Taramiel returns home.
|Taramiel hadn’t seen Gloss yet, not with his own two eyes. His return to camp had been ceremonial, in some ways: cheers, celebration, shouts and general fanfare; while his hands and ankles were bound, stooped over the dirt and a lash applied heavily to his exposed back. Now he hid in his own small tent, trying to position his body against his mat, trying to sleep as the sun shined lazily through the walls that tried in vain to protect him.
There was something mind-numbing about staring at the same morsels of dirt, and the same corner of his tent, for that long. Although he tried not to move, a fidget would eventually come, a small burst of energy, or a shout grown from deep in his chest. And he wouldn’t be ready for it. No, he couldn’t stay in the same position any longer. But every movement drew the outline of his half-formulated scars, poorly bandaged as they were, shooting to his eyes, as though he could see his own back like a map of roughshod roads. But he couldn’t stay still any longer, he thought, as crazy as it sounded to him.
In one motion, he partly lifted himself up from the ground, felt his skin wheeze and stretch as he did so, tilted in the other direction without letting his back touch the mat and let the weight fall on his other arm. Last came the fall, into the thin layers of blanket under him, his shoulder and his back shrieking. But it only lasted for a few minutes. A warm fuzziness rushed through his body from his head, and the new light that shined on him was new and comforting, not the old, dull patterns that had worn on him so heavily.
His back was turned to the tent entrance, and when somebody entered, he didn’t have the will to turn back and look. A voice said, “listen closely,” and stayed there with the entrance open.
There was another round of applause, shouts and the like, and although they had a more positive twist to them than the last round he had received, Taramiel still flinched back from them. It was a moment before the crowd had quieted, and then, of course, Gloss began to speak: Taramiel couldn’t make out the words, but he could hear the complete silence from the crowd. He could imagine all of their eyes affixed up at that shining pinnacle, his short stature somehow lengthened into a massive shadow that lectured to them now.
“Do you hear him, Taramiel?” that voice came again. Taramiel didn’t have the strength, nor the desire, to tell the truth. That earned Taramiel a kick to his spine, which got him to begrudgingly make some noise.
Another round of applause followed. The man left. Darkness came soon.