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

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


Torshael felt well and surely ashamed, not to mention embarrassed. Ixin had been entirely right: they'd woken him in the middle of the night, with no thought to his rest or his mood when he woke, when they already knew they'd be taking a rest afterwards, before investigating Haiiro's frozen tunnel. They could have waited-- and all been in sweeter tempers, particularly Tayne who, Torshael realized now, hadn't slept for a good twenty-four hours-- and come to him in the morning. That he'd opened his own rooms to them was far more than he should have done. That he'd seen them at all was more than he should have done.

But Ixin, apparently, was a better person than he could have been, and he had seen them and offered them his hospitality. So the least they could do was accept it with good grace, and be good house-guests. Tower-guests. Whichever.

"Guest rooms were on the second floor," Haiiro said helpfully as they started down the stairs. "Along with a library. I could see it through one of the doors."

As it turned out, there were three rooms, all decorated to match the rest of the tower's look. There did seem to be a lot of silk, which would be interesting to sleep on, to say the least. For all the richness of the High One's city, the Peregrin matron had never been particularly fond of silk, so Torshael had never had the opportunity for silk sheets.

"Who's the lucky one who gets a room to himself?" Tayne asked before stifling a yawn. Torshael was amazed he hadn't noticed how exhausted his brother looked before this....

No one spoke up; Torshael expected to share with Haiiro, and Haiiro obviously expected the same. Tekasynos said nothing-- he hadn't said anything in hours, it seemed like; he'd always been taciturn, but this was starting to get ridiculous-- and Irithin's innocently blank look said he didn't have a preference. Tayne looked around, then snorted amusedly. "Well, if I share with Tekas, I'll probably wind up insulting him again, whether I mean to or not. Come on, seer," he told Irithin, putting an arm around the boy's shoulders and leading him into the first room, "I'll show you the first real bed you've seen in a while, I bet."

"Will you be all right, Tekas, or do you want to share with me or Haiiro?" Torshael asked politely-- then took another look with a little concern. No wonder he'd been silent: Tekas looked asleep on his feet, too.

"I'll be fine," he replied sleepily. Torshael was of half a mind to share with him, anyway, just to make sure he didn't fall over before he got to the bed. The other half of his mind was tired of being responsible, though, and wanted to fall into bed, itself. That half won out, so he just gave the infernal a sympathetic smile and followed Haiiro to the last of the bedrooms, where he gratefully shed the shoulder-pack he'd been carrying and did just that: dropped onto the bed. He didn't think he'd walked this much in his whole life, and sitting down just made him realize how much he ached.

"I think we'll wait on something to eat until morning," he commented.

"Good idea," Haiiro answered, shedding clothing. " ... though maybe you should have stayed with Tekasynos."

"He did look awfully tired, didn't he? But he'll be all right. --Won't he?"

Haiiro had a funny look on his face, but at the query, he shook his head. "It's not that.... Well, I expect he'll be fine. Good night, Torshael."

If he'd had more attention to spare, he might have wondered what "it" was, but he didn't feel like trying to wheedle it out of Haiiro at the moment. "Sleep well, Haiiro," he said instead, and reminded himself to ask in the morning.

And, of course, he'd forgotten by morning. He had also decided that his mother was crazy, and the next time he went home he was ordering silk sheets for himself. He'd slept beautifully on an extremely comfortable bed, more comfortable, even, than the ones at the Order. Also, he'd woken remarkably less sore than when he'd gone to bed-- a sly use of power on Haiiro's part, he expected, for his bond looked far too innocent when he remarked on how good he felt.

Torshael was the second up. The first was Haiiro, who could resist the effects of the soul-bond a little better than Torshael could and actually was coming back in from a brief exploration of the tower when he woke. He showed him where the washroom was, helped him untangle his hair-- he'd been so tired he'd actually forgotten to tie it up before bed-- then shared some truly excellent breakfast. It was well past sunrise, probably halfway to mid-day, but there was really no way to tell, for though the crystals had brightened to simulate daylight, there was still no sun to track to guess at time. Ixin was up, at least, for Haiiro said he'd heard his voice behind the door of his study, though he hadn't bothered him to speak with him.

Tayne and Irithin came down, the former yawning and still sleep-tousled and the latter looking deep in thought, as they were finishing. Torshael was enjoying some hot drink he didn't recognize but really quite liked, and Haiiro was peeling the fuzzy skin off a peach-like fruit. Tayne fell on the meal waiting for him like he was starving.

However, there was still no sign of Tekasynos, even after Irithin had finished eating-- which took rather longer than Tayne. "I'll go check on him," Torshael suggested. Haiiro waved him up with a smile and Tayne didn't bother responding, now enjoying that same drink Torshael had.

There was no answer to the soft knock on Tekasynos's door. "Tekas?" Torshael said. The infernal slept like a rock, so if he was still asleep, there was little doubt he'd sleep through it. But what in the world was he doing still asleep?

Torshael cracked the door open, peering in, and sure enough, Tekas was still a lump under the covers of the bed he'd chosen. He watched him for a moment, contemplating waking him up, then sighed and let the door click shut again and headed back to the first floor and the others. If the infernal needed sleep that badly, he might as well let him get it.

Then, to his surprise, the minute he set foot in the kitchen, Irithin spoke up, with an arch tone and knowing expression. "He was awake, you know. He doesn't want to come out."

It took a minute to get past the surprise of being addressed so quickly before Torshael could reply, " ... why not?"

Irithin seemed to ignore the question, not looking at him but continuing to speak, anyway. "I'm surprised he's even still here. If my visions were accurate last night, he was giving serious thought to disappearing by morning, though I didn't know the final outcome of that until now." He took another sip from his drink, as calm and detached as if he was talking about a complete stranger. Well, really, he almost was; Irithin didn't exactly know Tekas well. "As for why," he added airily, "that's not for me to say."

"Oh, High One," Torshael sighed, running a hand over his hair. Tayne looked rather sour, himself. "I knew something was wrong yesterday.... Thank you, Irithin. I'll go talk to him."

This time when he knocked, it was just to announce himself. ::Tekas?:: he tried again, this time mentally. ::I know you're awake....::

::Go away.::

Torshael blinked at the closed door, then decided not to take offense. Tekas still sounded tired, dull even, as if he didn't want to waste the effort of being irritable. The response was more reflexive than offensive. ::Not until you tell me what's wrong,:: he replied.

::Wrong? Nothing's wrong.:: Apparently he thought that sounded as unconvincing as Torshael did, for he continued. ::Just because I'm slowly driving myself mad because of my own foolishness doesn't mean there's something wrong.::

And the disturbing thing was, he didn't sound all that sarcastic. Torshael opened the door quietly, peering in. When he didn't get an immediate rejoinder to go away again, he slipped inside and made his way to Tekasynos's bedside. The infernal was still buried under the covers, even his head.

"Yes, it does," he said aloud. "Anything that makes you unhappy is something wrong."

He didn't even come out enough to talk aloud. ::So? It's my own thrice-damned fault, anyway.::

"Maybe it is, I don't know. But maybe there's still something that can be done to make it all right."

The only vocal response he got was a "hmph". ::I highly doubt what can "make it all right" would be met with any approval. I should have left last night.::

"If our company is so painful, all you have to do is say so," Torshael sighed, a little hurt. All that effort, and he still just wanted to leave. Maybe being friends with an infernal wasn't possible, for all he'd thought they were doing all right. At least at the Order base in Cirni, they'd certainly seemed to have been getting along. Things seemed to have rapidly gone downhill, since then, and he had no idea why.... "I know it can't be easy, but... we are trying, Tekas."

::It hurts, you know,:: Tekas replied. ::To be smiled at... thanked... praised... by you. Only to be reminded soon after... how little it really means. Never seems to be intentional... at least on your part... but it's there. Something always happens. And it hurts.::

A flash of sudden understanding-- that didn't belong to Torshael-- made him aware that his bond was listening in. Something had suddenly fallen into place for the kirin-dragon, in the midst of that little speech. Unfortunately, lacking words, Haiiro couldn't explain what suddenly made so much sense.

"No one has intended to hurt you, Tekas," Torshael said firmly. That much he knew he could answer, while he waited for Haiiro to find a way to explain himself, since Torshael was entirely lost, now. "None of us. That I promise you."

That was when Haiiro's distant frustration finally culminated in an image, and Torshael went still with shock, blinking blankly. "Tekas... do you-- are you-- I'm confused."

Tekasynos ignored the almost-question. ::Don't make promises you can't keep. Now please go away, Torshael.::

Still feeling very wrong-footed, this time Torshael went.


Chapter Twenty-Nine

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