Here’s a new chapter for Rage of the Cursed. –enjoy! I just got back from vacation, sorry for the late post.
Rage of the Cursed Part 13 — Wind
After Bael’s departure, Xallion struggled with bouts of helplessness. Tieshaie’s carefree demeanor returned, abandoning the cold accusation. He couldn’t blame her for caution. If he had been more diligent about such feelings, Ane Garu would still be alive.
Something about the situation reminded Xallion of Ane’s death. His instinct screamed at him, tugging at the corners of his mind. Tieshaie hurried back into her treehouse, insisting she has something good to show her.
Time crept along painfully. He half expected the ‘surprise’ to be a bow and arrow. Even if Tieshaie’s brother knew something of Ane’s murder, there was no guarantee he would divulge information to a forest ranger. Any way he looked at it, Xallion was the enemy.
Tieshaie returned with a small badge. She flicked it down to Xallion, which he caught with little trouble. The badge depicted a blind eye—specifically the same sort of eye painted on Tieshaie’s forehead.
The Life Eye was more representative than a literal one. He’d known a few Ki-Leinah in his time with the Rhialn army, and they described them as ‘sensitive tattoos’. The eye themselves had no substance, but caused similar irritation when touched or blocked.
He turned the badge between his fingers and recognized it from somewhere. “What’s this?”
“I did some asking around. Remember that loon that attacked you? Turns out, he’s in a cult. They call themselves the Order of the Unseen Eye. I found out something really interesting too. Remember that fancy Ki-Leinahn guy? Veronykerany?”
“What about him?”
“He’s the leader of the cult.”
Xallion quirked a brow. “How’d you find this out?”
“It’s not a secret. You know how those creepy bunches are, they don’t think they’re a cult. He’s a Ki-Leinahn extremist who claims he’s doing what’s best for everyone. He’s here to parlay with Lady Irelis.”
“That is interesting. I’ll have to look into it.”
“You mean we will look into it.”
Xallion set his jaw. “Are you sure you want to? After what happened to your brother?”
“That’s got nothing to do with it. If I hated people for being someone or something, I’d be as bad as the Cerenish guy that hurt my brother.”
“The guy you killed? He was Cerenish?”
“Yep.” She put her hands behind her head and smirked. “He had it coming. I only wish I was strong enough to punch his face in slowly. He got off easy, died in seconds. I mean sure, the Cerenish do some really bad things to us forest folk, but it stays a case by case basis. They think we’re demons or something.”
“Not exactly.” Xallion straightened. “The Cerenish think of the Streams as a great evil and no one can argue the relation between your people and the streams. It’s the same as hating people from a nation because their armies hurt your family.”
“For the record. I think that’s stupid too. I’ve met plenty of nice L’kavrikans.”
Xallion smiled at that. “You might change your mind if you met K’rros. Makes me think the nice ones are the ones you should worry about.”
“Hold up. You know stuff about the Cerenish?”
Xallion nodded. “Cause of my partner. Well… ex-partner.”
“Old lady dumped you huh? Tough break.”
“She didn’t dump me. She died. Killed actually.”
Tieshaie bit her lip. “So that’s why you wanted to know more about Roan, huh? You thought he killed your old lady?”
Xallion nodded. “But you’re wrong. Ane and I weren’t… anything.”
“Oh right, Cerenish. Small wonder they don’t go extinct. Pretty sure sex is a sin for them or something. Goodness knows they still think about it though. Roan’s dad sure as hell wasn’t complaining.”
“Roan’s dad? I thought you were siblings.”
“Half siblings. And that guy I killed? Roan’s dad. He was a dick. He killed my mom.”
“A Cerenish and a Ki-Leinah? That’s an odd place for love to sprout.”
“Love didn’t have anything to do with it. Lust more like. She paid for it with her life. She always had shitty taste in men.”
“What happened to your dad?”
“Mom left him. He was boring. Not the best reason, but mom always said—”
“Sick of the waterfalls huh?”
Tieshaie blinked at him. “Wha? How did you know?”
“I see the Naechee in you. I trained there a bit and met my best friend there. Your mother’s Lurish huh?”
“Hey now, what’s with the stereotypes? You probably think she’s some floozy don’t you?”
Xallion shrugged. “I call them as I see them. You strike me as being used to a nomadic lifestyle. This house hasn’t been here that long. It’s built well, considering you did it yourself.”
“How do you know I built it myself?”
“I didn’t. You just told me now.”
Tieshaie smiled at that. “You’re a sneaky guy, Xal. What do you know about the guy that killed your friend?”
“Not much. He worked for a now-defunct thieves guild. I only know him by the alias of Jackal.”
“Well that’s not much. That’s not a nickname. It’s a rank.”
Xallion frowned. “How do you know that?”
“Because, I used to work for that guild. Uncreative sods.
He said nothing.
“Oh, so what? You’re going to suspect me now? Because I was a thief?”
“Don’t niggle on semantics, Xal. I mean I stopped working for them, I’m independent now. They keep bugging me to come back.”
“Come back? I thought—”
Tieshaie pinched her nose. “You’re an idiot. You think they don’t benefit to fake being out of business? Of course they’re still in business.”
“So, you could ask around for me?”
Tiesahie flushed a hand high on her chest. “Excuse me? You’re asking me, a defenseless young woman, to go into a smelly den of thieves? They are smelly by the way and really desperate.”
“You’re hardly defenseless, and I can make it worth your while. I don’t suspect you at all. You’re the first lead I’ve had in this for months. I just want… closure. Imagine if your step-father got away with killing your mother. You’d want to know where his is.”
“And what do you plan to do with this guy when you find him? Kill him?”
Xallion shook his head. “I don’t think he did it in cold blood. At least I hope he didn’t. In that case I’d tear his throat out.”
Tieshaie rubbed her neck. “Yikes? Bare handed?”
“I tend to do it with my teeth.”
“And if he did it on accident?”
“Then I’d take him to the authorities. Years ago, a friend showed me the importance of balance.” He hooked a thumb in his belt and looked up to the sky. “If Ane were alive she’d ask me to show unconditional mercy. This is the compromise, for her.”
Tieshaie folded her arms. “Good on you, maybe that mercy is exactly why she’s dead. Too many good men and women die for stupid decisions based on morals. If you need to kill that guy to live for yourself, I really can’t complain. I’ll help you out.”
“Thanks. I’m not sure why, but hearing you say that makes me feel like I’m making the right choice.”
“You feel like you’re making the right choice, because you’re making the right choice.” Tieshaie clapped a hand on his shoulder. “What I’m saying is just wind.”