- 4th day of Hanotë -
Part 7 - Outwitting the Fox
Kai took a deep breath and entered the room, to immediately stop by the door.
Kahor smiled up at him, her face flushed, her dark eyes glistening anxiously, but the Knight’s gaze was rapidly directed to the other girl.
All dressed in rich dark-green velvet dress, her honey-colored hair pulled up and adorned with bright green jewels as it was fashionable among the Ladies of the Court, Selina smiled at him and lightly bowed her head in a greeting.
“And then? Tell me! Did she make it?” Kahor asked, unable to stand the suspense any longer, and he looked from one girl to the other, trying to make sense of what was going on.
“I was just telling Kahor how you volunteered to help my Mistress,” Selina explained in her most delicate, feminine tone, and Kai frowned deeply displeased.
“Come now! Tell me!” Kahor insisted, practically jumping out of bed, and he sighed, completely defeated.
“Yes … She managed to get away,” he informed and Kahor smiled happily.
“Didn’t I tell you that your Knight wouldn’t let us down?” Selina asked intentionally and Kahor blushed even deeper at the sound of that ‘your Knight’.
“My Lady, may I have a word with you?” Kai requested, as courteously as he could manage, and Selina stood up, smiling delicately.
“But of course,” she softly replied and turned back to Kahor. “Thank you so much for these pleasant moments. I pray you get well soon. And, if you don’t mind, I’d like to visit you again, tomorrow.”
“But of course! I’d be glad if you did. I get so bored having to lay here all day …!” Kahor replied and Selina smiled, this time a bit more honestly.
“Until tomorrow, then,” she told her and turned to follow the Knight who already awaited her by the door.
As soon as the door closed his iron-like hand held her by an arm, his expressionless face unable to hide his anger as he made her turn and face him.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” he demanded in a low voice so that Kahor, in the next room, wouldn’t hear him, and Selina smiled, ignoring the pain his fingers dealt her as they burrowed in to her flesh.
“Really … is this any way a Knight should treat a lady like me?”
“I’m tired and sick of knowing ladies like you! Always planning and scheming something behind other people’s backs!” he retorted and her childlike smile disappeared in an instant.
“You know nothing about me! And I’ve done nothing wrong! Release me!” she demanded and he seemed surprised by the strong command in her voice. Nevertheless he did release her, and Selina stepped back, straightening her dress as if nothing had happened.
“What did you tell Kahor?” he asked, still angry, and Selina sighed.
“Nothing much, really. Only enough to make sure you wouldn’t hinder Allana’s escape.”
“Are you insane?!”
“Hum … no, I don’t think so. If you had exposed her and allowed them to apprehend her I would need someone to help her, now wouldn’t I? I had to make sure I could count on someone. Even if Kahor wasn’t able to help her, I’m sure she knows a lot of people who can, and that she’s well informed of how things work around here. At least better informed than I am. What?!” she asked as his face finally transpired some hint of disbelief. “Just like you’re loyal to your Prince, I’m loyal to Allana!”
“You knew I knew about her plan …”
“Of course,” she replied, sitting on a chair, carefully arranging her dress around her feet. “You’ve been watching and following her ever since you learned the truth.”
Which meant that, unbeknown to him, she had watched and followed him in return? How could that be? He was a trained Knight and she … she was mere a lady in waiting …
“So … you helped her runaway?”
“No. She didn’t ask for my help. However I know why she did it and I understand her reasons better than anyone. Above all I know that if this is what she decided then it’s the right decision. It’s the first decision she’s ever made on her own, after all.”
Kai took a deep breath and leaned against a wall.
“Now what? What will you do? It won’t be long before people start noticing her absence. And I’m the one responsible for it …”
“You’re afraid I might tell on you?” Selina asked and smiled, this time genuinely. “I’m not as unscrupulous as you might think. You helped my Princess. And you have my gratitude for it.”
“What about Kahor …?” he insisted, averting his gaze, and she couldn’t help smile. Only that, she thought. Only the way he worried and wanted to protect the girl next door made her tolerate that cold and detached personality of his. Were not for that he would be totally detestable!, she concluded.
“Allana told me about her. She was really worried about her well-being. Worried enough to allow you to know her true identity, risking compromising relations between Everlyn and Mithir in these tumultuous times, just to know how she was doing. She asked me to pay her a visit and, well, the rest isn’t all that hard to guess …” she left it implied and Kai seemed even tenser. “You don’t need to worry about that either. It is none of my business, after all. Although I may as well tell you that there are a lot of rumors about the two of you going around.”
“It was to be expected … When she got hurt I completely panicked and was the one who carried her out of the field. I’ve also been coming here every day, so …”
“Well, if you ask me, it’s a stupid rule!”
“Not really. It’s the only way to maintain impartiality and equality between female and male Knights. It also preserves relationships inside the Orders, since we are all Brothers and Sisters. Besides, even if one of us didn’t belong to the Order, Knights aren’t allowed to get married or have families. Elian’s the only exception since he is the Heir to Throne. And once he gets married he’ll have to stop being one of us. This is so women and children are protected, since you never know when a Knight will lose his life in battle. Our laws have all been carefully thought about and pondered. Kahor and I … is just a huge mistake … Because, no matter what, I can never leave the Order.”
“Well, as I said before, it is none of by business. But from what I came to understand about Kahor I don’t think that that’s what she wants either. I think she understands how much this is important to you and she’s kind of proud of who you are. Even if that means having to sacrifice … other important things. And, with that said, I take my leave,” she announced, standing up and calmly walked to the door.
“Selina!” Kai called her as she was about to leave. “Did you tell her that Allana and Darna are the same person?”
“Oh, but of course not. Just imagine the hassle it would be, having to explain everything to her. It would take hours,” she answered with a bored expression and, bowing lightly, left closing the door behind her.
Kai took a deep breath, thinking of how dangerous that young woman could be, and went back into the room.
Kahor lowered the book she had been reading while waiting for him and reached out a hand, which he took sitting beside her.
“Is everything all right?” she asked and he nodded, pulling her closer and hugging her. Kahor smiled, happily surprised, since Kai wasn’t really one to allow himself to indulge in spontaneous exhibitions of affection, and hugged him back, gently caressing his hair. “I already know,” she informed him. “Serena told me today. The Emissary of Nar is leaving tomorrow …”
Kai pulled back just enough to face her and lowered his gaze, uncertain.
“I’ll tell them I won’t leave. Let them send someone else …”
Her hand over his lips silenced him.
“No you won’t. This is your mission.”
“I probably won’t be able to return once the city is under siege. I want to be here, beside you, when the enemy attacks.”
“I want that too. I really want to stay by your side. But you have your duties to uphold. It is important that that boy returns home safely. And Mithir is the one responsible for guaranteeing it.”
“Besides, Serena also told me that all patients that can be moved will be evacuated to Leips. So I’ll probably end up being sent there, since I can’t fight or help in any way. Even if you stay we’ll probably end up being apart,” she added without giving him a chance to rebuke, and Kai lowered his gaze defeated by her argument. “It’s okay. I’m sure we’ll be together again, sooner than we think. For now, just stay here, with me …” she asked and he held her face between his hands, kissing her as she silently requested.