Thursday, September 25, 2014

Day Seven-Sixty-One: The things I know

When Traveller learned that Nagi had left the party, he was inconsolable. He demanded - quite childishly, everyone vocally noted - that the dragon caravan, passing over a lake at the time, go back and get her. When Dragomir refused, Traveller jumped off of his dragon and into the lake. They were forced to land and pick him up, apparently spurred by the rats controlling their dragons. Dragomir agreed, though reluctantly.

While the crew was busy fishing Traveller out of the lake, Dragomir invited Logan to join him on Goranth. Logan, long waiting for a chance to speak to the older man, agreed, and he was lingering nearby when Antonio hefted Traveller out of the water and brought him over to Dragomir.

Arms crossed, Dragomir scowled at the shaggy, soggy mess of a man. “You’re ridiculous. Stop wastin’ our damned time.”

Traveller shook his head so hard that the flying lake water drenched most everyone nearby. “I wanted a swim! I think! Where’d that pool come from? One minute, I was dreaming about cows pooping sheep, and the next - “

“Fuck’s sake.” Dragomir smoothed his cheeks. “You don’t remember, do you? About Nagi?”

“Nagi?” Traveller beamed, showing his surprisingly white teeth. Logan couldn’t remember ever seeing Traveller brush them. “Who’s that?”

Despite the situation, Dragomir seemed rather satisfied by that answer. He waved Traveller and Antonio back to the their dragon, then ushered Logan onto Goranth. He asked Libby and Fynn to move to one of the other dragons, and Libby, squinting angrily, did as she was told. Logan suspected Dragomir would somehow pay for that later.

“Yep, I’m in for it,” Dragomir seemed to agree. “C’mon, hop on. I have some questions for ya.”

Goranth ascended with the other dragons, and soon they were winging away from the lake, over a vast range of mountains. Logan recognized them from his own travels. Already halfway to Pubton, assuming Logan’s father had pinpointed Pubton’s location correctly on a map. Logan marvelled at the deceptive speed of the dragons, crossing an entire continent in less than a week, and he wondered if the rats had anything to do with their staying power. They seemed to possess limitless endurance.

Once the dragons were back in a steady flight, Dragomir settled down in front of Logan, cross legged. He reached for the diary, and it hopped happily into his hands, though there was a petulant frown on its cover.

“It’s mad that I won’t write in it anymore,” Dragomir explained. “I… can’t. It’s just too weird, y’know? How do you write in a living thing? Too… just too weird.”

Logan nodded. “Yeah. I can understand that. So, uh, Dragomir, I wanted - “

“But I can read it, now,” Dragomir continued, cutting Logan off. He smiled, apologetic. “I… I can read all of it. I noticed when I was looking through it yesterday. Do you remember the blank pages? The ones where you couldn’t write?”

Logan did. He’d always found that to be one of the diary’s more peculiar attributes. In retrospect, of course, not being able to apply ink to paper wasn’t nearly as strange as, say, a book that can walk, communicate, and summon animals. Logan wondered, and would always continue to wonder, how he’d never noticed the diary’s cheery expression… or, more accurately, why he’d simply ignored that it was there.

“Well, they’ve been filled in.” Dragomir paused, flipping through the book. Its tail writhed in pleasure. “I’ve missed out… on… a lot of entries. A lot. Like, I can’t even believe how much was in here that I didn’t know.”

“Huh.” Logan held out a hand. “Can I have a look?”

Lifting the diary, Dragomir began to hand it over… then, abruptly, his expression changed. It became suspicious and ugly for a brief second, then settled back into forced cheer. “Uh… no. Not right now. Maybe some other time. Take my word for it, okay?”

Logan shrugged. I’ll steal it when he’s asleep, or something. Not like it’d be the first time I’ve done that.

“I learned some things,” Dragomir continued. He closed the diary and set it down, watching as it bounded around, treating Goranth’s hide like a trampoline. “Some stuff I suspected. Some stuff I feared. Some stuff… well, blindsided me. Completely. Dunno how else to put it.”


Dragomir took a breath. “Like the diary’s own little adventures. Apparently it came lookin’ for me in Goblinoster. Like… hells, what else… oh, like the rats, who talked about me bein’ important to them way before I really found out. Like the diary figuring out that the Non had infiltrated Pubton. Like…”

Dragomir’s face twisted. It seemed frank, and honest, and pained… but in a distant sort of way. As though he felt like he should feel something, but some fundamental part of him was getting in the way. Logan likened the expression to irritation after a bit of analysis, and he wasn’t sure if he liked that or not, given what came next.

“Like the fact that my son is dead,” Dragomir finished, eyes settling on Logan’s.

Logan immediately looked away, and he knew that was a mistake. It was a classic admission of guilt. He’d learned it while trying to con a merchant out of an expensive relic for far less than its actual worth. “I… but… he’s over there…?”

Not Fynn,” Dragomir growled, though under the circumstances he didn’t sound as angry as Logan would’ve imagined. “Don’t play stupid. You know what I mean.”

Logan took almost a full minute to meet Dragomir’s eye. He felt like a little boy again, though in this case, he was a little boy who actually demurred to his parents. “Grylock told me he took those pages out.”

“Yeah. Said so in there, too. C’mere, squirt.” Motioning the diary over, Dragomir popped it open and flipped through several dozen pages. “Uhhh… yeah. Here it is. ‘I have ripped these pages from Dragomir’s diary.’ Here they are, though, plain as day. Diary must’ve… regrown them, or something. Wouldn’t be the weirdest thing it’s done. Oh, and hey, look at this line. ‘We made a promise, we four. Very much out of guilt.’ That’s interesting.”

Logan cringed. He decided to give up on demanding they look for his mother, at least for now. He’d lost any leverage he might have possessed with this revelation. “Uhhhhh…”

Dragomir set the diary down and shooed it away again. “Yeah. So he’s dead. Cut in half, in fact, by Plato. Him ’n his fucking energy scythe… thing. Brings one child into the world with it, takes the other one out. I really need to have a chat with that goddamned duck.”

“Yeah. Uh. Yeah.” Logan began to stammer. “I… look, Dragomir, I was just - “

“Save it.” Dragomir’s tone shifted to strong, forceful, and… commanding. That, more than anything else, surprised Logan. “I don’t care what happened to Grayson. Not really. Know why? Because he killed my fucking brother. Found that out, too. Fucked with Robert’s head and killed him. Tripped some important wires in his fucking brain. So I’m glad the little bastard is dead, even if he’s… I dunno… wrapped up in Philip, now. Or whatever. I don’t have a clue what’s happening there, I just hope Grayson suffers through it.”

My gods, he’s so venomous, Logan thought, mouth falling open. Who is this guy?

Dragomir’s fingers flexed, clenching and curling into claws. His face darkened. “Rob… he looked after that kid a few times, you know? Always told me Grayson was ‘such a good boy’, even if he was… ugly. Like his dad. I mean, fuck, Grayson isn’t even… isn’t… bah!”

Turning abruptly, Dragomir spat over the side of the dragon. His spit flew off into the wind.

“Anyway. I’ll get to my point.” Dragomir wiped his face, seeming to put a mask over his anger. In a moment he was all business again. “I’m not mad you didn’t tell me. Disappointed, maybe, but not mad. No more secrets, though, okay? I need you to be honest with me from now on, ‘cause you’re gonna be important.”

“How… so?” Logan kept his voice low and tentative. He felt like a caged animal that was about to be offered freedom - but a false, potentially dangerous freedom, one that he didn’t trust.

“I need you to be my ears.” Dragomir cleared his throat. “The rats have agreed to pass intel along for the fight against the Non. Thing is, I don’t know if I can believe everything they have to say. They’re… uh… fuckers. I guess that’s the best word for them. Almost feels like they’re as much our enemies as the Non. I don’t wanna be blindsided, so I’m gonna need you to do some spying for me. Maybe even head up some kinda spy network. Think you can do that?”

Still hesitant, Logan nodded slowly. “Uh… I guess so…”

“You’ve always been good at ferreting out secrets. You seemed the natural choice.” Dragomir smiled. “I know this is all confusing. I get it. We’re headed into dangerous territory. Who knows if we’ll come back out again. I need all of you to help me out in this. Can you help me, Logan?”

Dragomir held out his hand. Logan shook it. Dragomir’s skin felt smooth, and oddly rubbery. Logan pulled away as quickly as he could, not liking the sensation at all.

They discussed the details. Eventually, Logan returned to his own dragon, hopping from one wing to another as the soaring reptiles flew parallel. Settling back into his seat, ignoring his father’s quizzical look, Logan stared down at the countryside. He didn’t want to see the man he’d regarded as a role model for almost three years anymore, riding alone on a dragon like some lonely king. A man who had, in the span of a single conversation with some old bastard, changed so much.

Still three hours distant, the goblin guards of Pubton watched, waited, and wished for rain.

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