Episode 6: The Search for Innocence
Noshee was getting used to the strong herbs in the linen wrap around his chest. Waves of nausea had stopped. He tightened the laces of his black silk pants. He shifted his vest around until it felt right, buttoned the sides and laced up the front. Noshee looked around for his broadswords but couldn’t find them.
He forgot them at the forest floor when he chased after Graywolf. Those were a gift from his warrior wife. She won’t be happy.
Out on the landing of the ten-story infirmary, Noshee gazed out into the vast canopy of Nashoba Forest where the province of Genai resided. He was still angry with Haiwee for what she’d done, but couldn’t shake the memory of her soft cheek and downy wings.
No. He can’t go to her. Decided against it.
Noshee arched his back, shuffled his wings, found little pain. He flapped his wings without lifting off to see if his chest could bear the weight. He thought he’d felt a patch of warmth on his chest, looked down, but saw no blood. Good.
Leaping off the landing, Noshee took flight.
He flew to the Eldens’ Hall but none could give aid. They were to preside over the charge and aiding would present a conflict of interest. He meandered to the surrounding trade shops that propped on the large branches of the canopy. Merchants trumpeted their goods—silks, dried bugs, fruits and fish, iron works, clothes, gleaming wooden flutes. Noshee recognized one of the Legionnaires. He asked if she could be his guide.
“Get away!” she spat. “Accuse my swarm of attacking, then ask for my help?” She left before Noshee could explain. What were the chances? He avoided other warriors who may’ve been in her swarm of a thousand warriors. As far as Noshee could recall, Warlord Rorkai commanded twenty-six swarms, the total Legion.
“Noshee? Is that you?”
Crow. Slowly, he turned around, wings crumpled in a little. A light honey scent caressed his nostrils. Memories of their nights together barged into his mind. Her honey colored hair shaded part of her slim face. Her almond brown eyes seemed to bore through him. A deep burn in his stomach made Noshee stiffen his legs.
“How dare you?” she said, walking up a rope bridge used when the Core hailed with Hartons.
“How dare you. Not tell me you’re visiting my home province.”
“After what you did,” Noshee started.
“After what we did,” she corrected.
“My wife almost had me killed.”
“It’s her right.”
Without warning, Haiwee wrapped her downy wings around Noshee and squeezed. Honey scent and warmth of her wings aroused him.
“You’re the talk of the Core. Surviving a suspicious attack of the notorious Graywolf. Then accusing Genaian warriors of attacking you.”
Noshee pushed her away. “If my wife finds out we’ve talked.”
“Now, you knew I worked for Elden Dena. Is that why you’re here?” She winked.
“No. I need help getting around Genai. And no. Not from you. I promised not to look for you.”
She placed her hands on her hips. “What do you think I want?”
“Um...” Noshee scratched his temple with his claws.
“You didn’t look for me, so no promise was broken. I know of the charge against you. I want to help. It’s the least I can do to make up for what we’ve—I’ve done.”
Accidental death was an everyday occurrence. It’d be easy for any of the twenty-six thousand upset warriors to end Noshee. Noshee was sure his wife would understand, being this was life and death.
He sighed. He explained what had happened, Graywolf’s attack on the researchers, the kidnapping of the cub, the attack of soldiers in Genai’s color.
“We should go back down—”
“No,” Noshee cut in. Shivers streaked up his back out to his wings.
“Then where?” Haiwee said.
“I need to look at the research done on Graywolf and his pack.”
“Impossible. They won’t let you enter the catacombs.”
“I need to see what they have.”
“We’ll sneak in at night.”
“Sneak in? With the dead?”
Choose your poison: Genai's research is stored in the catacombs. Should Noshee sneak in where it's rumored to be haunted at night?
100% of the readers chose Yes.