She entered the barracks building, her steps heavy and weary. Standing just inside the doorway, she allowed her eyes to adjust to the change in light. Tindomiel’s silver eyes scanned the room until she spotted him at the large command table, his head down. As she approached, she heard him snoring softly. Very gently, she placed a hand on the demon hunter’s shoulder. “Foro, my love?”
Forosuul snorted and opened his eyes. He shook his head, clearing the cobwebs before glancing up at her wearily. His voice betrayed just how exhausted he really was. “Hello, Tindo.”
“Come to the bed,” she urged. “This isn’t good for you.”
Forosuul scratched his chin. “I’m all right, just a cat nap,” he replied dully.
“You lying to me now? I can see how tired you are.” Reaching over, she picked up the matches and lit the candle on the table. The small area began to glow gently with a warm and soothing light.
“I promise I’m not. Just been a long day,” he said, comfortingly. Tindomiel settled on the floor beside him. “Been getting everyone squared away, having lots of interesting conversations,’ he explained. His fingers thrummed lightly on the tabletop before reaching out to touch her hair.
Tindomiel raised a long white eyebrow. “With?”
“Silannah, Eli, oh, and I met your giant draenei,” he offered. Tindomiel chuckled. “And of course Ælithil.”
She leaned back, looking surprised. “Ælithil…what about him,” she asked curiously. She idly played with the stitching on his kilt, tracing it with her fingertips.
Forosuul shook his head. “Ælithil came to inform me that my dog needs a leash…his exact words.” He grinned slightly, betraying his amusement.
“Your dog…does he mean Eliân?” Forosuul nodded at her. “That is…bold for him.” Her head bobbed back and forth as she pictured it in her mind, surprised at the young man’s sudden changes.
“Well, she scared Niquisse, he was riled up,” he offered. “I told him I would talk to her. I also told him he was damned stupid to send her if the situation was delicate.”
“It went badly. Very badly,” she continued. “I don’t know what she was thinking.” She rubbed her right hand over her face.
Forosuul sighed heavily. “Ælithil told her to get Niquisse, she did.”
“Did he bother to tell her to use some tact?”
“He did not.” His answered firmly, his tone taking on a edge of frustration. “She may have handled it badly, but she did her job.” Tindomiel nodded, conceding the point. “Your friend Mehe almost got himself killed about five times over.”
“I am aware. And if Sutrakarre had not been there, they may have come close to killing one another.”
“Sutrakarre told me. It should tell you something that Mehe got under the skin of a trained counselor.” He glanced over at her pointedly.
“It does. Although I think Eli did as well,” she countered.
“Perhaps. But she is one of us. He is not.” He tapped his index finger down on the table, making a point.
“I know that. But he could be an ally, which we may need in the coming days.” Forosuul sighed and looked at her skeptically. “Same as Anas, who did nothing wrong in this.”
“How could he possibly be an ally,” he asked in disbelief. “I have nothing against the tailor, other than his choice in men.”
Tindomiel chuckled lightly. “Mehe is prickly. But the more you get to know him, he is actually a good man. Once he feels he can trust someone that is.” Forosuul stared at her flatly. “Don’t give me that look!”
“He distrusts every Ren’dorei. So much that he said unkind things about Niquisse, who is about as harmless a person as you could find. What happens when he meets Gilræn?” He starting ticking things off on his fingers. “There is now bad blood with him and Eli, as well as Sutrakarre. He doesn’t like me, and if he disappeared tomorrow I would not shed a tear.” He pulled his hand from her hair, crossing his arms over his chest.
“I smoothed some of it over,” she responded gently. “He admits that he was wrong about Sutrakarre. He apologized to me. And Niquisse? Well, she and Anas consider each other siblings.”
“Tindo, you are the only person I know who has met him that he has not treated with immediate hostility. He has managed to have a problem with every member of our House he has encountered. And I don’t blame any of them!”
“And when they thought Eliân was kidnapping Niquisse, he ran after them. Yes, he says he did it most for Anas. But something I have noticed about him,” she tried to explain.
“He told Sutrakarre he cared nothing for her,” he stated plainly.
“Yes well, he was angry and once he calmed down…well, it’s not the truth. When he told me how Anas sees her as his little sister, the smile and the joy was…palpable.”
“He is angry and impetuous. He cannot be relied on. Just imagine if we welcomed this person in our midst and he had a task to perform, something vital. Then his lover gets a paper-cut or something and he drops everything.” He gestured out the door. “To go run to his aid.”
Tindomiel sighed “We don’t know that he cannot be relied on. At most I was hoping they could let us know if they hear people asking after us.” Forosuul shot her a look. “With the House here, we don’t have as many ears in the world anymore,” she explained. “And don’t give me that. We are in this mess because Eliân made a mistake. She judged Iasea innocent and now we are huddled in the fortress, our niece nearly killed and our Captain still unable to fight.” Forosuul narrowed his eyes. She was crossing a line, but it was she felt she needed to push. “She made a mistake. And we are dealing with it. But we shouldn’t have to at all.”
“Eli’s strength is not information gathering,” he responded through gritted teeth. “Yes, she made a mistake, but if I had let her do it her way, we also would not be in this situation.”
“Tell me why I should not look to gathering some strength to us. Tell me why I should push away two men who care about Niquisse, a family member, and not make use of them?”
“One of them nearly wet himself when he met me. The other one is incapable of good judgement. Find some strength and I will gladly use it, but that word applies to neither of those men.” He waved her off and crossed his arms again.
“Anas openly used his powers in the middle of the Mage District to try and save Niquisse when he thought she was being kidnapped. He snared Eliân with Void Tendrils,” she tried to explain.
“And?” He looked thoroughly unimpressed.
“He is not as weak as you suppose.”
“His knees went to water when Eli pulled out her knives. She bluffed her way out of it,” he replied, his expression unchanged. “And it was the weakest bluff I have ever heard of. Why would she kill the person she was sent to collect? If he had thought about it for even a moment, he would have known she wasn’t going to do it.”
“How would he know that? How?”
“The way I just said?”
“He didn’t know why she was collecting Niquisse,” she pointed out the door. “She told them nothing of substance. Have you watched your dearest friend in action?”
“More times than you can imagine,” he muttered.
“I am not exactly happy that she thought the best choice was to press a dagger to Niquisse’s chest and threaten to kill her in the middle of a major public space.” Her voice raised in pitch, her arms waving about in her frustration. “And the fact that he stood up to her to protect one of ours…Gods below Foro!”
“And I already gave her a piece of my mind of scaring the girl half to death. He did not stand up to her, he let her go. The moment he thought he was in trouble, he backed down. He could not think straight and see what was really going on.”
“He stood up to her through the threat on his own life. He backed down when he thought she would kill the woman he sees as his little sister!” She looked at him pleadingly, willing him to understand her side.
“He would have pissed himself and passed out if Eli had really gone after him,” he continued, unmoved. “He’s a tailor.”
“He used to be a priest. Now he is a man with very extensive shadow powers. Who works as a tailor to make ends meet!”
“Powers don’t mean a damn thing, strength comes from here!” He thumped his chest with his fist. Tindomiel stood and walked across the room. Forosuul sighed heavily.
Tindomiel put her head in her hands, raking her fingers through her hair. “That man put his life in Eliân’s hands to save a member of this family. The least you could do is respect that.” Her tone was growing bitter.
“What was he saving her from?”
“In his eyes and the eyes of those who witnessed it? Everyone thought she was being kidnapped, Foro. When I went to get everyone food, the entire tavern was talking about it.”
“Did any of those eyes belong to anyone I give a damn about?”
“Niquisse’s,” she answered, her hand coming around to cup her forehead.
“I am sorry she was scared, and I have spoken to Eli about that. But again, Æl should have sent someone else.” He placed his arms down on the table, clasping his hands together in front of him.
“Yes, he should have. But he didn’t. And like it or not, there is damage control that needs to be done.” She turned back towards him, her hand raised in the air.
Tindomiel let her arm fall, shocked that he could not see it. “Well for one thing, Niquisse. You should speak with her.”
“For another, I want Eliân to apologize to Anas.”
The felfire flared behind his mask; the look he offered her showed his patience was waning. “No one in this House is apologizing to either of those people.”