Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven

Zena was bored of her house. There were three and half rooms; the front living room, a second room that was meant to be a different room from the first but was really more of an alcove for cooking, and two bedrooms. As soon as her parents had gone she’d claimed theirs as her own while sticking Neo in her old room. She didn’t like having too much unused space in the house, and besides, the bed was bigger.

Surveying the room, she decided to sleep in the front room that night. True, the wood floor was cold, but lately her parents room had become to ghost-filled. She’d spent the whole night after the wedding awake, unable to shake the thought of what her parents—or any other adult—would have done. I don’t care, I don’t need them she tried to convince herself, but it didn’t work very well.

She’d always been proud of her house, but the bedroom wasn’t the only place starting to get on her nerves. The kitchen was too dirty and cramped (despite being quite nice by any other standards) the living room too formal and empty, the bedroom that used to be hers was too childish. She was starting to see why a big house was a bad idea. With a one or two room house, you didn’t have much of a choice where you sat to work.

Not that she had much work to do anyway. There was plenty of organization to do when starting the school, but Nora and Sheen were so excited about it that they hopped all around the colony. Zena didn’t really want to face her own people, anyway. She had never been very popular, but in the aftermath of the wedding, everyone assumed that Fawn and Timnere had come to her first, and that she had been behind it the whole time. But she didn’t! She went to that child Nora first, she wanted to scream to all of their closed doors, she didn’t, I wasn’t—didn’t you see how I–.

So she was bored most of the time at home, and she decided to use some of it to move her blankets from her parent’s bed out to the couch in the living room. Unfortunately that didn’t take very long, and she was left with nothing to do again, and it was only about eight in the evening. With no better ideas, she went to bed.

***

Atkin went back to the male area of the tent where Brakis was snoring quietly. He knew without trying that sleeping wouldn’t work, so he prayed instead, even though he had already done his evening rituals. Solemnly he knelt, facing the circular plate hanging from the ceiling. It had pictures of each of the Holy Ones, the twelve Lords and one Lady. Each of the thirteen was devoted to one of them, and the moon you were born under determined the order you prayed. Atkin was born in the spring. His prayer went like this. “Myself and all I have I devote to the power of the Holy Ones. My thoughts and wishes I give to them in thanks for all they have given me. I offer this prayer to Amra, Myerl, Ormen, Lintam, Havre, Jeke, Unslo, Zinep, Beren, Dosig, Yeath, Gelog, Venru, and Temp. May they accept my prayers as openly as I give them.”  After this he kept the rest of his words inside his head. Some children had trouble keeping their minds focused, but he never had. When he finished, he repeated the introduction and then tried to sleep.

Nothing. Eventually he had to get up and walk. He who had never felt anything other than love for his tent felt trapped and crushed inside the canvas. So he snuck through the main area. Rouk had begun snoring just after he finished his prayers, and he walked silently past him and the smoldering fire.

Outside he tried just sitting by the tent, used to the cold of the ground, but Rouk’s words kept circling through his head. Still they were nothing but words until he started fiddling with the strings tied around his wrists.

One of them was missing. He froze at the realization, counting them again and again. One was gone from his left hand. He tried to think how it could have come off when a picture—a feeling—of Zena pulling him out from under an attacker at the wedding. She’d gripped him by the shoulders and her hands had slid down his arms, settling at his wrists.

Before he had fully decided to do so, he was striding into the ledges, finding the house with the words “Family of Eryk” boldly posted above the door in golden letters. He rested a hand on the door as his mind caught up with his body, but Rouk’s words circled once more and he pushed it open.

***

The creak woke Zena from a rather disturbing dream. She sat up, and hearing a few footsteps, reached up the wall for the old sword that she knew hung there. She could see the form now. With a clatter she pulled the sword loose and jumped from the couch. “Halt! I’m armed!”

The intruder ran into the kitchen. She followed. He was feeling around in the dark along the shelves. She swung the sword. “It’s a sword, dump one!” A spatula won’t help, if that’s what you’re looking for.

“Zena, it’s Atkin.”

She paused. It sounded like him. She backed into the living room, returning with the lamp she’d left near the couch, and lighting it, returned to the kitchen.

“What the HELL?”

Atkin blinked at the light. “You have something of mine. A cord. From my wrist. Give it back.”

“I don’t have anything of yours. Those bracelets are tied on. Get out.”

“Are you sure?”

“Atkin, it’s the middle of the night. I am not in a pleasant mood. Get out.”

He went to the door. “You do have it.”

“If I find it, I’ll tell you.”

He made sure to slam the door on his way out.

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