A hand is shaking me. Why is a hand shaking me? I was having this dream, involving the library in Alexandra, and the Dewey decimal system….. I open my eyes. Greyscale and Hermann are both looking at me; Hermann with a flat look, and Greyscale with a musing look. I look at the my alarm clock. 2:31. In the freaking night.
I inhale their scents on the fly. I feel a frown forming on my forehead. They both smell of smoke, and cinder. And their emotions… smelling emotions is much harder than judging one based from a face, but Greyscale smells like irritation while Hermann… Hermann comes off as stiffled. It’s like he has taken his emotions, showed them down an all too small bottle, and now it’s leaking.
“Not to be rude or anything… but what are you doing in my room, at 2:31?”
Hermann sits down at the edge of my bed. “When you told me about your interrogations, I noticed a minor detail that turned out to be a big detail…”, he starts, “…. and then Greyscale burned it down”, he finishes with.
I sit in chock. I failed in finding the necromancer, and in doing so I found him. Her, as it turns out– and isn’t that the world’s biggest blindspot. I am surrounded by a dozen girls, each strong in their own ways, but I never thought about the necromancer being a girl. Not just any girl. Helena Gravsten. Alexander Gravsten’s brother, who was always nice to me, who killed himself. Helena Gravsten, one of my sister’s friends. Not best friends, but good enough.
I recall her; long black hair, which she later cut, grey eyes, a sardonic smile. And now I know why she did it. Even I heard about the Rape-Incident, or the bare bones. This being Sweden and all, her name was kept confidential. So she had Tregaro killed because he raped her, and she successfully manipulated Sihle to commit suicide because she outed Helena as a lesbian, Sihle killed because she wanted to hurt Gran?
At first I think of what a mess it all is. Then I start to think of how I would react if someone blurted out that I had Aspergers. How it would change the way they look at me. Rumors. Pointed fingers. The preconceptions that I would have to suffer. I would definitely hurt that person. I think I understand her a bit. That does not make it right, though. Murder, killing someone will never make anything right. And she wants to bring my sister back to live– why? Because she were her friend, once? I won’t lie; the thought of having Alexandra back, even for ten seconds…. I would sacrifiece all the money the Fallowfells have earned since Frida Fallowfell joined Sven-Erik Havenius in the distant past for that opportunity.
“Rune?”, Hermann asks, a bit worried. I realize that I have zoned out. “So you didn’t find either the barrowman, or Alexandra’s corpse?”
They both shake their heads. I swing out of my bed. “What are you doing?” This from Hermann, said sternly.
“First I am going to the toilet. Nature’s calling. After that, you and Greyscale are going to entertain me, suitably with stories.” “We will?”, Greyscale asks, amused.
“I am not going to be able to sleep anyhow so we might as well get the most out of it.”
“… so then I tell him, ‘Sarge you can’t piss there, you’ll get ivy all over your dick’. Sarge, being something of a wise guy, decides to pee there anyway. BOOM. Ivy all over his dick.” Greyscale grins. Hermann is looking at him in the same way a cathholic would look at an heretic, a lost cause. “A good story”, I say.
“I have got a better one”, Hermann says. “You know the Hindenburg?” “The airship that b-?” “That one. I was actually a passenger on it a couple of times. Get this– they had a smoking room.”
I start to laugh. “You’re kidding.” “No, not for a second. The room was built in a way as to make it as safe as possible. Of course, the Hindenburg caught fire for different reasons, so in the end the precautions they took were useless.”
Greyscale raises a glass of beer. “For the Hindenburg!” I raise a glass of water; Hermann raises a cup of Persian tea.
Greyscale continues. “I miss the airships. It felt like we were living in the future you know? Airplanes simply aren’t the same.” “Yeah but you can fly in your Great-Form”, Hermann retorts. “Flying is hard work. I don’t like that.”
“Okay”, I interrupt. “Most famous or interesting person you met, and how.”
I stare at Greyscale first. He looks down in his beer, looking for memories. “Tomoe Gozen. The Tale of the Heike got lots of the details wrong, but she was the kind of warrior that changed history. She was this itty, bitty thing, but she carried a naginata, a cross between a halberd and a axe on her back, a great bow over her right shoulder and more swords then anyone had a right to, but that didn’t stop her from being a terror on the battefield. When Yoshinaka, her feudal lord and husband, told her to flee the battlefield in face of the defeat that was soon to follow, that he would be ashamed if she saw him die, a mere woman…. you know what she said?”
“She said that he had promised her eternity. And that if he would be ashamed to have her witness her death, then she would die together with him, like a mere woman. Me and Hebimaru, a relative, sat on a mountain and overlooked the battle.” Greyscale stops. “They fought– for how long I don’t know. The sun moved across the sky. The wind started blowing hard. The grass turned crimson. Uchida Ieyoshi, a great samurai attacked them. He would have taken Yoshinaka’s left arm off if Gozen hadn’t thrown one of her katanas at him. Eventually Yoshinaka took an arrow to the throat.” Greyscale sighs, mournfully. “I can still remember her scream. Filled with all the things she’d wanted to tell him, but couldn’t. She fell on the ground and didn’t get up. Another warrior, which history named as Hatakeyama Shigetada saw her weakness and decided to seize her. I couldn’t let that happen. I told Hebimaru to get her.” Hermann nods knowingly.
“What”, I ask. Greyscale turns to me. “Among the Flight, Hebimaru is known the fastest. The fastest sprinter. The fastest flyer. He blazed across the battlefield like lightning, and before no one was the wiser, he had spirited her away. The rest is as they say, history.”
I nod, but not before making a mental note to ask Verde for more details, and to check this Tomoe Gozen up.
I look at Hermann. “Oh, you have already gotten a story. And it’s time for you to go to bed.”
“But I am not”, I yawn. “I am”, I yawn again. I glare at him. “Next time then.”