At the end of Part Seventeen, Allin was at the darkest point in his life, as he had to watch his parents murdered before his eyes. He is finishing telling this story to an audience of cats as Part 18 begins…
The Only City Left: Part 18
“Tyena was alive. Mom and Dad had earned that much with their deaths,” I told my audience. “Together, we buried my parents in the park by the department store. There was nobody left to use it for farming anymore. After that, we risked one night in Glin’s Rising to recover from our injuries. She set my broken nose back in place (ouch!) and we cried ourselves to sleep.”
I felt detached from the story as I told it, whether due to the intervening years or the effects of the gerrybrook juice, I had no idea and I didn’t care. It made the telling easier and that was fine with me.
“The next day, I knew we had to get out of Glin’s and back on the road. We changed clothes because we were both a mess, grabbed some food, and retraced the same path I had taken with my parents the day before. Without Tyena to care for, I would have been a complete zone-out. She was in a bad way, hardly talking, only moving because I held her hand and pulled her along.
“In fact, it wasn’t until almost a week later that she really woke up, so to speak. The light inside her eyes came back on and she looked around, realized she was no place she had ever seen before. She asked me if we were almost there and what was my plan. After a little back and forth, I figured out what she meant. She thought we were following the beasts who had taken everyone from Glin’s Rising, including her mother and little brother. I had to explain that it was too late for them, that the smart move was to keep going in the directions my parents had been heading, away from the beasts.
“She disagreed. She wanted to turn around, to try to save everyone. I told her they’d kill us if we confronted them, just like they killed my parents.”
I finished my third or fourth glass of juice—I lost track somewhere along the way—and covered the empty glass with my hand when the server came by again. My story was nearly over.
“We continued like that for a couple of days, arguing the pros and cons of going back. On our last night together, we didn’t fight and we didn’t talk about our plans, we just held each other. When I woke up the next day and she was gone, I wasn’t surprised. Whatever fire had sprung up between us had been doused, stomped on, and covered in dirt by the death of my parents, the culling of her family, and her treatment at Grinty’s hands. If she wanted to follow the rest of Glin’s Rising into oblivion, I couldn’t stop her, but I wasn’t about to join in. I was going to stay alive.”
Emperor Banshee heaved a great sigh when it became clear that my continued silence signaled the end of my tale.
“It’s not your fault.”
I don’t know what I expected him to say, but it wasn’t that. “Pardon?”
“Your parents. You didn’t kill them. They were adults and they made a choice. It’s not your fault.”
“Thanks, I feel so much better now,” I spat back. “Why didn’t I ever think of that? Hey, where’s that guy with the gerrybrook juice. I could use a refill.”
I held up my glass and looked around, but as the server approached, he saw something that made him stop in his tracks and walk away. I turned around to see Banshee looming over me. He batted the empty glass out of my hand and it spiraled over the railing.
“Do not lessen their sacrifice by taking credit for their deaths,” Banshee growled, right in my face. “They fought for life. For love. They died for you, not because of you.”
He huffed and returned to his seat. I was too stunned to respond.
“Enough with the feast,” Banshee proclaimed. He eyed everyone who sat at the table, and said, “You have all heard this young man’s tale. I should hope this clears up any lingering doubts about my decision to allow him entry. Now I must share more hard truths with the boy, facts of which you are already aware. I ask that you carry forth his story to your clowders, so that all may know that the Arcady name is not wholly without merit.”
Banshee signaled for Tumble and me to remain while the rest of the cats made their way out. Several of them stopped by to mumble a few words of condolence to me, as if it were only yesterday that Mom and Dad died, but I appreciated the thought. Others only gave me sly, shifty glances, as if they feared I might attack them if they glanced away.
“What do you mean, ‘The Arcady name is not without merit?’” I asked Banshee once the last cat had departed.
“Walk with me,” he replied, ignoring my question. “I tire of sitting still.”
Banshee strode away from the table and Tumble and I were drawn into his wake. We followed him out of the feasting hall on a course that took us into Pudlington’s heights.
“You recall that I brought you to Pudlington because I learned that your uncle had picked up your trail?” Banshee asked as we walked.
I nodded. “This uncle that my parents neglected to ever mention.”
“I am not surprised. From what we can tell, your father and mother sought to insulate you from the life that they fled, in the hopes that they could keep you safe. But they never quite let go of their former lives, and your uncle, your father’s brother, certainly never let go of them.”
We stopped on a wide rope bridge between two skyscrapers and looked at the jumbled-together cat city below us.
“Why?” I asked. “Why couldn’t he have just left my parents alone?”
Banshee grimaced, revealing a row of glistening white teeth. “I suppose he never forgave your father for murdering him.”
* * *
Allin’s Dad did what now? Read Part 19 to find out more, or read my notes below first.
6/17/12 News: First off, how about that spiffy new logo for The Only City Left? It is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.
In regards to last week’s post with the death scenes of Mom and Dad Arcady, I know that was a hard scene to read (my wife’s review of the post: “Gruesome”), so we’ll see how it ends up in later drafts. As horrifying as it is, though, I think it informs much of Allin’s behavior in the rest of the story.
Finally, I realized that when I first mentioned Allin’s uncle, way back in Part 12, no one asked or mentioned which side of the family he was on. Now, 6,000 words later, I had to have Banshee explain it. Kind of kludgy and I’ll fix it in a later draft, but for now it stands.
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