Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission
Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight
Inside and out, most of the uninjured guards were busy tending those who had fallen prey to the explosion and debris thereof, but a few of them were trying to get things organized. Well, and another few were giving Tayne very uncertain looks. He could understand that, really: here he was, with nothing but the word of someone who looks a lot like a deity-- but not quite-- that he was trustworthy, pinning down someone who quite likely was well-known in the city. Or at least known enough to make appointments with important people.
"With all due respect," the boldest of the lot began, and hesitated-- quite likely on a title.
"Just Tayne," Tayne interjected. He always felt silly actually giving people the so-called title humans in his realm called his people. Saying "call me Holy One" felt... well, silly.
Obviously not very comfortable with just using his name, however, the guard continued without trying to address him by name or title, frowning. "I would like an explanation for this behavior. That man is injured."
"He's not a man, he's an infernal," Tayne explained lightly enough. "And it's not close enough to his heart to kill him." He grinned down at his slowly recovering "prisoner". "He is involved in a plot to assassinate a woman on the fifth tier. I don't know her name, or even if the one he goes by here is his real one."
"I don't know who or what you are, or why you are spouting such preposterous accusations," the infernal blustered unhappily, but otherwise held quite still under the large paw. "But I would appreciate you removing your foot so I can make an attempt at getting up."
"And let you teleport to safety the minute I turn my back?" Tayne snorted lightly at the thought. "Rather not, thanks."
The guard, annoyed, interrupted, "Look, I don't know anything about you other than your present company, but if you're going to throw around accusations like that against respected members of this community, you can take it up with the Sentinels when they arrive."
Tayne sighed. "Be glad to, as long as it doesn't require I let this fellow up until my companions are back."
The infernal, wisely but a little annoyingly, said nothing. The guard finally gave up, rubbing his forehead and hitching a shoulder in a shrug before looking away to attend to something else. In fact... it seemed a large number of the company was looking at something else. Tayne took the hint and glanced aside.
Five dragons, each with a rider, were approaching by air, along the "runway" made by the street. They were small, but they were coming on quickly. "The Sentinels, I presume," Tayne muttered, but didn't move.
"Have a care the way you speak about the Sentinels, 'Tayne'," another of the guards growled at him. "You may not be from around here, but that's no excuse not to show them proper respect!"
Tayne tried very hard not to roll his eyes. And he thought Favored were sticks in the mud...! "There is no disrespect meant, I assure you," he said soothingly. "I'm used to being a member of local authority; I wouldn't dream of disrespecting someone else in the same profession." Especially not when surrounded by rather a lot of them.
As the Sentinels approached to land, there was a sudden crash above. Like many others, Tayne looked swiftly up and spotted not only the predictable rain of glass far, far above him, but also a small, black-colored spot falling among it. Had some idiot jumped out of a window? Automatically, he stood up taller and snapped open his wings, jumping into a larger size so his wingspan would protect more people from the falling shards. Somehow, he even managed not to squish the infernal lying suspiciously quietly under his forepaw.
... and then nothing fell on them. One of the Sentinels had veered aside and the rider, with a raised hand and an incantation of some sort that Tayne only caught snatches of, created a magical barrier against the glass. Tayne snorted lightly and refolded his wings, shrinking again. "Wish I could do that," he muttered under his breath.
He lost track of the jumper in the mess, but it was hard to lose track of the next one: Torshael surged out of the ruined window above, aiming his leap for the nearest building's rooftop. "Go get 'em, brother," Tayne grinned.
The rest of the Sentinels had landed, now, but it was hard to miss Torshael's leap: after all, he was still glowing, and even if he hadn't been, he was still a big, white, flying mass. Thankfully, none of them tried to chase after him. One of them, Tayne guessed a leader of some sort, held out a hand to keep them on the ground, then started putting them to work. One pair started moving among the wounded, working in concert to heal them. Tayne ignored them, especially once the leader spoke again, this time more in his general direction than to his subordinates:
"Now, would someone be kind enough to tell me exactly what happened?"
Since he knew the most, Tayne took it upon himself to start things off. Besides, the guards might decide to say something disparaging about him and his little family's actions. "My brother and his bond and I have been tracking this fellow," he tapped one gold-colored claw on the ground beside his captive's shoulder, "across the city. He's an infernal-- I don't know if you know what that means, but he's not actually human, or whatever passes for human around here-- and he and at least one, probably two accomplices have plans to assassinate a woman on the fifth tier. I don't know her name. The explosion here was, we're pretty certain, a diversion to get her guards away from her. Apparently whoever caused it doesn't much care about their toys," he snorted down at the wounded infernal. "He's been paid by someone to do, it, too. He gave Torshael part of the payment, earlier."
He paused, then added, "Oh, my name's Tayne Peregrin; I'm a supernal, though you probably don't know what that is.... Torshael-- that pretty white fellow you saw leaping out of the tower-- is my brother, and his bond is the offspring of one of your kirin gods. I forget which one."
That earned him a lofted eyebrow from the leading Sentinel.
"That part's true at least, sir," one of the guards spoke up. "It was definitely one of the Exalted. He went up to the fifth tier."
"I see," the Sentinel replied, still skeptical.
"It's all true," Tayne protested, stung, and put his ears back in both hurt and annoyance. No one had ever accused him of lying before, not seriously; most of the people he'd come in contact with knew better. "I'm a supernal. We don't lie." Not about things like this!
"And we are supposed to know how, pray tell?" the nearest guard muttered. Tayne ignored him.
The Sentinel leader asked, "And what proof do you have of what you speak, Tayne Peregrin? You bring harsh accusations against this man."
"At this point, only what Haiiro-- the, er, Exalted one-- saw in his head, and the fact that it has, so far, corroborated with what has happened." Tayne shrugged his wings with a rustle of feathers. "We followed him here, expecting a diversion of major proportions-- which that gaping hole in the building seems to be-- and expecting a certain woman on the fifth tier to be attacked-- which she was, or Torshael wouldn't be chasing anyone across the rooftops right now. If we hadn't sensed the presence of an infernal, Haiiro would never have paid attention to him, and if he hadn't seen what he saw in his head, we wouldn't be here, putting our noses where they otherwise don't belong."
The healer Sentinel came up beside him while he spoke, and as he ran out of words, she spoke up: "I would ask that you remove your hold on him, Tayne Peregrin. He is injured, and I cannot discern the nature of his injuries or heal him properly if you are holding him down." Her tone was polite enough, but Tayne was reluctant as he lifted his paw.
"As long as it's not my fault if he gets away," he warned her, stepping back. "I'll let Torshael yell at you instead of me."
The human-formed infernal did not run away, thankfully. He sat up, and flinched under the ministrations of the healer, but didn't move otherwise.
"I did not mean to insinuate that you were lying, Tayne Peregrin," the Sentinel nodded. "And I can tell now that you are not." Tayne gave him a hard look, noting now the faint, wispy, white glow to his eyes and his mount's: a truth spell of some sort, probably. He nodded, back at him, consciously putting away his disgruntlement at being questioned. Different world, he reminded himself, different mythos. It wasn't as if anyone here knew he was angelic in origin.
"But I would hear the account of more than one," the Sentinel continued, turning to look at the infernal, his gaze intense, as if looking for any sign of falsehood or nervousness. The infernal endured it admirably well. "Tekas Valar, you are known in this city and these accusations have been brought against you. What do you have to say?"
"I had an appointment to keep with Lady Ashka--" Aha, the nameless woman had a name! Provided it was the same woman. Tayne really had no way to tell. "-- at her request, and I arrived in a timely manner. I spoke to the guards at the gate and was about to be admitted when there was an explosion. Then, with no warning whatsoever, Master Tayne decided to 'detain' me--" He mouthed the word with infinite disdain. "--under whatever suspicions he and his comrades had. But I had nothing to do with it."
"And your encounter with his brother?"
"He is obviously capable of changing form, if he is the one to whom I gave money this morning. I saw him looking very human at the time, and he stopped me in the street before I reached the tower gates, asking for a donation to his temple."
Tayne was incredibly impressed at the infernal's word choice. None of what he said was a lie-- with the possible exception of "I had nothing to do with it". And even that, depending on what he had nothing to do with, could have been the truth: after all, he had nothing to do with Tayne detaining him or the actual mechanisms of the explosion. Tayne hadn't been dealing with the nefarious and guilty for even as brief a time as he had without taking note of some of the ways they wriggled around the truth-- and some of the ways to wriggle it out of them.
"Then your visions may have been misled, Tayne Peregrin," the Sentinel concluded, "Tekas Valar also speaks the truth on this matter."
"That depends on what questions you ask him," Tayne grinned, and the infernal frowned. "That was, indeed, the truth-- about what he mentioned. Mister Valar, are you in fact a human-formed infernal? And did you not, in fact, speak into some device or spell upon approaching this tower, confirming the position of someone awaiting a signal of undisclosed quantity? Was not the money you gave my brother part of a 'payment' regarding to a deed you were to be involved in today?"
The infernal, still glowering, took his cue from the Sentinel, who only nodded for him to answer. Unsurprisingly, he completely ignored the first question and launched into an insulted-noble diatribe: "I am appalled by the idea that my private conversations are being made public. However, since it seems you must know: I was speaking to a colleague of mine about what his plans are this coming rest day, that is all. I don't know what you were insinuating it was actually about. Furthermore, I gave your brother part of the money I had prepared to invest this afternoon, after my meeting with Lady Ashka. It helps bolster my own network. So yes, I do happen to be a bit bitter about it."
The Sentinels gave no sign that they'd sensed any lie, nor did they prompt the infernal for an answer to the question about his identity. Tayne was starting to get uncomfortable. He had not yet known Haiiro's mind-reading to be so wrong, so he had to guess that either the infernal knew ways to think about something completely true while speaking half-truths and almost-lies, or that shield Haiiro had encountered was protecting him from the Sentinel's magic, or, worst of all, something was very wrong here.
"I hate it when we run into smart ones," Tayne grumbled under his breath. "I don't know what to tell you folks," he added for the benefit of the Sentinels and guards, shifting his wings unhappily. Here they were, on a strange planet where no one knew what he was, no one believed him, and the person-- the infernal-- he was accusing was an excellent liar, somehow protected from truth-sensing spells, or was actually innocent. Life was just peachy today, wasn't it? "Either he's lying and somehow fooling you, or he's using some aspect of the truth to make everything he says seem true, or... something. We wouldn't have followed him all the way here if Haiiro hadn't read the involvement in an assassination in his thoughts. Haiiro's got his own reasons to be here, and as far as I know, this isn't it: it's just a detour."
The Sentinel considered only briefly before turning to his fellows and setting about organizing them into moving the injured farther away-- and presumably to better accommodations than the ground or makeshift stretchers. To Tayne's relief, the leader of the group looked about as happy with the situation as he did... which wasn't very.