The Broken Boy
Elena calls Rune again, for what seems to be the eleventh time. She bites her thumb, drawing blood. This isn’t normal; Rune always answers, eventually. She calls him again, and this time someone picks up the phone.
“Elena, stop calling”, Hermann responds. “Erhm, where is Rune?” “Rune… Rune is currently indisposed”, Hermann says in a tired voice. Elena’s eyes narrow. “When you say that he is indisposed-” “I mean that he is out cold, sleeping, and if I will have my will done, he’ll sleep for another day, at the very least”, Hermann interrupts.
“What has happened to him?” “Tam Linn happened to him”, Hermann grits out. “I caught him mesmering Rune with a glamour….” Hermann trails off. “I fought him, but I fear that I was too late. Who knows how long Linn spent with him?” “Have you”, Elena starts gently,” tried talking to Rune?”
“He won’t answer my questions!” Hermann’s voice is filled with frustration. “Right”, Elena muses. “I’ll be there shortly.” “Elena, I am not too sure-” “Nonsense. We both know what he’s like. We let him turtle up now and it will take ages to dismantle his defenses”, Elena summarizes.
Before Hermann has time to formulate an answer, Elena hangs up. She writes another message on her phone, and sends it several people in Fallowfell before stealing her mother’s Porsche.
Kai scrolls through half a dozen recipes for Lebkuchen, the traditional German gingerbread Christmas-treat. “Aniseed?” “I don’t like aniseed”, he mumbles to himself. His phone vibrates. He checks the message, and any thought about treats is forgotten.
“Who was that?” Signe’s question is delivered nonchalantly, as if she could not care less. Linnea Hexer curses internally. Dating a normal is hard. The constant lies, the attempts at subterfuge. How do you tell your girlfriend that one of your classmates was attacked by what can be likened to a hitman from the government?
Hexer smiles and prepares another lie, while dreaming about a time where supernaturals and normals can be honest with each other.
“He was what?!” Amanda’s loud exclamation causes Silena Sigson to thump her broom at the ceiling, an action she employs whenever she feels that Amanda is getting to be too loud. Like Amanda cares. “Dammit, I can’t be riffing him now, can I?”
Baba Yaga, who was once offered a seat on the Council that governs all supernaturals glares at her granddaughter. “Black powder?” Mixed with pure alchol? What were you thinking?”
Amina Pavov averts her eyes. A grandmother has ways to compel the truth out of her grandchildren, and that goes double for Baba Yaga. She’d never admit it, but her grandmother frightens her. It’s not her appeareance, that of a matron in the fullness of her years, or her magic, which is so frighteningly controlled, but the way she questions people.
Like a tiger stalking prey. Amina is about to come clean when her phone chimes. She glances at it, then her grandmother, before she realizes what she has read, then she looks at it again.
“One of my classmates was attacked by Tam Linn”, she stutters.
Chiyo Sawamura tackles a doll hard enough to cause splinters forming on its torso. She raises a leg above her head and brings it down. Parts of the innards of the doll fly all over the basement.
Would she have faced Tam Linn any better than Rune? She wonders. Their magics are similar enough. Physical, high-end. Yes, she decides, eventually. It might have taken longer due to her extensive training, but eventually Linn would have gotten her.
She shivers, suddenly feeling the cold in the basement.
Hannah Duchamps moves a pawn on the board, and wonders what his role in all of this would be. A knight, she decides. Rune is a knight in this game of chess. And queen, she must be the queen.
She smiles at the ironical thought. Ironical, because she is the daughter of a queen, and in time she will be a queen, whether she wants to or not.
Nevena Stanislaw stares at the screen of her phone. Oh Rune. Why is it, she wonders, that he always ends up in middle of everything? She writes a message on her phone and checks through her list of contacts.
Her finger hovers above ‘send’. No. She erases the message. It’s over. She doesn’t have that right, if she ever had.
“You know you want to call”, Simona says in a echo of an earlier conversation Nevena had with Miroslava, entering her room and having seen her handling her phone. While her older sister might not know the circumstances of what just happened to Rune, she doesn’t have to. As has become Nevena’s habit, there is only one person who she wants to message.
Stella Rakaya knits a sweater at a speed no human could ever hope to match. The extra-appendages help, as does the ability to produce silk. “For Rune”, she writes on a card of paper with another semi-shifted arm,” so that you will never be naked, again.”
Her sweater will be proof against a whole host of things, such as bullets, fire, falling rocks, and while Rune’s magic might already do that, it is the thought behind the gift that counts.
Erim Yazar experiences an odd feeling on reading Elena’s message. If he had to put a name on it, he’d describe as compassion. He knows what it is like to be confident in one’s abilities, and to have that very confidence crushed.
For a Branch-Chief and one of the Seven both exist at pinnacle of supernatural power, even if they are on different sides.
He calls Kai.
Shirin Vahedi leans back in her chair. A callous part of her views this as the opportunity she has always sought; Nevena out of the picture and Rune in a state of vulnerability. But she won’t act on the impulse.
She is better than this. Atleast that’s what she tells herself.