Werfas and Kyrus stood, with an Amir they knew. “So, young Nasers,” he said, dismounting beside where they watered their birds at the enormous trough that ran around the whole Nadumon square.
It was like a fountain in a way, but with stone and glass decorative hinged covers all the way around to allow access to the water so attractively displayed. It was enormous enough that all of the ‘escort’ for Ilax and Kyrus could water their birds in only two shifts. “How are you two doing?”
Dukir had actually ridden straight through some hard country to catch up to the minor horde, to be at Kyrus senior’s back when he went in to speak to the Nadumon. He was just as pleased that Ilax, as the negotiator, would be leading the talks about this endarkened, enlightened, bloody owner’s piss of a dam.
Kyrus blinked. He hadn’t seen the Amir the whole march, all along, and he’d thought he’d seen all ten of them. Now... he ran his eye around the circle and realized that this Amir made it eleven. “Ah. Well, Amir.” Werfas poked his shoulder and he picked up the bird’s goad and hooked the chain under its chin. “Excuse me, Naser, I need to water my birds.”
Dukir’s bones ached with the shifting wind. He was getting too old for all this dashing around the landscape. Shashi was running things so well that he’d had to do next to nothing by the time he’d gotten back to the city. And her with an infant. His granddaughter. This ride hadn’t helped his left hip in the slightest. Perhaps after these negotiations and hopefully war averted, he really would retire to the family Loggia and garden. And the moon will start raining algae instead of water, he thought to himself, sarcastically.
“Amir... we haven’t seen you.” Werfas leaned back against his bird, blocked its half-hearted snap at him with his raised goad, not taking his eyes off Dukir. I spotted you before, boy. I’ll have to see what my daughter thinks of you.
“And neither have the Nadumon, hmmm?” Dukir turned to scan the surrounding people.
“Milar...” A tentative voice from the watchers, a young man with an around the eye tattoo elaborate enough to show he had some rank. He glanced nervously at both Dukir, standing with his arms crossed, not moving except for the flutter of his veil, and Kyrus, just straightening from letting his warbird drink. The Amir was in his Rasheem blues, and Kyrus wore the silver so was pretty distinctive. Werfas wore soft greens and had the broad, open Milari face. Ky had to admit that if someone were going to approach the three of them, it would most likely be Wer.
The fellow had a bright yellow fluffball in his arms and looked tremendously inoffensive. That alone was enough to make Kyrus distrust him on sight. Too many ratboys that he knew had practiced that ‘I’m not that tough’ look and they were always the most dangerous.
“Most honoured Nadu, how may I be of assistance?”
The boy didn’t move any closer, which was a huge relief to Ky’s mind. He kept his hand on his sleeve knives though as he stepped so that he had a clear shot at the kid should he try anything. It was just so tense. Even with the Nadumon accepting them as guests and not enemies... they could all just pull out their nasty curved scalpelettis and fall on them from all directions here.
He could see Dukir ease sideways, a shift of weight on his hip to give him a clear shot at this young man should he prove either personally dangerous or setting off an attempted massacre. Werfas had his hand casually on his sword hilt, as if just resting his gloved hand there. You don't want to piss off my mander wingbrother, boy, Kyrus thought. To part of him it warmed him down to his deepest innards, even as he told that little proud glow to 'shut up'.
“Is it true that the Milar surdeniliarch married the Radiance?”
They all have such naked faces. This boy looks... hopeful? Horrified? Both? Ky straightened up slightly, drawing the kid’s gaze. “My da. The Radiance. Yeah. Ilax is my married father. His Radiance is my da.”
“Oh. Oh... that is...” They didn’t get to hear what the kid said because there was this wild klaxon from the council hall and the surrounding Nadu DID pull their swords. Everybody else drew as well, to not be caught flat footed and everybody turned to the doors. Birds squawked and bucked and slashed at the men around them and men of all three nations threw themselves into tying them down tight but they were knots of strange activity in the tense crowd around the Hall of Directors.
The boy hadn’t put down his pet but turned with everyone else.
There was a horrid silence from inside... a living silence. In the circle eyes flickered sideways. Lainz Amirs’ bellowed everyone into stillness... sword tips twitched in brutal sun like sparks of steel spraying from a welder. Anyone breathed wrong and it would be a blood-bath.