Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission
Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight
Tayne probably could have asked Irithin or Haiiro where Tekasynos was, when he finished his meal, but he figured it would be more interesting to seek him out, himself. So he said a jaunty farewell to the seer and archmage barkeep, and set off across the city to the harbor. He checked the docks, but none of the ships loading just then were under the jurisdiction of a Tekas Valar, and there weren't any blue-streaked blondes anywhere he could see. So, he widened his search-- and got entertained by the people, places, and occasional street-bard along the way, in the process-- until he came across a bench under a tree containing the not-quite-familiar form, reading a book in the shade.
"I'm too used to you without your contacts," he commented by way of greeting, approaching the bench with an amiable grin. "I hardly recognize you now."
Tekasynos didn't look up, but he did slip a ribbon in his book and close it, setting it in his lap. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" he asked, sounding surprisingly amiable, himself.
"Well, considering I was looking for you, a bad thing," Tayne chuckled lightly. "Mind if I sit here for a few minutes?" He motioned to the other side of the bench. "I'd hate to talk down to you, and besides, I think I overdid it last night, and sitting down sounds really nice about now."
Tekasynos gestured his acquiescence and Tayne dropped lightly down next to him, leaning back against the bench and resisting the inclination to throw his arms over the back. "I hear Irithin confessed," he began conversationally.
"I heard the same thing, not too long ago," Tekas agreed with-- High One be praised-- a smile! It was like talking to a different person and it was only a minute into the conversation-- had all of his animosity and misunderstanding been due to Irithin's meddling, or had he simply been so wound up by being involved with Zu and Torshael that now, without either influence, he was just that much more relaxed?
Well, no matter what it was, Tayne was glad of it. "I heard you didn't take it so well," he grinned, back. "Not that I blame you, mind."
"Well, I happened to hear-- from a pretty reliable source-- that I gave him far less than he deserved," Tekas commented back. "But that source does tend to be a bit biased, at times...."
"I expect your source is the same as mine," Tayne chuckled. "She offered to do it, herself, before you were around to handle it."
Tekas shrugged. "I'd be inclined to agree with her, either way." Then he sighed. "I... hope I didn't leave you too sore after that."
"High One, I was coming to apologize to you," Tayne said sheepishly. "You at least had an excuse; I just lost my temper."
"Having an excuse doesn't mean I'm absolved of blame," Tekas answered.
"How about this: I forgive you if you forgive me," Tayne suggested. "And once this whole mess is over, if you're not skipping town, we go out for drinks and start over."
"I think that's fair," Tekas nodded slightly. "And that sounds like fun."
"You haven't seen me drunk yet," Tayne laughed. "You might change your mind afterwards."
"I think I'll manage," Tekas replied.
"Well, good." A change of subject seemed in order, now. "So how's business? That same source said you were getting a ship loaded."
Thus began the first actual conversation Tayne had engaged in with Tekasynos that wasn't fraught with tension, distracted by Torshael's presence, or even mildly unpleasant. It was amazing the difference, without Torshael, without stress, without Irithin making a mess of things. He could actually enjoy the company of someone who was, as he'd guessed, not all that different from himself. A little more serious, maybe, and a little more prone to moodiness, and with Torshael's intellectual side thrown in for kicks, but on the whole someone he could at least relate to. Perhaps it helped that what they lacked in profession they shared in coming from the same home realm and a similar outlook because of that home realm.
Once he was on his feet, though, he did invite the infernal back to the inn with him for dinner once he sensed the imminent drying of the well of small talk, and figured that Torshael was probably annoyed enough with him for disappearing. Though he didn't really expect acceptance, he figured it wouldn't hurt to ask, and maybe clear the air with his brother before they left in the morning. To his surprise, Tekas actually accepted-- and didn't even look apprehensive or suspicious about it.
"Thaddius will be glad to have more people to cook for," Tayne grinned at the agreement, and offered the infernal a hand up from the bench.
"I'm sure," Tekas smiled, and didn't decline the hand.
It didn't take nearly as much time to get back to the archmage's establishment as it had to find Tekas-- after all, he'd done a lot of walking in circles in the latter. He pushed open the door, already considering what to think up for Thaddius to try and create, and waved at his brother, sitting at the bar and looking rather like he'd just come from the bath, hair damp and loose down his back. He was even in different clothes, and nursing a cup of something that steamed. He also looked tired. Haiiro, sitting next to him, looked somewhere between pleased and anxious. Soul Catcher and Chi, at least, didn't seem bothered by anything-- the former was chatting away with Thaddius a few stools down, the latter curled up at Haiiro's feet; had he so much as left the kid's side this whole time?-- so it couldn't have been too terrible.
After making sure the door didn't slam in Tekas's face, Tayne asked, "Did I miss something?"
Torshael looked up at their entrance, and straightened at the sight of Tekasynos-- who had raised a dubious brow at the sight of him, whether for his mere presence or how worn he looked-- smiling tentatively at him. Haiiro was the one to answer the question, with a smile somehow both relieved and tight. "Torshael destroyed the phylactery."
"I thought we were waiting until tomorrow," Tayne said, surprised, pulling out a stool for Tekas with a foot while he sat in the one next to it. "Not that that's not great, though. No wonder you look half-asleep. Was it tough?"
"Just tiring," Torshael shrugged it off. "Haiiro's worried Ishtar will know and send Zu-- or that Ishtar is now dead for good and Zu will come anyway."
"That could be fun," Tayne grumbled. "She destroyed a whole city just because we tricked her into taking an empty box instead of the knife she'd come for," he added for Tekas's benefit.
"Because I tricked her," Haiiro corrected, still looking unhappy about it. At least he didn't look like guilt was eating him alive, or anything.
"It was really pretty clever," Tayne explained. "Torshael and I kept Zu busy, and Haiiro ran off with the blade-- smart enough, since there's not a lot he can do against infernals in general, much less one like Zu. Somehow he found a mage to make him an illusion of the real knife inside its carrying box, and it was good enough to fool Zu into thinking she had the real thing. Gave the city time to evacuate before she came back and wreaked vengeance, not to mention get us out." He shrugged. "Haiiro still feels bad about it, though."
"Wouldn't you?" the kirin-kin said mournfully.
"It could have been a great deal worse," Tekas commented.
"That's what Chi said," Haiiro admitted with a little smile.
"And your bond, and Soul Catcher, and Thaddius," Tayne continued dryly for him, making him blush but smile a bit more.
"I know...." He shook his head, then changed the subject. "Sorry... hello, Tekas. It's good to see you."
Tekas nodded-- and smiled; good for him-- in answer. Torshael, probably determined not to look like he was neglecting their guest, asked, "Have you been in the city since you left?"
"Mmmhmm," Tekas nodded. "I found some things to occupy myself with... mostly making certain Zu won't find out I'm still alive."
"I bet it'll be nice to not have to worry about her finding you to bother you," Tayne said. "Hopefully once her easy road to godhood is out of the picture, she'll find some other planet to plague."
"And some other Favored can hunt her down," Torshael added with a nearly-theatrical shudder. "I hate being ineffectual."
"You and me both, brother," Tayne snorted. "Anybody hungry? Was thinking we could ask old archmage-barkeep for one of the back parlors. More comfortable chairs back there, and all."
"I 'eard that, Tayne," Thaddius broke in, putting his conversation with Soul Catcher on hold long enough to reply.
"That doesn't surprise me in the least," Tayne grinned at him. "Since I expected you to."
"Head through there," Thaddius tossed a nod towards one of the doors along the back wall. "I'll be with you shortly if you need anything."
"Thanks, Thaddius," Tayne told him, getting up. "Coming, fire-boy, or are you gonna stare at us all night?" He grinned, giving the infernal a gentle prod with his elbow on the way to his feet. "Why the surprised look?"
"I suppose," he said, still looking startled even as he stood and filed after the rest of them, "I just hadn't expected to hear that, that's all."
"What, that we wanted a private room for our miniature party, or that we want to be rid of Zu?" Tayne asked, blinking at him.
"The latter," Tekas clarified. Tayne pushed the back door open again in Haiiro and little Chi's wake, motioning the infernal through. "I mean, I didn't realize you know someone strong enough to handle her.... That's all."
"We're hardly the strongest supernals out there," Tayne answered with a sideways grin. "I mean, really, we're only ten years old, only been out of training for half of that. I bet one or two of our old teachers could give her a good thrashing-- if they ever deigned to leave the City, anyway."
" ... Ah."
Tekas didn't really sound convinced, but Tayne wasn't about to argue it. He was enjoying being on good terms with the fellow too much for that. Instead, he rubbed his hands together and said cheerfully, "Who's for a game of cards?"
All of them groaned. Even Chi. Tayne laughed, promised he was kidding, and set about making conversation.