Read Parts I, II, III

 

Amana’s face sagged as she looked up at him.  “Where are we?”

Oetho had not given it a thought until then.  “In my old chambers, I’m sure.” He looked around.  Light streaked in through two tall window slits and bled through the fabric of a curtain pulled across the archway that led out onto a balcony.  He did not recognize the red satin covering the bed, or the polished wood furniture, but he smiled when he found the painting of old Frazni was still there, high on the wall.

“In the Palace?”  Amana said.  Oetho struggled to balance himself as Amana rose, pulling against him.  She listed as she blinked to clear her vision. 

“It’s a villa near the Square.”  Oetho said matter-of-factly.

“You were the great Mystic, weren’t you?  Catered to, waited-on hand-and-foot.” Amana stood free of him and straightened her coat.  She brushed the loose strands of her hair back over her ears and exhaled loudly.  “Did they leave this place for you, hoping you’d get tired of me and return?”

Oetho rubbed his forehead. “No, my darling, it hasn’t been mine since I resigned.”  He forced a smile.  “This would be Juxin’s chamber now.”

“It’s still a disgrace.  You’d think you were the Emperor himself.  No wonder you Mystics keep meddling with nature.”

“Amana, we must move on.  The storm still comes.  I don’t know how long before it reaches even here.”  Oetho stepped toward the doorway leading out. 

Amana did not follow.  Instead, she stooped near the foot of the bed, reached her arms under the ruffle and pulled out the quivering kid.  She stroked its body and rubbed its snout.  It looked woozily at her and tried to lick her face.

“Bring it. Come on.”  Oetho gestured toward the door.  Amana followed.

Outside the bed chamber, Oetho stepped cautiously and whispered. “Its better if no one knows we’re here.”  Amana glared at him suspiciously, yet kept quiet all the same.  The only sounds were from the young goat licking her open palm.

Oetho led them down a grand hall lined with portraits of proud men wearing thick satin robes and the golden tassels of office.  Only when they passed the opening into the central atrium did they hear the voices of others.  They hustled quickly from that point, turning down a narrow corridor and finally to a short wooden door, darkened with age.  Oetho held his breath for a moment with his hand resting on the cold metal pull.  Amana stood so close he could feel the shudders run through her body.  He turned the latch cautiously yet could not avoid the grind of the rusted lock or the moan of the hinges as the door pitched forward.

Continue to Part V