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, ...is staying, too. Conch, as he calls himself, is substituting for Edreas 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 dont get to travel much. You know that, Keefe replied. So, whats 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 dont have, they trade for. They also marry earlier, but thats beside the point, Weins eyes were fully open once more and he made sure that he had Keefes 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 theyre concerned, the pursuit of arcane arts is, at best, useless or, at worst, a complete waste of time. So, if thats the case, why come here at all?
Sure, but... Wein, youre from the east, arent you?
His only response to that was a stony glare before turning his back on Keefe. Me and my big mouth. Id better change the subject, Keefe thought sheepishly and asked, So, Wein... Hows your project coming along? Youve been making such a big mystery out of it to everyone and havent 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 projects doing just fine, Keefe. Dont worry yourself about it. Ive only been keeping it a secret because I wasnt sure that I could do what I intended and because... Id 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, youre 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 youre 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 Im definitely not up to doing your work for you, Wein commented.
So, you and Alicia really are leaving in the morning? I dont know you that well, but Im sorry to see you go so soon, Arvad said as he bent over his sitar, exchanging the snapped string for a new one.
Well, its necessary. Our families will be worried if were gone too long, Neil said, thinking, Thats just about the biggest understatement of the year...
Thats 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 guildmistressll have your head if you walk out now, Neil commented. And since youre staying here, theres something I want to ask you to do...
Really? Arvad grinned. Im surprised that youre unbending enough to trust me to do anything. It must be pretty important.
Its about Laticia... You see, shes never been apart from Alicia for very long, so thisll be the first time shes been truly alone, Neil explained. For Alicias 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 dont know anybody here, either. Well look out for each other, Arvad replied. Besides, itll give me a break from those endless reams of paper. Im sure its all so vital, but I dont intend to go blind over em or anything.
Gee, dont strain yourself too much earning an honest living, Neil said sarcastically.
I dont know what youre 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 its 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, wasnt it? Ever since he met us, though, it looks like its been one scare after another for him. Before then, his life mustve been pretty quiet. Now, itll probably never be that way again.
Alicia shook her head. I dont know, he doesnt seem like the type to let himself get bored, no matter what the situation is. Now, the only difference is that he doesnt 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 doesnt get into more trouble than he can handle.
He doesnt need anybody else to look after him. He seems to draw a helping hand wherever he goes... Laticia mumbled.
Mm... I couldnt be sensing a little jealousy there, could I? Alicia teased. Come on, sis. Did you see the look on his face? Hes totally clueless, and thats 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 dont know how anybodys going to react to...
Dont worry! Everythings going to be fine. It could have been just me going back alone, but since Neil came after us, Ill 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, Well come back in a few months, you know. I wouldnt want to miss Edreas presentation on Conch. Our furry friends got some secret and Arvads 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, Im 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. Vanes protective orbit around the Goddess Tower had brought them face to face with it, and Alicias breath caught in her throat. Neil whistled and said, Its a beautiful sight.
Yeah... But its kind of sad, too.
Althena... Shes all alone there.
Id 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 Dragons a male, huh? Did you flag him down and ask him? Alicia asked.
Okay, so I dont know... Gee, Neil huffed a bit. Im just guessing, thats all.
Uh huh... Anyway, thats not exactly what I meant, Alicia explained. Theres nobody of her own kind. Shes 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, wouldnt that being more like falling in love with your mother? I mean, shes the goddess of this world. We wouldnt even have had a place to live if she hadnt guided our ancestors down from the Blue Star. Theres nobody in all of Lunar that can be the equal of a goddess.
Yeah... Thats whats so tragic.
By silent agreement, they turned and entered the teleport circle, starting their journey home.
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