Chapter Twelve, Part One: Janus at the Tree of WretchesMature

Hainishtymion casts blue eyes against the ceiling of Pasmodius’ room. 

His fatalist bent is getting the better of his breathing, he decides, so he opens his lungs more, to taste the air more thoroughly, forcing open alveoles more suited to the abrading ache of sweet white powder than the toxic, filtered, sterilized poison of the Citadel. 

From his darkened door, as he sprawls back upon his stolen bed, there crawls a crease of light. 

The door slides toward him. 

Then it shoves shut again, swiftly. 

 He prefers real doors, too. 

“I knew you’d come,” he murmurs, reaching out to the new occupant of the room with a long and disheveled arm. He hasn’t bathed since he washed the wall outside with a guard’s blood; the man’s crust is still under his fingernails. 

The Tiger woman smiles, her white fur-like scales flashing in little waves of pearl. 

“I saw your beautiful artwork outside, my lovely,” that jewelled body seems to say, swaying toward the bed and draping several claws against his forehead, molding her paw to his face. 

“I knew you waited for me.” Her white voice shimmers in the dark. “Hainish.” 

She grabs his blonde hair in a fist, raising him up. 

He does not resist. 

“Let me see how you’ve grown!” she rumble-purrs in the back of her young throat, her bright black eyes beating like drums, keeping time with his breathing. With his hearts. 

“So you approve of my plans?” he says, his eyes welling nearly shut with heavy, salted tears.


The End

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