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

Chapter Nineteen

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


Tayne and Torshael made their way back to Tekasynos's room, the latter yawning hugely, half due to his restless night and half because he thought Haiiro had dozed off. Soul-bonds could occasionally be awkward, especially if one half decided to take a nap while the other half was in the middle of a conversation. Thankfully, that was when Tayne found him, and his brother could take over while he concentrated on staying awake and controlling his yawns so as not to seem rude.

At least it was done. The dozen or so remaining victims would be notified and, as much as possible, protected. Their job, for the moment, was done, passed on to the Order of the Dragon to execute. All that remained was waiting for Tekasynos to recover enough for travel so they could be on their way in search of Ishtar's heart.

As they made their last turn, someone down the hall was coming out of the infernal's room. Torshael, a bit slower on his feet than usual, merely blinked owlishly, expecting a healer checking on Tekas. But Tayne started visibly, then called, "Hey! Hey, wait there!" and took off at a run towards the figure.

"Tayne?" Torshael called after him.

At the shout, the figure-- which Torshael now recognized as having the same description as the mysterious Rein-- took one look at Tayne racing towards him and took off at a sprint in the opposite direction. Tayne continued to yell after him, passing Tekasynos's room without even glancing at it. "Wait! Rein, stop! Get back here! We've got questions for you! HEY!"

Tayne left his brother behind in seconds, leaving Torshael to check on Haiiro and Tekas. Getting Rein to stop and tell him who in the world he was-- and what other magics he'd put on that book!-- was more important. It looked, though, that it would be quite a task. The elf didn't even slow down as he rounded the corner and kept going, dodged other people like a rabbit on the run, and completely ignored more commands to halt. He even managed to avoid a pair of knights who grabbed for him, moving unnaturally-- impossibly-- quickly. The unfortunate two knights crashed into each other.

With a growl, Tayne launched himself over the knights, shifting into a better form for running before he hit the ground and bounding after him again. "Rein, wait curse it!" Rein didn't answer, but he was laughing as he ran.

Tayne thought he might be gaining on the man, but he also thought that they were nearing an exit, and he wouldn't catch him before he reached said door.

We'll see about that, he growled to himself, and made an attempt at a teleport. He hadn't tried one inside the Order's building yet, and it could have been shielded-- but it wasn't, and he made it: Rein was now running towards him. For a split second he paused to get his bearings, a split second which Rein took to register his presence. The elf started to dodge-- but Tayne wasn't a warrior for nothing. He leapt with a great, toothy grin, tackling his quarry to the ground with both forepaws, claws in. Just barely. He pinned him to the floor, feeling quite pleased with himself, and his captive stared up at him, looking quite surprised.

Then, unsurprisingly, Rein laughed again and said, quite good-naturedly, "Hello again."

"Having fun?" Tayne asked, torn between amusement and annoyance. "Gonna stick around for a while, now?"

"That depends," Rein said with a smile.

Several of the Order knights were finally catching up, but Tayne didn't do more than flick his tail at them. For the moment, he had things under control-- several hundred pounds of muscular lion was likely to keep even Rein still for a while-- but he wouldn't turn down backup in case he somehow wriggled free. "How about answering a couple questions?" he suggested to Rein. "Like how you got that book, and what you were doing in Tekasynos's room?"

"Why?" Rein asked innocently. "I thought it'd be obvious."

Tayne gave his captive a blank look. Obvious? What could possibly be obvious about wiping a score of dangerous spells off of an extremely valuable journal, or sneaking around an infernal's sickroom?

"Sir," one of the knights interrupted, "do you require any assistance?"

"Only if he tries to run away again," Tayne answered. "I've got him for now. Thanks. --Is your real name even Rein?"

"This is actually rather uncomfortably for an interrogation," Rein commented conversationally. "And no, actually, it's not my real name. But I don't see that it matters if I'm being helpful."

"No, I suppose not," Tayne agreed, just as conversationally. "But you're not getting let up, sorry. I have a couple questions I really want answered, and I'm not taking the chance that you'll disappear on me. Now, how did you get that journal? You're not a member of the Order, according to anyone I've talked to."

"No, I'm not a member." Rein smiled a bit. The knights were listening just as intently as Tayne. "But I thought it was important for you to see as soon as possible. It would have taken the Order days to break those wards, yes, but even longer for them to recognize how important the book was. I merely sped things up."

"Don't get me wrong, we do appreciate it," Tayne agreed, "but how in the world did you do it so quickly? There were supposedly a lot of big, tough magics on that book. And what did you put on it in their place, besides that translation rune? The boys down in archiving are going mad trying to figure it out."

"I left a few things on it-- none of which will harm you. One even happens to be ward to prevent people from scrying on you. And there were a lot of wards on it...but as for how I got them off, that is a secret."

"Useful," Tayne admitted. "Good thing I decided to keep the book instead of the data crystal, I guess. You must be quite the mage. Quite the helpful mage, for that matter. Why? Any why be so cursed mysterious about it?"

This time Rein smirked. "So certain you want to know?"

"Yes, actually, that's why I asked," Tayne replied with a fanged smile.

"Then I'll let you in on a little secret or two." Rein leaned up and lowered his voice. Tayne doubted the knights could hear him as he said, "You sitting on me is nowhere near enough to keep me here if I don't want to be. And... I'm not a mage."

Tayne paused for a moment, eying his captive-- who was apparently not so much of a captive, unless he was bluffing-- while he thought on that. "You're not yet another infernal, are you?" he asked warily. "Or are you some kind of godling?"

"Ah-ah-ah, not quite," Rein grinned, to Tayne's annoyance. "Tell you what. I'll let you guess again later, if you show some more sport. It was fun."

And without warning-- not a blink, not a movement, nothing-- Rein vanished. Tayne fell a foot onto the floor, scrabbling at the stone beneath his claws that had, a moment before, been a solid body. There was no twitch of magic to mark the disappearance, not even a pop of air filling the void, he just suddenly wasn't there, as if he never had been.

"That's not fair!" Tayne growled. "How did he do that!"

One of the knights approached hesitantly. "Sir, shall we start a search for him?"

As a glance at the rest of the knights proved that they all looked equally uncertain, Tayne took a moment to get control of his temper again, hissing through his teeth before answering. "Don't bother. I have a feeling he's not mortal, so you'd be wasting your time." He carefully unstuck his teeth before they started grinding. "You can probably all get back to what you were doing... the excitement's probably over."

"But we just got here," came Torshael's voice from behind the knights. "What did we miss?"

The knights parted politely to let the supernal through, and Tayne looked up in confusion when he wasn't alone. At his side, half-hanging on his arm in fact, was a dark-skinned and -haired youth with unusually fluffy ears and a trio of black horns, wrapped in Tekasynos's coat and, judging from the bare feet and calves sticking out from underneath, not much else. Tayne was sure he'd never seen that face before, yet the kid was obviously familiar with Torshael. But as he dropped his jaw a little to taste the kid's scent, he sneezed at the unexpectedness of it. "Is that... Haiiro?"

The Haiiro-smelling boy gave a hesitant smile. "Surprise."

It sounded like Haiiro, too. As the knights started to disperse, murmuring amongst themselves in speculation and concern, Tayne approached the two to give Haiiro-human-- or whatever, given the ears and horn-- a better sniff. "Wow. What brought this on? --It wasn't... Rein, or whatever his name is, was it?"

"We don't know," Torshael said. It had to be different to be standing taller than his bond, in human form. The kid couldn't have been more than five-six, possibly less.

"Kid". Haiiro was as grown up as Torshael and Tayne, but in this form, he didn't really look it. With a softly triangular face, a delicate build with elegant hands, and wide, soulful eyes, red though they still were, he looked quite a bit younger than he really was. He looked boyish and innocent, and the way he currently looked unsteady on his feet and a little shell-shocked only made the image stick harder. His hair easily reached his knees, currently completely loose-- unsurprising, really, as he was, as Tayne had guessed, completely naked under the coat-- and seemed to flow easily around the three horns still on his head, positioned very much like his horns as a kirin-dragon.

"How could you 'not know'?" he asked, circling the kirin-turned-biped. Were those lumps on his back, under the coat, his wings? If so, they were tiny now.

"I was asleep," Haiiro admitted. "I dozed off, had a dream about my father... he said to expect a surprise. I think this was it. Maybe he did it, maybe Rein did it, I don't know. You said you think Rein wasn't mortal?"

"Heard that, did you? Guess that extra-sensitive hearing of yours stuck around, even though your ears shrank a bit." Haiiro's dusky complexion darkened a little in the face, and Tayne was amused to see he'd made him blush. "Well, he pretty much said he wasn't-- anybody that powerful who isn't a mage has to be some kind of deity or messenger for one."

"Father said he wasn't the only one watching over us," Haiiro said. "Maybe Rein is someone else."

"Think we should start asking around after red-haired, gold-eyed gods?" Tayne asked with a grin.

"I don't know, maybe," Haiiro shrugged. The lumps on his back shrugged even more than his shoulders, suggesting that they were wings, and Haiiro had just tried to shrug with them, like he would have as a quadruped.

"Ah... um... excuse me... sir?"

Tayne looked over his shoulder-- and Torshael and Haiiro just looked past him-- at the young girl-healer standing timidly behind them. "Are you in need of anything before I go? I wanted... to make sure...."

"Unless you know any red-haired, gold-eyed gods," Tayne told her, blinking benignly and trying to look as un-fierce as he could, "I think we're all, all right now. Either of you need anything?"

"Maybe you could look in on Tekasynos," Haiiro suggested tentatively. "He was sleeping when I left, but I think he might have been getting a headache again before he dozed off."

"O-oh... okay... please excuse me, then." The lady healer blushed prettily, then scurried off down the hall towards Tekasynos's room.

"What got into her?" Torshael asked, peering after her.

"Maybe our kid's dashing good looks," Tayne suggested wickedly, and was pleased to make Haiiro blush again. "Come on, let's go with her and see how inferno-boy's doing. I'll report on Rein afterwards, then we can talk about where to go from here."


Chapter Twenty

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