Egilka yanked his arm free of the prince’s grip. His fists clenched, he shouted, “You stupid child! You nearly got noosed out there. Do you think anyone of those people around us would have stopped it? Those Tragooms would have dragged your ass back to their Bi’isil master and the rest would have cheered the entertainment.”
Clajak had the nerve to look as if Egilka had disappointed him. His tone was every bit as chastising as the Imdiko’s. “At least I could have claimed to have had some fun before it all ended. Life is more than just duty and promises, Egilka. Do you really think your sister wanted you to lock yourself away from life in her memory?”
Egilka inhaled sharply. “You shut your mouth about her!”
“Why? If Cyrt loved you half as much as you loved her, she’d be beating you over the head right now, trying to knock some sense into you. She’d want you to live, damn it!”
“I am living!”
“No you’re not. You don’t even know the meaning of the word.” Clajak flicked his hand at Egilka dismissively.
The Imdiko wished he had the strength and skill to whip the man. “So tell me, oh great sage of Kalquor. What does living mean? Fucking all the time? Goofing off? Running away from your duty?”
Clajak’s expression hardened. “Sometimes. Sometimes it means daring to come out from behind your lab and delaying doing what your elders tell you to do. Even if I did end up a slave on Bi’is, that wouldn’t end Kalquor. Being a prince doesn’t make me that much different from you in that regard.”
Egilka had heard enough. It was obvious that Clajak didn’t care he’d brushed up against certain doom only minutes ago. The Imdiko couldn’t figure him out or how to make him behave like the royalty he’d been born to.
All at once, Egilka didn’t want to be anywhere around Clajak. Ever. It wasn’t worth the hurt that had sprung up unbidden and unexpected in his heart.
He made his own dismissive gesture. “Fuck you. You want to see me turn my back on duty? Fine. I’m going home and seeing if our contract can be dissolved. I don’t want you for a Dramok.”
He turned away, refusing to believe he’d seen Clajak’s expression turn devastated. It hadn’t. All Clajak cared about was himself. His thoughts seething, Egilka headed back the way he’d come in, pressing against the wildly hopping Dantovonian bodies.
Releasing mid-December 2015