CHAPTER FIVE

part VI

Tanith shook her head across the table, “Zero? Nothing really. The Doctor said something about her being ‘difficult,’ but, other than that... Why?”

“My mother,” Eder said flatly.

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“But what does she want with her?” Tanith asked, puzzled.

“I’m not sure yet,” Eder said, shaking his head. “It was just something she said.”

“At dinner?” Tanith smirked.

“Yeah,” he sighed, “Something to the effect of her being ‘well taken care of’ once she gets here.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know, but it didn’t exactly sound friendly.”

“Your mother never sounds friendly.”

“True. But--”

“--Do you think she’s in danger?”

“No, I don’t think she’d do something violent, but it’s... I don’t know--just a feeling.”

Tanith considered him, “She wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize your place in the Salii--”

“--I don’t care about that.”

“Then what? What could she do?”

“Look, you know how she feels about--you--the Sages, the Council--and her history with Redrick isn’t any better.”

“Yeah--”

“--And you know how she is with me... Imagine walking blind into that. Who knows what eyes and ears she has around this place now.”

“Yeah, but with the prophecy--”

“--We don’t even know what it is,” Eder stressed. “Or do we now?" Cynicism crept into his voice. "I’m confused. I’m usually the last to know so...”

Tanith said nothing, a sympathy underlying her furrowed brow.

Eder sighed and shook his head, “I’m sorry. I’m sure it’s--” but he stopped.

A quiet moment passed between them, the last wisp of steam rising from the teapot, fading into nothingness.

“I know it must be hard...” Tanith finally spoke.

“It’s fine, the training keeping me busy, I’m not really thinking about it--”

“--Coming back, I mean.”

“Oh. Yeah.” He shrugged, “I figured I’d never get away without doing something in the Church first so... But, now, with all... this.” He forced a smile. “Well, we’ll see, I guess.”

Tanith nodded, her gaze falling to the table.

Eder stood up. “Thank you--for the tea.“

She quickly did the same, “I’m sorry I don’t have more--”

“--Don’t be,” he started walking to the door, “It was--I shouldn’t have bothered you--” but stopped before opening it.

“You didn’t.”

They shared suppressed smiles before Eder opened the door to leave.

“I was happy--” Tanith said quickly, “When I heard you’d come home.” Her gaze fell to the floor. “I know it’s selfish--”

Eder paused.

“--But part of me wanted to see you... One more time before you started exploring the great beyond and all that.”

He gave a little laugh, “It was good to see you too,” then walked out into the hall.

Just before the door closed behind him, he squinted and whipped back around, “Hey--what’d you see in that cave?”

“What?” Tanith said, pulling the door back open, “How did you--”

“--My mom, she--”

Tanith stood in the doorway, dread in her eyes. It took her a moment to answer. “I... saw something--coming through...”

He stared at her, a little taken aback at the grave look on her face. “Is it... it?“

“We don’t know--yet.”

Eder nodded and took a deep breath. “Okay.”

“Just try to be careful, okay?”

“Yeah,” he exhaled. “You too.”

Tanith’s door clicked shut behind him, as he walked up the empty hall, his footsteps echoing against the cold stone.


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