Sunlight Sonata: Part Two
Part II – Rondo con Moto: Afternoon Shadows
The gypsies were gone.
Oh, it might not have been obvious to Coruscatus or Azimuth, but Invidere could tell they were gone. The noise that they generated always echoed around them, no matter what they did. It had kept him awake for much of the night, until their energy became contained and manageable. Then he had fallen into the deep, dreamless slumber that he always had when he slept around others. It was one of the reasons why he stayed away from Azimuth and Coruscatus much of the time.
And he really should go see if one of them had made any food yet. Standing, Invidere began to hum. His ears, unlike those of Korbats and Barbats, were not made for this, but he had learned. Echolocation was a simple enough matter, once you trained yourself to it, day after day. He doubted anyone noticed his humming, either because it was pitched too high for them, or because they were used to it. The only downside of humming constantly was that he could not see auras, but if he was still, he did not need to hum, so it evened out, in the end.
Picking his way through the furniture, and only bumping into things and cursing a few times, Invidere made his way to the kitchen. He could hear the sound of someone in there, moving and almost certainly preparing breakfast. Pausing in the doorway, both in his steps and his humming, he cast around him for the prickly-hot metallic aura of Azimuth; the Draik was usually up earlier than Coruscatus. But instead, he found the Kougra’s aura; the smell of the forest and the sudden feeling of soft grass brushing against him.
But there was something else, too. “When did you get that enchanted thing?” he asked, pointing his head towards Coruscatus. “You did not have it last night, I know.”
He could hear Coruscatus’s hesitation, the slight stutter in his step before he replied. “What’re you talking about? The pendant that gypsy gave me?”
“I assume so. May I have it?” Invidere held out a paw without waiting for an answer. He knew Coruscatus would glare at him for a time before deciding, but it was best to hold out his paw anyway.
A minute passed before he felt something touch his paw. “It’s a pendant,” Coruscatus said. “Shaped like a sun in glory.”
“I think I could have figured that out,” Invidere said, closing his paw over the pendant. Focusing on it, he could feel the power inside. Deep power, like that of lakes or the depths of the sky, but not a power he recognized. “Gindara.” Not a question, or even close to one. She was the only source of such magic he could think of. “What did she say when she gave this to you?”
“Almost nothing,” Coruscatus said, rather absentmindedly. He sounded distracted, and the soft – to others – noise of food being prepared gave the reason. “Something about using it wisely, I think. She woke me up to give it to me, so if there was anything more, I can’t remember it.”
Invidere was silent. He shook his head a bit and sat back, freeing up his forepaws to slip the pendant around his neck. As the pendant settled into the fur of his chest, he felt it grow warmer, and the feeling of power increased.
“Do you remember my warning?” Invidere asked. “Coruscatus, get Azimuth up. He needs to hear this as much as you do, if not more.”
“Wait until I finish the eggs, Invi,” Coruscatus said. Invidere sighed at the contraction of his name. He wished that the brothers would use his full name, instead of one that sounded very much like ‘envy’. He had nothing to envy, after all, other than the sight that he had never had.
The hisses, clicks, and clacks of Coruscatus’s cooking took an eternity to end, to Invidere’s ears at least. His pacing. mind closed to all but his thoughts and the pendant’s aura, managed to get in Coruscatus’s way more often than not, and yet the Kougra never told him to go away. Invidere did not wonder why that was. He knew. It was because of the pendant. It bound and re-aligned things. Oh, its power was something to be feared, certainly, but Invidere could feel naught but longing for it.
A soft splat, the sound of the scrambled eggs being plopped onto a plate, and Invidere looked straight at Coruscatus. “Go get him,” he said softly.
Coruscatus went. There were no questions asked, and though there should be none until he had said his piece, Invidere knew Azimuth would interrupt him. That could not be helped, however. Azimuth was what he was, and though he was older than Invidere, Azimuth seemed the younger. Invidere sighed, letting those thoughts drift away as he began inspecting the pendant’s aura for clues about what it did.
“I get it already! Stop pushing me around!”
Azimuth’s words pulled Invidere out of his trance. “Brotherly love?” he murmured, softly enough so that Coruscatus and Azimuth were unlikely to hear him. “Enough,” he said, turning to face the door they had just come through. His voice was quiet, but intense enough to cut through the argument. “Azimuth, I assume Coruscatus told you about the pendant.”
“Well, yeah,” Azimuth muttered. Invidere suspected that he was hanging his head.
“It’s not my fault!” Coruscatus protested. “He told me to.”
“Enough,” Invidere snapped. Stepping closer to Azimuth, he hissed, “You will listen to me, understand? For if you do not, you will end up in deeper trouble than you already are.”
That silenced them. Invidere let the silence hang there, echoing with chirps and birdcalls from outside. The soft sounds of breathing and shifting of weight seemed to reverberate through the room, louder than the voices that had been raised.
“This is stupid!” Azimuth said, finally. Invidere smiled. He’d been waiting for that. “I mean, you start yelling at us, ordering us around, and then, when you actually get us ta follow ya orders, ya just up ‘n drop us! Stupid bird-thing! Ya don’t know anything but how ta smash in ta da walls!”
Invidere held back his laughter, but it was a close thing. Nobody quite knew why Azimuth had an accent when upset. Coruscatus suspected it had to do with the people he dealt with for his experiments. “Azimuth, you are aware that you are talking like a Krawk Islander, correct?”
“’Course I know that! How could I not with ya telling me ev’ry chance ya get?”
“Az, cut it out,” Coruscatus said. “You’re talking like an uneducated peasant.”
“Well, ya talk like a high-an’-mighty lord, or some such thing!”
“Thank you, peasant.”
“Shut up,” Invidere growled. “Both of you. This pendant can take us to a different reality, if we activate it.”
“Thank you,” Invidere said, as calm as if the argument had never happened. “Now, let me explain. This pendant is a powerful item. It has been enchanted to take the bearers – that would be us – to a place that is troubled in some way or form. The bearers then help with that trouble, and reactivate the pendant and return to their time.
“There are a few problems, however. The foremost being that, if we activate this, we cannot know when, or even if, we will return. The second being that the pendant does not know how to activate itself.”
“So we get to experiment?” Invidere recognized that tone. It was Azimuth’s ‘Happy! I get to blow things up!’ tone.
“We do,” Invidere said. “But using magic, not your insufferable technology.”
“Az, do you honestly think that you could get something magical to work using your weird Virtupets stuff?” Invidere could not quite tell if Coruscatus was irritated or amused. There were elements of both in his voice and aura.
“Yes,” Azimuth said, promptly. “I do. Would you like me to try?”
“No!” Coruscatus and Invidere spoke at the same time. Invidere continued, speaking over Coruscatus for only a moment before the other stopped. “Azimuth, I believe that I am best suited to activating this. The aura that surrounds it holds the key to using it. I just need time to find those keys.”
“Sucks to be you, then.”
Invidere felt the intention in Azimuth’s aura, and was already moving aside. But the sighted always held an advantage over the blind, even if the blind knew who he was dealing with. Invidere found himself in a choke hold, Azimuth’s hand reaching for the sunburst, and unable to do anything about it. Invidere felt like he should be panicking, but instead, a sense of absolute calm overcame him.
“Addonos alio.” The words came spilling out of his mouth, almost faster than he could form them. “Addonos uta vulnero locus. Addonos quanos succurro.” A pause. “Sollumin.”
Invidere heard Azimuth cry out, heard Coruscatus shout. He could feel the reason behind that. The pendant on his chest felt like it was on fire, and even he could see the light that shone from it. His final word echoed around them. Sollumin. Sollumin. Sollumin...
On the third repetition, the light flashed even brighter, and Invidere had a sense of being pulled up into the sky, faster and harder than anything he had ever encountered before. A moment later, he was thrown against cold, hard stones. A scent not unlike the scent of Azimuth’s labs hung in the air.
A moment later, he heard Coruscatus speak, summing the experience up in a few stunned words. “Well. That was certainly... exciting.”
“Exciting? I thought I was going ta be torn up in ta bits!” Azimuth said, obviously even more agitated than before. “What’cha going to say next, Coru? Tha’ an inferno is only a li’l hot?”
“No, that this place only stinks a little bit. Honestly. This place stinks worse than your lab.”
“Hey! M’ lab doesn’t stink!”
“Shut up and tell me what this place looks like,” Invidere said, trying to sort through all the odd scents and sounds of this place. “Or are you forgetting that I’m blind?”
Azimuth shut up. Coruscatus, thankfully, did not. He simply changed to a more useful topic. “We’re in some techno-place. I think the area that we’re in used to be Neopia Central, but I can’t be sure. There’re robots and mutants with stuff that looks like what Az is always experimenting with walking around everywhere, and there’s Virtupets-ish logos everywhere. I think Sloth has a bit more influence here than he did back home.” Coruscatus paused. “Az? What do you think?”
“Coru’s right,” Azimuth whispered. “It’s not good.” A pause followed, and Invidere sensed his stillness, suspecting that pain accompanied it. He himself was still, trying to sense anything other than dust and electricity. “I don’t like this place at all.”
“You!” Whirrs and pops accompanied the mechanical voice, but seemed separate from it. “You aren’t on the Registry!”
“Blast it,” Azimuth murmured. “Not good.”
To be continued...