Part 26: Wicked Witch of the East
Ugghhh. What a day.
Promise you'll get some sleep tonight, okay? You need it.
I will. Believe me.
(After his parents chew him up for staying out so late. That'll be fun.)
That isn't going to happen, I'm afraid.
(You're an orphan?)
Is she talking to me?
(No it's not. I asked him a question.)
She, er. She wants to know where your family is.
Oh! Wonderful! Well you know what? So do I. Are we done prying about this now? I mean, are we? Really? Because I'm getting pretty tired of it.
I'm sorry. She didn't know.
Yes, well, when we find this lightning spirit, could someone fill him in? Just take him aside and say "Yumil doesn't know where his family is, he doesn't know if they're alive or dead, he doesn't know why they didn't want him so please don't ask?" I'd really appreciate it.
...what? What was that?
(I was also going to ask how long they've been gone. Is that okay or should I wait till he's off the rag?)
Go to your bookmark, young lady.
What do you want?
Look, I'd like to get inside and dry off here. Do you want something or not?
"Promise you'll get some sleep tonight." I hope that counted, Mieli.
...been out for a long time.
Relax. He's taken worse knocks than that.
You realise that's just more reason to be worried. Head trauma does add up.
If it hadn't been raining, I swear to god. Right now, this second, we'd all be having charbroiled ass for dinner.
(I'd rather be here, personally.)
Right after he got home, too. Poor kid.
Told you he was fine.
You just can't catch a break, can you?
What's going on? Where are we?
There's a window. See for yourself.
Nothing but gold, blue and blinding white. Dry heat glared through the bars without the hint of a breeze to relieve it. Breathing was unsatisfying labour.
I'd never suffered claustrophobia, but after five waking minutes in that blistering suffocation chamber, I understood why people did. Already, spending a night outside in the rain seemed rapturous in hindsight.
That reminds me.
(What are you doing.)
you're the ice spirit, make it
(Make what ice. That doesn't make sense. Mieli. Stop hugging me. That doesn't make sense. Stop.)
If boredom lengthens time, discomfort stretches it to the breaking point. Meenya would have said I aged ten years before the wagon finally halted, and veiled, swarthy men beckoned me outside.
I followed in silence. After that ordeal, I could at least find out what they wanted before striking back.
This had damn well better be good.
I am Ohriemed Aof, which you have already forgotten how to pronounce. "Olly" will suffice.
Did you hear what I said?
Is that how a hero speaks to a little old lady? At least introduce yourself.
Yumil. Which you obviously know already.
It doesn't hurt to check. Stop your sulking. I have a favour to ask.
I haven't told you what it is yet.
Kidnappers don't get favours.
And disobedient boys get sent home without their lightning spirit.
For the book, yes? I thought that might grab you. Now be quiet for one second and listen. There is a tower deep in the desert known as the Site of Cyril. I want in, and you're going to help me.
The innermost sanctum is magically sealed, but I believe your book can bypass it. The lightning spirit is inside.
So if you knew I'd have to go anyway, why haul me out here like this? Why not just ask?
Hye hye hye.
...that's not an answer.
Oh, but it is. Just not the one you want.
If I go to this place and he isn't there, you'd better hope I don't make it back.
Ah ah ah! You're not leaving yet. Not before I test your strength.
What now? More cheek?
"Test my strength?" Is this a joke?
You ambush me at my house. You knock me out, drag me into the middle of the desert, tell me to do something I more or less have to do, then you start wondering if I'm up to it?
Why hesitate? I'm inviting you to bloody me, aren't I? You should be leaping at the chance. Or are you pretending to be civil? Mr. Kaleilan Hero playing his noble part. Don't bother. You want to smash my ugly face in.
Yes, I know I'm ugly. That makes it easier to hate me, doesn't it? Makes it easier to hurt me. You'd never raise a hand to some pretty young thing like Nanai, would you?
...what about Nanai?
I know she did you a bad turn, just like I did. Where were your threats then, hmm? Where was your righteous anger? Not there. Not for pretty, blameless Nanai. Did she give you funny feelings, little boy? Make you feel like a man?
I'm sure you like to think you're special, "hero." You aren't. You're as base and shallow and sordid as everyone else is. My face is ugly and honest. Yours is just a handsome liar.
But if you won't play along, I'll have to take the lead, won't I? Defend yourself, hypocrite.
Hah. Riled you up, did I? You certainly don't pull punches.
If I wasn't pulling punches, you'd be dead.
Good. Then the book is as powerful as I've heard.
What exactly have you heard?
Here. Take this.
You'll need it in the tower.
I asked you a question.
Did you? I'm a mite hard of hearing these days.
Anyone who thinks this isn't a trap, say aye.
What would she do with a trap? Kill Yumil? Steal the book? She could have done that when he was unconscious.
Damn it. If it isn't a trap I'm going to be pissed.
So you won't be if it is a trap?
Of course I will.
Actually, that's a good point. I could just say "I'm going to be pissed", couldn't I?
I'm going to be pissed.
There you go.
Hey, that's the guy who-
Excuse me. I want a word.
Yeah, still smarts. Thought so.
Hey! Come back here! I want to talk to you!
You're the one who hit me, aren't you?
Olly's orders. Blame her.
What, you can't think for yourself?
Hit me back if you want. I don't care.
I vote nose.
I didn't say balls! I restrained myself! Be proud of me!
Seriously though, split his peas.
Whatever. You're not worth it.
No. I'm not.