A Long Way Home: Chapter 7

A Long Way Home: Chapter 7

A Chapter by Izabellla
"

Suzan finds out that the world is stranger than she thought. After a mysterious warrior comes to her rescue, she is pulled into a dangerous circumstance that will change both of their lives forever.

"

Chapter 7

 

I made sure to prepare better for the next day's meeting with Master Lintas's brother. Apart from my whip (which I had retrieved without any difficulties) and a short knife, I took with me the gun I had been given when I started to work in "Rave Party". It might have been an unneeded precaution but I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. If it was a trap that awaited me disguised as his willingness to help me, I wanted to at least be able to get away alive.

I had no time to search for anyone else who could lend me a hand; Lightningale was feeling worse every day. On top of it, his illness could easily give away our hiding place. Every time he sneezed or coughed, fire blasts and clouds of smoke emerged from his throat. All the furniture in his lair had already ended up as kindling and I was worried that soon the whole house would share the same fate. It was strange to me that people hadn't noticed the trails of smoke seeping from every crack of our home. But, considering how dangerous the area was, it might have been that nobody really wanted to notice, being ever so faithful to the truth that my employer repeatedly said: "If you don't poke your nose into somebody else's matters, you'll live longer".

The walls shook when my companion sneezed again. His head was barely sticking out of the carpet of tissues that covered all his room and half the corridor. He looked at me longingly when he noticed I was leaving. I knew he was awfully bored. However, I wouldn't let him fly freely around the neighborhood even if his health would allow him; the risk would be too great. I tried to find something interesting to occupy him with, but there was little he could do alone here, especially in his condition.

"Don't worry, kimpale. You'll feel better soon, I promise." I patted his snout reassuringly and he answered with a doubtful rumble. I felt his somber gaze on my back, seeing me to the door.

My second meeting with the Wanderer �"or should I say, the Fugitive �" went smoothly, making me certain that I'd developed a paranoia. However, the man still didn't seem too happy to be in contact with me. I got the impression that he wished to separate from all things connected with Lumiportti and, for him, I was nothing but a painful reminder of his past. Well, as soon as he makes the medicines for Gale I can leave him alone if that's what he wants.

He handed me the list of ingredients through the door, then shutting it inches before my nose without a word. I had the urge to force my way inside and make my fist give him a lesson in manners but I needed to contain my irritation; after all I didn't want him to brew me a poison later as a revenge.

Strangely enough, the ingredients weren't hard to obtain. I thought that with the flora of this world being so different from ours it would be difficult, or even impossible, to find the right plants; but apparently the man had done his homework perfectly. Thinking about the time it must have taken him to browse through all those books, looking for the herbs that would have the same properties as the ones in our world, I suddenly felt a huge respect for him. And, of course, gratitude. I needed to repay him somehow for all the hard work.

I returned to him the same day with a bag full of various items. I wanted to at least thank him for taking the trouble to fulfill my request, but he quickly grabbed the bag and said only, "Come in one week," before shutting the door in my face again. Willy-nilly, I dragged my feet downstairs, jogging some empty bottles standing around in the corridor on my way. I smiled at them happily, because they have just given me an idea for how I could repay the old man for his help.

If I had ever learned anything during the alchemy lessons in the Academy, it was surely the distillation of alcohol. I remember that, when I was little, our neighbor made a delicious kvitteni pontikka; he used to bring us a few bottles from time to time and, together with my father, they emptied one of them right away. When Mother rebuked them, they only replied that "someone has to check the quality after all." There were no kvitteni in this world but I knew that quince had a similar taste. After some brief shopping I rushed home to get to work at once, singing under my breath a song my father and the neighbor used to sing when the bottle was nearly empty.

When the week passed, I was ready. I walked down the path to the old tenement building with bottles clinking merrily in my bag. This time, the Fugitive invited me inside; thank gods, because I wasn't about to leave the proof of my gratitude by the door. Besides, judging by the strong smell wafting in the stairwell and the drunkard laying by the basement door, it would be gone very soon anyway.

"It wasn't easy, but I managed to make some medicines… Let's hope they prove effective." Master Lintas' brother put a few vials full of colorful liquids on the table.

"I fear it may be too few. My friend is… quite huge."

"Hmm…" He glanced at me skeptically. "Very well. Bring me the ingredients and I will make more."

"Thank you." His sudden willingness to cooperate surprised me. "And here's a little something," I pulled the bottles out, "to show my gratitude."

"Oh, you shouldn't have," he said, but I noticed the way his eyes gleamed at the sight of the alcohol. I smiled; the gift appeared to be just right.

I was just packing the medicines into my bag when two glasses landed on the table with a clink and the Fugitive started to uncork one of the bottles.

"Well then, we have to drink to our meeting. Even though our acquaintance didn't have a promising start it's not every day one gets to meet a colleague, so to speak. We need to drink… how do the locals call it? Bruderschaft!"

"I think I'll pass…" I tried to make some excuse; I wanted to get home as soon as possible and try out the medicaments.

"You don't want to drink with me?!"

The argument was unbeatable so I sat down obediently while the man was pouring the golden streams of liquor into small glasses. I took one from his hands.

"To our meeting!" the Fugitive called and we gulped down the shot. And another one.

"I don't even know your name," I noticed, pouring the next round.

"Litanei."

"Well then, to you, Litanei!" I drank in one gulp.

"You drink like a countryman!" Litanei pated me one the shoulder friendly and filled the empty glasses gazing at us cheerlessly from the table.

Fifth round, seventh, twelfth… I slowly started to lose count, especially when the glasses started to merrily jump on the table, separate and then merge again, double, triple… The time also decided to play tricks on us, pushing the clock's hands into a crazy spin. The number of bottles was growing; empty ones as well as full ones. But we still managed to finally empty them all; though it can be credited only to the filling skills of Litanei, who grew two additional pairs of hands and could pour the alcohol from three bottles at once. The time flew by quickly on drinking, drinking and drinking. And on singing obscene songs.

"Walking down… anal street… Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door… Goddamn son of a b***h… I couldn't find a WHOOOORE!" I sang in a lovely soprano. Litanei joined me on "w***e" and I thought we could make a tremendous bard duo. And when we danced cancan on the table together I was sure we would be a hit on the Majesty's court.

Finally, I decided to return home and Litanei bid me goodbye profusely, emptying the bottle he held in his hand on my collar. And to think he would never have wasted the tiniest of drops.

"I love you, dude! You're my best pal!" We rolled out of the apartment in a man hug.

I left him lying down to sleep in the threshold and proceeded to crawl my way down the stairs. I have no recollection of how I managed to get home. One moment I was on the stairs that were wildly dancing and mocking me, and the next thing I remember is lying in my own bed. Naked. In the morning. With a splitting headache and a literal desert in my mouth. Must have been some twists and turns in the spacetime, I concluded, throwing the quilt back over my head and instantly sinking back into the land of dreams.

I awoke to the sound of thunder hitting right beside me with such rumble that I jumped on the bed. But when I opened my eyes I saw no thunderstorm; only a huge scaly snout wheezing loudly on the pillow right beside me. Much too loudly.

"Get lost." I pushed him bluntly out of the bed. "Little snot, you'll get my covers dirty."

In response, the dragon laughed hoarsely and then coughed, sending his burning snot straight on the drapes. However, he soon put out the smoldering fabric with his tail, knocking out the entire pelmet curtain rail as he went.

"It's easy for you to be laughing; you're not the one who would have to sleep in a poodle of snot."

Lightningale snorted at that, reminding me that he had to sleep among his own snot for a while now; on bedding made out of used tissues, to be precise. This in turn reminded me about the reason behind my visit in the owner of the antique shop's home. Jumping out the bed, heedless of my lack of clothing, I began running around the house in search for my bag.

Strange enough, despite the advanced state of intoxication I managed to remember about my responsibility. I have no idea by what miracle the frail glass bottles survived through my mysterious journey back home, but they all did, unharmed. So as soon as I made myself look more or less presentable, I set about curing my favorite at once.

Since then, I visited Litanei once a week to exchange ingredients for a new batch of medicines. Some of the meetings ended up as a whole-night drinking sessions, despite my objections. I couldn't really refuse; if I continued objecting, the man seemed to considerably loose his willingness to help. I much preferred enduring a morning hangover once in a while to his constant nagging. Besides, I have to admit, he was a swell drinking buddy.

As I observed, Gale slowly started to get better. It fuelled my enthusiasm as I strolled through the streets with bags full of colorful flasks. During one of such strolls happened exactly what I had feared; and what had been pushed to the back of my mind by recent events.

I didn't notice her at first, too engrossed in my own thoughts to study the surroundings I already knew so well. But she noticed me. Had I been more attentive, I would have fled at the first sight of her dark hair on the horizon. When she waved enthusiastically at me and then called me with the same false name I had introduced myself to her with, I knew that my prayers for being forgotten by her were not answered. Apparently, I had already used up my share of luck.

I tried to put her off, telling her that I am not me, that she's mistaken, that her imagination plays tricks on her. However, she seemed sure of herself, so the only thing left for me to do was to walk away quickly, sticking by my show of denying my own identity. Ha, I wish it was so easy! The very moment I wanted to end this farce and go away, one of my bags broke. As swiftly as I could, I rushed to pick them up, positive that somewhere up there the gods were laughing at the trap they had set on me; especially when my head collided with the skull of the girl, who must have wanted to help me. I knew I was fighting against time as I was taking the flasks out of the reach of the brunette's prying hands. The last ones I had to nearly snatch out of her clutch, interrupting her attempts to read the stickers affixed to them by Litanei. Although, even if she could make something out of the writings, it would make no trouble for me; most of them consisted only of the name of the alcohol the bottles previously contained anyway.

"Where did you get that from?"

"Not your business." I definitely wasn't thrilled with the turn of events.

"What do you need it for? Are you sure it's safe?"

"Listen. We never met. You can be sure. Where do I have it from and what do I need it for," I pointed to the objects we had just collected, "is only my business." I didn't say anything else. I just marched away, quickly disappearing from her sight behind the buildings.

Before long, I noticed that I was being followed. Struggling to lose the stubborn tail, I hedged through the streets. I was tempted to run, but quickly dismissed this idea; it would look suspicious and I certainly didn't want to stand out. It wasn't before I reached the most dangerous district that I managed to leave her far behind and escape unseen into some back alley. I only hoped the girl would not get into trouble again because this time I couldn't risk saving her. Partly relieved, I returned home to Gale, who was waiting for me impatiently.

The idyllic mood did not last for long however, because she soon appeared in the threshold; just as stunned as I had remembered her from that day. Luckily enough, my friend demonstrated presence of mind exceptional for him and immobilized her. At the time, I was completely lost as to what to do. So long we had tried to live in hiding, unnoticed; so long we had denied ourselves the pleasure of soaring into the air and feeling real freedom. And it had gone so well! And now one teenager was to ruin it all?

Dozens of ideas run through my head, one more macabre than the other. They all seemed logical, but for me they were unacceptable. Besides, putting all the moral conflicts aside, it seemed plain silly to take the same life I had once saved. But was it the only option?

I gazed in her terrified and disbelieving face and something struck me. A fear for our future soon followed, but in this instance I made my choice and there was no backing out. I decided to do the most irrational thing one could think of, or so it would seem: I decided to trust this stranger with our lives and make her the keeper of our secret.

And as it later turned out, it was one of the best decisions I made in my life.



© 2012 Izabellla


Author's Note

Izabellla
English is not my native language, so if you notice any mistakes, please, let me know. :)

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Added on June 8, 2012
Last Updated on June 8, 2012
Tags: fantasy, dragon, warrior, girl, world, danger


Author

Izabellla
Izabellla

Warsaw, Poland



About
I'm materialistic, selfish feminist with homicidal tendencies, who live with Horacy's life philosophy (stoical-epicurean philosophy). I have music addiction and pink-repugnance. And you wouldn't want .. more..

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A Story by Izabellla