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

Chapter Fourteen

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


It only took the Order of the Dragon minutes to mobilize, suit up in something appropriate for the cold, and teleport to the dark citadel. It was a relief to see the dragons, riders, and passengers come pouring in from the tunnel, breaking the intense silence and making the room feel at least a little less like a snowy tomb. Tayne kept the chamber at a tolerable temperature while they waited, Haiiro worked, and Torshael shivered within his blood-soaked coat, then gladly let one of the Order mages take over the job of heating things when the dragon-bound troops arrived; he'd been rapidly running out of the ability to focus on magic of any kind. When the healers swarmed down into the chamber, Haiiro just as readily backed off from Tekasynos who, though stable under his attentions, had still not woken or stirred, and was still bleeding from the wounds Haiiro did not have the energy to staunch. Which was most of them. 

Tayne handled briefing the captains, trying to ignore the one of the healers who had decided to poke at him, but wincing and glaring weakly now and then. Haiiro was still nervous with the reverent looks he kept getting, and Torshael looked like he was in shock. He hadn't even done anything about the blood on his clothes yet. Well, it was just as well: Tayne was best at briefings and military orders, anyway.

"Give the rest of the fortress a good sweep," he told them when he'd finished explaining the situation. "I don't know what other people or creatures are here, but I expect they're either villains or victims. Watch out for those weird statues, I get the feeling there's something rotten about them. And some of the halls have magic artifacts and things. The worst of them should have been deactivated or destroyed by Torshael's magic, but be careful, nonetheless. I wouldn't suggest leaving anything here that they might come back for and be able to use."

"Sir." The captains nodded their agreement and acceptance and set off to get people into the rest of the towers.

"And see what the mages can do about tracking those two," Tayne added to the mage-captain as she started to turn away, as well. "But be careful, don't let any magic trace them back here. Ishtar can kill through someone else's spell."

"We'd heard about what happened last time, yes," she agreed, expression one of distaste, before leaving, herself, or organize her magic-users.

Attention briefly freed, Tayne glanced around. The healers had somehow managed to get Tekasynos into human form and onto a hovering stretcher. He looked bad.... Torshael, mostly uninjured but for a bit of blood from the ears and a severe draining, leaned on Haiiro's side, while another healer tended to the wound in his neck and the places where the animate ice had scored through his flames and onto his scales. His brother was watching Tekasynos floated away, out of the chilly underground chamber and up to where he could be safely teleported away. Haiiro was gazing at the pile of bones and bloody dagger on the floor-- neither of which had yet been touched.

Tayne very nearly said something-- probably something stupid-- in an attempt to reassure them both. He didn't like Torshael's guilty expression, or Haiiro's turned-back ears. But then the healer dabbed at one of the more painful snake-spike bites, and he twitched away with a wince. "Watch it!"

"Well, if you'd stop moving around so much, it wouldn't hurt so badly," the healer informed him tartly, and he subsided with a grumble.

Once the major first aid had been attended to, Tayne gratefully accepted the offer of a teleport spell back to Cirni, on behalf of all of them. Magic or not, the tower fortress was still cold, and they all needed something cooked to eat, a change of clothes, and maybe a hot bath before they fell into their beds for that promised week. Maybe by then someone else would have caught Zu and banished Ishtar's spirit, and they'd no longer be needed.

If not... well, at least they'd be rested to take up the chase again.

Torshael, predictably, slept the longest, and he clocked in at twelve hours. Tayne had been up for three by then, and had already gotten another hot meal, another hot bath and the immediately following attentions of his pushy healer to make sure he was mending all right, and an overview of what had been going on while he slept-- which wasn't much. The worst of the artifacts had seemed to have been neutralized, thankfully, so there were no casualties at the fortress yet to report, though the cataloguing wasn't anywhere near complete yet, either.

Ishtar's remains were currently in quarantine, being examined, but the dagger she'd wielded had been cleansed of the unholiness that had made it so sickening before. It even looked different, now, its dark colors replaced with paler, cleaner-looking ones. No one seemed sure if that was due to Haiiro's blood or Torshael's Purification, or some strange combination of both. A hunter team was already scouring the area for and sign of Zu or Ishtar's spirit, but Tayne didn't have high hopes for them turning up much information. He expected they were safely holed up somewhere, regrouping and making a new plan. Just what someone like Ishtar was doing with someone like Zu as an employee, he had no idea, unless it was really Zu who was in charge, which was possible. After a moment of wondering, Tayne put worries about them aside for when a new lead came up; fretting about it right now would just waste energy.

Haiiro didn't come to join him until Torshael was awake and dressed and came out, with him. By then, Tayne was sitting in human form in one of the many fireplace meeting rooms in the Order's base building, looking over the list of things, creatures, and people found in the fortress so far, and munching his way through a plate of cheese and meat slices some thoughtful page had left him. He looked up at the movement at the door, and Torshael came in, Haiiro peering in through the too-small doorway.

"Sleep well?" he asked, looking back down at the papers.

Torshael hitched a shoulder in a shrug; apparently not. "Any news?"

"Of Zu and Ishtar? No."

"How's Tekasynos?"

"Still out cold," Tayne admitted. "The healers did a good job, but he just won't wake up. Driving them mad, too, they don't know what the problem is. One of them suggested some kind of mental trauma, that he might be out for a while, if so."

Torshael actually cringed. "I hope...."

"He'll be all right," Tayne interrupted. "It wasn't your fault; you did the only thing you could do." Neither of them mentioned how little good it did. 

"Do you think they'll let us see him?" Haiiro asked from the doorway.

"Could ask, I suppose," Tayne shrugged.

All it took was Haiiro expressing concern over their fourth comrade for them to be ushered straight to a little room in the same building, where Tekasynos was being kept. It was a nice little room, with a window only partially hidden by its curtain, revealing the overcast and snowy courtyard outside. He was still in human form-- much easier to look after, Tayne guessed, not to mention not as frightening-- laying in bed. A couple simple bandages covered the last couple wounds to be closed, superficial wounds that might well have been left to heal on their own. His eyes were closed.

"Maybe he just needed more sleep than any of us," Haiiro murmured hopefully from the doorway. "He was awfully hurt...."

"He's not asleep, he's unconscious," Tayne corrected gently. "There's a difference."

"Oh... and unconscious is worse than asleep, I guess."

"Rather," Tayne agreed.

Torshael didn't say anything, but he was frowning at the infernal. "Something wrong?" Tayne asked him.

"Just a minute," Torshael answered, moving to Tekasynos's bedside and summoning up a soft glow of holy power. It didn't even make the infernal twitch. He looked down at Tekasynos for a long moment, then sighed. "Well, apparently he wasn't particularly evil to begin with... whatever was done to Hois and Ahraosa, I've now done to him."

"Excuse me, sirs," a voice from the hallway behind Haiiro interrupted hesitantly. Haiiro and Tayne turned to see one of the healers, quite likely come to check on the patient, and Torshael backed from the bed guiltily. "I'm sorry I overheard a little, but... you wouldn't happen to know what's wrong with him, do you?"

Tayne and Haiiro exchanged a questioning glance, but Torshael came back outside with a sigh. "Possibly. I assume you know he is an infernal, yes?" She nodded, so he continued. "Well, infernals are, by nature, demonic and usually of evil alignment. A-- spell I had to use in the battle destroys evil, and there wasn't enough evil in him to destroy him, so it merely-- changed him. It left him neutral at least, good at most. I've only known it to happen once, and I didn't actually see it happen." He looked back over his shoulder at Tekasynos anxiously. "I don't know if this is normal or not...."

"Oh dear...." The healer rubbed at her arm awkwardly, looking past them into the room. "Well... if he, by chance-- starts to come around, I'll be down the hall... you can call me... or let me know when you're leaving. I don't want to interrupt." She gave a short, respectful bow. 

"I doubt I'll know any better than you, what to do," Torshael told her miserably. "I didn't really mean to change him, I've never done it before... he'll probably be furious with me, when he comes to. But we'll let you know if anything changes."

The healer nodded, and gave another bow and hasty, "Please excuse me," before scurrying off in retreat. Torshael sighed and went back inside, pulling up a chair beside Tekasynos's bed. Haiiro folded himself down outside the doorway, leaving just enough room that he didn't block it when he lifted his head, and Tayne leaned back against the wall outside. At least he'd brought that list with him and could pick up where he left off. That witch had a lot of interesting stuff. As long as he had something to keep him occupied, he was content to let Torshael keep his little vigil, at least for a while. The Order would know how to find him if they needed him.

Which, apparently, they did before too long. Tayne looked up as a dark elf with startlingly bright red hair and golden eyes approached, holding a small, black, leather-bound book. He looked far too cheerful. "Sir, there was an item found among Ishtar's things that might be of some importance."

"Oh?" Tayne asked, holding out his hand, and the elf handed him the book. "Where'd you find it?" he asked, giving it a once over and letting Haiiro peer at it, just in case, before flipping it open curiously.

"It was found in one of the tower rooms during one of the sweeps. It appears to be a personal record of sorts, it might be insightful. We thought it best for you to examine it first." The writing was strange, not something he recognized, but it managed to be readable, nonetheless. "It's been marked with a translation rune," the elf added helpfully. "We weren't sure if you were fluent in that particular dialect."

"I'm not, thank you," Tayne smiled distractedly at him between flipping pages, even more curious, now. "Who should I ask for when I'm ready to return this to you?"

"Rein. Though I imagine any of the others would send it to where it needs to go." He gave a brief wave and moved off. Tayne returned it, then slid down the wall to sit, starting over at the beginning of the book. Haiiro shifted over to peer over his shoulder.

It was, as Rein suggested, a very enlightening read.


Chapter Fifteen

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