I don’t think this post requires much of an intro, but… excerpts! All taken from the first three chapters of Oracular, because, heh, that’s all that’s been written. There’s some with Meriela and some with Tiri. No wait, there is one excerpt from chapter four with Kalvias, so yay for Kalvias.
Meriela took a defiant bite of the naan and ran.
And finally, there, an open door into—she didn’t know what. A man had just pulled the door drape aside and stood in the opening, talking to someone still inside. Meriela ducked inside of it. He stepped back, making a surprised sound. “Wha—what are you doing?”
The building was a shop—a clothing shop, no less. The man she’d barreled past stood in the doorway, staring at her with his dark eyes wide. Meriela pressed herself against the wall, biting her lip, knowing that even if the guards hadn’t seen her, this man would point her out.
When footsteps clattered past the door, though, the man shifted his gaze to them, and there was something on his face.
Meriela remembered her naan and took another bite of it. If they were going to arrest her for stealing, then she at least wasn’t going to let them see any of the evidence. She licked cinnamon off her fingers.
Then, to her surprise, the man stepped back inside the shop and towards her.
“Those were Guardians,” he said.
Meriela’s face paled. She’d had Guardians chasing her? Not simple guards, but…
“What do they want you for?” the man asked. He was quite a lot taller than her, like all Keilorians were. Judging from the embroidery on the collar of his kameez, and the bright, vivid blue and gold coloring, he was one of the nobles. What one, she had no idea, nor any interest in knowing.
Meriela took the last bite of her stolen naan instead of answering.
His eyes narrowed, gaze dropping to the bread before going back to her. He appraised her. “You’re a thief?”
“Are you going to turn me in?” she demanded.
There was something in his face—in those dark, unreadable Keilorian eyes. The man was—well, not pale, but lighter-skinned than the average Keilorian. Compared to her own freckled complexion, though, he really was golden. A deep golden brown, like the sunset, even in this pink morning light.
“What do the Guardians want with a petty Akelyan thief?”
Meriela shrugged. “Maybe they’re mad about me being Akelyan and they’ve come to kick me out.” Which was a possibility. Maybe the city had decided the insults, the dark looks, the distrust, the jabs and mocking, hadn’t been enough. Time to remove the “other”.
It made her feel sick, but she wasn’t going to show the Keilorian that.
She couldn’t read his face, either. She didn’t want to wait to find out what that dark expression meant, so she moved around him to peek out the doorway. It had been several moments since they had heard the Guardians pass, and she did not see any of them lingering. Time to go.
She didn’t say anything to the Keilorian or even glance at him again, but left him behind standing in the posh clothing shop. He didn’t call after her, and she didn’t hear anyone chasing her.
Tiri was about ready to shove some clay in her ears so that she wouldn’t have to keep listening to the incessant chatter around her.
She just blinked slowly at him. “Are you here to brag about how well-liked you are?”
“Tiri?” Elaez said. “You’re glaring at the wall instead of at me.”
“You want me to glare at you?”
“If you’re glaring at me, then I at least know I have your attention. The wall, last I checked, wasn’t trying to convince you to marry it.”
“I wouldn’t accept the wall’s proposal any sooner than yours.”
In her dreams, the Guardians chased her and yelled insults. Ielae’haeci Akelyan.
When she inevitably fell, consumed with weakness and illness, they grabbed her up with their Shadows and held her over their heads, shouting, “We got her! We got her!” as if she were a prize. Around her, people yelled and screamed, almost as if in celebration, as if she were something special.
Nobody seemed to notice the way the Shadows were scratching at her skin and making her bleed. Nobody seemed to notice when they lit her feet on fire. Nobody seemed to notice when they carved her open to see what was inside.
Kalvias was beginning to seriously consider the possibility of running away. It would be very simple, his imagination reasoned. Getting out of his parents’ home would be complicated, because as of the past two weeks they seemed to be scrutinizing his every move as if they were actually important, but getting out of the palace would be easy. He would simply announce he was heading into the city to shop, and then the palace officials would all give him approving, “very good, ka’hir Ahlise” responses and then he’d go, ditch whatever palace guards tried to follow him, and then he’d be off.
There was also the complicated matter of Cimizelle.
And also that ditching palace guards took effort.