The satyress and her Sun Host fey were walking on the Promenade. It was late evening, and the crystal bridge glowed like a jewel with the light of glamours. Ardent wore a chiton, as usual, while her servant wore a jacket and tights characteristic of the Sun Etherium. The white gold chain of his leash glittered between his collar and her wrist.
Ardent sighed as she brought up the topic again. “Miro, this ain’t working.”
Her companion turned to her, indigo eyebrows raised. “My lady? What isn’t working?”
“Your plan. It’s been three days, and your Host hasn’t sent anyone after you. Maybe that little act of yours in the Court was too convincing. Maybe your mom decided it’d be easier to kick you out than ransom you and your dad.”
He crossed jacket-clad arms, then uncrossed them and bowed his head, subserviently. “My lady, please, I beg of you to be patient. My mother the Sun Queen is not so heartless as that.”
“Then maybe she’s not so wealthy as that, either. I talked to Fallen. She ain’t giving Jinokimijin up lightly. If at all. And I’m not letting you trade yourself for Jino, so don’t even think about it.”
Long fey ears canted back. “My lady, I seek only to serve you—”
“Uh huh. And so far, you’ve mostly gotten me in trouble. Everybody wants a piece of you, sugar. A servant I have to keep glued to my side wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
Brown eyes flashed up to meet hers, then dropped again. “Sun Etherium power has gotten you out of trouble, too,” he murmured.
“Yeah, and it’s still trouble I wouldn’t have except for you. Look, I like you, I feel bad about your parent, but sun aether or not, I can’t keep watch over you. You gotta go home.”
“Please, my lady, I cannot leave. If you won’t help me—”
Ardent stopped and grabbed his chain, right before his throat. Fey had already been watching the argument, but the use of force drew eyes: a rare sight except when it was staged. Whispering started as it sank in that the Sun fey could not evade. Ardent hauled him to the balls of his feet by the leash. “You swore an oath to me, Mirohirokon, before the High Court of the Moon Host. You will obey my orders. I am not asking. This is an order. Leave the Moon Etherium. Go home.” She put a hand over her chest, fingers curling around the cloth between her breasts, as if to seize the locket or something else beneath it.
His eyes pleaded. “My lady, please.”
“No. I’m done! I’ll stay around a few days, see if there’s anything I can do for Jinokimijin. But you will leave. Tonight. Now.” She ported them to the edge of the Etherium. In silence, she escorted him off the ridge, until the pressure of moon aether could no long be felt. Ardent took the collar off of his neck. “Here.” She handed him a pair of walking boots from her locket, and then offered her wrist. “Channel from me.”
“I don’t want—”
“That’s an order! Do it!”
He flinched, and took her wrist. They stood in the moonlit darkness for some moments, before the golden-tan fey released her.
She swayed, caught her balance, and waved him off. “Go, already! And Justice help you.” In silence, he bowed to her, then put on the boots and departed, on enchantment-lengthened strides that covered dozens of yards each.
Ardent climbed the ridge back into the Etherium, and sat on the ground after she reentered the aether. She put her head in one hand, over her eyes, and breathed for a while. “Justice help us all,” she said, softly.
Then she teleported away.
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