Aybee-en slapped Zitel round the head, hissing for him to shut up, as the younger Ksa approached.
“Ahem, hello kid, what do you want?”
“You two were whispering about me.”
Zitel lowered his head, seeing who it was. “Uh, no, no we weren’t.”
Arkay tutted, then pulled up a chair and sat down next to the two older Ksa. “I get it. I’m a hot topic. Vok will talk about me. I’d prefer it though, since you have the option to do so, that you… don’t whisper behind my back.”
Zitel hesitated, then admitted that they were. “How did you hear us?”
“I have very good hearing.”
Aybee-en though, less bothered that he was insulting the new guy, smiled. “Just like your weird mother, am I right?” Unfortunately, Aybee-en’s words got him a smack around the head, not from Arkay, but from Zitel. Unlike Aybee-en’s playful tap though, Zitel knocked Aybee-en out of his chair, then grabbed Arkay and pulled him away.
After a moment of confusion, Zitel finally let go of Arkay’s hand.
“I’m sorry. I am such a douche. Clearly Aybee-en is more of a douche than I. Didn’t think he’d sink to insulting Kayel though. There I was thinking he was a little more critical than most Ksa. We’re all brainwashed, after all…”
Arkay shrugged. “I don’t care. I know people want to talk about me. But yeah…”
“I honestly don’t even know if Kayel is alive…” Zitel slumped, feeling embarrassed. “I don’t suppose you know either… But everyone has so many questions about you… You’re on everyone’s mind and you… don’t talk much.”
“No one has… really asked. Well, they have, but in a demanding, news-grabbing way…” Arkay looked away, in search of a chair so he could sit down, then realised he was better off standing. “What… what did you want to know?”
“You opening up?”
“As long as you don’t judge me.”
“Of course. All I wanted to know was… Well, you spent eleven years being tortured, yet you were… okay after all of that. Now though, you’re a wreck. No offense.”
Another shrug. Arkay had a look as if he was expecting a question like that eventually. “Different types of torture, I guess…”
“You read Elksia’s book? She wrote almost everything about all the torture and barely mentioned you, but she said it was pretty nasty.”
“I asked Elksia to not mention me. I mean, uh… the torture was bad, and it lasted eleven years, but it was… on and off. We’d be tortured one at a time, with three days rest. The Deitics, as far as they were concerned, had an infinite amount of time to torture us so they took their time.”
“But they sexua-”
“Not until I was 18. And even then they barely bothered. Thing is, yes, I was tortured a lot, but the last few years, the Deitics just… couldn’t be bothered with us any more. They had their fun. Plus, I wasn’t alone. We comforted each other…”
Zitel seemed confused, perhaps even unsatisfied with Arkay’s answer. “But you’re physically a mess, not just mentally.”
Arkay sighed. “Well the Deitics also didn’t inject me with copious amounts of drugs and mutagenic serums… That’s probably why… Not to say that I wasn’t a fucking train wreck before. I was. I was a horrible mess. But it was just mental and I could hide it all away and put my duties ahead of me…”
The young Ksa suddenly lost the strength in his legs, and leaned on Zitel for support.
“Yeah… I’m alright… Sometimes it just hits me over the head, all the shit I’ve been through. It’s over now though. All over.”
After a moment of silence, Arkay straightened himself up and walked away. “Sorry. You can see why I don’t talk much…”
“It’s fine. Rest well, kid.”
“You too, Zitel.”