Two Are Better Than One Chapter 11

Departure At Dawn

By Samara Secor

“So... If I heard correctly, only Arvad and Laticia are to become residents of our fair city,” Wein said, his eyes half closed as he settled back into his bed, determined not to move again unless he absolutely had to.

“Mm, well, the ‘flying blue whatever’...” Keefe faked a cough and grinned, “ staying, too. Conch, as he calls himself, is substituting for Edrea’s original project. But, yeah, Alicia and Neil are going home. Although they tried to hide it, they look pretty nervous. It makes you wonder...”

“Keefe, have you ever been farther east than Vane?” Wein asked.

“Nope. Farm boys from Burg don’t get to travel much. You know that,” Keefe replied. “So, what’s your point?”

“In general, the people to the south and east of here have a rather different mentality than the rest of Lunar. In some ways, they give their children more freedom. In other spheres, things are quite restricted. Their life is in almost constant motion, following game with the seasons. Both men and women learn archery as a basic survival tool and are free to learn other weapons as the fancy takes them. Anything that they don’t have, they trade for. They also marry earlier, but that’s beside the point,” Wein’s eyes were fully open once more and he made sure that he had Keefe’s full attention before saying, “Magic, as we know it, serves no purpose at all in their minds. There exists practically no task at all that requires doing in their lives that cannot be done with more ordinary means. You ask me what my point is. What it is is that there is no point! As far as they’re concerned, the pursuit of arcane arts is, at best, useless or, at worst, a complete waste of time. So, if that’s the case, why come here at all?”

“Sure, but... Wein, you’re from the east, aren’t you?”

His only response to that was a stony glare before turning his back on Keefe. ‘Me and my big mouth. I’d better change the subject,’ Keefe thought sheepishly and asked, “So, Wein... How’s your project coming along? You’ve been making such a big mystery out of it to everyone and haven’t even let me see it, so I was wondering if you were doing okay.”

The silence stretched out a little longer, and, when Wein finally spoke, Keefe could hear a smile in his voice, “My project’s doing just fine, Keefe. Don’t worry yourself about it. I’ve only been keeping it a secret because I wasn’t sure that I could do what I intended and because... I’d hate to see my best friend corrupted by a beguiling set of eyes.”

“Corrupted? My goddess, Wein, just what did you dig up and where did you get it from?”

“If you mean ‘dig’ in the metaphorical sense, you’re not far off the mark. I was looking for sources on rare monsters in the library and found an old Bestiary tome. I simply scanned it for the sketchiest entries that gave little more than a name and place and picked from among them. The one that I chose seemed almost tailor-made for me given my inherent abilities. And that, my friend, is all that you’re going to get out of me. Now, get yourself some rest before that Wyvern of yours wakes us both up in the middle of he night crying for food again. This is one evening that I’m definitely not up to doing your work for you,” Wein commented.


“So, you and Alicia really are leaving in the morning? I don’t know you that well, but I’m sorry to see you go so soon,” Arvad said as he bent over his sitar, exchanging the snapped string for a new one.

“Well, it’s necessary. Our families will be worried if we’re gone too long,” Neil said, thinking, ‘That’s just about the biggest understatement of the year...’

“That’s one thing about being unattached like me. Nobody cares whether you wander off for days on end.”

“Well, your wandering days are over now. The guildmistress’ll have your head if you walk out now,” Neil commented. “And since you’re staying here, there’s something I want to ask you to do...”

“Really?” Arvad grinned. “I’m surprised that you’re unbending enough to trust me to do anything. It must be pretty important.”

“It’s about Laticia... You see, she’s never been apart from Alicia for very long, so this’ll be the first time she’s been truly alone,” Neil explained. “For Alicia’s sake, I want you keep an eye on her. Make sure she gets settled in and all that kind of stuff. Do you mind?”

“Of course not. I don’t know anybody here, either. We’ll look out for each other,” Arvad replied. “Besides, it’ll give me a break from those endless reams of paper. I’m sure it’s all so vital, but I don’t intend to go blind over ‘em or anything.”

“Gee, don’t strain yourself too much earning an honest living,” Neil said sarcastically.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. The life of a wandering minstrel is a perfectly respectable line of work,” Arvad put on an expression of mock haughtiness so grossly exaggerated that Neil had to laugh.


Alicia and Laticia were sitting side by side on a bench under the window, looking up towards the stars but not really seeing them. “Vane looks like it’s going to be quite an interesting place, especially if these spirits are going to be chasing Arvad around all the time,” Alicia commented.

Laticia smiled softly, “That was pretty funny, wasn’t it? Ever since he met us, though, it looks like it’s been one scare after another for him. Before then, his life must’ve been pretty quiet. Now, it’ll probably never be that way again.”

Alicia shook her head. “I don’t know, he doesn’t seem like the type to let himself get bored, no matter what the situation is. Now, the only difference is that he doesn’t even have to try to make things happen. They just do,” Alicia whispered conspiratorially. “Maybe you should keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t get into more trouble than he can handle.”

“He doesn’t need anybody else to look after him. He seems to draw a helping hand wherever he goes...” Laticia mumbled.

“Mm... I couldn’t be sensing a little jealousy there, could I?” Alicia teased. “Come on, sis. Did you see the look on his face? He’s totally clueless, and that’s a big part of his charm.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Laticia shifted slightly to look directly at Alicia. “Are you and Neil going to be all right going back home without me? I mean, we don’t know how anybody’s going to react to...”

“Don’t worry! Everything’s going to be fine. It could have been just me going back alone, but since Neil came after us, I’ll have a little help explaining things. Just concentrate on your studies, and the rest will take care of itself,” Alicia blinked back a tear and said, “We’ll come back in a few months, you know. I wouldn’t want to miss Edrea’s presentation on Conch. Our furry friend’s got some secret and Arvad’s in on it.”

“Yeah, the two of them have become almost as thick as...”

“...thieves!” Alicia said the last word simultaneously with her sister, and the two laughed a bit before bursting into tears.

Laticia threw her arms around her sister, hugging her and whispering fiercely, “I’m going to miss you, Alicia. Take care.”


As the first rays of daylight began to brighten the sky, Alicia and Neil left the guild house and headed towards the teleport. Vane’s protective orbit around the Goddess Tower had brought them face to face with it, and Alicia’s breath caught in her throat. Neil whistled and said, “It’s a beautiful sight.”

“Yeah... But it’s kind of sad, too.”

“How so?”

“Althena... She’s all alone there.”

“I’d imagine the dragons come to visit...” Neil paused and said, “I saw the Black Dragon once, you know... just gliding through the night with hardly a sound. He was heading this way, so he almost had to have come here.”

“And just how can you be sure the Black Dragon’s a male, huh? Did you flag him down and ask him?” Alicia asked.

“Okay, so I don’t know... Gee,” Neil huffed a bit. “I’m just guessing, that’s all.”

“Uh huh... Anyway, that’s not exactly what I meant,” Alicia explained. “There’s nobody of her own kind. She’s the goddess of love and life, but she has no one to love or be loved by... just as herself.”

“But... who could approach her and be able to ignore that?” Neil looked a bit uncomfortable. “Besides, wouldn’t that being more like falling in love with your mother? I mean, she’s the goddess of this world. We wouldn’t even have had a place to live if she hadn’t guided our ancestors down from the Blue Star. There’s nobody in all of Lunar that can be the equal of a goddess.”

“Yeah... That’s what’s so tragic.”

By silent agreement, they turned and entered the teleport circle, starting their journey home.


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