((Continued from: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1583
The expressions on Uluki and Rollick’s faces quickly became more serious when Julen addressed the matter to them, though their hands did not unclasp from one another’s.
“Of course,” Uluki replied immediately. She didn’t recognize the woman standing beside Julen based on appearance— judging by that factor only, Uluki would have said this was a stranger— but his words made clear this was the same woman who had posed as Asra and Miss Lewton, though the new name was strange. “We can speak in our room.” The girls were in the adjoining room, but as long as the matter wasn’t discussed too loudly there should be sufficient privacy.
Once Uluki and Rollick had led them to the small room where the two of them slept, Rollick said in a normal tone of voice, “We’ve been giving some thought to this plan as well. As we mentioned briefly to Asra… I mean, Soubrette… at our last meeting, Uluki and I feel it is not sufficient that we simply deceive and distract Panterras. If he believes Kira is dead he will leave her alone, but he will almost certainly immediately seek out a new victim. We would merely have deflected his evil from someone known to us onto someone unknown, and that is not acceptable. He must be stopped, and I feel that lethal force is necessary. I am… prepared… to carry out this measure of justice myself, but I am not sure how to do so, as he is not likely to prove cooperative about being killed, and I have no counter to his magic. The display of Kira’s death will be enough to attract him and to lull him into a sense of security, but if he sees me there, especially armed, it seems likely he will sense an ambush and flee in spite of the performance being enacted.”
“I had an idea about that,” Uluki suggested quietly. “Soubrette could take a message to Panterras that she has broken the spell that bewitched Rollick, and Rollick has decided he wishes to be free of me entirely and rejoin Panterras and the Council he seeks to form. I think Panterras hates me enough to believe that, especially coupled with his wishful thinking about Rollick. If Panterras seemed willing to accept it, you could go on to say that as a gesture of good faith, Rollick will betray and kill me in front of Panterras after you’ve killed Kira. That way Panterras won’t be curious about why either of us is there, and our presence won’t lead him to suspect a trap… or at least he’ll think the trap is set is for me
, not for him.”
She looked over at Rollick, and could see him struggling with mixed feelings about the idea. On the one hand, he found the idea of betraying or harming Uluki abhorrent, even as a façade for his true intentions. Rollick was not prone to deceit, and was uncomfortable with even pretending to be capable of hurting his wife. On the other hand, he realized Uluki was right. Panterras’s hatred of her was blinding, and it was highly likely he would believe any word spoken against her, and relish any threat made on her life. It would
be a practical solution to the problem he had voiced. After a moment’s silent consideration, Rollick merely nodded his acceptance of her suggestion, though it remained to be seen how Julen and Soubrette would respond to the idea.
“I’m also rather concerned about Kira in all of this,” Uluki admitted. “I’m concerned about how she’ll react to seeing her father. She may have trouble remaining calm enough to play her part, given how fearful the mere mention of him seems to make her.” Uluki remembered with a shudder Kira’s ragged gasps for air, her pleading on her knees for mercy, after Uluki and Rollick had returned from speaking to Panterras.
Rollick added, “It is also a worry how witnessing her father’s death will affect her. He is a cruel man who has done unspeakable things to her, but he has also been her only family for most of her life. I fear the trauma having to watch him meet his fate would cause her. And also, there is no small concern for the danger posed to her by this plan.”
Uluki nodded empathic agreement. “We have to make sure we will be able to keep her safe.”
As Uluki spoke, there was a soft knock on the door, then it opened and Dash slipped in. “I didn’t mean to overhear,” she said apologetically. “The others didn’t, but I was right by the door and I couldn’t help it. And I think… that you should let me go instead of Kira. I don’t think Panterras would be able to tell us apart, not if I wore a cloak to cover my wings and didn’t let him see my hands or feet.” The fact she had six fingers or toes on each would of course be noticeable if he did.
Rollick frowned. “Dashie, this will be very dangerous. The risk to Kira cannot be helped. We cannot ask you to risk yourself too.”
“You didn’t ask. I said I would. And anyway, I’d be in less danger than she would. I’m much
better able to defend myself, and I’m harder to catch than she is if I needed to get away. Besides, I’ve killed people before.” This was matter-of-fact, not boastful. “It wouldn’t bother me as much to see Panterras die. Especially since he isn’t my
father.” Well, in the rather obscure biological sense he probably was, but Dash felt no particular familial connection with him, not like Kira did. Rollick was the only father Dash acknowledged. “Please, let me help!”
Uluki and Rollick exchanged a glance. Much as they hated it, one of the girls they cared deeply about would have to be in danger, and Dash was right that the risk to her was less. And regardless, Dash was not a child, but a young woman. If she was willing to put her own life in jeopardy to protect another, it was her right to do so. Her willingness to sacrifice was admirable, and this wasn’t the time to stifle her independence, not for the sake of their own fears for her.
Uluki put their agreement into words. “If that’s what you want to do, we won’t stop you. And it’s a good, brave thing that you care so much about Kira. But the decision is not only up to us. Julen and Soubrette also have a say.”