Worlds Apart: Part Five
Jaden stood in the moonlit room, gazing up into one of the statues of twelve. It seemed to glow in the night, with strange dancing patterns flitting across it.
It was of Kelland, the Thief. He had the sort of smile on his face that said he knew things, hidden, incredible things, but that he wouldn’t tell.
Jaden felt like that sometimes, like she had so many secrets. Like the whole world was on her shoulders and all she could do was hide from it. She had run so far away, and now she was almost home again. She had been across the worlds, living in dungeons and eating stale bread for years, and now she was almost back at the very place she had run away from.
Staring up at the statue of the famous Techo Thief, she sighed deeply, and when she spoke it was in a soft whisper.
“I’ve come this far, and I feel like I’m moving backwards. Vin’s out getting some supplies; we’ll be leaving in about an hour. I came to the Hall of Heroes once, many years ago, with my father. I’d never been to Altador before, I was so excited. It’s a beautiful place. But you’re a thief,” Jaden said, reaching out to touch the stone statue in front of her. She ran the tip of her finger along the blade of the dagger clutched tightly in Kelland’s hand. “There’s no place in a Hall of Heroes for the likes of me and you. I wonder, if my life had’ve been different, would I have ever become a hero? Instead of running in the night, always, always running. Will it ever stop? Will I ever be able to stop running, from the guards, from the past? All I want is a normal life. Vin and I will settle down somewhere in Moltara. It’s pretty secluded there, we think we might be able to live there without being found. For a while at least, then we might have to move on to somewhere else. Perhaps the Haunted Woods. With Carrick gone we...” she trailed off, looking out the window with a distant expression on her face.
The statue of Kelland turned to face her, and when it spoke it was a deep, throaty rumble.
“You miss him.”
“Of course! Sure, he was a brute, but he was really starting to grow on me, you know? I simply cannot believe that he would betray us. Vin’s certain of it,” Jaden added, not even fazed by the fact that she was having a conversation with a stone statue.
“Why would he?”
“Exactly! Why not keep running with us, we could all live together in some nice, quiet place, somewhere where the guards would never find us? I just don’t understand it.”
“You’re talking to a statue. You’ve been locked up for quite a long time, Jae. I wonder if you haven’t started to go a bit... funny.”
“Funny? Of course I’m funny. Listen to this one. How many Techos does it take to change a light bulb? Four!”
“I don’t get it.”
“Oh, hang on, I forgot a bit. It’s supposed to be... oh never mind. But I’m a hoot, I’m sure.”
“Like I said, funny. I probably should have used the world peculiar.”
“Kelland, do you think I’ll ever be free?”
“Well, that depends, I guess. On what you define as free.”
“From the music box.”
“Oh. I don’t know, kid. I really don’t. You hear it all the time?”
“Yes. Listen, can’t you hear it?” Jaden twirled around on the spot, her arms held high in the air. The statue of Kelland stepped down heavily off his stand and held out his hand. She took it, wincing at the cold, hard texture. He spun her around, bowing slightly in her direction. She leapt through the air with such effortless grace, as he held her high above the ground, floating through the air like they were made of gossamer. They moved like liquid, matching each other’s moves perfectly. Jaden closed her eyes as she listened to the music swell around them as they danced faster through the Hall of Heroes. All the other statues turned to watch them as they glided in perfect synch. The curious face of Sasha, the Dancer, watching them with fascination. Even King Altador himself looked at them in awe. Never had anyone danced so beautifully.
As they danced Kelland whispered in her ear, “You can still hear it after all these years?”
“I think it’s getting louder, actually. Sometimes it hurts my head,” Jaden said, as their dancing slowed. “I can’t tell Vin, of course.”
“Why not?” The statue looked at her through cold, dead eyes as he gripped her hand tightly.
“He would leave me. I know he would. If only he knew what I did...”
“What did you do?” came the voice of Vincent from the doorway. Jaden spun round, startled, her music cut off abruptly.
“Nothing, nothing,” she said quickly, walking briskly over to him. “Did you find some supplies?”
“Yeah. Nothing too exciting, but will last us until we get to Shenkuu, at least. Were you talking to yourself?”
“No, there was... I mean, yes, I was talking to myself,” she replied, with a quick glance over at her shoulder at the statue of Kelland, who was in the exact same place as when she had first entered the room. Perhaps she really was going a bit peculiar?
“Uh huh.” Vin regarded her suspiciously. “There’s a dock which we need to leave from to sail to Shenkuu, but it’s heavily guarded and we still need a boat. So it looks like we’ll be staying here for a few days.”
“There’s an observatory sort of room up those stairs there; it looks like no one’s been in it for a good long while. We can set up there until we can leave.”
“And tomorrow night we can check out this place. Look, the sun’s just starting to rise. We should go to bed and try to get some sleep.”
As they left the room together Jaden glanced over her shoulder one more time at the motionless statues before shaking her head.
As she settled down to go to sleep that morning, a strange thought came across her mind.
“At first there was three, and now there’s two.” An even stranger thought crept up on her and she wondered, “What happens when two becomes one?”
She fell into an unpleasant and dreamless sleep with these thoughts on her mind.
At sunset the following day, the two set out to discover the mighty land of Altador. While Vin set off in the direction of the docks, Jaden wandered aimlessly through the city until she happened upon an intriguing little shop.
Pushing on the door, she was greeted by a friendly Blue Yurble, struggling to keep a hold on a Minitheus squirming in her arms.
“Hi there, welcome to my shop. Here we sell some of the most wonderful ─ ouch !” She yelped as the Minitheus chomped down on her hand. “Well... the most spirited, anyway.”
Jaden smiled politely and reached out to stroke a Vaeolus sitting up on one of the shelves. It eyed her curiously, clicking its beak at her.
“Are you interested in buying a little companion? Won’t find any finer than these, I tell ya.” The Yurble jostled the Minitheus more comfortably in her arms and nodded in the direction of the petpets.
“No, thanks. I’m just looking,” Jae said, watching with fascination as the Minitheus snorted little flames out of its nose. “Are they supposed to do that?”
The Shopkeeper frowned slightly as she looked at the wriggling petpet.
“No, actually. This one’s special. Probably the reason no one will buy him. He tends to scare them off.”
“I had a friend like that,” Jaden said with a soft smile. “He could breathe fire, too.”
“Shame you didn’t bring him with you. This little guy would probably have loved him.” The Yurble smiled affectionately at the Minitheus. To return her love, he nipped her hand. “ARGH!”
“What’s his name?” Jaden asked, reaching out cautiously toward the Minitheus. He looked at her through his beady little eyes before allowing her to pat his head.
“Oh, I don’t name them. That way the new owners can call them whatever they want, and they will respond to it. Nothing worse than finding the perfect petpet and it already has a name you don’t like. But it looks like I’ll be stuck with this one forever, if he doesn’t stop setting fire to my customers. I should just name him myself.”
“I think he looks like a Carrick,” Jaden said matter of factly, scratching behind his ears. The creature sneezed, and small yellow and orange flames erupted from his nose.
“You know, I think he kind of does. It suits him. Carrick,” the Shopkeeper repeated, smiling down at the now-calm petpet as Jaden turned to leave the shop. “Cute name, where did you hear it?”
The Zafara paused in the doorway, a distant expression on her face.
“It belongs to the nicest Scorchio I’ve ever known.”
And as Jaden left the shop, Carrick the Minitheus snorted happily and set fire to the shopkeeper’s mane.
To be continued...