Tension in the Night
Yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.
Sambeth checked the door again. The third time in just one hour. Each time she had to step over the enormous bulk of the hound, Agnor. He wouldn’t move but an ear twitched and the tip of his tail made a swishing sound in the dark. Although she strained her eyes and ears there was nothing but silence in the corridor.
“Just sleep, Sambeth,” Rija called from the other bed. Her voice was clear, unshrouded by sleep and Sambeth knew she also lay staring into the dark, “no one will make an attempt.”
“Mmmmm,” she replied noncommittally.
Rija had not stared into the burning, intent eyes of Rian.
Sambeth waited a long, long time until she heard Rija’s breathing change. She sat up. Something had certainly made a sound out there. Agnor was quiet. Once more she crept to the door and peered out. This time her heart jumped in fright. A hand fell on her wrist.
“Ssshhhh,” a quiet voice warned. She forced back a scream, recognising Sem’s voice just in time.
“W…what are you doing here?” her voice was a whispered shriek.
He sat down, his back against the wall and drew her down beside him.
“We’re taking turns guarding your door; Ajalon, Jaffith and me.”
She felt rather than saw a faint crinkle of humour tug at his face.
“Yes,” he said wryly, “we don’t trust our aunt although our father believes she won’t try anything tonight.”
Sambeth leaned her head back until it hit the wall with a soundless bump.
“Pheeeww,” she let out a huge breath.
Somehow she felt better..safer, sitting out here prepared for the enemy. The shimerith leather vest hung warmly over her long nightgown and she had her precious knife thrust in the belt at her waist. This was better than waiting helpless in a bed, not knowing when the door might fly open and enemies strike.
A small shuffling noise began in the darkness at the far end of the corridor. Sem drew his sword in one quick move as he leaped quietly to his feet. Sambeth followed suit and heard a single muffled wup from Agnor still inside the room. Sambeth’s nerves tightened as the shuffling noise approached. Relief washed over her. It was Ajalon who gradually emerged out of the darkness, a small flickering light guiding his way.
He looked Sambeth over silently and addressed Sem.
“All seems cosy here.”
Sambeth coloured at the implication of his words, glad for the covering of gloom.
“I was just going,” she said abruptly and reached for the door, “thank you both.”
She disappeared inside.
Ajalon grinned at Sem and slid down by the door.
“Was that necessary?” Sem asked, dropping beside him.
“Any action, brother? I mean from our dear aunt’s people?” Ajalon teased.
Sem exclaimed in annoyance, “Sheesh, you never quit, do you, Aj?”
“You looked quite close,” he gave Sem an oblique sideways glance, “which surprises me since that fair hair holds the exact tint of the Fallen One’s.”
“She’s just a frightened girl. Unlike you, you idiot,” Sem struggled to keep his tone playful.
“Girl? More like a young she-wolf, if you ask me.”
And now Ajalon’s voice was serious.
Sem shook his head and got to his feet. As he walked away Ajalon called after him.
“Just looking out for you, little brother, be careful.”
Sem strode away his jaw clenched tightly. Everyone thought he needed warning, reminding him that making decisions for himself wasn’t allowed. He must choose a girl of the pure blood. He returned to his own rooms and flung down upon an uneasy bed.
A clattering noise startled her awake. There it was again, a knocking on the door. Sambeth squinted through sleep riddled eyelids. Rija was opening it.
“Wait!” Sambeth cried, leaping from the bed, “Don’t open it unless it’s one of them.”
In her haste she stumbled over the bedclothes and fell to one knee.
“Give us a minute,” Rija called.
“It’s alright, Sambeth,” she said in an undertone, “T’ajar and her son, Jaffith, have already been this morning. They dropped off these,” she gestured to a pile of clothing lying on the chair, “and said that Queen Norea and all her people left this morning for their homeland.”
Sambeth untangled her legs from the sheets and slowly rose to her feet.
“Oh, did Amis leave with them?”
“I think he’s gone but to Arca with that nasty Rian.”
Sambeth didn’t know why but she felt a little deflated. At the lagoon Amis was hostile but he had helped Sem save their lives. Although he belonged to Queen Norea, he’d been angry with Rian for accosting her. He’d been sorry. Now she felt safer with him than the other people of Tetrahin, especially Sem’s brother, Ajalon. In her opinion, Ajalon was as nasty as Rian.
Sambeth feigned a yawn.
“What a wakeful night and I’m not dressed yet.”
She looked around, “Agnor?”
“Went with T’ajar and Jaffith earlier.”
Sambeth yawned again, for real this time, “You should have woken me then, Rija.”
Rija smiled and hitched a shoulder.
“I know you had a wakeful night.”
Sambeth looked at her sharply but she maintained an innocent face.
When the knock came again, a scant five minutes later, she was ready and dressed in familiar forest wear. Rija watched her scramble to get ready. She herself wore a simple white dress.
The housekeeper took them to the kitchens and fed them a nourishing breakfast.
“Lord Noesh has instructed me to take you all around our wonderful Tetrahin,” she said pleasantly, “now that the people of Bashan have gone, we are free to go to the stables as well as the open areas where the warriors train. I can show you how we make our wines and cheese as well as our fabric making rooms.”
She beamed at the two young women, “Our fabrics are the best, well at least as good as those of Queen Norea’s people.”
She frowned over the name of the Bashani people’s queen.
“Does she visit often?” Rija asked and the woman shook her head.
“Things have changed from the early days when we first came to Tetrahin and she was newly widowed. She visited often and frequently left young Amis to benefit from the company of his cousins. She’s a hard woman now. A real leader and we haven’t seen her here these many years past.”
Rija raised her eyebrows at Sambeth from behind the woman’s back. The woman left them to have a wander about while she prepared lunch.
“What do you think about this whole family conflict?” Rija said as soon as the woman was out of earshot.
Sambeth wondered how the cousins felt, especially Sem and Amis. They seemed closer than the others. She shrugged.
“I feel sad for Amis,” she said. Rija looked surprised and she continued, “because he’s being divided from family here. That mother of his doesn’t look the warm, affectionate type.”
Rija was thoughtful, “Either he’ll resent the schism or he’ll be eyeing off Tetrahin and its people, imagining himself ruler in Noesh’s place.”
“I don’t think so,” Sambeth strove to sound noncommittal, “I think he’s too close to Sem for that.”
“I just hope they stay away from Tetrahin for good,” she saw the housekeeper coming to fetch them and finished quickly, “I like it here, Sambeth. It would be awful if those people ruined it all just when we’ve found refuge here.”
The remainder of the day was uneventful. After lunch, they spent some time in the library talking and reading. A servant took them back to their rooms for a rest and instructions to change for dinner with the family.
Sambeth didn’t want to lie down quietly. Since that time in the forest clearing, before Altor brought his Sacrifice there, she had not wept. She held her grief at bay. If she broke down in front of Rija then there would be questions. Sambeth was desperately afraid that, in her weakness, she would tell Rija too much.
To her surprise she fell asleep at once; a combination of her wakeful night as well as her body’s need to recover fully from the fall into the lagoon sent her into a deep slumber. Hours passed until a knocking on the door lifted her out of drowsiness.
“Good evening, Ajalon,” she heard Rija at the door.
Sambeth shook her head wildly at Rija, chopped her hand through air and mouthed, “No!” emphatically several times.
“Er…we’re not quite ready yet. Can you come back soon?”
Rija shut the door and turned to Sambeth.
“He’s coming back shortly. Are you okay, Sambeth?”
Sambeth swung her legs over the edge of the bed, stood and stretched upward, feeling all the muscles respond. She felt better, rejuvenated almost. Rija flung the blue dress at her.
“Here,” she said, “we’re blue and gold again tonight.”
Sambeth grimaced and hastily slipped the beautiful dress over her head. They were both ready when the knock sounded again.
In the corridor Ajalon stood waiting for them, one shoulder slouched against the wall.
“Greetings, ladies. Did you rest well?”
His eyes glinted at Sambeth. Rija gave him a pleasant smile. Sambeth frowned.
“Very well, thank you,” Rija replied pleasantly.
Ajalon held out his arm to her.
“Princess,” he said politely and she placed a hand on his arm.
Sambeth walked moodily behind them. She didn’t know what to make of Ajalon. People in her House hadn’t teased. Everything they said, they meant and it was usually sinister.
She watched Rija and Ajalon, walking a few paces ahead of her. Rija seemed quite happy. Of course she would be fine here. A princess was precious. They would look after her. Sambeth looked down at her hands, clasped in front of her. They were small, useless. She had nothing to offer these people, that would cause them to want to keep her here too. To keep her safe. She wondered what she should do. Should she slip back out into the forest, try to find Pip and fly off somewhere?
She shivered at the loneliness of the thought. Where would she go? She knew nobody and had never been out of Arca. As for her mother’s tribe, the only thing she knew of them was that the shimerith was their totem and each member bore the mark – a small tattoo on the inner wrist. She blinked back the unbidden tears that ached at the back of her eyes. Her lips quivered. Her mother was gone, her people shrouded in mystery. Sambeth never wanted go back to Arca again.
Again, the whole family was assembled for the meal. Sambeth was amazed. The women’s quarters in her home prepared their own meals. The High Priest, one of the most important people in the city, ate separately. Upon occasion, his primary wife as well as the current favourite might be invited to join the evening meal with the bevy of guests that were always present.
Sambeth’s mother had never been there and neither had Sambeth. She had only watched, every now and then, from the peep holes placed around the walls.
Ajalon ushered Rija to a seat next to T’ajar who took her place at Noesh’s right hand. Sambeth stood at a loss. In reality there were only six people sitting, but to her it felt like a sea of faces were in front of her. She moved automatically toward the closest chair. It moved back and she realised Sem was pushing it in for her as she sat.
“Thank you,” she murmured and realised that she was directly opposite Noesh.
He was at the head of the table and she had taken her seat at the foot. She cleared her throat nervously. She realised that everyone, including Rija, had closed their eyes and Noesh was speaking. Startled, she didn’t know whether to watch or to copy. Noesh continued to speak words, whose meaning she knew but whose context she didn’t understand.
That he was offering up a homage to something was clear. She wondered who the Other was and shivered. She had seen many different meal time rituals through the grate in the priest’s palace some pleasant, others disturbing. This was different to any other. Noesh finished his simple oblation and the family began to eat.
Tonight there were men all around the walls, placed at intervals and heavily armed.
Noesh believes the queen is still a threat, she thought. Casting her mind back to the dinner last night, there had been no guards in the room, although Noesh’s three sons sat down to eat with daggers still thrust through their belts.
She had thought nothing of it at the time but now she realised that things had changed abruptly for this family. Before she and Rija came, there had been no need for guards while the family ate. Queen Norea’s kidnap attempt shattered that peace.
She stabbed at the meat on her plate and brought it blindly to her mouth. The rich taste broke over her tongue and melted in her mouth.
“Oh, this is good!” she uttered involuntarily.
T’ajar smiled in pleasure and the awkward atmosphere in the room faded.
“It is a recipe of my own,” she said pleasantly, “and it is the favourite of my boys.”
She looked around at each one of them affectionately.
“This boy too,” her husband said impishly and she made a fond face at him.
Again Sambeth was astonished. A lord of a importance, not only eating with the family but making pleasant and light-hearted conversation. She realised she was sitting with her mouth open and closed it with a snap.
Noesh gestured for his head man, Jared. He spoke quietly and Sambeth was unable hear what he said. Moments later the guards along the walls filed out. She saw them grouped around the door before it swung shut.
“Ahem,” Noesh cleared his throat, “it is time to discuss what is to be done with the two of you.”
Sambeth slowly put her eating utensils down. Her meal was only partially eaten but she found her appetite had vanished. She hardly dared glance at Rija. Rija was gazing solemnly first at Noesh then T’ajar. She lifted her eyes to Sambeth’s briefly with a meaningful look and kept eating steadily.
Sambeth couldn’t sit there silently waiting for the axe to fall.
“We’re sorry about what happened with Queen Norea,” she said quietly.
She was glad her voice remained steady and no nervous twitch played across her cheeks. Although he had shown a more intimate, easygoing side of his nature, Noesh was still intimidating.
He waved a hand.
“Norea was going to test how far she could go at some stage. You just gave her a reason to show her hand.”
Sambeth wrinkled her nose slightly. She was aware that Ajalon and Sem were watching their parents just as keenly as she was. Only Rija and Jaffith looked unconcerned.
“I’m aware we owe Sem a great deal for saving our lives and risking his own but we never meant to be the cause of any trouble,” she began again.
“You caused it anyway,” Ajalon interjected in a low undertone.
Only T’ajar acknowledged his words with a quick frown and a small shake of her head.
Sambeth went on although a sharp pin-prick of pain dug into her heart.
“All Rija and I are hoping for is to find somewhere safe to live. Somewhere they can’t find us.”
She couldn’t bring herself to speak the names of Altor and Proximus out loud.
“Well, you’ve found just the place right here.”
Sem stretched out his long arms in front of him, shaking the sleeves loose so he could bend them at the elbow. He leaned forward, resting them on the table and looked at her steadily.
Noesh also leaned forward, clearing his throat again. His face was set and now both Rija and Jaffith forgot their food.
“We are not sure how safe Tetrahin is now that Norea has gone in a cloud of resentment toward myself. It seems to me that she would rather be an ally of the Fallen One.”
His wife, T’ajar, gasped with a faint ‘No!’
Sem spoke sharply, “Father, Amis would never do what you are thinking. I know it.”
Noesh drew himself up, “You forget, Sem, the greater circumstances involved here. Norea’s people will look to Amis as their future leader. If his mother cleaves to the invaders…”
He shrugged looking around at each person significantly, “Well, we know what the Fallen One wants both now and for the future. The annihilation of all mankind and more specifically, me.”
He paused but nobody spoke.
“We can’t simply hope for the best.”
Sem fell back in his seat, shaking his head.
Noesh looked straight at Sambeth.
“My wife and I have discussed this at length and we believe that it would be best for Rija to remain here with us.”
He and T’ajar exchanged a glance and looked from Rija to Sambeth
Rija gasped, suspicion in her gaze.
“I don’t think I like where this is going–” she began but Sambeth lifted a finger to quieten her.
“Let him finish, Rija,” she said, an inkling of what was coming rising in her mind.
Noesh looked serious.
“Sambeth,” he began, his voice paternal and kind, “we propose sending you to a city some distance from here called Aresisia. I have some connections there who would provide you with generous support until you could carve out a life for yourself. It would be far away from those that seek your life.”
Sambeth knew he was referring to more than just Altor and Proximus. It was her own family that also sought her life.
She let out a quick breath and pressed her hands to her cheekbones in a quick gesture.
As his words sank in a new thought, like a ray of light shining through the sadness of her soul, hit her. She realised that the feeling was hope. To be given the chance of a new life, free of the repression that had so bound the lives of her mother and herself, sounded wonderful. It would be far, far away from all who sought her life.
“What could I do there?” she murmured, forgetting the others around her.
“No,” Rija sat bolt upright, “I don’t like it. If Sambeth is to be sent away, then I am going with her. She doesn’t deserve to be cast off. I owe her my life.”
T’ajar turned to Rija and picked up her hand, “It’s not like that, Rija,” she said earnestly, patting her hand, “there is a lot at stake here for all of us.”
She looked from Sambeth to Sem and back at Rija, “We can keep you safe better if you are here and Sambeth goes to Aresisia.”
“That’s nonsense, mother,” Sem said bluntly, “I want to know the real reason you and father want Sambeth to go to Aresisia?”
His eyes were as hard as granite as he looked from one to the other.
T’ajar’s expression looked pained but her eyes darted between her son and Sambeth. Her gaze travelled over Sambeth’s hair.
“Please understand. Your father and I…well, we have many reasons.”
“I’ll take her to Aresisia,” Ajalon said.
He wasn’t at all phased by the atmosphere of drama. In fact, Sambeth could see that he enjoyed it and stirred people up on purpose. Sem and Rija both glared at him. Sambeth looked at him speculatively.
Sem turned to Noesh.
“I am ashamed,” he said, “to think that I brought two helpless girls to find shelter and safety with my father, the great Noesh, and all he can think about is casting them out.”
“We’re keeping the princess,” said Ajalon wickedly.
This time Jaffith rounded on him angrily, “Quiet, Ajalon!”
Rija sat white and still. Sem gazed at his mother and father with angry, accusing eyes.
Sambeth’s face hurt. She deliberately unclenched her jaw and she rubbed it surreptitiously. People weren’t designed to grit their teeth and look pleasant at the same time. She didn’t know how to handle people arguing over her.
Only her mother had ever cared for her and pained over keeping her alive. Daughters were not precious in Arca. Daughters of wild forest women even less. Even if the woman was beautiful and had once been the apple of the high priest’s eye.
“Wait everybody,” Sambeth stood up.
The hubbub quietened. Again, all eyes were fastened on her.
“I think it could be a good idea. All I want is to be as far from Arca as possible.”
There was a shocked silence. Sambeth met Rija’s eyes. She was puzzled at the stricken look they held. Sem’s fingers beat a rapid tattoo on the table. Noesh’s expression was impenetrable. Only T’ajar looked relieved.
“Well, you’ve made it nice and easy for everyone,” Ajalon was cheerful.
Sem flung back his chair. It tipped over onto the floor with a crash.
“You are a complete ass, Ajalon. I am utterly sick of you.”
His chest rose and fell as he took a deep breath and let it out again, slow and angry. He turned to Sambeth.
“I apologise for my family. Especially him.”
His finger jabbed the air in Ajalon’s direction and he slammed out of the room.
Ajalon spread out his fingers.
“I think he meant you, Jaffith,” he said innocently.
A snort from Jaffith was his only reply. Sambeth didn’t know whether to sit, remain standing or leave too.
“We will talk about it again another time,” Noesh said quietly.
His face was set and he rubbed his temples, trying to push back a familiar buzzing sensation buffeting his brain.
His wife nervously twisted a ring on her finger.
“He’s not the same, light-hearted Sem anymore,” she said wistfully.
Sambeth’s stomach roiled, guilt like a lump of lead, weighed heavy.
“I’d like to return to my chamber.”
Jaffith rose at once, “I’ll show you the way. That is, if you need to be shown.”
“I’m coming too,” Rija stood up sharply.
Her hand shook as she pushed the chair back in and Sambeth wondered at it. Was Rija distressed or enraged? She began to feel somewhat uneasy about facing Rija back in their rooms. It hadn’t occurred to her that Rija would be upset that she agreed to leave.
Jaffith was quiet and kind on the long walk to the sleeping chambers. He spoke of general things and didn’t seem to mind the stilted answers he got in return.
Once at their door, he hesitated.
“You know, she didn’t mean that your arrival has changed Sem.”
Sambeth looked at him steadily until he continued,
“Sem knows the importance of doing as they say…about the hybrid epidemic but he doesn’t necessarily agree with it.”
Jaffith’s face was the picture of a man unused to speaking about private things but was forcing himself to do so.
Sambeth coloured and didn’t know what to say. The silence lengthened with Rija looking blankly from one to the other. Finally she put a hand on his arm.
“What do you mean?”
“Our family is very caught up in the Earthborn problem,” he said, “there is an old story that Noesh will end the rule of the aliens, somehow.”
”Father mentioned the plans of the Fallen One at dinner,” he continued, feeling his way with difficulty, “Proximus’s sons and daughters are dangerous hybrids. Noesh has been hiding from Proximus for a long time. All of us are wound up tight. Father has been warned. Something is going to happen. Soon.”
Sambeth and Rija exchanged glances. Rija made a face but a glimmer of understanding began to dawn on Sambeth.
“Thank you, Jaffith,” she said.
He didn’t linger but bid them an awkward good night and took himself off.
Once inside their chamber, Rija didn’t mince words.
“Getting split up? Not a good idea,” she said firmly, “we escaped them together. We should stick together. I don’t want to be separated from you and I can’t see how it is necessary.”
Sambeth felt a rush of warmth quickly overlaid by heaviness. Noesh and T’ajar had realised something that Rija had not. Sambeth’s platinum fairness…she recalled Norea examining a silken strand. These people were prepared to succour a princess but they didn’t want an earthborn in their midst.
“Thank you, Rija,” the words were stilted, “I don’t want to leave you. I thought for a moment that I just wanted a life where I have a place that I belong. Where I don’t have to scurry around in the shadows all the time.”
“Who’s to say you’ll get that in Aresisia?” Rija faced her squarely.
Sambeth breathed in deeply before answering.
“If Noesh is true to his word, gets me safe passage there and arranges for me to have help getting established. Then I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.”
Rija huffed, a disbelieving, derogatory sound.
“You don’t know anything about the city or the contacts he supposedly has there,” she declared, “Come on, Sambeth! The only facts you know is that you saved my life, therefore you have me on your side and you are the only one I can trust.”
She took a turn around the room.
“We shouldn’t let Noesh and T’ajar separate us.”
Rija’s voice had risen. Sambeth walked to the door and looked out. The corridor was empty. Norea may have left, Amis also but Sambeth found herself wishing they had Agnor the hound. She would feel a lot safer with his fearsome bulk across the doorway. She turned back to Rija, shutting the door behind her.
“You could come to Aresisia too,” she said slowly, “but I’m not sure you’d be safe there from, you know, Altor.”
With realisation dawning, Rija looked Sambeth in the eye.
“I get it now,” she said, anger colouring her voice, “you want to leave me here because I’ll bring danger to you.”
“No!” Sambeth replied hotly, “No way! That’s not it at all.”
A tear appeared at the corner of Rija’s eye and slowly trickled down her face. She breathed in a shuddering breath but when she spoke her voice was normal again.
“I understand,” she said, “he’s a terrifying enemy. So is his father.”
Colour flooded Sambeth’s cheeks and she almost shouted, “Rija, you don’t understand. Noesh and T’ajar want me to leave because they know something about me that you don’t.”
Rija looked disbelieving and Sambeth rushed to finish, “They know that I’m…”
The door opened and Sem peered carefully around as Sambeth blurted the last word.
She gasped in dismay and Sem’s hand fell loose from the doorknob, his eyes widening in shock. The door continued to swing open alone, slowly getting wider.
“Don’t you knock at a girl’s bedchamber?” she demanded.
“I did,” he replied dazedly, “but you two were speaking so loudly. You didn’t hear me. I thought I should see if you were okay.”
Rija stepped forward, taking charge.
“We’re fine, thank you. Just working some things out. What is it you came for?” her voice contained a tremor.
Sem gestured behind him and Rija and Sambeth saw the hairy nose of Agnor just poking past the edge of the door,
“I thought you might feel better having him with you,” he said faintly.
He straightened up, his face twisted, staring at Sambeth as if he saw something monstrous. She stared back, her clear eyes defiant. His eyebrows drew together darkly and the moulded lips curled into a snarl.
“- but I guess you probably don’t need anyone’s protection,” he said bitterly.
Words escaped her. She opened her mouth but nothing came out. She looked at Rija who lifted her shoulders up, letting them drop back down with a sharp outward breath.
Sem turned around and walked out. The door closed behind him with a thud of finality.
Sambeth twisted her fingers together, afraid to look at Rija. Afraid to read the condemnation in her eyes. A gentle hand fell on her shoulder. She looked up, startled.
“I don’t believe that for a second,” Rija said.
Sambeth heard a rushing in her ears and a sob caught in her throat,
“But, they all said it – the women in my, in our household. I mean, look at my hair!”
She wrenched a handful of loose and braided hair forward and held it up to Rija. The light glinted on its smooth strands that were as pale as sunlight on ice.
“Yes. So what?” she said with such an air of unconcern that it shook Sambeth to her very core.
“I’ve seen plenty of people with hair that colour,” she continued, “who are not earthborn and you, Sambeth, I’ve seen you make decisions that not one single earthborn would ever make.”
She made a face at Sambeth and grinned.
“Now, let me brush out that pesky hair for you.”
She tsk tsked as she moved about, locating her brush.
“Such nonsense over hair colour! You saved my life, Sambeth. You’re an extraordinary person – a brave and resourceful girl. You should be hailed a hero.”
Sambeth looked at her soberly, “But I still don’t have a home.”
She thought of Sem and her chest constricted.
“These people want me gone. He was on my side until just now.”
Rija nodded. She knew who ‘he’ was.
Sambeth turned to face to Rija, appeal colouring her voice.
“What am I to do, Rija?”
The brush made a small noise as it hit the ground and Rija darted around to face Sambeth. She took Sambeth’s wiry, small hands in her own slim, white ones.
“Both of us have lost our homes, our parents, every single person who ever cared about us.”
Fire shone in the obsidian depths of her eyes, “We’ll stick together, look out for each other, whatever it takes. We’re family now, Sambeth.”
Sambeth stared back at her, an answering spark lighting her eyes. They blazed at Rija as she gripped her hands tightly.
“You would do that for me?” she voice came out high and thin whilst a red tide of emotion flushed her face.
“We need each other,” she said.
Sambeth felt another emotion roll over her and recognised relief.
It was not until much later, lying in bed and staring into the darkness that she again saw Sem’s face, revulsion plain and shed her own tears. She thought she knew what Jaffith had been trying to explain. Noesh and T’ajar had made their sons promise not to get involved with Earthborns. No Earthborn hybrids were to be numbered among their descendants.
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