Septia didn't ask any questions when Tavia limped into the house, but Tavia could feel her mother's gaze follow her all the way up the stairs. It was strange that Septia didn't stop her, Tavia was clearly in a poor state, and she'd expected to face her mother's gauntlet of questions as soon as she got him. That she didn't, was a welcome relief, one of very few she had the last few days, so rather than question it, she just took advantage of the silence and made her way upstairs.
She escaped the relative comfort of her bedroom, and the moment the door was closed behind her, she threw the Ageless Sword onto the bed. She leaned back, against the door, but only for a moment before her legs, shaking like jelly, gave out. She sank to the floor, her back sliding down the door until she hit the ground. She pulled her knees up to her chest and put her head down, taking a deep breath as she closed her eyes and enjoyed the darkness.
"Told you not to throw me," Evos muttered.
The bed creaked as Evos stood, and he took two steps toward Tavia, bare feet soft on the hardwood floors, with her eyes closed, the soft sound of his footsteps was easy to notice. She hadn't paid any attention to it before, but it would shoes were among the articles he could choose to make or not make with his ability.
He sat down beside her. Tavia could feel the weight of his body leaning against her shoulder. He really felt like a normal person, other than a slight tingle when they touched. That would be the Althier holding his body together.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"You already asked me that," Tavia replied with her head still down. She was enjoying the darkness, it was simple and calming.
He sighed, and then his shoulders slumped; Tavia could feel the motion against her own.
"I'm not asking if you're injured."
"Aren't you angry with me?" she asked.
She was afraid to hear his answer, but she needed to know before she continued. She lifted her head, looking him straight in the face, hoping for and dreading his answer.
"No," Evos said. "I was, but not anymore." He shook his head and grimaced. "I shouldn't have left you alone to deal with all of that. I'm sorry. I'm supposed to be your partner, who supports you, but I got upset and ran away."
It wasn't just his fault, she'd been the one who'd said cruel things. She shook her head and searched for another subject to distract them both.
"You...your last...partner was the Grand Hero, right?" Tavia asked. "What was he like?"
Evos stared at her for a moment before answering. "Well, brave, I guess. I never knew what to expect next. The Grand Hero was more than just my partner. We went through a lot of hard times together. You're...similar."
"He died fighting Dieos, right?" Tavia asked.
"That was a long time ago. After," he looked down at his feet, " everything happened, I was buried in the same tomb. I don't think anyone realized what I really was. After all, null-auras are so rare."
She hadn't given it much thought, but if the Grand Hero had also used the Ageless Sword, then that meant he had also been a null-aura. Had people known then? Or had a he kept it a secret? It certainly wasn't common knowledge now, assuming any knew at all. Even Abram hadn't realized the requirements to use the Ageless Sword until he saw Tavia using the sword.
"What happened to him?" she asked. Evos didn't seem to understand, so she added a rushed explanation. "I mean the legend says he fought the Time Eater, and it says he died. Dieos is back though, so does that mean he lost?"
Two hundred years didn't seem like a long time, but it was long enough for a story like the Grand Hero's to get distorted by telling and retelling. The C— war had left the country in disarray, so records from the time were few and far between, and those that did exist, told an often fantastical tale of the fight between the legendary pair. Now that she was closer to the truth though, she had to wonder if those original accounts had been as exaggerated as people tended to believe.
Evos looked uneasy as he shook his head.
"We...won the fight," he said. "But, Dieos escaped and the Grand Hero chased him. I don't really—"
It was hard to read Evos's expression from the side, but there was a small frown on his face, and he wasn't focusing on anything in front of him. Maybe she shouldn't have asked the Grand Hero. She was only bringing up something hard for him to talk about.
"Why the Ageless Sword?" Tavia asked.
"Hmm?" Evos looked at her, tilting his head to the side.
She stood up, took a few steps away from the door, and then spoke with her back to Evos.
"Abram and Ikarios both act like the Ageless Sword—like...um, you, are the key to fighting Dieos," Tavia said.
It was still awkward to think of Evos as both a person and a sword at the same time. How did he think of himself? She was curious, but that question was probably best saved for another time.
"The Ageless Sword was made to fight Demis," Evos said. "That was the basis behind its design."
"I thought it was meant to be used by null-auras," Tavia said; she looked back in time to see Evos shrug.
"Can't it be both?" he asked as he stood up.
"But why is the Ageless Sword better for fighting Demis than anything else?" she asked. "It doesn't seem much better than a normal weapon."
"Ouch," Evos said, grasping his chest with a hand and staggering dramatically. "That hurts you know."
Tavia gave him an awkward smile and he shrugged.
"You remember that coat? The one from when you were fighting Dieos?" he asked.
There was no way she could have forgotten it, but considering everything else going on, it had been driven to the back of her mind.
"That coat is part of my ability," Evos said. "It's made of Althier in the same way I form my body, and it grants you protection from Demi abilities."
"So, like Ikarios's mind reading?" Tavia asked.
"That's right. And Dieos won't be able to manipulate your time directly, which is a pretty big thing when trying to fight someone like him," Evos replied. "And also..."
Evos met Tavia's eyes and then looked away.
"Never mind," he said. "It isn't something to be concerned about."
Being told not to be concerned about something just made her wonder more. Did Evos not understand human nature? The Grand Hero must have been some kind of easy going guy if Evos thought people would be satisfied with half-answers like that. Should she push for more information? But they were finally on speaking terms again. She didn't want to ruin that.
There was a knock at her bedroom door. Tavia spun around to face Evos and the door. She held a finger to her lips and then gestured for Evos to hide. He ran for the closet. It was a huge space; he'd fit easily inside. He barely made it, shutting the door just as a servant opened the bedroom door.
The older woman, Gladis, had been serving the family for years, and she felt no discomfort in taking a moment to look around the room before her gaze settled on Tavia.
"Were you speaking with someone, my lady?" she asked.
"J-just Izak," Tavia replied.
Izak. Tavia suppressed a gasp and tried not to show the panic building in her chest.
She had left Izak with Abram. Abram wouldn't hurt him, right? He had no reason to keep Izak asleep any longer, and if he had been planning to kill Izak in the first place, he would have done so already, right? But this was the man who had used his own son to bring back Dieos...
Gladis seemed concerned, her expression drawing together in a tight frown, but before she could ask anything intrusive, Tavia cut to the chase.
"What do you want?" she asked. Her voice was high and hoarse as she tried not to let her fear for Izak overwhelm her.
"You have a visitor," Gladis replied. "A rather...important one. Your mother requested you tidy yourself up and then come downstairs to the foyer to meet him. She insists you not to keep him waiting."
A visitor? Who could it possibly be at this time? Could it be Ikarios? Or even worse, what if it was Abram? A chill settled in her limbs as her mind raced through the possible situations she could be walking into.
Gladis waited long enough for Tavia to give a terse nod, and then left, shutting the door behind her.
Tavia scowled at the door for a moment, and then turned to put on something not stained with dirt and sweat.