‘≪Themu gi folgon sculunan sô huilike gardos, sô gi ina gangan gisehat, ia gi than themu hêrron, the thie hoƀos êgi, selƀon seggiad, that ik iu sende tharodte gigaruuuenne mîna gôma. Than tôgid he iu ên gôdlîc hûs, hôhan soleri, the is bihangen alfagarun fratahun. Thar gi frummien sculunuuerdscepi mînan. Thar bium ik uuiskumoselƀo mid mînun gesîđun.≫ Thô uurđun sân aftar thiuthar te Hierusalem iungaron Kristesforđuuard an ferdi, fundun all sô he sprakuuordtêcan uuâr: ni uuas thes giuuand ênig.’
“A mystery in the old language passed down for keepsake.”
High tide rushed in through Miamm’s wet city, as the locals called it, and Wendy looked down from her window at the red bench disappearing under the waters of the world wave. Her house sat at the edge, the boundary, between the old wet city and the newer dry city. Miamm was a complex web of mud, water, and politics. Wendy North wore a traditional orange frock interlaced with tear-shaped Indigo crystals. She examined the rising tide because she didn’t want to leave her room. She knew that she must, but she still did not. From her window, she heard the muffled voices of two of her aides. She was certain it wasn’t her husband and she was happy for it. Since they had buried their son she could hardly look at him without a creeping iciness rising from her chest. Really, it was a much older feeling but she let herself interlace it with the Ademar’s death. She could not stand to be around him.
The voices died down and she waited impassively while looking out at the flooding cityscape. The ocean’s power is a beautiful thing. Few things can stand against it. Here history attested to the weakness of the Middle People. They had built the world up and tore down mountains in their wake. People who were said to have travelled into heaven and back — or so the murky legends went. They who conquered the ocean were in turn conquered by it. The Mighty Four let the Middle People play, and, then, simply they took back what was theirs.
Wendy looked back at the bedroom door and finally said, “who is there?”
She heard the heavy steps of the person, whose muffled voiced had disturbed her before, stop their retreat. The person turned back — heavy, loud steps growing closer — and knocked on the door.
“Come in, the door is open,” Wendy North said.
The rounded handle turned and Wendy faced the window again. It was her privilege to ignore whom she wanted.
“Lady Aquamarine, I’ve come to offer my assistance today.”
Wendy North immediately recognized Hazel Zennor’s voice. “Why the formality Hazel?” Her words were clipped. Wendy continued to look out the window. Anger flashed through her face. She closed her eyes and found control.
Hazel stood in the position of at-ease and said, “It is expected. Is it not?”
“We have known each other for too long Hazel,” she paused and then said, “far too long.” Her voice was calmer. Her nose still flared betraying her feelings.
Hazel looked past Wendy at the city outside her window. The sun-drenched multi-colored buildings looked beautiful rising from the waters of the north. The view stood in direct contrast to the gray and utilitarian room.
“Wendy, the dread of what I did, or didn’t do, sits in here,” Hazel pointed absentmindedly to his gut, “every waking hour.”
“I do not. No. I cannot,” Wendy paused while playing with the sapphire ring on her finger, “listen, we — this — it’s all done.”
Hazel stiffened unconsciously. He knew it before he had entered the room. He knew it when Wendy had disappeared a few weeks ago with her husband and the corpse of her son. There was nothing to be done. He had hurt her beyond anything words could repair.
He snapped his feet into the position of attention and said, “then, to answer your question, Lady Aquamarine, I am here on official business. I will be your escort today as you make your rounds through the municipalities.”
“Why? Johan Green will do just fine. He has been on my team for a while now. I trust him.” Wendy rolled her eyes.
“Johan will be with us too. I figured with your brother’s current mental state being what it is you wouldn’t mind the extra security.”
Wendy bit her lip. The anger rose inside her again. Like you protected Ademar? She asked in her head, but she let the thought fester only in the crevices of her mind. She would hold her tongue.
Wendy North finally turned from her window and looked at Hazel Zennor. He stared back at her. She knew the look on his face. He tried to hide his pain but she could see his eyes looking past her. There would be no more late night conversations. There would be no more plans for a future that always seemed on the cusp of realization. They had been destroyed by the same force that destroy everything. Their sin had taken away what she loved more than him and now they must face the consequences together.
“I feel nothing, Hazel, nothing.” Her words were icy. She needed to be done with this once and for all.
“That is a lie,” he said bluntly.
A noise at the door made Wendy look towards the entrance of the room. Her husband was standing there at the door. Hesitating. Being. Useless.
She asked, a hint of exasperation dripping from her voice, “Danil, are you ready?”
Danil Resd shook his head, “you are right about that, Hazel, she always hides behind her family’s reputation for coldness. She is devastated about Ademar. How could a mother not be?”
Upon hearing Danil’s name Hazel turned to the man and walked to the door. He bowed when he reached Danil and said, “I will wait for your Ladyship at the gate.”
“Thank you, Hazel,” Wendy offered him sincerely, “please let Johan know you will be joining our detail.”
Danil bowed his head slightly at Hazel as he excited and walked into his wife’s room. “What was that about?” He asked Wendy.
“The Pretorian Guard have established two special details,” Wendy filled in the gaps of Hazel’s story, “one will serve my brother and the other myself. Hazel has been assigned to my detail.”
“Of course he has,” Danil said blandly.
“And why wouldn’t he? You know how fond he was of Ademar.” Wendy started walking to the door.
“Not fond enough to prevent his death,” Danil said bitterly.
“And where were you?” Wendy’s hands rose in a flash of anger, “Where were you when our son was murdered in front of me, Danil? Where?”
Danil rushed at Wendy and grabbed her arms, “Don’t provoke me.” Wendy whipped her hands out from his grasp.
She continued past her door into the hallway and said calmly, “Don’t forget who brought you up from a minor family. Let’s not forget where you stand.”
Danil composed himself and left the room. With a quick step, he caught up to her and whispered ominously as they headed downstairs, “let’s not forget that times are changing. We will see where your family stands a month after the election.”
Wendy scoffed, “where we have always stood, Danil, leading Indigo Isle.”