Of Silence: Signed and Sealed:Part Five
I'm positive that this is the last thing you want to talk about right now, and if this were any other day I'd force myself to keep my mouth shut, but... well, fate of the world and all, so...
I staged a fight. I got scared. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do, and I let that get in the way of my actions.
I payed the price for my indecisiveness. Serves me right for being such a fool.
But you've always said that scars build character.
Yikes. Thank Fyora you know healing spells.
Did you check on the Raiders? Don't think I've forgotten you mentioning that obligation a while back.
Already done. It isn't good. Or, at the very least, I suppose it's good and bad.
The chief was definitely being marionetted — I could tell the moment I set foot in his quarters — and I was thankfully able to learn the source of the possession, though there unfortunately wasn't anything I could do about it personally. Yet another person I've proved to be absolutely useless in trying to save. Still, it turns out that there's three other faeries involved in this scheme as well as the darkest one. I somehow had no idea. I don't understand how I could have possibly overlooked something as dire as that detail. I'm such an idiot.
But the good news is that, from the looks of it, the children seem to have freed Cogham and the Steppes of the faerie's oppression. And with little to no casualties, from what I've heard. They're pretty good about not ending lives when they don't need to. They let me go, despite everything, after all.
It's been about a half an hour since then, and so far the clouds have yet to spread to Brightvale. I've just been sitting at home watching with pathetically bated breath as the clouds continue to churn over Market Town. I'm worried that the children won't ever make it there. I don't see why they would need to go. So far they've only gone to the aid of areas that could prove to be of some use to them; and, unfortunately, my little hometown has never been worth much to those without purely wealthy desires.
I don't know.
I just can't help but worry I've made a terrible botch of things.
Well, your stupid pride issue has always caused you to get down on yourself like this when you lose a fight. I remember from our last sparring match ;P
If the clouds aren't spreading to Brightvale, and nothing totally terrible is happening to Market Town, I still think that things will be alright. Even if those kids don't set their sights on Market Town itself, they do still have their sights set on the faerie. Or, faeries, I guess. Wholly set on them. And once the faeries are defeated, everyone will be free. Everyone.
Maybe you shouldn't be focusing on the clouds. What happened to taking a nap? I think we could all use one right now.
If you honestly think I can sleep through this stress, then you're even more of an imbecile than I thought.
Ouch. Feelings, Simmy. That hurts. But it's probably true.
Speaking of stress, though, are you doing alright otherwise?
I'll be fine.
Are you sure?
You're opening some flood gates right now, Kanrik...
Well, I'm prepared for drowning.
I'm worried too, you know. About the land. About my family. About you.
As unbiased as you can possibly be, my friend, tell me: what's the state of things?
I suppose "unchanged" is a good way to put it.
Everything's stagnant. Everything feels dead. The remaining darkness, the lingering destruction, the fear, the worry, everything.
It's hard for me to be unbiased in this situation, though, you must understand.
I hate that I somehow got dragged into this.
Well, every good story needs a few villains, right? At least you did the right thing.
Did I now.
Oh, geez. Don't start doing that stupid angrily-phrasing-questions-like-statements thing in writing now too... ugh.
But! Yes. Yes, you did. And I can say that with full confidence.
Dare I ask your reasoning, Kanrik.
My reasoning is that the world is currently in the process of getting saved, you dork.
I really, really think that you're just overthinking this. Honestly.
You say this all with such confidence.
Because I am confident, dummy. And you know that I don't sugarcoat things. If I thought that you had something to worry about, or that you had done something wrong, Fyora knows you wouldn't be hearing the end of it, and I definitely wouldn't be offering any sort of reassurance. That's not my brand, as they say.
You're far too kind to me.
Eh, someone's gotta be.
How noble of you to take in the lost cause that is me.
What can I say? I love a good project.
Wow. Aren't you supposed to be trying to make me feel better?
That's not my brand either.
No, I'm just trying to keep you distracted. Or offer some semblance of company. Whichever one sounds more noble.
Fair enough. You've always made terrible company, and this is a terrible conversation.
Now that is my brand.
Oh, don't I know it.
Hey man, you are the one who asked me for advice or whatever. This is your own fault.
Yet another horrible mistake I've made during these past few hours.
Oh, hush. You've yet to make any mistakes. Well, other than confiding anything in me, that is. Everything else you were dragged into against your will.
There's really no convincing you, is there?
Thank you for finally using a question mark, and no, there is not.
I can't tell if I should be flattered or not.
Well, that's up to you, now, isn't it?
I hate how cocky you get when you're communicating through writing...
Hey man, at least it's keeping you distracted from the clouds.
Hm. I suppose.
Although, you know what isn't keeping me distracted from the clouds?
You pointing out the fact that you're just trying to distract me from the clouds.
Eh, I'm good with the short term, not so much the long. Something's gotta change eventually, though, right?
I'm starting to seriously doubt tha
For the record, if you're telling me to hold on because something did just change, then let me be the first to say both "ha ha" and "I told you so."
But alright. I'll be patient.
... Still being patient.
Oh, for the love of Fyora, Simeon, just tell me what's happening.
Faeries above... They did it. They actually did it.
The clouds have just lifted from over Market Town.
Those crazy kids actually did it.
I TOLD YOU EVERYTHING WOULD BE ALRIGHT!
Heroes never fail in the Faerietales! Everything is going to be okay!
That's the last of the clouds, right? I just checked an old letter of yours; those were all the locations you listed, right? (Please tell me this is over... I'm so sick of writing... my wrist is cramping so much...)
Aside from Meridell itself, of course, yes. That was the last of the clouds. (Boo hoo.)
Ah. Meridell. Right. How could I forget. (Shut up.)
So... you feeling better now? :D
I really wish you would stop using those stupid "smileys" or whatever they're called... it makes me feel like I'm taking to a twelve-year-old... but, to answer your question, yes. Though only slightly.
The sun has just set, but the skies are so bright... It's hard to not feel better after being under that darkness for so long.
I can't help but worry still, though. That faerie is just so strong. All of them are.
But those kids have made it this far...
I guess all I can really say is: fingers crossed.
Fingers crossed indeed.
And so... now we wait?
And now we wait.
The Meridell docks are a mess.
Not enough of a mess that people have ceased their travels — no, no, not by a longshot — but still enough so that the delay in disembarking has left all those on board the arriving ships with rather sharp tongues. And Kanrik is no different than the others.
But it's still far better than being on the mountains, he reminds himself. The young rogue leans his weight onto the ship's railing and peers over the lazy white waves towards the shoreline that sits just out of reach in the distance. The sight is more beautiful than anything he feels he's ever seen before — the grassy hills, the lush trees, the avian Petpets singing in the unobscured light of the soon-to-rise sun... Compared to the eternal nightmarish winter that he's been dealing with for the past who-knows-how-many-months, his little home here in the medieval realms is the closest thing to paradise he can imagine. Or maybe he's just glad to be out of the cold.
Eh, it's probably just that.
Out of the cold, and away from the stress.
The Darkest Faerie's return and defeat lasted only a mere few days, but even though Kanrik was miles and miles away from any sight or sound of her destruction, he still felt an overwhelming weight of worry breathing down his neck the entire time. This wasn't even a battle he was involved in, but so many that he cares about were. Are his relatives in Brightvale okay? His acquaintances in the city? His colleagues, his business partners, his best friend...?
All he wants is to go home and rest, but there's so much that he still needs to do. So much that he still needs to check. So much that he still needs to say...
But as his ship is slowly pulled towards the harbour, and the people around him begin to mutter under their breaths, he instead simply tries to breathe away his worry.
Everything is alright.
The sun is rising, the air is clear, there isn't a cloud in the sky...
Everything will be okay.
Eventually — finally — the ship comes to a gentle stop against the still only half-repaired docks, and everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief. Disembarking in irritated pairs, little by little, few by few, the ship is emptied of its impatient cargo, and all those who were on board dart their ways through the crowd to find their loved ones in the low-hanging early morning mists.
You would think a calamity such as the Darkest Faerie's return would've caused a bit of a ding in Meridell's attractiveness to tourists, but, surprisingly enough, the opposite has never been more true. For the past few days, ever since the Darkest One had been safely sealed back into her prison of stone, people from all over the face of Neopia have journeyed to the medieval shores to ensure that their loved ones were safe and offer them much needed support. The air has never been so full of love. The bonds of friends and family have never felt so strong.
Well, that's the sort of thing that's been on most people's minds, at least.
Kanrik, on the other hand, just wants to get home.
For the most part.
The still freshly-appointed master thief is honestly a bit surprised — perhaps even a bit offended — that nobody's recognised him despite his shining new title and reputation. Don't they know who he is? He, the great Master Thief Kanrik? Haven't they heard of his exploits? Was his incredible tale of deceit and redemption truly suffocated so quickly beneath the weight of the Darkest Faerie's return?
Well... for the time being, perhaps it is best that those surrounding him don't know who he is. But he can't help but be a bit hurt.
Oh well. They'll learn soon enough.
The very second that Kanrik takes his first step off of the ship and begins to make his way towards the road to Meridell City, he can feel the last remnants of his stress from the past year-or-so melting away off of his still-frozen shoulders. It's great to be back. It's great to be home. It's great to be anywhere other than those terrible Ice Caves...
But still, he's on too-familiar turf now.
He needs to tread a bit more careful.
There are still wanted posters for him on display in plain sight.
And besides... he has something else to do before he can head home.
Stealthily ducking away from the crowd, careful to not draw any unwanted attention towards himself, Kanrik slips behind some of the cargo crates that dot the docks in messy stacks, successfully escaping into the rising sun's darkest shadows. Yes, yes, perhaps the foreigners on his ship didn't recognise who he was, but his notoriety in Meridell City was well-established even before he had acquired his shining new title. Wouldn't it be embarrassing if the first thing that happened to him upon returning home was to get caught...
Kanrik looks over his shoulder one last time to ensure that nobody's curious eyes had trailed him, then turns back around to begin his walk towards town... But before he can take even a single step, a violent, looming pressure suddenly appears behind him, and before his next breath, he finds that his muzzle's been clamped shut by strong, calloused fingers — muted. The thief kicks, stumbles, is immobilised by the strong grasp of someone's arm wrapped tight around his diaphragm, and then all goes momentarily black as he is whisked away in a plume of dark spellsmoke.
The next thing that Kanrik knows, he's just opened his eyes to see that he and his supposed-attacker are now surrounded on all sides by the lush greens of trees, soft grasses dotted with small flowers, the sweet smell of honeysuckle and earth motes... and that familiar mix of raspberry and copper that can only mean one thing.
Once Kanrik's feet have steadied on this new, gentle ground, he feels himself being released, and he takes a deep breath to cleanse his lungs of his initial panic. He untenses his shoulders, cracks his neck, and lets out a long sigh; then, with his words drowning in an exaggerated exhaustion, he says a sleepy, half-slurred, "I hate it when you do that..."
Simeon's pleasant-sounding laughter is the next thing that Kanrik hears, and he breathes another, more genuine sigh of relief at the sound. It's been so long since he's heard the voices of any of his friends from back home, let alone one of the people that he's been worried about the most...
When the young master thief finally turns himself around, he sees Simeon's familiarly shadowed silhouette standing behind him in that signature hands-crossed-angrily-and-weight-shifted-to-one-hip pose that he almost always defaults to when in company. The grey Gelert is dressed casually in earthy shades of brown and red; an elegant, royal-looking cloak draped over his shoulders; his eyes half-concealed beneath the long locks of his light, silvery hair. It's hard to read his expression in this moment — honestly it always is — but Kanrik knows that he is at least... calm. For once. Thankfully.
Kanrik mirrors his friend's pose, then gives him a snarky grin. "You look silly with your hair down."
And Simeon immediately scoffs, shifting his weight and looking genuinely offended. "Wow," he says, monotone, though clearly fighting the urge to laugh, "hello, Kanrik. Great to see you again too..."
Then they both laugh softly.
It isn't really until this very moment that the true weight of their worry for each other from the past year truly sets in — Kanrik having been trapped in the snow and Simeon having been dealing with the Darkest Faerie. They both look so much older...
Maybe it's just the stress, though.
It's only been a year.
Regardless, the next thing that Kanrik does is extend an arm forward for a handshake, then pull Simeon into an awkward and clearly unwanted half-embrace as Simeon repeats under his breath, "No, no, stop, let go, stop..."
Kanrik snickers again, then steps back and crosses his arms once more — returns to his dismissively passive standing position and lifts his nose in arrogance. "I'm glad to see you're safe," he says, looking his friend up and down, his expression finally settling into a genuine sort of half-smile. "You still look like garbage though."
Simeon chooses to ignore the second half of that comment — it's just Kanrik being Kanrik. "You as well, Kanrik," he says, mirroring the motion and posture, then his eyes finally settle on the younger Gelert's. He smirks. "Master Thief," he then corrects himself in a snide, sardonic tone.
Kanrik chuckles once again at the sound and gives a small, only half-genuine bow. It's strange hearing the title being said by someone as powerful as this master assassin, even if they are friends. "At your service," Kanrik says, his tone pompous and proud, making Simeon laugh lightly again. "And... speaking of," Kanrik then begins to add, his entire body language softening then re-tensing until he looks positively peeved, "I think it's high time I see what sort of damage has been done to my guild over the past few months."
"Oh, you're in for a treat, Kani," Simeon says, sighing with his words' cadence, sounding absolutely beyond exhausted. The wild change in tone is enough to make Kanrik suddenly dread his return... "I didn't forget about your request to remind you about shoving those Meerca brothers off, by the way," Simeon then adds, turning swiftly to begin walking towards Meridell City, causing the heavy cloak that rests on his shoulders twirl theatrically around his ankles.
Kanrik sighs long and buries his face in his hands for a brief second, then quickly makes his way to Simeon's side. "That bad, huh?"
"Just wait until you hear who they let into the guild's headquarters."
"And into the sewers beneath."
"Oh, faeries no..."
Simeon chuckles once again as Kanrik gives a genuine groan into the palms of his hands.
Well, at least he's still the same.
"Please tell me your offer to help scare them off is still on the table too, yeah?" Kanrik asks, still holding his face in his hands, giving Simeon an exhausted sideways glance while peeking through his fingers.
He's beyond glad that his words are met with a nod. "Of course."
Kanrik throws his hands down to his sides. "Thank Fyora."
And then the thief cringes. Great. There's a catch. Simeon just loves his catches...
Kanrik glances back over to his friend, suddenly looking twice as exhausted, his emerald eyes reading a desperate plea...
Simeon looks down his nose at the young master thief beside him, then gives him a genuine smile. "First... I think I still owe you some coffee, hm?"
He did request that, didn't he?
After a brief moment's recollection, Kanrik can't help but laugh. "Yes — yes, you do."
And the sun begins to crest over the mountains.