Princess Yamika peeked over the sandstone rampart of Castle Ibisi at the darkness gathering beyond the city gate. She squinted at the swirling fog, trying to make out the figures of the deadlings surrounding her mother’s city.
“Step back, stupid,” a haughty voice drawled at her shoulder. “One sure arrow and all of this will be for naught.”
Yamika uttered a curse and turned to find her twin, Yuberki shimmering into a solid form. Her priestly robes fell into place with a crisp rustle.
“Where are your guards?” Yuberki glared at the doorway behind them. “Your ladies in waiting? The Confessor? A chamber attendant?”
“They’re all gone!” Yamika snapped, cutting off her sister before she listed every former resident of the castle. “Mother sent them away for their safety.”
“Where is Her Grace?” Yuberki asked as she pulled Yamika inside.
“Losing all patience waiting for you!” Their mother stood in the in the middle of the hall dressed in full battle regalia. “War is upon us and you swan about as if this had nothing to do with you.”
“Forgive me, my Queen,” Yuberki dipped into a graceful bow. “I have not a warrior’s heart and thus I hesitated to enter the slaughter timely.”
“Not now, Yuberki,” Yamika stepped between the two women before they wasted more time with a bitter argument. “Let’s switch garments then say our farewells so that our reunion will come all the sooner.”
A dark look passed between the priestess and the queen, but neither woman said anything more. Yamika did not need any magic to know that her mother and her twin were resigned to death, but it made her stomach churn to think of never seeing them again.
“I’ll be here when you return,” Yuberki pulled them into an embrace once they’d changed, “in one form or the other.”
“As will I,” the Queen said and pulled away. She donned her helm and gestured to Yamika. “Let’s go.”
“Don’t put rain blooms in my offerings,” Yuberki called after them, “Or I’ll be worse than the deadlings when I come back.”