Continued from Chapter Six: Part Three
Younes chuckled. “Not so,” he said. “Not so. A monster he is, no failing that. Join with the tidy man? Mayhap he will—mayhap he will. And yet, something gives him pause,” Younes, sitting on the ground, no longer looked up, no longer seemed to talk to Kyouki or anyone else but himself. “Nay,” he went on, his voice getting steadily quieter so that it could hardly be heard over the wind outside the hollow. “Nay, for he has had a long hard time to think in the rushing sands—sands of time, yes. Iskander Younes is a hazard. No mistaking that, certain sure. That being so, why did they not kill him when a chance for it came to them? That’s a question that vexed him long, kept him quiet, left the canyon free of his wailing and cursing. That it did. His new mind never left it to rest, and Iskander Younes as he is to be seen now discovered a fair prize. He solved the riddle to his own liking, that and more. Yes, it’s so.” Younes rolled his eyes back to look at Kyouki. “You’ve an opinion that he should join your adventures, do you? But tell me, tidy man, what service can you to aid Iskander Younes in his vengeance? Can you answer me that?”
Kyouki paused before answering. Jarvela felt the sadness in him, seeping out like a mist. It was the kind of question he would not want to answer.
“I will not aid your vengeance, Younes,” Kyouki said.
Younes grinned. “Then Iskander Younes has no further use of you.”
The interview ended badly. Younes fled.
Thinking back on Younes, as they met in that canyon so many years earlier, Jarvela left Súthende in the company of his young friend, Tag Tegran. They rode due north through the hills to Kyouki no Uma’s house, a home to lost children like Jarvela till they could go into the world and stand vigil. The lost and the forgotten drew to Kyouki, learning of themselves, growing and training. They learned secrets of the world, locked in themselves. Over time, the urchins at Kyouki’s house blossomed and he sent them into the world to keep the peace—fighting monsters in shadow. The uneasy peace of the world would have long before been hotter had Kyouki’s Runagates not been prowling, though few knew it.
Jarvela had his message to carry to Kyouki: in the company of Digger, the Wiggend Lordling, Silk Golinvaux had gone into the hills near Súthende. Jarvela had been investigating Silk and his movements for months, using the networks of Runagates. Jarvela concluded that Silk had gone into the hills to meet with Iskander Younes, to join in their common purpose, though they had different reasons for meaning violence to the Warlord Engelkind. Younes had gone his farthest yet on his mission of revenge. He could be tracked through the movements of his less careful company.
“You’re awfully quiet, Jarvela,” Tag said in his deep voice, uncommonly thoughtful and even for a kid his age. He had dark hair straight as straw, and wise eyes with premature wrinkles around them. A hand rolled cigarette wobbled between his lips. Often his eyes stared into the distance even when he talked to someone three feet from him.
“I’d hope that Wexerly would join us on this road,” Jarvela said. “We’re riding to…” Jarvela groped for words.
“Death and ruin?” Tag suggested.
Jarvela shook his head, not to disagree but to say he didn’t know. “How do you feel about the future, Tag?”
Tag smiled around his cigarette. “It feels stormy, or nearly stormy. A pregnant frisson awaiting the first lightning strike.”
Jarvela frowned. He disagreed. He thought the first lightning had stricken somewhere, that they had missed it and awaited the thunder and the onslaught of a torrential rain.
He kicked his horse to a trot. Haste felt appropriate.
End of Chapter Six. Continued on February 7...