might need to find him.”
Dax reached inside his waistcoat and handed Arya a document. “If Malich finds out you helped us-”
“Make sure he doesn’t,” was all Dax said in response before turning and heading back to the palace.ns 18.104.22.168da2