The Land of Teuhyo
(Inspired by Dungeons and Dragons)
Chapter 12: Always Kind to Me
Misha looked away from the piece of stale bread that was shoved in her face.
“Eat something.” Nedjem said.
“I’ve already eaten.”
He kept holding out the bread, but Misha looked up and glowered at him.
Iah put her hand on Nedjem’s shoulder and pulled him back. “Let me…”
“Are you sure?” He asked.
Nedjem nodded and stood up, backing towards the others in the group. Derek put his hand on Bedivere’s back as she tried to sit up, her eyes still half-lidded.
“Where’s Lulu?” She muttered.
Nedjem pointed to the Quetzalcoatl tied up in the corner. Vulcan stood over her, flipping his knife over and over again in his hand. Bedivere could see the smirk under his bandana.
“Vulcan…” She said. “Leave her be, please.”
“No.” He said.
“Vulcan.” Nedjem said in a warning tone.
“Did you hear what she called me?” Vulcan scoffed.
“I’m not wrong.” Lulu hissed, uttering a hateful word under her breath.
Vulcan growled. “OOPS.” He scoffed as he dropped his knife, the blade sticking into in Lulu’s foot. She gasped and hissed, pulling farther away from him.
Bedivere tried to jump to her feet but Derek held her back. “Nope. You’re still out of it.”
“Vulcan, stop!” Bedivere cried. “She’s my friend!”
“She was trying to kill you!” Vulcan looked at her, and in his eyes she could see anger. “I don’t care if Inca-Nation was brainwashing them or whatever, if I let up on her she’s gonna turn tail and come after us again!”
“Vulcan.” A cracked voice said before Iah cleared her throat. “Leave her be. She’s tied up, she can’t hurt you.”
Iah let a small whistle of air through her teeth, and Vulcan cringed. “Jesus, fine!” He looked back at Lulu. “I’m watching you.”
“I’m flattered.” Lulu growled. She winced as Vulcan pulled his knife out of her foot.
Iah turned back to Misha, kneeling down in front of her.
“Just kill me.” Misha spat. “I’ll never betray Encarnacion.”
Iah sighed silently. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Am I a child?” Misha glowered.
“You’re acting like one.” Iah sat, leaning forward on her knees. “You’re looking at me like you hate me.”
“You were so accepting of us. Why turn on us now?”
“…Encarnacion will return the world to how it used to be. How it was when the gods were here. To strain against what the gods gave us is to try and capture the rain.”
“The ocean captures the rain.” Iah said. “And the rivers and lakes.”
Misha growled. “My point is-”
“I get your point.” Iah snapped. “You were so kind to me before. Why do you hate me now?”
“I don’t…” Misha swallowed. “I don’t hate you.”
“Then why did you try to kill me? ” Iah was shaking but curled closer in on herself to stop it. “Encarnacion can’t have so much control over you.”
Misha finally met her eyes. “… I’m loyal. “
“I don’t want us to be enemies.” Iah said. “Not everyone can see but I have the feeling you can.”
The blue light in Misha’s eyes flickered, dimming for a moment before brightening again. “No. My mistress says no.”
Iah put her hands in her lap and thought for a moment. “…What has Encarnacion done for you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is her gift so great that you’d give up your own will?”
Misha chuckled. “ I have my own will. My choices are my own.”
Iah shook her head. “Not from what I’ve seen. Why follow her when she’d so willingly let you be killed?”
Misha stammered. “Do you think the mortal world holds any more love?” She smiled. “You of all people must know how hard acceptance is to obtain.”
Iah swallowed hard, her body shuddering against itself. Her hand went to her rapier still on her hip, the blade lying slanted on the ground, and she ran a finger along the jewel encrusted handle. “…Yes.” She said. “But…”
Iah looked at Nedjem. “Sometimes there are people like him.”
Misha followed her eyes to look at him. “You’re lucky then. I’ve never had someone like him.”
“There must have been someone.”
“Perhaps once…” Misha shook her head. “Then she joined the college.”
Bedivere sat up, struggling against Derek who was holding her down. “The College of Concordia?!”
“Is there any other?” Misha growled. “When she joined the College Trust Council she said nothing would change. Concordia is so accepting, no one would have a problem with her…living that kind of lifestyle.” Misha pursed her lips.
“…Well what happened?” Vulcan asked.
“What do you think happened? A sexual misconduct case, and I took the fall. Because I loved a woman, and I thought she loved me.”
The room fell silent. Iah stumbled around her words. “That’s bigotry.”
Misha smirked. “Yes.” She sneered. “It is.”
“Well you know who else is on the Council?” Bedivere said as she got to her feet, wobbling precariously. “My grandfather!”
Misha looked up at Bedivere. “Your grandfather?”
“Hapi Cerniban!” Bedivere stumbled and sat back down. “I could help you bypass the council entirely, if that was the only thing holding you up.”
Misha stared at her in shock. “…Why would you do that?”
“I find forgiveness is easier than holding grudges. And a favor given is a favor rewarded, if you get my meaning.”
Misha looked up at Iah. “…I’m not kind. I haven’t been to you.”
Iah hesitated, a look of pain crossing her face. “…I think you can be.”
Misha smiled slightly. “I don’t deserve this. I could have killed you.”
“This is kind of a regular thing.” Said Vulcan with a shrug.
The blue light in Misha’s eyes dimmed and faded, and she suddenly swayed forward. Iah caught her by the shoulders and Misha shook her head a bit. “Thank you…” She looked around. “…haven’t seen clearly in so very long.”
Iah let go of her. “What do you see?”
Misha sniffled. “A prison in which I have trapped myself.”
“Actually the door is open so…” Vulcan pointed to it. “You could theoretically leave anytime.”
“My Lady would be suspicious if I abandoned my post.” Misha said. “As it is it won’t be long until she realizes her hold on me has broken. No, I must stay for now.”
“Do you think you could break the curse on Lulu?” Bedivere asked.
“I can try. But Encarnacion-”
“Speaking of.” Nedjem moved over to stand beside Iah. “Who IS Encarnacion?”
The Cookie Cutter Inn, similar to Tom’s, was also fairly empty, but the inside was smaller and cozier, making the room feel fuller than it actually was. Derek sighed and laced his fingers together.
“Not a snake. A naga.”
“That’s a type of snake.” Iah said.
“Actually that’s the Elven word for snake.” Bedivere said.
“Does this really matter?” Nedjem asked.
“You bet your flaming ass it does.” Derek said with a grimace. “Snakes are small and cute and roll in the grass. This bitch is big. And smart. You REALLY don’t want to try and fuck with her. I did and look where it got me.”
“Wise words Mr. I’m-Too-Strong-For-Charm-Spells.” Bedivere scowled.
“I’m strong, but a hammer to the face still fucking hurts.” Derek sighed. “This’ll probably be my last job for a while. Explaining this to the Monster is gonna be a mad pain in the ass.”
“Monster?” Iah asked, not noticing that Vulcan’s pink complexion had gone nearly white.
“Never been to Concordia, little lady?” Derek chuckled.
“I’ve been! A few times actually! Dad wanted to play at the theatre there.”
“You’ve Never REALLY been there. When you live in Concordia, you know who the guilds are.”
“I don’t know much about the others, mostly because I don’t care.” Derek leaned back in his seat. “The Monster sent me out here to investigate Orlaine. Lot of people dying out here and where there’s death, you find a monster.”
“Monsters aren’t real!” Vulcan snapped.
Derek burst out laughing. “That’s exactly what you’re supposed to think, kiddo.”
“I’m not a kid.” He crossed his arms. “Besides, your stupid guild isn’t even out here. We saved the day FOR you.”
“Now Vulcan.” Bedivere chuckled. “I WOULD be dead if it wasn’t for him.”
“I was about to save you!” Vulcan whined. “I just…my knee hurt and I was walking slow!”
“That room was not big, Vulcan.”
“My knee really hurt!”
“His knee was pretty bad.” Nedjem chuckled.
“Yeah, see?!” Vulcan looked satisfied with himself.
Derek stood. “Well, should I give you all a ride out of town?”
Bedivere shook her head. “We need to deal with the problem here before it spreads elsewhere, beyond Orlaine.”
“Pretty sure saving the damn world is above your paygrade.”
“I’m not getting paid.”
“Then you’re either crazy or stupid. Either way…” Derek smirked and winked at her. “I like both.”
Bedivere smirked. “I’ll hit you up when I get back to Concordia.”
Derek nodded to everyone else, then held his hand out to Vulcan.
“You still have my journal.”
Vulcan pulled it out and chucked it into Derek’s face. “There. I read all about the part with your underwear and the strawberry jam.”
Derek chuckled. “I’m sure.” He leaned town next to Vulcan’s ear. “I’ll tell Adonis you send your regards.”
Vulcan froze, his skin crawling up and down his back. Derek gave a small salute to the rest of the party and disappeared into the shadowy tavern.
As soon as Derek walked out the door, Vulcan barfed all over the table. Bedivere jumped up, swearing, and Aeron sighed as he stood up to get as many napkins as possible.
Bedivere watched Iah from the bed across the room as she slowly undid her cloak. She reached for the buttons on her dress, then took her hands away, laying them in her lap. Iah grabbed for her bag, she pulled out a silver compact mirror and a powder puff and brush, opening it and looking in the mirror. She held it close to her face, rubbing her finger over a spot on her cheek.
Bedivere got to her feet and sat on the end of Iah’s bed, startling the poor girl. “Can I see that?”
“I won’t break it.” Bedivere said with a wink, then quickly realized that probably sent the wrong message. But, Iah slowly handed it over, her hand trembling.
Bedivere dipped the brush in the foundation and began to buff it over Iah’s pale skin. “You have to bounce the brush, that way the cream settles in your pores instead of sitting on top of them.”
“Oh.” Was all Iah said, softly.
“You shouldn’t wear makeup to bed though.” Bedivere added. “A good moisturizer would be better.”
“I just…” Iah stifled herself. “I don’t like…taking it off.”
She fell silent. “…You heard my voice back at the church.”
“I did.” Bedivere put the brush down.
“And you know I’m-”
“I know you.” Bedivere said. “We’re friends, yeah?”
Iah became quiet.
“I want to be.”
“Right.” Bedivere said. “I’ve seen much weirder things in much weirder places, the fact that you wear women’s clothing is nothing to me.
“It’s not that though.” Iah said. “It’s not just clothing…it’s me. I’m me.”
Bedivere looked away for a moment. “…Right. Yeah. Sorry to assume-.”
“Yeah.” Iah echoed.
“You still need to take your makeup off.” Bedivere chuckled. “That’ll still give you a nasty breakout.”
Iah’s eyes widened, but she slowly took a ratty cloth from her bag (it looked like it hadn’t been used in years) and wet it with her flask before rubbing it over her face. The pale powder fell away from her cheeks, the charcoal and pigment came off her eyelids, and within a moment, Iah sat barefaced in front of Bedivere.
“For telling you to take off your makeup?” Bedivere couldn’t help but laugh.
Iah smiled. “Thank you for sharing a room with me.”
“Well.” Bedivere patted her cheek. “Helps me feel a little less alone.”