I sleep in my old bed, in my old room, in the villa.
“Rune?” There is a rustle of fabrics being settled, and then a warm hand moves through my hair. Elena- and I would recognize her scent anywhere. I don’t respond. “You don’t have to talk. Remember?”
I remember; “you don’t have to talk”, was what I told Elena after she had been kidnapped and I made a bumbling attempt to reassure her. It didn’t work, but I somehow managed to make her laugh, and that’s what Julia, her mother, claimed to be half the work.
“I am guessing you feel powerless now”, Elena continues. “I sure did”, she says refering to that event. “But you’re not powerless. You never have been, even before you got your magic, and now… now you’re immortal, unaging”, she adds.
“You know what I see when I look at you and use my magic? Really use it?” She pauses, waiting for me to say anything. When I remain silent, she continues. “I see eternity. I see the clothes on your body changing. I see you with different women, and sometimes men. I see you standing on a rocky coastline, and the outline of it changes, driven down by wind and sun and by time itself. But you never change.”
“He could have killed me in that glade”, I eventually say. My voice feels strange, ill-used. “He couldn’t-” “Not in the physical sense perhaps. Not like Helena Gravsten’s undead, the barrowman or a speeding car. But he was with me in that place where Verde lives.” I halt, then continue after having ordered my thoughts in something resembling a logical sequence.
“Greyscale can break my bones. Kai could probably boil me from the inside. Stella could cut me even at my toughest and densest, but if he kills me inside that place, I’d be a walking, talking corpse.”
“I….” Elena stops. “You know what? You right”, she says, her voice close to screaming. I turn around in my bed, so that I can see her. A thick ball of mucus stops, midway, in my throat. Elena’s eyes are red, her face is puffy and blotchy and her arms are crossed against her stomach in a defensive position. “He could kill you. But for him to do that, he’d have to go through each and every one of us. Greyscale. Hermann. Perenelle. Gomagog. Merith. Kai. Chiyo. Amanda. Nevena. Linnea. Stella. Shirin. Amina. Hannah and many more. He’d have to walk over our dead bodies, and we’d be dead, because we would fight, fight to the bitter end.”
I have nothing to say to that, except that Tam Linn has done so in the past, but that doesn’t feel like a useful comment. “He is immortal. Not unaging, like me, Hermann or Greyscale. I saw him lose the greater portion of his right side, arm and all, and he didn’t bleed. Minutes later and he was fine”, I offer, remembering his arm that simply flowed together.
“If he can’t die, then we’ll immobilize him”, Elena sprouts. “Baptise him in cement, or drop him beneath a mountain or something”, she adds, clearly looking for a way out. I don’t say what I think; that in the centuries that Linn has been one of the Seven, some must have tried just that. And if they tried that, and he is still here, well, the logic says it all.
“And you, you need to get your act together. Because Rune?” She waits until I am looking her in the face. “This? The whole non-responsive thing you got going on? It scares me. It sure as hell scares Hermann. So get it out of your system, and then come up”, she ends her speech with, before going upstairs.
I lie there for a while, digesting her parting words.
Verde? /I feel as you feel. To think that… that man could reach us inside the inner sanctum. Truly, I wonder how he did it?/ Magic is based in the physical world. He looked at me… the glamour… that odd regeneration… the lack of blood….light, what Tam Linn is using, its light. / That.. that makes sense. All fae can employ glamour to a certain degree, and that’s lightbending. It can be something so simple that Tam Linn specializes in glamour-use. That still does not explain how he reached us./
Light… if he can perceive light to a greater degree than humans or even supernaturals… and the eyes are window to the soul…./ You’re grasping for straws./ Maybe, but I need to know Tam Linn’s magic, understand it. /In that we are agreed./
/She was right, you know./ In what way? /About the class. Hermann and the rest./ I struggle to articulate my thoughts. We need to make sure that choice, the choice between saving me and running for the forest never come to pass. I don’t think I could live with myself if anyone died on my account.
/I feel the same, yet I would urge you to remember that people are people. They have free will, and they can do whatever they want./
Greyscale sips his beer, a strange expression on his face. Someone who doesn’t know him would call it doubt, but that is a sentiment for the lesser races, and not a member of the Flight.
“What you told Rune… what you saw… how much of it was false?”
Elena glances in Hermann’s direction. He tilts his head and then nods. ” All of it”, she says, deflating like a punctured ballon. “I saw a version of Rune, a version that is everything he isn’t now. Hard. A single hollow eye. Gaunt cheeks.” She shudders. “And there was fire. Lots, and lots of fire.”
Greyscale nods the confirmation of her scent. “So what do we do now?” Elena answers his question: “We wait and hope.”
“Hope for what?”
“Hope that I was wrong.”