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

Chapter Thirty-Three

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


The building itself was beautiful, lush, comfortable, with plenty of places to explore and every thought to the comfort of those within-- the perfect place to spend a week of relaxation and recuperation. It seemed perfectly safe, as well: next to impossible to find, especially once Zharr submerged again-- which he did, if the water-bound windows were any judge-- and protected from the waves, themselves.

Unfortunately, they didn't really have time to explore or take advantage of the comforts. Torshael gave a plush lounging room down one hallway a wistful look before, with a sigh, turning to Jaliath. Maybe they could come back at a later date. "So where might this gate be?"

Jaliath raised a hand dramatically-- he seemed to do everything dramatically, by habit if not by nature-- pointing down one of the stairwells. "That way!"

"Lead the way, then," Torshael said with a smirk, amused at their guide, at least.

"They sure did make this place fancy, for a gateway," Tayne muttered to himself at the rear of the group as they started down the stairs. Torshael caught it, though, and cast him a look over his shoulder; his poor brother still looked a little wilted. Even Tekasynos, who normally didn't even like Tayne, was giving him a concerned look.

The stairway wasn't very long, at least, spilling them out into a short hall in a few breaths. The hall opened into a circular chamber with two archways, neither of which led where expected: another room or hall, or even outside. Rather, each was filled with a rippling, pale prismatic light or energy: their gates, perhaps? They were each marked with a different pattern of runes-- Tekasynos pulled out his glasses to examine them-- but Torshael didn't recognize them as anything except, possibly, the same language as the stones leading to Mori. Languages were most certainly not his strong point.

Jaliath was obviously either familiar with this place, as he pointed immediately at the portal on the right.

"Do we just-- go through?" Haiiro asked curiously, standing by the runes to examine them, himself.

"If you like" Jaliath shrugged, for once not dramatically.

Before Torshael could do more than take a few steps towards the portal, intending to meet his bond and go through together, Soul Catcher spoke up for the first time since they'd stepped aboard the giant turtle. "No, I'll go first. To make sure it's safe." Chi, at her heels, chirped agreement.

"Are you particularly resistant to ice magic and necromancy, then, if there's trouble?" Torshael asked, perking his ears worriedly.

"Maybe," Soul Catcher replied evasively.

"Let me come with you," Haiiro said firmly. "I'm a fire mage, after a fashion, and I've combated necromancy with healing before. You'll know what to look for, and I'll do my best to counter it."

Tayne, it seemed, wasn't about to protest, sitting himself down and fluffing the feathers on his wings. Torshael flicked him a glance, a little surprised that he wasn't rushing in like the adventurous person he was-- but then, if his stomach was still unsettled.... Perhaps they'd simply teleport away, rather than subject him to another boat ride.

"It's not necessary," Soul Catcher said, just as firmly, and stepped through before Haiiro could say anything else.

The kirin-dragon actually looked irritated, not a normal expression for him. "Is there something wrong with wanting to help?" he asked of no one in particular, before pushing through after her.

"It's what she does." Jaliath shrugged briefly in his wake.

Tekas, however, seemed to have a little more insight. "It's likely she doesn't want to put anyone else at risk."

"Risking herself only might be noble," Tayne spoke up, "but if someone competent to look after himself wants to put himself at risk, to help... why make him feel useless by denying him?"

Tekas didn't reply to that, frowning once before his expression went entirely deadpan, and Tayne, catching both the original and changed expression, flattened his ears. He heaved a heavy sigh, flopping down onto his stomach on the stone floor. "Forget I said anything," he grumbled, chin on his paws, and promptly shut his eyes.

"If that's how you consider such a situation," Tekas said, suddenly and remarkably coldly, "so be it."

And without another word, he turned and left the room.

"Tekas!" Torshael exclaimed with a start.

"I have a feeling I'm never going to do anything right, with that one," Tayne huffed, heaving himself back up. "I'm the one making him angry; I'll go after him this time. Maybe he'll at least yell at me and get it out of his system."

"Good luck," Torshael said worriedly. Tayne didn't bother with a reply, but stalked off in the footsteps of the infernal. Torshael watched him go, then sat himself down on the cool, stone floor and watched the gate. There wasn't much else to do, after all, except worry and pray.

Tekas was staring out one of the ocean-bound windows when Tayne caught up with him. His back was to the rest of the room, supernal included, but the reflection in the glass betrayed an angry expression. "All right, Tekasynos," Tayne began wearily. "What, exactly, did you take offense to this time, and just what should I say to prove that I didn't mean it that way?"

"I don't know why you bothered to follow me," Tekas said shortly. "You have more important things to be attending to."

"Actually," Tayne ground out, "Haiiro's doing the important stuff. All I have to do is sit around trying not to throw up. So please, keep being such a delightful distraction. I do appreciate it."

"I am in no mood to speak to you, but I will make this plain none the less. I am sick of you. I am sick of your commentary. I am sick of being ignored or being mocked whenever you find it convenient. And you have made it all too clear to me that you do not care for my assistance, save when it suits your pride." The invective was all but hissed, and the red glow of his eyed flickered brighter. "I will not uselessly stick my neck out for any of you. Not again. Because you didn't even want or appreciate it in the first place, and all it earned me was pain, in more ways than one." Tekas finally turned his head and shots Tayne a dirty, very angry look. "I'm done with you. So if you do not intend to leave me in peace, I will take my leave and call that the end of it."

Tayne listened in silence, tail lashing this way and that, growing more and more annoyed at the infernal's irrationally flawed observations, and when he grinned at the end he felt more like he was baring his teeth. "Finally, a little honesty," he said. "You've been hiding behind that passive-aggressive facade for way too long, now. Though where you get most of that, that you're so angry about?" he added truthfully, if annoyedly, "I have no idea. Because it's not true."

"What did I just say?" Tekas growled. There was even a flicker of fire around his feet, but it fizzled out into nothing, not even smoke, before it made more than a sparkle of light. Tayne hardly noticed it. 

"Haven't we already established that you think I never listen to you?" he growled right back. "What's one more instance, right? But if you looked past your own damn nose and your own damn pain once in a while-- which, might I add, isn't exactly all that dire!-- maybe you'll notice that I do listen!"

"You just proved you don't listen," Tekas muttered, "but if you think I only ever think of myself, then you're deaf and blind." He turned his gaze back to the window. "So leave me alone."

"No," Tayne spat back angrily. "You're not backing down now, not after spewing that rot at me. If you thought about something other than yourself, you'd take us as we are: trying to be your friends, your comrades in arms, members of the same damn team! But everything we do, every offer of friendship or camaraderie we offer, you swat aside-- worse, you think we're insulting you! I'm tired of always being the bad guy, Tekas!"

For a long moment, there was only the sound of Tayne trying to get his breathing back under control-- and his stomach, which was objecting to the shouting. Then Tekas finally said, sourly, "Hypocrite. You tell me that, when you ignored, shrugged off, laughed at, spit on my attempts at being friendly in return? What response did you think you were going to get? Why shouldn't I be insulted--" 

"What?" Tayne interrupted incredulously. "Since when? Tell me one thing I did, or Torshael did, or Haiiro did, for High One's sakes, that was rejecting an attempt to be friendly from you!"

"I suppose, then, for you, it's not a sign of faith or friendship to talk about yourself? I told you about myself. I helped you when you asked for it. And I get snide remarks or your overblown ego in my face afterwards. And what do I know about you? You show up out of nowhere, you turn my life upside down, and nearly get me killed. And that's it."

"Yeah, most of that was you deciding you wanted to come with us!" Tayne snarled back, furious and a little hurt at being blamed for something that he, to his knowledge, had never done. "Not our fault-- your choice! So don't blame us for your life being turned upside down and nearly getting you killed, blame yourself for wanting to be part of it. And what did you ever willingly share with us? You didn't even want to tell us about Zu being hot for you and you leaving the Realm to escape from her and all the other pushy women there. From what I recall," Tayne finished with a huff, finally running out of steam and patience for this whole, stupid argument, "you hardly talk, at all."

"You know what?" Tekas growled, glaring out the window and hands balled into fists. "Fine. It's my fault, it's all my fault, everything is my godsforsaken fault."

Tayne groaned. "Tekas, that's not what I meant at--"

"You won't have to put up with it again. Good luck with your precious quest. I'm supposed to be dead anyway, after all."

Tayne just barely had time to register what that meant and start a leap to stop him before the infernal vanished, teleporting from the room, to who knew where. Tayne had to scramble, wings flaring and paws wind-milling, to keep from smashing into the window. As it was he wound up in a heap against the wall, feathers bent, mane rumpled, and stomach doing its best to rebel. Still, he somehow managed to get back onto his paws, half frantically and half woozily, and look around wildly. Tekas wasn't anywhere in the room or, as far as he could smell, anywhere nearby.

It was only with a great effort of will and a powerful jaw clenching that kept him from roaring in pure frustration and foul mood, and alerting the entire palace-place to his stupidity. That didn't leave much left over for restraining himself from lashing out with open claws and leaving a set of four parallel tears in the nearest sofa cushion. Breathing heavily through bared teeth he glared at the offending piece of furniture, still angry but also embarrassed and obscurely guilty, both about the furniture and Tekas. 

"When this is all over," he told himself, forcing his voice into calmness in the hopes that it would affect how he actually felt, "I am petitioning for a long vacation. I deserve it, curse it, after touchy infernals and ancient blacks and Fallen-cursed boats...." He crawled up onto the ruined couch and curled up there, letting bits of stuffing and fabric fall from his claws, and stared out Tekasynos' window. 

::Tor,:: he sent once he thought he could do so without sounding like a furnace.

::How'd it go?::

::Turns out he doesn't fight like we do.::


Wordless sendings.... Haiiro was rubbing off on him.... ::Well, when we fight, we get out whatever's bothering us, we shout about it for a bit, then we're okay again.::

::Brother, what happened?::

::He left, Tor. I don't know where he went. Just teleported, poof, gone.::

There was a long, very long, pause. Tayne shifted unhappily. ::Look, I'm sorry... I thought if he got it all out... but I lost my temper, right back at him, and he's just so frustrating and irrational and-- and touchy....::

::It's not your fault, Tayne. Maybe I should try to look for him.... I bet Irithin knows where he went.::

Privately, Tayne didn't think that was a good idea. Torshael was enough of a wreck after being the supposed cause of Tekas's last breakdown; what would he do if Tekas actually said something intentionally hurtful? If anyone was going to find the infernal, it should have been Tayne, to at least apologize and tell him not to hold his own temper and their mutual personality clash against Torshael and Haiiro, but he really wasn't sure he was up to that. ::See what Irithin says. He might say it's a bad idea. And don't we have a heart-thing to find?::

::Haiiro is still inside and he hasn't told us to come in after him yet. We're only as far in as the first gate-- there's two.::


There didn't seem like anything else to say. Tayne just put his muzzle down on the ruined cushion and shut his eyes. Maybe if he took a nap or something, he'd wake up back in the City and they wouldn't even have left the Realm....


Chapter Thirty-Four

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