53

“We shouldn’t be here, Jaro,” he hissed under his breath, carefully working to stitch the wounds that Palace Healers had brought from deadly to nuisance. He didn’t look up from what he was doing, didn’t need to see the Soulless’ face to know that Jaro was giving him the male’s trademark narrowed eyed glare of annoyance.

If their situation wasn’t so worrisome, he’d laugh at it like he always had.

“Well, it’s not like either of us had much of a fuckin’ choice,” Jaro bit back, wincing when Sheieh pulled the thread taught before typing a swift, complicated knot and cutting the needle lose with a small knife. “Not when you got your ass knocked cold and I couldn’t walk on my own anymore.”

“Fair enough,” Sheieh replied on a sigh as he spread salve across his thread-work, only meeting Jaro’s eyes briefly before looking away as he prepared the needle again. “And the Worlds over know that the Grey Court can’t leave injured Dhaoine unaided, even if they well should.”

“The gods and several Dhaoine probably wished they didn’t,” Jaro chuckled, the sound strained and only containing a fraction of the mirth it should as he eyed Sheieh preparing another thread.

Thankfully Jaro’s lesser wounds had healed naturally with time and only minor aid on the part of the Palace Healers. It was the deeper ones that had cut across the Soulless’ chest and abdomen and crisscrossed over his thighs that had been the most concerning. It was rare for a Dhaoine as powerful as Jaro to need the hands of Healers and stitches to close wounds, but those flesh-less things had been formidable creatures. Faster than Hounds and deadlier than Hounds and Oiki combined, Sheieh had never seen anything like them save for Iköl’s favorite pet. And even those horrific things hadn’t come close to the flesh-less creatures they’d faced in Ryphqi City.

They said nothing else to each other as Sheieh carefully, swiftly stitched Jaro’s remaining wounds, mindful not to pull the skin too tight and to spread salve across the thread-work once he’d tied it off. Nothing would keep wounds so deep they touched bone from scarring, not even the strongest of Healing magick, but his main concern was ensuring that Jaro was able to walk and move without issue when that scar tissue eventually developed. When the last wound was closed, Sheieh stood and stretched, groaning as his back popped and shoulders settled properly into their sockets. Began cleaning up as Jaro’s eyes bored into him, the air thick with things unsaid.

“He knows, Sheieh,” Jaro said at length, the words heavy, halting, like the Soulless didn’t want to speak them and really Sheieh couldn’t blame him. They knew that Rhyshladlyn remembering the truth meant disaster and good tidings in equal measure but the wild card was in how the Qishir had remembered the truth, never mind how much he remembered. And with him still unconscious hours after they’d gotten him back to the Eighth Palace and under the hands of the Worlds’ best Healers there was no telling what, if any, strain those memories had put upon his mind.

The Many only knows the last thing the Worlds need is for Rhyshladlyn’s mind to break.

“Yes,” he confirmed even though Jaro hadn’t asked a question. “I saw the way he looked at Xefras and Azriel, how he reacted to them after he annihilated those things in the square. And the only way he could recognize the Dragaen would be if he remembered everything.”

Jaro sighed then cried out softly. Sheieh whipped around to see why and rolled his eyes at the sight of the Soulless trying to sit up further on the bed. Sheieh clicked his tongue reproachfully as he walked over and helped him, making sure the pillows were stacked well enough behind the male so that the wounds in his abdomen weren’t strained.

“He also recognized me in the square before he dropped his Dhaoinic face,” the Soulless’ voice was soft, barely above a whisper, each word careful and precise. They were in dangerous territory and not just because they were half-strangers in the Eighth Palace but because they had no idea who all remembered the truth and who didn’t. And that was to say nothing of how they were going to approach the subject of how the Dhaoine who called himself Relyt Greymend actually wasn’t Relyt Greymend. “It was brief but he knew me.”

Sheieh cursed softly in Gretlök and dropped heavily onto the chair beside the bed, pushing his hair out of his face with hands that trembled. The silence stretched between them, still heavy but the things it held weren’t ready to be spoken. Not yet. Not here.

A knock on the door brought his head up in time to see Alaïs poke her head inside, one hand gripping the doorjamb, the other curled around the doorknob.

“Sheieh? Relyt said he needs your aid. The Dragaen’s wound is resisting any attempts to close it.”

“On my way, Companion Alaïs.”

The Sinner narrowed her eyes at him, glanced at Jaro, nodded once and left without a word, pulling the door closed behind her.

“Well that’s going to go swimmingly,” the Soulless commented blandly.

Sheieh chuckled, the sound mirthless and nervous. “Pray to the gods that I emerge from this encounter unscathed.”

“Don’t get killed, Soul Healer,” Jaro quipped as Sheieh rose to his feet. “You’ve grown on me.”

This time when he laughed it was more genuine. “That’s just the herbs talking, Jaro. I will return as soon as I can to check on you.”

Jaro nodded and relaxed back against the pillows, eyes falling closed. Sheieh stood for a moment longer and watched the male drift into sleep before he walked to the door and stepped out. Found Alaïs leaning against the wall a few feet down the corridor, arms crossed under her breasts, clear blue eyes reminding him of the mountain rivers of his homeland when the the river water itself would thaw but not the top ice layer. He bowed formally to her, arms spread, palms half displayed in place of releasing his wings.

“Lead the way, my Lady,” he said as he straightened, his stoic careful mask firmly in place.

Those eyes stared at him for a heartbeat longer before she blinked and pushed away from the wall. He didn’t begrudge her the lack of returned greeting. Understood that she had lost so much today, that she stood to lose so much more. So he slipped his hands into the pockets of his breeches to hide the way they still shook and whispered a prayer to the Many and followed after her.

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