Iricah awoke well before dawn. Her rational mind was telling her irrational fears that she never went into the unknown dangers of the isles with disorganized bags. She also needed to see her brother and she didn’t want her rational side admitting it to her irrational side that this might be the last time she saw Gaelon for awhile.
Too much had happened for her to think that this little jaunt to the shore– and the Host’s now presumably empty city–was going to be a quick one. That meant having to say goodbye to her brother, and the image of that was too intertwined with the last time she had to do it. Her feet dragged, and she found herself at the armory first, where a special nook was arranged for her own adventuring gear (Iricah still couldn’t think of herself as a fighter or a combatant in some great war, far from it). She rifled and packed, stacked and filed and eventually she made her way to the infirmary to check in on Gae, and to tell him she’d be back in just a couple of hours.
She passed the physicians attending to several of the wounded in their cots and entered the back galley quietly. There she saw Gaelon sitting huddled in several blankets in a large chair. He was awake. A small gnome, sitting next to him, was spooning a dark potion into his mouth. Gae seemed to accept the help willingly and gratefully. It was a far cry from the vampire lord who had nearly killed them all only hours ago.
Iricah looked at Gaelon’s face. So long had she kept the memory of that face with her–the face of anguish, the face in the flames. She had tried so hard to erase it from her mind. Now, it was a very different face–seeing it allowed her to remember what it was once, and that gave her at least some comfort that she had done the right thing. Decisions. Decisions Iricah.
His face was anguish still. THere was no denying that. But in a different way. He was pained, physically. And she knew in a way that he would never quite be rid of it, despite his attempts to hide it from her.
“It has been sometime since I have risen with the dawn.”
“Well actually Gae, it isn’t quite dawn yet.”
That made him laugh a bit remembering how precise his sister was about such things. The gnome, who Iricah recognized as a sometime physician of the royal court, cursed at Gae who spit up some of his potion while laughing. The gnome was an older fellow, grey in all aspects, hair, garments and even his skin in some places. He handed the potion bottle to Iricah, the spoon too, and left by way of the chamber door muttering something about nobility.
Her brother was still smiling though. It was the best thing she had seen for many years.
“You’ve come to tell me something important.”
“Another ark has been located here, Gae,” she said in her matter of fact tone.
“Yes, I know.”
Iricah sat next to him and motioned for him to take some more potion, which he did.
“You’ve known all along.”
“It’s the reason you came to the isles.”
“Yes, sister. It is.”
“But why Gae!?” Iricah moved the spoon back from him. “Why did you put us through this? Why did you and Genoran create that scene back in Cillandar all those years ago? I mean do you know what you put me through?”
Gae tried to sit up. The effort was clearly too much for him and he laid back with a groan. “I never meant to hurt you like that. You have to understand. It wasn’t up to me.”
Iricah’s face grew red. Please don’t let him tell me it was Genoran.
Gae coughed. Like he always could, he seemed to read her thoughts, “It wasn’t Genoran Iricah. We are a society in Cillandar. Were. We were known only to ourselves. The Dark Lanterns. Protectors of the True Light. Gen was a party to this. I wanted you to know. I wanted you to see. It all seems so crazy now.”
“Why though Gae, why did you do it? I’ve thought you were dead all these years!”
“There are signs, Iricah. Everywhere. If you know where to look. If you can get to them before the Order does. Signs that do not matter now, because they have all come to pass. All that matters is that we are here. And you are meant to be here.” He pointed towards the porthole near him. The slimmest glint of orange was beginning to appear there. “To walk the path, Iricah. It is your destiny!”
“What do you know of this ark? Do you have memory of it What is it? What do I do with it, Gae?”
“Nobody knows that Iricah. But you’ve heard it all from Genoran. Our best guesses. The arks were built by the Kasillians, to house themselves, or parts of themselves I suppose, from Ket during the End Days. The traitor could not access it, but she built her fortress around it, keeping it.”
“Keeping it from what?”
“Not what Iricah. From who. She kept it from you, from the others.”
Iricah wanted to tell him these were fairy tales. She wanted to smile, but she couldn’t. Her brother, buried in his blankets, had seen it. Lived it. This was as real to him as anything, and she forced herself to hear him.
“Kasille failed or if you like, they were betrayed. You know this. But there the arks sit, don’t they? The guardians are wary of using them, why? They don’t trust us anymore, and who could blame them? But there is one who did. My mentor, Frank’s mentor. Tiresias. He told me who to trust. or rather how to trust. He told me to trust you Iricah. Somehow, someway you are meant to open them once more. For the sake of all Iricah. You are part of this quest now!”
Iricah stayed silent. She just stared at her brother. She could tell he believed every word of what he said, even though she herself did not.
“So go sister! Go. Go and walk this path of light once more. This time, open the arks. Walk with my trust in you. Walk in the light as you were meant to do!”
Iricah put her hand on her brothers shoulder, and leaned down to kiss his forehead. She bent low to his ear.
“I will Gae. I will, for you.”
“No Iricah,” he whispered back. “For us all.”