“After you deal with Bridon, come quickly to the castle,” Rizla coiled her hair on her head until it resembled a beehive. ‘I’ll be expecting you. Elymas will have been brought to heel.”
“Three days at the most,” Suga promised. The beehive of hair fell down. “The wagon has been padded, but I must see that it is packed just so.”
Rizla walked behind the three-sided teak panel. He could hear her mumbling, tensed at the sharp cries to come. Over the years, her cries had grown louder. She’d once told him that on these occasions her skin twisted and her bones grew. Was the pain worsening? He wanted to ask countless times, but lacked the nerve. Nor had he ever mentioned the scar on her back.
The room began to fill with smoke. The physical distortions were necessary during Rizla’s shape- change, but smoke was one of her personal peculiarities. She was secretive, not even giving him a hint concerning her disguise when she arrived. She’d mentioned a serving wench earlier, but had she told him the truth? It would have to be a woman because Rizla wanted the Earth Skyll’s wrath to boil.
She needed all his anger so she could twist it into fear.
Now, the smoke was indigo. Suga shut his eyes. When he opened them, the smoke would be wisps and she’d be gone.
And Suga admitted for the hundredth time, the thousandth, that he’d never grow used to her leaving him.
Rizla flew in an indigo cloud, and rejoiced at the gift of flight. Of all the gifts the Tu’el had given her, this was the one she cherished. She’d fly out often from their rooms over the Apothocary, patrolling Casoria and the royal gardens, looking for the Sacred Servants as they looked for babies born with club feet, hovering in the air while Elymas examined the Tree of Life, drifting silently as soldiers rounded up dozens of Wabbers in the night. She had some idea of what Elymas was doing with them, but until she was sure, she couldn’t send a report. As for the Earth Child, she would find him, of that she was sure, but the one to walk the Shining Road was another matter. The news was new and . . . overwhelming.
Rizla lifted her arms, as if trying to pull this unknown from the air. Sometimes when in a deep sleep, which happened after a long flight, faces would appear in her dreams. Maybe the one to walk the road would appear.
Perhaps. Perhaps now.
Sometimes she’d see the Tuel, as she’d seen him at the Hungry Rocks. He’d come to her twice in sleep now, and both times she’s struggled to the surface.
It had been a hopeless endeavor. His face had held her until she began to see through his eyes.
The girl at the Hungry Rocks. Beaten, broken, despairing of life.
She saw herself.
And then came laughter.