They hovered in stalemate a moment, before the youth threw Tonunda across the floor. Tonunda slid then rolled. He bounded from the wall, catching hold of one of the rafters and launched himself with knife held high.
The boy stared at him impassively, without raising his hands. Not that he would have killed the youth, Tonunda only held onto the knife for his own protection. He crouched, trying to gauge the boy’s expression.
“Go on,” the boy whispered. “Slay me. What is life without Dekra?”
His face shifted, suddenly becoming a mask of misery, then like a cracking dam, tears freely flowed.
Tonunda frowned, vehemently throwing the knife aside, much to the boy’s dismay. He still never raised a hand as Tonunda took two steps closer then slipped his arms around the youth, holding him tightly. The shoulders above him shuddered and limbs encircled him as the boy began to weep like a small child. In this manner, they held each other for several minutes, then when the boy’s pain subsided, Tonunda gently patted his back for them to part.
The youth wiped his tears away on the back of his hand.
Tonuda barked twice. Tell me of Dekra.
A look of bemusement came from the youth. After a few unsuccessful gestures, Tonunda took a charred stick from the fire and began to scribe on the floor.
Tell – me – all – about – Dekra.
Revelation filled the boy’s eyes.
“You are not mad!”
Tonunda grinned with the shake of his head.
“Who are you?”
He didn’t want to mention his name or the fact that he was the king. An inroad had been made into the boy’s trust. If he knew the truth, then he might treat him differently, perhaps close off his heart altogether.
Friend Tonunda scribed on the floor.
The boy opened his mouth about to speak as Tonunda gestured hurriedly to rekindle the fire. With a nod, the youth pulled a rafter from the rubble as Tonunda crouched on all fours and blew into the smouldering remains. Once its embers glowed, he picked up fallen shingles, broke them into slivers, then arranged them on top. He watched with some interest to see if the boy would snap the rafter in his hands. Instead, the youth swung it full into the stone wall, breaking the roofing beam. Still connected at an acute angle, the boy snapped it in two then tossed them into the growing blaze.
As he warmed himself by the fire’s edge, Tonunda barked, sounding little more than a grunt.
Tell me of Dekra.
The boy looked confused. “Do you want me to speak of Dekra?”
“Many disliked her because she looked malformed. But she was not,” he added hurriedly.
No response came from Tonunda. He merely waited for the boy to go on.
“Her eyes were narrow because her mother came from Yactan. Do you know where that is?”
Tonunda nodded. His tutors informed him of a land far across the ocean with squat people who stare out of slits for eyes.