CHAPTER FIVE

part V

Eder couldn’t help but grin at the sight of her.

The long bushy hair draped over her shoulders. Her flushing ivory skin glowing in the pale light.

“Eder...” His name slipped breathlessly from her lips, as she stared at him, stunned.

“Hey.”

“I--uh--what are you doing here?”

The memory of their last conversation, however long ago it was, resurfaced in his wine-addled mind, and his grin faded. “I--” he began, but the click of a door echoed up the hall. He turned and Tanith joined him, leaning out of the doorway, to scan the corridor for the source of the sound.

After a breathless moment, a hooded orderly holding a tea tray shuffled out from one of the Sage’s chambers. She closed the door behind her, bowed at them slowly, and made her way up the hall.

Eder’s jaw tightened, an unexpected paranoia rising within him, as the woman disappeared from sight. He looked to Tanith, who was still bewildered, “Can we talk? Inside?”

They sat in silence, as the tea Tanith had politely offered steeped in a steaming kettle in the center of the small table. Between a few small, awkward glances, Eder looked around the modest room before returning his gaze to the kettle.

Everything he saw in the chamber was unfamiliar. But, he shouldn’t be surprised, he thought. That seemed like a lifetime ago. And, now, literally, Tanith’s life was completely different. He had envisioned what it must be like for her as part of the Order, but the things he’d envisioned were rituals and rites. He always skipped over the small, day-to-day things. Perhaps on purpose.

After the tea had been poured and eagerly sipped by Eder in hopes of sharpening his senses, he broke the silence hanging between them, “Look--I know we said we wouldn’t--”

“It’s okay,” Tanith interjected, “I know you wouldn’t if--it wasn’t important.”

Eder nodded his head and forced a smile, trying not to notice the guarded weight behind her eyes. “Yeah. Thanks.”

“So... what is it?”

Eder straightened in his chair and took a breath, “How much do you know about Doctor Redrick’s granddaughter?”


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