Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission
Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight
Waking up to hear that, at least, the foray into the Dreamworld had been successful was the start of a much better part of the day. The nap had helped, too, so it was with a much jauntier attitude that Tayne rejoined the rest of the little party.
It wasn't much of a party, though. Tekasynos was still missing in action, Irithin had retreated somewhere upstairs, according to Haiiro, and Jaliath was huddled in a blanket in one corner of the sofa he'd claimed while warming up. Haiiro was mostly focused on Chi, probably engaged in some silent conversation while the two of them wandered up and down the hall outside the room. Torshael was even unusually subdued, and particularly concerned about Jaliath despite Soul Catcher's assurance that he was all right.
"I hope it wasn't my Purification," he fretted at them. "It knocked out Tekas for a whole day...."
"Yes, well, Tekas also underwent an alignment shift because of it," Tayne commented, sprawled on the floor and, cat-like, using a damp paw to put his mane back in place. Just then, Jaliath let out a tremendous sneeze, followed by noisily blowing his nose, as if to punctuate Tayne's comment, and Tayne grinned. "No, brother, I don't think it's your magic that's the problem."
Even Torshael had to smile a bit, at that. "Too bad I'm not a good enough healer to fix a cold," he said.
"Do any of you need anything?" Soul Catcher made sure she asked, poking her head into the room.
"Irithin to get back here, I guess," Tayne said with a shrug of his wings. "And find out what happened to Tekas, and if he's coming back, so we can get going. Our next stop is our last stop, unless something untoward happens."
Soul Catcher apparently took that as a request and left in search of the seer.
"We need to figure out what to do with that phylactery," Torshael said, still supernal-formed but a touch bigger than Tayne now. "My Purification didn't do anything to it. I'm not sure whether we're supposed to cleanse it, destroy it, barter it... turn it over to Yaashir... or what."
"Get Haiiro to ask his dad, or something," Tayne suggested. Torshael shot him a light glare, and he amended, "Ask the High One?"
"I don't think that will work, here," Torshael said archly.
Tayne just shrugged with a flirt of his tail and went back to grooming.
Several minutes later, Soul Catcher still hadn't come back. Even if Irithin hadn't wanted to come out, worried that Tayne would carry out his weary threat from before or just not ready to leave yet-- or certain that all would end in death and calamity if they didn't stay here for another five minutes, or whatever seers thought would happen-- she could have been back to at least tell them. It all else failed, they could have gotten some more sleep. But she didn't show, and neither did Irithin. Both brothers and the kirin-dragon all jumped, though, at the sound of a fist pounding on a door echoing down from up the nearest staircase, and the following shout, "Dammit, Irithin, I said get out here now!"
"I think someone's being difficult," Tayne commented, heaving himself to his feet. "Anyone mind if I do the investigating?"
"Go right ahead," Torshael waved him off. "I've already made a fool of myself with him once today. It's someone else's turn."
"You? Made a fool? Perish the thought." Tayne trotted off, chuckling, towards the stairwell before Torshael could to more than flatten his ears at him. "Soul Catcher?" he called, bounding up the stairs, "What's the problem?"
She was standing a little ways down the hall, her ears pressed flat to her head in feline agitation, growling softly. Tayne knew the feeling. "He's practically barricaded himself in this room, and won't come out," she complained, annoyed. "Some vague nonsense about 'not being ready'. S'all I've gotten out of him so far."
"Well, he's a seer, seers're weird about timing."
"Friggin' seers," Soul Catcher muttered.
"You said it. Hey, Irithin?" Tayne called. "Got an estimate on how long you'll take to be ready? Do we have time for another nap and some dinner?"
The reply is immediate, and as serene as ever. "Yes, you do."
"Thanks. Mind filling us in as to what you're doing in there?" Tayne tried.
"Something that needs to be done," Irithin answered through the door. Tayne rolled his eyes. "Please refrain from any major or serious interruptions, otherwise I will have to start over."
"You know," Tayne replied, "it wouldn't kill you to share a little information with the rest of the team. But sure, we'll leave you alone. I think half the problem with seers," he added to Soul Catcher dryly, "is that they all seem to think that only they are allowed to influence what happens, and the rest of us have to stay in the dark lest we mess something up."
"I'd agree," Soul Catcher muttered back as the two of them padded away from Irithin's door, and back down the stairs. "And I certainly know how that feels. It's quite irritating."
"Try being in the middle of a fight with someone who's completely irrational because said seer is messing with his emotions," Tayne replied dryly. "Now that is enough to make you wish nobody could see the future."
"Ugh." Soul Catcher sounded disgusted. "Want me to punch him for that when he comes out in a while? He's earned it."
"Maybe after Ishtar and Zu are taken care of," Tayne chuckled. "He means well, at least. So do you know where a fellow can find something to eat, in this great turtle-palace?"
"Sure, I'll take you downstairs," Soul Catcher chuckled, and Tayne sent an invitation to Torshael and Haiiro to join them. They might as well get a good meal and some relaxation in before the big show-down with Ishtar, provided that's what was actually happening next.
By the time Irithin came down to join the rest of the group, dinner was long over and everyone was lounging around comfortably in a larger room with plush carpeting and plenty of conveniently-sized couches. Poor Jaliath was still sniffling and sneezing in his blanket, but everyone else seemed comfortable enough: Tayne had claimed a couch to sprawl out on, Soul Catcher curled up in a slightly over-sized armchair, Torshael stretched out on a rug, and Chi rolled onto his back with his feet in the air. Haiiro himself was more than content with the floor, with his bond on one side, curled slightly for him to lean back against, and Chi on the other. Dinner had been delicious, cooked by Soul Catcher herself, and he was comfortably full. If he could have stopped thinking-- or stopped feeling-- he could have been happy to just doze off. It had been a long day.
But Tekasynos was missing, Irithin was doing something unspecified in a locked room, Ishtar surely had to know that her phylactery had been disturbed, and that phylactery itself was a cold, heavy lump in his pocket, making it impossible to completely relax. So when Irithin came into the room, he was the first to sit up straight. Torshael lifted his head and blinked sleepily at him, Tayne flipped his tail but otherwise didn't acknowledge him, and Soul Catcher shot him an irritated look.
"Finished?" Haiiro asked hopefully.
"Yes," Irithin said, and then said nothing more. Coming in, he found a niche against a wall, keeping himself separate from the rest.
"You know, I liked him a lot more when he was still feeling guilty about giving us over to Ishtar," Tayne grumbled, "or when he was half asleep. He was much nicer then." It was said under his breath, but Haiiro, at least, could hear it, and he flushed a little. He had liked it better when they all got along....
Soul Catcher spoke up next. " ... now what?"
"Yulaan told us about a frozen tunnel underwater," Haiiro suggested. "From what we know about Ishtar now, I think that might be where she's hiding.... But I don't know what to do about this." He fished the phylactery out of his pocket and set it down on the floor in front of him, glad to be rid of it, if only for a minute or two.
"Well, I don't think taking it with us is a good idea," Torshael frowned. "She could take it back."
"Such an object can be used as leverage before it is destroyed," Jaliath sniffled thickly. "But only if you know it is safe, and can be kept away from her. WHACHOO!" Haiiro cringed at the volume and force of that sneeze.
"How can we use it as leverage if we intend to destroy it, anyway?" Torshael asked. "We can't exactly promise not to destroy it."
"Don't have to--" Jaliath paused to blow his nose, "--promise not to. Having it in your possession gives you an edge. It could easily save your life if you play your cards right."
"We've had such a good track record with our 'cards' so far, after all," Tayne muttered.
"The only way I'd feel comfortable with that is if the phylactery were well out of her reach with someone who could destroy it, at a moment's notice," Torshael said. "Otherwise she could simply take it back, or try to kill us before we could destroy it."
"So we find out how to destroy it, and then figure out who looks after it," Haiiro shrugged.
Tayne eyed the thing warily. "Don't suppose smashing it would be good enough."
Irithin spoke up at last. "Such an object would be diff--"
And then he stopped. When Haiiro looked up from the phylactery itself, the seer had frozen, staring at nothing, expression... frightened. Everyone else was looking at him, too. Soul Catcher was the one who said something first. "Well, that's not good."
Grunting agreement, Tayne rolled off the couch and onto his paws, padding over to the seer. "Come on, Irithin, can't do anything about it if you don't tell us what it is. What do you see?"
"Blood." His voice sounded again like it had the last time he'd had a real vision in front of them: it echoed slightly, like it was coming from the bottom of a pit or across a room rather than from his mouth, not sounding like himself at all. "There's blood everywhere... blood on pale stone.... A woman in black, she's seeking something... a sword.... They can't stop her, they're all dying...."
That was less than "not good"; that was decidedly bad. Haiiro dove into Irithin's surface thoughts, searching frantically for a place, something they could teleport to if they needed to, before the vision slipped away.
Unaware of his efforts, he distantly heard Tayne say, "Welcome back. You all right?"
And heard Torshael ask anxiously, "Is that happening now, or in the future?"
"Soon," Irithin managed, and Tayne leaned reassuringly against his legs. "Not yet... but soon...."
"Then that means it's time to move," Torshael said firmly, getting to his feet. Haiiro found himself going with, hefted up by his bond's wing and supported by his shoulder. Torshael was looking at him with concern, but there wasn't time for concern.
"It's the Order," he said. Irithin was trembling; now, after seeing the familiar halls covered in blood and the bodies of people whose names he knew littering the floor, so was Haiiro. "At Cirni. And it's Zu. Oh, High One, she's going to tear them apart...."
"She's after a sword, you said," Tayne growled. "The only blade I remember that we collected was that knife she stabbed you with, Haiiro. I bet that's what she's after."
"Can we teleport from here?" Torshael asked Soul Catcher.
"You can," Soul Catcher nodded, looking worried. "Is there some way we can help?" Jaliath sneezed again-- not a particularly encouraging sound for his ability to help-- but still tried to look attentive, as well.
"Find out how we destroy that," Torshael said as Haiiro bent to scoop up the phylactery. He shuddered a little at the feel of it, then dropped it back into his pocket. "If you can get to Shu-Riin, we can contact you there, hopefully after getting Zu away from the Order and that knife."
"And look after him," Tayne added, nudging Irithin's hand with his muzzle. "We'll deal with Zu," he promised the seer, irritation with him apparently forgotten in the light of this new development. "Infernals are what we're built to fight."
Irithin nodded quietly, showing no sign as to whether he was at all reassured by that, but Soul Catcher seemed more hopeful. "We'll do our best-- just be careful, eh?"
"Always," Tayne promised with a jaunty, feline grin, trotting back to his brother's side after a quick, tongue-scratchy lick to Irithin's hand. "Come on, then, let's get out of here."
Haiiro took a steadying breath, smiled faintly at Torshael's encouraging nuzzle, and-- because he couldn't shake the vision of the Order halls splashed in blood-- let his bond do the teleporting.