Rishi turned the touch into a clutch, a swoop of his arms that enveloped Shory, like a twin at his side. "I never hurt him," Rishi bit out, again as if it were perfectly true. "Arix and the others are disgusting in what they've done to him. They--they knew how I felt about Shory, knew they couldn't make me hurt him even if they threatened me." He held on. "I joined in. I did. I admit it," Rishi said, and there was even a damned catch in his throat. "But I made sure I was the one who gave him relief. I've told him I always will."
"You sorry little snake..." Shory breathed.
"I'm not lying." Rishi was appealing to his father. "I'm not."
Orun's expression didn't change. "Used you like a slave gets used, and gave you nothing in return, did they?" He looked at Rishi once more. "That's what you took on yourself, then? Well. I might have expected worse of you."
"You can't..." Shory nearly choked. "You can't be calling that noble. You can't be."
"I'm calling it nothing at all," Orun sighed. "I've no wish to. If my son fancies himself your champion, I don't know I'd expect better from him."
"No. Not from him. From you I thought I might," whispered Shory.
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