Chapter Twenty-Five: Tibo
Little Black Cloud
With a little shoulder bump, Rolly said all he needed to. Settle down. It’s all right. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t.
“Look here,” Rolly flipped the book on the top of his stack, the one about the history of scales. “It says the Council of Monarchs decided a single monetary system was necessary in 1300 when the Hanseatic Drachen League began to insist on payments in gold. I thought that meant a bunch of kings and queens had a bit of a confab over tea, but no. It says they called a Council Major of the Rubrum Lux to reach a consensus.”
“Doesn’t sound like any bloody history I ever learned,” Mal, the dragon ranger, growled. He seemed to growl a lot, but no, probably not fair. Deep voices did that sometimes.
“Too bloody right.” Rolly took his books to the table where Aegeus was helping the walker down. “I have a bachelor's in history, and I can tell you, this was not covered. Not a fecking bit of this.”
“So it’s a secret history?” Edwige asked slowly, as if she were turning the thought over in her mind. “An old society that used to run Europe?”
“Old, yes.” Rolly put his books down and reached for Tibo’s. “I’m not sure yet how localized and I’m less sure about the used to part of that.”
He opened one of the other history books they found, one about economic history and the establishment of dragon flight paths. Mal leaned over his shoulder and Nootau shuffled closer to look, too, Aegeus at his back. Jaxx leaned over the other side, turning his head to see and Tibo found himself crowded out both physically and intellectually. Sure, he got the gist of it, but there were college educated people arguing this through now. People who understood how this stuff fit together. They didn’t need him.
Not to mention he didn’t want to stand too close to the walker. People might think he was trying to start shit again. Or the walker might get the wrong idea. Or Tibo might say something stupid.
Tibo backed away from the table to stand behind one of the big reading chairs by an old fireplace. He jaw hurt and he realized he was grinding his teeth and a steady shivering had started in his stomach to work it’s way out to his limbs.
Edwige wandered over to him and he only tensed more. Healer, yeah, he knew that. She even felt like a healer from yards away. But she and the merman were the walker’s. Or he was hers and the merman’s. She couldn’t be happy with him for jumping one of her guys. Her hazel eyes were wide and kind, though, and her hair was gorgeous.
I could write songs about that shade of red. I guess I just like red hair. Go figure.
“Tibo Glent.” Her voice was soft, nearly a purr as she reached him. “I saw you once at Schubas. You and your band.”
Schubas? Yeah...Chicago. He liked that place. Small venue. Good crowds. “Was it a good show?” he croaked out, caught in her steady gaze.
“Not bad. There were sound issues at the end and you got frustrated. Still, some great songs.” She stopped in front of him and he was surprised to find they were eye to eye. He could’ve sworn she was taller. “You’re frustrated a lot, aren’t you?”
Oh, fuck off, I don’t need your healer psychobabble, his brain said. His mouth only said, “Yeah. Maybe.”
“You’ve had a hard life. All that pain. You wear it in your bones.”
He flinched away when she reached for his shoulder. “You don’t know a damn thing about me, human.”
“I know you hurt. That was the first thing I knew about myself, before I knew I was a healer. That I could tell when other people hurt. But you...I’ve never met anyone so attached to their pain. You wrap yourself in it like it’s a cloak you’re proud of. Like if you let go of it, people will see too much.”
“Fuck off,” Tibo wanted to snarl, but it came out a whisper. He backed a half-step but ran into a chair. “Stop it.”
“And then you attack others, lash out at them because the pain you’ve wrapped around your bones is too much.”
“Stop it,” he whimpered, his throat closing up. “Stop looking at me like that. I’m sorry.”
She had him cornered, her face inches from his. “Nootau didn’t kill that guard. That shift nearly killed him and he hated doing it more than you or I could understand. Just because he’s not registered—”
“I know!” Tibo forced out between his teeth. He tried to turn away from her but only got far enough to drop his face into his hands. Don’t cry in front of her. Don’t cry. Don’t… When she touched his shoulder, of course a sob snuck out anyway. “I’m sorry.”
She hummed to him softly and warmth spread out from her hand. He didn’t feel better exactly, but he did stop shivering. “You’re not in control. Your pain spreads out from you and the others will feel it even if they don’t realize it. It’s not me you need to apologize to.”
With that she walked away, leaving him a shaking, sniffling mess. He turned away from everyone, though they were deep in discussion, pointing and leafing through books. Good. Nootau looked like he wasn’t tracking all the way, though, and Aegeus had him sit down in a nearby chair.
Across the room, Tibo mirrored the action, sinking into the nearest wing chair. What had that healer done to him? He just wanted to sit here and bawl. Rolly raised his head from the books suddenly and shot him an exasperated glare and a little roll of his hand. Dial it back, Glent, that gesture said.
“Right. Sorry. Little black cloud over here. I’ll try to gloom quieter,” Tibo muttered to the arm of the chair.
He stole a sideways glance over at Nootau, though Edwige was with him now, speaking softly. Was she saying he should apologize? Of course she was. But if that had been him some fucker had just attacked because they thought he was that kind of goblin? Yeah...he was pretty damn sure going over there and saying "Oh, I thought you were the bad kind of walker" was not going down well.
So he stayed in his chair and concentrated on breathing around the ache in his chest. ’Cause he was such a fuck up, what else was there to do? Oh, right. Dialing back the gloom. That was his one job right now. Maybe he could not fuck that up.
The murmured conversation from the group around the table reached him in shallow waves. Rubrum Lux. He picked that up a lot. And what the hell was that? And how old was it? And, holy shit, how bad had they stepped in it if there was some super secret stealth gang that was like a thousand years old that controlled...all sorts of shit? Maybe?
Suddenly his whole crusade felt like, what was that word? Quixotic. Yeah. Tilting at fucking windmills.