Yeneen Shows Her Teeth

"I think she is the most self-centered, conniving, despicable power hungry monstrosity I have ever met."

Mikial paused, a fork full of creek runner halfway to her mouth. Even her father eyed Yeneen with raised eyebrows. "I thought Maltenna was being rather nice today, admitting how she wished she cared for me as much as you."

"She wishes I keep my mouth shut," Yeneen replied, spearing another fish from the platter between them. Her voice lowered. "There are a few things about your birth mother you would be surprised to know. So would her own kind."

It was Mikial's turn for widened eyes. She glanced around the inn to make sure their little corner remained private. Her voice sunk to a whisper. "Mother, what happened between you too?"

"The Steward tried to slap her," her father said between chews. "This was after you were gone and your mother said essentially the same thing to Maltenna's face." Jakar grinned. "Never saw a female turn so white as the Steward did when your mother grabbed her by the wrist."

"She what? You what?"

Yeneen dabbed her lips with a napkin before speaking. "Your birth mother has the wrist glands of a fully developed Cothra." Her mother's smile was the most wicked thing Mikial had ever seen across her face. "She's Qurl."

"I suggest you keep that to yourself," Mikial said in a tone that swiftly erased any levity from the table. "I knew that she was Cothra when I caught her charging an airsail's battery last year out of curiosity." Mikial set her fork down. "Your jealousy, mother, could undo everything I've worked for here."

"It is a mother's right of claim," Yeneen returned sharply. "Not jealously. She threw you away. I raised you. Your birth mother and I came to an...understanding. After today, I expect her to make that abundantly clear that you are my child, blood or no blood! Otherwise, I will let these Kiorannans know just how tainted your..." She stopped.

Having risen to her feet, Mikial stared down with as much weight as the belt around her waist gave her. "On that day, mother, I will disown you completely." Her lips curled back in both hurt and anger. "I will sacrifice anything to keep what's being built here alive...and that includes myself or either of you! Mother, how could you even threaten such a thing!"

Eyes blurring, Mikial nearly knocked her chair aside in a rush to get as far away from her mother's pettiness as possible. I could never disown you, she thought, wishing those angry words had remained coiled safely behind her tongue. Mikial waved off Yora and Nenya, choosing to stumble out into the dark night in the privacy of her own tears. Tall grass slapped at her legs in admonishment.


She stopped, unable to ignore the her father's terse shout. Swallowing, she turned to face his purple silhouette as he strode through the field's high stalks.

Jakar walked up and dropped two heavy hands on her shoulders. "Kinset isn't the only ones who don't want you living in the Steward's palace. Your mother fears the very thing you threatened, daughter. You were no better in there with your hasty words!"

"I know," she cried softly, tears coursing hot down her cheeks. "I have to live out there, father, and mother's not making this any easier than Maltenna is. Where else do I go? Kinset took me only so they could better control me. I can't go back there, and I certainly won't share the Qurl Hills with Cimee because she'd hate me sooner or later, and I need her as much as I need Maltenna."

Her father pulled her against him. "You should never have accepted adoption by Kinset."

"I averted a civil war between them and the other Holdings," she pointed out between sniffs. "I'm sorry, father. I was short with my words in there...I'd best go apologize."

"You'd best calm down first. This is not been an easy day, and there will be plenty more to come."

Mikial pulled away and wiped her eyes. "I never will disown you. I'll die before doing that." Her voice quavered. "Father, please tell me you know that."

"You may be a Great Suria, but you're still a Dathia with a Dathia's temperment," he replied with a growl. "The question is ridiculous. You can no more disown us than the earth beneath you. Your tongue can just make stupid noises once and awhile. Unlike your mother, I've learned to ignore them."

She kissed his cheek. "Please do."