Dark eyes were staring at her. Angry; but a familiar kind of angry, so familiar it made her eyes sting with homesick tears. “Do you need to kill something?”
Cassim’s jaw dropped. “What- you-”
“It’s just you look so much like Kouha when he hasn’t had any bandits to kill for a while,” Kougyoku said in a rush. “And I don’t care how many people say he’s crazy, he’s really really sweet and he takes care of all the outcast tribes and he never kills people who don’t deserve it. He’s the best big brother ever!” She reddened, realizing what she’d just said. “I mean, of course Prince Kouen and Prince Koumei are more important, and they’ve been so generous to us letting Judar guide us to Dungeons too, even when Vinea and Leraje wanted us instead of Prince Kouen… but they’re so important they’re hard to know. Kouha spends time with me. He taught me to really fight!”
Cassim was still staring at her. Oh no; she’d done something wrong, said something wrong, years of Ka Kobun helping her and she still couldn’t get being a princess right….
Kougyoku tried to hide a sniffle, and grabbed up a hand-towel to hide her face. “Of course I’m not crying!” She scrubbed at her eyes; carefully, formal makeup was horrible to mess up. “I’m just trying to serve the Emperor and be like my brother and get Balbadd into the Empire without anyone getting killed! I know Judar likes war, and that’s okay – but war between people who want to fight! Balbadd’s a city, full of all kinds of children and mothers and old grannies and they shouldn’t be in a war, that’s just too sad….”