As soon as their drinks were served and they were alone again, Rajhir said, “Tell me more about yourself. I already know you’re a brilliant doctor with the makings of a master spy. How old were you when you decided to become a giant?”
Flencik snorted. He put off answering long enough to sip the leshella and made a happy noise over it before setting his glass back down. Rajhir was relieved to see the Imdiko seemed more inclined to savor the expensive liquor rather than gulping it.
Flencik gave him a rueful look. “I was twelve when it hit. I grew so fast my wardrobe changed every other month. It was insane.”
“Your poor parents. It must have killed their savings trying to keep you dressed.”
Flencik didn’t brighten any, but he did manage a chuckle. “I suddenly found myself looking down on them one day. It was freaky to be the tallest person in the room in such a short amount of time. Other children my age called me Ronka-Boy. ‘Ronka-Boy, thundering through the woods, knocking over trees’.”
Rajhir winced. “Ouch. Kids can be so cruel.”
Flencik nodded. “Oh yeah. It could get a little rough, especially since I’ve never been very good at physically defending myself. Some boys liked to prove their toughness by picking fights with me. I almost always lost.”
“That’s awful, Flencik.” Rajhir felt real sympathy for the other man.
“That wasn’t the worst part. At the age of thirteen, a lot of people thought I was a grown man. I kept getting invited for drinks from of-age Dramoks and Nobeks. I didn’t understand half the propositions I received.” Flencik turned red again, ducking his head with a shy and embarrassed grin.
Rajhir laughed at that. Maybe those early experiences were what made Flencik get so endearingly flustered now. He asked, “You aren’t psychologically scarred from it, are you?”
Flencik sipped more leshella. “I don’t think so, but there was a period of time I wouldn’t go anywhere without my tutor along to keep my would-be romancers at bay.”
“You had tutors too? I was practically raised by mine during some stretches.”
“Really? Me too.”
Rajhir nodded in solidarity. “That’s the trouble when you have parents with a lot of responsibilities. Mine did try to spend as much time with me as duty allowed, and I didn’t really ever feel neglected. Still, there were sometimes periods as long as a week that I wouldn’t see one of them. How about yours?”
Flencik shrugged. “They were busy.”
Rajhir stared at the Imdiko. Flencik wouldn’t meet his gaze, and his smile had disappeared entirely. His tone had gone distant.
Rajhir put his hand on his companion’s shoulder. “Are you not on good terms with them?”
Again, Flencik’s voice was carefully controlled. “We are not close.”
He said it with finality, as if the subject was closed. However, Rajhir saw distress peeking out from the composed expression the Imdiko wore.
Tentatively scheduled to release March or April 2014