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

Chapter Thirty-Six

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight



Torshael stopped pacing abruptly as his bond with the kirin-dragon surged with fear, pain, and such magic as to make his skin crawl.

"Something's happened!" He bounded to the gate Haiiro and Soul Catcher had gone through, the one marked with Ishtar's cold gem, and stared at it for one brief moment before looking over his shoulder at Jaliath and Irithin. He'd go by himself if he had to, but he was going in there after him. Jaliath leapt into action, coming to his side, but Irithin simply folded his hands together, unmoving. Torshael hadn't expected him to come, really; he was a seer, not a warrior or mage.

::Put your hand in my mane,:: he told Jaliath grimly. ::I'm taking us right to them as soon as we're through.:: Once he felt fingers twining in his fur, Torshael braced himself and stepped through, into Ishtar's "dream". In an instant he was surrounded by a biting cold, winter wind and snow swirling ominously. He fleetingly wished for Tekasynos's charmed coat before, teeth chattering immediately, he found Haiiro's mind, latched onto what it saw without even looking at it, and teleported.

The scene was in a simple room-- cold, but not as debilitating as the windy, snowy plain they'd just left. Torshael didn't spare a thought for the room itself beyond whether or not he could concentrate around chill-- and he could. What was important was Haiiro, curled on his side on the floor around a blackened hand, and Soul Catcher, wrapped in shadowy tentacles and held above the ground-- and Ishtar, missing a hand but otherwise whole.

Well, he'd destroyed her body once, he could do it again. She was not going to hurt Haiiro again. If Jaliath could just give him a couple seconds, that was all he'd need. He started to glow.

A few seconds he had. As soon as he'd taken stock of the situation, as briefly as Torshael had, Jaliath drew his blade and leapt into action, slicing through Ishtar's shadows and sending Soul Catcher tumbling to the floor, her clothes half-eaten away and skin the same frozen blackness as the arch-mage's long-ago hand-- and Haiiro's hand. Jaliath kept hacking at the shadow-tentacles even as they regrew and renewed their attack, now on him. It was plenty of time for a furious Torshael to summon enough power to fill the room and wipe away anything evil.

Hopefully he wouldn't wind up changing anyone's nature this time.

That was his last thought before he released the blast of holy magic, Purifying everything he could see and destroying anything he couldn't Purify. The light faded a moment later and a blackened skeleton clattered to the floor in pieces by the fireplace. Soul Catcher picked herself up off the floor and hurried to Jaliath's side; he was now on the floor, himself, slumped against the wall and looking dazed. Torshael, for his part, was at Haiiro's side before he'd even caught his breath, nuzzling his face worriedly and tasting tears there.

"I'm fine," Haiiro managed, pushing himself up with his good hand-- the other was clutched around some object or ornament, healed but with the renewed skin an angry red, and held close to his chest protectively-- and wiping at his face on his sleeve. "I'm fine. Th-thanks."

"I'm just glad I made it in time, and that you're all right.... Jaliath?" His own bond accounted for, he looked over at the other two. Soul Catcher had him sitting up, still looking dizzy. Maybe he should have warned him about the Purification... though there really hadn't been time. 

The man gave himself a pat-down, arms, chest, and legs, and said thickly, "I thing I bith my thung."

Soul Catcher made an amused noise, and Haiiro let out a shaky laugh. Torshael smiled in relief, then braced himself as Haiiro used his shoulder to lever himself to his feet. "Let's get out of here," he said. "We've got what we came for."

That was when Torshael noticed that not everything in the room was pure, clean, and good: whatever Haiiro held, it felt very much wrong. He'd done it, then. They had Ishtar's phylactery. It felt good to leave Ishtar's pocket of the dreamworld behind-- and get back someplace warm; Torshael might have been relieved, but once the emergency was over, he found he also couldn't stop shivering-- but not as good as that felt. They finally had a way to stop Ishtar, and by extension Zu. Torshael couldn't wait to tell Tayne. Once they woke him up, anyway.

Irithin had vanished, though Torshael guessed him to be somewhere in the building. He ought to find him and apologize for snapping, and share the good news-- if he didn't already know, of course-- but Tayne needed to be found, too. Though before dealing with either would have to come recovering enough to talk without his teeth chattering.

"Where's Tayne?" Haiiro asked, frowning and looking around. "And Tekas, and Irithin?"

::Napping, gone, and-- somewhere, I hope,:: Torshael answered. ::There was a bit of trouble while you two were gone....::

"Wait-- Tekas left?" Haiiro exclaimed, looking startled.

::It's a long story. Can it wait until we've found Irithin, woken Tayne, and warmed up a bit?::

"Shift down and let me carry you," Haiiro suggested. Torshael was cold enough to suffer the indignities of being carried like a housecat, so did so, and let Haiiro tuck him into the crook of his arm, under a layer of fabric in his long vest. He snuggled down in the hopes that his bond's warmth would help. "Will you two be all right if we go find the others?" Haiiro asked Jaliath and Soul Catcher, the latter of whom was settling the former on a couch in the next room. Chi had appeared again from somewhere, purring and sitting at Haiiro's heels.

"We'll be fine, thank you," Soul Catcher smiled. Haiiro returned it shyly, then turned away down the hall with Chi trailing loyally along behind, rubbing at his face again with his sleeve. He was, Torshael noticed, careful not to brush his cheek with the thing he still held.

::Is that it?:: Torshael asked, though he knew it had to be.

"Mmmhmm," Haiiro nodded, slipping the thing-- it looked vaguely like a crest or a large broach, with some kind of design on it-- into a pocket. "Now we just have to figure out what to do with it.... Irithin's that way. Tayne's farther... that way."

::Irithin first, I suppose. I need to apologize; I was rather sharp with him, earlier.::

"What for?"

::Tayne and Tekasynos got into a fight-- that's why Tekas left. Somehow or another, Irithin was the reason Tekas got so angry. He was manipulating his emotions-- with good cause, or so he says. Tekas is supposed to be somewhere else, doing something else.:: Relating the mess again made Torshael feel rather less like apologizing. Tekas did not deserve to have his feelings influenced again.

"He couldn't have just asked Tekas to do whatever it was he had to do?" Haiiro asked, puzzled.

::Apparently not. Maybe we'll just tell him we have the phylactery. I still think he's in the wrong....::

"Maybe you can just apologize for snapping," Haiiro suggested.

Saying "I don't want to" just sounded surly and childish, so Torshael sighed and put his chin down on his bond's wrist and let him carry him the rest of the way down the hall.

The elf seer was in another of the rooms, by a window. He was sitting cross-legged on a pillow, his eyes closed, making a slow, repetitive motion with one hand, as if winding something around his finger. It looked... disturbing, watching him do it. "Irithin?" Haiiro said from the doorway.

Irithin didn't answer.

"Uh, maybe we should come back later," Haiiro said uncertainly, taking a step back and nearly stepping on a curious Chi's paw, if the little dragon's muffled squeak and Haiiro's quick removal of the foot were any indication. Torshael, more concerned with Irithin, almost wanted to leap out and give the elf a good shake, interrupt whatever he was doing, but instead he buried himself deeper into his bond's vest.

"Did you require something?" Irithin asked before Haiiro could completely withdraw, though he didn't otherwise move except for that one hand.

"Just to let you know we got Ishtar's phylactery," Haiiro answered.

There was the sense of an "and?" to the wordless thought he added for Torshael's benefit. Torshael suppressed a sigh; he really hadn't meant to be rude in his expression of disagreement and upset him, if, in fact, upset him he had, after all; he just disagreed and didn't approve, that's all. That was no reason to be prideful about anything. "And to apologize for being rude to you earlier," he spoke up, though he had to wonder just what Irithin would think of a cat-sized supernal apologizing to him.

Apparently nothing. "It is good to hear that you succeeded," Irithin said blandly, still motionless except for his hand, which Torshael still felt like he wanted to stop somehow. "However, Torshael, there is no reason for you to apologize. I did not find you 'rude'." He made the word sound like a specialist term, or perhaps just distasteful. "Your opinion regarding my methods has been noted."

Only his bond's vest and arm kept him from fluffing up indignantly. "Been noted"? His "opinion" had been "noted"? "And heeded, perhaps?" he asked archly. "Or should anyone else worry whether their emotions are their own?"

"I will not engage in such activities again," Irithin answered. "However... I will not apologize for what I have done."

Torshael sighed, the indignation dying with that promise. "And I won't ask you to. You had everyone's best interests in mind. I just don't like seeing people manipulated without having a choice in the matter, that's all."

All he got in response was, "Mmm."

::What is it with all these people and saying nothing?:: Torshael asked his bond peevishly before burrowing back into the warm-- and surprisingly comfortable, for all it was degrading to be carried around like a pet-- elbow supporting him. Haiiro sent back faint amusement.

"Good luck with... whatever you're doing," Haiiro told Irithin, his tone a little awkward, before he finally escaped. "Let's go wake up Tayne," he said. Torshael heartily agreed. And, since Chi made no comment, perhaps he did, too.


Chapter Thirty-Seven

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