Another chunk of The River Lords for your reading endurement.
“You look well, Kaeo,” Akki said, eyes intent on mine. “Is your father about?” he asked.
“He’s resting but I can go get him.”
Akki surveyed my home, taking in our bamboo stilt house, the dock and father’s sampan floating opposite his as if trusting his eyes more than my words.
“Let him rest for now,” he said. He fixed his gaze on me once more, appraising.
“River trading has done you some good. You no longer wear the softness of a child.”
His words made me feel proud. “I’ve already seen twelve floods, plus I’ve been keeping busy. Father needs more help as the months go by, though he never admits it. I think it shames him every time I take over a task that used to be his.”
Akki nodded. “That is to be expected. What of Palat?”
I thought how I might phrase my answer so as to be favorable to my brother, but came up with nothing. Palat had come around less frequently since discovering honey oil, wasting his days among the derelicts deep in the forest, foraging for food when he could muster the energy. As the space between his question and my answer, or lack thereof, grew uncomfortably long, Akki perceptively redirected our conversation.
“Let us talk of more pleasant things. Have you studied the leaves I left?”