Luke was waiting for Cya at the fence around Lady Maureen’s.
She was, she’d admit, predictable, but never in the sixty years that she’d been doing this had Luke stopped her. Talked to her, yes. Chatted, asked questions, sometimes even second-guessed her choices.
Something was different in his posture this time. There was something about the set of his feet and the spread of his wings that told her he wasn’t going to wait patiently, and he wasn’t here to chat.
Cya shifted her own posture, making sure she could feel the weight of every weapon she carried. She couldn’t win a fight with Luca Hunting-Hawk, certainly not on his territory. But she could make sure she got away and survived long enough to call in Boom.
He stepped forward. “Cya.”
“Sir.” She noticed, then, that he had his body and wings angled oddly. Hiding something? “Nice weather this year.”
“I have something for you.”
That’s what I’m worried about. “Sir?” He never had been great at small talk.
“I’m not something!” The complaint came from behind Luke; he shifted, folded his wings, and hauled a young man in front of him.
He was blonde, with a look Cynara recognized well – the chin, the nose, although the eyes were different. He looked more like Howard than like Leo, but they often did. And he looked not very close to either of them — but that made sense, because it’d been generations, and not every child of Aelfgar could’ve managed to have children with a sibling.
Unlike any of her favorite Aelf-get, he had a crown of horns radiating out of his blonde curls like a sunburst. Like many of them, he was wearing a seemingly perpetual scowl.
“Cya Red Doomsday, this is Apollo the Sun-fire. Apollo, this is the woman I was telling you about.”
Cya raised her eyebrows. “I don’t really do unwilling, Luke.” She couldn’t miss the way the Hawk’s fingers were pressing into the boy’s forearm.
“You used to.”
“I used to be a child. We were all children, once.” This conversation was not going where she’d thought it would. “I grew up.”
“That’s the problem.” He pushed Apollo forward; the boy tried to resist, but Luke was a force of nature. “This one didn’t. He managed to sit through four years of Addergoole and I don’t think he learned a damn thing, not the important stuff. He’s going to get himself killed out there.”
“He’s right here.” Apollo shifted as far away from Luke as the grip on his arm would allow. “And I’ll be fine. Look, I know how to fight. I’ll be able to take on anything I run into out there.”
Cya sighed quietly. “I see what you’re saying. But the thrill of the fight got old a long time ago, Luke, and I have my hands full.”
Apollo leered at her. “I’ll give you a fight, Lady.”
“Red Doomsday.” Luke’s voice grew soft and formal. “I am fond of this idiot, and he was my student. I am asking you a favor, that perhaps you might succeed where I have failed. It is not a small favor, and I pay my debts.”
Cya let that hang in the air. She looked the boy, pout, spikes, blonde hair, up and then down again.
“You.” She nodded at the kid. “You Belong to me for the next year.”
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