Sienne was a little irked that she hadn’t been able to fight the dragons and Giorn had. That Shayma had! Her daughter had been a Classer less than six months and she was already catching up to Sienne, if not surpassing her. In level, though not actual experience. She had even somehow gotten her third tier already, which was just ridiculous.
Unfortunately, for all that she would have loved to be part of that battle she was well aware her talents didn’t tend toward the nonlethal. At the very least she would have had to sever a limb or two if she wanted to get the attention of something that size, and nobody was very amenable after such an experience. Though they probably would listen to The Silver Woe.
It was still hard for her to believe that Shayma was on speaking terms – on a first name basis – with the greatest and most terrible Power the world had ever seen. Sienne could feel The Silver Woe’s presence even from the beach house Shayma had invited them to, despite the tower of her lair being only a smudge in the far distance. Shayma herself didn’t seem to notice but to both her and her husband it was like feeling a storm sweeping in from the horizon.
Still she was determined not to let that ruin some precious vacation time. Tarnil’s beaches were less than amazing, certainly nothing like the excellent expanse of sand that stretched in front of the sprawling bungalow of a building. It wasn’t something she’d been able to see since she left House Anell, to the point where she’d actually had to go commission a swimsuit at Wildwood simply because she didn’t have one.
Giorn seemed to sense her woolgathering and provided a distraction by wrapping his arms around her, tucking her against his naked skin. She looked up at him, and the sight of that wet and muscled chest made her want to take advantage of him right that moment. He noticed the look in her eye and laughed, lowering his head to give her a kiss.
“At least wait until we’re back inside,” he teased her. “We don’t want to embarrass our daughter too badly.”
“You’re no fun,” she accused him, glancing around to see Shayma off swimming with her friends. They probably were too close to get away with anything more than groping. So she groped, and got a deep chuckle from Giorn that rumbled through her and made her want to drag him off to the house. “I’m pretty sure they’ve already noticed we’ve taken more than our fair share of trips inside.”
“You’ve barely done any swimming at all, thanks to that.” Giorn said. “You can’t bask in the sun the entire time we’re here.”
“I can too,” she said, sticking her tongue out at him.
“Not that I don’t mind looking, but I don’t want to hear you complaining about it later on,” Giorn said, his low voice making her ears twitch.
“I won’t— hey!” She squeaked as he picked her up, then hurled her bodily out over the water. She tucked her body and rolled, then hit the surface a hundred yards out in a nearly perfect dive. It had been ages since she had needed that skill but apparently her body remembered. The water was just the right temperature and almost perfectly clear, so much so that she could see the plants growing fifty feet or more below the surface.
She resurfaced and spat water, giving Giorn a mock-glare, which only got a laugh from him. He was right, she really would have regretted missing a real swim, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t tease him back. Unfortunately the big lug was so big she couldn’t properly dunk him, so she’d have to use trickery. Which he’d probably go along with anyway. There was a reason they got along so well.
Sienne took a deep breath and then dove downward, all the way to the rocky bottom of the inland sea Blue had made. Glowing flowers and some outcrops of sparkling gems made her adventurer instincts twitch, but she couldn’t ransack any of Blue’s materials. Unfortunately. Even if he was kind-of-sort-of her son-in-law, which itself was one of the most insane things she could think of saying, he was still a Power and it wouldn’t do to steal from him.
She pushed off the bottom and resurfaced to find Giorn floating on his back nearby. Obviously, she took the opportunity to splash him and make him splutter before diving down again. It was really too bad that Blue didn’t have anything in the way of fish, though to be fair monstrous fish would make playing around in the water far less carefree.
After the past few years, they really needed carefree. Even after finally making it back to Tarnil and finding that her daughter was whole and unharmed – though betrothed to a Power and wasn’t that a shock – the past few months had been tense and busy. Finally, though, finally, things seemed to be stabilizing.
There were still problems on the horizon, there always were. Sienne knew that leaving house Anell and hiding out on Orn would have consequences eventually, but completely locking Orn out of Anell’s trade was beyond what she’d ever imagined. Fortunately, that was more Blue’s problem than anyone else’s, and if anyone could go up against the giant trade cartel it’d be a Power. In fact, after seeing his [Starlance], she was sure he could take care of them himself.
She wasn’t much of one to rely on someone else’s protection, other than Giorn’s of course, but she had to admit it was rather nice having something like Blue in her corner when House Anell had been the enemy lurking in the background her whole life. Part of her itched to go after them herself, but that was just the void Affinity talking. Sienne would have to satisfy herself by taking advantage of Giorn for a couple hours — or maybe three or four. He looked good after a swim. Sienne popped out of the water again and clambered onto Giorn’s broad chest, making him grin up at her.
“Hello again, darling,” he said, which never failed to make her smile.
“Hello,” she replied, grinning down at him. Then her smile faded a little as she considered him. “Do you ever miss your family, honey?”
“I have all the family I need right here,” he replied promptly, and she snorted and thumped him, though not very hard.
“You know what I mean,” she told him.
“I know, I know. But, auntie Biyu came by every couple years before everything here in Tarnil fell over and caught fire. It’s not like I’m cut off the way you are.” He reached up and ruffled her ears, which made her flush and grab his hand before he riled her up too much.
“I’m just thinking of Shayma,” she confessed. “She doesn’t have void Affinity, thank the gods, but she’s got aunts and uncles and probably cousins by now who do. What do I tell her about them? If Blue sends her out against Anell, she might have to fight her own family.”
“They already sent out one of the Ell family to kill Queen Iniri,” Giorn pointed out. “It’s not like she doesn’t know that.”
“Even so.” Sienne sighed and stretched out on top of Giorn as if he were a raft, floating on the gentle waves. She nestled her head up under his chin and tapped her fingers against his skin thoughtfully. “If Blue is going to be destroying House Anell’s power anyway, maybe we can convince him to cut the Ell branch loose?”
“Most of your relatives are addicted to things that are best left unspoken,” Giorn said softly. “You’re right, they should be freed, and they’re mostly just victims of House Anell, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous.”
Sienne nodded, though Giorn wasn’t saying anything she didn’t already know. If anything, she was lucky she hadn’t been hooked by the same drugs or diversions that many void users found themselves gravitating to. Of course, some people found her constant affections toward Giorn rather tedious, but they didn’t understand the way void magic burnt out any sort of satiation, even when it was rarely used.
“I suppose it just feels very strange to try and ask such a large favor from our daughter. What happened to the little girl who’d come to me to lift her up so she could reach the shelves?”
“She grew up,” Giorn rumbled. “I’m just as amazed as you are. I thought she was going to be tiny forever.”
“Everyone’s tiny compared to you,” Sienne said with a grin, poking Giorn again.
“And yet she never asked me to lift her up so she could get to the shelves.”
“Of course not. That would be too easy.” She chuckled and Giorn craned his neck so he could look down at her properly.
“That seems like only yesterday, and yet now she’s sort of married to a massive dungeon Power.” He frowned slightly. “Speaking of which, when do you think Blue is going to make an honest woman out of Shayma?”
“If she’s anything like me,” Sienne said, kissing her way up his neck, “he does that every night.”