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

Chapter Nine

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


Getting the Sentinels mobilized in search of Tekasynos's nameless woman was the easy part; finding and detaining her was much harder. Twenty minutes after Torshael relayed the message, a twenty minutes Torshael and Haiiro spent trying to learn something about the surrounding countryside, they got a false alarm. The supernal paused in the middle of a question about how far it was to the nearest town. He wore the listening expression he usually had when Tayne was trying to catch his attention.

"Oh, curse it," he exclaimed.

"What?" Haiiro blinked.

"They found her, trying to get to a 'telecircle'-- one of those things like in the tower, Haiiro-- and tried to stop her, but she managed to slip away again!"

"I'm sure she'll turn up," Thaddius commented dismissively. "If they're preventing her from leaving, at least, there's time to track her down."

After a few more minutes, spent going back to questioning Thaddius-- the archmage was very knowledgeable about a rather wide variety of things; it was rather like questioning a very personable and sometimes amusing library-- Torshael tilted his head, ignoring Thaddius's current comments on the city's security in favor of, Haiiro guessed, Tayne.

"They found her again," he said with a snort that could have been a repressed laugh, and an annoyed one at that. "She threw a rock at a Sentinel before disappearing again. You'll never guess what was attached to the rock."

"What?" Haiiro asked.

"An envelope with a drawing on it." Torshael looked more annoyed. "Infantile, but certainly getting the point across: a woman with black hair, sticking her tongue out at a lion."

Tekasynos snickered, and Haiiro couldn't help a snort of laughter, himself. "You're kidding."

"Afraid not. I have a feeling whatever is inside is for myself or Tayne."

"Well, do you want us to go, or would you rather Tayne just look into it for us all?" Haiiro asked.

"We might as well go." Torshael slanted a look at Tekasynos, half-teasing when he asked, "Are you coming, or should we let you wait here so you can sober up?"

The infernal actually looked mildly offended. "I happen to be perfectly sober, thank you," he growled, but from his muted muttering as Torshael and Haiiro finished off their drinks, he was only recently so: "Wasn't drinking long enough... buzz wore off too fast...." Haiiro let his long mane hide a grin as he backed away from the bar and gave himself a light shake.

"How much do we owe you?" Torshael asked Thaddius, who had turned his fount of information on Ashka and her two guardians while he and Haiiro had been distracted.

"Not a thing." Thaddius smiled, leaning back slightly on his heel when Torshael caught his attention. "If anything, you've given me much to think about in payment already."

Torshael eyed him in surprise a moment, then shrugged. "I'll not say no to free drinks. Thank you for all your help, Thaddius."

"My pleasure."

"You'll be all right here?" Haiiro asked Ashka earnestly; she was the one in the most danger, after all.

"I'll be fine," Ashka smiled.

"I guess we're off, then," Torshael said, standing. "After you, master Valar," he told Tekasynos with a half-amused smile, to whom he gave an elegant mock-bow motioning him to precede him.

"Considering I don't know where you're bloody well heading?" Tekasynos growled, obviously not amused.

Torshael shrugged and instead followed Haiiro towards the door, letting the infernal bring up the rear, whenever he deigned to. "At the moment, outside the building. It seems rather rude to teleport while within this fine establishment. If," he added dubiously, looking around, "it's even possible." Thaddius didn't answer, but he did chuckle, and neither did Tekasynos, though he did, finally and sulkily, wander out after them.

Haiiro, as soon as he cleared the door outside, found himself looking down on his bond from his great height again. He sighed. "I like it in there," he commented. "I don't feel like I'm towering over everybody."

Torshael patted his knee fondly. "I'd shift so you wouldn't feel so out of place, but then Tekasynos would be the only one so small, and I'd rather not make him even more unhappy with the situation. Would you do the honors, Haiiro?"

"All right." With a glance at the infernal to make sure he knew what was about to happen, and was at least marginally ready, Haiiro felt for the three of them with his mind, then fitted them into the scene Tayne had provided them with. All it took, after that, was a little bit of push, and there they were.

They appeared back at the tower, where most of the rubble, all of the injured, and even the half-frozen body of the fallen mage had been by now cleared away. Her dragon-bond, however, remained, curled miserably against a far wall. Haiiro shot her a sympathetic look, wishing he could go speak with her, but Tayne was coming towards them. He was in lion form, now, apparently content to be at a lesser height than the Sentinels, now, or just more comfortable in that shape, since no one here was liable to be frightened by a big cat walking around. He paused at the sight of a trio rather than the pair he'd probably expected.

"Tekasynos is coming with us," Torshael said, in a tone that brooked no argument. "He has something of a score to settle with the opposition."

Though he looked skeptical, Tayne shrugged. "All right. Here for the letter, I take it? I've got it right over there, one of the Sentinels brought it back this way. Figured I'd wait on you guys before opening it."

"We're here," Torshael nodded. "Let's see it."

Tayne led the three of them-- though Tekasynos lagged behind, keeping his distance from Tayne in particular-- back a few paces to where he'd left the envelope. Lacking fingers at the moment, he batted at it a few times until it wafted into the air, where Torshael caught it deftly and slit it open neatly with a fingernail.

"Er... what is this?" he asked, frowning at the contents that unfolded from within. It wasn't a letter-- or even a taunt. It looked more like....

"A map?" Haiiro guessed, staring over his bond's shoulder.

It couldn't be anything else. It covered a fairly large area, though Haiiro wasn't entirely sure what area it was, and one part was marred by a large, red X. The X marked was accompanied by a drawing-- obviously by the same "artist" who had decorated the envelope-- of a tower and an arrow. Scrawled beside it was written "Come out and play with me!" Torshael gazed at it a moment before commenting, "Either someone is playing a very strange prank, that black-haired woman of mister Valar's is having second thoughts, or it's some kind of trap. --Tayne, what is so funny?" he asked, a little snappishly.

Tayne, it seemed, wasn't looking at the map. He was, instead, snickering at a second piece of paper which had fallen from behind the map when it unfolded. "Look for yourself," he suggested, peering past Torshael and Haiiro to grin toothily at Tekasynos.

Torshael bent to retrieve the paper, and Haiiro could tell why Tayne had been so amused. This one bore the message: "PS, Bring that sexy guy, too!" And, in case there was any doubt as to who the writer meant, it too was followed by a picture: a doodle of the black-haired woman clinging to a man with streaks in his hair-- obviously Tekasynos. There were little pink hearts surrounding her.

" ... is she-- not right in the head?" he wondered, feeling quite wrong-footed.

"What?" Tekasynos frowned, not able to see it yet.

"Apparently, you're sexy," Tayne grinned, to Tekasynos's obvious discomfort.

"Tayne, please stop it...." Torshael turned to offer the map and drawing to the infernal, Haiiro sidling out of his way. "I don't suppose the word 'Zu' means anything to you. It looks like her signature, but...."

"It seems familiar," the infernal answered, running a hand over his hair, "but... well, I suppose it's expected if I can't place her face."

"It might well be her name, then," Torshael nodded, and showed him the map and picture. "She wants you to come along, as well, apparently."

Tekasynos merely glanced at the map, but the picture got a long stare, his expression even more confused and disturbed. " ... what the hell??"

"That's what I thought," Torshael agreed. "Do you still want to come? It could be a trap, but it's the only lead we have at the moment."

Tekasynos's eyes narrowed. "I'm not backing out of anything."

Torshael nodded as if that was what he expected. "Do you know where this is a map of? Could you show us where we're going?"

"Looks like the northlands," Tekasynos said after giving the map a more lengthy and thorough examination. "I haven't been in that particular area--" he gestured to the X, "--but I've been there before."

"If you can offer a location you've been to anywhere nearby, that would be enough," Torshael nodded. "Tayne, should we--"

"Tell someone where we're going? I'd think so, yes. I'll tell the Sentinel captain, maybe get us some back-up in case things go badly, someone we can call in an emergency."

"I'd like to let Ashka and Thaddius know," Haiiro put in. "They might have some advice for us."

"Anyone you need to inform, mister Valar?" Torshael asked Tekasynos. "Any affairs you need to put in order?"

"I'll take care of it," Tekasynos said, crossing his arms.

"Will two hours give you enough time?"

"It will not take that long."

"One hour, then," Torshael nodded. "We'll meet back here."

"Let me talk to the Sentinels, get things moving, then I'll come meet this Thaddius of yours," Tayne suggested, then padded off in search of the captain.

"And maybe get us something to actually eat before we go," Haiiro muttered, thinking longingly of what Thaddius might be able to come up with regarding food. He expected, given the quality of the watermelon wine, he would be pleased with the result.


Chapter Ten

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