Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission

Chapter Three

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


Torshael reappeared through a rippling shimmer of magic, right behind his bond, into what he assumed was the fifth tier. Or, at least, the reception hall for a room deeper into the level. It had a certain elegance to it, if you like the sort of style it was decorated in, though most of it was relatively simple in decor. The huge double doors-- huge for a human, anyway; Torshael would have to duck his head to enter-- marking the path into the next room, however, were intricately carved with dragons overlooking a great city. A set of pillars, each set with a small dragon statue, flanked the door.

Everything was remarkably silent. Even eerily so.

::Anything?:: he asked Haiiro, whose senses were much sharper than his own. The kirin-dragon shook his head mutely, then nodded towards the doors. ::Do that twist thing again,:: Torshael suggested as his bond lifted a foot to take a step, making him pause. ::At least until we know what's in there.:: Though he couldn't see the difference-- even if Haiiro didn't intentionally leave him out, which he usually did, their bond made the magic useless on him-- he sensed assent and assumed it done.

While Torshael gathered light around him in preparation for a possible Purification, Haiiro went first, invisibly safe and the one most useful for reconnaissance, anyway. He bumped the doors open gently with his thin-scaled nose. It swung open easily, noiselessly-- but the room beyond was anything but noiseless. It was large for a human-sized room, and, though without the same beauty of the High One's court, was obviously meant for the same purpose. Huge, open windows made up one wall, and pillars lined the others, flanking what looked like a throne or, at least, the elevated seat of someone important.

Despite the complete silence of the antechamber, this room was full of crashes, smashes, and shattering sounds. The latest came from a pillar right beside the throne-like seat shattering right before their eyes-- caused by a body crashing into and then through it, cracking the floor with the force of it. It was an unfamiliar face, feline and dark-furred, even sporting a tail, and she had somehow survived the encounter. She scrambled away from the rubble after a moment of dazedness and leveled a curved blade at an opponent dropping down on the place where she had just landed.

An opponent who wore the remains of something much more elegant, held herself like a regal warrior, and who fit the image he'd seen in Haiiro's mind of the assassin's target. Despite being wordless, Haiiro's confirmation of identity was clear enough that it might as well have been: ::It's her!::

::And she doesn't look like she needs much help,:: Torshael commented, noting that though she stood unarmed to her attacker's saber, it was said attacker which was injured, not the target.

"I take it from your displeasure that you weren't expecting a fight with my guards gone," said target smiled. "I'm sorry to disappoint."

The assassin replied with something in a foreign tongue that Torshael didn't recognize-- but which the lady did and obviously disapproved of-- and another volley of attacks. She was incredibly swift and quite talented-- any of her hits could easily have been fatal, if they'd actually hit-- but her so-called victim avoided the bulk of them and deflected the rest with her bare hands.

::That woman has some strong skin,:: Torshael commented, impressed. As far as he knew, not even his brother knew the trick of not being cut by a sword when smacking it aside. Haiiro's response was the wordless equivalent of "hush, I'm trying to pay attention!" Since the target chose that moment to slam a fist through the assassin's guard and send her flying back across the floor, Torshael hushed.

As the assassin picked herself up again, breathing hard but standing steadily, and stared with narrowed eyes at her opponent, Torshael did ask, ::Do you think we should bother to interrupt?::

Haiiro still hadn't decided.

A flash of color at one of the windows, in the far corner of the room, kept any of them from deciding anything. Torshael missed it, but Haiiro relayed what he caught: a dragon, smaller than Torshael himself, bearing both armor and a rider, quite possibly circling the tower in preparation to land. The feline assassin saw it, too, and whatever new tactics were running through her head promptly flew out of it at the sight. She froze for a split second, then before anyone could do anything, she bolted-- towards the window. Not even the assassin's target, who was closer, had time to grab her before she hit the window at full speed, shattered it, and escaped into the open air.


::I'm on it,:: Torshael answered his bond's protesting thought, and he raced past him, gathering muscles and keeping his wings tightly furled to protect both them and his sides from the jagged glass, to leap through the window after the escaping swordswoman. Haiiro wasn't a fighter; he could get details from the woman he left behind, and maybe relay them if they were useful, but this was what Torshael did.

The assassin hit the rooftop running and sprinted across it. She was fast, extremely fast for someone limited to a humanoid form, and she leapt to the next building without so much as hesitating. Still, Torshael had a much longer stride, a longer leap, and wings. With his next leap, he down-beat strongly and raced after her on the wing. It only took him three buildings' worth of chase to catch up to his quarry, but even that looked to be too late. She skid to a halt, leaping sideways and throwing down a black stone of some sort. Pitch black, choking smoke billowed up the instant it struck the ground, obscuring the rooftop, air between them, and then the assassin herself. Startled and dismayed, Torshael released the holy energy he'd contained into a weakened burst of purification, possibly enough to damage a truly evil individual enough to detain her, beating his wings frantically to try and clear the smoke.

The smoke cleared every bit as quickly as he could have wished, drifting off into little black wisps, but of the assassin there was no sign: no footprint, no scent, no sign that she had even been there at all. Torshael, landing to give the site as thorough an examination as he could, growled with frustration. He shouldn't have hesitated when they first arrived, shouldn't have even worried about whether the lady could defend herself: if he'd just acted then, they'd still have her. And now, they had nothing. Torshael couldn't remember a failure quite this bad, not since his first year out in the field. He resisted the urge to give the stone of the rooftop a good few gouges with his claws, and instead sat, shut his eyes, and caught his breath for a long moment, until he was certain he had his temper under control. Or at least to manageable proportions.

::I lost her,:: he sent back to Haiiro, along with a series of images of the assassin's remarkable, frustrating escape. His bond's wash of disappointment was tinged with resigned acceptance: apparently this happened regularly.

Which didn't really make Torshael feel any better. He was, after all, Favored. He should have been able to succeed where others failed. Not this time, apparently.

Unhappily, he took wing again, heading back for the tower.


Chapter Four

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