Zahra's elation at seeing her sister was suddenly turned to worry when she saw the pained look in Adrian's eyes. Despite his desperate attempts to appear natural, Zahra could tell that the almost-knight was in deep pain.
"Imelda," Zahra said softly, "you didn't have to hurt him, you know."
"You two ought to go talk," Alexander said, taking his place beside Adrian and helping to support his friend's weight. "Zahra, I trust that you won't run off anywhere?"
For the first time, Zahra decided it would be best to heed the prince's instructions. "Yes," she said. "You really can trust me."
Imelda was watching the entire scene with a look of disgust on her face. "You take orders from him?" she hissed when the prince and the knight had left.
"He is the prince," Zahra replied, irritated that Imelda had called her out on her obedience. Turning to her sister, she raised her eyebrows. "Why did you have to go and hurt him like that, Imelda? We'll have to be punished for that, you know!"
"It was worth it," Imelda retorted. "You know, if I didn't know better, I might think you actually care about the knight's well-being!"
Annoyed, Zahra looked away. "It's not like that."
"Sure. I'm sure it isn't," Imelda responded, voice practically dripping with sarcasm.
There was a long silence.
"He is pretty dashing, though, Zahra. I mean, I wouldn't blame you if you found some sort of attraction for him within you."
Surprised at the words that had come from Imelda's lips, Zahra gave a soft chuckle. "Come, now. You hate the knight. Those weren't exactly the words I was anticipating from you."
"Did you see the looks on their faces when they realized that we're sisters?" And from those words onward, Imelda and Zahra talked about the events that had transpired since that fateful day when Zahra had ventured into the sacred grounds to hunt.
Still, Zahra found a disconcerting need to know if Adrian was faring well. What if his shoulder and arm had been damaged for life? Would she ever be able to cope with the guilt if she and Imelda had inflicted permanent damage?
Shrugging her thoughts away, Zahra focused on the situation at hand.