Tavia's vox began to ring as soon as she made it into her room. She knew who it was even before she looked at the name on the screen; Izak was the only person who would be calling her at this time. She considered ignoring it—it had been a long day, and she needed to talk to Evos. She wasn't really up to listening to Izak rant about what had happened.
She hadn't even made it two steps into her room, but she paused and pulled the vox from her pocket. Her bedroom was spacious, well-furnished living space, but more than a little messy. The two housemaids who cared for the rest of the house had learned long ago not to clean in here, but it wasn't like Tavia was some kind of slob. She did clean up after herself, she just didn't like the immaculate, un-lived in feeling left behind after the maids came through.
Across from the wooden door that led back to the hallway was a set of glass doors that took up half of the wall. They opened out on a balcony overlooking the garden her father was so proud of. That balcony was probably her favorite thing about the room. Against the other wall, Tavia had a spacious canopy bed, one that matched the décor of the house—stuffy and regal. Her desk stood against the other wall, the surface empty now that she was out of school. Beside the desk was a small couch and a large vid-screen that had been hung on the wall.
Like most vid-screens was designed to hook up to a vox, allowing the screen to receive information from the corvex, which could then show on the big screen instead of the vox's small illusory-screen. It was all based on the corvex of course, a network of information that was transferred though the Althier floating free in the air. The methods to utilize Althier that way had really been key to changing how useful Althier was in daily life.
After a moment of staring at Izak's flashing name, she tapped the answer icon on the screen. Even if she was tired, it was too cruel to ignore him. He was probably just worried, and it wasn't as if she didn't care if he was alright. An image of Izak sitting in what she recognized as the living room of his house appeared in the air before her. The illusory-screen was allowed for things to be displayed larger than the vox itself, but it was awkward to use in public. The image was large enough to make it easy to see him clearly, but that also made it easy to see the disgruntled expression on her friend's face.
"Finally," he said. "Were you planning to ignore me?"
He really knew her too well.
"Of course not," Tavia said. "Why would I do that?"
Izak rolled his eyes at her obvious lie.
"Did you want something?" she asked.
She really wasn't trying to be rude, but the sword in the hand not holding the vox was weighing on her mind, and Tavia wanted answers as soon as possible. If Izak didn't have something urgent to discuss then he would just have to wait.
"Just making sure you're actually alright," he said with a shrug. "That last call was kind of...rushed."
"Well, the Shields weren't happy I was using my vox—kept thinking I was going to leak a video or something on the corvex," Tavia said. "They were giving me dirty looks the entire time I was talking to you."
"Also, why didn't you call to let me know you were alright after the explosion?" Izak asked.
His tone had hardly changed, but the slight frown on his face and the way this shoulders hunched together meant he was angry. He was good at hiding it, but Tavia had known him too long not to notice.
"My vox wasn't connecting to the corvex, I couldn't make any calls. And unlike you, I don't have any way to boost my vox's Althier reception , so if anything happens to deplete the Althier in an area, my vox won't work," Tavia said.
Izak mouth formed into an "oh" and then he shrugged. She narrowed his eyes and he looked away. He knew that. It wasn't as if this was the first time she'd ever had that problem. Normally, if a vox couldn't connect to the corvex, it was due to lack of Althier, either for natural reasons or because someone had used a bunch of it in some massive spell. Until the levels returned to normal, Tavia couldn't use her vox, but other people could just channel Althier directly into the thing and force it to work that way.
"Listen, I'm pretty tired from today," she said. "Let's finish this tomorrow, alright?"
Izak was going to protest, Tavia could see it in his eyes, but before he could speak, she smiled at his image in the screen, and then clicked the disconnect icon on the vox. The image disappeared and the call ended. She muted the sound on the vox and then dropped it on the desk.
She looked at the sword in her hand. How exactly was she supposed to get it turn back into Evos? Would he just turn back now that they were alone? She stared at the sword waiting, but as the moments passed, she figured it wouldn't be quite that easy.
"Hey, wake up," she said, poking the blade.
She ran her fingers along the length of the sword, tracing the grooves left by the engraving. There were too many separate spells etched onto the blade to count, and most of them Tavia didn't even recognize. She could make out a few, some for the typical physical enhancements, like increased speed and strength that could be found on most any alther weapon, but there was far more than just that. The engravings were woven together in a way that made them more difficult than usual to read, and Tavia was no expert in the first place.
She sighed, and when her examination of the sword revealed nothing useful, she tossed the weapon onto the bed and turned back to the door to take her shoes off.
"Hey, what are you doing throwing a precious Artifact around like that?"
Tavia spun around. Evos was sitting on the edge of the bed as if he had been there the entire time. Well, he kind of had been, hadn't he?
"Precious?" she asked. "If you ask me, it looks more like some useless junk."
Evos scowled, his pale features lighting up with anger, but he shook his head a moment later and shrugged.
"Can't say anything against that," he said. "For most people, the Ageless Sword is exactly that."
"You realize I have a hundred questions, right?" Tavia asked.Evos chuckled, his shoulders shaking with the motion. When he stopped, he gave her another smile and then nodded.
"Of course," he said. "Ask away, I'll answer what I can."
Evos remained on the edge of the bed, and Tavia spun her desk chair around to face him before she took a seat in it. She stared at him for a moment, trying to decide which question was the best to start with.
"What...are you?" she finally asked.
"Hey, I may be a sword, but I have feelings too," Evos said. "I'd prefer 'who' over 'what'." Evos smiled, but it faded when he noticed the expression on Tavia's face. "Right, well, at its simplest, the Ageless Sword is an Artifact designed to be used by a null-aura."
Was that possible? Tavia had never heard of any Artifact that could be used by a null-aura, and it wasn't as if she had never looked. Without an aura, Artifacts couldn't activate; it was more like not even having an on switch rather than an issue of compatibility.
"It works because of me," Evos said, placing a hand on his chest. "I'm a...consciousness within the sword itself. I function in place of an aura, controlling the Althier in the sword."
"That doesn't explain why you can change from a sword to a human," Tavia said. "And what about that thing on the stairs?"
"The Jump?" Evos asked. "Ah, that's one of the spells engraved on the Ageless Sword. Is there something wrong with it?"
"W-wrong?" she asked. "It shouldn't be possible. Transferring information across Althier is one thing, but transferring matter is a totally different issue."
Evos shrugged. "I...can't claim to know the details on how the Ageless Sword can do what it does. I just make sure it works."
"I'm going to guess the same goes for why you can be a sword or a person?" Tavia asked.
Evos nodded, looking unconcerned at his lack of knowledge, and maybe she should be too worried either. New magic was always developed based on Artifacts, and that was only after what often amounted to years of research. Maybe the Ageless Sword did contain magics that were still unknown to the rest of the world. Abram and his assistants had been trying to study it after all.
"Why was that kid, Ikarios, after the sword?" she asked.
"If I had to guess, I would say his real target was something else. I, or rather the Ageless Sword itself, wouldn't be of much use to him," Evos said, "but he probably wanted to get a hold of me so I couldn't be used against him."
Well, Tavia had come to a similar conclusion herself, but she wasn't sure she liked hearing someone had died and she had almost been killed as well just because of a secondary goal. Had Ikarios found what he looking for, or had it slipped through his fingers like the Ageless Sword?
"What do you plan to do now?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" Evos asked.
"Where are you going to go? What will you do now?"
Evos tilted his head to the side as he stared at Tavia.
"I'm not going to go anywhere," he said. "The Ageless Sword belongs to you."
"What? Why you would think that?" she asked, startled.
"I'm pretty sure I can at least pick the person I want to use the sword," Evos said.
"But... I'm not a Martial or anything," she said. "It's not like I can—'
Oh. Well, maybe that wasn't right. Evos had said it himself, hadn't he? The Ageless Sword was meant to be used by someone like Tavia. She had already seen the sword react to her. Wasn't that Jump proof enough? She didn't know why Evos really wanted her to use the sword, but maybe she shouldn't question it.
"If I have this sword, I can be a Martial?" she asked.
Evos shrugged. "You can. If that's what you want."
Tavia balled her hands into fists. Then in that case, there was something she was going to need to ask Audri.