Chapter 27: The Ultimatum

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Now I know what the Wrath of God meant by the poem he said. Now I know why he left. We showed the seeds of our destruction, and we applauded while we did so.

***

Laidu finished his story and leaned back. "Yeah. That was our little fiasco," he said with a smile. "And after that, the usual mischief ensued." Thaen chuckled at that. Kyra smiled. The two of them did look like trouble together.

"How'd you get out?" the quarry worker asked. But he wasn't the only one interested. Indra stared at Laidu, eyes wide.

"There was a tunnel. A secure and secret tunnel." Laidu paused. "I don't want to talk anymore about it. I promised to keep it secret." The quarry worker nodded and turned to his meal.

"Glowing crystal?" Indra asked. Laidu nodded. "God above, you found natural alchemy!"

"What?" Laidu asked. Kyra leaned in. Alchemy fascinated her. Kyra's education was focused on things considered more practical for her life.

"Natural alchemy. It's rare. And usually where we find new principles." India's eyes widened. "And the vaults were unopened?" Laidu nodded again, and smiled. "You have to take me there some time! That might have books! Or scrolls! Or thaumaturgy plates!"

"Relax!" Laidu said. "Maybe I might." Indra was ecstatic. Kyra chuckled and sipped her tea.

Laidu took a deep breath. "They were fun times." Thaen nodded at that statement.

"Sounded like a fun time growing up," Kyra said.

"I had good parents," Laidu said.

"Too good," Thaen said, frowning. "This scaly idiot repeated my little swear at breakfast. And he said I said it."

"Janyin washed your mouth out?" Kyra asked, laughing.

"I hate lilac. Soap just makes it worse." Thaen shuddered. Kyra laughed louder at that.

"Don't laugh," Laidu said. "She washed out my mouth too." This only caused her to laugh harder. Soon Karik'ar and Skaria chimed in. The tavern was beginning to fill up, and the myriad of conversations drowned out their laughter. Laidu's cheeks turned a bit reddish. It was strange that he still blushed. Despite the scales, he had a lot of human qualities.

Kyra took a breath and finished her drink. It was kind of hot in here, wasn't it? "I'm going to go outside for a breath of fresh air," she said as she rose. "I'll be back," she promised.

As she crossed the inn floor, she looked back. Laidu had turned around and was addressing some of the miners. Answering their questions, most likely. All the better for her to leave. She didn't want too many questions being asked about her.

Kyra opened the door, taking a deep breath. The crisp, cool night air filled her lungs. It reminded her of home. And that, surprisingly for her, stirred up a pang of disappointment and longing in her heart. She had been in the background for most of the action here, true. But she had seen the people.

She would miss Thaen's talkative side, his mischievous energy, his crazy antics and stories. She would miss the way Indra rambled on about alchemy, often utterly incomprehensible but fascinating nonetheless. She would miss Karik'ar's boasts, and she would miss Skaria's attitude. But most of all, she'd miss Laidu.

What could she say about the man who saved her? He was an odd one. Dangerous, but not reckless. Strong, but not proud. He was the first man to be nice to her for her sake, and not for anything else. It was a sad truth. A nasty truth. But he was a good friend. And that was all he was. Just a friend.

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