He wiped the sick with the back of his hands. Nothing about him was clean. Even the parts that were unblemished felt covered in grime. Not that there were many parts of him that weren’t stained with blood.
He was aware of the eyes on him. Vaguely. They had to be looking at him, but he couldn’t see them. The black was slowly draining from the corners of his eyes, collecting along his cheekbone, and falling close to his mouth. He resisted the urge to lick it.
“I’m sorry,” he said. It was getting easier to see. “I was consumed by madness. I should not have allowed it to occur.” It was the truth, falling simply from his lip. Such an easy thing to admit once the heat of battle evaporated from his skin. Battle was effortless, but to be out of it was to allow things to make sense. To be easy.
He did not want the apology to get accepted. What he did was wrong. He attacked an ally of a higher station. That was bad. And consuming in excess- it was bound to bring madness. He was not allowed to be surprised in any fashion. He’d researched it excessively. He’d connected files that historians would have liked to keep far apart. This was something he knew better than the backs of his hands, and when the moment was in front of him, he let himself get overtaken. That was on him.
That would always be on him.
Silence was creeping over him. He was aware that a conversation had begun, that Pallas and Pirhum were discussing the Greek throne, and he knew that the treaty would be the next topic. But his mind wasn’t there. He had grown numb, a shell of what he was supposed to be, waiting and waiting and watching. That’s what he was good at. Keeping his mouth shut and letting the adults talk. Cursed to always be the middle child.
“And we can portal all of you guys home-” Pirhum was saying, Tadgan nodding.
“I need it in writing,” Hymir blurted out. Bodies turned to him. Shame throttled him, but he kept going, shoving the urge to creep into a hole and die aside. “If I don’t come back with a treaty in writing-” He broke off, because he wasn’t exactly sure what would happen, and his tongue knew it. Something bad. Duh. But what? He didn’t know, and he couldn’t lie, and this was the crappiest assassination mission ever.
It had to be in writing. That was the end of that.
A simple thing. Isn’t that what everything boils down to? Pirhum pressed his palms together and slowly pulled them apart. Out grew a piece of paper, curling at the top and bottom. Black script was scratching itself onto the paper. Legible and changing, as if it wasn’t meant to be fully read at once. Was the language changing? Peter was trying to find a way to make that happen, but hadn’t succeeded. Not with any information that was in the library at least.
Hymir read over what bits of the paper he could. All he could tell was that the royal Greek family would aid in whatever type of piece the Larbaek-id (Hymir wasn’t sure if that was right) royal government might try to extend. Nothing on war. Good. That’s what Levin wanted as an end goal, and Hymir was giving him the requirements, not the undertones. Just a little stab. Just for fun.
Tadgan handed Hymir back his spear. He couldn’t remember when he had dropped it.
The conversation had shifted back to getting home, and Hymir was more awake for it. A portal, not unlike the one that had taken him to the palace. It would be tied to Pirhum and not the land itself, but they would function the same way. Again, there were questions of logic. But he had overstayed his welcome, so he kept all thoughts in his mouth.
Like everything with creation, the portal fizzled from nothing. “Your men were returned once the battle started,” Tadgan said. “Slipped into the ocean and woke up on your shore.” Hands went with his dialogue. It made Hymir smile, for there was no describing the ridiculousness of what was set before him. His body was starting to return to him. How pleasant.
Farewells. There was nothing left to do but say farewells.
The Gods went easily; Pirhum with a nod that could have been disguised as understanding, and Tadgan with that wicked smile and a clap on the back.
Dima and Pallas… Hymir was uncertain on how to describe it. He’d thought that they would hate him for overstepping in battle. The thought of borderline flying made his bones feel itchy. Like the only cure was to do it all over again.
To his surprise, they took him into their arms. Because they were friends. A word that Hymir thought was supposed to be loose. “We’re going to miss you,” Pallas said almost in Hymir’s neck. There was too much of a height difference between them.
And there was more with Dima and Hymir. Dima, whose small body was curled up in Hymir’s chest, nodded almost frantically. “You’re kind of fun,” he settled on saying, “Will you be back to visit?”
“I’ll try,” Hymir said. He would.
They separated. He tried to smile and not cry, for despite the day being terrible, he did have a good time. Sort of. Very loose with the definition of ‘good.’ With nods to the other four, he stepped through the portal first, gripping the treaty and his spear while tightening his coat against the cold as he went.