May 7th, 2015
Try as he might, Lask could not stop word of those crimson feathers Charlotte had discovered from spreading.
“What are they?”
“Where did they come from?”
“What did they come from?!”
“Why do you have them locked up?”
“Are they magic?”
The questions came from all sides– his vessel, the Reader, his family, his allies. Eventually, in a fit of rage and grief, he broke and bellowed, “Once, the sky was mine! Once, I belonged to the heavens and the stars, and in a moment of innocent ignorance I lost it!”
He told them of that terrible night on the island, when he had dragged himself up from the river, and taken a saw to his own back, then submitted at last to Phena’s aid.
“When first I met you,” said Jackie, “I said I thought you should have wings.”
“I did,” he replied. “Glorious, lush wings, so big they trailed behind me when I walked. It’s why I started wearing capes, you know. I missed the weight and drag of something behind me. There were nights I awoke shivering in the cold, muscles trying to furls feathers around me I did not have. I built my towers high not out of of arrogance, but so that I might sit in the open air where once I flew.”
“Who has done this to you?” snarled Stefin, “Name him, and he shall be a dead man!”
“Do y’know?” asked Falient. “Surely y’know. Have y’killed ‘im already?”
“I have not,” Lask replied. “For 25 years I let him think I was dead, because I knew I did not have the forces nor magic to challenge him. But he knows I live now.” He paused, and glanced at the big red Demon. “He knows because of you.”
Stefin cocked his head.
“You and I have both run afoul of one called Zestir,” Lask said.
Stefin’s ears flattened and he bared his pointed teeth in a wrathful snarl. “That one?!” He thundered, tail stiffing into a threatening arc. “The one stole my entire empire?!” His remaining eye blazed with almost crazed ire.
“That one,” Lask growled back.
“HE WILL DIE!” The red Demon roared, his Spanish temper sending him storming up from the table, fist slamming on the hardwood and throwing up sparks. “Too much he has taken. You and me, farero. We can take him. We are strong enough now, together.”
“He has a Titan,” Lask reminded him.
“HE HAS MY TITAN!” The Demon jabbed a claw at his own immense chest, inflated with fury and indignation. “Methok answered to me once. I can make him answer to me again.”
“It won’t be easy.”
“You have the Library and your Tower,” snarled Stefin. “I have an army and a pressing need to kill this Demon and take back what was mine. Surely there is some way we can restore your wings in the process. You have given back people their hands, their legs, their sight. You are a great healer–”
“It only works outwardly,” Lask cut in. “If I could restore them myself, I would have.”
“Name what you need, aldar,” Stefin declared. “It will be yours. You go around fixing everyone, rescuing people who do not deserve it. Do you deserve nothing for yourself?”
Lask was silent.
“You know wot you need,” Falient pressed.
“Aye, he knows,” Wyatt grunted from the corner, hardly looking out from under his hat. “Known a long time. Been waitin’, real patient, too scared to hope for much.”
Lask’s eyes cut a sharp look at the gunslinger, but he said nothing.
“You have allies and magic aplenty,” Stefin said. “What you need is ambition.”
“It is not my place to have ambition,” Lask replied. “I am not here to be an emperor.”
“But what you are is no less mighty,” Stefin countered. “You deserve better. I will see to it, even if I have to ask the Library myself.” With that, the Demon turned and started for the door, striding with exaggerated purpose.
Lask couldn’t help but smile. “Fine,” he said. “What I need is not far out of reach. In fact, some of it is already accessible. Ivan has a healing instrument capable of… well, call it welding the wings back onto me. What I need is to restore the wings themselves. I know where most of them are. I buried them at the foot of a tree in the forest– Quinn’s tree, what used to be my tree. I’ll need to dig them up, and I’ll need someone to go get the rest of them.” He looked at Falient.
“Zestir’s hunting party,” Lask said, “They left with a good chunk of my right wing. It was torn off in the struggle. Zestir keeps it like a fan behind his throne to this day.”
“Oh, I got it,” Falient said. He pulled out his pistol, gave it a spin, then kissed the barrel. “You leave it to me.”
“Once you have the pieces, what magic?” asked Stefin.
“There is a healing solution I can make with some help. I have contacts who can help me with that part, and I expect Garth and Kieran can craft the necessary environment to keep them in to regenerate. I’m not sure how long it will take, but once the wings have regrown to the state of living flesh, they can be reattached using the shaktar Ivan has.”
“Let us do this for you,” Stefin said. “I know this is near to your heart and personal, but you have built this family. You have rescued each of us. Let us do this for you. In the process, we can enjoy our mutual revenge, and I can take back what is mine.”
“You don’t even know if Titans can serve the Light.”
“No, but you do.” The Demon pointed an accusing and knowing finger at Lask’s pointed nose.
Lask arched a single dark brow. “What do you mean?”
“You sit in that watchtower and watch. You walk around through time like you own the place. Pbbt, fareros,” the Demon spat with a toss of his horned head. “From the moment I spoke my Titan’s name, your face changed. You know. That dragon will be mine again, one way or another, and it will be here in the Light.”
Lask smiled, and then gave a conceding nod. “Go, emperor,” he said. “You have a lot of planning to do.”
“And you have a lot of reading to do, farero.”