The room felt too small even though realistically he knew it was huge, at least double the size of the cabin’s front room had been. But with each hour that bled into the next, with each day that turned to night and night back into day, the room felt smaller. The walls felt like they were slowly moving closer and closer to him. As though they would eventually wrap around him, smoosh him like one would a bug beneath their foot, and he’d be no more. He knew that was stupid, knew it was impossible, but the Many See him, it didn’t stop him from feeling it. Didn’t lessen the paranoia that increased with each day that passed.

They’d arrived back at the Grand Palace days ago to not so much chaos but something very similar to it. His people had gathered by the thousands around the Grand Palace to stand vigil for his safe return. Even when the first snowstorm of the season had blown through and painted everything white and silver, they had remained where they knelt, hands held up in supplication, heads bowed in prayer. It had taken several hours to convince them all to return home, to flood the Temples and holy sites where they were safe from the elements to speak to the Many on his behalf, to beseech the Patron who had abandoned them all for his safety and his health and his continued benevolent reign.

Isn’t that laughable? They think I’m benevolent. 

But anyone was benevolent when compared to the Ildir, when compared to any other monster masquerading as a Dhaoine who had ruled across the Seven Worlds. So for all that he wasn’t a monster like the Ildir had been, like Lulphé or Anislanzir had been or Xitlali was, he didn’t think such a nice term was applicable to him.

Though he had wisely learned not to say as much within earshot of Sheieh.

G’agsha,” he stopped pacing and whipped around in the middle of the room to see Sheieh standing just inside the door, eyebrows raised over those winter sky colored eyes that held so much worry and suspicion in them it was a wonder it hadn’t leaked out all over the Soul Healer’s face. “You have a visitor.”

He frowned because he never got visitors. At least none that necessitated Sheieh coming to find him personally.

“A visitor? Who would see me here let alone now of all times?” he asked, genuinely confused.

“Yes, g’agsha,” Sheieh nodded and for a moment Relyt thought he saw fear mix with the worry and suspicion in his Guardian’s eyes. “Shall I send them off with the advisement to seek an audience proper at a later time?”

He took a step closer to Sheieh and the door but stopped when the walls of his room wobbled ominously. Sheieh’s attention sharpened when he couldn’t stop himself from looking at them just to make sure they hadn’t actually moved. Thankfully he hasn’t noticed that I’ve moved all the furniture against the walls so if they actually move they’d take the furniture with them. 

“Who is it, Sheieh?”

There was that flash of fear again, stronger than before and he raised both eyebrows.

“Your older brother, g’agsha.”

“Older broth…” he trailed off into silence so thick it felt like he could choke on it. His brother had never approached visiting him with such boldness before. Sure he’d just walked into the Palace and found him as though the other Soul Healer owned the place, but he’d never done this. And of all the Dhaoine who would be bold enough to call themselves as a visitor and not adhere to protocol and request an audience, Lílrt was the only one he couldn’t, he wouldn’t, outright refuse. “I’ll see him. Just give me a moment to get the room in better order.”

Sheieh nodded before sweeping into a low bow. “As you wish, g’agsha. I shall engage him for ten minutes so you may prepare for his announcement.”

Before he could comment on the odd wording Sheieh had ducked back through the door and he was left alone in a room that felt way too small despite knowing it wasn’t. Was left with the sense that something was horribly, horribly wrong because that was the only reason Lílrt was coming to see him so many times in the last year and a half when he hadn’t seen the older male in centuries. Not face to face.

With a sigh he turned and began to put the room back into its proper order and tried diligently to ignore that doing so made his stomach twist into larger, tighter knots than Lílrt coming to pay him a visit did.

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