Warlands of Song

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Chapter Thirteen: Saige

Feeling along the walls to find doorknobs was not her idea of fun. But she did so, because the growling of her stomach was enough to drive her crazy. As she felt her way down the hallway, she listened. She knew where everyone was in the house, and could even hear little things like the creaking of the foundation while she walked. Normally she would’ve been able to ignore these things, but since she couldn’t see, her hearing was all she had to identify the world around her.

Upon reaching Glen’s room, she knocked on the door. He’d been talking, seemingly a one-sided conversation, but he silenced. She heard each individual footstep as he made his way to the door, and then the doorknob was slipping away from her fingers. But her hand was soon filled again when Glen took her hand. He and Robert had begun to do so after she lost all of her senses. She’d hated it at first, but it had grown on her. Now it felt nice to have that physical contact with someone.

“Hey,” he said. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m hungry. I feel like I’m starving.”

His chuckles were loud and deep. She imaged him throwing his head back in amusement.

“Well that’s new. Do you think you’ll die in the five minutes it takes me to finish this call?”

“No. I’ll wait in t—”

“Hold on.” His hand tightened around her fingers. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet, actually. And she needs to meet you. Come on.”

She followed his lead, listening as he closed the door behind them and led her into his room. Once seated on what felt like a bed, she let go of his hand. There was some clicking, and then gentle music filled the room. Glen spoke to someone other than her.

“This is who I was telling you about. This is Saige. Saige, this is my daughter Elizabeth.”

For a moment, Saige was stricken. Why would he bring her to meet someone she couldn’t even see?

“It’s nice to meet you,” the girl said. She sounded like a young teen. Maybe preteen.

“Nice to meet you too. I wish I could see you right now, but my eyes don’t want to work.”

“It’s okay. I can barely see you too. Dad, is something wrong with the lighting there?”

“No, Deine. Saige’s skin is just that dark. It’ll take you a little while to adjust.”

“Oh.” There was some shuffling on his daughter’s end, then, “well you’re eyes are beautiful.”

She felt awkward for a moment. She was meeting the daughter of the man who had not only saved her twice on earth, but was risking his life every moment for her. They were acting like everything was okay. Did his daughter even know about the danger he was in? The trouble he was in? Did she know he might not ever come home?

“Saige?” Glen asked.

“Sorry, what?”

“I didn’t say anything. You just looked a little lost.”

She shook her head. “No. You have a beautiful voice, Elizabeth.”

“Thank you.”

“No, thank you. I’ll let you finish talking to your dad now.”

“You don’t have to leave,” Glen said.

“I know. I’m just really thirsty. It was nice to meet you, Elizabeth.”

“You can call me Lizzy. But it was nice to meet you too.”

She left the room by hearing and touch, and made her way to the kitchen. Though it had been an excuse, she found she truly was thirsty. Parched, actually. Her mouth was determined to suck up all of the extra saliva.

She hadn’t seen the girl, but even hearing her voice made her situation all the more real. These were real people she was affecting. Of course she’d always known this, but now... Glen really had a daughter. He was a father, and a husband. Ex-husband or not, he’d been connected to someone at one time. He was much, much older than she was. He had a life. And so did everyone in the house. How selfish was she being, letting them do this for her?

The sound of Glen’s footsteps came down the hallway toward the kitchen, and she heard the door swing on its hinges as he entered the room.

“Okay”—He clapped his hands once—“time to make my starving friend some dinner.”

She smiled to camouflage her inner conflict and hopped onto a barstool to wait.

“Lizzy asked if we were dating,” he said at one point, chuckling. “That’s all she’s been worried about for the past few years. When I’m getting married again.”

“Oh. She doesn’t want you to marry your ex again?”

“No. She knows things just weren’t right between us. We’re still good friends, but we wouldn’t choose to be together again. Too much conflict. I got married too young, before I even knew myself. I still don’t know myself, so dating isn’t even in my mind.”

He spoke with a bluntness that surprised her. His voice was almost bouncing, he sounded so happy. In the days before he’d been near-stoic and factual. But she couldn’t help but smile at how light he sounded at the present moment.

“I told her the truth of course. That we haven’t set a date yet.”

Her head snapped up, and his laughter filled the space. “I’m kidding. Just making sure you were listening. I told her I’m far too old for you. But I couldn’t give her an answer when she asked how old you were. Do you mind telling me?”

“Two hundred and fifty-two.”

He paused whatever he was doing. “That’s not right. Are you sure?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Because that’s far younger than you actually are—wait, I think I understand. You’re counting in earth years, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, I understand. So let’s see...” He proceeded to calculate as he cooked, murmuring under his breath. Sixty seconds later he snapped his fingers. “You are about six hundred and sixty-three, give or take a few years since you can’t know exactly when you were born.”

Her mind stuttered, shut down, and rebooted itself. “What?”

“Yes. Tulcan years and Euphoran years are shorter than earth years. So you’ve been doing the wrong calculations.”

She hadn’t been calculating anything. She’d just been living.

“Then how old are you?”

“I’m in my eleven hundreds. I’d get exact, but I don’t feel like doing the math. Most of us stop counting after one thousand.”

He was over one thousand years old. She didn’t have any words for that. He laughed again.

“You should see the look on your face. I’m sure this is overwhelming.”

“A little.”

Something touched her lips.

“Open,” he instructed. When she obeyed, he slipped something into her mouth. “Chew.”

She did. Then she stopped. The flavor spreading across her tongue was foreign. Not bad flavor—it was amazing. But she d know what it was. She really was nothing to compare it to.

“What is that?”

“It’s Mallow fruit. Do you like it?”

“Can I have more?”

“Of course you can. Here’s bowl of it. Snack on that while finish dinner.”

They ate and cooked in companionable silence. While she waited, she listened some more. There was rustling upstairs, typing on a computer, and some humming. Her sense of smell was also increased. Besides the scent of food, there was another. Something light and spicy, yet musky.

“About what happened earlier...”

She turned to him when he spoke.

“I’ve never seen anything like that. Do you know—”

“No,” she said. “I’m as clueless as you are.”

“But how did it feel? Were you aware while it was happening?”

“All I know is that I was sitting at the table meditating like you were trying to teach me one second, and then I was looking at the sky, and you guys were over me, and I could see the grass up close. But... I mean, it’s hard to explain.”

“It’s okay. Take your time.”

“I felt like I wasn’t there for a second. I couldn’t feel. But I knew I had to get back to myself. So I tried hard, and then I could feel again. But I couldn’t see or hear, and then I recognized you. It really was a jumble of things. It didn’t make sense.” She shook her head, dipping her hand back into her bowl, only to find it empty. “It still doesn’t.”

“You still can’t see, right?”

“What?” She frowned.

“You’re still blind, right?”

“Yes.”

“Because you’re looking me right in the eye right now, and you’ve been doing it since you went blind. Even when you couldn’t hear. It’s the strangest thing.”

“I can imagine. I don’t mean to.”

“It’s not a problem. Just a surprise.”

She turned to the door. She recognized Robert’s footsteps as he strode toward the kitchen. Air brushed her cheeks when he opened the door.

“I need to get out of this house. Saige does too.”

“I... what?”

Robert grabbed her arm and helped her down from her stool.

“Leave that,” he said to Glen. “We’re taking a drive.”

“I can’t just leave this on the stove—”

“Xenia! Can you finish cooking what Glen was making? We’re going for a drive, I can’t stand this house anymore.”

Xenia’s affirmative answer floated down from upstairs. Saige had to run to keep up, Robert was so hurried to get out of the house.

“Hold on a second,” Glen said. “Let Saige get her coat and things first. You won’t die in two minutes,” he added, at Robert’s protest.

Saige felt her way upstairs, grabbed her things and bundled herself up to meet them at the front door. Glen adjusted her collar higher and tugged her hat down. He would’ve no doubt made more adjustments, but she smacked his hand away in exasperation.

“I’m ready to go.”

“Great! Come on.”

Robert hurried them out of the house, and soon she was helped into what felt like a vehicle. It certainly bounced like one. But it didn’t smell any different. She wanted to ask, but Robert was so hurried, she felt he wouldn’t answer her. Another question for another day. It would only be added to the list of thousands of things she needed to ask them. No big deal.

The car moved without warning, and she jumped almost violently. There was no start of an engine or anything. They were automatically moving. The normal vibration cars had was also missing. She felt like she was sitting on something hard, but couldn’t feel any bumps of road. It was almost like she was floating on a cloud. If only she could see...

“I’m sure you’re wondering if I’ve lost my mind,” Robert said after a few minutes of moving. “I haven’t. That whole thing was an act. I needed to talk to you, and I couldn’t leave Saige there after what she told me.”

“After what who told you?” Glen asked.

“Xenia. And I couldn’t tell you there, or she would’ve heard. Siren. So I had to wait a couple days before I made any sort of move.”

“What did she tell you?” Saige asked.

“She said a lot of things. A lot of crazy, crazy things. But overall she just made me feel like something very bad was about to happen. That she would cause it, too.”

No one spoke following his statement for a while. But he wasn’t finished.

“And she said...” His voice lowered, like he was talking only to Glen. “I don’t know if I should tell her this, but I think she needs to know. It won’t do any good to hide it from her.”

“I don’t know why you’re telling me this. It’s not like I know what you found out,” Glen responded.

“Just tell me,” she said. What could he possibly have found out that she would have a hard time accepting? “Nothing surprises me anymore. Just hit me with it.”

She could almost feel his hesitancy floating through the air. The way he breathed changed from sure and steady to slightly stilted. But finally something won inside his mind, and he took a deep breath.

“Xenia said that you were never supposed to be found. She was rambling and not making much sense, but she said it was very bad that you were back here. And she said that she would alert the government. Just like she did all those centuries ago. I mean, that can only mean before Saige ended up on earth, right?”

If Glen responded, she didn’t hear him. Their voices blended into one, and she retreated into her mind. Xenia had given her up to the authorities when she was a child? The woman had known her when she was a child? But what did that mean? Aaron had also known her. Were the two together even then?

If Xenia was the reason she’d spent all her life in solitude on earth, what would be the result of the woman’s actions if Saige were reported again? What could be worse than that?

“We’re being followed.”

Robert’s voice broke through her thoughts and she turned around, though she couldn’t see anything. What could be worse than a life of solitude? Death? As Glen and Robert began a quiet, intense exchange of strategies, fear grew in the pit of her stomach. Maybe death wasn’t the worst result. She was on an alien planet, surrounded by a culture she didn’t remember. There were no doubt terrors she couldn’t even imagine waiting for her. Not to mention Glen and Robert, and Aaron, for helping her.

She would rather face a life of torture than watch them be killed for her sake.

She would.

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