Achmed the Snake sighed. Why did he put up with Rhapsody? She had a streak of weakness a league across, though Grunthor and he had narrowed it considerably. She would adopt every child under the sun and then some if left to her own devices. Granted, this wasn't always bad; Jo had been likeable enough even if she had been a thief. The reasons he had for keeping Rhapsody around--for keeping her alive in the first place--had at first been preservation of himself...and of Grunthor, he supposed. But Achmed could have easily dispatched her after learning what he had needed to from her.

The truth was, and he hated to admit it, that he had actually grown fond of the odd blonde Singer. She had her uses after all, but even that was a poor thought to hide his true reason for allowing her under his roof and, more importantly, so close to the Drachian. She had adopted him and Grunthor, and though that had been so inconcequential at the time, it had a very real meaning to him now. She had helped to reshape him through the fire of the Earth, had renamed him, saving him from the F'dor's grasp. She was his sister now and, though he would never admit it to her or Grunthor, he though of her as such. The thought of her death at anyone's hands, even his own, made his blood boil and his heart freeze. He was rude to her, made fun of her for any reason that he could think of, and quite often found himself angry at her for so many reasons, but he would not let harm come to her if he could help it. Despite whatever he told her, Grunthor, Ashe, or anyone else, he loved her like he hadn't his real family.

Achmed sighed again. He could feel her heartbeat in its old annoying reverberance going past him. He smiled to himself. Little sister, he thought.