Storm of Fortunes: Part Seven
The ruins kept on burning. Tyson watched, morbidly fascinated by what had once been an immense castle. His body still ached, but he barely noticed. He was transfixed by those hungry flames.
After a time, Wolf stirred.
"We should go," Tyson heard her say. "We don't want to be here when the authorities arrive."
The Bori turned to her.
"We're in the right, aren't we?"
"Still, there will be a lot of red tape to get through. This was quite an historical piece of architecture."
She sounded tired. Her eyes, when she turned, lacked their usual sharp intent. Or perhaps Tyson was only imagining it.
He nodded and pulled himself to his feet.
"Okay. Let's go."
Eischelswa finally broke free of the ruins of her beloved castle, and turned to survey the wreckage. Night set early at this time of year, and the scene was already lit by stars in the heavens above.
"You promised," she said sadly, lifting her gaze to those stars.
"Then again, I wove a few lies myself. This doesn't end here, Anubis."
With that, she left her ancestral home behind and limped towards the sleepy little town of Fleralsen, nestled in the valley below.
She blinked at Tyson.
Tyson glanced towards Amaira and Hanniala, who were side by side in the back of the carriage. Amaira had regained her original form as soon as the castle fell, and slept now with her head on her sister's shoulder. Hanniala met Tyson's gaze, then glanced aside.
"Well..." Tyson lowered his voice, and looked back at Wolf.
"I know she's... but, well... you'll make sure she doesn't hurt me, right?"
His cheeks burned with embarrassment. He wished he wasn't so easily frightened. Surely Wolf would think him weak.
But Wolf, for her part, just gave a small smile and nodded.
"Of course, Tyson."
The battered Bori fell silent for a moment. He shifted his weight, trying to gather the courage to say what had to come next. After a few seconds he sensed that Wolf was watching him. He looked up.
"What is it?"
"I'm sorry. I promised I would... Stone's funeral. And I used to think you were a "mister"."
Tyson was getting better at interpreting her emotions. When she next smiled, he noticed that there was something sad in the expression.
"It's okay, Tyson. I have nothing to fear now. Tomorrow, I'll go to her family. They'll show me where she is. And I'll bring her flowers. She liked tulips best."
She turned away. For a long time, she was silent. She stared out of the window, saying nothing, wings draped about her torso. Worried that he'd upset her, Tyson sought for something comforting to say. But when she eventually turned back, Wolf was laughing.
"Mister Tyson, I don't mind being thought of as a male. Everyone assumes that, anyway. It comes in useful when you're on the run. People are told to look out for a male wraith Korbat. All I have to do is indignantly exclaim that I'm female, and they're so embarrassed that they let me pass."
"However, I like to think that I still maintain some element of femininity. Have you ever been to a ball?"
Tyson could see where this was going.
"There's one back home this weekend. Will you go with me? After all, everyone should attend at least one ball in their lifetime."
They passed the rest of the journey in silence. As usual, Tyson felt slightly ill, but he still somehow managed to fall asleep.
His dreams were nightmares, full of claws and teeth and piercing screams. Everywhere he looked, fire threatened to consume him. And above all of that rose a voice, low and mocking, which repeated a single phrase:
"Run, run, Jeremy. Run away home. You're good at that."
As they had expected, Clark was none too happy about the destruction of the castle. Wolf bore his anger with admirable composure, while Tyson hovered nervously in the background. Thankfully, he was ignored for the main part- it seemed that Clark didn't think a decoder would be capable of such a violent act.
Wolf was eventually dismissed. As Tyson went to follow her out of the room, Clark called for him to stay. The wraith glided out of sight, and Tyson went to stand before the Kyrii's desk.
"Yes?" he said anxiously.
Clark sighed. "Mister Tyson, regardless of what happened at Fleralsen, I have a lot to thank you for. I don't know of anyone else who could have dealt with Stone's message."
Tyson nodded, a small flower of pride blossoming in his chest.
"In fact," the Kyrii continued, "I have another job for you. Would you be prepared to go to Czarine next week?"
Tyson tried to hide his surprise.
"Czarine? Yes, sir! That would be great."
Clark half smiled.
"You can go now. I'll brief you on it tomorrow at two. I expect great things from you, Mister Tyson."
They had trekked the whole mile through the forest and almost reached their aunt's house when Amaira suddenly stopped. She'd been lagging behind for a while, with something obviously pressing heavily on her mind. Hanniala had let her be, but she was relieved when her sister finally spoke up. They definitely needed to talk.
Amaira's voice trailed into silence, and she looked away. She looked so forlorn, standing on the side of the road in a tattered frock and with muddied fur.
Hanniala gazed at her thoughtfully.
"Ami, I don't blame you."
The girl's face hardened.
"Well... yes. But I shouldn't. I probably would have done the same."
"You would never hurt me."
"I did say that, didn't I? Well, I'd like to think that I wouldn't. Ami, look at me. I would never intentionally hurt you. And I know that you would not have intentionally hurt me."
The younger girl bit her lip.
"You think so?"
"Ami, we have to. Now, come on. Let's go home."
Tyson could have returned to Wolf's house. But he didn't want to impose, and needed some space to think. So he instead rented a room at a local hotel.
It was a simple room. The walls were white and patterned with tiny flowers, while a more elaborate floral pattern graced the carpet. There was a single bed, with a small table beside it that supported a vase full of bright flowers. All in all, he found it pleasing.
Tyson sat down on the bed and took some paper out of his bag. Sia had given him her address as she took them from Fleralsen. She had also mentioned that her birthday was coming up. Since she had helped them so much, Tyson thought it would be rude not to thank her in some way. Besides, she was nice.
He wrote her a quick note, then left to go and find her a gift. Since Tyson didn't know Sia that well, he spent a lot of time staring at shelves and struggling to think of an appropriate item to buy. He almost bought her some chocolate, before he eventually settled on a glass weewoo. Tyson had it gift wrapped, and then returned to the hotel, feeling somewhat proud of himself.
There was a package at the end of his bed, accompanied by a note.
You might need this.
Tyson unwrapped the parcel. Inside was a pristine, dark grey suit.
He stared at it for a while. Then, despite himself, Tyson began to laugh. After all that had happened- hatred, violence, hurt- Wolf had been serious. She fully intended to take him to the ball. Where they would dance, and drink... some kind of drink... as though nothing unusual had ever happened.
Perhaps it would help them to heal.
"So, you're wanted in Czarine?"
Tyson nodded, unable to conceal his pride.
"Apparently the D.o.N think I'm the best code breaker they have."
"Lucky. I'm still dealing with the red tape from the Vira thing."
She manoeuvred them around another dancing couple. Even though she was dressed in a blue satin dress (which Tyson thought looked very strange on her), Wolf took the male's part in each dance. This was only natural, as she was significantly more experienced than Tyson, who had never really danced before. However, he couldn't help but be a little embarrassed by the situation.
"How are you enjoying the ball?" Wolf asked, after a few moments.
"I'm not much of a dancer."
Wolf laughed, and forced him into a pirouette.
"Don't do that," Tyson stumbled, winced, and rubbed at his foot.
Her grin, however, said otherwise. The mood of the room was so infectiously jovial that Tyson couldn't help but smile, too. People spun by in elegant dresses and dashing suits, stirring whatever old fashioned and poetic bone the Bori still possessed. He would have liked to just sit aside and watch for a while. But that desire didn't last long, and he soon realised how thirsty he was becoming.
Tyson licked his lips, and looked up at Wolf. She blinked back at him, waiting for him to speak.
"Should we get some soda?" he asked.
"If you want. Race you there!"
"What? Hey! Isn't this a formal occasion?"
The fleeing Korbat just laughed. What mist spiralled around her was pale. It almost shone in the candle light.