Hadrian wanted to smile as he watched June step over the Gutxic and glide into the Feasting Hall. Instad kept his face neutral. No one could know he had feelings for her. They would use that information against him. Turn her into a weapon to hurt him.
June was powerful. And she wasn’t done growing yet. She wouldn’t be done growing for another few years. He could feel the knowledge of it whenever she stood within arm’s reach of him. That was the true purpose of the induction party, so all the Immortals would know the strength of those around them.
She would rise to take a place at the top, he knew it.
An Ifrianian immortal stepped up next to him. For a few breathless moments the man was silent. “Is there any sign the weaving is slipping?” Ramaz asked, his voice tundra cool.
Hadrian looked down at the cup in his hand, the blue liquid smelled sweet. He took a slow slip from the cup in his hand before answering. “No.” It was the only word he could manage, he had a feeling that if he tried to say anything more it would end with saying what he really felt.
It had been three months, but the guilt remained fresh. Like a gaping wound that wouldn’t mend.
Ramaz nodded and lifted his glass in Hadrian’s direction. “A job well done.” Then he took a deep gulp.
Hadrian gripped his own cup tighter, refusing to toast to this. It was shameful.
Ramaz stared at June for several seconds, his eyes as still as the rest of him. “I better go introduce myself.” He grinned. “Again.”
Hadrian nodded, but was shocked when he found himself saying. “It was a dishonorable thing we did.”
Ramaz laughed. Causing Hadrian to turn his head so he could regard him. It was a full and real laugh. One filled to the brim with amusement.
“We’re at war, Hadrian. Dishonorable has no meaning or place in our vocabulary.”
Ramaz’s words stung. But he had to admit that there was a truth to them. A small truth. They were at war. That much, at least was true. But there was a right and a wrong way to go about winning. And having honor in the way you fought was important.
What they did was vile.
Ramaz was smiling at Hadrian, his pointed teeth fit together in a way that was all too reminiscent of a hungry wolf. The power difference between them was a palpable thing. The Ifrianian was stronger with Mental Immortality. But Hadrian could still take him. Could handle both him and another like him if needed.
Most Human Immortals could easily handle any one Master. The problem came when they were together. Human Immortals were unique. Drawing on powers the other three races couldn’t. But there were drawbacks. They could kill themselves if they weren’t careful, burn themselves to ash. The other races couldn’t draw past their limits. Humans could. And many had died before they figured it out.
Also emotions played a big part. Too many feelings, too much emotion and Immortality would come uncalled. Regaining control, once Immortality was raging through a person, was almost impossible.
Responding to the Ifrianian seemed pointless, so instead he grunted and took another sip from his glass and moved his attention back to June. She was crippled with her powers. As strong as she was, she was crippled. Everyone in the room would know. Or perhaps they didn’t know. If they didn’t, they would find out soon enough.
It had to be done. If June was allowed to use her full potential she would remove the weave on her memory herself. Then they would kill her. As much as he dind’t want to do this to her, it was the only way he could save her. So they’d clipped her Mental Immortality.
Ramaz set the cup down on the table behind them and moved to join the others waiting to introduce themselves to her. He would do exactly what the others were doing. Reaching out to see how much she could draw. How much she would be able to draw.
June would be doing the same. Getting a feel for them.
Hadrian smiled. June was the strongest Immortal he’d ever trained. Even bound as she was. She could still level mountains. And she was clever. A dangerous combination.
As if she could feel his eyes on her she turned to look at him.
His heart ached as she smiled.
He nodded and lifted his cup in salute. She would do very well.