She exited the ramschackle home and looked over at the fire. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon and she felt panic in her chest. It weighed heavily on her, this decision. And it had to be done quickly. She clutched at her rumpled shirt, her fists balling at her stomach. Her knuckles had turned white with how hard Fatima held the fabric. She paused, taking deep, calming breaths as she let the veil of Queen slip over her. Bright white-gold eyes pierced the group with benign calm. A calm she didn’t feel. A storm raged in her stomach. She wanted to vomit.“Xandar. Jandar. May I borrow you please?”“Yes, of course, my Lady. I suppose we are moving somewhere more private,”
Xandar had just finished eating himself and serving everybody, caught up in his work as he heard his name called. The Queen’s touch and kind words say troubled with him, and he hadn’t replied, but it seemed Fatima wanted to speak with him. Not in particular him, but, he could guess what this was about. Summoning on his usual attire, weapons withheld, he nodded silently as he vanished the cooking wear he was just using.
She nodded to Jandar's statement. "Bellinar,"
she called, the choice of the Eyrien stemming from Mikhail’s stepping away, “keep an eye on the boy and dog please."
Satisfied this would be done she turned on her heel and walked toward the center of the village. Wiping a hand over her face, she turned, sad eyes now upon the two men. "I am at a crossroads and I request your advice. The way I see it there are but two things we can do with this boy."
She took a shaky breath before forging on. "We either take him with us or we kill him."
She disliked how many times she'd said the word. 'kill him' today, especially since it involved a child. But this world did not allow for kind phrases often. The words had left her lips sour and she now pursed her lips and looked toward the forest at the village edge some way off. Her arms wrapped about herself as if to keep off a chill. "I spoke with Faeril about this already. She said she would be willing to take responsibility for the boy. She does not have the energy to wipe his mind. But, I do not want to make a final decision without your thoughts on the matter."
Jandar followed Fatima quietly, concerned. He raised both brows in disbelief when he finally heard what was on her mind. So, the Queen had been considering an action as dire as murder. He hadn’t been certain she had it in her. Though the mere thought left her obviously shaken, which was better than the alternative. The Warlord stepped near her, and put a bracing palm upon her shoulder. “The boy has a Kindred’s trust. I say we keep them. I have no wish to kill innocent children, nor is it necessary if he chooses to follow our directives. He seems like a smart lad, so I believe he will cooperate with us if we give him the option,”
Jandar offered his opinion. “Besides, if we got rid of him, we would be subject to the ire and distrust of a Kindred, which would not be a good position to be in,”
he added, a tad more lightly, though it was one of his concerns - just not the most important one.
She listened patiently to Jandar's statements and gave him a sad, wry look. Didn't he see the kindred would have to be dealt with too? Fatima was beginning to feel evil.
Xandar followed quietly along, crossing her arms and waiting for the others to speak. He listened carefully, having a feeling this was to be about the boy and his dog. Quite the annoyance, really, it was not ideal for them to have been caught up in such trivial things when they were on their way to leave to much more important matters. After hearing both of them, he sighed and he himself spoke up.”A rather… annoying predicament thrown into our laps. I’ve traveled on the run before, and as much as it is kind to help those in need, we can’t keep picking up strays. As for my kind, the strong survived. It would be rather difficult to bring along those two. They offer little use, take up resources, and make it much more difficult to hide and move. It’s dragging around very dangerous dead weight. A war is no place for them.”
Xandar said very coldly, before looking back to where the group was and running a hand through his hair. ”However, how much better are we if we simply kill them? If it was my decision, a swift death to them both would be better for both parties. Almost a mercy to them, really. But if my Queen demands it, I will protect them. We can take them along, at least for now, until other options arise. If we do keep them, Faeril better keep those two thieving street rats under control and not get us all killed or worse.”
he muttered the last part out, gripping his neck to where a collar would surely be placed on him. ”Above all lives, the safety of my queen comes first.”
She shouldn't be, she knew in her heart she shouldn't be, but the corners of her lips turned up with the slightest smile at Xandar's remarks. A small wave of relief crashed over her in knowing that someone else saw what she saw. The child may need to be killed. She was beginning to feel crazy for thinking it much less saying it. But she wasn't the only one.
Fatima sighed and tried to run a hand through her curls but only found the mess of knots. How appropriate to the situation. A mess of knots. She detangled her hand from her head before she spoke again. "Let's say we were decided on keeping the child, I have not made the decision yet to be clear. But let's say we did, how would we ask him? If he were to say no then… we would need to take care of him. We could not say join us or die though. It's not very sporting."“War is no place for them, huh? This war will involve the whole of Terreille. So, what will those with no place in a war do, roll over and die?”
Jandar commented with a shrug. “But I get what you’re both getting at,”
he waved a hand dismissively, preemptively deflecting unneeded bickering. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t just be upfront about our dilemma to the kid. He joins and cooperates or he dies, it’s that simple,”
Jandar stated. “Not sporting to tell him exactly that? Then what would you call killing him? What a joke,”
he scoffed. Fatima visibly winced as if she'd just been slapped. “Well, if it comes down to it, I frankly don’t mind, just try not to get so muddled in your means that your ends cease to be valid, Queen.”
Jandar rolled his shoulders, uncomfortable with the direction things were starting to go in. They’d all made such a mess in this town already, and now they were collectively getting tripped up over a pair of unwitting thieves? It seemed fairly senseless to him. As Mikhail had said, and as he himself knew very well, Jandar’s own actions with SaDiablo had been the most reckless and were the ones most likely to have dire consequences for them all. So, if they were killing anyone for being a risk, shouldn’t he be the first to go? The Warlord shook his head, smiling wryly at his thoughts. It seemed like the Dea Al Mon’s words had got to him more than he’d imagined possible.
Xandar pinched the bridge of his nose, listening to the conversation turned into a small argument. All this trouble over a boy. And the one who was defending his life was the most argumentative. As much as the Warlord Prince didn’t want to kill innocent children, the life of one is worth ultimately less than the life of several. ”A battlefield, Jandar. The men come to the battlefield to protect children, but if you’d like to hand one a battle axe and tell him we’re thinking about killing him, go for it. You’d make a wonderful father.”
He chuckled, running a hand through his hair.
Stretching his shoulders he looked at his Queen, who seemed conflicted on how they were going to approach this issue to the child. ”Alright, frankly I’m done bickering, and there’s no right or easy way to do this. Nobody is wrong here. It wasn’t our fault we were put into this mess with those thieves. If we need to compromise, we can take the child to one of my contacts that we’re heading off to. He’d be displaced far enough and in good enough hands, that if he were captured for information, it’d be too late otherwise. It’s not far, lower risk, and then we’re done with him. But if he causes more trouble than he’s worth, the decision will be much easier next time.”
There it was, she was being offered the light at the end of the tunnel. She perked up, her face beaming with the possibility. "Would that really be okay? You could do that Xandar? I think that would be a grand middle ground. Thank you!"
She crossed the distance between them and threw her arms about his waist in a hug. "That should work."
She removed herself from his person and looked to Jandar. "I am glad you have not yet experienced the full evils of our world. I know it will not last, with your staying with us, but I am glad you do not yet know it."
She began toward the encampment, walking backwards so she could still keep her boys in her sights. "I will let the child know of our decision. Thank you both for your help."
She turned then and scurried off.