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TotTSM – Part 8.

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    “What am I doing here?” Kaeda blinked, leaning back against the door to this mans dismally small little shack he had evidently built himself between two giant, moss covered trees. “I could ask you the same question! Why the bloody hell did you attack me and drag me to the ground? Whatever the reason, you had better have a good explanation.” Her hands on hips as she spoke. A scene that almost made Voren want to laugh; serious though their business was.

“Yes, well, we may go about this conversation however you want to, but the fact is, if you were to go into the city dressed like that, you would be arrested, taken to a jail and interrogated, possibly even raped until they got tired of looking at you.”

A look of horror mixed with confusion flashed across Kaeda’s countenance.

“They’ve been looking for something… Maybe for someone quite fervently over the last few months. Increasingly more so the last week or so.” He noted quietly, looking this woman over out of the corner of his eye while busying himself at the small hearth he had.

“And how do you know all of this?” Kaeda inquired, having not moved an inch front he door since it was closed behind her.

“I don’t really.” he sighed. Pausing for a moment in his actions, soon casting a glance over his left shoulder in time to see a look of incredulous shock flash across her face.

“I’m lost then. You say you know all of this, but then you really don’t. What are you trying to get at? HOW do you know these people- whomever you’re referring to- HOW do you know they’re looking for something and someone and would have thrown me into a jail because of this?” gesturing to her evening gown. “Besides, it wasn’t as if I planned to go out of the house like this.. It was entirely against my will. I was sleeping.” Kaeda shot back, noting the peculiar look he gave her.

“It’s really a long story.” Voren began, drawing a deep breath in. “Several months ago, I was out on the big hill in the western area here. Just beyond the city walls. When you’re standing on top of that hill you can pretty much look over the city itself. Anyway,” he laughed faintly, soon drawing up onto his feet and offering Kaeda a cup of tea, which she declined with a light shake of her hand. Shrugging slightly, Voren set the cup on the ear by table and continued on with his story. “I  was up there taking a break from my duties.. You know, just thinking about of all the little, odd changes I noticed going on in my home land over the previous few months. Little things at first, but I noticed them. No one else seemed to notice, or in the least care.”

Voren plopped down on his bed,

“What kinds of things?” Kaeda asked, forgetting about her fear long enough to venture in a little further; fingertips dancing around the small wooden table.

“Just little things. People began to act different; subtly of course. There were more people coming from the capitol than I had ever seen before. They erected a sign post in the center of the city square upon which they began to post more and more rules about all kinds of things. I couldn’t get over how odd it was. Everyone just went along with it..

That day on the hill, I was sitting there, lost in thought when a weird kind of storm brew up.”

“A storm?” Kaeda asked, brows lightly sfurrowed. Voren noddedbefore continuing.

“A storm, but not just any storm, It had a kind of sentientness to it.. I heard it say ‘Cold’ and something else.. And then I told it to leave,” Voren started laughing faintly. “I suppose that sounds foolish to do, but I was literaly frozen with fear. It was all I could think to do. Anyway, there was a flash of lightning, I woke on my back on the grass. A smoldering crater beside me with a small kine of gem in the center. My fiance-, well, former fiance now, came running up the hill, said she and others had watched the storm roll in, the lightning strike, and then rushed up to see if I was alive..”

“Are you serious?” Kaeda blinked.

“Quite serious.”

“And what does that have to do with why I’m here and why you’re living in this little hut instead of inside the city walls..? I don’t even know what province I’m in, but it’s generally a safe bet that the woods aren’t always safe places to be wandering about in when the sun falls.”

Voren gave a slight smile.

“Since then, the changes have come faster and faster. It’s not a kind of police state within those walls.. After that day on the hill, people began to suspect I was some kind of amateur magic worker or something.. That I had conjured the storm, then panicked and almost killed myself trying to dispel it at the last minute..  They began to sun me, treat me like I had a disease.. So I came out here. Built this place several months ago.. Been listening and watching. That’s how I know they’ve been looking for someone. Coming from the direction you came from especially.. I’ve been around the entire circumference of the city, and it’s only that section they seem to be intent on patrolling on time all the time. Had they seen you, as I’ve said, they would have swept you away.”

“WHy, may I ask, are you so concerned with MY well being. There was a very overladen wagon struggling at the gate when I came by, why didn’t you ask to help them? Or jump all over them?” Kaeda shot back. Finally drawing the cup to her mouth and taking a tiny sip of the contents, which she was suprirised to find was very good. Not bland, but sweet while not over pwoering.

“I.. don’t know. Because you were all alone and dressed like that. Because the soldiers were too busy trying to clear the wagon and it’s haphazard contents.. I just… I know this is going to sound crazy- if it doesn’t already, but when I saw you, you were all by yourself, perhaps capable of handling yourself through almost anything, but judging from the stories I’ve heard; the things I’ve seen they would not have been kind to a single, unarmed, barely clothed female wandering around on her own. They would’ve called you a prostitute and given you no concessions or rights.”

Having been silent all this time, Kaeda set the now emoty cup back down onto the table, her keen eyes studying thisman quiet intently. Torn between wanting to believe him, and fearing this may all be some kind of trap to rape her or some such thing.. He seemed gentle and kind enough, and thus far she didn’t FEEL woozy or sick from whatever was in the tea, but tht didn’t mean anything nescessarily. Perhaps it wasa slow acting poison from which she would succumb any moment while unprepared for his advances. Goddess only knew.

“You speak of such things like you were in charge of this place.. I don’t know what to believe, but I do know that staying here for any length of time is inadvisable.. What should I do then?  How do I get around this city and not be seen by these guards you speak of and their hawk-like gaze for something on the horizon?”

A tiny smile flickering across his face.

“That I may have a solution to… When evening comes, will you follow me? I have a friend, I think she may be able to help you.”

“Where is this friend?” Kaeda asked, a brow lifting.

“In the palace. She works there.”

“IN the palace?!” Kaeda blinked. “I don’t understand. You’re a pariah.. How did YOU manage to get IN to the palace, let alone OUT of it?” A hint of disbelief twinging with mirth in her voice.

“Come nightfall, you’ll see. I know you’re going to be weary of me, so you can carry the torch if you’d like. That way if you do think me to be a monster, you can flee with the light and leave me in the dark. Sound like a plan?” Voren inquired and Kaeda nodded.

“Agreed. But try and touch me and I swear I’ll jam this knife so far into your chest your heart wont know what hit it.”

“You’re very fierce.” Voren laughed softly. “I have to admit, that’s very refreshing. Listen to your brain though, madam. If I haven’t hurt you yet, what makes you think I would wait until we’re in a dark, confined place?”

“I’m merely pointing out that–”

“That you can defend yourself. I get it.” Voren rose and crossed over to his small hearth where he sat once more. “Help yourself to the bed, madam. We’ve got some time to pass yet until sunset.”

His back to her, Kaeda knew Voren couldn’t see the look of concern on her face, but she couldn’t keep it off. After lingering by the door for some time yet, she eventually caved in, wandered over to the bed and laid back- only to roll on her side facing Voren, curling up tightly and inadvertently falling asleep a short time later. A hand resting on the knife strapped to her thigh..

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