“Everything will be for you.”
That didn’t make sense. It wouldn’t make sense until later. He wanted to be able to tell her that Shachaf was coming. She would be dead soon, if he didn’t show up she would still think he was coming. But not even Zamir had it in him to lie good naturedly to the dying.
“Unlike that no good brother of yours.”
Shachaf loved Parvena. Zamir had never understood it. Especially as he was not here. But his good natured attempt dwindled when he heard her say those words. “He is coming, gramma. He’ll be here soon. For you.”
No matter what Zamir wanted, it didn’t mean anything to her.
He could see her slipping away. “Mother!”
Shachaf still wasn’t there. He wasn’t there as she died.
Then his family changed.
“Of course… my dearest Zamir.”
Parvena liked him. For what reason, Zamir didn’t know. He had never done anything to try to gain her affections more than anyone else in the family. The whole fact she made him uncomfortable was part of that reason. He was simply a good son, a good grandson. He hadn’t put more effort into it than that.
“I am here, gramma.”
“I know. You would be here.”
He sat down next to her bed. She reached out for his hand and he managed not to balk in reaching out to her, letting her do so. “As our one God would wish it.” As he was supposed to say. As was true. Something about it still didn’t feel right.
“Everything will be for you.”
When grandmother Parvena died, Shachaf hadn’t been there.
Zamir tried not to grind his teeth or pick at his sleeves. Parvena wasn’t asleep, not yet. She breathed slowly. But both age and her recent illness had taken its toll. Everyone knew it would be today or tomorrow. Any moment now. That is why the family was here. That was why what remained of Parvena’s closest friends were here. He felt as though any one of them might go too. A couple were older than his grandmother.
Then he chastised himself for the thought. He was upset because mother was upset. Because Shachaf was not here.
“She wishes to speak to you,” mother said, voice tight.
Zamir didn’t want to talk with his grandmother. She made him uncomfortable in life and near death didn’t help. But it was her final moments and he would not begrudge her whatever she wished now.
Zamir went to speak with her.
Toiréasa was made of fire.
That was what her father had always said. It was what kept her going in the increasing chill of what should have been summer. What kept her going when the food came scarce. What kept her going when she was face to face with a beast, the likes of which she had never seen before.
It was a hound of some sort. A wolf, maybe. Too large for either of those, Toiréasa reckoned. Red fur, except for the black of its back, made it obvious against the backdrop of snow. Enormous teeth that fit into a similarly enormous mouth. Another odd beast, like the many others which now had accompanied the strange weather shifts.
The beast would eat her. Toiréasa wouldn’t make it easy. She screamed, a throat-tearing sound as she readied her practice blade. The canine’s wide chest looked ready to deflect any strike, but Toiréasa didn’t care. She was ready to strike with what limited abilities she had.
With a few bounds, it was upon her. Toiréasa yelled again and put her sword out, though she had already fallen on her back in the white cold, those teeth snarling above her. She brought a foot up and kicked the creature in the stomach. The beast didn’t budge, merely roaring in Toiréasa’s face.
Toiréasa roared back.