Forneas announced his presence with a bow as he stepped into the room. He was carrying some light blankets in his hands.
"Thank you," I said as I went to remove Wilfred's overcoat from War.
My hands struggled to free some material from under his arm. The overcoat came free with a hard yank, but it forced War's closed hand to open on impact to the floor, and a small object rolled out of it.
I picked up a smoky glass marble that had been warming in War's hand the whole time and held it before my eyes.
Light bounced around the many crack lines along its surface, yet it felt smooth and almost sleek to touch.
"May I see that?" Leinard asked with his gray eyes fixed on the reflected movements across the marble's surface.
I shrugged my shoulders and passed it to him.
"Unbelievable. He had this in his hand the whole time." Leinard's voice was level but his words triggered keen interest from his captain.
"Woah!" Trix beamed with delight as he leaned in close to have a good look at the marble.
"Is that what I think it is?" Wilfred said when he spied the object in Leinard's hands.
He faced me with obvious excitement. "Your brother is amazing to have held this the whole time."
"Damn. It could have dropped or been taken off him at any time. Even we didn't notice he was holding on to something." Jensen added on with a tone of admiration. "Just what kind of man is your brother?"
I fumbled for an answer, wondering what the hell got the men so excited about a dirty glass marble.
"The marble isn't glass but zirconia. It's a Nikiaku Ball that used to be a common tool for magis in the old days but now an extremely rare find." Wilfred explained. "Those we do find are damaged beyond repair or utterly spent."
"This pretty one is filled up," Trix added on with a grin.
He glanced at the other man I had yet to be introduced to. "Saku, your calling has come."
The man with the angelic face calmly peeked at the marble that Leinard held out before him. I was surprised to see his expression change from one of calmness to anxious shivers.
"It is in perfect condition." Saku's voice trembled with awe; he clenched his slender hands together to contain his excitement.
"That's settled!" Trix's loud declaration startled me. "We're going to the theater ladies and gentlemen."
I rolled my eyes at the corny wink he gave me.
"Captain, you're forgetting our squad is still on patrol duties." Lita sternly reminded Trix.
"Ah, no problems, I'll just call a favor -" Trix was about to brush her off with some half-baked comment and received a whack to the gut from the ponytail woman's low kick.
"Your favors end up tit-for-tat cons, and we get stuck with the loser shifts!" She growled at him. "I'm missing out on precious cuddle time with Lita."
"Ryoko," Lita mumbled with an embarrassed blush on her cheeks.
"Right." Trix groaned, feeling the pain.
"Gloating again Ryoko," Jensen said sarcastically and received his fair share of Ryoko's frowns.
"He promised us some R-and-R after we calmed this skrit situation." Ryoko justified her complaints.
Leinard released a loud and weary sigh.
"Leave it to me. Trix has a point about going to the theater. I think it's imperative that we all do as soon as possible. After what has recently transpired, I think you deserve some respite."
"Keep this safe and don't surrender it to anyone, even Forneas. We'll come for you tomorrow at first light," he said in my mind when he handed the marble back to me.
I closed my hand around it and nodded my head.
The room soon became quieter with only me, Small Cap and Forneas to tend to War.
"What was all that about?" I released my question with a heavy sigh.
Forneas promised to explain after we had cleaned and dressed War, and I had also freshened up.
"Also, Master Famine, I was able to keep these safe for you," he said as he handed me a pile of clothes.
I saw they were the ones I had pulled out of the box upon my first meeting with Trix; even the cool bow tie was saved.
"Amazing! Looks like none of them suffered the attack." I smiled at the animachine.
"Of course, as soon as I saw the skrit, I made sure they were safely contained," Forneas proudly explained.
I hid the marble among the clothes pile that I carefully placed to one side.
"Can you keep guard on the clothes?" I asked Small Cap in my mind.
Small Cap responded by perching himself on top of the pile.
Forneas and I wiped War's body clean. We dressed him in a light cotton gown.
Afterwards, I spent some time soaking my aching body in the one-man tub in the attached bathing alcove.
My thoughts wandered over the haphazard chain of events. I ended up thinking why I was here.
Destroying Gat Shiem to kidnap my brothers and me didn't make one ounce of sense. If Leinard's knowledge about Gat Shiem being fireproofed was true, it must have taken an almighty magis to cause the place to burn.
Why burn down Gat Shiem? Couldn't they get to my brothers and myself some other way?
"Why go to the trouble when I'm no one special?" I asked aloud and let out a frustrated cry.
It was useless. I didn't have the smarts to form a conclusion.
"I'm sure Death and War would've been able to work things out by now," I mumbled in the water.
I missed my brothers. I was able to reach War, but would I be as lucky to find Death and Pesti?
The fear of not finding them made my heart beat rapidly and body tense. No. If I was truly strong in luck then I had to feel certain I would be able to reach them as well.
"Shuso, if you were here, I'd bet you'd tell me how vapor trails on blues skies will bring rain right?"
I held back my tears at the thought of that wise old monk and his gap-tooth smile. The memory of his peaceful face calmed my body and gave me a sense of resolve. I felt re-balanced.
"Right. I'll be the vapor trail to bring the rain and wash all this trouble away."
I got out of the tub and readied myself for a new day.
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