by Ruth Davis Hays 2011 (From the fantasy world of Jorthus)
After being lured beyond the walls of their monastic university, the young acolytes are eager to find out if they will be expelled, or worse. ‘Khiall had been caught returning to the garden wall and taken to the Hall of Healing. That was all they had heard for certain, the rest was fear and speculation. Now, ‘Khiall is returned to their ranks…
“Were you badly sick?” Timot asked curiously as four of the five friends sat around ‘Khiall several days later in dining hall. This was the first time they had been able to gather and talk with the fae since their night beyond the walls. Onath was noticeably absent because he had kitchen duties.
‘Khiall shook his head. “When the groundskeeper surprised me, I played sick.”
“Not that it saved you,” Daviel snipped. His arms crossed, he refused to look into ‘Khiall’s eyes despite the many glances that he felt thrown his way. “I heard they put the vise to you in order to get our names.”
“Is that true?” gasped Norin, a young blonde boy with a bad complexion.
Their eyes nearly popped out of their heads as ‘Khiall lifted his new work shirt tenderly to expose the red, raw spots on his abdomen where the vise screws had dug into his skin during the interrogation. All but Daviel. He didn’t look. He had seen such marks before, even bore them once. He remained unimpressed.
“Did you squeal?” said Timot as he glanced about nervously. ‘Khiall only threw him a sour scowl.
“If he had, we would have been out there in the snowy courtyard yesterday getting a beating as well.” Daviel huffed.
He hated being indebted to ‘Khiall. The other three boys nodded as they realized Daviel was correct and expressed their gratitude to the stalwart fae who seemed to feed on their words. Yet when those night-blue eyes fell on him, Daviel could not help but stand and leave. His body was atremble with the urge to punch the fae in his wounded midsection. Turmoil burned, urging him to run to the headmaster and tell of his own guilt, so he could suffer the same lashes ‘Khiall had taken in his stead. This was torment. Deeper and deeper that evil fae pulled them all down, only to see that greedy grin with the flash of white, sharp teeth as their reward.
Hurrying through the passages of the courtyard, weaving between other students as they made their way to class or devotionals, Daviel wasn’t sure where he was going or what exactly he was running from until he heard the light step on the stone walkway behind him. He cringed and refused to look back. The long robes fluttered between his legs as if to trip him as he doubled his step, but the fae was swift. His human form was slow and clumsy in comparison; he cursed it as the pale hand fell on his thin shoulder and spun him around to face that savage and enticing face. The face that could talk him into anything.
“What is your issue, Daviel?” ‘Khiall hissed, the blue eyes piercing him violently.
Daviel fell back against a wall, cold of the stone seeping through the fabric of his robe to chill his flesh.
“What do you care?” the young human shot back, quietly so as to hide their exchange from any that might pass through the echoing halls. “You are bound that you are going to get us all expelled, aren’t you? Not all of us are from rich homes like you and we can’t afford to get kicked out of here. This is our only chance to not end up in the gutter! And you want us to risk that?”
“I don’t want anything from you,” ‘Khiall said as he held the boy against the wall, trapping him by one hand that sat warm and strong on his shoulder. He stood close to keep their voices low, their eyes level. “I do what I want.”
“And you don’t care about the rest of us?”
‘Khiall didn’t hesitate. “You can do as you like. Follow me or not, I don’t care.”
“Then why didn’t you give the headmaster our names?” Daviel whispered. The heat that radiated off Khiall was suffocating as it held the winter at bay around them. Daviel shivered as the pale hands released him. His instinct to run was stifled by the fae’s eyes.”Why?”
“Out of spite,” the young fae spat. “I didn’t tell them out of pure spite. Is that enough for you?”
“Not out of loyalty to any of us?”
“Not really, no.”
The truth of ‘Khiall’s words sent a spike through Daviel.
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