We cuddled under the blankets, Deimos and I, with her head resting on my shoulder and one leg thrown over my thighs. She had a palm laid over my heart while she buried her face into the crook of my neck. Her warm breath on my skin tickled.
Revelling in the warmth and softness of her body against mine and the atmosphere of comfortable companionship, my lips curved upwards. Turning my head, I kissed the top of her head and asked, “What about the other two? Won’t they be coming back tonight?”
Deimos shook her head. “I asked Phi-Phi on the way back here. She had an all-nighter planned and Ceres said that she’d slept enough in the evening.”
I exhaled forcefully, my breath blowing Deimos’ hair. “I’ll talk to her tomorrow… Her body will give out if she keeps this up. Let her burn through her energy today. She’ll sleep tomorrow or I’ll make her.”
“Hmm,” mumbled Deimos. She too hadn’t been resting well these days.
I closed my eyes. “Now sleep.”
That night, I dreamt of a moon the colour of blood and a silver streak of lightning that cracked it into a million pieces.
I woke next morning feeling refreshed and full of energy. Even the annoying beam of sunlight that was falling right on my eyes from a slit in the curtains failed to sour my mood. When I tried to extract my shoulder from under Deimos’ head – the entire arm feeling numb due to the poor blood circulation during the night – she stirred in her sleep, frowned and grabbed me tighter.
Smiling, I tickled lightly beneath her nose and her nose twitched like a rabbit’s before she sneezed, jolting herself out of her sleep. Meeting her bleary gaze filled with resentment, I chuckled lightly before withdrawing my arm, massaging it and wincing when the pins and needles kicked in.
Moving out from under the blankets, I dressed myself from the wardrobe. Walking up to the window, I threw them wide, letting the cool morning breeze ruffle my hair. Inhaling deeply, I breathed out the foul air in my mouth, having dealt with my morning breath with wind mana. Running my fingers through my bed head to return my hair to a semi-manageable state, I looked out upon the scenery visible from my room.
My room was situated on the third floor of the manor, facing the open stretch of land that contained Boris lake. The morning breeze brought with it the unique scent of fresh water and the light of the rising sun glinted of the lake making it shimmer with myriad shades of orange and red.
From behind me, I heard the clattering of the wardrobe as Deimos rummaged through it half-asleep. The girl definitely wasn’t a morning person, being overfond of sleep. These days must have been hard on her.
After some time, a fully dressed but still sleepy Deimos joined me at the window, yawning and stretching. That set me yawning as well. Putting my hands on my hips, I twisted my waist until I felt rather than heard that satisfying pop of unlimbering joints. I twisted the other way to balance it out before rolling my shoulders to remove the last of the stiffness.
“What’ll you do today?” I asked Deimos.
Resting her elbows on the window sill and cupping her face in her palms, she replied as she looked out upon the scenery. “Train.”
“In anything other than the Thunder palm… Speed maybe?”
I raised my eyebrow. “You’re dropping it? After all the effort you put into it?”
“Doesn’t suit me. Better now than later, after having wasted more time, ya.”
“My stint in Firang… and then I saw the archives. Found that I was doing things all wrong… or rather, the wrong things right.”
“You’re better at it than me, at least.”
“Doesn’t matter. I should have specialized in Force to play the full might of it and even if I did, it still wouldn’t suit me.”
I considered her words. “… Speed huh?”
“A weapon too. Before leaving Firang, I asked Teal to have a set of razor threads made in exchange for the entirety of my contribution points. It’ll be arriving soon. I want to be at least decent in controlling threads before that.”
An image floated up in my mind of Deimos standing in place as a fire ant charged at her. Suddenly, halfway there, its form stagnated and then with edges as smooth as a mirror, its body split up into several parts. Thin, near-transparent threads glinted under the sun as they retracted to her hands. I shuddered at the image. Too cruel.
“It’s a dangerous weapon. Both to the enemy and yourself. Be careful.”
“Eh. I don’t fancy losing my fingers, ya. I’m not going to use it in battle before I master the Aspect of Wind. That’ll take a while and now’s the best time for it.”
She was right. With the Shogunate having made the first move at the cost of a huge amount of resources and Regiis reeling from it, both of them wouldn’t be eager to escalate the situation. It would take some time for them to rally themselves and organize the next round of battle. Until then, we would have a stretch of peace. The calm before the storm. Now was the best time to build ourselves up, prepare for the future conflict.
I squeezed her shoulder. “Have at it then. And ask me or father for help if you get stuck anywhere.”
She climbed up on the ledge of the window. Facing me with the sun at her back, giving her a red halo and the wind blowing her skirt, she grinned, “Good. I will.” Then she stepped back into the air and dropped out of sight.
Her words floated to my ear with the breeze. “Go check up on the two bookworms, ya. Or they’ll miss breakfast.”
Turning my back to the window with a smile I turned to the mini-kitchen in our room and rolled back my sleeves. It’s been some time since I cooked for my wives. I like to think it’ll be a pleasant surprise.