"Un lézard, eh? I feel more like une mouche!" Annette laughed as she finally threw her leg over the top of the rise. She scrambled to set herself beside Tirseng as Curioso finished the climb.
"Tirseng, " she said, while still trying to regain her breath, "How did you know where to find us?"
"Ah," said the little man, "It was not difficult. When you left following the lights, I followed you. When the lights in the sky stopped, there was still the glow of your 'khong khro 'bar ba' to light my way...dear lady, remind me to never make you angry!" He sat smiling at her.
"Then you saw Yamada as well..." her voice trailed off softly into the growing light of morning.
He nodded, staring off into sunrise with her.
Curioso completed the climb, and after helping Tirseng gather the rest of the ropes, he sat beside Annette on the cliff's edge. He gently brushed the errant hairs away from her face before draping his arm around her shoulders. Tirseng sat, not far away, intently winding the ropes and being careful not to pay any attention to what was going on.
"Tirseng spoke of Yamada, " he started. He felt her tense beneath his touch.
"Yamada will not be a problem any longer." she tersely answered.
"Chérie femme," he asked "que s'est produit??"
Annette gave a deep shuddering sigh before she continued. "I left the cavern, following your footprints in the snow. Yamada was waiting. He followed me. I was so worried, chere, that I didn't even notice him. All of the howling in the sky, I didn't hear him..."
Curioso leaned back and gazed at her, "You killed him?"
"Aucun mon aimé, much worse than that." Her eyes filled up with tears. "He caught up with me, at that shallow ravine where you slid?" Curioso nodded. "Yes, I slid down it too. While I was trying to regain my feet, I look up, and there he is. He had a sword drawn to me, chere. I could not reach the rifle, I could not run.
He told me what your brother had given him, the omiyage. Opening of the doors that should not be opened. In return, all of his work at the university was to go to Dominic first. Yamada thought that that would be his o kaeshi, but Dominic had une autre idée. Your brother told him to kill me, chere. The repayment of that debt was to be my blood, merveilleux, non? Your brother wins on all counts. He gets the plans, takes me from you, and destroys you as well."
"What happened, Nets. What did you do?" Curioso asked again, as she paused and stared coldly at the mountains.
"I did nothing. I sat, I listened. This lunatic man with eyes like piss-holes in the snow is waving a sword at me and telling me to sit? I sit." she answered angrily. "He told me of your brother's world, chere. There are no souls there, everyone lives to do the bidding of the BlackOne. That there were others like him, maybe not so strong, but out there all the same. The world is changing.....He knelt in front of me, and I was sure that c'était la fin....but he turned the sword on himself. While his blood was pouring onto the snow, I scratched my way up the far side of the ravine, and I ran. You know, chere, that his eyes? they didn't change. There was less life in them alive than dead."
Curioso turned her face to his and gently kissed her. "You know," he started, "You may be the le lézard des montagnes, but I don't think even you could have helped him..."
"But.." she stammered, "I didn't even try.."
"There is always the next incarnation, chere. He'll have the chance to redeem himself, let's just hope that he does."
The two sat for a few moments more in silence before Tirseng loudly cleared his throat and told them it was time to go.