“The bond between you was special,” Ghayle said, pulling away to let Prism recover for a moment. “I think your relationship was one of the purest I’ve ever seen, across all the time I’ve guided this world. I wonder if Khalis ever considered the two of you for the Purity of Connection.”
“That’s a frightening thought,” Prism said, shuddering more from the thought of injury to Grim than his own potential peril. As thoughts of his own death crossed his mind, however, he added, “A poetic death, though, I suppose.”
“Not all the purities died,” Ghayle said. “Neredos wasn’t killed for his act of pure Movement. Marhys died of her wounds, but only because she refused to be healed. Janlynd’s blood was harvested after her death, as were the brains of the twins. Well, one of them was, anyway . . .”
“But Khalis would’ve killed Marhys,” Prism said. “He showed no concern for her. He was a demon.”
“It was not his duty to show concern for her,” Ghayle said. “His duty was to fulfill the ritual to begin the Trial.”
Prism’s eyes narrowed. “Your trial was a massacre.”
“Trials are necessary for development and education,” Ghayle said. “Whether a trial of the body or a trial of the mind, they teach us things about ourselves we’ve forgotten. Was it not true of you?”
The ride to the temple was bumpy as ever, but Prism didn’t mind it one bit. With Grim by his side, no obstacle seemed insurmountable, and a simple bump in the road was as insignificant as a gnat buzzing around his head. It might be annoying for a moment, but it would not affect him in the long run.
The last month had flown by. Grim and Prism trained every day, and Prism at least hadn’t felt the slightest temptation. Despite his profound attraction to the Fedain, he could maintain complete control now, believing firmly in the connection between them. One day he would be able to show his love in other ways.
But he remained anxious about the day ahead. His first quarterly evaluation awaited him at the top of the hill, the one thing which could pull him away from Grim. This, too, made the bumps in the road insignificant.
Though at least he had something to distract him, and he stared at the vehicle ahead of them, which Lady Veil occupied on her own mission to the Temple. “Why is your sister coming with us?” Prism asked at last, glancing at Grim for a moment. “Isn’t this just for my evaluation?”
“That’s why you and I are here. It seems she has a personal request for the Order,” Grim replied, shrugging. “I have a guess as to what it is, but she didn’t tell me, and I neglected to ask. I don’t think she planned on coming here the same day we were, but it just worked out that way.”
“Why do you think she’s here, then?” Prism asked.
Grim reasoned through the question before responding. “She’s paid a few visits to the hospital recently, the one near the Council Chambers in Kobinaru. I’d bet the vaccine has met with promising results recently, and they want to test it.”
“They want to test drugs on monks? That seems like something they wouldn’t really support,” Prism said. “Usually they are very careful about what they put in their bodies.”
“Oh, on the contrary, the Order has been involved with this vaccine for a long time. Master Janlynd was paramount in developing the vaccine in the first place,” Grim explained. Prism noted the sadness on Grim’s features and placed his hand next to Grim’s. Grim smiled, basking in the proximity.
“She was a powerful woman,” Prism observed with a fond smile.
“That she was,” Grim replied. He changed the subject to the one Prism avoided. “Are you nervous about this evaluation?”
“Should I be? Are you going to testify against me?” Prism asked, denying the anxiety with humor.
“Of course,” Grim said. “We all know how good you are at keeping your oaths.” He laughed and moved his hand closer to Prism’s, leaving barely any air between them at all. Static electricity generated by the movement arced out at Prism, shocking them both.
“Indeed,” Prism said, nursing his hand from the shock, with a surprised glance. They shared a look and wore matching smiles as Prism addressed the seriousness of the situation. “Hopefully I can answer all their questions.”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Grim said. “Despite the odds, your integrity should never be in question. I’m sure they’ll see where you belong.”
“And where is that?” Prism asked, his eyes dancing with delight.
Grim grinned wide and replied, “Obviously you belong in a palace, thief from the country that you are.”
The vehicle carrying Veil reached the gates, and they creaked open to allow her entry. “The gates are opening,” Prism said. “I guess we’re about to find out if you’re right.”
“I will be. I have a good feeling about today,” Grim said as their vehicle followed Veil’s inside.
Before they came to a complete stop, and were allowed to exit the vehicle, Veil had already left her vehicle and headed inside the Temple, escorted by several monks. Only one person who stopped to meet Prism and Grim had a familiar face—Master Vinh.
“Master Prism, welcome back,” Master Vinh said, bowing to his former student.
Prism bowed a little lower than his master and said, “Master Vinh, I didn’t expect you to greet me.”
As Prism straightened, Master Vinh’s gaze took in all of Prism, sweeping up and down, then glanced over at Grim. “Why wouldn’t I? You may be a Junior Master now, but you are still my pupil until the end of your sentence, or the end of mine.”
“I wasn’t aware you were serving a sentence, Master Vinh,” Grim said with surprise.
“He means his death, Lord Grimfaeth,” Prism said formally. Self-conscious now, standing before his mentor instilled the need to be less casual. Grim regarded him curiously, but still Prism continued in his more professional tone, “It’s a joke among the monks. Every monk is a pardon with a lifetime sentence.”
“Ah, I see,” Grim said, his eyes showing amusement and confusion.
“I also came on official business, Master Prism,” Master Vinh said, “Lady Veillynn has asked to speak to the masters. The senior masters have decided to hear her first, before they meet with you, so you will need to wait until they are ready.”
“Of course, Master Vinh,” Prism said, bowing again in acceptance. “Will you be attending us during that time?”
“No, I have another student’s education to see to,” Master Vinh said dryly. He noted Prism’s surprise and explained, “While I do not normally take students, the influx of initiates has made it impossible for me to avoid those duties.” He sighed in exasperation, but his usual knowing smile spread across his face once more. “But it is good to see you, Master Prism. You seem to be doing well.”
“The honor is mine, Master Vinh,” Prism replied.
Master Vinh glanced between Prism and Grim again and said appraisingly, “Yes. I can see that. If you’ll excuse me.”
Master Vinh left, and Prism gestured toward the western grounds before stepping in that direction. Grim followed until they reached a shady spot beneath a large maple tree and sat together.
“What was that, with Master Vinh?” Grim asked.
“I assume he wanted to check on me. He’s a very perceptive man, and I’ll bet he wanted to see if he could detect any deceit in me,” Prism said. “Hopefully he did not.”
“I meant the ‘Lord Grimfaeth’ nonsense,” Grim said with an amused grin. “I’m sure he didn’t detect anything at all, with the way you acted like we were master and servant!”
Prism turned a horror-stricken face to Grim. “I just wanted to make sure I maintained the proper protocol. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“Has being in the palace made you into some stuffy court clerk or something?” Grim asked, laughing. This only confused Prism more, but Grim was quick to explain, “You’re not a servant, you’re my friend, and officially you’re a personal attendant. Sharis calls me Lord Grim, and he’s a prim and proper sort. You shouldn’t even call me Lord, but I guess if you want to in public that’s okay.”
“I don’t want them to think anything,” Prism said.
Grim’s bright eyes showed Prism the futility of hiding from his emotions. “You’re overcompensating,” Grim said, “and it’s adorable.”
“I suppose I am,” Prism said, avoiding Grim’s gaze. “Sorry, Grim.”
“Oh, now you have to call me Grimfaeth. I actually kind of like it when you say it,” Grim replied.
“Okay, Grimfaeth,” Prism said.
Grim shook his head and said, “Never mind, it sounds too much like my dad. Let’s go back to Grim.”
“As fickle as ever, huh?”
“Shut up,” Grim said, sticking his tongue out. “Bastard.”
“Speaking of bastards, we should see where Kaeral is. I’d like for you to officially meet him,” Prism said, fluidly rising to his feet.
Grim joined him just as gracefully and nodded, showing his excitement with a wide grin. “Sounds great, lead the way.”
They walked into the Temple, down the hall to the room Kaeral had used since he and Prism first arrived. Prism opened the door without announcing his presence or waiting for an invitation, as such rules of privacy had never existed between him and his friend before.
He found two initiates in the room, one with fair skin and freckles shaving fresh, red stubble from his scalp, and the other with skin even darker than Prism’s, caught in a state of undress. Two bedrolls occupied the space now, and a third was rolled up in the corner. Extra bedrolls were not normally left in initiate’s rooms; they expected another occupant soon.
“Excuse me, where is Kaeral Elrhanadan?” Prism asked as the initiates regarded him with suspicion. Neither were familiar to Prism, though that meant little considering the three months he’d spent away from the Temple.
“I’m sorry, who?” the undressed one asked as he reached for his robe.
“The Gor initiate. These were his rooms,” Prism said.
“I’ve had these rooms for a few weeks now, but I’m told the previous resident ran away and didn’t return,” the shaving initiate replied.
“Oh . . . thank you. I’m sorry for disturbing you,” Prism said, closing the door and turning to Grim, who had watched in awkward silence as the scene unfolded.
They returned to their shady spot beneath the tree, neither wanting to converse until they had privacy.
Grim spoke as soon as they reached the shadows. “Your friend is gone?”
“Yes . . .” Prism said, glancing farther down the yard in the direction of a small crack beneath the wall. It wasn’t large enough for even a child to fit through, but Kaeral had used it time and time again through his spirit tattoos. He’d use the same opening to return every night, but something had kept him from coming back a few weeks ago. Prism hoped his friend was safe, and not dead in an alley somewhere. “I guess he’s probably taking care of his son now. He probably planned his escape for after making it to probation.”
“It’s a shame I couldn’t meet him,” Grim said. “He seems important to you.”
Prism nodded, unable to keep his unease from showing. “He is. Was, I guess. I wonder if I’ll ever see him again now?”
Before Grim could respond, an initiate came running to them. Prism sized up the slender young man in an instant. He was a troublemaker, and had received extra duties attending to the Masters as punishment for breaking a rule.
The boy’s blue eyes sparked with defiance, even as he bowed and breathlessly addressed Prism, “Master Prism, Lord Grimfaeth, thank you for waiting. The Masters will see you now.”
“Thank you,” Prism replied. “Will you be taking us there, or should we go on our own?”
“What do I care?” the boy replied. His eyes widened, aware of his disrespect.
But Prism could only smile. He saw so much of himself in the boy’s eyes. “Thank you, we’ll go on our own. Who is your mentor?”
“Master Vinh,” the boy replied. “Please, don’t tell him what I just said! He rides me hard enough as it is.”
Prism bowed and replied, “You’ll learn to see things differently.”
Grim took a step toward the Temple, beckoning Prism forward. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?”
Prism smiled and took the lead. As anxious as he was, he’d already come a long way, and this was nothing more than another bump in the road.
Though only five masters faced Prism and Grim directly, seven occupied the meeting hall. Grandmaster Valkean knelt to the side. Despite his position as head of the Order, he could not sit on the evaluation council for Prism, having recommended him for the assignment.
Master Vinh knelt on the opposite side of the room, facing Valkean. A low writing desk sat before him, paper, inkwell, and fountain pen sitting on its surface.
Prism tried to avoid looking at either Master Vinh or Valkean, instead staring straight ahead at the council. Grim knelt a foot away, facing the council at their request.
Master Jovun began the hearing by reading from a page in front of him. “This is an evaluation hearing for Junior Master Prism, surname unknown. He is being evaluated regarding his position as representative of the Order of the Mountain at the personal court of Duke Selfaeth of Tehir, and as training partner and attendant to Lord Grimfaeth of Tehir, who is representing himself today in these proceedings. Grandmaster Valkean will preside over this hearing, and I, Jovun Belgard will conduct this hearing. Master Vinhkroludar as mentor to Junior Master Prism will stand as witness if the need arises and will fulfill the duties of scribe.”
“So witnessed,” the other four masters on the council said. Master Vinh and Grandmaster Valkean remained silent.
“Master Prism, thank you for arriving promptly. We apologize for the delay in these proceedings, as other official business kept us from keeping our original timetable,” Master Jovun said, lowering the page and smiling politely at Prism. “Be that as it may, we are here to evaluate your performance and status, and would like to hear from you first.”
Prism inclined his head and said, “I will answer any question presented to me to the best of my ability, Master Jovun.”
Master Jovun accepted Prism’s declaration with a nod and asked, “Have you maintained your commitment to the first oath? Have you upheld the sanctity of the Mountain in all your dealings?”
“I have done so to the best of my ability, Master Jovun,” Prism replied.
One Master grunted, another snorted, and Master Jovun clarified, “Could you explain what that means to me, Master Prism?”
Prism’s pulse quickened. This would not be as simple and straightforward as he’d expected it to be. While trying to determine what the Masters wanted, he gave the most thorough answer he could manage. “I have presented myself as a monk of the Order and acted according to the oaths I have sworn at all times, ensuring that I serve as an example of the Order’s training, discipline, and spiritual purity.”
Master Jovun nodded, turned to Grim, and asked, “Lord Grimfaeth, as a former student of the Temple and current employer of Master Prism, how do you feel he has performed in accordance with this oath?”
Grim surprised Prism by being far more prepared, or at least better equipped to think on his feet. “I have never had reason to question Prism’s commitment to the Order. He maintains integrity and moral purity at all times. Despite living in the palace, he lives an austere life, only taking what he needs to survive.”
Master Jovun smiled and returned his attention to Prism, apparently satisfied with the answer. “Master Prism, have you maintained your commitment to the second oath? Have you protected the innocent, the helpless, and resorted to violence only to the magnitude necessary?”
“The only violence I have committed has been in the spirit of training with Lord Grim,” Prism replied. Despite his struggle understanding the first oath, he had internalized this one long ago. “I have had little opportunity to defend the innocent or the helpless, but I have remained vigilant for any occurrences in which it may be necessary.”
“Lord Grimfaeth? How do you feel Prism has fulfilled his commitment to the second oath?” Master Jovun asked.
Grim smiled and replied, “I have nothing to add to Prism’s statement. He is a nonviolent person by nature, worthy of serving in a Fedain house, and his service to the second oath has been exemplary.”
Prism fought to keep from smiling at Grim’s glowing praise, but Master Jovun’s next question brought him crashing back to reality. “Master Prism, have you maintained your commitment to the third oath? Have you stood as an example to the community, a pillar of strength, and a steadfast obstacle in the path of impurity?”
“I . . .” Prism began and glanced at Master Vinh, sensing his mentor’s critical eye. “I’m afraid I do not know if I have fulfilled this oath. Despite my service to the Duke and his son, I have spent little time in the public eye, and have not had much opportunity to be an example. The only impurity I have found to combat has been my own, as a flawed human who has as many doubts as any other.”
“Honest answers are appreciated here, Master Prism, but you have been part of a community, even if only a community of two,” Master Jovun replied, and Prism sighed in relief as the master continued. “You have interacted regularly with Lord Grimfaeth, and so, we will turn the question to him.”
“Master Prism has never wavered in this, Master Jovun,” Grim replied. “When I have needed counsel, Master Prism listened and responded with wisdom at all times. At the risk of being anecdotal, there was a time when I was unsettled, because of my father’s leaving several months ago. Prism suggested I train my body to take my mind off the uncontrollable future, and he has proven multiple times that the pursuit of physical and mental purity can serve as a guard against unwanted thoughts.”
“Thank you for your candor, Lord Grimfaeth,” Master Jovun replied, bowing. Murmurs of assent traveled through the other Masters, and Prism uttered a silent prayer of thanks to the cosmos on behalf of his lover.
Master Jovun asked, “Master Prism, have you maintained your commitment to the fourth oath? Have you maintained physical purity, forgone the carnal pleasures of the flesh, and avoided contact with all beings except in accordance with your service to the Mountain?”
“I have, Master Jovun,” Prism replied, as confident in this oath as ever. “The only times I have willfully touched another have been during training sessions with Lord Grim, and only in accordance with training. I have forgone all carnal pleasures, though I have not managed to completely contain my thoughts.”
“Lord Grimfaeth?” Master Jovun asked.
“I have not forgone the carnal . . .” Grim began, then clutched both hands to his mouth, stifling what he’d been about to say. He blushed furiously and prostrated himself before the council. “Excuse me, Masters . . . for a moment, I forgot who was being evaluated here. I am truly embarrassed and beg your forgiveness.”
Several chuckles came from the council as Prism suppressed a grin. “Of course, Lord Grimfaeth,” Master Jovun said with obvious mirth.
Grim regained his composure with surprising swiftness and gave his stately answer without a hint of his previous embarrassment. “To the best of my knowledge, Master Prism has never broken this oath. In fact, we have spoken about the difficulty of this oath in the past, and from those exchanges I have learned to contain my own carnal pleasures with greater success. Despite whatever thoughts Prism may have to the contrary, I believe his purity to be unquestionable.”
“Thank you, Lord Grimfaeth,” Master Jovun replied. “Do any of the Masters have questions regarding the four oaths?” he asked the council. None answered in the affirmative, and so Master Jovun spoke again. “Do the masters believe Master Prism to be in accordance with the oaths, based upon the testimony presented?” Each of the Masters on the council bowed to Prism, Master Jovun bowing last.
When he straightened, he addressed the room. “Then this council approves Master Prism’s continued service to Lord Grimfaeth.”
“So witnessed,” the Masters replied.
Prism bowed in response, but Master Jovun had not finished. “But we do have additional questions.”
“I understand, Master Jovun. Thank you, Masters,” Prism said as he returned to the upright kneeling position.
“Lord Grimfaeth, Grandmaster Valkean has presented us with testimony from Captain Tson of the Ultakan Military, who was present at the time of Master Prism’s arrest,” Master Jovun said. “Master Prism was accused of threatening your noble personage, and yet you requested him to be your training partner. Out of respect to your station, we did not inquire after this at Master Prism’s initial assignment, but recent developments have given us reason to address it now. Are you prepared to testify to events leading up to and including Prism’s arrest?”
Prism fought the urge to look at Grim, though he ached to witness the reaction to that question. Grim’s answer was as stately as ever as he said, “If it is in the spirit of truth, of course.”
“Captain Tson’s official report indicated that Master Prism held a weapon to your throat and declared you his hostage, is that true?” Master Jovun asked.
“Yes,” Grim replied.
“Yet Grandmaster Valkean’s statement of the same event concludes that you implied you were never in any danger from Master Prism, and that it was, in fact, an act on Master Prism’s part. Would you validate that testimony, and do you have any evidence to support it?” Master Jovun asked.
“I stand by my testimony that Prism never meant me any harm,” Grim said evenly. “As you may know, Fedain can sense emotions through physical touch. It’s not terribly specific, mostly impressions, but Prism’s only motivation was fear, not violence. He hoped to escape, not hurt me.”
“Does this mean you believe the charge against Master Prism to be invalid?” Master Jovun asked.
Grim nodded. “That is correct, Master Jovun.”
“Grandmaster Valkean has recently presented an amended statement from Captain Tson regarding Prism’s arrest, indicating the validity of the charge to be in question,” Master Jovun said. “Acting upon our authority as an Ultakan court, we will officially remove the charge from Master Prism’s sentence, finding the question of Master Prism’s guilt consistent with recent testimony. Master Prism’s sentence is hereby reduced by ten years.”
“What?” Prism blurted. He immediately followed his outburst with a prostration. “I’m sorry for my outburst, Masters. Thank you. I am humbled by this change of events.”
“Captain Tson, as the arresting officer, has also suggested that, if this council finds your performance consistent with the oaths of the Order, we may reduce your remaining sentence owed to the city regarding the charge of resisting arrest. He has suggested the sentence be reduced to two years, the minimum sentence for that crime,” Master Jovun explained.
Prism’s eyes lit up with hope, but Master Jovun hadn’t finished yet. “However, this council does not agree. While we believe your conduct is deserving of reward, we would like to see further development from you. We will, however, follow Captain Tson’s suggestion in spirit and reduce your sentence on that charge by half.” He picked up the paper again. “Your total sentence will hereby be reduced to six years and six months, of which you have already served one year and two months.”
Prism had never been more relieved in his life. Blissful excitement soaked deep into his bones, and he fought the urge to rise and dance at the news. To his surprise, Grim spoke up. “Master Jovun, may I address the court?”
Master Jovun nodded. “Lord Grimfaeth, you have the floor.”
“I understand three years of Prism’s sentence are the result of monetary restitution owed to the people of his home village. While the Temple has already refunded the people of Choballa, I would like to make restitution for this refund from my personal treasury in a form of donation to the temple, in the hopes of reducing Master Prism’s sentence.”
“That is a perplexing suggestion, Lord Grimfaeth, and highly irregular. Why would you wish to do that?”
“Master Prism has proven his integrity and worth to me, and I hope to retain his services as my personal bodyguard after his sentence is over, with full pay and position.” Grim smiled at Prism, who couldn’t help but meet his lover’s eyes and communicate his silent thanks. “To be quite honest, Masters, I don’t want to lose his service. Since I know he’ll be subject to quarterly reviews and may at any time be recalled to the Temple during his sentence, I would prefer any potential gaps in Prism’s service to be minimal and avoided entirely if possible.”
Prism turned back to the council as Master Jovun spoke again. “Masters, all those in favor of reducing Master Prism’s sentence by three years, contingent upon Lord Grimfaeth’s donation?” With some hesitation, the council members bowed in turn to Grim, showing their acceptance. Master Jovun smiled at Grim and Prism in turn before declaring, “Junior Master Prism’s sentence is hereby reduced by three years. Your total sentence is reduced to three years and six months, of which you have already served one year and two months.”
The chorus of the Masters resonated through Prism’s whole body. He’d hoped for a reduced sentence, but this was beyond anything he could’ve dreamed. He’d prepared for twenty years, but it would only be two years until he could be with Grim always.
He prostrated himself again, preparing to thank the masters when Master Jovun addressed him again. “Before you leave us, we have one more item to address. It pertains not to your service or sentencing, but rather a request we received from Lady Veillynn this morning.”
“Please, I would be honored to help her in any way.”
“This is not a duty, but a request, Master Prism. Please wait until you’ve heard the terms before you accept.”
“I’m sorry, Master Jovun.”
“The Central Hospital is requesting human subjects for the trials of a new vaccine,” Master Jovun explained. “Master Janlynd was instrumental in developing this vaccine, and Lady Veillynn requested in Master Janlynd’s honor that the monks of the Order participate, if they desire. The vaccine is meant to boost the natural healing of the human body. In the Order of the Mountain’s pursuit of physical perfection, some feel this vaccine is consistent with our ethics, while others contend it is inconsistent. We are still deciding on the Order’s official standpoint, but we have decided to allow monks to participate, based upon their own understanding of the Order’s tenants. If you would like to participate in the program, please contact Doctor Balindae, at Central Hospital.”
“Should I report my participation to the Order?” Prism asked.
“Yes, but you need not do so before your next evaluation,” Master Jovun said. “If there are no other questions, this hearing is adjourned.”
“So witnessed.” The chorus prostrated themselves.
Prism mirrored their action and said, “Thank you, Masters.”
“Master Prism,” Master Jovun said, “continue to serve with distinction.”
Prism’s emotions danced as he left the Temple, Grim walking in stunned silence behind him. Both were too shocked to speak about the dramatically reduced sentencing; they instead enjoyed the prospect of a future now much closer than before.
Master Vinh caught them before they summoned Grim’s driver, and Prism bowed low to him in greeting. “Master Vinh, I’d expected you to question me during my hearing.”
“There was no need. I can see the honor in you now.” Master Vinh gestured toward the same tree Prism and Grim had sat beneath before the hearing. Master Vinh did not speak again until they stood beneath its shade. “You’ve upheld the oaths, despite your predicament.”
“My . . .” Prism started to question the statement but read Master Vinh’s knowing smile. Sickening dread washed over him. “You know.”
Master Vinh grinned wide, a toothy smile brighter than anything Prism had ever seen from the eccentric master. “A platinum hair wrapped around your finger, which you later wove into your robe. Lord Grimfaeth requests a training partner, who is of age and size to himself, during a time when you are the only one who matches that description. Your physical interactions with Kaeral Elrhanadan during the eleven months of your Temple residency.” He glanced between Grim and Prism, snickering like a madman. “I know.”
“Are you going to tell the other Masters?” Prism asked.
Master Vinh shook his head. “If I believed you guilty of breaking your oaths, I would. There are no oaths against love, Master Prism, and I believe your testimony. Every word spoken by the two of you indicated the deep bond you share, and yet I sensed no deceit on your behalf from either of you. I’m certain it can’t be easy on you to keep the fourth oath, but I have no doubt you’ve honored it, at least as far as you understand it.”
“How did I ever think I could keep things from you?” Prism asked, glancing at Grim with horrified wonder.
“There’s a reason I don’t usually take students, Master Prism,” Master Vinh replied. “I hate being lied to, yet they all try. Every lie is like swallowing a peach pit; as it goes down you wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea.”
Prism grinned. “Do all of your lessons involve fruit?”
“Enjoy your apples, Master Prism,” Master Vinh said and winked at Grim. “Continue to remain worthy of them, and you’ll be free to have as many as you want before you know it.”
He walked away, laughing loud enough to draw attention from everyone else in the nearby grounds. Only when he disappeared into the prayer gardens did Grim whisper, “That man is scary.”
“You have no idea.” Prism sighed in relief and turned a bright smile on Grim. “Two years and four months. That’s not nineteen, nor nine, either.”
Grim returned the smile with equal warmth. “You’re right about that. We should celebrate.”
“I know just the thing. How about we go to the Central Hospital?”
Grim’s eyes widened in surprise and said, “Just what I was thinking!”
But Prism caught a hint of color in Grim’s cheeks and could read Grim’s real feelings as if they were his own. “No, it wasn’t, but I think if we went home now, my oaths would be more in jeopardy than ever.”
“You’re probably right. But I think I know another way to celebrate.”
Grim smiled slyly. “I’m going to get a tattoo.”
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