A landscape of craters. Rocks scoured black. Discarded shards of trees, each piece bigger than Greyscale in his human form. That is the sight that greets the coterie consisting of myself, Sara and Elena, the three of us having snuck out at recess.
It’s odd how one’s priorities change; half a year ago I couldn’t even theoretically conceive of the notion of playing truant./ You are growing, changing./ Perhaps. But into what?
I notice Sara giving me an odd look. I shake my head and smile mutely. We stop before a particularly large crater, big enough to hold a small car. In a way, it’s quite impressive. Greyscale caused similar destruction in his Great-Form last year, but he was the size of skyskraper then. For two people, human-sized, to do this…
It simply reinforces my thoughts about the Plan. Tam Linn can’t create the same havoc inside my soul. It’d also limit the potential for collateral damage, I muse, wondering how much destruction Fallowfell can handle. Sara, listening in on my thoughts, nod.
Detective Claire, who dogged me during the Gravsten Investigation (that’s what the newspapers are calling it) left the site just as we entered it. Thankfully, both Sara and Elena listens to me when I say that it would raise far too many questions for her to notice us.
“I wonder what happened to them?” Sara’s question causes Elena’s features to bunch up in a scowl. “The best scenario would be that they died from their injuries and that what we’re looking at is their graveyard”, Elena mutters. “But you don’t really believe that, do you?” Sara’s retort is light, but all the more effective for it.
Do you think that the time is right, Verde? /I think that you’re hardly ever going to get a chance as good as this./ That seals it.
“This looks bad”, I rehearse,”but it could have been much, much worse.” Sara frowns at me, while Elena gives me an increduluous look. There. I have tossed out the bait. “And how exactly could it have been worse?” Elena’s question causes me to grin. Like stealing candy from a baby.
“This”, I make a sweeping gesture to the broken landscape,” was the result of Fenrir and Linn fighting. But”, I make a slight pause for effect,” imagine how it would look like had Greyscale, Hermann, the Flamels, Gomagog and Merith fought too. Richard wielding Hauteclere,which slices through rock and stone like butter. Perenelle using tinctures that poisons the water and that can ignite the air itself. Gomagog running things through like a freight-train.
Hermann popping in there and here with those daggers of his. Greyscale using those flames for which he was so aptly named, flames that will hurt even immortals and ensure that nothing will grow here for ages. Imagine that”, I finish with on a chipper note.
“You’re right”, Elena concedes. “That would be worse.” I node sagely, before responding. Sara’s eyes become as big as moons on reading my thoughts, seeing where I am going. “It doesn’t have to be like this though”, I offer.
“Oh really now?” Elena challenges.
I steeple my fingers in front of my nose, a clever affection to keep my hands occupied, so that they do not fidget. “Suppose that someone had a plan. A plan to deal with Tam Linn. A plan that would keep the fighting to a minimum, with the majority of the risk falling on a single person. In this highly theoretical scenario, would you like to hear that plan?”
Elena turns those turquiose eyes on me. Magic rises on the wind. I can hear her grind her teeth. “Yes”, she says, eventually. “I’d like to hear this ‘highly theoretical scenario’.”
“Tam Linn is immortal, that’s part of his legend. Unkillable, even the Council couldn’t do it, or so it goes. The proposed proposal suggests that people haven’t tried enough. Thus he will be killed in two ways, simultaneously. When his soul is elsewhere, we will strike, destroying his physical body, stranding his soul. And that stranded soul of his will be assaulted, wounded, then destroyed. Soul”, I say raising my left hand,” and body”, I finish, raising my right.
Elena stares at me, smouldering with some unnamed emotion. “You”, she spits. “You’re talking about Linn’s check. When he visited your soul. You want to repeat that and fight him. Inside your soul, while we use… say the shards of Zulfiqar to destroy his body”, she demands, one of her hands centimeters from my face.
I grab onto that hand. “And I want you to coordinate it. You’re the seer. You can judge the right moment.” I squeeze her hand. “Please, Elena. Linn slaughtered John Dobbs. Who is to say that he won’t do something similar to Hermann or Greyscale or anyone in 1A? This plan might put me at risk, but if we succeed, the damage will be kept low and I’ll be the only one in danger.”
Elena looks at Sara. “You agree with this?” Sara, who looks down on the ground. “Agree?” She raises her head, meeting those hallowed blue orbs of Elena’s, which is harder than you can imagine. “No I don’t agree with this plan. But this is life. You don’t get perfect options, where everyone gets away unscathed”, she temporizes.
“So you’ll sacrifiece Rune to save your own life?” The contempt in Elena’s response is staggering. “What”, Sara says in her I-am-trying-to-be-patient voice,” do you think will happen when Rune gets hurt?” I blanche; I hadn’t thought of that, and Sara never mentioned. She never said a thing.
Elena realizes the implications at the same time I do. “And now you’re making me look bad. Alright, I am in”, she decides, her voice less angry, more mellow now. ” But I want to tell Hermann-” “No”, I object. “We both know that he’s never going to let us do this. It’s not that we don’t need the adults’ help, but that they wouldn’t let us do it.”
I continue. “We do this, we do it alone.” I stretch out my hand. “Are you in?”
“I am in”, Elena grudgingly admits,” but I want it on record that this is a bad idea and that we’re all going to die.”