This will be a bit later, when they get the tower mess cleared out and Ice can see the strip on the inner wall that looks crystalized, like it's been magically molded.
A woman stepped out. Swept long platinum blonde hair out of her face with her left hand, while her right swung up and smacked him under the chin.
Keiq jumped forward as Ice stumbled back, but the blonde had frozen, looking around.
Angry but controlled. Taking in the situation, ready to attack.
"Who the hell are you people and where the Hell is that piece of camel-dung husband of mine?"
One! "I'm Keiq Withione Colorado, and you are?"
"Withione?" The blonde snorted. "What a stupid name. "I am Tanya bint Oliver bint Alexander, and if you've kidnapped me, you are going to regret it. Where. Is. Mikel!"
She needs the straight information.
"I'm sorry, but you were inside two bags. It's been a thousand years, and the Warrior Mikel is dead."
"What! I opened the inner bag a few times, but the outer wouldn't budge. So I closed the second bag so I didn't have to deal with a dirty diaper before Mr. High and Mighty got back from his can't wait, very important meeting." Her eyes narrowed. "A thousand years? Do you even know what happened."
"Mikel died on thirteen Qadah of the Year of the Prophets 397." Ice stepped closer, but kept a wary distance.
The woman's tanned complexion paled. "That's today . . ."
Keiq stepped back and waved at the room. "Look around. We're renovating a house said to have belonged to the Warrior Mikel-the-Eye."
Tanya stalked out and frowned around the big room. Spun and dashed through the study and into the oversized entry.
She walked to the front, looking into the ballroom, the dining room. Breathing in short gasps, blinking watering eyes. She spotted the ladder and ran to it, scrambling up. She walked a few steps to eye the women's side, then turned and trotted across to the domed room.
"Damn." Ice looked up at the balcony. "She needs help."
Keiq nodded. "I may be better at this than you. Being not-male."
"Yeah. I'll fade back."
Tanya walked unsteadily back to the ladder.
She fumbled her way down, broad pants legs suddenly awkward instead of flowing gracefully. She glared at them, then stalked out the front entrance.
Belief, fear starting to win out over the anger.
From the far side of the driveway, she turned and slowly studied the house.
"And when he died, who took ownership of the house?"
"His oldest son at the time. James . . ." Keiq was far enough away bare read the young woman.
"Bah, he hated this house." Tanya scowled. "Well, I have so few happy memories of it . . . and I suppose the money is long spent."
Ice nodded. "The house has been bought and sold dozens of times. We're the first people in a century to try to renovate it."
Ice is concerned, worried for her.
Dammit, she's so beautiful!
"So I'm penniless."
Bitter anger, now.
"Emre and Nicholas are the only prophets still living . . ."
Her anger flared. "The Prophet Nicholas died a hundred years ago."
"No. He turtled up in a Bag. There are nineteen who survived that way. Lucky Dave and Davos are both brothers of Mikel. If the One will not admit they owe you a Warrior's widow's support . . ."
A knot of fear now.
The girl needs a good cry. Or some other form of emotional release.
"Bah. I will not be dependent and controlled!"
Frightened and angry.
Keiq huffed out a breath. "Yeah, I know that situation. In my case, parents and older brothers. It's why I got an education and a job far away from home."
She studied the tense woman. "What do you want to do?"
The young widow unclenched her jaw. "Leap on a horse and ride away as fast as I can, as far as I can and never return."
"Well, the horse I can supply, if some speed will help, but you'll probably need to come back." Keiq looked over her shoulder, but Ice was already heading for the barn.
Lightning and Pineapple trotted up. and he brushed them and saddled them quickly.
A faint snort from Tanya. "They don't look very fast. And he's not coming with me."
"No. Ice would fall off if you ride the way I suspect you're going to ride. I'll come." Keiq caught a irate comment from Lightning. :: So prove her wrong. Show her how fast a Comet Fall Smart Horse can run. Can you jump that rail fence Ice put up? ::
An equine grin. :: Oh yes. Those trails will be perfect for a nice fast run. ::
Half an hour and twelve kilometers down the trail, Keiq finally caught up to the wild girl.
Tanya grinned. "That felt wonderful. This is a very fast horse."
:: She's a very good rider! :: Lightning smirked at Pineapple. :: Beat you! ::
Keiq grinned back. "I have to admit that I haven't had a good long run like that in a long time. Not that we were full out for very long."
Tanya leaned to pat Lightning's sweaty neck. "Now, as you said, I have to go back. And that man--is he your husband? He had better be there with the Bags." She bit her lip. "As my son is still there."
"Ice is not my husband, and he's highly unlikely to run off with a baby." She shrugged. "How about I drive you to Makkah. We can be there in four hours."
Tanya glared. "Liar! I know how long it takes to get to Makkah."
"A lot has changed in a thousand years." Keiq winced at the resurgence of the girl's inner fear and anger. "We have dimensional corridors that will get us to Jeddah quickly."
Tanya nodded grimly. "I must find out where I stand. Then I can make plans. Better than my silly plans a year and a half ago."
Keiq eyed her. "What were your plans, then?"
"To marry the Warrior Mikel! To fight beside him!" A bitter laugh that ended in tears. "He married me because I looked like a half sister who'd died centuries ago. He expected me to dress up and host meetings. To be sweet and gracious to disgusting diplomats at parties, and go to teas with the other wives of important men. He laughed when I said I wanted to fight. And . . . he kept calling me Jasmine. He, he called me Jasmine on my wedding night!"
And finally the tears flowed.
"That's . . ." Keiq shook her head.
"Does that 'Ice' ever call out someone else's name?"
"No . . . I'm the one with ghosts from the past." Do I do that? Look at Ice and see other men, men who hated my independence, wanted sex but also to own me?
Keiq frowned at the girl. "How old are you?"
"Seventeen. Eighteen next week. Give or take a thousand years."
"You married when you were sixteen?" Keiq failed to keep the horror out of her voice. "I was still in high school!"
Tanya wiped her face. "Did you go to college, and all that? How old are you?"
"Forty-one. I went to the Directorate School, it's part of the University of of the Empire in New York. They teach regular academics, but it's all aimed at getting us prepared for exploring other Worlds and analyzing and . . . One!"
The girl was shocked.
Keiq swallowed. "You're from before we figured out how to make dimensional gates. We've got colonies on other World, we're sort having diplomacy with the Earth the Prophets came from . . . you do know . . . Oh good."
"You explore other Worlds?"
Keiq shrugged. "Not me, but maybe half of the students from the Directorate School go to the Directorate of External Relations. Umm, let me tell you how the government works, these days . . ."
The horses strode happily along as Keiq briefed Tanya on all the politics, a bit of history, Disco . . . The Helios disaster, the Cyborgs . . .
"How does one get into this 'Directorate School?' I know karate, I can shoot."
"You're going to need to swot up on history . . . maybe a local college for two years, then transfer? Mind you, the references you'll have will get you in, but you can still flunk out.