After arriving at the Melintar home, Anomen and Surayah found themselves fussed over by the whole family. Clean clothes for Surayah were provided, and a meal that could nearly be called a feast was laid out. Anomen tried to eat enough to satisfy courtesy, but he could not help but notice that Surayah only picked at her food. When he suggested that they retire early, she seemed relieved.
They changed into borrowed sleepwear, then climbed into bed. Anomen turned down the lantern and settled into the sheets. When his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he saw that Surayah was facing away from him.
Gingerly he reached out and put his hand on her shoulder. She gave a small shrug and said, “Not tonight.”
Anomen frowned. “Of course not. I only thought you might want some comfort after this tragic day.”
“I just want to sleep so that it will be over.”
She was silent for a long moment, then rolled over to face him. He pulled her into his arms and sighed deeply.
“Shhhh. You said you wished to sleep, and that is what we shall do. Holding you is enough.”
The room was quiet for some time. Anomen tried to compose himself for sleep but found it difficult not to let memories of the day pull him back into wakefulness. Eventually he heard the sound he then realized he had been waiting for. Surayah softly sniffled, trying to bury her face in his shoulder so that he would not hear. Anomen reached up to gently stroke her hair. At this sign that her attempt to hide her tears had failed, she sobbed into his chest.
As he tightened his embrace, Anomen let a few tears of his own fall. They were not so much for Yusef or for the day’s pains as they were for the trials he knew were to come. Many would not believe their account of events, which would make their lives even more difficult. And there was the matter of Moira’s death. Would he finally see justice done for his murdered sister? Or was this nothing more than a false hope?
Eventually they managed to fall asleep, but it could not be described as peaceful. Both were restless and suffered from unpleasant dreams.
Anomen woke to a cold bed. His armor and clean clothing was laid out nearby, and a bowl of washing water. He readied himself for the day as quickly as possible before going to see where Surayah was.
He found her in the parlor with Lady Relsia. Someone had the foresight to bring Karima to her mistress, because he saw the faithful lady’s maid hovering nearby.
“Dearest, why did you not wake me?”
“I thought you needed the sleep. You were injured yesterday.”
“True, but I do have duties to attend to.”
“Not today,” Relsia said. “High Watcher Oisig sent word that someone would take over your class.”
He sat down next to Surayah and took her hand. She had dark rings under her eyes, and looked a bit haggard. “Surayah, I suspect that you needed extra sleep more than I.”
“I will be fine. I am just tired.”
Anomen started to speak, then said, “Lady Relsia, could I have a private word with my wife?”
“Of course.” She gave them a sympathetic smile, then left the room.
“Surayah, you are more than tired. But please, do not feel that you have to hide your grief from me. I know that no matter what our past, he was your brother and you will mourn him.”
“I—I was not sure how you would feel. He tried to kill you, and if he had succeeded he either would have killed me as well or dragged me away to hatch some new plan to use me for his business.”
“But that is not what you are thinking of now. You are remembering the brother you loved, before all this.”
“Yes. How... how do you know?”
“Because that is how I think of Father. Most of my life he has shown me no more affection than he would to his midden heap, but I cannot deny that there were happy times. Even though my thoughts of Lord Cor are usually filled with anger, there is still a place in my heart for him.”
Tears began streaming down Surayah’s face. “Oh, Ano, I cannot believe this happened.” She stared at her hands and began to rub them against each other as if washing them. “This is all my fault. Everything is my fault.”
He put his arm around her and pulled her to his side. “No, Surayah. No matter what was said and done, Yusef was responsible for his own actions. He could have listened to us and respected your wishes, but he did not.”
“But I killed him... killed.”
“You only did what was necessary.”
Anomen felt her shivering against his side. “Karima, would you find something warm for Surayah to drink? And then I believe your mistress needs to return to bed.”
“Oh, no, I do not wish to sleep the day away. What will Lady Relsia think?” Surayah protested.
“She will think that you have had a terrible shock and need time to recover.”
After he had cajoled Surayah off to the guest bedchamber, he was surprised to find Lady Relsia at his side with a hot drink for him. “I applaud your concern for your wife,” she said with a smile, “but you look barely better than she. I believe you need this.”
After a few minutes sipping his drink, Anomen said, “You are right. I am not easy in my mind. My concerns are less familial than Surayah’s, but they are serious all the same.”
“What worries you?”
“What I know of Calishite society is not pleasant. I am not sure if any of Yusef’s business associates will be moved to take revenge. And then there is the business itself. I did not wish to run my father’s business, and I certainly have no desire to run Saerk’s. We will have to find some way to sell it, with all the difficulties that will entail. There is the house as well. Will Surayah wish to live in it? Stay in our current home? Move somewhere else for safety? There is also the revelation of my sister’s murderers. My mind is a whirl.”
Relsia nodded thoughtfully. “Yes, it will mean many changes, though at least some will be beneficial.”
“I do not understand you. What good can come of this, besides justice for my sister?”
She gave him a surprised stare. “Anomen, it was my understanding that you were living in rather straitened circumstances. You do realize that Surayah will inherit the entire Farrahd fortune?”
Anomen’s mouth fell open. “I... Helm’s mercy, I had not even considered that. I thought of the house and the business as burdens to be dealt with, but it completely escaped me that wealth would accompany them.” His mind worked feverishly. “We will have to do something for the servants. Yusef had a house in Darromar, so we must provide for those servants as well. Lady Relsia, I do not know if this has relieved our situation or complicated it.”
“Money has a way of doing that,” she said with a chuckle.
“Would it be possible to borrow writing instruments and paper? I believe I should begin compiling a list of all the things we should attend to in the near future.”
After a time, Surayah awoke and joined him in his organizing. While they discussed the problems they foresaw, Sir Frochian and Dorrinna arrived home for the evening.
Anomen went to greet them. “Welcome home, Sir Frochian. Your wife has been of great assistance in helping Surayah deal with these terrible events. What news do you have for us?”
“I have learned a number of things I think you will find of interest. First of all, your foresight was prudent. After nightfall a number of armed men approached the Farrahd mansion, obviously intending to ransack it. They saw the Order squires on guard, however, and thought better of their plans. They left without conflict. The same occurred at the caravan warehouses. I am pleased to say that your home was undisturbed. It seems they were only interested in riches rather than revenge.”
“And my sister’s killers?”
Frochian held up his hand. “Anomen, you must understand that we cannot take those men to trial on nothing more than Surayah’s word.”
“I thought you believed her, sir.”
“You know that I do, but a case of murder cannot be decided by one person’s word against another’s. Especially since what she heard was not definite. She never heard her father use your sister’s name, or actually say to kill someone. Please, do not upset yourself,” he said, seeing the rising anger in Anomen’s face. “We are seeking evidence to substantiate what Surayah heard. There is much work to do, and this is only the first day, lad.”
“You are correct, sir. It would be foolish to expect a resolution so quickly.”
“I do, however, have one solid bit of information for you. The two guards did accompany Yusef to Athkatla. Since they would have no way of knowing what Surayah told us, they do not know they are being hunted.”
“That is good news indeed.”
“And to that end, I think it would be wise to keep Yusef’s servants under hire until this is sorted out. We do not want them scattered to the winds. Some could be valuable witnesses.”
“An excellent suggestion, though we will have to determine how much gold we will have on hand. Since Yusef moved his household to Darromar, I do not know what resources are here in Athkatla.”
“Have no fear on that account. A loan between friends can be arranged, I am sure.”
“I hope that will not be necessary.”
“We will see, lad. For now, I believe I smell dinner, and I am famished.”