All that night and when the sun rose the next morning, no one dared talk to Zane. He was sullen, irritable, and violent, responding to anything with a snap. Neither Indigo nor Orion were surprised, considering that he hadn’t slept for days, had just been told there would be a war in the most ridiculous way possible, and...well, he was Zane Lukas. They weren’t sure he was all there.
Zane was fully aware of how he was sounding. He felt all of it. He was so tired he could barely think, and still too afraid of his dreams to go to sleep. He felt the same way he felt the night he had killed Carsamir. His rationality was gone, and all of his emotions were being blown out of control. He felt that his own mind was turning on him. Half the time he just wanted to lash out at his friends for no reason. The hatred toward Indigo and his annoyance with Orion was leaking through into all of his words.
A darkness hung in the air that day, affecting everyone. No one spoke a word until they reached Trelawny’s Road in the very late afternoon. Then, Indigo finally spoke up. “The roadway we were all looking for. Does anyone even know what we do now?”
“I thought you were going home.”, Zane responded.
“I didn’t really think that through. How am I even supposed to get home?”
“That is not my problem! Go find someone. Or walk home on your own. Look how much I care!”
“I think,” said Orion, “that I shall continue alone. If fate allows, we shall meet again.”
“Then go. Fine.”
“K’ha’tell, Zane Lukas. Fare thee well.” He kissed Indigo’s hand. “And you also, Indigo Dash.”
She smiled. “You too, Orion. You’ve been great. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
“My hope, my hope same. Goodbye.”
Orion walked away into the forest, singing as always as he went. Indigo smiled at his disappearing form. “That Orion Avary. Quite a character, I say.”
“He is that. For sure.”
“Zane, are you okay?”
“No,” he said, now becoming confrontational, “I’m not okay. Am I ever really okay?”
“Zane,” Indigo said, “please. Don’t get like this with me. I didn’t do anything. If you want to say something, say it. Do you not want me to leave? Is that what’s happening here?”
“No! I don’t care!”
“Is something wrong? Is it something I said? Look, if there’s something wrong --”
“Shut up! Just shut up, okay? I’m sick of people telling me they can help. You can’t. You will never know what it’s like to be like me.” He stopped. “I’m not right...something’s...I don’t know. I’m not...functioning right. You just need to leave me alone. I can’t think rationally anymore. Everything’s out of control. I’m too dangerous. Just go. Just leave. It isn’t safe for you to be around me, Indigo.”
“Well, I’m not leaving you.”
“I said, leave!”
“And why? What do you want with me? Are you using me for something? Is there some purpose to your helping me that I don’t know of?”
Indigo didn’t know what to do. “No...no, of course, I wouldn’t do that....”
“Then what is it? Have you betrayed me? Are you just waiting for them to find us so you can sell me out to your leader-men? Is that it?”
“No! You’re being ridiculous!”
“Well, ridiculous or not, I’ve decided I don’t want you anymore. I don’t need anybody. You go back to your fiance and your own sheltered life, and pretend this affair of ours never happened. Pretend you never saw the darker side of human beings.”
“Are you going to be like that, then? Fine! I can take care of myself too. For your information, I never cared about getting you anywhere, you’re right about that. I have been using you!” Her voice was rising to a higher and higher pitch, and her vision was blurred with tears. “This was all a trick! The entire time!”
“I knew it! I knew it!”
“I used you! I used you so terribly for so long, and you never suspected, because you thought I would never. You assume you’re the bad one, but you know what, Zane Lukas? I’m not that innocent either!”
“Well, innocence or no, I’m not putting up with you any longer. Goodbye!”
“Fine by me!”
Zane stormed away into the trees, leaving Indigo standing alone in the clearing, silent hot tears running down her face. He felt like he might cry himself, but he quickly suppressed the feeling, suppressed everything. Feelings were dangerous -- especially his.
I’ll get by on my own. It’s true, I don’t need anybody, and I’ll never have anybody. I should never have brought her, the loathsome, conniving, bratty little.... His thoughts trailed off into a long, undecipherable stream of anger and strangeness. Angry words, distant sound, spinning color, falling stars, rushing water, low-hanging branches, footprints, left road, right turn...he suddenly realized he didn’t know where he was or what was happening. He had totally lost himself in thought.
The sun had finally begun to set. Night was coming to follow what felt like the longest day in years. With heavy heart and hurting feet Zane ran on. Somewhere a wolf howled, and the thought of Krista and the Elves crossed his mind. The wind howled in the treetops, and the stars shone bright in the sky, one sharp nail-point of light emerging after another. The sound of a cracking twig startled Zane. Hand on his sword, he whirled, slipped, and fell hard down an embankment, landing in the dirty snow. It hurt terribly, and whatever he had heard was silenced. Zane struggled to his feet and continued on. He was now aching and dizzy, and his heart was pounding so hard he could hear the sound.
He was now even more lost then before. There was nothing even like a path, and the bushes and vines were very overgrown. He could barely see two feet in front of him as he swung his knife around and cut away at the shrubbery. At least it would be easy to hear if someone walked up behind him, like what seemed to be happening now....
Zane had been grabbed from behind and knocked over, his knife out of his hand and cold steel pressed into his back, before he could fully turn around to see what was there. An icy female voice, one he had heard many times before, spoke in his ear. “Who’s got the knife now, Lukas?”
“Liridam,” he snarled. “I should have figured.”
“Ah-ah,” she said, jerking Zane to his feet. “I believe that should Sir Liridam to you.” Zane’s old rival was adorned differently than when he had last seen her, now wearing an armor chestplate and a knight’s crest. “That’s right,” she said, “since you’ve been out of the game, I’ve stepped it up. Lagos Liridam, knight, and I took it upon myself to join in searching for you. Because, see, I know you. I knew what you might do.” She leaned in and dropped her voice to a whisper, at the same time pulling him around and pinning his hands behind his back. “Plus, I never did like you. It would give me great pleasure just to see you caught. To do it myself....” She laughed. “Oh, I’ll be sitting at the King’s table tonight.” She then whispered something under her breath that sounded like, “And then...and then....” ‘Then’ what, Zane didn’t know, but he certainly didn’t want to ask either.
Instead, he asked “Are you alone? Who all is searching?”
“Oh, many people. Prince Raj wanted his elite out with him, searching for Lady Dash. I presume you had something to do with that?”
“Have they found her then? Where is she?”
Lagos raised an eyebrow. “Why do you care?”
“Shut up!” She held his arms behind his back and jerked him back up the embankment. “Shut up and come quietly.”
“For a girl a full head shorter than me,” Zane muttered, “you’re really strong.”
“Couldn’t be in the Corp otherwise. One thing you never got to learn, there’s no place for weakness here, Lukas.” She pulled the hunting horn off her belt and blew two loud blasts. Brooommm, brooommm. Two more horn blasts answered back from somewhere relatively close. “Good. That means they found the girl.” The rest of what Lagos had called ‘the elite’ soon arrived. Her former teacher Sir Azmari was there, and so was Raj, Indigo with him. She looked in shock.
“Well, well, well, Lagos,” Azmari said with a smug air. “Quite a prize you’ve found. The capture of Zane Lukas, murderer, and above even that the worst of the worst -- traitor. You will be honored greatly, my student.”
Indigo drew in her breath sharply when she saw Zane. He could tell she wanted to talk to him.
“No,” he mouthed, “don’t talk.” Zane then began to speak Elvish, knowing he wasn’t saying everything right and hoping she understood him. “Indigo, I...reyania mundis aya, se...se...so I...seyt kyl ior...I -- I --” He stopped whatever he had been saying and dropped his gaze to his feet. “Dammit,” he said softly, “you know. You know.”
Indigo understood his words. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I...I want you to know --” What had he wanted to say? She knew. She was sure she knew, and it hurt. It hit her hard to have him say that, that he was sorry, and he wanted her to hear what he had to say to her. She bit her lip trying to fight the tears from falling down her face. She wanted to speak to him, to run up to him and tell him how sorry she was, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. She couldn’t think....
Indigo shut her eyes tightly and tried to drown everything out. Her head was hurting and she seemed barely able to figure out what was happening. Light, burning red light behind her eyes, sharp pain in her forehead, her heart aching with the words she was holding in....
When she opened her eyes and came to her senses, she was in her room in the Palace City. She got up and checked the door. It was locked -- from the outside. She was stuck. “Raj!”, she screamed. “Raj! What’s going on? Let me out!” No one seemed to hear. Who is doing this? Why? The thought came to her, He probably thinks you’re ‘disturbed’ and need time to come to your wits.
Indigo suddenly felt massively angry. She couldn’t understand why, she was just frustrated. Orion’s voice came into her head, If you lost Zane, would you care? She would. She could see that now, because now she was losing him, and was completely powerless to do anything about it. To be powerless was, to her, the worst feeling possible. Outraged, she grabbed the candlestick off her nightstand and threw it at her window. The glass shattered, shards falling all across the floor, a cold draught coming in through the gaping hole.
Indigo knew now that she cared about Zane. And she was losing him, and there was nothing she could do.