Part 42: Frayed Thread
Is it done?
Is what done?
Don't play dumb.
If you're thinking of apologising, don't. She was bound to destroy herself, with or without you.
Now listen closely. There's not much time left. Do you know about the big tower in Rhoan? At the centre of the castle?
What about it?
It's the same as this one. It was built to contain a Great Spear.
The Demon Lord...Kullervo...he ruled this world once. And when mankind rebelled, that spear was what killed him.
Nobody remembers now, of course. Too many stories lost in translation, too many rulers who didn't care about the past. But that spear is where you'll have to go next.
And do what?
Find the first spirit.
How do you know where the spirits are? How did you even know I lost them?
I told you I was a shaman, didn't I?
But you said you'd lost your powers. Wasn't that why you couldn't escape?
But that means you knew Before you lost them. Before I met you. You knew all this would...
...why didn't you tell me?
I could have stopped him! None of this had to happen! Why didn't you tell me?!
It had to be this way.
No it didn't! If I'd known, I could've-
Changed things. Exactly.
The future isn't a single thread, Yumil. It's a big, ugly, tangled mess, is what it is. Something as simple as walking to the market to buy bread can have a million different outcomes. The trick isn't to know where each and every thread leads. It's to pick through the mess and find the best thread you can.
This is the biggest mess I've ever seen, and this is the only good thread I could find. It's not perfect, but if you start searching for the perfect future, it'll pass you by before you find it.
You don't know that! What if things could have turned out better if you'd told me? What then?
That's the problem. "What if."
Yes, I could have told you. You could have prevented this, and then something far worse could have happened. I don't know where those threads end.
This one, I do know. And it's a frayed thread, and I wish it wasn't, but I would rather make sacrifices than risk everything.
They weren't your sacrifices to make.
But you would never have made them yourself. You would never have understood. I had to make them for you.
...I don't believe this.
No, on second thoughts, I do believe it. It's my own fault. I mean, you're just some stranger I met in the desert. If I can't trust anyone from home, why should I have trusted you?
I only need you to trust in what I told you. You have to go to the tower. Hate me, curse me all you like, but go to the tower.
Aren't you even going to apologise?
No. I feel sorry for you, for what you had to go through, but I'm not sorry for what I did. It was the right thing to do. If you forgive me, it'll be because you came to understand that, not because of some empty apology.
But I will say this. I realise it's very hard to believe right now, but take it from someone who knows. Everything will be alright.
I don't want to hear it. Not from you.
For the entire journey from Samiad, I had resolved to go anywhere but the castle tower, just to spite Ellie.
Of course the notion burned itself out, as angry, irrational notions tend to do. I didn't want to trust her. Not after that. I wanted to return to Rhoan even less. But I wanted to wander the world without aim even less, so that was that.
At the very least, I got to choose between fire and frying pan. I should have considered myself lucky for that.
Speaking of luck, wouldn't it would be nice if luck was fair?
An ideal world wouldn't need the book, full stop. But a decent world would at least acknowledge that being chosen to hold the book is terrible luck, and that the victims should be compensated with good fortune for the rest of their lives.
In this hypothetical decent world, I'd have made my way to the tower and back without anyone seeing me, not been spotted by Duran gathering his flowers before I could even approach the town.
In summary, this world is not very good at all.
Why did you come back?
I have to get into the castle.
Where are you going?
I'm going to warn everyone.
No you're not.
I said I have to get into the castle. I have to. No matter what.
So what, now you're going to kill me? Kill your friend?
You've got some nerve to call yourself that.
After what? What did I do to you? What did any of the people who died do to you?
That wasn't me! And after all I did for you, not a single one of you believed in me! Nobody was there for me!
Why was everyone saying you did it if you didn't?
I don't know. Because they needed to blame someone. Maybe nobody saw me do it and they're all asking the same question you are. "Well, he must have done it, otherwise why is everyone saying he did? I suppose I'll go along with it!"
My dad's the one who told me. He said you-
Your dad is an idiot! Even if he knew he was wrong, he'd be too damn full of himself to admit it! He always thinks he knows best and he never does!
You shut up. Don't you ever talk about my dad that way. You have no idea what he's been through in his life. What he's seen.
Says the son who accused him of murder.
Yeah. And look how that turned out. I should have trusted him and I didn't. I'm not making that mistake twice.
Oh yes, Gustav can do no wrong, he's just so wonderful. So why does he treat you like dirt?
Because he wants me to be strong! He does it because he loves me!
He does it because he doesn't.
I can't believe you said that.
I'm not going to hurt anyone. I just left something behind and I want to get it back. That's all. Nobody will even know I was here.
Oh yes they will. Count on it.
Don't be stupid. I can stop you. You know I can.
Do it, then. I'm not scared of you.
Yes you are.
...yes, I am.
And I don't care.
You told me once, I was stronger than I thought I was. Remember? Well, you were wrong. But I think I want to make you right.
I should have helped her. No matter what it cost me. I should have stepped out of that wardrobe and picked up a weapon and died doing the right thing. I should be dead. And maybe it's time I started acting like it.
So if you're going to kill me, you go right the hell ahead. As far as I'm concerned, you're just fixing a mistake.
I'm going to start walking now. Do whatever you're doing.
If you tell people about me, if they're ready for me, I'll have to...to get past them.
Don't make me do that.
Nobody is making you do anything. Turn around and go back to wherever you came from. No-one else has to get hurt.
Then this is how it is.
Well if it isn't Rhoan's most wanted. You do realise that particular wound is still raw up top?
I know. I need to hide down here for a while. I'm pretty sure they'll be looking for me.
Er, that's not-
I can pay you.
Not a bad idea. Is what I was about to say.
I need to get to the tower without being spotted.
So, however long until I can do that.
Right. So again, I have to ask. How long?
How much would it cost for you to keep an eye out?
I dunno, but I like this new you. This new spendy you. Very plush.
I only take payments up front, of course.
You get a quarter now, the rest when I'm back safely.
No, I said a quarter. You must have misheard me.
What, don't you trust me?
Don't you trust me?
Just don't make a mess.
Looks like business as usual to me. You sure they know you're here?
If they don't, they will soon.
Why wait, then? Go before they know, not after.
Give it another hour, though. The guards change shifts then. Plus it'll be darker.
Are you sure nobody ever comes down here?
Nobody except Romaioni. And his sister, uh, Francis or something. I don't think they'll be back, though.
How do you know?
Well, they showed up a while ago. She didn't say anything, but he gave me this beautiful little speech about how that tornado put things in perspective for him and he wanted to go legit from now on.
And I don't like to assume, but he had this look like "My balls are being held hostage", and she had this look like "Yep."
What are you writing?
Rhoan is a city. There are houses. It is the capital of Kaleila. There is a castle.
Girl, half my age (about), pigtails never seen before must be new. More empty boxes.
Bridge southwest, unfinished for years. Rex fishes here sometimes. Rex is a frie
Fana's house, two floors. Clock broken, stuck at 9:30. Always bedtime.
Fana wasn't well today. She says I shouldn't fuss but it's hard not to. She's brave for me. I have to look after her, won't be late again. Eleven o' clock, remember remember remember
Lots of books about travel, foreign countries. Pictures on her dresser, family. Mother dead. Father missing. Doesn't talk. I don't blame her.
Kamui writes novels, wasn't much help. Very shy, speech problems. Scan some more flowers for him. Flower Blazera means passion, load of rubbish. Flowers are plants.
Town centre has a market. Romaioni and Francesca run it. Twins. Stuck-up. Not here today, probably buying supplies.
Central Park, mayor knows my name, is an elf. Elves have pointy ears. Statue of King Xenonbart, no beard, out of date. Big fountain. No boxes.
Cemetery east. Very peaceful, big tree. Lots of bouquets. One headstone "Man who loved his family," name scratched out. Harsh!
Beat him. Should have been satisfying.
Eleven o' clock, visit Fana.