Home > The Rebels of Gold (Loom Saga #3)(6)

The Rebels of Gold (Loom Saga #3)(6)
Author: Elise Kova


   And that rebellion hinged on one person—a Chimera who smelled of honeysuckle and tasted of dreams. There were competing motivations in him. The first was admonishment that he had ever let Arianna return to Loom. He had let go the singular person who could provide Xin an army that could stand against the might of Rok.

   But had he not released her, she would’ve never fought for—alongside—them. The other voice in his mind reassured him of the fact, just as it reassured him that for all her pain and anger, and for all that she put a world between them, her heart still spared a beat for him.

   Cvareh swallowed the debate and ignored the aftertaste, focusing on his flight path. The Xin Manor was beginning to peek around the mountains ahead. Before he could even contemplate Arianna’s mind and motives and if she would ultimately support House Xin, he had to think first about how to stave off Petra’s ire for letting their inventor return to Loom unhindered.

   At least, Cvareh hoped she had returned to Loom unhindered. He’d seen a glider rise from the Rok Manor on his way back to his boco. Then a second, not long after. But anything else . . . that was in the hands of the Lord of Luck Cvareh had been born under.

   The shroud of silence hung heavy even at the Xin Manor. It was early yet, and no servants arrived at his usual landing balcony to attend to Saran.

   “You know your way to the stables, right?” Cvareh patted the beast’s feathery neck before dismounting.

   It cooed softly, tilting its head in reply.

   “If you want to stay here, you’re welcome to,” Cvareh added. Cvareh had always known that Raku, Petra’s trusty mount, was the smartest of their birds.

   His chambers had been tidied. He’d left them a sopping mess, only returning to ransack his clothes to find acceptable garb for his excursion. Those articles now smelled of Rok, and Cvareh was prompt to strip them off and cast them over the balcony rail. He paused, watching the trousers and arm adornments be swallowed up by the God’s Line, and hoped they didn’t fall on some poor unsuspecting Fenthri’s head. Knowing his luck, they would, and that Fenthri would be Arianna.

   With a sigh, Cvareh went inside. He had only begun to receive his latest tailor orders. No clothing seemed quite appropriate for the situation. So he donned a loose fitting robe, a sort of belled sleeve and wide-sashed ensemble that put the masculine lines of his chest and abdomen on display in a way he was rather fond of. It was most certainly a color from last season, but it brought out the dark umber notes of his blood-orange hair in a way he’d always liked.

   He only had to look presentable enough for Petra.

   His door clicked closed quietly behind him, and Cvareh descended the window-lined hall that would lead across the manor to Petra’s chambers. Footsteps drew his attention; Cvareh’s eyes locked with another set of golden irises.

   Cain—his childhood friend, his confidant, aspiring mate to his sister—looked at Cvareh with an unfamiliar expression. Cain opened his mouth to speak, then promptly closed it before opening it again.

   “What will we do?”

   Cvareh couldn’t help but grimace. No doubt, Petra had correctly anticipated or deciphered his actions of letting Ari go. “Arianna will continue to support us,” he assured. “Even on Loom, she’s returning to reunite with the rebellion and—”

   Cvareh lost the final word. Cain crossed to him in a tempest. He grabbed Cvareh’s robe by the lining of the collar, the man’s claws punching holes through the silken fabric.

   “Cain—”

   “You think I care about your Fen pet right now?” he growled. Cvareh was instantly reminded of one of their last fateful encounters in the stables at the Crimson Court. He’d hoped the tension of that meeting had been washed away by the events of the past day.

   “You’d do well not to refer to her in that way.”

   “Petra is dead and all you can think about is Loom?”

   Cvareh froze. He didn’t care for the ribbons that Cain was slowly cutting into his fine clothing. He didn’t even pay attention to the full depth of rage and pain in the other man’s eyes.

   Petra is dead. These three words echoed so loudly in Cvareh’s mind that he went deaf. He saw Cain’s mouth moving but no sound accompanied it.

   Petra is dead. Petra is dead. Petra is dead.

   “What?” Cvareh blundered his way back into Cain’s speech. “What about Petra?”

   “You . . . you don’t know.” Cain’s grip relaxed. His golden eyes changed from a fiery hue, alight with magic, to a smoldering ache. They glistened in a way Cvareh had never seen before. “She was with you, Cvareh. Your Oji was with you. How do you not know?”

   Before Cvareh had a chance to explain his and Petra’s plan—how they had split up for effectiveness—and before he had time to ask again what Cain meant, he was interrupted again.

   “Cain’Da, Cvareh’Ryu.” There was a note of genuine surprise on the quiet words of a servant who had appeared in the hall below them. “Your presence is requested back in the main hall.”

   Throne room. It had been the throne room before. Cvareh wanted to correct the boy. He wanted to be like Petra and inspire fear over something as simple as the use of a proper name. But he couldn’t speak.

   If he opened his mouth, he would scream. Or vomit. Or beg for answers. Or some combination thereof.

   There must be some mistake, his mind protested as they descended through the fresh opulence of the Xin Manor. It stood in contrast to the Rok Estate’s antiquity, a fact underscored even more by having just sneaked through the latter’s halls. But Cvareh saw none of it. His mind barely registered that his robe was reduced to tatters. He moved on instinct and somehow found himself at his sister’s most beloved room.

   The stained-glass floor was illuminated with the first light of dawn. It splashed colors on the ceiling and walls of the long hall in happy contrast to the heavy melancholy that dominated the air. Most of the staff and servants were lined in rows, looking toward the raised platform where Petra’s meticulously fashioned throne stood.

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