I just had a moment of shock at how long I’ve been in my program. And I am not done, nor at the edge.

Gorat’s Fury

Practicing an into:

Her words came from darkness. “We should kill him.”

Light came, and black-robed Luthia flopped gracelessly into an overstuffed chair. She remembered her poise almost immediately. Stretching her back and sitting up straight, she crossed her legs with her knees pointed away from him and I. She had enough energy to smooth her dress, but done, she sank again. Her back curled. Her shoulders were more slumped than back.

“Not yet. He’s one of Gorat’s Furies. Killing him would be a production, and you always ignore things like difficulty. Rest.”

“I could do it right now,” she said.

The he replied, “I’m not sure of that.”

He was Orweil. His hair was long and wild, his shirt open to the sternum, the swell of his pecs visible. He had big lips and soft eyes. A red scar started on the crest of his forehead and spread out, emerging from his hair at the collar. He looked like some plant had taken root on his skull. Orweil had been hit by lightning.

I was a little fuzzy. A thale had tried to kill me. That would do it.

“How’s your boyfriend?” asked Orweil.

“He ran off. Disappeared,” Luthia answered.

“So sorry.”

“I have the worst luck with men.” Luthia sighed.

Orweil said nothing. He went beyond not saying anything to make an active, statement of silence, leaning forward, flexing his chest, turning to face her three-quarters.

“I still think we should kill him,” said Luthia. “He’s weak.”

“You are thinking of mortals,” said Orweil. He did that little headshake some men do when they’re correcting a woman. “Very democratic of you. A knife in the dark, and they all die. This is a Fury. A simple knife won’t–”

She cut him off. “Yes, I know that.”

“I’ve never understood that about you. You go out of your way to find people who aren’t mortal then act surprised when they require special care. This is a Fury. The killing of him will be a great work.”

She said, “You do understand why, don’t you?”

He flounced. “Fine. Do it. Stab him as Van did. Cut his throat. Good luck.”

Luthia hissed, and I said, “Supplicant is encouraged to try.”

Their quarrel froze. Luthia’s eyes went wide as bucklers. Soft skin turned ashen. Orweil slouched on a table.

I sat up, torso vertical with no leg motion, pivoted on the palms of my hands and butt, and put my feet down. The floor felt like unpolished stone, something rough and grainy, maybe granite. It felt cold. The thale had punched me out of my shoes.

Luthia couldn’t close her mouth. Her jaw hung flacid.

“A Fury,” Orweil said to her. “You’ve seen it before, but then it was against someone else. See the Fury wrapped in your power. See the ties of the binding.”

I stood up. Now that I noticed it, there was sorcery on me. I pulled it off like cobwebs. “Who are you?” I asked Orweil.

“I am Orweil. And I know you, Fury. I know of you, which for your kind is close enough. Why are you here? Who’s getting the blessings of Gorat?”

Luthia awoke from her shock and looked at him, for the first, maybe only time, really impressed.

“The Baron’s killer,” I replied. “I was his guardian angel.”

“Bit late, aren’t you?” asked Luthia.

“No, I’m right on time. Gorat’s angels protect through retribution. I will build Him a monument of wrath, and no one will ever harm His favored ones again. You. Who are you?”

Orweil said nothing, but Luthia looked worried. “I am Luthia. I’m a princess of Kageran. You have a problem. Deterrence only works if the other party is thinking ahead. What about rogue assassin, a fanatic, or a mad cow? They won’t care for deterrence.”

I shrugged. “Not my concern. What’s a mortal anyway? The next one will think twice.”

“But,” argued Luthia again. “You don’t have to worry now. The assassin is dead.”

“One is,” I agreed. “But as you said, that’s not enough. That won’t deter anyone willing to die. I must find and kill his family, his lovers, his city, and his nation.”

Luthia must be one of those people who think cynicism is a virtue. She was not prepared for devotion. Silvered nails tick-ticked on wood hidden in uphosltery. She said nothing and seemed to hardly breathe.

Orweil lost slivers of his affected cool. He sat back then forward, pressed the table with his bare hands, then picked them up to steeple his fingers. He looked at me through them.

“That would seem to imply a certain amount of difficulty for those uninvolved,” said Orweil.

“Once,” I said.

Luthia turned away and looked outside. Mist shrouded the windows lace curtains outside. Through the mist, shadows walked among the trees in the hilghlands.