|Niklaus: Northkind Mage
Author: PirateGrrl PM
Slash Set about a thousand years before Rare Kinds, chronicles Nick's first incarnation as a Northkind mage. Joined by an elf and a mortal Roger, he travels in search of a way to control his power, but his companions provide distractions along the way.Rated: Fiction M - English - Fantasy - Chapters: 26 - Words: 140,948 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 05-17-12 - Published: 03-16-12 - id: 3005751
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
They went back through the tunnel and out of Hestia's home. All the mages were waiting to go back down but Kavel told them to stay put. No one was to go back down below. As the elf discussed this with the others a group of elves filed down the stairs leading out of the main cavern. Several of them had large deer hoisted up over their heads. Athalla was among them.
"Niklaus!" She ran down the steps once she saw him and leapt on him, throwing her arms around his neck. "They let me go on a hunt! It was marvelous!" Athalla didn't seem to notice his distress. She let him go and was positively bouncing with joy. "I didn't think there was any more to learn. You should see them in action!" She stopped for a moment, staring up at him curiously. "Aren't you happy for me?"
"Elated." The word was forced out of him but he might as well have said nothing at all.
"We saw a bear," she said, linking her arm in his. She led him away from the others. "And did you know there's a castle on top of the mountains? They said the Pergnes live there. You'd like it; it's capped with snow. I saw a fort too in the forest but we stayed well away from that. Luca says the Pergnes keep their soldiers there."
Niklaus fought to pay attention. The statue's words were still echoing in his mind. "Who's Luca?" What had she been talking about? He felt as if he was going insane.
"He's the one who brought us here." She had led him to Kavel's hut which was aglow from the fire lit inside. Roger was already there, digging through his pack. It looked as if he had ransacked the place. The crate was turned over and the furs were all bunched up with the blankets against the wall. Things were scattered everywhere. "What are you doing?"
"I'm looking for my bloody knife! One of them anyway. I'm going to stab the shit out of—Oh, Nick!" Roger had finally turned and noticed him standing there. "What's wrong with you? You look awful!" The thief stood, looking him up and down. "What did he do to you?" His tone was dangerous, but Niklaus couldn't focus on it. He felt as if he was coming out of a dream. Roger grabbed his hand. "My gods… Did you stick your hand in a bowl of snakes?"
"Niklaus!" Athalla exclaimed. "You didn't say you were hurt!"
"Did you give him time?" Niklaus was made to sit down while Roger examined his hand. "How did this happen?" He poked around a few of the angrier places. There were deep gouges in his skin but they didn't bleed. A strange sticky bright green was stuck in each of the holes in his hand. "Does it hurt?"
"Yes, Roger. Don't poke it."
Niklaus winced when he did it again, staring at the sticky green that smeared on the thief's finger. "Did Kavel do this to you?"
"Wait," Athalla dropped to her knees beside them. "Why should Kavel do anything to him?"
"We defiled his garden," the thief drawled. "If it was sacred he should have mentioned it." Niklaus watched, awe-struck as Roger tasted the green on his finger. "Tastes like…" he shook his head. "How did this happen?"
"Why did you stick in your mouth!" He tried to jerk his hand away but the thief held tightly onto his arm.
"I'm trying to figure out what it is! Just hold still!"
Athalla inched away from them, a grimace on her face. "You're disgusting."
Kavel entered the hut and the Tangarian came in after him. They both stood at the entrance, staring at the three of them. Kavel looked murderous taking in the state of his hut. "Get out of here, you two. Get away from him."
Athalla moved quickly to obey but Niklaus grabbed her arm with his free hand. "No, they're my friends. They're staying."
"Never mind them." Khu pushed past him and sat across from Niklaus. The Tangarian's dark eyes widened at his injured hand. "They have a right to know what you did."
"I did not do that! Do those look like bites to you?"
"Bites?" They all looked at him for some reason but Niklaus wasn't the odd one. "You all heard him!"
The thief bristled beside him. "Oh, you can understand it now, can you?" What was that supposed to mean?
"Why are you focused on me?" He looked at Roger, throwing an arm up in Kavel's direction. "He's talking about biting people!"
"I would never bite you," Kavel snarled. He looked as disgusted as Niklaus was by the idea. "Stupid boy."
"No one is biting anyone," the Tangarian said slowly. Niklaus flinched when he reached for his injured hand. "Let me see."
"Easy," Athalla whispered but Niklaus silenced her with hard look.
"All right," Khu retreated and turned his attention back to the elf, looking over his shoulder at him. Kavel was pacing angrily. "You took him below."
"Yes." He growled in frustration. "Meditation! You had your time and wasted it."
"That was a stupid idea," Roger said. Khu didn't seem to appreciate his opinion on the matter, but it didn't make a difference. The Tangarian was outnumbered. Athalla giggled quietly behind her hand. "Right?" The thief looked over at her. "Told you."
Athalla stifled her giggling once she saw the look on the Tangarian's face. Khu glowered at Roger. "How would you know?"
"He watched us!" Kavel gestured at the open hole in the ceiling. "I could hear him scrabbling around up there."
Roger was affronted. "You couldn't have!"
"It doesn't matter." Niklaus couldn't believe they would bother arguing about this! There were more important things to discuss.
"I took off my boots, Nick. He couldn't have heard me."
"No one cares about your boots, Roger!"
"How dare you!" The thief nudged him playfully but he was in no mood for jokes. "Best pair I've ever stolen."
Khu cleared his throat loudly, drawing their attention. "If you're all finished ridiculing my methods you should tell me why you decided to do this now!"
"He does not respond to you because of what you did." The Tangarian seemed apologetic then. Kavel's words were true enough. Ever since Khu invaded his mind he could care less what he said or tried to teach him. "And what made you think anyone but a Tangarian would gain anything from meditation? I took him below so he could feel it for himself. I did not cause that!"
"Then what did?" Athalla moved behind Niklaus and peered over his shoulder at his hand. They all stared at it. Roger poked at it again. Niklaus winced more from the sight than the pain; it seemed to be oozing. "Is there something down there?"
"It was the statue."
"Pull the other one," Roger muttered, staring at him incredulously.
It took a long time to explain it to them. Niklaus wanted to impress upon them how it felt, how the statue seemed to coax his magic out of him. The statue's words seemed to trouble the Tangarian the most but Kavel remained skeptical. Niklaus didn't blame him; it was an incredible experience! One he could hardly believe himself but he had been there. He had heard her words and the proof of the flower's mark was on his hand. None of them could deny that! Could it be explained any other way? Niklaus couldn't have done this to himself.
"Who is she? What did she do to me?"
"Hestiani. She is Tserrus' voice, his conduit in this plane." Khu gestured to his hand. "You've been chosen it seems, but I thought that statue was… just a statue."
Kavel rolled his eyes. "It is just a statue."
"What does that mean?" Niklaus looked to Kavel who had been silent during his tale. "You said she was his daughter."
The elf nodded. "Yes, but gods do not speak directly, and our gods wouldn't speak to a human being." They all bristled at that; Kavel's words were filled with contempt.
The Tangarian was the only one who dared to reason with him. "This tear she spoke of, the statue told him it was bleeding all creation." He flicked his black eyes to Niklaus. "I saw it when we were linked. That would be reason enough to latch on to him, considering the power he possesses. Obviously she hopes he can stop it somehow."
"Is that why she spoke to me? Because of my magic?" Could he really be that powerful? Niklaus didn't feel it. At least not now that he was out of the cavern below. He had never realized until then how much power he possessed.
Athalla watched the Tangarian, her expression suspicious. "Linked? What does that mean?"
"The sick bastard forced his way into his mind," Roger explained. "He knows everything about him now."
"What? It's what you said, isn't it? I don't know how you can stand to be in the same room with him." Roger's fingers tightened painfully around his arm. "I'd kill him if he did that to me."
"Why would you do that?" Athalla demanded. "Niklaus hasn't done anything to you!"
Khu had the nerve to plead with her, "I had to know if he was dangerous, child." He laughed at that. Niklaus had told them all; there was no need for him to lie about it! He knew why the Tangarian had done it. Kavel had told him in the cavern: he did it because he was afraid of him.
"You couldn't take my word for it?" She crossed her arms over her chest. "Did you see enough? Are you satisfied?"
"Athalla it's done!" He had no wish to bring it all up again. It made him angry. "He won't do it again."
"He certainly won't!"
"No, I won't," the Tangarian's words seemed genuine but they didn't ease the tension in the room. "That was wrong."
Athalla didn't seem to be finished however and turned her attention to Kavel this time. "Why shouldn't the gods speak to him? Is he not worthy to talk to? I can't imagine Khu saw anything in his mind to tell him that."
"Perhaps your clan believes differently," Kavel's tone was snide. "If so they've done you a disservice."
"I know well enough! Tserrus raised us all from the earth—not just elves."
"Northkind worship the dead, do they not? I assume you never heard of Tserrus until one of these told you." Worship the dead? He had no idea what he was talking about. The ancestors were honored dead, but they weren't worshipped. At least Niklaus had never worshipped the dead. "Humans have their own gods; they don't even recognize Tserrus. They've been willfully ignorant of our ways since the beginning. I know this."
"You don't know him! Niklaus isn't like the others. Even the statue saw that…" she trailed off as they were all staring at her in confusion. "What? Ugh, Hestiani, you know what I mean! How can you have lived so long and be so closed-minded?"
"It is because I have lived for centuries that I have seen the truth of it—"
"Centuries? No one can live that long!"
Niklaus stopped listening then; he'd had enough squabbling to last a lifetime. They were supposed to be talking about a way to help him with this and instead they were at each other's throats. Kavel was grating his patience; he couldn't believe the elf harbored such prejudices. Living so long had tainted him clearly. He hadn't seen all there was but he certainly spoke as if he had.
Roger leaned over to him, whispering lowly, "Do you want to get out of here?"
"I don't think they'd notice if I left."
"As much as I'm enjoying watching our elf tear him a new asshole, I want to know what you think about this."
Niklaus let out a nervous laugh. "Typical of my life so far. Scorn, ignorance and rejection are things I'm used to." It didn't mean that it didn't hurt hearing such things. "I know I'm—my magic is dangerous but I never expected a statue… god, whatever, to place such importance on me."
The thief shrugged. "Who expects a statue to speak at all, let alone to tell them they're important."
"This is serious, Ro'kirr," the Tangarian said. He had apparently been listening to their conversation.
"Did I say it wasn't? What can we do to help him?"
Kavel cut in then and narrowed his strange eyes at him. "Nothing. You two will go back where you came from. We will take him to Tangar to find out if he is telling the truth. If so he'll need to be blessed and the sooner he's rid of you the better."
"What?" Why would Niklaus lie about this? It had happened! As ridiculous as it sounded he was there and the statue spoke to him. He looked to Roger for help but he was laughing. It was totally without humor.
"He's not going anywhere without me so you two can just go fuck yourselves."
"Perhaps you should go now," Kavel said darkly. "You are no longer welcome here."
"I believe Roger told you to go fuck yourself," Athalla was on her feet now, looking ridiculous staring the elf down. Compared to him she looked like a child. "Perhaps you should go do that."
"There will be no more arguments!" Niklaus shouted over them. "You and your god want me to do all this? Then you listen to me." Kavel shook his head derisively so he spoke directly to him. "They're coming with us. They're involved in this more than you two have ever been. Any more talk of separating us and you will see just how far you'll get with me."
"We only meant—" Khu began but Niklaus spoke over him, silencing him with a determined look.
"Offer your guidance and suggestions if you really want to be of use but interfere again and I swear I'll make you regret it." Kavel smirked but Khu looked genuinely upset by his words. Niklaus moved to stand. "I need a drink."
"Don't go just yet," Khu said calmly. "We only meant to save your friends from the journey ahead. It will be dangerous."
Kavel scoffed. "Don't bother! They are too young to understand."
"We can handle danger," Athalla squared her shoulders. "We've done so before."
"Remember you said that, girl. Do not hold me responsible should something happen."
"We're agreed then?" Niklaus asked. He was impatient to have this conversation done and didn't wait for a response. Their silence was enough. "Good. What's next?"
"South to Tangar as soon as possible," the Tangarian said and turned his gaze to his friend. Kavel seemed hesitant but he nodded.
"All right." He stood awkwardly; Niklaus didn't think they'd give in so easily. He was still angry but he had won, strangely enough. They all knew now he wasn't going to back down on this whether his threat was believed or not. He needed his friends with him. Someone had to be on his side.
Khu's black eyes settled on his injured hand, his brow furrowed with worry. "Don't go far."
"Drink?" The thief asked and he nodded to that. Niklaus grabbed one of Ceraph's injury kits from the mess on the floor and the three of them left the hut without another word.
"We didn't get all our answers," Athalla protested. She plopped down beside him with a heavy sigh. They had walked to the other side of the cavern, well away from Kavel's hut.
"They can tell us in on the journey. I've had my fill of them for now." Niklaus' fingers shook as he tried to open the box. It felt like ages before he slid it open and when he did the contents spilled everywhere.
Roger chuckled at him. "I'm glad you waited till now to fall apart."
"Are you feeling all right?" Athalla picked up the roll of bandages and he snatched them away.
"I can do this." Although it was a struggle. Everything was becoming blurry and his left hand wasn't cooperating. It wasn't even the one that was injured! "I'm fine," he insisted but he didn't feel right. Already he was regretting leaving the hut. Even if they were a couple of bastards, Khu and Kavel must know more about this than what they had told him but Niklaus couldn't stomach their presence at the moment. He almost missed Orlinda.
"With one hand?" She cocked her head at him. "Don't be so proud."
"You should see what he gets up to with one hand," the thief drawled. He had a bottle of wine in his hand and was sipping on it casually. "Or just a few fingers…"
"Hush your mouth," he muttered and swayed in his seat. Just a few words from Roger could make him sweat and he was already sweating. Come to think of it something could seriously be wrong with him. How could he feel hot and cold at the same time?
"Yes, honestly!" Athalla cried. "Don't be gross…" Niklaus groaned when she took the bandages from him and wouldn't take no for an answer. He felt light-headed and lazily fought her when she grabbed at his hands. "Don't fuss with me, Niklaus."
"Sorry," he heard Roger say. "I forgot about your pointy virgin ears."
"Did you just apologize to me, Ro'kirr?"
"Don't let it go to your head, woman."
"Are we sure we need to be covering this up?" It took him a moment to realize Athalla was speaking to him.
"Yes, do it. Looking at it is making me nauseous," Niklaus winced as she finished wrapping up his fingers and palm. The green was already oozing through; he looked away but could still feel it. He had never seen anything so… he gagged, unable to finish his thought. "I might be sick."
"It's not that bad." Roger held out the bottle. It doubled in front of him and both of them seemed to be waving. Bottles shouldn't be waving. "Have some wine." Niklaus tried to blink it away. "Always makes me feel better."
"Roger, I don't think he needs wine."
"I need to lie down." He leaned on someone's shoulder. It felt bony and painful; it had to be Athalla's. "My head is spinning."
"You're heavy and hurting me," she whined and helped him lay down. "I think he's been poisoned."
Why did she have to say that? He wasn't stupid; he would just rather not think about it. Niklaus' hand throbbed as if to remind him of the source. He could feel it all the way up his arm, as if the green was following the path in his veins. This was insane! Didn't the statue say he was needed? Why would it poison him? The thorny vines had pierced him and deposited some weird thing in his palm. Was that the protection she was talking about? If so it wasn't working; it felt like it was killing him.
"You're all clammy," the thief said but he knew that much. Niklaus felt his hands on his face. When he tried to focus he saw two blurry Rogers looking down at him and both looked concerned. "And pale."
"Well you're fuzzy and… fading." Then everything was swallowed by darkness, but he could still feel him clutching onto him. "Shut up." He couldn't speak any further; it felt like his breath was being squeezed out of him.
"Athalla! Do something!"
"Like what? I'm no healer!"
"Don't just sit there and watch him die!"
His friends' panicked squabbling was the last thing he heard before he fell unconscious.
When Niklaus woke the first thing he did was raise his right hand to his face and examine it. The seed, or whatever it was, was still there just under the skin of his palm but the puncture wounds were gone. How long had he been asleep? Come to think of it he didn't even know where he was.
Niklaus sat up and studied his surroundings. It looked like Hestia's house which was somewhat of a relief. He had no wish to be in Kavel's hut but why had he been brought here? He saw Athalla curled up asleep at his feet, one of her arms thrown on his legs. Niklaus gently moved her arm. She stirred but didn't wake. Her arms instead curled around the furs that had covered him in his sleep and bunched them up to her chest. He had to find Roger; he must be able to fill in the details.
When he stood and turned around the thief was facing him. Roger had his fists balled up at his sides. His hair hung down in his face, and Niklaus noticed the dark circles under his eyes and a tightness in his jaw as he stared over at him. He looked as if he hadn't slept in days.
"Good morning?" Niklaus said uncertainly. In truth he had no idea if it was morning or not and he didn't know what else to say. He took a few steps toward him and Roger swung his fist at his face. Pain exploded in his nose; he could have sworn he heard a crack. What was wrong with him? Niklaus staggered back, his hands moving to cover his now bleeding nose but Roger grabbed onto them and yanked him toward him. "Why?"
The thief didn't say anything, perhaps he didn't have anything to say. Perhaps all he had to say was in that incredibly painful punch to the nose. Instead he crushed his lips against his and that was painful too. Niklaus had no idea what he did to deserve such punishment but when he felt Roger's tongue force its way into his mouth he decided he liked this a great deal more than the punching.
The pain in his nose was nearly forgotten though he could taste his own blood in Roger's mouth along with the bittersweet taste of Khu's spiced wine. Roger's grip didn't relax on him, it just moved. His hands clutched at the back of his neck. Niklaus groaned, mostly in pain, but couldn't stop kissing him. He was alive! Oh, Ancestors, everything tasted sweeter now. But really this man always did this to him. That wasn't to say he wasn't upset about the punch… this just made it easier to forgive.
"I didn't mean to…uh," he laughed, but it lacked its usual jovial quality. "… hit you."
"Forget it." Niklaus wasn't going to but he didn't want it to happen again.
"No." Roger dropped his mouth to his neck, mouthing his way up his throat. "Thought you'd never wake up." Niklaus raised an eyebrow; so a bloody nose had been punishment? He really had a difficulty showing emotion. "You're real…" He sounded delirious; how long had he deprived himself of sleep?
"How long was I…?" Out? Asleep? Dead? He had no idea how to finish that question. And it was difficult to think clearly with Roger's teeth and lips on his neck.
"Days," Roger said and sagged against him, rubbing his cheek on his shoulder. He sounded exhausted. "You made some unlikely friends."
"What does that mean?" Niklaus urged him to sit and the thief more or less collapsed next to Athalla on the floor. She groaned and scooted away but still didn't wake. Roger pulled the furs away from her and stuffed him under his head. "Are you all right? What's going on with her?"
"We haven't slept in forever. I drugged her a little." Niklaus stared at him in shock. He couldn't believe he had done such a thing! Roger yawned and closed his eyes, settling comfortably against his makeshift pillow. "She was getting on my nerves."
"What happened?" He dropped onto the floor next to him
"You don't remember but you started this chanting," Roger dropped a hand on his leg; it just rested there, as if to confirm his realness. "It was slightly worrying."
"I'm sorry?" Niklaus chanted? Had the poison done that? Was it the god…what was her name?
"You've obviously stopped now, gorgeous. I don't hold it against you." He patted him reassuringly. "But it got all the elves rather excited."
"What did I say?"
Roger chuckled quietly and opened his eyes a fraction. "Give me your hand," he said. He reached for him. Niklaus grabbed his hand but the thief lazily knocked that one away. "No, you goose. The other one." Niklaus lay down beside him and Roger took his right hand, holding it up to examine his palm. He rubbed a thumb over the seed. "They said Hestia went through the same thing just about. Only she wasn't chosen by a god; Kavel chose her."
Kavel shoved a seed into her? Is that what he was saying? "But she's dead now. Does that mean—"
"She had lived for almost two hundred years and by the looks of her she was well overdue for a keel over. Kavel said her body dissolved the seed. He tried to cut yours out but your new friends stopped him. I may have stabbed him a little but—" he laughed maniacally. This scared Niklaus a little. Roger really needed to rest. "It didn't take! All it did was make him angry."
"My new friends…" Niklaus couldn't guess who he was talking about. His only two friends were in this room with him. "I'm not following."
"We've got hunters guarding the door. I'd tell you to go look but I don't want you to go." Roger threw an arm and a leg over him and held on. "Once those blokes know you're awake I won't have you to myself."
"I don't understand."
"Of course you don't. You were asleep." He yawned again and shoved his face into his shoulder. "Just don't do it again," he muttered.
"Wait," Niklaus turned his head, looking down at him. "You stabbed Kavel?" He was glad the thief got a few stabs in, even if all it did was make the elf angry. "Roger?"
Niklaus jostled him a bit, moving his shoulder. Roger had seemed to pass out immediately. He did look exhausted. Had he really been awake all that time Niklaus had been asleep? A hand flopped over and hit him in the face, smacking his sore nose.
"Ow!" He shoved it away. It must have been Athalla because he heard her stop snoring for a moment, murmur something about bugs and then return to sleep. These two were useless now and he was wide awake. Despite being confused, more confused than he ever had been, he had never felt better in his life. He didn't want to lay here while Roger used him as a pillow. Niklaus touched Roger's cheek, smiling as he brushed his hair from his face. The thief would start drooling any second. It was only a matter of time.
Niklaus carefully extracted himself and peered out of hole in the wall that served as Hestia's… the late Hestia's window. He saw the hunters Roger had been talking about. They were sitting on the steps outside the house. Kavel's hut was right next to Hestia's stone house. He could see fire smoke exiting the hole in the roof. He wondered what he was doing in there. Why had he wanted to cut the seed out of his hand? What did it even mean? Niklaus looked down at it. It should feel like an invader but it didn't. It was a part of him now. His hand had healed around it. This was all very strange.
Niklaus glanced back at his friends and decided the only way to find out about this was to leave the house. He gently touched his nose; it didn't feel broken and it had stopped bleeding. No doubt blood was smeared all over his face though. A smile stretched his lips as he cut his eyes over to Roger. Perhaps he was a little tempted to go back over there but the thief definitely needed the rest with the way he had been acting. As for the punch, he'd get him back eventually.
He found some water and washed his face off. Niklaus could hardly imagine what he looked like but being immobile for a handful of days he couldn't be too terrifying. The last time he was awake his hand was oozing sickening bright green sap so these elves had no doubt seen the worst already.
Niklaus walked to the door and tapped the shoulder of one of the hunters in his way. The elf turned his head and Niklaus recognized him. He was the elf who had led them to this place. "You're alive," he said and looked pleasantly surprised. "Khu will want to know."
"Must you tell him?" The elves looked at each other but he wasn't about to tell them why he would prefer not to speak to Khu. "I did just wake."
"He said to tell him when you woke." The elf looked confused, in fact they all did. "If you worry about Kavel he won't be troubling you. He knows the price of defying Hestiani."
"All right…" Niklaus said slowly. "What does that mean?"
"He'll be kept away until you journey for Tangar." He balked at that. Kavel had tried to cut the seed from his hand. Roger said he had stabbed him, and these elves had kept him away for safety… but murderous Kavel was still going with them to Tangar? Where was the logic in this place?
"Yes, then I'd better speak with the Tangarian."
The elf told the others to stay by the door and led Niklaus away. "You seem different. We knew you would be, but most of us expected it would happen as it did with Hestia."
He didn't want to be rude, but how was he to ask if they expected him to wake up bony and malnourished, looking an inch from death? But Niklaus supposed she hadn't always been that way. "She went through this too?"
"It is similar but Hestia was chosen by Kavel. They belonged together."
"So now I belong to your god?" The elf gave him an odd look. Hadn't he been following his words correctly? But no, it didn't seem that way. Not the way this one looked at him as if he was speaking another language.
"I'll let the Tangarian explain this. I probably shouldn't have said so much."
"You haven't said much of anything."
They stopped in front of the Tangarian who stood with his back to the circle of trees which marked Kavel's garden. He, like Roger, looked as if he hadn't slept for days. Khu nodded to him and flicked his eyes to Kavel's hut.
Niklaus glanced over his shoulder. "I'm not going in there."
"No, I wouldn't ask that now though I'm sure the danger has passed since you're awake."
"He tried to remove this," Niklaus threw up his right hand, showing him his palm. "Tell me why," he demanded.
"Perhaps you ought to sit down."
"I can't. I won't. I've been lying down for ages. I am awake now and can't bring myself to sit." Especially not with this Tangarian. Sitting with him led to dangerous things. So Khu said he wouldn't invade his mind again but that didn't mean he trusted him, no matter his reasons for doing it.
"Let's walk then. We need to speak."
He consented to that; they had much to talk about. Hopefully Khu would be less cryptic. They walked around the large cavern, passing elves going about their duties. Several of them stopped their work to watch him walk by. It was a little strange but he had gotten used to people staring warily at him from his time in King's Town.
"You should start from the beginning. Roger was less than helpful."
"When you left the hut I knew it wasn't long before you succumbed to the poison."
He bristled at that. They knew what was going to happen and they didn't tell him? "Why didn't you stop me then? Tell me what was going on?"
"Would you have listened?" Niklaus' anger waned slightly; no, he wouldn't have. At least not then. "We were close and what happened was inevitable."
"What did it do to me?"
"It has been a long time since a mortal creature has been given the seed directly from the flower. I don't think anyone has ever been given one from Hestiani herself. It's the god's gift; but you're human and I suppose the sap had to change you."
"You suppose?" Niklaus laughed but it was totally without humor. "Don't any of you know what's happening?"
"Please, don't. I am trying to understand it myself."
"Didn't the same thing happen to Hestia? It can't have been that long ago."
"Kavel gave her the seed over two hundred years ago. It was different with her. They were bound together. I cannot tell you more about that; it's not my place…" Just how old was Kavel? They had said he was forever… did that mean he would live forever? The Tangarian shrugged, "I wasn't there."
"I doubt Kavel would tell me."
"I realize he's acting strangely but he's still in mourning. I know you understand how that feels." Niklaus stopped walking and stared at him. "I'm not your enemy, Niklaus. I've said what I had done was a mistake. How can I make it right?"
"You could begin by keeping to the subject at hand."
"It's never happened with a human before. I find it extraordinary that you survived. I think it was the seed that saved you, helped the sap do its work. You seem…" the Tangarian trailed off uncertainly. "…how do you feel?"
"Confused. Slightly angry."
"I…" Honestly Khu aside he felt wonderful, if a bit hungry. All right he was ravenous but perhaps for the first time in his life he felt as if he was in control of himself. He noticed the Tangarian staring at him in his periphery, waiting for a response or perhaps trying to read an answer in his expression. Niklaus was reluctant to say it aloud. "What did Hestia feel?"
"It wasn't the same, Niklaus."
"And you're not going to tell me…"
"It's not my place."
"Hestia is dead," Niklaus snapped but then he realized who he should be asking instead. He turned and walked purposely to Kavel's hut.
"Niklaus, I wouldn't—" Khu protested, following closely behind him.
Perhaps the Tangarian wouldn't but he certainly would. In some part of him, very deep inside due to all the irrational anger welling up within, he knew that messing with Kavel wasn't the best of ideas. But he needed answers, didn't he? And if Khu wasn't going to speak of it then he'd get it firsthand. Niklaus whipped aside the curtain to the hut and pointed at his target.
"You," he said, quickly losing steam when Kavel rolled his head up to look at him with those strange eyes of his. "Talk." Khu shoved in beside him.
"You're awake." He didn't seem entirely happy about that. "Your friend stabbed me in the heart." Niklaus' lips quirked but when Kavel growled and jumped to his feet all mirth was gone. Wait, he thought, Roger stabbed him in the heart? But here he was! Alive somehow. What was he? "Show me your hand," Kavel demanded.
"Move back." The Tangarian placed himself between them and flattened a palm on Kavel's chest. Kavel took one step backward, grinning. A shiver went up Niklaus' spine seeing those sharp teeth. "Show him." He hesitantly held up his right hand. "It's too late. It's a part of him now."
"That's—" Niklaus stopped himself, looking at the Tangarian curiously. That was exactly how it felt, as if it were a part of him. He took a moment to stare at his palm. "I've been told Hestia went through this. He won't tell me." Niklaus focused on Kavel. "You will."
The elf's grin twisted into a grimace and he turned away from them. "It is not the same. Don't be stupid."
"So you people keep saying." It seems all they would say was that it wasn't the same. "You gave her the seed."
Niklaus waited impatiently but the Kavel didn't clarify. "And?"
"And then we were bound together. This is different, boy. The seed isn't yours to keep. You said the god gave you a purpose, yes? Focus on that."
"It's a part of me now. I can feel that." He glared at the elf. "You tried to cut it out."
"Because you didn't need it."
"Kavel, it might have saved his life!"
"You don't know that. It's what this journey south is about. I don't believe we should go at all."
This was certainly a switch! Kavel had been the one to suggest going there in the first place. What had changed while he was asleep?
Khu still stood between them, trying to reason with his friend. "You have been warned, friend. You cannot interfere—"
"By all means should he fulfill his purpose, but there's no point going to Tangar now. He should get started immediately. The god told you to heal the tears. Do that. We will go with you. You don't need anything else."
Niklaus had the feeling that Kavel was keeping something vital from him. This journey to Tangar was more important than either of them let it be known. Suddenly he knew the answers were there; he had to go. "We would have to find them first. I don't know where to begin, do you?"
"All the more reason to begin right now. Get your things. If Khu doesn't find this important enough we can go without him."
"It is important," the Tangarian insisted. "All the more reason to go home."
"This was my home! Hestia was my home." Kavel turned on him and shouted those words in his face. Niklaus thought he saw tears in his eyes. "And Tangarians don't know everything. Would you even expect them to welcome him?"
"Yes. Once they know. Ameranth would want to see you." Khu was practically begging which was ridiculous. This elf needed to be told what was going to happen and then he'd have to deal with it. "They could shed some light on this."
"No." His tone was defiant; he would not be questioned.
"Then we'll all have to go without you," Niklaus said. He was perfectly fine with leaving him behind.
"What? You and your friends?" Kavel turned his gaze on Niklaus then. "You'd take that little thief with you?" He laughed then, shaking his head disdainfully. "Of course you would. You are a complete fool."
"We are not having this conversation again." He turned to leave without his answers. Already Kavel was grating on his nerves. He knew next to nothing about Roger. Too little to speak about him in such a way.
"I will go with you," Kavel said to his back. "…if only to make sure he doesn't get you all killed."