Bonus: The Last of the Dhealg'seala (Part Five)

This isn't the last of The Last of the Dhealg'seala, but it's the last that Char's posting before PK Novel 2 goes up.  This is probably the most comedic one so far, and I think you'll enjoy it.

Come this Saturday we'll have a new novel going in the Peacock King Trilogy: The Peacock King in Court.  We'll also have a new site up for you to peruse.  Hope to see you there!


Nighttime usually found me lurking about the roofs.  I loved being up there on the still-warm tiles, stretched out under the stars, listening to Bel'eth's roar dimming into the quiet sounds of a settling city.  On nights like this one, the breeze carried the faint crisp scent of the ocean, adding a nice edge to the warm, mild odors that hung over the Complex.  The solitude was reassuring as well, welcome after a day spent chasing snot-nosed upstarts who thought that being slapped into a teenaged body excused treating me as one.

They learned quick, but 'Sy was starting to complain about the toll that the medical supplies were taking.  Luckily, I only had a couple more days of growth to go before I was the proper age again.

Being assassinated sucked.

I felt Camden's approach before he actually stepped into the practice yard.  I growled low in my throat at the intrusion, but luckily the new Peacekeeper was so wound up in himself that he didn't notice me lurking in the shadows on the roof.  I rolled over and glanced down, recognizing the pinched look of someone having a deep discussion with their Arms.  If I strained, I could probably eavesdrop a bit, but I had already been warned about playing nice with the fresh meat for at least a couple of days while he adjusted.

Not that Camden particularly wanted me to play nice.  I grinned, sitting up and leaning back against the chimney so I'd have a clearer view.  No, the new Peacekeeper was quite happy to play hard, and my girls were already forming some respect for his Geillg'a.

Another good reason not to eavesdrop.  If Geillg'a hadn't seen fit to warn her partner that they were being observed, then I'd much rather accept that small gift than give Geillg'a reason toreally take notice of me.  She was a quick one, that whip, and even if her partner was nowhere near ready to catch me, she did a damned good job of evening the odds up a bit.

Camden drew Geillg'a, and I watched them practice together for a while.  He was naturally a quick learner, and I'm sure Geillg'a's habit of taking chunks out of him when he moved too slow or in the wrong direction provided a lot of motivation to learn faster still.  He had a natural grace to him, though.  He had claimed no experience with whip-style weaponry.  It showed.

Oh?  Are we such an expert on whips now?

I decided not to take any notice of Gevurah's tone.  It was actually rather pleasant for the peevish little knife--


Would you prefer 'diminutive'? I asked, rubbing my hip where she had jabbed me.  

Gedulah's ivory-toned laugh rippled through my head.  Awww, is the little toothpick getting cranky about her size again?  Gonna throw a wee bit of a tantrum?

I felt Gevurah's form shift, and reached for her in a panic.

"No, don't--!"

Gevurah roared, and a respectable chunk of the roof went flying.  I stared down at the hole in dismay, down at a very familiar desk, barely hearing the girls screaming at each other in the back of my mind.  I had just enough time to wonder why the Hell Gevurah had shot a hole in the roof when she was angry at Gedulah before another chunk of the roof exploded outward.  I threw myself sideways, staring back at the spot... and kept falling.

Fuck.  Missed.

I am going to drown you in a well, I thought at Gevurah, managing to twist myself around so that I at least managed to land mostly on my feet.

She snorted, the sound suspiciously like a magazine slamming into place.  She started it!  Besides, I could hit you from anywhere in the Kingdoms, and you know it.

Good job there, birdshot brain, Gedulah snapped.  We were trying to stay hidden.  Not to mention the shit we're gonna be in when Di-- 'Sy finds out who shot holes in the roof.

I turned and looked over my shoulder.  Camden was staring at me, Geillg'a still in his hand.  I noted that he had his Arms held at ready, Geillg'a's silvery length coiled to strike with the slightest provocation.

He does learn fast! I said, making sure I had enough room to maneuver if they decided to take the offense.

Gedulah murmured her approval of their improvement.  Gevurah snorted again, a quick metallic snap of her chamber loading.  Not fast enough.  He didn't notice us until... well, much later than he should have.

Alarm flooded me, and I nearly whipped Gevurah out before I realized it was Gedulah reacting to something.  Her next words, however, had her sister and me joining her in her growing panic.  

Shit!  He's coming!


I had barely enough time to process Katherine's rather abrupt entrance from above before she was raising her arm, eyes wide with... fear?  I didn't recognize the dark object she was pointing at me, but Geillg'a apparently did.


I threw myself sideways, instinctively whipping Geillg'a back at my rather unexpected opponent. The noise her weapon made was incredibly loud, and I had to fight the urge to clamp my hands over my ears.  Sparks flew as Geillg'a made contact and slid along the other weapon.  Geillg'a?  What WAS that?

Gevurah!  I felt my Arms curse, and my body rolled back the other direction of its own accord, another roar and a spray of dirt kicking up from where my head had just been.  There was a distant shout of alarm.  I felt Geillg'a listening to whatever had made that exclamation, and then her laughter filled my head, near drowning out the commotion Gevurah was making.  Just keep up yer dancin' fer another minute, boy, and we'll be fine.  The Judge is on his way!

Why is she trying to kill me?  I asked, rolling to my feet.  Geillg'a curled behind me, ready to strike.  She whipped forward as I twisted, very nearly catching Katherine at the ankles.  

She isn'a.  Ye'd be dead already.

I scowled at her matter-of-fact tone, trying to track Katherine's movements and look for cover at the same time.  She's toying with me?

Geillg'a laughed, her tip sailing out and smacking Gevurah aside enough that the next round missed.  Think of it as illustratin' a point, boy.  Here I am, doing all the work, and barely managing to keep her in check.  I stepped to the side, pulling the whip back in.  She coiled behind me, scratching at my ankle to underscore her reprimand.  If she were working with Gevurah instead of fightin' her, ye'd have several holes in ye by now.

Quite so, that deep voice from earlier growled.   It's a good thing she's actively trying to slow down her Arms, or...  STOP.  Out of the corner of my vision, I saw the Judge step out of the shadows, his battle-fork held at ready.

Trident, m'dear, Geillg'a whispered.  I made a note of the word, and watched as Katherine nearly bent herself in half trying to turn and face the Judge mid-leap.  I noted with relief that her Arms no longer seemed to be aiming at me.

Rather nasty feelin', isn' it?

Like...  I groped for some way to describe it.  Like seeing the sword descend towards your throat, and knowing there's nothing you can do to stop it.

Exactly like that, Geillg'a chuckled.  Make a note of it, and learn to use that effect to yer advantage.  There isn't a creature alive that doesn't feel our Aim.

The Judge spared me only the slightest glance as he stopped in front of Katherine,  then turned and focused the full weight of his scowl on Katherine.  "Explain."

She called me a toothpick --

-- took a shot at me for no reason --

-- won't SHUT UP --

I blinked at the sudden flood of accusations and counters, and watched the Judge wince and pinch the bridge of his nose with his fingertips.  The Trident's tip rose until it was being held perfectly vertical, blunt end sinking into the earth, the Judge leaning slightly against it as if he needed the support.

They'll get better soon enough, I heard the Trident mutter.

Better?  Is there something wrong with them?

I realized as I felt the Trident's regard weigh down on me that I hadn't been addressed directly by him.  After a moment, I heard something like a sigh.  Nothing is... technically wrong with them.  I felt the Trident's focus mercifully shift away from me once more.  Nothing discipline won't fix.

Her Arms fell silent at that quiet threat.

Discipline and a mere couple of days, Diyn, I heard the Judge say.  There is no need to take her to task for a situation that is very nearly done correcting itself.  "Jhe Cruxradia."

Katherine straightened with a small wince, standing at attention.  I noticed with a start that she looked older than she had earlier in the day, closer to my age.

"Please explain why my office now features two skylights and ventilated furniture?"


Maybe we should make a run for it.  I wasn't terribly surprised to hear Gedulah propose a strategic retreat... except that it wasn't terribly strategic in this situation.

No, I said, snapping my mouth shut as I tried to think of a way out of this without a lecture or loss of limbs.  No, running is a bad idea.

Gedulah fretted in the back of my mind, little ripples of worry buffeting my mind like a million butterfly wings.  If we ran fast enough, we'd get a decent head start before Diyn could--

Before Diyn could what?  

I sighed, closing my eyes.  He sounded altogether too amused.  It didn't speak well for our safety and well-being.

"Well," I said, shifting my weight, taking care to keep my hands visible at all times, "I was on the roof minding my own business and... well, the girls started fighting, and Gevurah tried to shoot Gedulah."

She started it, Gevurah grumbled petulantly.

The Judge sighed, and I risked a quick glance at his face.  He had that distant scowl that he always got when Diyn was giving him an earful, and I could tell by the way the corner of his mouth occasionally twitched that he was arguing back just as hard.  I didn't envy him; Diyn was even harder-headed than the Judge, what with being the literal knife-edge of the Law and all. The Judge's face went blank at one point, and I reflexively took a step back.  Camden flinched at the same moment.

He can hear us, Gedulah murmured so quietly that it took me a moment to realize that she was deliberately pitching her voice low for privacy.  Diyn just chided him for being impolite, but the poor boy didn't realize he was eavesdropping.  Or that he's not even supposed to.  

Don't know why it would be, Gevurah grumbled.  If he can hear, let 'im hear.  Besides, getting him used to this could prove to be a tactical advantage.  Hey!  Hey, kid!

Camden jumped, then looked at me, puzzled.

No, down a little.  ... Lower, boy, or I'll shoot you.  Those aren't yours.  Yep, that's me.  Hi!

... can hear you?

Gevurah snickered.  Because I want to, regardless of what that huge hunk of over-polished dinnerware says!  Hey, tell your razor-snake there that I sai-- shit!

I glanced down, wondering at her sudden retreat, then looked up.  The Judge was scowling at me again... and he was tapping a boot against the ground, obviously waiting for me to say something.  "I'm sorry, sir?" I said, my voice thin.  I couldn't even pretend to have heard what he was saying.

He sighed, and opened his mouth to say something, but stopped with a funny look on his face.   His mouth snapped shut and he snorted, glancing at Diyn with a small, amused grin.  "Dinnerware?"

Shit shit shit shitshitshitshitshit.  Geillg'a you whorish betraying loud-mouthed fucking overwired piece of ass-floss, I am not going to fucking forget this--

Someone -- Diyn, I suspected -- shut Gevurah up before she got to the part where she started making promises.

Diyn and the Judge sighed simultaneously, and it felt so much like a sudden pressure-drop that I reflexively worked my jaw to pop my ears.

"My dear, I cannot wait for you to finally mature."

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