Ch’taia does not speak. When they reach the garden, it glows with the late afternoon sunlight. Ch’taia sits down on the central garden bench and waits for Kelbanor to sit next to her.
She closes her eyes and quietly hums a slow folksong that was popular when she and Kelbanor were going to public school together.
Kelbanor sings it softly, trying to bolster Ch’taia into singing it with him, getting progressively louder
Some people that are walking by stop and hum and some bring out some instruments
Ch’taia stops humming and smiles softly at the people, for the sake of public relations. She waits for the song to end, and hopes that the people will clear and give them privacy.
“Ch’taia, sing with us!”
Kelbanor begs of her, with puppy eyes
“Lose yourself in the music.”
Ch’taia places a hand on his shoulder to give him a smile, then folds her hands neatly over her lap. She clears her throat and sings quietly, slightly off-key.
The song is about a farmer that watches his crops wither from a harsh season, until he starts to sing to them every day, and they grow to provide him with more wealth than he had ever seen.
At the end of the song, the people gathered cheered, and then patted Kelbanor, and if allowed, Ch’ataia, before they leave, saying their respects to the President and Vice-President. The guards who always follow them got a little antsy at that time, suspecting an assassination attempt that did not happen.
Kelbanor then turns to Ch’taia
Ch’taia stares at Kelbanor for a moment, then lets out a dry laugh. She reaches into a brown messenger bag to her side and pulls out the logbook from the prison. She runs her hand over the cover, then thumbs through it. Various parchments are now between the pages. She finds the seven pages on Malithres and places the book in Kelbanor’s lap.
She looks away, unable to bear Kelbanor’s reaction, whatever it may be. She stares as a butterfly passes by them. Instead of running, she pulls a dagger out of her boot. With her free hand, she pulls a potion vial out of her bag and drinks the contents.
Kelbanor reads it quietly, absorbing it.
He speaks, with somewhat controlled tones, his entire thing to not make Ch’taia upset.
“Do you believe this is real?”
Ch’taia rocks gently on the bench, forwards and backwards. “Yes, Kelbanor. I believe it is real. To not believe would be to assume that Mal is dead,” she says plainly.
“I have gone through books and tomes and scrolls and listed every prison and dungeon in Sarenu. I have contacted all of them. The ones that have responded have confirmed that he is not there, although it is quite obviously difficult to trust these people that may have Mal enslaved, or worse–“
A small noise comes from Ch’taia’s throat. She stops speaking, and watches as the butterfly returns. Instead of running, she pulls a comb out of her pocket and starts to comb her hair, as if she were in her private quarters. She looks as though she is mentally not present.
“Could he…perhaps have been in the gnomish region? Taken out and moved over there? Because that would mean a memory slant, and a transformation to a gnome. And he might think it a good prank to wait.”
Kelbanor does not seem to believe what he is saying
Ch’taia stares at Kelbanor.
She stops combing her hair and puts away her comb.
“Gnome? No, he hasn’t been turned into a gnome.”
“Can you be sure? Have you asked your friend Orynn as of late?”
Kelbanor says with some slight unwillingness, for he dislikes Orynn
“No, Orynn is something like a demi-god now– Kelbanor! He has not turned into a gnome! He is here, in real Sarenu. In our Sarenu. Please, believe me. He is alive and he is Elvish. I can feel it.”
Ch’taia looks as though she might begin to sob any moment. “I just have to find him. There must be some clue, some information I have overlooked… I have been thorough but, alas, I am not perfect…” she mumbles.
“Okay Ch’taia, go to your bed and meditate. I will be taking care of some things. I must go see the Friend.”
Kelbanor says to Ch’taia
“I– haven’t meditated in days,” Ch’taia answers truthfully. She pokes at the empty potion vial beside her. “I can’t rest until I find Mal, Kelbanor, please understand– I know I must sound unfit for office, but please, believe me… as soon as I make progress I will be in a good state of mind again.” Ch’taia practically whimpers, taking the book from Kelbanor and hugging it. “Do you think the Friend will be able to help?”
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