I was lying on the soft bed in the guests' room of Octaboona and Kallista's house. I couldn't seem to sleep, too many thoughts were running about crazily in my head. I tried, again, to close my eyes, and the image of Pyro's flushed face from earlier filled my mind. I opened my eyes, but the room was dark enough that I couldn't see a thing and his face swam in front of my eyes. My memory had somehow managed to capture how he looked exactly, from how his blush was only on his high cheekbones, to the many shades of yellow and orange of his flame.
The smile I hadn't noticed smiling disappeared as I thought of what had happened today. It all went horribly wrong, and it's all the Runes' fault.
Though... I was my fault, too. If I hadn't been so straightforward about the seriousness of it, then Kal - who, from what I had realized since meeting her, was an extraordinarily selfless person - might have had the chance to think about what she wants.
I twisted for a while, my mind unable to settle on only one thing. It kept moving from Pyro, to the Runes, to Pyro, to the Runes, to... Pyro, to the...
"Red!" whispered a voice. "Red, wake up!"
"Whu-.." I mumbled, trying to open my eyes, sealed heavily.
"We're leaving, Red, now!" I finally recognized whose voice it was.
"Kallista?" I said, sitting up and slowly opening my eyes. I rubbed them with my fists. I looked around, and saw thin strips of faint light through the closed shutters. "What's the time?" I asked, now slightly more awake and alert.
"About quarter-past-five. Come on, before Octa gets up."
I moved the blanket from me, feeling goosebumps creeping up my legs from the early-morning coldness.
"I'll be downstairs," she whispered as she exited and closed the door behind her.
I got ready quickly, so I went to the room Dilmon was staying in. I opened the door quietly, and found him sitting up on his bed with the shutters wide open and his eyes closed shut. He had a small smile on his face. I assumed he was listening to the hums of the early-awakeners' souls.
"'Morning," I said quietly. He wasn't startled, he just opened his eyes and looked at me, the small smile still there.
"'Morning," he answered.
"We're leaving now, Kal just woke me up..." I trailed off after seeing his smile disappear on the word 'leaving'. He sighed.
"Five minutes, downstairs," I said as I left his room and quietly closed the door behind me. I walked towards the stairs, and then I saw the door frame of the door nearest the staircase. I grinned as I looked at the burn-marks on the top of it, pretty certain I knew whose flaming hair had singed them there. My grin disappeared as I realized that if I go now, I'm probably never going to see him again in my entire life. My stomach clenched in pain at the mere idea of that. I couldn't leave him behind. I walked towards the door, my arm already extended in order to knock and then a part of my brain told me to stop and think what I was getting myself into if I offered him to come along.
I politely told that part of my brain to be quiet, and knocked anyway.
"Humnmnh," came the muffled reply. My grin returned, and I cautiously opened the door.
His bed was in the far corner of the room. The sheets looked odd, and then I realized they were covered in tinfoil. For a second, I didn't understand why, and then I saw Pyro's head, a small flame blazing on it, as always. I smiled. There was a table to the other side of the room, objects ranging from old toys, to piles of books strewn upon it. On the wall above the table, there was a shelf with a few clay figures and a realistic painting of a marble. I wondered if Pyro was the one who made it; it was really amazing. In the corner nearest the door, there was a chest. It was slightly open and I could just about see a metallic blade.
"Pyro?" I said quietly.
"Red?" he said, still sounding half-asleep.
"Yep," I answered. I hesitated again.
"Something wrong?" he sat up, rubbing his eyes.
"Well, Kal woke me up a few minutes ago, she decided to come." I breathed. "Would you... maybe... want to come with us?" I clutched the door frame, my knuckles whitening. I felt my cheeks heating.
His eyes opened wide, his eyebrows shooting up into his mess-of-a-fringe-I-found-absolutely-adorable. "Really?" he said, sounding rather incredulous, though softly so.
I nodded, and avoided meeting his gaze.
"I... I'd... yeah. Yeah, I'm coming with you," he said. I found myself grinning hugely. He grinned back.
"Be downstairs soon," I said, turning to leave and closing the door behind me. A warm kind of fuzziness was spreading in my stomach, along with a sensation rightly described as butterflies. My heart was thudding so loud and clear, I could feel it trying to break through my ribcage and float away dreamily.
We all met downstairs a few minutes after that, each one of us carrying a rucksack, filled with clean clothes, sleeping bags and food. Kal's rucksack had a rainbow painted on it.
"Got everything?" I asked Dilmon. He nodded, seeming glum. "What's wrong?" I asked. He just shook his head.
"Let's go," said Kal, and turned to open the door. It opened silently, and we went outside.
There was a light-blue glow coming from the east, though the sun wasn't yet visible. I wrapped my traveling cloak around me tighter to warm up; it was a cold morning. Kal was in the lead. I couldn't see her face, but her shoulders were slumped and jerked up occasionally. I wasn't sure, but I think she was crying. Dilmon walked beside me, and I knew Pyro was behind me from my flickering shadow that walked in front of me.
Both Kallista and Dilmon were down. I didn't need Aura-sensing skills to know that. I knew why Kal was so sad, and I hated myself and the Runes for forcing the cheerful woman I met yesterday to be like this. But I had no idea why Dilmon was so unhappy. It had been a while since he looked this miserable. Last time I could remember was before we had started planning this trip to Bakazak.
No one said anything while we walked. The sun was already shining its yellow morning light and it was slightly warmer by the time we reached the front gates.
"'Mornin'!" said Steve the guard cheerfully, and opened the gates. He didn't seem to mind - or notice - that no one answered him.
Kal walked forward one step. She wasn't outside Eladra yet, and she hesitated. She took a deep breath, and took the first step out of the town she calls home.
And then three things happened at once.
Firstly, Octaboona came running, still in his pajamas.
"Kal!" he shouted.
She turned around. Tears were streaming down her rosy cheeks. "Octa," she blubbered, falling into his arms.
"Did you really think I'd let you leave without saying goodbye?" he murmured to her.
While that happened, Dilmon turned to me. "I'm staying," he said defiantly. "I was up all night, thinking about it, and I want to stay here in Eladra."
But I couldn't hear him, because the third thing that happened blacked out my senses.
The second name.