The air in the Swan's side alleyway was much cooler than within the theater. Nero moved slowly through the hole he had smashed into the side of the building, his body aching from the sheer torture it had been through. The cool air only served to remind him of the drying blood sticking to his back and the missing weight of weapons he had entrusted with his life. The swordsman felt naked without them. But that was the price they had paid, and paid willingly.
His sky blue eyes glanced behind him to the small group in the theater beyond. Audric lay propped against some debris, his shoulder wrapped with some bloodstained bandages. His expression was dour, although, that didn't say much given the Count's usual demeanor. His gaze was locked on his wounded arm, lost in thought. Nero could see Sai standing near Haidee as Claire helped her brother up from the ground. Perhaps we should have let you go. But I couldn't. And I couldn't let him die like that either. It left a bitter taste in his mouth. How many had died because of him? Had bled or been wounded? How many had his curse unwittingly stolen from?
But those were questions for another day. A day where his body felt less like an ancient and battered punching bag and where he could think about all that had happened. You're not dead, Marcus. The swordsman frowned deeply as he considered that. He had seen him board the airship with their parents and the Lady Grey, spoken to him as they went about their business and returned. But he had not been on it when it crashed. For a moment he felt a stubborn hope that his parents had survived, as well. But he had seen the ashen proof himself. "More damn questions."
At last, he turned his attention to the figure standing by herself in the alleyway. Even now, his memories of her were dim. He would die for her, had done so before, if the scars across his chest were any indication. But he could not shake the profound sensation she was more alone that even he was at the moment. Nero, master Swordbreaker, renowned bookseller and vendor of information, victor of a dozen duels to the death, could not find an answer for her in that moment. He could not even find answers to his own dilemmas. But he could try.
Nero approached her slowly, announcing his present in a gentle baritone. "Little Poet."