Christopher gazed up at the cross ... or, rather, the faint blur where he knew the cross to be. He sighed. To think that Akabaieth, leader of an entire religion, was dead.
*Not that it matters to you, eh?*, he thought sadly to the gray wolf nestled by his paws. *Ye must think I'm daft, coming here in the middle of the night to mourn someone I never truly knew.* He sighed again as the wolf looked uncomprehendingly at him and lay head upon paws once more. *Then again, ye probably think there's no point to a room with no food in it. If only ye'd shown some sign when we met him ... *
The scholar looked up from his meal at his friend's approach. *Aye, Brian?*
"I was wondering if I might talk to you for a minute or so.", replied the raccoon, taking the seat across from him.
*No harm in that*, replied the bear. *One o' the few advantages to talking with the mind ... ye can eat while ye do it. What do ye wish to talk about?*
The healer sighed. "There's a ... a researcher, for want of a better word
*You've told him I've no time for folk to gawk at me, I hope.*
A sigh. "He's researching the Curse, Christopher. And, whatever else, this fix you're in does relate to it, however indirectly."
*Will he be wanting to question Wanderer, then?*
Coe's ears lay back briefly. "There's no call for sarcasm. But, yes, he'd like a look at him. Besides", he added, "anything that gets him out of Lurene's sight just now can only be an improvement."
*Aye*, groaned Christopher to the smiling 'coon. *She's little love for him at the moment. Not since he snatched her spare robe for a sleeping nest. All right, then, I'll come. But this one had best have some sense to him.*
"Don't worry, Christopher. I think you'll like Apadares."
Christopher scratched at the door, and it opened before him. *Are ye ready to see me now*, he asked of the figures within, *or should I wait 'til tomorrow?*
"Please come in", replied a strange voice. "I should like to begin immediately."
The bear lumbered through the doorway, his massive hindquarters just grazing the doorframe. *Wanderer will be with us in a minute. He found himself some strange scent he'll want to track down.*
"Fair enough. A pleasure to meet you, Christopher. I am Apadares."
Christopher paused. *Ye'll forgive me if I don't shake your hand ... ?*
A chuckle. "Of course. I'm sorry to put you out. It's just that I understand yours is rather a special case."
*If ye mean unusual, ye have the right of it.*
"What, exactly, happened?"
Christopher sighed. *'Tis a question I've asked myself, sometimes. Ah, here's the rogue.*
With that, Wanderer bounded into the room ... and stopped cold. Christopher could make out the cocking and recocking of the wolf's head as he looked at Apadares. *Feel favored. 'Tis not often he's of a mind to sit still these days.*
"I do have a way with ... um."
*Aye. With animals. But ye were asking what happened.*
"Er ... yes."
Christopher sighed, settling his furry haunches on the cool stone floor. *They've told ye, I suppose, of what happened to my legs?*
A vague movement, probably a nod. "Yes, they have. You were confined to a ... what was the device?"
*A wheeled chair, sir. Ye're quite well-read, are ye not?*
Apadares laughed. "I suppose my speech does give me away."
*Aye, and well met. The last 'student' who asked about this mess was some fool curiousity-seeker. But to the tale ... this fool bard... *
Christopher stopped for a moment, caught in the remembrance of the Wanderer he'd known for so long. *Aye*, he continued more softly. *A bard. The court bard, he was.*
"Go on ... "
*Oh*, the bear continued, trying to shake off the mood, *he'd a fool notion of sacrificing himself to make me whole again.*
"A noble idea ... "
*A foolish idea. I'd no wish to serve either Akkala or Eli for a lifetime, and I'd certainly not ask it of him.*
"So what happened?"
Christopher fell silent.
*Aye. What happened.* A long pause. *Ah, the fool made his two biggest mistakes in his life. First he lied to a Lightbringer.*
A sharp intake of breath, as of a sudden pain. "Not a wise move."
*'Tis true. Though not so mad as trying to lie to Akkala.* A return silence greeted his statement. *Aye, he was that ... that daft. Ye know*, Christopher added to change the subject, *he's never stood still so long before. Usually, he'd be marking the entire room as territory.*
"And your current condition was the result of his lying?"
*Aye*, Chris half-whispered through the spell. *The blasted fool. The crazy, blasted ... *
"He must have cared for you very much."
Christopher blinked his eyes clear. *Are ye quite finished?*
A brief silence, and, "Yes. Thank you, Christopher. You have given me much to think about."
*And to think we spent all that time with the Patriarch of the Ecclesia, hm? And never knew it.* Christopher chuckled wryly. *I suppose ye'd've had a poem for him?* He looked into the distance. *And now he's gone. And no poem for that, either.* He turned to go. *Let's to bed. Maybe things'll look better with tomorrow's ... Wanderer?*
The wolf sat, looking at the wall ... but not seeing it.
Slowly, a familiar distance appeared in the wolf's eyes. A distance as though looking at something held before them. The look Wanderer had ... had had before ... when creating his rhymes.
Christopher watched, stunned, as the wolf's mouth opened, half expecting spoken words to come tumbling out. But there was only a whine.
Then he heard it. An intake of breath that had no sound. He could almost feel the force in the wolf's gaze as it seemed to struggle within itself. Then, faintly ...
*S-seaborn ... s-sea ... s-*
Then, with a shake of his head, the wolf's eyes dissolved once more to the simple gaze of an animal as he looked curiously at Christopher.
*So*, Christopher thought with a deep sadness, *Ye're still touched by Samekkh's daughters. No wonder ye're so confused. Come*, he thought to the wolf. *Ye've done enough for one night.*
And soon, the only sound in the sanctuary of the chapel was the
gentle whisper of the Keep herself.