As they made their way through Olde Moribinu toward the exit, they passed a group of musicians setting up in a corner. Seymour espied a lute, an accordion, a drum that might have been a bodhran, and a woodwind instrument that he couldn’t identify. Aita, who was conversing with the lute player, grinned at them and waved enthusiastically as they made for the door.
The remnants of a crimson sunset were still glowing in the sky as they left, and the air was even colder than it had been when they had gone in, some twenty minutes previously.
Seymour glanced at Henry. The mage’s mismatched eyes were the approximate size and shape of saucers. Seymour couldn’t help but to smirk. He’d had only one shock this evening, and had recovered from it swiftly. Henry, on the other hand, had had several shocks, and was still almost comically dazed.
There weren’t many people on the streets now, and those that were still out were clearly in a rush to get home. It was eerily quiet, and as Seymour looked around, he noticed that the character of the city itself seemed to have changed. Those saintly rows of clean, white, matching limestone buildings had become bits of a tremendous skeleton protruding from a shallow grave.
Its foundation is rotting away, eaten by worms. Like the old watch tower in the Murkintir.
But no, that wasn’t quite correct. Waelyngar’s foundation was sound—it was the structure atop it that was rickety. Somewhere between its ancient, blood-soaked roots and its lovely white flowers, something had gone wrong. Perhaps it was the simple fact that the lovely white flowers refused to acknowledge the blood-soaked roots.
Moribinu and Waelyngar had been built in the same footprint, drew their power from the same source. Yet Moribinu had been the strongest city between Sichtir and Brysail, and Waelyngar was likely to crumple at the slightest breeze.
It was really none of Seymour’s business—in fact, he didn’t particularly care whether or not the city collapsed in on itself, provided he was safely out of range—but he found himself fascinated with the matter nonetheless. His detective’s instinct thirsted for reason, an answer for that itching question, “why?” He sensed he was onto something with the idea of the superficial turning a blind eye to the deep, but he needed more.
He found himself towing Henry along by the wrist again, this time uphill with a destination in mind. In sight, in fact.
The citadel castle shone vaguely red in the fading light of sunset. He grinned at it with mirthless determination and plowed ahead. There—that was where the roots ran the deepest.
But, for now, he could occupy his mind with other matters. Matters like the ugly, intimidating Tomorrow looming like a kettle of vultures on the eastern horizon.
“How am I going to do this, Henry?” he asked, mostly under his breath, releasing the mage’s wrist. “How the fuck am I going to pull this off?”
The young Lord of Carvil met his eyes and smiled bitterly. “I don’t know. You’re the genius here, aren’t you?”
Seymour sighed. “No. I’m not…I’m not a genius, Henry. I’m just…sharp, I guess. I have acute senses, a good memory. I’m a detective, nothing else. I’ve never before done anything in the vein of breaking two men out of prison and transporting them cross-country. I’m no savior, your lordship.” Then, remembering the words of Elnias, he added, “And certainly no champion.”
“That makes two of us, then,” Henry replied with a melancholy smile, and then, to Seymour’s mild surprise, he took the Aechyed’s large, webbed hand in his own thin, pale one and squeezed it gently. He dropped it, laughing humorlessly. “Rezyn forbid that the rest of the Six are anything like we are—else the world will have to save itself.”