Daimyon did not expect a helpful answer from anyone in the room. That would have been all too easy and life, this master of dramatic plays, usually did not deal with those. In fact he was already mentally prepared for an exhaustive and exhausting search throughout the entire facility, as the small notebook could have hid or been
hidden anywhere, by anyone.
...so when a reply that was not simply helpful but affirmative
actually came, he was...rather stunned.“I have.”
It came from Marianne, the Infinite Herbalist, who stood pensively at one of the food counters. The poet quickly walked up to her, his expression a curious mix of relief and apprehension.“Is that...so? Where have you seen it? Please, it...it's very important to me.”
The herbalist’s eyebrow quirked and she shifted her weight to the balls of her feet as she searched Daimyon’s face. In one arm, she balanced the tray with the meagre breakfast offered to the infinites, whereas the other hand grasped at the cord necklace before trailing down to one of the pockets on her hospital gown, nonchalantly as possible.“Of course,”
she began, her teal eyes curious and catlike blinking up at him, “It could have belonged to anyone, Daimyon. It might not even have been yours…”
That was a blatant lie. Of course it was his. There was literally not a single soul else it could have belonged to. The way the prose flowed, disjointed and—“Pardon me for asking, Monsieur, but just what is it that is so important about this book? It seems to have you quite...how do you say it, flustered?”
About life not making things easy...
The woman was curious, understandably so—Daimyon could see it on her that she was not used to him being like this.“Flustered is a great word, if a bit weak for the situation still...”
He let out an anxious sigh. “Ah, it is simply of great value to me, both physically and symbolically. It has always been with me and I wrote numberless poems into it throughout the years...truth be told, I feel rather incomplete without it.”“Poetry, yes.”
the herbalist continued skeptically, her arms crossed almost defensively over her chest for the better half of a minute before she took a less threatening stance, body language open and more chilled out. Of course, something about her tone of voice didn't fit, accusatory at best, “...even the best poets probably do not write their works every minute of every day. Infinite Poet or not, Daimyon...something is odd about this notebook.”
Still, she reached into the hospital gown pocket and pulled out the small, tattered brown book. It was in no worse condition than it usually was. In fact, it was almost as if the herbalist took extra care of it whilst it was in her possession, as brief a time as it was.“I found this on the floor of the resort last night, chéri.”
Her eyelids sank in a curious squint though her pupils narrowed further. Still, she gave the Infinite Poet a deceptively warm smile. She coolly held the notebook out with one hand, the other casually stuffed into one of the pockets of the gown. “I was there for some work after the trial. Is this the notebook you have been looking for, Daimyon Londe?”
The poet waved away Marianne's ‘suspicions’ with a strained laugh.“You are correct, it's not exclusively for poems. I immortalise plenty of memories, moments worth remembering into it as well—it's quite general purpose, you see!”
Calling the expression on his face a smile
would have been generous, but it still did not speak of the thoughts that swirled in his mind upon one realisation: she had read into it. He did not blame her...okay, he did, because privacy and whatnot, but he was much angrier at himself for apparently dropping the precious document in the resort. Despite everything, however, his eyes shone with undoubted relief upon seeing that it was indeed his notebook Marianne was holding. Perhaps this living nightmare would be over sooner than he thought...“Yes! Oh, haha, that is it indeed...thank you, Marianne.”
He reached out to take back his possession.
...but where he should have felt no resistance, the fingers of one Marianne Roche remained tightly clutching to the little brown book, her head cocked to the side but with much less of a smile and a much more worried expression than she had allowed herself for the entirety of their conversation.“I would like to know what is going on, if you please, Monsieur Londe.”
Although the herbalist did not let go, he held his hand on the notebook, looking into her eyes in a silent plea that bore no fruit. His hand soon fell to his side, however, his head slumped and he let out a defeated sigh. He knew he could have tried to deflect the issue, but from the determination that emanated from the woman, he also realised that there would be no pleasant result to that. “Very well,”
he spoke in a quieter tone. “Not here, though. Let's...my room, yes, that should be sufficiently private. Let's go there.”
Marianne found herself staring blankly at the ceiling of the Infinite Poet's bedroom, her dark hair in a mess and sprawled all around her form as she lay on her back on his bed, the only part of her seemingly belonging to the setting being the hospital gown, only barely hanging onto her frame because of th—!
The gears in her head turned slowly and she found her lips parted, almost panting softly as she tried to form words again and again, but somehow coherence was lost on her.“Wow...is that really, really...true, Daimyon?”
Daimyon stood, his arms crossed low on his chest and eyes idly fixated on the floor next to the bed, carefully examining every speck that dotted it. His posture was slouched, making his tall figure appear shorter—as if it was a deliberate attempt to somehow disappear entirely from the room and from existence for a while.“...yes. I...guess you could have figured it out by yourself, given time with that notebook...but yes. Are you happy now?”“Yes and no.”
the young woman sat up with a little wince, taking the opportunity to let her eyes scan the poet's figure. He seemed dejected, and why wouldn't he be? She was glad but...not quite in the way she had wanted to be.“I'm glad you told me. I was thinking you were a minion of Davis, or something like that. Still, chéri…”
She soundlessly stepped off the bed and closed the distance between her and the taller man. Her eyes didn't leave his for a second, even as she leaned in closer and…
...put a hand on his shoulder, giving it a warm pat. “I don't know what to say. ...I did want to be wrong, but not like this. I am very, very sorry. Does anyone...know?”
The poet tensed when feeling her touch; a few seconds had to pass before he could relax himself at least enough to answer her.“No one, as far as I'm aware. I wish you didn't either. But alas! Life is cruel, its paths leading us to unknowing doom. Still, hah...”
He allowed himself a chuckle, despairful as it was. “...silver linings, they are always there for me. But you'll have to promise that you...stay silent on the matter.”
He finally looked at her again, much in the same way as he had done in the break room, now also giving the expression voice:“...please, Marianne.”“I promise not to tell a soul, so long as I am alive and you do not wish me to.”
she chuckled hollowly. It was funny, to talk about life and death in this place. You never knew which one was out to get you in Axis Mundi. “But if you…”
she found her voice trailing off, lost on the idea for a handful of seconds. “...if you die here, what would you will me to do then, Daimyon?”“Quite the question, hah...”
he noted, but found no reason not to answer. “Death doesn't end everything. People, we Infinites especially, leave behind legacies...I hope to leave one behind, too. And I want it to be for my poems...not for anything else.”“Then this secret will die with us.”
The Infinite Herbalist searched his face, though couldn't keep the melancholy from her own. She carefully reached her hands out, shaking a little, as she took his face into them, gingerly tilting his head down to look at her again. It seems he had been avoiding her gaze for a large part of the conversation, and...only met her gaze when he wanted something.“...did it not make you feel...alone, Daimyon?”“I...dare say I was blessed with a powerful imagination. It...helps bearing through it all.”
His lips curled into a small smile. His words were right on more levels than she thought—the scent of nature's perfume on her was very apparent now that she was this close, especially the minty smell of her hands on his face. As he closed his eyes for just a moment, he found himself in a flower garden, bright and lush. Just the sight helped alleviate the leaden despair that sat on him.“...it really helps.”“I also promise to try and help that.”
Marianne couldn't help but smile a very peculiar smile at noticing his serene expression. ...he was so vulnerable like this. It was definitely different to see someone relax, in this tense atmosphere. It was...familiar.
Seizing the opportunity, she gently thumbed over his bottom lip before her arms moved around the taller man's neck, and he could feel her body pressed flush against his as she (on her tiptoes) gave him as protective an embrace as she could manage.“I promise you will not have to be alone anymore, Daimyon Londe.”
His smile was only broken for a moment by a surprised look as Marianne, quite suddenly, hugged him, before it returned to extend on his face wider than ever. His mind failed him this once—he had no idea what made the woman do such thing, but he did not complain. He wrapped his arms around her to answer the gesture, giving her a few gentle pats on the back.“You see...life is cruel at times, but...it's also a hell of a story writer.”
He let them linger like this for a few more precious seconds before finally breaking away. Daimyon straightened out his clothing with a few quick motions and once again stood up tall, his hands tied behind his back—his signature stance, and the lively smile returned to his face.“Thank you for everything. In a way, I'm...glad it was you who found it. Now...”
He swiped up the opened notebook from the table, closed it and smoothly slid it into his shirt pocket. “...I don't know about you, but I am rather hungry! Shall we head back to the break room?”“Ah! Most definitely! I find myself quite famished…!”
the herbalist replied when the couple’s hug came to a close, her attention being torn away from the corner of a neatly folded piece of paper jutting out of the notebook that just disappeared into Daimyon’s shirt pocket. A kind of heat rushed to her cheeks with a stray thought and made her a smidgen giddy, even as she nodded enthusiastically up at her companion. He had ‘rescued’ her when she first landed in this place. It was only a matter of happy coincidence that she could do something similar for him. “Somehow, in this place, I never seem to be able to have a proper breakfast. Perhaps that will change today. ...after you, Daimyon. May your smile never cease and your silver linings never fail you.”