Chapter 18

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Imani looked around at the scene. The freckled girl with brown red hair had her limbs encased to the ground by stone. The blonde boy was wrapped on the ground with thorny vines stretching across his body. Imani raised an eyebrow at the fiery haired woman. Her bandages were soaked in purple blood, something Imani had never seen before.

"Nubian," the older cloaked man said. "Mind your place, I only perform my duties here."

Imani looked at Nazar's students. Vigi and Skah were about the same age as herself, but it was plainly obvious from their shocked expressions that they were far less experienced than she was. Imani looked like a queen to them. A glossed purple scarf often represented royalty, and the delicate red lily highlighted a symbol of beauty. Covered with golden jewelry, she stood leagues above them in her own prestige.

"In Greece, deviants are free, yet you act like this is Egypt." Imani said aloud. "Greek deviants have been hard to find lately. What role did you play in that, Atenist? What brings your cult to Greece? Are you here to wipe out deviants like your kind did in Egypt?"

Nazar shrugged, he pointed to Mimoza. "There are no secret groups to protect deviants here. It's far easier to function here than in Persia. Most of the cult was wiped out during the Ionian war. The handful of us that survived realized we'd be safest here in Greece."

Mimoza was still subdued by Nazar's power. Pulsating energy thumped across her body. She still managed to breathe out a question, "the Charons... What have you done to the Charons of Greece?"

"Hunted them of course." Nazar answered nonchalantly. "We simply ambushed each Charon one by one, and took their names in their stead. Deviants flocked to us like insects drawn to a lantern."

Imani announced, "this isn't your place. You aren't a vulture preying on snakes. You're a parasite poisoning our fruit. Just because Deviants are extinct in the Nile Valley, it doesn't mean they need be wiped out everywhere else."

"And why not?" Nazar lifted his circular sword. He swung it like a pendulum in Mimoza's direction. "You, an Egyptian scholar, understand better than anyone that deviants are ostracized monsters in the the shadow of Gods. They've no place among the realm of man. It's only natural they die out."

"Bidadam," Imani cursed aloud. "Your people are why I could never find my prize."

"Prize?" Nazar asked with an eyebrow perched.

Imani pointed forward. "I've searched Greece for months looking for a deviant to bring back home. Did you really wipe out all of them?"

"Not all, obviously." Nazar rolled his eyes at them. "But now I'm curious, why do you need a deviant so badly? Are you looking for a deviant slave? You can have this one if you'd like."

Again, Nazar pointed his blade at Mimoza.

"I need that one," Imani pointed to Gaiana. Now it was like a business transaction, negotiating the girls like they were commodities.

Nazar frowned, "I'm afraid I can't allow that."

Nazar whistled at the wolves. They surrounded Imani from the distance as Skah and Vigi stayed by Astrin's side. Imani looked over at Astrin and asked "I followed you here with the crystal I gave you. Where is it?"

Astrin stayed quiet. He turned his head away from her in shame. "Bandits stole it..."

Imani's lips scrunched, "I've met cats more protective than you." She glanced over at Gaiana, staring up at her in astonishment. "At the very least, you lead me to another deviant."

Imani pulled out a flute from her satchel. It was a woodwind instrument, shaped like a small rounded stick. She blew at it, and the wolves began shrieking. Nazar and his students heard nothing, but the sound was enough to subdue to animals.

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