Spears (pt16)

“I wish I had that way with words.”

“That’s not what you want, Azz.” Reem draped an arm around Azzah’s shoulders. “What you envy is not my words. You envy my ability to stay calm enough to think of them. You have those words as well, but when faced with Hasani’s…” She lifted her bowl.
With a frown, Azzah looked down at her bowl.

“You might not have spilled a drop, but you came close. His words were worthy of a fight, not of losing your calm.”

Reem’s words rang true, despite how Azzah felt like it was impossible. Reem had managed, somehow. “If I were calm, then how would it still be worth of a fight? Shouldn’t we be angry to hear such insults?”

“Anger isn’t always vicious. You need to learn how to handle this. Hasani was drunk.”

“You keep reminding me.” Azzah leaned into her. “I know.”

“And we like Hasani. For the most part. Outside this.”

Azzah sighed. “Yes. He isn’t bad.”

“What if someone you didn’t like or that you didn’t know aggravated you? How will you keep a cool head there?” Reem pressed her forehead against Azzah’s. “We need your head where it is. You are my back, you know.”

“You are mine,” Azzah replied. “I’m not worried. I did stay calm. Because you were.”

“No. You held your ground because I did, not because you were calm.”

“With you at my side, I can be as calm as I need. Until we need to act.”

Reem cocked her head to the side, but smiled.

Spears (pt15)

Reem placed her spear at her back, reaching out toward Hasani. Despite his shame, he didn’t hesitate in taking her hand to get back to his feet. Reem held his hand tight to make sure he didn’t waver. Once he was stable, she patted him on the back. “Get some sleep, Hasani. Waseme shouldn’t give you so many bowls in one night.”

He nodded and walked away without a word, the only speechless man in Hirka.

Azzah and Reem sat back down. Azzah picked up her bowl, watching the liquid move from side to side. Less erratic than before, yet she couldn’t help but note that Reem’s looked as still as the water of an undisturbed pond.

Reem noticed Azzah’s attention, but didn’t seem to recognize the reason. “Here you go.” She reached over and poured some of hers into Azzah’s bowl until their bowls were equal.

“You have such a way with words, Reem.” Azzah rested the curve of her bowl against her upper lip. “You entranced everyone with what you said.”

“It had less to do with my words.” Reem leaned back against the wall of Waseme’s hut, shrugging until her spear dropped into a more comfortable position. She stared up above the roofs of the homes in front of them.

The stars became brighter and brighter now that the horizon almost obscured the sun. Azzah stared straight up at the cluster of stars which made up the archer, trying to decide whether the arrow would strike (and not for the first time). It looked as though it would aim straight for the boar, but Azzah knew the arrow wouldn’t fly straight for that far, not even in images made from the night sky. It would curve.

“Everyone feels the same way, so of course they like to hear what they already think out loud. Hasani was drunk. That’s the only reason any of that came out. You would be hard pressed to find someone here who wouldn’t side with our Lel’ul. You would have to threaten them for it.”

“I suppose.” Azzah considered that, much as she considered the angle an arrow take.

Keeping the peace (inner)

“What did you think?”

Dear lord he sounded conceited, but they had to keep him around for the rest of the event. They smiled, all politeness. “It was wonderful. Thank you again for agreeing to speak here.”

“Well, one couldn’t turn down a request from you… could they?”

They heard the hesitation there. Which aspect was it about? Who knew. They couldn’t think about it now, they had to be polite. “In any case, I’m glad you could accept.”

He took their arm. They resisted the impulse to yank away. “Would you accompany me to dinner?”

“I couldn’t say no.”

Today would continue to go well. They could deal with this.