Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Thirty-Four

Denise Pellin was more than friendly on the phone when Becca called. It had been a few years now since she had heard anything concerning her ex-husband, and she was eager to hear how he was doing. Becca didn’t go into all the details; she didn’t want to worry the woman. Besides, since she and Ryan weren’t married any more, she was no longer privy to his medical information.

When Becca started asking about any peculiarities in Ryan’s behavior before his committal, any strange habits or interests or anything she could benefit from knowing, Denise provided.

“Ryan was always obsessed with mythology. It was an interest he picked up when he was still in grade school, and he was something of an expert by the time I met him. Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, you name it, he knew it. The stories, they were his inspiration. The music he composed was always named after, inspired by, or about some myth or another. It even carried over into our personal life. Our son’s name is Owen… Ryan called him Odin, after the king of the Norse gods. It was sort of a pet name. He’s sixteen now, our son, and he’s actually going by Odin in school now. I suppose it’s his one last tie to his father.

“It’s through Odin that I sort of kept tabs on Ryan after the divorce. He had grown so distant I don’t really think I was part of his thoughts anymore. But he and Odin talked on the phone sometimes, even though from what Odin told me, Ryan just talked about his compositions. He wasn’t very fatherly.”

Over the phone, Becca heard a sniff from Denise. Had she begun sobbing?

“The last I heard before we found out Ryan had been committed, he was working on an opera. It was going to be his masterpiece, Odin told me. About some sword. A cursed one, from Norse mythology. Tyrfing, or something like that.”

Becca nearly dropped the phone. Tyrfing? She had heard that before. She politely ended the conversation and rushed to the viewing room, searching through the tapes of Ryan and the others. When she found the one she was looking for, she popped it into the VCR. There was Ryan, the day he had randomly started singing more than usual. She fast-forwarded to where he had started spouting what sounded like an epic poem. She leaned in and turned up the volume, straining her ears to really pick up what he was saying.

There it was! He’d said “Tyrfing”! He kept using it, and using “Sawnseddor” over and over, interchangeably in what she could make out of the tale. Was this text from his opera? It didn’t matter. She knew what Sawnseddor was. It was a sword!

At first glance, Zanthys didn’t recognize the short young man in the streets of Estria. The young man was bruised and bloody, dusty from travel, and all in all looked like he had seen much more of the world than he wanted to see. In peering beneath the bruises and the dried blood and dust, he recognized Hoeth Karzark. At least, he believed it to be the Karzark boy; that whole family was low-blooded enough to be beneath his notice.

The afternoon found Hoeth in his small family manor. Though reluctant to accept guests, Hoeth’s father showed Zanthys, Kemeny, and Draegon in anyway. Who were the Karzarks to refuse Banjay Advissen’s heir?

Hoeth looked as bad as Zanthys had thought. He might have bathed, since much of the dust was gone from him, but he still looked travel-worn and was completely covered with bruises and bandages that concealed half-healed wounds. He rose as Zanthys entered his sitting room, his eyes completely void of glow and emotion.

“I’ll make this quick,” Zanthys said, shooting a quick glance at Draegon and Kemeny. The two bothered him. “When and where did you last see Jaidyn Huntley?”

“I never want to hear that name again,” Hoeth said weakly. “He lied to me for months, then stole the woman I love and had me beaten nearly to death. Whatever misfortune falls on him is well deserved.”

“But where was he last?” Draegon asked urgently.

Hoeth spat and rubbed at the unkempt facial hair growing on his chin with a shaking hand. “Estria. With a man… a man I believe may be the Dark Father incarnate.”

Zanthys let out a snigger. Children’s stories. But Kemeny and the bard looked ready to believe anything. Kemeny immediately touched Zanthys’s arm. “We know where he is. You’re coming with us to talk some sense into Jaidyn. Hoeth, you should come too. Jaidyn knows you.”

“I’m not going back,” Hoeth said, snapping his head up to look at her. His eyes showed the first bit of emotion they had since the audience first began, and it was fiery refusal. “I’ve been fed nothing but lies since I left, and I’m ready to forget the outside world even exists and stay here. So what if I inherit nothing? The only woman I love is gone. Senne sided with that liar and with the Dark Father. I’ll never see Sonsedhor or the true Cheyne reborn– if he even really exists– and I don’t even care anymore. Go deal with him yourself, and good riddance.”

As they left the Karzark manor house, Kemeny commented, “Wasn’t Senne the name of the woman at the river?”

Zanthys had no idea what she was talking about, but Draegon nodded.

A few quick calls to Lauren Rhys and to Vale’s coworkers told her that Tyrfing meant nothing to them. It wasn’t really a surprise to Becca.

Another round of calls gave her nothing but disconnected numbers and hang-ups. Joanna’s family was unreachable. They really had all abandoned her, and some even had “do not contact” notes in Joanna’s files. No wonder the woman had issues.

Through much searching, she had actually managed to track down phone numbers for both of Lydia’s ex-husbands. Her first husband, Robert– Lauren’s father– hung up the moment he heard Lydia’s name mentioned.

Her second husband, Daniel, did talk for a bit. Lydia had been desperate for love the whole time they dated and all through their marriage. He supposed it stemmed from how badly her first marriage had gone. As time went on, she only got worse: more and more clingy, emotionally demanding, and constantly seeking acceptance. It got to be too much for him. Yes, he probably shouldn’t have gotten abusive, but she had deserved it, even expected and welcomed it.

And no, Sawnseddor and Tyrfing meant nothing to him.

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