Sunday, November 08, 2009

Seven #2.13

Cassius and Seven walked down Main Street of Indianola. "I hope Nicholas and Tara are still here," Seven said.

"They should be. I think they are in the toll booth," Cassius pointed ahead of him. "We can stay for the night here then leave for the next sign first thing in the morning."

They approached the toll booth and saw Nicholas sitting in it. "Nicholas! Long time, no see!" Seven exclaimed.

Nicholas looked up and saw Cassius and Seven standing at the booth. "You finally got away from Ransomville?" he smiled.

"We had a little side trip which is why it took so long. How have you and Tara been?" Seven asked.

"It's been good. Tara and I have made a pretty good life here. The Vieuxs have been very kind to us," Nicholas said.

"The Vieuxs?" Seven questioned.

"The people we're staying with. Oh, and as it turns out the giant elm tree in front of the Vieux's house is the fourth sign, the King's Elm. We're one step closer to Shmand," Nicholas said.

Nicholas led Seven and Cassius to Samuel's house and pointed out the massive elm tree. They walked into the house and Seven was amazed at how large the house was. Mary came from the kitchen and smiled.

"Nicholas, you brought visitors," she walked toward them with open arms.

"These are the people Tara and I were traveling with before we got here," Nicholas introduced. "This is Seven and this is Cassius."

"We've heard so much about both of you," Mary said. "Are you staying tonight?"

"I figured we'd camp along the river or..." Cassius began but was interrupted.

"Nonsense. You can stay here tonight, have dinner with us and sleep in a nice bed," Mary said.

"We don't want to impose," Cassius said.

"Nicholas and Tara have been here since they arrived. Samuel and I always take in weary travelers and possible Indianola citizens if they can't afford a hotel or land to get started," Mary explained.

"Where is Tara?" Seven asked.

"She's upstairs putting away laundry," Mary said.

"Can I go up and see her?" he asked.

"Sure. Right up these stairs and to the left. She should be in one of the rooms," Mary said. Seven started up the stairs while Mary continued talking to Cassius. "So you have visions and you're blind?"

Cassius smiled. "Yes, ma'am," he answered. "The visions help me see where I'm going."

"That must be very dangerous and confusing," Mary replied.

"My visions have gotten me from the Delta all the way here so they must be doing something right."

Seven walked down the hallway toward an open door. He peered into the room and saw Tara, fixing the bed sheet. "Need some help?" he asked.

She looked up at him and was astonished at what she was looking at. She ran up to him and hugged Seven tightly. She teared up and hugged Seven harder. "I was worried something had happened in Ransomville," she said, pulling away.

"Nothing happened although Cassius and I had a side trip to take care of first which is why we didn't get here a couple days ago," Seven explained.

"I'm just glad you are safe. Does Nicholas know you are here?" she asked.

"Yeah, we found him in the toll booth and he brought us here."

"Will you be staying the night here?" he asked.

Seven listened at the tone in her voice and smiled. "Yeah, for the night. We'll be leaving in the morning for the fifth sign."

"What's the fifth sign?"

"It's a castle," Cassius said.

"A castle?" Samuel looked stunned. "Not going to find too many of those in Kansas."

"We'll find it," Seven said. "We've found all of them so far."

"Either way. I am flattered that my tree was one of your visions. How does your...power, for lack of a better word, decide to show you?"

"I don't know," Cassius shrugged. "They just show me what we need to look for. The problem is that I have no idea how far away Shmand is."

"Shmand. That's an interesting name. I wonder where it comes from," Samuel ruminated. "I would love to come with you but I have an entire city to run but you have to promise that when you are finished in Shmand that you will come back to Indianola and tell me all about it."

"I'm sure Tara and I will be back as soon as..." Nicholas began but Tara shushed him.

Seven looked at Nicholas then at Tara. "You want to come back? I thought we were all going back to Cassoday when our stay in Shmand was over," Seven said.

"That was the plan but Tara and I like it here," Nicholas said. "I'm second-in-command at the toll booth, a partner in Robideaux's grocery store and Tara helps out at the hotel when she's not helping out around here," Nicholas tried to explain but Seven was still surprised.

"You've accomplished a lot in the time we've been separated," Cassius said in an approving voice.

"Thank you, Cassius," Tara acknowledged. "Seven, we like it here and we do plan on coming back. These are just the plans now, they can still change. Besides, there's nothing in Cassoday for me. You have your father and Nicholas still has his brothers and father. I just have headstones," Tara said solemnly.

"You still have me," Seven muttered unintelligibly under his breath.

"Oh, please. Let's not argue. Nicholas, Tara, don't think you are obligated to come back but if you choose to then you are more than welcome. All of you are," Samuel said with a big smile.

The six of them continued eating for a while in silence. Conversation started back up again but Seven remained quiet and after dinner went outside and stood under the elm tree.

Tara came out about fifteen minutes later and walked over to him. "What's wrong with you?" she asked sternly.

"What do you mean?"

"The way you acted at dinner! Why is it so bad that I want to come back here? I like it here!"

"Your home is in Cassoday!" Seven said.

"No, my home is burned down. Your home is in Cassoday. I...don't have a home but here, with Nicholas and the Vieux's, I feel like I do."

"My father and I always treated you like family and made you feel welcome," Seven said.

"Yes but I always felt like I didn't belong. No offense to you or Tzveil, who has always been amazing, but I need to move on," explained Tara.

"Move on with Nicholas?" asked Seven with a tone in his voice.

Tara said nothing, turned and went back inside.

The next morning, the Vieuxs saw the four travelers off. They crossed the bridge and continued west. Seven and Cassius led the way while Nicholas and Tara trailed behind.

Seven returns in January with the last three signs. First, the gang meets a traveling family and Seven tries to get over Tara.