Backstage View

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Part thirty-one of Misplaced Fire

Nesrin looked out from the shadow of the door while Ceylan and Dinah cleared the way for her to get a run a Patanī. She put herself under a perception block, just incase she was spotted, despite her certainty that she wouldn’t be.

She watched her sisters with a performer’s eye. She could tell Ceylan’s curtsey had been repeated enough times to become automatic, no longer requiring thought, even though Ceylan did it when she felt she was interrupting. She cringed a little at the way Ceylan said, “A thousand pardons, Highness, but your presence is required at Lesslight.” The tone was good, and the emphasis was on all the syllables, but it seemed to be delivered a touch too fast. Maybe the only problem was Nesrin’s own paranoia, because Samira left without further convincing.

Nesrin sensed more sincerity when Dinah delivered the line, “I hope, Uncle, that you will stay and allow the plants to provide you with entertainment  while you wait for mother to return.” The grammar and syntax didn’t quite match the way Dinah usually spoke, but after being away for so long, there was a chance Patanī wouldn’t catch it.

The signs seemed to be good when the living topiaries started their miniature cirque. Patanī had every appearance of an enthused audience member without any concern beside trying to discover how the performers managed to complete their maneuvers so successfully.

Nesrin’s cue had come. She gripped the necklace and stepped out into the open. Even invisible to her target she still stepped cautiously, but deliberately. She was within a few paces of his back. Though she felt like a coward for not attacking her target to his face, Ceylan’s warning about the element of surprise kept her from making herself known and giving him a chance to face her. As she was was raising the stone, she felt a mask slip off her face and the necklace disappear from her hand. She realized in an instant that she was visible. Within a second panic registered and she got it under control, but that was a second too long. Patanī had time to spin around, holding the stone, and press it to the side of her face.

***

Link to next installment: https://anindeterminatenumberofnights.blog/2020/01/31/nesrins-nadir/

Link to previous installments: https://anindeterminatenumberofnights.blog/category/misplaced-fire/

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