He whistled quietly and a soft exhale and a small flame was the response. Those eyes that turned on the two of them were the embers of a fire that hadn’t quite gone out.
Beth felt Lucius’ fingers curl around her wrist slowly. He moved her hand up to the Sarmiine’s nose. It moved forward to take a sniff before shuffling away and snorting.
“Shush, baby girl, come on,” Lucius said gently to it. It met his eyes squarely. “Don’t worry.”
The Sarmiine looked over Beth uncertainly, and then moved slowly closer. Beth didn’t realise she was holding her breath as she felt the scales of its nose against her palm. She felt the heat of its heavy exhales. She smiled to herself slightly.
The Sarmiine moved closer, rubbing its scaly neck against Beth’s hand.
Lucius seemed genuinely shocked. “She tends to hate everyone but me. Would you like to be hers?”
Beth looked up at him. “What do you mean?”
“Well, the Sarmiine don’t have owners, they simply won’t allow it. Though while they can’t be yours, you can be theirs. It’s a sign of great respect to be chosen by one of the Sarmiine, especially one was stubborn as this mare,” he said with a laugh.
Beth looked at the beast before her with a small smile. It looked back at her, seemingly with an almost human level of understanding.
The creature pushed past her quickly, causing her to yelp. Lucius jumped back, pulling her out of the Sarmiine’s path. It went over to a wall of the stable, where there were buckets and sponges. It took the handle of the bucket between its teeth and turned back around. It looked as though it was grinning.
After a moment, Lucius released Beth and began to laugh.
“She wants you to clean her,” he explained.
Beth looked over at the Sarmiine and walked to it slowly. She took the bucket from it and it jumped up and down in excitement. It pulled a sponge out of its place and pushed it into her other hand.
“This way,” Lucius said, leading her out of the stables with a grin.
The Sarmiine followed enthusiastically.
“This is quite a sight,” Lucius said as they entered the large courtyard. “Usually it’s a pain to clean them; to have one want to be cleaned is something else entirely.”
He reached for the bucket. She put it in his outstretched hand and he took it over to a stream that ran through the city. He pushed it under the gently flowing water and brought it back, full.
He placed it down on the ground and the Sarmiine kicked it playfully with its hoof, spreading ripples over the surface.
“Thail, behave,” Lucius said, though chuckling.
“Is that her name?” Beth asked, looking over at him.
“Yes, it is.”
“It’s a lovely name.”
“It’s what my father wanted to name my little sister, when he was still with Isabella.”
“The baby was miscarried.” He said it with no tone of sadness, just stating it as fact.
“You don’t seem sad about that,” she commented.
He shrugged. “I never met her and besides, any more children of Evil would just cause arguments and battle.”
“How many are there then?”
“One: me. I don’t do well with siblings.”
“Isaac,” Beth breathed, remembering Isabella telling her about what had happened.
Lucius looked up, meeting her eyes without a word.