“Uh… Hello… Arkay…”
Tenuk was visibly shaking. He had never really spent time one on one with a Veth before. What made it worse was that he used to know Arkay. Heck, he’d met Arkay before, but that was during the change. This Arkay, he wasn’t the same. His eyes glowed in a menacing way. His teeth were bared. He was terrifying. Still tiny, not even two meters tall. But terrifying.
“Hi, Tenuk. I’m kinda busy right now.”
The Kronoreth remained silent as he watched what Arkay was doing. From the looks of it, Arkay was slicing the skin off some sort of Deitic being, one of the more flesh-and-blood types that weren’t friendly with the Kronospasts, but even so, Arkay’s actions were doing nothing to help settle Tenuk’s nerves.
“I see…” Tenuk shook his head and looked away. “Uh… what are you doing?”
Arkay licked his claws, those hideous, black, inky claws, then smiled. “I’m on dinner duty tonight. Our Lady requested I made Her something nice, so I am. Only the best for Kinisis.”
Tenuk blinked. That wasn’t Arkay, was it? All the anger and hatred he’d felt from last time he saw Arkay, it was missing. If anything, Arkay was standing there, incredibly calmly. The same demeanour that other Veth always had. There was a sense of loyalty in Arkay’s voice.
“Cooking her dinner?” Tenuk asked.
“Yes. I do anything Kinisis needs. I feel your loyalties though are elsewhere.” Arkay’s smile and tone of voice remained the same, despite his accusation.
“H-H-How…” Tenuk stammered. He couldn’t finish his sentence. A wave of panic washed over Tenuk. Did Arkay know about him and Stasis? Could he sense it? Was Tenuk’s old friend about to slice his skin off and feed him to Kinisis?
Arkay blinked once, then returned to what he was doing. He was now slicing off pieces of flesh and laying them carefully on the counter behind him. Each strip was about as long as one of Arkay’s claws. Once he was satisfied with the amount of meat, he gathered the slices up and threw them into a saucepan.
“You seem scared.”
Tenuk tried to stop shaking but couldn’t. “I-”
“You’re not normally scared. You come here all the time. You came here the day before I died. In hindsight, I kinda wish I listened to you more. But She always wins in the end.”
“You know… about… yesterday…”
Arkay shrugged. He filled a second saucepan up with purple water, then wandered over to what had to be some sort of cooling thing. He pulled out two drinks and threw one at Tenuk.
“Kenos was bound to turn to you at some point,” Arkay smiled as he opened his drink and downed it in one. “Plus, he was bound to know that you knew me. I mean, come on, I was one of the thorns in his side. He knew that. She knew that. I know that. He wants to know what I am like. Via you.”
Tenuk opened and closed his mouth but nothing came out.
“You can stop being scared, you know. She loves you. More than She loves me. She would not have allowed this otherwise. We can talk like we used to, and you can lie to Kenos. White lies. No one will know the difference. Already have a few sheets of paper you can take back.”
“Really?” Words finally fell out of Tenuk’s mouth.
“Yes, really,” Arkay smiled. “You were always a good friend, Tenuk. You really thought I would leave you hanging?”
Tears formed in Tenuk’s eyes. He got up from his seat, walked over and hugged Arkay.
“No need to thank me…” Arkay sighed as he hugged Tenuk, patting him on the back. “That’s what friends do, no matter what…”