Storm of Fortunes: Part Two
"You want your beauty, don't you, Amaira?"
The Kougra gazed at her bleakly.
"Yes, Vira. More than anything."
"Do it, then!"
"Mister Tyson, may I see you for a moment?"
Tyson removed his paw from the door handle, and returned to Clark's desk. Clark waited a few moments, before he folded his arms across the desk and looked straight at Tyson.
"Have you had much experience with wraiths, Mister Tyson?" he asked.
"You know of their reputation, though?"
Tyson laughed. "Ignorance and rumours, sir!"
The Kyrii chewed his lip thoughtfully.
"Yes, to some degree. They're dark, vengeful creatures. Wolf, now; she's one of the better ones. But I still want you to be careful."
"Wait, what?" the Bori sounded almost alarmed. "She? I thought...?"
Clark gave a little laugh.
"Now that, Mister Tyson, is ignorance."
The Eyrie gazed out over the city, admiring the fires that shook like orange stars against the darkened landscape.
She turned, flashing a relieved smile.
"Anubis. I was worried..."
The wraith stepped forward, out of the shadow of the mound and into the pool of light cast by a single lantern.
"Do you have it?" he asked.
She wordlessly passed him a scrap of paper.
The wraith turned to go. Eyes widening, Moltara called after him.
"Don't forget what you promised, Anubis!"
Eerie eyes glittered, and he nodded.
"You have my word. Stay safe, Moltara."
Sometimes the younger woke in the night, crying. It hurt the elder to see this. She would hold her tight, sing softly to her, until she managed to fall asleep again.
Sometimes she sang about the ocean, soft waves lapping at the shore, and children playing in the surf. Often, she sang small ditties she recalled from her childhood. In every case she ended up homesick, crouching in the darkness with tears streaming down her own face.
One day, she knew, they would go home. They just had to do as they were told, first.
Although, for someone who had already witnessed the horrors of war, that was easier said than done.
"So, what do I do now?"
Wolf looked at him.
"What do you want to do?"
Tyson thought about this for a moment. He did want to go home, but he also wanted to hear any new information they received about the whole Vira thing.
"I don't know," he said, at last.
Wolf put down her book and rubbed her neck.
"We could play chess," she suggested.
"I don't know how."
"Well..." Wolf shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe Clark can arrange to have you transported back to Harlington."
Tyson put the future aside for the moment, resolving to deal with the problem after lunch. He wrung his hands and gazed at Wolf, who had returned to her book.
"Ms Wolf?" he ventured.
The wraith looked up. "Yes?"
He still wasn't very good at judging her mood, but she seemed to be challenging him, her eyes bright and penetrating. He faltered.
"Um... what book are you reading?"
She flipped it shut, turned the front cover towards him.
"It's about espionage. I've always been into that fanciful stuff."
"Okay," Tyson nodded, and then sagged as Wolf turned away. He'd wanted to apologise for thinking that Wolf was male, but now the chance had passed. Instead, he picked up a die and began to toy with it.
After an indefinite amount of time, Tyson again looked up.
"I'm going to get some lunch. Do you want to come?"
"No, thanks," Wolf turned a page, and seemed to smile at him briefly, before returning to the novel.
Tyson stood, went to the door, and made his way out into the street. It was fairly quiet outside, save for a few teenagers kicking a bottle back and forth. Wolf sure knew how to choose a house. Back in Tyson's hometown of Harlington, you couldn't go five metres without being accosted by some bully or salesman.
Tyson entered a low restaurant with a giant, rotating burger on the roof. On his way to the counter he passed Mister Clark, hunched in a dim corner with a quill in his hand.
"Excuse me, Mister Clark," the Bori said.
The Kyrii looked up.
"Have you found out anything else about Vira, and all that?"
"That's confidential information," said Clark primly.
Then he sighed, and brushed a few strands of green fur off of the page in front of him.
"No. Since Stone and Wolf were discovered, we don't have a plan. I can't really think of anything we could do, without endangering lives."
"Okay," Tyson paused. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
Clark snorted, and then caught himself. "No. I believe that we no longer require your skills. You can return home if you like."
"If it's okay... can I stay a bit longer?"
Sensing that the conversation was over, and not keen on continuing it anyway, Tyson mumbled a thank you and went up to the counter. A chubby young Acara took his order, before telling him that they would bring it to his table. Tyson found a table by a window and sat, gazing out at the quaint little garden beyond, and at the neat portrait of a slim Nimmo woman which hung to the left of the window frame.
The voice was unfamiliar. Tyson looked up, to see a blue Uni gazing questioningly back at him.
"Can I help you, miss?" he asked.
"Are you Jeremy Tyson?"
He nodded. "That's me."
"Vaughn Harp wants to see you, in Tamsley. He needs you to help him decode something."
"Vaughn? He's my cousin. I haven't seen him in years!"
"Yeah? He said he'll meet you at the plaza. If you meet me outside this place at dawn tomorrow, I'll take you."
Inwardly, Tyson grimaced. He hated long journeys. On the outside, however, he smiled and nodded.
"Okay. Would you like something to drink? I want to thank you in advance for helping me."
The Uni hesitated. "Well, I suppose. Would a sundae be okay, though?"
Tyson ordered the sundae, which arrived slightly after the meal he'd ordered prior to the Uni's arrival. They ate in semi-awkward silence, which Tyson attributed to them being almost complete strangers. But, once Tyson broke the tension with a few questions, the atmosphere became much more relaxed. The Uni's name was Douglassia- a name gifted by parents who had wanted a son much too badly. She had lived in Tamsley her whole life, and for the past two years had worked as a messenger. Before that, Douglassia had been a teacher.
Tyson found this almost fascinating. He'd never had much of a way with travelling, but the idea of going to all these amazing places and seeing so many things appealed to the romantic in him. All he'd ever seen of the clouded palace of Faerieland, and the clear and bright waters of Maraqua, had been in the form of words on a page. These words, although they could conjure up beautiful images in his mind, could obviously never compare to the real thing.
"Douglassia, you deliver messages all over the place, don't you?" asked Tyson, with some curiosity.
"Please, call me Sia. Yes, Mister Tyson. If they can pay the fee, I'll deliver the message."
Tyson's eyes glimmered. "Have you been to Maraqua?"
She giggled. "I don't go that far away!"
He nodded, trying not to show his embarrassment. Sia changed the topic, and soon they were talking about artwork and architecture. Good architecture and fine art were one and the same in Tyson's mind. Sia had the same view- with the delightful addition of a belief that all dwellings should be works of art. Tyson was enjoying the conversation immensely, but he couldn't help but notice that it had grown late.
At length, the Bori decided that he should leave.
"So I'll see you tomorrow, then," Sia said, when Tyson stood to return to Wolf's house.
"Nice to meet you, Sia."
"You too. See you tomorrow, Jeremy."
Amaira and her older sister, Hanniala, were both born on the Darigan Citadel. Although they had moved to Central when Amaira was a little over a year of age, Hanniala retained a noticeably Darigani accent. This was especially evident when she spoke in hushed tones, like now.
"Ami. Ami, stay strong."
The younger girl's eyes were dark, haunted, as she looked up. There were no tears- never any tears anymore. But the low moan that escaped her throat was utterly heart wrenching.
Keeping her voice low, Hanniala moved to her sister's side and slipped her arms around her.
"We won't be here long. Dad will find us, and we'll go home. We'll sit by the river, and eat icecre..."
"I hurt her, Hanni," Amaira's voice was choked with emotion.
Hanniala tensed. She gave a small sigh, and gently stroked her sister's head.
"I know. I've heard. I've hurt people too."
Amaira turned to her, expression strained with anguish.
"I love you, Hanni! But she wants me to hate you."
"She wants us to compete," Hanniala gently kissed her forehead. "It'll be okay. I won't let anything happen to you."
When Tyson arrived back at the house, he was alarmed to see Wolf still seated at the table, tears glistening in the corners of her eyes. She looked up, startled, as he entered.
"I thought..." she began, before Tyson interrupted.
"Nothing," she sniffed. "I just need a moment."
Tyson nodded, left the Korbat to her own devices, and went to the bathroom to wash some sauce from his hands. When he returned, Wolf was fully composed and ready for him.
"I need to ask you a favour," she said.
To be continued...