Chapter 34 - Pure Intentions
“I can’t believe you thought it would be a ‘good idea’ to just yank that claw out, what in all hell is wrong with you? Imbecile!” growled Silvast through gritted teeth.
“Aye, maybe it was the wrong action. Well, we could have drained the blood, or…” said Rhuthain, counting off on his stubby fingers in the murky air.
“Or left it for damn-well later, put a smelting pot over it and had Kit freeze the damn thing!” she said in frustration.
“Aye, now why didn’t you think of that before I did what I did?” he retorted, “At least we wouldn’t have blown the room to… Wait, have we blown the room? Can’t see through all the dust an soot.”
“Stupid dwarf, you should be thrown back in the hole you sprung from.”
“That insult don’t work on me, I didn’t spring from no hole, first time I woke I was the way you saw me a few minutes ago. Just longer hair is all.” he shot back with a chuckle.
Silvast grunted, “Gods damn it, would you shut up?”
“I might be able to manage it if you asked nicely.”
“Shut up, or the moment we are out of here I will tear your head clean off your shoulders.” Silvast growled.
“Aye, I think that would be a good reason for me to quieten down a bit. Wouldn’t want you making a mess with me innards.” he said under his breath as he tried to peer through the haze, “Might hurt too.”
He turned his head, listening to her aggravated groans and shuffling through the smashed floor and loose stone toward them.
“What’s all the noise you making for? A little blast like that shouldn’t have set a hair on your head out of place, being a dragon an all.”
He reached out and touched a wall, nodding to himself and moving with surer steps.
“Can you squeak a few more times, I think I almost found you.” he said, “Aye, that sound works, don’t get too aggressive with that teeth grinding though, sets me hair on end.”
He smiled as he caught sight of a platinum glow in the darkness. The quick blink and grunt, followed by the sound of something scraping before thudding to the floor. He frowned as he heard the sharp intake of breath, quickly moving closer until he could make her out in the dark.
Rhuthain grimaced at the sight, “Stupid lizard, me goddess might not be talking much lately. But I can still be blown mostly to smithereens, leaving a mess everywhere and I’ll come back good as new, give or take a few hours.”
The platinum glow closed to threatening slits in the dark, “Call me ‘lizard’ one more time.”
“You’re a stupid ‘dragon’ then. That better?” he knelt beside her prone form as she lay half propped against the wall, “You injured? Can I lay me hands on you?”
“No, you can’t. I wasn’t saving you, I was saving everyone here. If that blast had caught the ruined enchantments on the bench and furnace…”
“Aye, got you. Boom.” he said with a smirk, “Would have been a beauty.”
She grunted softly, trying to shift herself, “I might be injured.”
“Well, you bloody well went and hugged that anvil after you threw me back the other way. Dragon or not, I would be surprised if you weren’t.”
He watched her probe her chest with her hands, wincing and gasping as she tested her ribs, “Three, four or more? Cause, that one looks funny…At least you got your scales in the way. You got some turned ones here an there.” he said, gesturing to the line of lower ribs.
Silvast glanced at him, “Three, they will be fine in a few hours.”
“Aye, but you ain’t swinging anything for that time, are you?” he said, catching the shake of her head, “Well, you ain’t bleeding, that’s a thing. But you’ve taken a beating.”
He grimaced, watching her clenching her teeth and gasping as she pressed at her lower rib until it popped sickeningly back into place. She rested her head back against the wall, breathing in until she could take no more before letting out a shaky breath.
“Give me a few minutes, Thain. Then you can help me out of here. We weren’t meant to be staying long before catching up with Antrandis and Sis.”
“Aye, the humy locals are probably already in the upper halls. They will be slow on the way down, checking every room, making sure we don’t know they’re coming.”
He gave her a look and raised his bushy eyebrows.
“Needless to say, but I’m saying it. I sort of can see everything you’re meant to be hiding. Unless you plan on scaring the locals with those shiny breasts of yours before I cleave them for gawking.”
“Shut up, you stumpy bastard and give me your shirt.”
“Oh, so it’s all fine I go running around bare and hairy chested?” he said with a suggestive grin.
“Aye, I heard you, I heard you. You’re almost sounding like me Firliey when she’s in a rush.” he grumbled, quickly unbuckling his harness and laying it on the floor.
Silvast flexed her hand experimentally, noting that she was already able to take deeper breaths than a few moments earlier. She glanced up as Rhuthain dangled his shirt in front of her. Reaching up, she took it from him and quickly covered herself.
“I do not need to know the sordid details of your love life, Thain.”
“Oi, speaking of love lives…”
“No Thain. Gods no. Not now, not ever.”
“No? You still holding out for…”
She glared at him, her eyes flaring dangerously.
“Look, Sil. It’s been nearly a quarter century since Sian found herself and claimed him. It’s time to let it go.”
“It’s time for you to let it go, dwarf.”
“I understand, you two were together since nearly the beginning, but since your sister is…”
She rolled to her side and onto all fours before using the wall to steady herself as she stood, grimacing. Turning away from Rhuthain, she let the tatters of her blouse fall away and slipped his shirt on, trying not to raise her arms as she did so. Glaring at him as she did up the buttons she took a step closer, wincing through the pain.
“Stay out of my business, Thain.” she gasped, leaning against the wall as she felt a sharp stab with every breath.
He looked at her from the corner of his eye, “Oho, you still have some type of claim on him. Either that or it’s that elf you’re close to in Scarosant, what’s his name? Mithran, or was it Mathlos?”
“I don’t know what makes me feel more nauseated, your persistent gossip-mongering or that you are trying desperately to add a dragon to your collection.” Silvast said with a smile.
“Yes, collection. You do have one don’t you?” she said off-hand as she tried to breathe in deeply.
Rhuthain stared at her while the haze continued to clear. The faint crackles and popping sounds of Silvast’s broken ribs surprisingly loud in the silence.
“Caught in a trap of your own design?” she remarked.
“Collection? What do you mean, ‘collection’?” he said, screwing up his face.
Silvast’s smile grew through the pained expression, holding her chest and slowly walking to the entrance.
“Oi Sil, what is this collection you are talking about?” he questioned again, quickly running after her.
“Thain, if you don’t know, then you don’t know.”
Rhuthain frowned, “I want me shirt back.”
“You can have it back, the moment we catch up with someone who has a better fitting shirt to acquire.”
“Now you’re saying that… Ohhhh, I fell right in that one.”
Silvast nodded, slowly walking with the dwarf at her side. They stepped out of the thinning haze from the blast; soot, cinders and small pools of crystalline glass coating the floor, crunching under every step. Rhuthain quickly stepped ahead and placed his ear to a wall while she rested for a moment.
“Upper halls from the sound, maybe thirty or so. There’s one with real heavy steps, like its wearing armoured boots. Idiot locals.”
“I am sure a sudden structure under the sands like this would be unsettling for them. Especially how it’s coming back to life.”
“I don’t know Sil. I heard talk of underground caverns when I passed through that humy city on the way to meet you lot. From before the fall, they got these thick doors and things, many are still sealed shut. Didn’t think much about it, can’t even remember what the locals called them.” he looked up to relatively smooth stone of the ceiling, “They might be thinking they are in a more fancy one of those things.”
Silvast gave a noncommittal tilt of her head, wincing as she did so, “Whatever our pursuers are up to, Antrandis and Sis can take care of it. I won’t be fighting for a few hours.”
Rhuthain looked in the direction the passage was taking, “What about the children?”
“Children? They are the two strongest of the Order of Aldaliss, Thain. If they can’t handle this inconvenience then I’ll kick them out myself.” she pushed herself off the wall and continued to walk tentatively, “I am more concerned about Kit losing control and us having to calm her down.”
“You’re worried about Kit?”
“No, I am worried that if she gets her claws into you, you wouldn’t stand a chance.”
Rhuthain looked up at her in disbelief, “You have to be kidding, pulling me leg.”
“I wish I was, Thain. She’ll test your ability to come back good as new.” she looked at him, “If she changes, you find a dark hole and dig in. Treat her other self with the same respect you give me when I am enraged.”
“You couldn’t possibly… Now, Sil. You’re a dragon.”
“Thain, it’s not her strength that concerns me. It’s the savagery. You can’t fight back, unless you are prepared to hurt her.” she met his eyes, “You prepared to stand in a monster’s path and let it have its way with you?”
“Depends on the monster? You know some of them like to – What? Not liking my train of thought?”
“Just shut up and listen for once.” she said with acid.
Silvast sighed quietly, resting an arm on his shoulder as they walked, “You know that Rhyker carries that long bladed dagger.”
“That heavily enchanted one that’s always in its sheath? Just from the feel of it, it’s one of yours.” he said with a raised brow, “What of it?”
“Kit gave it to her brother as a gift.”
He glanced at her, “You made it special. What’s the enchantment for?”
She nodded, “For a painless and calm death.”
He pursed his lips, the muscles in his jaw tensing, “That’s not all, is it?”
“Entrapment of the soul.”
“Gods.” he said under his breath.
“They have an oath that she recites and he swears to. Before every battle, she insists.”
“In case he has to? Gods, Silvast.”
“So she knows that if she can’t return, he will stop her and take her life if he must.”
Rhuthain slowed, his eyes pained.
“Its getting worse, Thain. Last time she lost control he had to fight her, subdue her.” Silvast grimaced, “When she came to and saw how bad a mess he was in…”
“She almost did it herself?” he asked, knowing the answer before Silvast nodded.
“You still have words?” she said.
“No. I know when to keep me trap shut.” he replied before falling into a thoughtful silence.
Nearing the end of the passage they saw the sharp glow from the shaft of the Sanctum through its entrance. Rhuthain guided Silvast over to a wall and let her rest against it before quickly running to the end of the passage. Looking up, he picked out movement on the tiers above before returning to Silvast.
“How long?” she asked as she tested her ribs again.
“Not long. Since you’re out we’ll find a place to – Wait…” he said, holding a finger to his lips and slipping his axe from its harness.
“We have company.” he whispered, standing protectively in front of her with his weapon at the ready.
Kitaraiya trailed Rhyker as they ran. The slow arc in the passage deceptively hiding the exit to the lowest level of the pit from view.
“Rhy, do you feel any different?”
“No.” he replied between breaths.
Kitaraiya nodded, “I was just…”
Rhyker laughed, slowing his pace as they came near the exit.
“You were expecting a sudden influx of something?”
She nodded, “I was hoping to at least feel it.”
He glanced at her quickly before sliding along the wall, carefully peering out and onto the lowest level of the pit, chuckling to himself under his breath.
“What did you read about it, Rhy?”
“That it was meant to complete the Aletere’s circle, to renew and strengthen the bloodline of the first of our kind. It has been many generations since the last time it was done. There is nothing written about how it can or even will change us. Just that it will.” he said quietly, his eyes sweeping the lowest levels.
“Rhy, do you think that maybe?” she asked.
He quickly glanced at her and shrugged before checking again, stepping out and keeping himself in the long shadows behind the nearest pillar. He gestured to Kitaraiya, pointing out the passage that Silvast and Rhuthain took and nodding. As he ran ahead, the echoing sound of steel on steel, a muffled grunt and the clatter of a weapon falling to the floor reached his ears.