Chapter 53

“So…” Renz glanced awkwardly around the room. “…are we going to talk about… whatever it was you wanted to talk about? ‘Cause you’ve been pretty quiet for a while, and I don’t like wasting time.”
“Most homgen don’t.” Ardjia did a few quick stretches. Now that her facial expression was resting in a quietly confident smirk, the family resemblance between her and Conmer was far more pronounced. “They go full force into everything they do, business or pleasure. It’s one of the traits I picked up from my dad, and it’s served me well.” She made one last stretch and punched at the ceiling before relaxing into a more casual pose. “Hoo-pikhla! It feels good to get that out of my system. Sorry ‘bout the delay, though. I get stressed if I have to put up a front for too long. I think it’s ‘cause I’m a halfborn, but it could just be that all the other rosearn are really good at hiding it.”
“I can understand needing to vent after a long day of holding yourself back.” Renz smirked empathetically. “Take your time.”
“I’m sure you would.” Ardjia flashed an aggressive grin. “Especially after that ‘incident’ that got you disowned.”
“Oh.” Renz’s expression froze, his lingering smirk now hollow. “So that’s where this conversation is going.”
“Yup, and since you asked so nicely, I’ll cut right to the chase.” A pile of photographs fell from the ceiling at the snap of Ardjia’s fingers. “In that pile you should find pictures of your parents, your siblings, their houses, the park where they take their walks with the family dog, the barbershop where they get their hair cut… all sorts of things.”
Renz didn’t even bother to look at the pictures. “You know, I was under the impression that only the really dumb rosearn threatened people with violence.”
“Well… it’s acceptable as long as you don’t actually cash the checks you write, you know?” Ardjia shrugged. “ ‘Sides, I’m not threating with violence.” Her grin dropped into an intimidatingly flat expression. “See, rosearn have this concept called ‘life without life.’ It refers to a state of depression beyond what would normally drive someone to suicide. To put someone into this state and maintain it is generally regarded as the second worst thing you can possibly do to a person.”
“Well…” Renz struggled to keep a straight face. He didn’t exactly subscribe to traditional homgen values, but he still didn’t like letting strong negative emotions show on his face. “Pikhla.”
“Glad to see we’re on the same page.” Ardjia restored her previous grin. “Now, why don’t we discuss how to make sure this doesn’t happen to your family?”


A note from the author ninja:

Pikhla is a homgen expletive, similar to “shit” in both meaning and use. Though there are a few differences.

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