Tonight I'm going to try and put a bow on this story. Here is the last part of Nalli, Lily and Odward's evening. So far I've been switching POV from character to character. Well, this is the last character who needs to be involved as well.
This is the last part of a #shortstory set in #Crux, City of Curses. Qorg faces certain exile from his Khan after his failure to capture the Spice Khan's escaped prisoner; now three outsiders and his Khan discuss his fate. Will this Janissary keep his job, or will he be forced out of the service of the one being he is completely devoted to?
Part 1 (Lily) | Part 2 (Odward) | Part 3 (Nalli) | Part 4 (Zhames) |
"Fine. We will hear you out. Janissaries, stand down." As the Spice Khan spoke, we obeyed.
It took all my efforts not to break discipline. I wanted to rip their puny heads off. But the Khan had spoken. I had to obey.
The barge of the Spice Khan honored the scarless foreigners of Crux. Opulent, its beauty contained only a modicum of what Maliph truly held. I barely understood their language, but I didn't know how best to articulate it to scarless outsiders like these three.
They stood within the silk tent that the Khan herself meet most of her guests. Big enough for her and her cushions, it left very little room for visitors. It was big enough for her to stand at her full height of thirty feet, but not much more than that. It served its purpose, to impress our guests with how much more powerful the Spice Khan of Maliph truly was.
These three had embarrassed me at the Grand Bazaar only a few hours before. A Tiefling, a white-haired human and one of the tiny halflings. The Tiefling drew most of my ire. Hers was a tongue that needed to learn respect. They bowed their heads in greeting to the Khan.
"Khan," The Tiefling spoke in a soft tone, in the mother tongue of Malic. Then she curtseyed, deepening her bow to the proper level of respect. I reconsidered my previous thoughts on teaching her etiquette through my violent fists. "Thanks for listening to our meager pleas."
"Little fiendblood, you speak Malic well." The Spice Khan didn't gaze down at the three of them. I knew my Khan she would refuse to give even that much respect to one of Scarless. Her gaze remained upward, focused on a series of scrolls she read with one of her reading lenses. "Who are you three to us, then?"
"I am Lily of the Divas of the Singer of the Song." Lily gestured at the white-haired man with the tattooed face. "He is Odward Walridr, and the Ursyklon is Nalli Eaglesoar. We are pleased and humbled to appear before you."
"Tell me again, little one, why we shouldn't have our janissaries remove you to the depths of the Sleeping Sea?"
The halfling and white-haired man stood patiently, but both looked perturbed with the Tiefling smirked. "We took care of Zhames for you."
The Khan didn't look down. "We do not know of any Zhames. One of our Janissaries did lose... a prized pet. An animal one of our vassals had given us not too long ago."
"Hmm." Lily curled up her lips into a smile. "Zhames will not be returned to you, if you must know."
I blinked. She would dare speak that way to my Khan? To the one my life belonged?
The Khan frowned. She sat up, moving from a position where her head was level with the three of them to where her face and head were above them in the air. She gazed down at them, her eyes carrying a look of rage. "You will return him to us, little things. We are the Spice Khan. His life is ours to do with."
Lily whistled for a beat, then Odward tossed a golden chain on the ground before the Spice Khan. "No, it isn't."
"You think you can-" The Spice Khan closed her eyes. She let out a breath. Her fury subsided. "He is our responsibility. We will not let you or any other tiny scarless take that from us."
Lily nodded. "We understand that, but the City of Curses has laws in regards to lycanthropes, Khan. And my companion, Odward, is a sworn Justicar of the Iron Cage. He doesn't uphold the laws of the city, but he cannot allow a guilty monster to wander free."
"Wander free?" The Spice Khan glared down at the three of them. Odward and the halfling took steps backward. They didn't understand. They both were understandably frightened.
I felt my chest fill with pride. The Spice Khan shouldn't wallow in violence, but she was worthy of respect. Hers was a might just and strong.
"You dare say we would let something-" The Spice Khan stood up to her full height, her feet next to Lily. "We would teach you little scarless things a lesson-"
"You won't." Lily smiled. "Odward has imprisoned Zhames in the Iron Cage. Should he ever be released, he won't be the same thing you knew. And I know you know of the Iron Cage, Khan. Further, this was a courtesy we felt necessary to conduct for you.
"We dishonored your servant Qorg. As such, the three of us wanted to make it clear we would take responsibility for Zhames as payment for what harm we did to Qorg in the Grand Bazaar." Then Lily closed her eyes. She whispered something.
The Spice Khan focused her eyes. She bent down to Lily, her face with the Tiefling's face. "What did you say, scarless Tiefling?"
"We owe you a favor for this task." Lily winced. "For granting you the use of the Iron Cage... and for the dishonor we gave Qorg. Should that suffice to help you...?"
The Spice Khan returned to her seat. "We supposed it can suffice, little Tiefling. You owe us a favor for our mercy this day... and you may keep our former Pet then. May he long suffer then."
Lily bowed her head deeply. Then she motioned at Nalli and Odward, who followed suit.
"Yes my Khan?" My back stiffened.
"Take these... these guests away. They will keep our Pet for the time being. Understand?"
As we left, the Spice Khan smiled at the three of them. After the silk curtain of the tent had closed, the barge rumbled with her laughter. She'd won this day.
"Here." I pointed at the plank. "Walk."
Nalli rolled her eyes at me. The Halfling turned to Lily. "Ok. So why did the creepy giant Maliphi woman start laughing at the end there?"
"She is Khan, not Creepy." I barked.
Odward shrugged. "I got half of every other word. Never did well at Malic back in University."
"We agreed to do a favor in exchange for Zhames' custody." Lily explained.
"What?" Nalli glared up at her. "He isn't worth that-"
"You said you wanted him somewhere you knew was safe that he couldn't escape from." Odward offered. The white-haired Justicar walked down the plank first. "C'mon, we can talk the details about it over here."
Nalli and Odward moved off the barge. The halfling didn't look pleased. Lily paused and looked up at me.
"Qorg, I am sorry for my words earlier." She spoke in fluent Malic again. "Odward read Zhames' thoughts once we caught up to him... He's a monster."
Monster. That word sounded sour to me. In malic there is no word like that. Nothing for 'Monster.'
"That is a scarless word." I grunted. "I failed my Khan. That thing... He did very evil things back in Maliph, you understand now?"
Lily nodded. She stood only half my height, but she was respectful with her posture toward me. "We call such things Monsters here, Qorg."
"And things like me." I pointed at my chest. "You and yours know nothing of our way, our justice."
"Zhames enjoyed chewing on children the most." Lily whispered. "When Odward said that, he chained Zhames. Its... Qorg, have you ever seen something chained with its own sins before?"
I shook my head. "Not understand Justicars. I... I only want to serve my Khan. I failed, but you saved my honor for me."
Lily nodded. "Again, I'm sorry. We didn't mean to do that to you. This City... sometimes it makes you mad."
I bowed my head. "You owe my Khan a favor. I owe you a favor as well then."
Lily smiled. "Qorg, would you mind joining my friends and I for a meal?"
I blinked. "Scarless... never offer me a meal before."
"I've never eaten with a giant Janissary of the Spice Khan before." Lily's eyes twinkled. "Please?"
I nodded and followed. She grasped my hand and put a gentle kiss on it. Then I went with the strange Tiefling Diva, her very loud halfling friend and the silent Odward to get something to eat.
Thanks for reading! As always, please feel free to share this as you like. Comments and suggestions always a welcome sight!