She gave it all, you gave her shit She coulda done, just anything Or anyone, cause she’s a goddess You never got this You put her down, you liked her hopeless To walk around, feeling unnoticed You shoulda crowned her, cause she’s a goddess You never got this
“I lied when I said I hadn’t come to murder you.” His eyes were wide, stark. “It never mattered whether I won or lost the game,” Kestrel said. “Only how long the poison would take to kill you. It comes from a tiny eastern worm. In its purest form, the poison is clear. It dries to a shine. I painted it onto four Bite and Sting tile. You touched them.” Foam dribbled from his locked mouth. His breath rasped. It became glottal, the sound of bubbles popping. Then it ended.
He settled back on the bed, propped on one elbow. “It occurs to me that there is something we have never done.” Her thoughts rushed back. She arched one brow. He moved to whisper in her ear. “Yes,” she laughed. “Let’s.” “Now?” “Now.”
Arin didn’t care that the blows his sword hammered against the man’s metal body were useless, that there was no art to this, that nothing would pierce the armor, that a few smashed buckles where the general’s armor joined was no victory. He could see too little of the man’s flesh, couldn’t reach it, and he desperately wanted to make him bleed. If he couldn’t carve into the general, Arin would bludgeon him. He’d beat until something broke.
"You could speak with him.” Risha snorted. “You mean forgive. Forgiveness is so…squishy. Like all this mud.” Kestrel thought of her father’s fire-lit face on the Lerralen beach. “It drags you down,” Risha said. “You know this.” She had an uneasy feeling of not knowing what Risha would say next, but already not wanting to hear it. “You, who seek your own father’s death.”
Kestrel woke. She’d fallen asleep. The floor of the moving wagon creaked beneath her cheek. She hid her face in her hands. She was glad that her dream had ended where it did. She wouldn’t have wanted to see the rest, the part where the girl’s father discovered that she’d given her heart to a lowly thief, and wished her dead, and cast her out.
Arin thought that if he didn’t kill this man his memory of his mother would fade. It already had, over time. Someday she would be as far away as a star. But he couldn’t do it. He had to do it. Tell me what you did. Arin dropped his sword, dropped to his knees, yanked the woven baldric from the fallen man’s shoulder, and used it to make a torniquet to save the person he hated most.
That night, alone in her tent, she thought about the cruel cold of the tundra. Sulfur crumbling in her grip. The panic when her memory had begun to slip. The nighttime drug: soft, dense. The fear of dying far from home. No one would have mourned her. Sorrow: like a marrow in the hollow of a bone. It had been real. It still was. But it wasn’t the whole of who she was. “You could do what the rest of us do.” She would keep going. FORGIVENESS, can you imagine?⟡ part ii (part i)