Frustration burned hot and heavy in her gut, riding low in her chest where anxiety saw fit to choke her.
But she wasn’t truly worried. Or rather that was what she told himself. Because the Anointed One wouldn’t tolerate failure and she wasn’t a failure, that much she knew with absolute certainty. And if she were worried? Well, that would surely see that she failed.
She’d come to this holy site because he had told her to. Had given her a chance to prove herself. Told her the Grey Qishir would be here, that the Coward King had come home and that he’d be weakened. But what the Anointed One hadn’t known was that he wouldn’t be alone. That his Companion and first Other would be at his side. That while they weren’t aware of her like she was of them, they were still there. And their mere presence posed a threat to the entire operation’s success and it made her angry.
“Don’t get angry. Letting your emotions rule you will only serve to seal your failure before you even try. Be calm and unmoving like the mountains.”
Taking a deep breath she let it out slow and closed her eyes with a quick prayer of thanks for the Anointed One’s wisdom, shifting her shoulders so she felt the pull of the stones down her spine.
I would not have been assigned this task if he thought I was unworthy.
With that knowledge firmly in her mind she threw her magick at herself to create the wounds she’d need and then came stumbling out from behind the far obelisk, panting in the heat and dripping red-tinged sweat.
“Please,” she gasped, fighting not to grin when the three males whirled around to face her. “Help…me…” She collapsed to the sands limply, fighting her body’s natural response to try and catch herself. If she wasn’t convincing, then she wouldn’t be able to get them where she needed them. And at the very least she needed Nhulynolyn to be in the city she had come from.
“If he is nearby, you need to take out the First Other before anyone else. Otherwise the Coward King won’t go down easily, if at all. You must take out his twin Other, then his Companion, then his Steward, then him. He has no other qahllyn.”
“Anointed One, what about the two Others he has besides Nhulynolyn?” she asked, wanting to make sure she didn’t mess this up.
“While they help him a great deal, Nhulynolyn’s loss would cripple the Coward King in a way that the loss of Shadiranamen and Xheshmaryú would not.”
“Fuck!” One hissed but she only heard the sound of two sets of pounding footfalls. Surely none of them would have stayed behind at the center of the obelisk formation? It didn’t make sense given what she knew of them.
When the Grey Companion gently rolled her over and up into a sitting position she only saw him and the Otherborn. Rhyshladlyn hadn’t moved. And that made even less sense. It was well known that the Coward King would rush headlong into battle, to help the helpless, from his problems, it didn’t matter. Rhyshladlyn Ka’ahne knew how to run. So why hadn’t he this time.
“Rhys, the fuck you doin’?” Nhulynolyn called, voice tinged with what sounded like impatience.
Those orange-amber eyes narrowed at her and she felt his magick slither across her skin, tasting for a magickal signature. She flinched away from the touch but didn’t fight him. After another minute of searching under the weight of that unwavering stare Rhyshladlyn tilted his head to the side and cautiously approached them.
“Nothing, Nul,” he answered at length. The just being cautious while unspoken was obvious.
And very well you should be, Qishir. And very well you should be.
By the time he recognized who she was, it would be too late.
But until then, she would play her part and make the Anointed One proud.