"Did you know he was going to do that?" asked Anica, looking across the table at Aesa.
"No," said Aesa. "Well... maybe. That's why I used Hold Person on Valinir."
"I thought he'd gone back to... whatever he was doing."
"I don't think so," Aesa told her. "He's lost the companions he had, and the capital is... dangerous, even for him. He got Tavros and the others out, and he's been here ever since. Or nearby, anyway."
They were back in the Temple of Amun, just outside of Caristhium, reunited with their children and Anica's lovers. Tarric and Werendril were sitting beside them, and Rune and Rose were buckled into raised seats that strapped to the wooden benches.
"What happened?" asked Werendril, just as Tarric asked: "Who are we talking about?"
Anica shook her head, frowning slightly. "Aesa and I went out to take care of those bandits in the savage hills," she said, "and we'd just lured them in for a proper battle when the Silver Fox showed up and took them all prisoner."
"You did what?" asked Tarric. "That's why the two of you were gone?"
"We still have our duties," Aesa said firmly.
Tarric shook his head. "I just don't like the idea of you endangering yourselves. Either of you."
"Too bad," said Anica sharply.
Werendril put a hand on Tarric's shoulder. "We can be concerned," he observed, "without trying to tell you that you shouldn't do it."
Anica hesitated, then settled back. "...That's fair."
"I was concerned too," said Vendril, setting a plate down beside Aesa and turning a bland face to the others, who were gaping with astonishment. He turned his attention to Anica. "Still, I'm sorry if I stole your thunder, Paladin of Amun."
Anica closed her mouth, opened it again, then closed it yet again. Finally she said, "Much as it pains me to say it, I think it's better that you were there. The elves all survived, and neither of us got stuck with arrows. That's an outcome to be wished for."
Aesa reached over and clasped Vendril's hand, smiling at him. He smiled back, briefly, then leaned over and kissed her cheek. Werendril and Tarric exchanged a quick glance, then nodded and set to eating while Anica just stared.
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