From the end of Of Blood and Honor:
“There you are!” Cezarya’s voice calls impatiently from below. “Of course you’re on a roof together, instead of at the festival. Come down here! Everyone has been looking for you.”
I groan. This is exactly what I was afraid of. Zelphinon appears to be similarly displeased. However, standing below with Cezarya is Kazmiohn Zuluthruyen himself, along with an important-looking man I do not recognize, and so I fear we have little choice in the matter.
“Give us a moment,” Zelphinon replies irritably. We reluctantly make our way back down the ladder and downstairs to join Cezarya and Kazmiohn Zuluthruyen on the ground.
“What do you suppose they want?” I whisper as we approach the door.
“Whatever it is, I expect we’re about to find out,” Zelphinon answers. He is still very much displeased that we’ve been interrupted.
“About time you—” Cezarya begins as we open the door, but stops short when she catches sight of my hair. “Oh. Oh my. You—”
“Thank you for joining us on such short notice,” Kazmiohn Zuluthruyen interrupts her. He clearly has more important things on his mind at present than the relationships between his subordinates. “It is my privilege to introduce to you my counterpart in Orenxiao, Kazmiohn Meskaiavin.”
Zelphinon and I both bow to Kazmiohn Meskaiavin, who is physically imposing and carries himself with confidence and an almost royal bearing.
“Kazmiohn Meskaiavin, these are Enniskzar Azerai and Umathyar Zelphinon,” Kazmiohn Zuluthruyen continues.
“Enniskzar Azerai. You are the one who came up with the strategies that served Andelxiao so well against the Erivim,” Kazmiohn Meskaiavin addresses me solemnly. His gaze seems sharp enough to cut through metal.
“I merely gave my commanding officer ideas based on my own experiences. He chose to implement them, and how,” I reply, eyes downcast. I do not want any recognition, Kazmiohn.
“It is no ordinary warrior in these days who survives two major battles with the Erivim. You must be either incredibly skillful, or incredibly lucky. Perhaps a combination of both. In any event, you have already passed on your strategies to the Andelzhanim. It is my intention that you will accompany me when I return to Orenxiao, and that you will work with me to prepare that city for any Erivim attack that may come against it.”
I cannot believe my ears. He wants me to go to Orenxiao, the capitol of Yrivvenna?! He trusts me to handle their military strategy?! I am certain that I am not allowed to refuse. This is an honor beyond anything I could have anticipated.
“You honor me too much. I only answered the questions I was asked, and did what I felt necessary so that no one else would have to endure the loss of their family and home because of the Erivim.”
“And without you, Andelxiao would have fared much worse in this recent attack,” Kazmiohn Zuluthruyen counters.
“I do not have the appropriate words, Kazmiohn. Please forgive me,” I say with another bow.
“You need not ask forgiveness. I am sure this is quite a shock, and you have endured much recently, from what your Kazmiohn tells me,” Kazmiohn Meskaiavin responds with unexpected kindness. “I am staying as long as it takes for Avizhaisken Eskovar to work his magic with the wounded warriors of the Andelzhanim, as I and some select warriors from the Orenzhanim are his escort. You will have until then to prepare and say your goodbyes.”
I will have to leave everything behind.
“Kazmiohn, a thousand apologies, but…I will not leave alone.”
His eyebrows threaten to fly off his face. “Beg pardon?”
“I lost my entire family, and I am a simple girl from a small village. My friends I graduated with from the Academy are now the family I have chosen, and I cannot bear to leave them behind to go to a city where I know no one, have no connections, even for so great an honor as this. Especially now….” I look at Zelphinon and my heart nearly breaks. His expression is unreadable. A million feelings are fighting for control of Cezarya’s face.
“Please, Kazmiohn,” she intercedes, “the piece in her hair is a valix that my brother Zelphinon must have given her this very day. Even if we all cannot go, take him with her, if you must take her.”
“I had expected something like this,” Kazmiohn Zuluthruyen sighs heavily. “And I hate to do this. You and your classmates are the best recruits we have ever gotten from the Academy, and I hate to part with you so soon. But…it is the right thing to do.”
“Kazmiohn Zuluthruyen, what are you—?” Kazmiohn Meskaiavin inquires.
“Kazmiohn Meskaiavin, you will not take Azerai alone. Her entire squadron goes with her, or she does not go at all.”
My jaw drops. Words escape me. What more surprises can this day possibly bring?
“Then, I suppose,” Kazmiohn Meskaiavin responds wryly, “the Orenzhanim will have to prepare to accept ten new fighters. I will take her entire squadron.”