Visions: Journey to Shenkuu - Part Four
In the morning, Nil woke from an aching stomach. She was hungry, and there was something cooking. Quietly, she got up from her position on the floor and moved to the kitchen, her cloak concealing her and making her look almost like a shadow walking across the room. She peered through the doorway and saw a fire with something sitting on top of it. Next to it, a Xweetok sat, tending the flames.
Nil silently slid into the room and looked at Karan, curious as to what he was doing.
Just ask him, a voice told her, and she wondered for a moment if she had gone mad. Still, she was not ready to give into the idea of insanity just yet, since her visions had recently taken on personalities.
“Good morning,” Nil decided on.
Karan did a good job of controlling his surprise, though she still spotted the fur rising on his shoulders. “Good morning. Do you want some tea?” He stood and faced her with the tea kettle she had seen the other day in his hand. “I got the leaves from a neighbor’s plant the other day.”
The fragrance was familiar, and her stomach growled a bit at the scent. “Sure. That’d be fine.”
The Xweetok nodded and set the kettle back onto the small fire he had going before heading over to the crate and pulling out a couple of wooden cups. He handed one to her and took the other one before going back to the fire and lifting the kettle once more. He poured the brew into the two cups and they both took a few sips before heading into the main room.
They sat in the chairs and drank the pot, Karan telling her about the different spots they would be hitting. Nil gladly let him do all the talking, occasionally asking a question or requesting some more detail. Eventually, it was all worked out and the tea was finished. Then, the two thieves took up their bags and headed out, ready for a day of thefts.
The time went by quickly, and the two thieves moved about the city with ease, taking mostly alley routes to their locations and avoiding the guards at every possible turn. There was talk all around about what had occurred the other day and Nil almost came out of hiding to hit someone, but Karan held her back and they passed by without incident.
The acts of thievery themselves weren’t too difficult, though it was more challenging than the Kyrii expected. There were plenty of blind spots and moments of ignorance from the vendors. It was very different from Faerieland, in which all of the vendors were watchful. The catastrophe that struck there made it so that everyone paid attention to their supplies, since they were small and likely to be stolen by someone like her.
Eventually, with two bags full of food and supplies, the two stopped their thefts. It was already past noon and Nil was anxious to be off.
“Do you really have to go?” Karan asked as they walked back to his house. “I mean, isn’t Altador as good as Shenkuu?”
“I’m a wanted assassin here,” she explained, turning her head away from Karan. “Besides, I have business in Shenkuu I have to tend to.”
“Well, then can I come along?”
“No,” she said firmly, glaring at him with her good eye. This was clearly a mistake, since she immediately ran into the side of a building. She cursed herself and tried to continue, but tripped over her own feet and landed on the ground.
Karan laughed and bent down next to her. She couldn’t see him, since he was to her right, but she knew he had that stupid grin on his face again.
“Are you sure you don’t want me along?” he asked.
“Positive,” the Kyrii replied, getting to her feet. As she did so, she turned to him. Sure enough, the grin was there. “The last thing I need is something else to worry about while I travel.”
“You won’t have to worry about me,” Karan replied. “It’s my choice and I’ll pull my own weight. I want to come to help you.”
Nil shook her head and tried to continue, but the Xweetok stopped her. “Give me a chance. I deserve at least that from how much I’ve helped you out.”
“I never asked for your help,” she nearly yelled back. “I can take care of myself.”
“Fine, then I won’t help you, but let me come along. I’ll escort you to Shenkuu, and then come straight back here. Can’t I at least do that?”
The Kyrii was bristling with rage, but something made her calm. Those pleading eyes looking at her. A hidden sadness lay just beyond what she could see, and something urged her to let him come along so that, without thinking, she said, “Fine. You can come along.”
Karan smiled at her, and a bit of the sadness washed away, but it was still there. “Thank you. And I promise just to get you to Shenkuu, and then I’ll be on my way.”
Nil shook her head. What have I gotten myself into?
They departed at sundown, when there would be fewer guards patrolling the harbor area. Silently, the two thieves moved along the street, melding into the shadows at times before coming out once more to check on each other.
Eventually, they reached the wall that surrounded the city and both scrambled up the side. The task was completed without challenge, since both were born climbers. Both made it up the wall and scaled just as easily down, landing at the bottom before slinking out into the night, where they travelled in the shadows as silent as ghosts until dawn.
Finally, the two stopped and rested in the forest just as the first signs of daylight stretched across the sky. They ate heartily, though both made sure to keep enough to the side so that they didn’t run out in a few days. Then, the two climbed trees and, after securing themselves with some rope, fell asleep in the daylight.
A wispy dream floated into Nil’s head and she allowed it, wondering what its purpose was. There seemed to be something important about its message and she wanted to know what.
The dream unfolded before her and she saw a stone chamber with several figures standing about it. They seemed like spirits, almost, and they were talking with each other. An Ogrin Nil immediately recognized watched a Kyrii yell at a blue Ixi, who was wearing a smile even more irritating than Karan’s.
Finally, a Lupe called, “Please, settle down everyone.” His voice carried through the room, and Nil remembered that voice. It was the same Lupe she had been accused of trying to kill: King Altador.
The room was quite, aside from a quiet muttering from the Kyrii, who was still obviously upset with the Ixi.
“Thank you, now I’d like to tell you about what has happened,” Altador continued. “I was nearly killed by a young Kyrii girl yesterday. Fortunately, an anonymous pet was able to stop her.”
“That’s all fine, but if it doesn’t have to do with me, then I’m leaving,” the Kyrii said, his form beginning to fade.
“It does have something to do with you, Jazan,” Altador replied. “You, along with Nabile and your children.”
The Kyrii’s image suddenly became more solid. “What does it have to do with them?” His voice chilled her, bearing a certain power behind it that she could almost feel. It was clear the others could as well, since none spoke, not even Altador for a moment.
“The... Kyrii girl is planning to kill anyone involved with... Xandra’s downfall,” Altador managed to say at last. “Nabile might be used to get to you, along with your children.”
Jazan remained silent for a moment, his face unreadable. Then, at last he asked, “What does she look like?”
“She’s yellow, blind in one eye, and has a silver earring on her right ear,” replied Altador. “Also, she has a blue cloak and is working with a red Xweetok that’s a year or two older than her. Nothing real prominent about him, I’m afraid.”
Nil felt the dream begin to fade, and she was suddenly frightened about what she heard. The Ogrin believed she was the one who attacked Altador from the rooftop. There was no doubt about it. Plus, that Kyrii named Jazan scared her. It was clear that he had power, and he wasn’t afraid to use it, especially against those who he believed would harm his loved ones.
That’s me, she realized and a cold feeling suddenly swept over her. She heard his dark voice echoing through her head as she began to stir from sleep. What does it have to do with them?
Slowly, Nil came to grips with reality, but didn’t move for a while. The terror she felt when she heard that voice was still too recent for her to do anything more than lie in the tree branches. Eventually, she forced herself to get down from the tree, certain that Karan had already awakened and was ready to depart once she woke.
Sure enough, the Xweetok was standing before her, visible in the last hours of daylight. He had already packed the supplies and was leaning against a nearby tree, looking at some of the stars that began to peek out from behind the clouds.
“Rested and ready?” he asked, handing her one of the bags.
Nil snatched it out of his hands and nodded. “Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s just head out.” She slung the bag over her shoulder and began walking off when Karan stopped her, grinning as usual.
“You do know that way leads back to Altador, right?” he asked. “We have to go the opposite direction to reach Shenkuu.”
“I knew that,” she snapped, turning about. “Just... leave me alone and scout ahead.”
Karan grinned again. “Yeah, alright. See you, then.” Then he bounded off into the forest, his laugh barely audible as he left.
Nil sighed, and then followed behind. It was going to be a long journey that was for sure.
The pair walked most of the night, stopping only to eat quickly in the moonlight before continuing on. When dawn began to change the sky, Karan suggested they rest, but Nil strode on, anxious to reach Shenkuu and get the bothersome Xweetok out of her hair. Still, something annoyed her about the way he treated her, and there was something nagging at her in the back of her mind about him. He was so familiar, but she couldn’t put a name on what it was. The face, the eyes, the hair—all of it was so familiar, but she just didn’t remember.
“Is everything alright?” Karan asked, catching her off guard. “You look upset.”
“Mind your own business,” Nil growled, staring in front of her so that she didn’t run into a tree.
“Alright, it’s just I’ve been worried about you—”
“Because you can’t learn to leave me alone,” she interrupted, walking a few paces in front of him. “What do I have to do for you to understand that I don’t want you around?”
Karan sighed, and then stopped her. “You may not want me around, but you do need me. Look, I’ll go scout ahead for a while and find somewhere to stop and rest. Alright?”
“Go on, then,” Nil replied and Karan walked off, glancing once behind his shoulder at her before disappearing into the trees ahead.
Is travelling with him always going to be so difficult? she wondered, starting off after him. It seemed as if he was hiding something, but she couldn’t tell what it was. She desperately wanted to know for some reason, but she reminded herself that after they reached Shenkuu, he would be out of her life for good.
Do you really want him to leave? a voice inside her asked. Or are you just scared that you’re growing attached and that he’ll leave you like—
No, Nil thought firmly, almost stopping in her tracks. I refuse to think about her. She’s long gone. Suddenly, she stopped and felt tears well in her eyes. This time, she asked herself, Then why can’t I forget her?
There was no answer, though, as usual, so she wiped away the tears and pushed on, determined to reach Shenkuu and leave it all behind. All of it.
To be continued...