Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Twenty-Five

Becca was not the first person to think of Dissociative Personality Disorder concerning the five Sunsetter patients– as they were commonly called now by everyone– but she was the first to speak to anyone else about it. Dr. Anderson appeared pleased with Becca’s diagnosis, agreeing wholeheartedly that it was highly likely the case for all five patients. And from simply observing the behavior of the five, Becca had even come to a guess of how many personalities each had. Ryan, Emery, and Lydia she thought each only had one other personality– one other person with a whole other name and past. But Vale and Joanna, she thought, each had two…… maybe more.

But what still had both Becca and Dr. Anderson baffled was what had them connected so closely and why. As far as their files showed, none of the five of them had had any contact with the others before coming to Ighosia Falls. So why were they connected now? They had all arrived at the asylum at different times– in some cases, years apart. Was it because of their DPD? What exactly were the identities of their alternate personalities? Why was Emery suddenly getting so violent? And what had caused them all to split so suddenly? None of them had shown such tendencies towards alternate personalities until this whole mess began.

The Sunsetter mystery was the key, Becca was certain.

Weslyn knew better than to talk about what had happened at the river. For nearly ten days, she and the others had kept quiet about it; in fact, none of them had said much of anything at all since then. Draegon was now almost constantly riding and puffing away quietly on his flute– his way to deal with the silence. Kemeny kept quiet, except for occasional whispers of encouragement and affection to the horse she’d borrowed from Weslyn. Roark kept his eyes forward, locked on the ever-distant horizon. He hadn’t so much as looked at any of them since he’d scared that Senne woman away.

It was because of his eyes, Weslyn knew. Roark didn’t want any of them to see what was behind them. But she didn’t have to see his eyes to know. He was struggling. She hadn’t quite understood the last thing he said to the woman: “If I have to kill someone today, let it be you. You actually deserve it.” but she could guess. Every night now, Roark disappeared for an hour or more. There was something very wrong, and the only thing she could think to blame it on was the sword. The big soldier certainly wasn’t offering any explanations, but she believed she had everything pretty much pieced together.

Lydia approached Joanna while she was alone in the courtyard. The wheelchair-bound woman was usually unresponsive unless she was with all the others, but for once, she actually acknowledged the other woman. The two talked softly until it grew dark and some staff members escorted them back inside.

Kemeny was on watch when Weslyn woke in the middle of the night. It had been twelve days since the events on the Swen’s bank. It must have been either near midnight or early in the morning; Roark was asleep on the ground, his back to the fire and his companions. He must have already gone out to do his deed and returned.

For a long time, Weslyn wasn’t certain Kemeny knew she was awake. The contortionist sat staring at the low, crackling flames as if nothing else existed in the world.

“He’s going to try and chase us all away,” Kemeny said suddenly.

Weslyn walked to Kemeny and sat down next to her. “You think so, too?”

“He’s afraid of hurting us. He keeps coming back from… wherever he goes…… with this anxious, hunted look. But where’s he going and why? I haven’t figured that out yet.”

Biting her lip, Weslyn looked at the sleeping reincarnation of the great hero. “I think he’s killing people. At the river, he said Sonsedhor’s tainted. I don’t know exactly what kind of taint we’re talking about, but… I think he’s killing people, and for some reason, I don’t think he has a choice but to do it. And he’s going to try and chase us away so he doesn’t hurt any of us.” She paused. “I don’t blame him. I would probably do the same thing.”

“We can’t just abandon him.”

Weslyn nodded. “But I don’t think we can all stay with him, either. As much as it hurts to say it, I think we are in real danger from him. If Roark has to kill…… what happens if there’s no one else around for him to do in?”

Kemeny nodded. “I know what we need to do.”

Once the two men were awake and, more importantly, alert enough to pay attention to them, Weslyn and Kemeny told them what they had decided. “Draegon, you and I are going to take the road to Morena. Then we go south. Maybe to Estria and eventually to Abem. We’re going to make sure the everyone knows that Cheyne is back.”

“And I’m going with you, Roark,” Kemeny said, her posture and the authority in her voice making her seem much taller than she was, “whether you like it or not.”

The two men were so startled that neither spoke; they simply stared incredulously at the two women. Weslyn tried to imitate the pose Kemeny had adopted, fixing an intimidating look on Draegon as he tried to find his voice.

His reaction was satisfactory. “I suppose…” he shot a quick glance at Roark, who didn’t return it, “…we have no choice… but I don’t see why we really need to split up. I mean, Roark can declare himself while we’re all with him.” He stopped for a second, obviously thinking. “Although I guess it would spread the news faster if we split up. Still, I’d rather we stayed together.”

“Go with Weslyn, Draegon,” Roark said softly. “Please.”

The bard slowly turned his head to look at Roark in disbelief. “You swore to watch me…”

“Sonsedhor’s been found. You’re free of your oath. Go.”

“DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE!” Kemeny’s shout startled them all, and as one they turned to look at her. Her eyes had grown wide and glassy, partly rolled back into her head. Her mouth had dropped open, forming a silent scream. The whole of her was shaking uncontrollably. “Don’t leave me, please, not alone. I don’t want to be alone, please! Not like this!”

The three others all stared at Joanna as she had what seemed to be a seizure. Her mouth formed words, but only creaks and strained grunts came out. She finally managed to get out a shout, “Where am I?!” before the fit stopped, as abruptly as it began.

Her screaming stopped. One moment Kemeny was shouting pleas and shaking, the next she was standing, still with that authoritative, self-pleased look on her face. Weslyn and the two men exchanged worried looks. Sneaking a glance into Kemeny’s eyes, Weslyn saw nothing, no evidence that she knew anything strange had happened.

“Are you alright?” Draegon asked her.

She looked confused. “I’m fine, why? Don’t change the subject, singer.”

He arched an eyebrow at her but didn’t reply.

Weslyn leaned over to Kemeny and whispered in her ear. “I think we should change plans. I’ll go with Roark, you go with Draegon.”

“Why?” she whispered back. “I thought you wanted to go with Draegon because you… well, because you said you two shared ‘some deep feelings’ the other night.”

“Well, look, something just happened that was… a little strange.” She looked over her shoulder at the two men. They gave no sign of hearing them and made no move to get closer and eavesdrop. “You kind of went crazy.”


“And I don’t know that Roark would be well-suited to protect you if something like that happened again. But Draegon will. And Roark wouldn’t hurt me. I’m not worried.”

Kemeny’s expression finally went fearful. “If you’re sure…”

“I am. Just… keep Draegon busy while I do something, okay?”

They immediately began dividing up the camp supplies and packed their packs. But while Kemeny kept the two men at task after task– men should really be doing the bulk of the physical labor, after all– Weslyn secreted herself on the other side of the horses and wrote out a note to Draegon. While his back was turned, she slipped both the note and a purse of money into the leather case for his hand dulcimer. It fit in there comfortably, but he was sure to find it right away when he opened it next.

As she came back into sight– the men hadn’t even seemed to miss her, which was exactly what she wanted– she couldn’t help but notice that Draegon was a bit too sweaty to account for the work he’d been doing. He also looked pale.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

He looked surprised to see her suddenly in front of him and forced a smile. “Oh, it’s nothing.”

“Really,” she said, gently laying a hand on his arm. “You know you can tell me.”

He sighed. “I’m just worried, with us actually proclaiming Roark… what if I run across Keffinen?”

She gave him a soft smile but had already made up her mind not to tell him about the purse she’d secreted in his dulcimer case. If he came across the menagerie owner, and if the greedy man demanded his seventy-five gold marks, that purse held more than enough. Just in case. She couldn’t bear the thought of him being behind bars.

“It’s getting pretty late… almost noon,” Roark said, still not looking anyone directly in the eye. “We should get moving. All of us.”

Weslyn stood on her tiptoes and kissed Draegon gently on the lips. “We’ll find each other. Soon.”

“Meet me in Necras?” he asked, his green eyes hopeful.

She smiled.

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