Part 32: Give Me Hope
Remember what Helen said? Her son was looking for a cure.
Yes, but he didn't find it.
Only because he was killed on the way. That wouldn't happen to you.
Yeah, if there's anything out there, you're the one to get it.
I don't see how this helps, though. Unless you know where to look.
Ask Helen. He must have told her where he was going, or what he was looking for. Something.
Come on! A long shot is better than no shot, right?
I suppose it couldn't hurt.
...Fana's said she'd prefer to be alone. And to be honest, so would I.
I just want to know if her dad said where he was headed. When he left.
Granatum. To see the dwarves. Why?
Oh no. Don't you dare. Don't you dare go out looking for it. If she loses you as well...
Looking for what?
No. That's enough. I'm not saying any more.
Well don't just give up! You're a war hero! Flex it!
You know, I've met the dwarves before. Fought their chieftain, actually. And won. It was just after I fought Gustav and won. Go and ask him if you don't believe me.
Byron was killed by a monster, not a man.
Good. Monsters are easy.
Do you want me to fix her or not?
A flower. He was looking for a flower. That's all I know.
What was it called?
I said that's all I know!
Look. I don't care if you come back with that damned thing or not. Just come back. I am not telling my granddaughter she's lost someone else. Not now.
Say I've gone missing, then. That seems to work for you.
...I think you should go now.
Um. Hey. You're kind of being a dick. About that.
She shouldn't have lied.
Yeah, maybe, but you understand why she did. Right?
I understand that I'd rather know the truth. Not spend the rest of my life wondering why someone abandoned me.
I notice you don't hold yourself to that where Meenya's concerned.
Are we going to find this flower or not?
Hey, could we pick up some noseplugs first?
You know. For the smell. Because the dwarf smells bad.
Yeah, you guys haven't been there, but whew. Lemme tell ya.
Lost cause, my friend. Let it go.
(*I* think it's funny. In a "helpless flailing" kind of way.)
My second journey to Rudrud's home took less than half as long as the first. Partly because I knew where to go this time. Mostly because Mieli's evil eye at my back had the same effect as a horsewhip. Throbbing feet were uncomfortable, but the silence had them beaten.
As we neared our destination, she softened again. Perhaps I'd been forgiven, or thoughts of our task took precedence. Or perhaps her face simply hurt from maintaining such a withering glare for so long. I didn't care. Whatever it was, I'd take it.
Human. Should you not prepare for the tournament?
I have something more important to do right now.
I have a friend back in town who's very sick, and I heard you might have a flower here that can cure her. Do you know anything about that?
This friend. Her name is Fana?
You know her?
Her father. He came seeking the flower as you do.
Dead now. Long dead. Rent apart by the three-beast.
He must mean the chimera.
But he's buried in Rhoan now. Who found his body?
Did you bring him back?
Honourable man that would fight and die for his child. Good man. Should have fought with him. Perhaps a happy ending then.
The flower lies where you sought your "spirit". The great tree. And lair of the beast.
You fought it?
Yes. I did.
Go quickly, then. Others may seek the flower. Less dangerous now. They could have it before you.
After the tournament, Rudrud would meet your friend.
An apology. For my inaction. Let him go alone.
Rudrud is a father, should have seen another father. Only saw a human.
...I'll see what I can do. No promises.
And so, at Rudrud's instruction, we travelled again to the great, hollow tree where Mieli's bookmark had once rested. How long ago had it been? Longer than it felt. Far longer.
And we searched.
It has to be somewhere.
You heard what Rudrud said. Someone's probably taken it already.
No. Fuck that. It has to be somewhere.
Wait a minute. What's this?
An envelope, still sealed. Mieli opened it and tipped out a soiled scrap of paper.
And with it, a single, red petal slid free and fluttered to the ground.
"If anyone finds this, take to Fana, Rhoan town."
...he must have saved this before he died.
Just one petal? That wouldn't be enough, would it?
Probably not. Lucky for you, this just happens to be my area.
Stand back, everyone. Watch the master at work.
Do you like the butterflies? I thought they'd be a nice touch.
I'm not sure it was necessary to "stand back" for that.
Of course it was. Give it some gravity.
So I give her this and she's cured? This is really it?
This is really it! You must be so excited!
I don't think it's hit me yet.
I always used to wonder, you know? What would I do if she ever got better? Thought about it all the time. Then I stopped, because I knew it couldn't happen.
And now this thing is proving me wrong. I don't know what to think.
Wait till you see her face. Then it'll hit you.
Come on. I can't wait. Go. Hurry up. Get home. Make her better. I wanna see it. Hurry up.
Mieli. Please. My feet are killing me.
rest later, hurry up
And don't give Helen a hard time. This should be a happy moment.
Good, now hurry up.
...I want to check something first.
Hope pod. Happy news.
I don't even know why i asked. I could have worked that out myself. Of course that was what it meant. I was bringing Fana some happy news. As if the whole world had been engineered just for this moment.
"Flowers are plants" indeed.
Yes. I'll write that down. Thank you.
Did you find it?
"Come back with that damned thing or don't, just come back." And then the first thing you say is "Did you find it?" Thank you, Helen.
Going to surprise her.
Oh. Right. Hurry up, then.
I just want to see Fana.
She's asleep right now.
...go and sit with her. Just don't make any noise. She needs the rest.
I realised, walking silent into her room, that I'd never seen her sleep before. I always visited in the morning, when she was awake. Eleven o' clock. Every single day.
She said before that she couldn't remember how long I'd been doing it. I couldn't either, thinking about it. From the dawn of time, perhaps.
I almost, almost reached out to take her hand. Her delicate, porcelain hand. But I stopped. That would have woken her.
She needed her rest, now. She needed her rest, otherwise she might have one of her bad days again.
Come on, just one more. What are you waiting for?
Oh, I see. This is payback for me rushing you, is it?
Funny. I always went on about how much she meant to me, how important she was. I never quite realised the truth of it.
Not until then.