Wednesday afternoons were always quiet, especially in the Ksithanai and Temthan sectors of Palaestra. As the temperatures begin to rise in April, the more reptilian races always enjoy taking afternoons off to sunbathe and warm themselves up.
This little ice cream parlour on the very edge of the Ksithanai district was a very obvious exception. The Pagoto Ice Creamery was probably one of the most popular ice cream spots in town, selling a large array of flavours. It was also known for its large array of strange and curious customers, as they also produced sugar sorbets with no milk or cream in them, and a variety of flavours meant for non-Ksithanai races. Their biggest customers were Skyavok, who would regularly pop by for scoopfuls of honey and caramel ice creams made with a sweet almond milk.
Today though, things were quieter than normal. The big midday rush was over, and only a handful of Vrekan customers remained, lounging around on the furry bar stools until their break was over. This didn’t bother Tenuk, it meant he could get his weekly ice cream order without being bothered by people looking for autographs and photos. Plus it meant no one would judge him while he bought out all the lemon sorbet ices.
“Same as always, good Tenuk?” Pagios, the shop owner, grinned from behind the counter. “We got some new sorbets too if you want to try them. Rosewater and orange water combined, as well as a new flavour I simply call Juiced Up!”
Tenuk smiled back as he approached the counter. He was tall enough that he had to bend down to read the labels of each ice cream on display. “Juiced Up sounds cool. Is it like, a mixture of sorbets?”
“Exactly!” Pagios beamed. “Would you like to try some while I sort out your order?”
“Sure.” Tenuk sat himself down at the stool closest to the counter. The Vrekans at the entrance finished their ice creams, left a hefty tab then headed out. Glancing at the clock above the counter, Tenuk realised he was actually quite late. Half an hour late in fact. Probably because he and the rest of the Dessaron got waylaid in a meeting with some Banikans earlier.
As Tenuk watched Pagios buzz around the kitchen, grabbing various 5 litre tubs of ice cream, he spotted someone come in, their image reflected on the glass of the counter. Pagios spotted them too and leaped back to serve them. They were tall and skinny, looking just like Tenuk, except with pale, white skin and ice blue armour. He also had the same odd, glowing markings that Tenuk had on his skin.
“Kohra! You here for your weekly treat?” Pagios prepared a sugar cone, then paused. “Say, you two look quite alike!” He placed two bowls of ice cream on the counter and pushed them towards Tenuk.
Kohra stared at Tenuk, then sighed. “Shit.”
Tenuk tried to say something, paused, closed his mouth. Before he could say anything, Pagios disappeared round the back, fulfilling the orders he had.
“I thought you were missing…” Tenuk finally sighed as he picked up his bowl of sorbet. “Everyone did.”
“I… kinda did too…” Kohra was shaking. “I… I woke up in a strange place. The realms of death. The Thantophor said that Our Dragon God wanted me dead, but he gave me a second chance.”
“The… Thantophor?” Tenuk blinked. “How did… What?”
Kohra took a deep breath. “I woke up and everything was cold. I was sitting in this kinda dead looking place, and I saw the Thantophor in person. He said that the Dragon God left me on his doorstep as punishment for something or other. I don’t remember anything really from like a month before then. I asked Lord Arkadin if he was going to kill me and he said no, as long as I stayed hidden and did some good for other people. So I’ve been donating to various medical research and baking cakes for some local charities…”
Tenuk blinked some more, not quite sure how to process what his little brother had just said to him. “Does… Does Avra know?”
“I don’t know…” Kohra wiped a tear from his eye. “He… He kinda cares more about our God than his own sons… I mean, look at you and Levik. You’re both… so far away now. And so am I.”
“Yeah…” Tenuk sighed, then shrugged. “And to think, I’ve been missing you every Wednesday by half an hour… How insane is that?”
Kohra stopped shaking. “You… you will let me be free, won’t you? You won’t tell Avra where I am?”
“Of course not.”
After a moment of silence, Kohra’s nerves faded away and he began to smile. “It’s good to see you again, brother.”
Tenuk pulled Kohra close, hugging him tightly. “It’s so good to see you too! You want to come to my place for a bit?”
Kohra glanced down at his wrist. “I have to prepare for a cake sale tomorrow. But we can meet up on Friday, if you want.”
Tenuk grinned. “That would be awesome!”