Uh, I'm guessing this happens BEFORE the last two (Does Anji ever stop getting into trouble? )
Eliziya sat on a stool and tucked her legs in, glaring at the floor. Fire flared on and around her, hissing and spitting wrathfully.Your sister doesn’t like you,
She bit her lips, grinding her teeth, fuming. “It’s a ball. This is a ball. What the hell am I supposed to do if not dance?”Your sister might have been more accepting, were it your heart-love.
“Well, he’s not here, is he?” Zi scowled. “For the first time I get to know someone and she does this.”You should not have presumed to promise him a place.
“Why can’t I recommend people for the guild?” Zi demanded of the voice. “Isn’t that how Tamar got in?”It sounded less of a recommendation and more of a demand,
the voice pointed out, and she felt it drape about her shoulders like a physical cloak.
“What’s wrong with you?” Zi growled. “Why are you so damn nice today? Shouldn’t you be yelling at me and telling me how unloved and insignificant of a gnat I am? How mad, how pathetic I am?”
Serenity welled up from the being inside her, but no vocal reply came. Struggling for a few moments, Zi eventually sighed and the anger dissipated.
“You’re right. I should have made it clearer that I just intended to vouch for him.” Zi played idly with Numen’s feathery wing. “What now?” she asked gloomily, watching the crowd dance through a sheen of incandescent flame. “Am I just supposed to sit here?”
“Oh saints, am I supposed to just walk in there? Looking like this!”
Eliziya was going to kill him.
Honestly, Tamar wasn’t sure he deserved it this time. The incident with the blue vase? Sure that time he could understand being the target of the wrath of a heated sun blazing down upon him. It had been a very nice vase. But this time? Honestly not his fault.
This did not, however, change the fact that Eliziya was probably going to kill him
or if not her, then certainly Anjali. Or Kevin. Or anybody. He had meant to be here hours ago. Was it two hours, or three? How long had that... thing been chewing on his cape, anyway?
“Damn it Hector,” Tamar grumbled, you said it’d take half an hour, an hour max! I should’ve known better than to accept a time limit from him of all people.”
It was only as he started to get close to the ball (a few people who had already left, having clearly enjoyed themselves a little too much, marked the path in the right direction) that Tamar remembered that his nice new cape had been ripped in two. Also, his tunic was messed up. And the less said about the burn marks on his sleeves (what was with Echo lately) the better.
To say he was a bit of a mess would be an understatement, besides, what if there was a no weapons policy? He never went anywhere without Echo these days. He couldn’t just walk into the building the way he was. Granted, he didn’t smell at least but he’d probably embarrass the living saints wishes out of her.
Okay, maybe there was someone else he knew here, he could ask someone to come out, Guild members didn’t generally ask questions about why their comrades in arms were covered in dirt and had tears in everything, it was just kind of a guild thing. So maybe there was someone there who-
-...Or he could just turn around. Because clearly today was not going to give him a choice in anything, now, was it?
So he turned around. As slowly as he could, tyring to remember what exactly had happened en route so that he could explain why it technically was all Hector’s fault. Because it really was. Seriously. He had kind of predicted the burning hair before he even turned. She did that when she was angry, but apparently it had moved to her eyes today as well and her ears, being far more expressive than they used to be, were curled slightly backwards in cat-like anger. Tamar winced. “Uh... hi?”
“Are you coming in or not?”
Without waiting for his answer, she stalked back into the ball, trying to give him the metaphorical cold shoulder.
Oh, this was not going to be fun. “Uh... Zi, you might not want me to go in there! T-trust me, it won’t do guild relations any good!”
But then she was already inside and couldn’t really hear him, or maybe she was ignoring him. Either way, he really only had one option.
Yeah, if Eliziya didn’t kill him, then somebody in his guild was going to. he paused for a moment, debating whether or not to leave his one remaining shoe on, then decided hey, he was gonna look like an idiot either way, took a deep breath and walked into the room.
|The good news was he didn’t see any members of Severed Storm he immediately recognized. Granted, the guild was about three times the size it had been in the beginning, but the important part right now (apart from ‘explain things to Zi so you don’t look like such an idiot’) was to avoid any of the senior members, who would probably raise questions as to what the hell happened and that was just going to ruin the entire evening. So he stuck as close to Zi as he could (given that she was walking just a little too fast right ahead of him).
She glanced back uncertainly, as if to make sure he was still there, then glared resolutely straight ahead again. “You-” Then she cut herself off, remembering that she was supposed to be ignoring him.
“Um... am... I being cold shouldered or told off?” Tamar realised he didn’t actually know the difference. “I... look, Zi I’m really sorry I didn’t show up on time, I didn’t mean to, it’s just... there was stuff... in the Underground... and... would it help if I blamed Hector? I’m fairly sure he started this.”
Zi whirled, stared at him for a few moments, lip quivering, then she pouted and slapped him lightly on the shoulder. “Where were
you? I’ve been waiting for you!”
Tamar... hesitated, not sure whether to be relieved. At least she was talking to him. “I-I said, the Underground. Not the proper part just one of those big rooms at the start, um... yeah you know that rumour about the rats of... unusual size? The one we’re not supposed to talk about, on account of it being ridiculous?” It sounded ridiculous alright, especially said aloud, but saints darn it, he had seen those teeth
. Stupid omnivorous giants...
Zi patted his tunic, trying to dust him off before realising it was pointless. “Are you alright? You don’t look very.. clean.”
“Uh... it’s okay, I washed my hands,” his eyes widened slightly. “I’m not even joking about this, Zi, they’re down there, they actually exist. I just thought Kain had been drinking again, but no, there are now giant rats in the sewers.” He paused before lowering his voice. “The small ones were bad enough, I’m not sure if I can handle giant ones, they kept sniffing me!
when they weren’t trying to eat Hector’s armour. His armour
She tiptoed and grabbed his temples, pulling him close so their foreheads touched. Soothing currents of warmth passed through her into him, easing his frazzled mind and restoring a measure of vitality to his limbs. Then she let go and stared at him, concern evident in her eyes. “Better?”
Tamar spent a couple seconds wondering how she could go from obvious anger to reassurance that quickly. But then again, that just seemed to be a thing Zi did, for him, at least. It was like a pendulum, he thought. She kept his momentum.
And he had stood her up at the biggest event the Castle had ever thrown. A castle that might well kill either of them whenever it chose to. If it wasn’t for Zi’s trick, he’d probably be freaking out about that.
Thank the saints for Zi. “I’m sorry, I really, really didn’t mean to stand you up, I guess... I guess it’s not really Hector’s fault, I was just... curious. I thought I’d have plenty of time, then it all just kind of got away from me.” he looked back little sadly. “I just got this cloak...”
“It’s okay,” she smiled. “Come on, I already got to piss Anji off once already. Wanna dance?”
Tamar paused. He looked
a mess, and as appealing as the idea of pissing Anji off as to Zi, the concept filled Tamar with a strange kind of horror. He still remembered the look on her face the first time when Zi had made him knock on their door while carrying her. This was not an experience he wanted to relive. And his cape had been practically torn in two. It was trailing everywhere. Stupid rats, why they all went for him
he’d never know.
Also he had never actually danced before.
But he did have one rather significant idea. “Okay hold on a second, here’s an idea.”
He tugged her slightly to the side, away from the crowds, and drew Echo from his sheath just enough that the blade flashed in the air, and blinked.
One of the strangest things about Ice magic was how it changed the way your body worked. It wasn’t that you stopped feeling hot, or cold (at least that wasn’t his experience) it was more like... your body stopped reacting to it. He supposed that was natural: that the body had built in safeguards to protect you and those you wanted protecting from themselves. Just a week ago he wouldn’t have dreamed of doing this but now...
Well now he knew what he was doing, and those rats were not going to ruin the evening, saints damn it.
The ice spread in a thin, filigree weave. He remembered the pattern on the inside of an old book cover, the twists and eddies, like water. He focussed it on individual threads first, drawing together the torn seams, crystallising the surface, holding it together just enough to keep the seams steady. It didn’t look very much like ice at all against the purple. He gave the oddly repaired cloak a bit of a shake, keeping Echo where he was in his sheath so as not to break the contact. “Huh,” he muttered, glancing at the cape (andperhaps secretly glancing at Zi to see whether or not she was impressed). ‘“All this time, and I still can’t get that magic to go through my hands, how do you even do that?”
“That’s pretty, but uh, if we’re dancing,” she flicked her fingers and conjured a candlelight. “Won’t that melt?”
Tamar smiled, shaking his head. “it won’t melt. Well... not very fast.” He thought about it for a second. Could he actually... it didn’t take that much power, so it wasn’t like he could accidentally hurt her, but could he maybe... “Hang on, lets see if I can...”
Turned out, he could. The ice spread in a pattern down Zi’s back but she only shivered at first, before it balanced out. He had to make the threads this time, rather than using an existing material base, and that was harder but it worked. The pattern formed against Zi’s back, like the wings of some fae creature in one of the oldest books, catching the bottom of her hair, melting a few times until it balanced out. Cold, sure, but not dangerous. There was something very reassuring about the fact he could do that now. It didn’t always have to be about hurting. He could use it for something else. Something constructive.
“Ha! Who says I can just stab things with this!” Tamar gave Echo a pat.
“Eeeeeeee,” Zi shivered intensely at the touch of the cloak. “It’s so cold, gosh, next time I’ll make you something out of fire and see how you like it!”
Despite her words, she hugged him briefly, then took his hand. “Well, sir?” she asked with mock formality. “Are you asking me to a dance?”
“Only if you promise not to set me on fire, milady.” He paused, realising soemthing was kind of ruining the effect here. “Whoa, hang on, shoes.” He pointed. The nice cloak aside he was actually still only wearing one shoe. Could people dance in one shoe? Was that a thing people did anywhere?
“Tamar? What’re you waiting for?” Zi asked, setting her crimson shoes by the wall neatly.
...Okay, so dancing with no
shoes was a thing people did. Yes, that seemed much more balanced. Tamar kicked the remaining shoe off so that it landed much less neatly next to Eliziya’s, and followed her. If anybody thought this was weird, they didn’t say so.
“So, T, ever danced before?”
“Um... I read about it?”
“It’s fine, I’ve done this exactly once before.” Zi pulled him onto the dance floor confidently. “That makes me a professional.”