Chapter 13 can be read below the cut.
It had only snowed a little bit during the night, which was odd for New Year’s Eve. Most of the snow from the previous week had already melted, so there were no piles on the side of the road like there usually were.
Veitlen walked down the street, Temurlin following close behind. There were plenty of other people out and about, though not nearly as many as there would be later at night.
“Are you one hundred percent sure it’s this way?” Temurlin asked.
“Yes, of course!” said Veitlen. He gestured ineffectually with his hands. “I know where this café is, Temur! I worked there when I was in high school.”
“Did you now?” said Temurlin. “Why’d you get us lost earlier, then?”
Veitlen grimaced at him. “I never walked from your house to here, okay? I always took the train.” He slipped into an alley, and pointed to the café near the end of the alley where it opened up to the boardwalk. “It’s right there, see?”
Outside the café were a couple of round umbrella tables with the umbrellas removed – it was too cloudy and cold in the winter for the shade. Nymue and Kallinu sat at one of the tables. Both of them had steaming mugs of something in front of them.
“Oh, there you are,” said Nymue.
“Finally,” said Kallinu.
“Where’s Ari?” Veitlen asked as they walked up to the table.
“She called me earlier and said her mom was making her prepare for some New Year’s thing,” said Nymue.
Temurlin sat down. “‘New Year’s thing’? You mean the thing we’re all supposed to be at tomorrow?”
“That’s probably it,” said Nymue.
“You know, I completely forgot about that,” said Veitlen.
“Typical,” Temurlin quipped.
“Typical!?” Veitlen protested. “You’ve only gotten to know me for like two weeks!”
“Believe me, two weeks is long enough for me to predict your behavior,” said Temurlin.
“Come on, that’s hurtful,” said Veitlen.
“Somehow, I doubt you actually believe that,” replied Temurlin.
Kallinu rested zer cheeks in zer hands, watching the two of them suspiciously. Nymue sat there, dumbfounded by their arguing. “Hold up,” she interrupted. “There’s a reason we’re here, and it’s not to discuss Veitlen’s shortcomings.”
Veitlen scowled. “You too, Nymue?”
Kallinu was the first to speak once Veitlen took a seat at the table. “So…Nym, can ye tell us why ye made us meet here on our day off when we could have been doing something fun?” ze asked.
“I’m gonna get to that real soon, Kallinu,” said Nymue. She took a sip of her tea. “You’ve all done what I’ve told you to? Scoured everywhere you could think of?”
Kallinu stirred zer mug of soup. “Aye,” ze said.
“Yeah,” said Veitlen, slouching lower in his chair with his arms crossed.
“Yes,” said Temurlin.
Nymue brightened up. “And have you found anything?” she asked.
“Naw,” said Kallinu.
“No,” said Veitlen.
“I did,” said Temurlin.
Everyone looked at Temurlin, who seemed a little startled at all the sudden attention. “Really?” Nymue exclaimed. “You actually found something?”
“Yeah,” said Temurlin. “My mom has done the analysis on everyone’s spirit weapons for over twenty years. I found one that behaved the same as yours. But it was silver, not gold. Analyzed in the year 480.”
Nymue leaned over the table slightly. “Did you find anything else? A name? A birthdate? A birthplace?” she asked.
Temurlin pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket. “It was all of that. I copied it,” he said.
Veitlen’s eyes widened, but he didn’t say anything and kept his arms crossed. Temurlin handed the paper to Nymue. She unfolded it and stared down at it. Kallinu leaned over to look at it, spoon still in hand.
“This is incredible. I finally know something,” said Nymue.
“Is that really a good thing?” Kallinu asked. “I mean, that’s the person who got disappeared.”
“I won’t know for sure until I try to find them in the census data or any other records,” said Nymue, still staring down at the paper.
“What do you plan on doing when you find that out?” Temurlin asked. He frowned, looking serious.
“I don’t exactly know,” said Nymue. “I’ll think of that when I need to.”
There was a silence for a few moments, which was broken by Kallinu. “I hope youse all realize we’re gonna get put on a list if anyone finds out about this, right?”
“That’s not a problem,” said Nymue. “Just don’t tell anyone about what we’ve learned and nothing will happen.”
Kallinu did not look convinced. “All righty then. But don’t get upset if ye end up getting a visit from the government.”
“The government,” Veitlen repeated. He and Kallinu proceeded to get into one of their arguments, and Nymue sighed.
Their conversations continued into the afternoon. A little while after they finished eating lunch, Nymue decided that it was time for her to leave. “I need to get going,” she said.
“So soon?” Veitlen asked. He had propped his chair up against the wall of the café.
Nymue gave him a weird look. “We’ve been here three hours,” she said.
Veitlen made some waving gesture with this hands. “That’s not exactly a long time,” he said.
Nymue stood up. “I really want to do some more research,” she said.
“Is that really all ye do in yer free time?” Kallinu asked. Nymue ignored the question.
“Is this about Ra – the person whose information I gave you?” Temurlin asked.
“Yes,” said Nymue.
“You should look in the records office,” said Temurlin. “It’s part of the National Library, so it’s public information. You could ask a librarian for help if you really needed it.”
Nymue brightened up. “That’s good to know!” she said. She stared gathering up her things.
Kallinu and Veitlen watched as Temurlin started stacking up their plates. “We should probably leave soon, too,” he said.
“Who is ‘we’?” Kallinu asked.
Temurlin set the last fork on the pile of plates. “Me and Veitlen,” he said.
“What about meeeee?” said Kallinu.
“Do you want to come with us?” Temurlin asked. “I was just going to go home and finish up the last of the cleaning-”
“Nooo!” Veitlen interrupted. He leaned his chair forward so that all four legs landed on the ground. “Why are you trying to do cleaning on a holiday? Just hang out with me instead.”
Kallinu looked from Veitlen to Temurlin. “What’s going on with the two of ye?” ze asked.
Temurlin looked confused. “What do you mean by that?” he asked.
“Veitlen is desperate,” Kallinu declared. “It’s so obvious.”
Veitlen scowled. “What do you mean? I’m not! What the hell?” he said.
“Just ask him on a date already,” said Kallinu in exasperation.
Temurlin frowned and bit his lip. “Uh, I’ve only known him for a few weeks. I don’t think that would work,” he said.
Veitlen gestured in agreement. “Yeah! There’s no reason to date someone you’ve only known for two weeks. They could be a secret axe murderer or something.”
“That’s right,” said Temurlin.
Kallinu looked disappointed. “Axe murderers aren’t even common. That’s statistically unlikely to happen.”
“That’s exactly what an axe murderer would say,” said Veitlen.
“Um,” said Nymue suddenly. “I’ll be going now.”
“Oh! See ya, Nym,” said Veitlen. He’d forgotten she was still there.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” said Temurlin.
Later that night, Temurlin and Veitlen once again sat on the roof of the townhouse. This time, they both had bottles of alcohol. Temurlin held his in his hand, gently rocking it from side to side.
“You think maybe we should go inside now?” Veitlen asked. “It’s getting a little cold.”
“It’s been cold all day,” said Temurlin.
“Look…I’m gonna go inside where it’s warm,” said Veitlen. “If you wanna stay here and freeze to death, s’not gon’ be my fault.”
“Wow,” said Temurlin flatly. Veitlen dropped onto the windowsill and nudged the window with his foot. “Hey, that looks a bit dangerous,” he continued.
“Dude, shut up. I do this all the time,” said Veitlen irritably. He slid in through the window and flopped face-down onto his bed.
Temurlin stepped in through the window, holding both bottles in one hand. “You left this up here,” he said. Veitlen made some sort of groan into the bedsheets. Temurlin set the bottles down on Veitlen’s desk. “So what time are your aunt and uncle going to get back from work?”
Veitlen turned his head to the side. “Some time tomorrow afternoon. They’re too busy on holidays to come home,” he said.
Temurlin sat down on the bed next to him. “Are you going to complain if I say I want to go home?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Veitlen grumbled.
“So you’re going to be upset?” Temurlin continued.
“I’ll try my best to hide it,” said Veitlen.
“So did your aunt and uncle give you abandonment issues or what?” Temurlin asked.
Veitlen lifted up his head. “Hey, man. Don’t even try to psychoanalyze me like that. You’re not my therapist. I don’t like it.” He rolled onto his side, facing the wall. “Look, go home if you want. I can’t prevent you from doing anything.”
Temurlin watched Veitlen for a moment to see if he would say anything else. “Yeah, I’ll go home,” he said when nothing happened. There was no response. Temurlin frowned. “Did you fall asleep already? Are you really that much of a lightweight?”
Again, there was no response from Veitlen. Temurlin looked from Veitlen’s back to the bottles of alcohol on the desk. Veitlen’s wasn’t even half empty. That definitely confirmed his comment about Veitlen being a lightweight.
Temurlin stood up and made his way downstairs. It had been snowing in other parts of the city, and it was probably going to start snowing in this area again. He’d probably have to leave quickly if he wanted to get home without getting caught in the snow.
He opened the front door and was hit in the face with snow. It was windy and definitely snowing again. Temurlin immediately slammed the door shut and stood there for a moment in confusion. There was no way he could go home now unless he wanted to freeze to death in a blizzard. He looked up toward the staircase, then decided against waking up Veitlen. Snowstorms didn’t last that long in Tivadshy. He could just wait until it had passed and go home.
Temurlin woke on the couch to the sound of an alarm coming from Veitlen’s room. His arms and ankles still were crossed in the same position he’d fallen asleep in. He stretched his arms out and then rubbed his neck, which was sore from him sitting up for hours.
He caught a glimpse of his watch, which read 5:30. Temurlin froze. That was hours past the time he’d planned on leaving. He needed to get going now.
Temurlin stood up. “Veitlen! Are you awake yet?” he yelled. “You need to get up!”
The response was a loud thumping sound from Veitlen’s room, which Temurlin assumed was him falling off his bed. It was followed by loud footsteps going down the hall and then down the stairs.
Veitlen appeared at the bottom of the stairs. His hair stuck up and he looked tired as well as hungover. “Why are you….did you stay here all night?” he asked.
“I fell asleep on your couch,” said Temurlin. “It’s 5:30 now. We need to get ready for the new year’s-”
Veitlen grabbed his head, looking panicked. “SHIT!” he shouted. He ran back up the stairs, and Temurlin heard what sounded like him banging into the wall at least once.
“Well, I’m going to go now!” Temurlin called. “I’ll see you later!”
Later, Veitlen left the townhouse. It had stopped snowing, but there was snow everywhere, a shining, stark contrast against his black formal robe and coat. He adjusted the strap of his satchel and breathed in, then coughed as the cold air hit his lungs.
He looked down the street. He couldn’t remember if Kallinu was supposed to meet him here, or he was supposed to meet zem somewhere, or if anyone was meeting with anyone else. Was he supposed to go straight to the palace? He had no idea about that, either.
Nymue stood in one of the main meeting rooms of the Avatar’s Palace with the rest of Tjara’s squad, except for Tjara and Veitlen. Tjara had stepped out a few minutes ago, and Veitlen hadn’t arrived yet.
Tjara walked through an open doorway with a frown on her face and walked up to Kallinu and Nymue. “Rozenbarr, Jurne. Have either of you seen Tyvokala today?” she asked.
Temurlin held up a hand. “I was at his place earlier. He was awake then, so he’ll probably be here soon. I hope.”
“Good to know,” said Tjara. “Although I have to ask why you didn’t bring him with you.”
Temurlin looked confused. “I had to go home and get ready. I couldn’t wait for him.”
Tjara didn’t quite look convinced. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait long for Veitlen to arrive. He ran up to them, his hair a mess and makeup slightly smudged. “I’m sorry I’m late!” he said.
“You aren’t late,” said Tjara.
Veitlen didn’t look happy to hear that. “What? I rushed here?” he said.
“And it’s good that you did,” said Tjara. “We have about ten minutes before the Avatar comes out to greet us.”
Kallinu narrowed zer eyes at Veitlen. “Ye oversleep or something?”
“Shut it,” said Veitlen flatly. He immediately looked toward Temurlin. “And don’t you say anything, either!”
Temurlin held up his hands in a pacifying gesture. “I wasn’t going to,” he said.
Nymue looked around. They’d been standing around for half an hour, and she was getting impatient. She had no idea what the Avatar was going to say to them, but she hoped that she’d have a chance to talk to her.