That had gotten Evos's attention. He watched Tavia, concern on his face, and she shrugged. She wasn't looking for his sympathy, but if he really planned to stick around, it was probably best he understood who Septia really was.
Tavia walked to the bed and sat down on the edge. She stared up at the ceiling, trying to decide where to start. Evos remained standing, but he moved closer, towards the center of the room. She lowered her gaze, meeting his eyes. Well, the beginning was as good a place as any.
"I was six when we realized I was a null-aura," she said. "I didn't...really understand what it meant until later, but I think it devastated my mother. Renegardes become Martials, and those few who don't become Althiests at the very least. As a null-aura, neither of those was an option for me. I mean, without magic, there really aren't many things I can do."
"So because of that, she abandoned you?" Evos asked.
Tavia shook her head.
"Septia was disappointed, and though she still included me in the sword-fighting lessons she gave my siblings, I wasn't given any special attention or help. Not that I could have made use of it, but I was still her daughter, a little broken maybe, but—" Tavia paused and took a deep breath. "When I was ten, some Artificers from RIOAR told my mother they could find a way to fix me."
"RIOAR?" Evos asked.
"They were from one of the smaller branch labs, not the main building we've been at, but it's all the same organization," she explained. "My mother leapt at the chance. Everything was done in secrecy, since she couldn't afford anyone finding out that I was a null-aura. She had managed to keep it a secret up until that point, so I'm not really sure how the Artificers found out."
"It was supposed to be a one week stay at the lab where they would run some tests and try a few things," Tavia said. "If the results proved encouraging, they would have me come back for more tests."
Tavia looked down at her hands in her lap. When had they twisted themselves together? The tips of her fingers were turning white from the pressure. She forced them to relax and rested them on the bed so they wouldn't be able to torment each other.
"One week became two, and then a month, and then six months. I held out hope my mother would come back for me, that she was trying to get me out of the lab, but the Artificers were being difficult. I tried to believe that it was their fault I wasn't able to leave. It wasn't...it wasn't a nice place," Tavia said as her mouth twisted in a grimace. That was an understatement to be sure, but she didn't want to alarm Evos; he was already beginning to grow pale. Well, paler than normal.
"When I had been there for a year, I realized she wasn't coming to get me," Tavia paused, taking a steadying breath before she continued. "She had left me in that place where I was out of sight and out of mind. As long as the Artificers kept me, my mother didn't have to worry about anyone discovering the Renegarde family had a null-aura among their number."
"How long were you there for?" Evos asked
"About four years."
Tavia looked down, unable to meet Evos's eyes. She didn't want to see the sorrow there. She wasn't telling him this to make him feel bad, or make him pity her; she just wanted him to understand why Septia couldn't be trusted. She would just leave out all the dirty details, the things he didn't need to know.
"In the end, I managed to contact my brother. Erent had never really believed my mother when she said I had gone to a boarding school in Terris. When he found out, he came and got me. Practically destroyed the lab in the process too."
Erent had always been good to her, teaching her the things he'd learned about fighting and things he'd been taught in school. He'd never treated her as broken, and that day, he'd become more than just her brother. He'd become her hero.
"Your brother?" Evos asked. His eyes were wide and then he looked away at the floor, shifting his posture as if bothered by something.
"Um, yeah, Erent is my older brother," she explained, not sure why he looked so upset. "He's not here right now though. He and my younger sister went to the Scarver Wastes with our father."
He still looked upset about something, but didn't ask anything more.
"My mother was livid with Erent when he brought me home. I was fourteen and terrified, and I had never seen my mother angry like that. The things she said to Erent...it was as if he had murdered someone, not rescued me." Tavia took a deep breath as the memories of the shouting echoed through her mind. "And that's not even the worst. The next time Erent was gone for more than a day, she tried to send me back. She said it was for my own good, and that I didn't understand that the Artificers were just trying to help me."
"How did you get away?" Evos asked.
"I ran away from home before the Artificers got to me. I spent a few days at Izak's home. When I came back, things had changed. She started acting the part of a mother again. I never figured out why, but it doesn't matter...I just want to leave this house as soon as possible."
She took a deep breath and stood up and ran her hands across her face, wiping away any tears that might have escaped unnoticed. That was enough on the subject. They had more important things to discuss, didn't they? They had a monster to track down.
Evos might have some good ideas; he was familiar with Ikarios, so maybe he would know how to find him.
"Do you know how to find Ikarios?" she asked him.
Evos blinked at her, as if unable to keep up with the sudden change in topic. After a moment, he shook his head with a slow movement.
"I could make some guesses, but the chances of me being correct are slim."
"So then how are we supposed to find him?" Tavia asked. "Saying I would get Savin back is all well and good, but if we can't even find Ikarios, I won't be able to do anything."
A tapping sound echoed through the room. Evos paused and looked at Tavia, but she didn't know what the sound was either. She looked around room as the sound rang out again, and she realized it sounded like someone tapping on glass.
Her eyes shot to window. Her room was lit and the balcony wasn't, which made it hard to see whatever was outside tapping on the glass door. Tavia walked up to the door and peered into the darkness outside.
A small figure stood there, looking up at her, a smirk curling his lip upward. Tavia threw open the door, causing the boy to jump back.
"Ikarios," she growled as she reached out and caught the boy by the collar of his jacket.
She pulled him inside with a force almost strong enough to throw him to the other side of the room, but Ikarios managed to keep his feet, stumbling forward until he found his balance. He looked back at Tavia, glaring for only a moment before his expression changed to one of ill-natured amusement.
"I missed you earlier today," he said. "How have you two been?"