The interior of Cologne's ancient city was a quarry of lesser structures, all made of stone. Even the most modern of structures could not withstand the fury of time without the assistance of technology. Humanity lived on in these stone buildings. Cologne was a new Rome, the apex of human civilization. I was excited to watch humanity grow out of the ruins of Germany. What would civilization come to? I hope the food is better.
I followed Lief closely through the thick crowds instinctively. It was never expressly stated that he would lead us through the city, but his presence was that of a king and I couldn't resist. Even those around us thought we were different. This became unnerving after a while however. Cologne wasn't a place where those gave in to fictions, and I didn't expect to be hung somewhere for being a wizard exactly. But there were collectors. Lief knew this too, and eventually we took a small alley off to the side to take another route.
"So why Cologne?" I asked, looking up at his thick neck.
"There is someone here who can help us." His reply was calm, but a mixture of uncertainty and apprehension rose to the top of his voice.
"What happened back there... do you think it's wise to be walking around like this?"
"I don't think so."
I gulped. Earlier that day when he shot the bruiser, the event began a steady change in him. He began to speak and feel like he was absent. I thought about doing something about it, but the thought quickly disappeared from my mind once I imagined the moment when he gouged out my eyes with his bare hands. We were walking towards the cathedral, and my heart began to race.
"Why are we going there?" I said in a hurried, nervous voice. I knew I was in no obligation to be with him, but I still dreaded what he'd do were I to flee his company. "I don't do well in those places."
He looked back at me curiously, and smiled a bit, not in a friendly way mind you, but mischievously.
"Rose is there." It was all he said. I gave in to him then. Clearly he wasn't going to let me escape and I wasn't going to run. We were meeting somebody, probably a woman. A little flame in my heart flickered hopefully that Rose was his sister, that by some odd premonition we were drawn to her prematurely in our plans. I really wanted to get out of continental Europe. Germany, at least what was left of it, was always somber, and it took great effort to keep me here. France wasn't much better. They had Lyon. Jesus! A developed modern city in the armpit of Europe? Unthinkable. I expected better from the Germans.
I looked around to pass the time, inspecting the old ruins of the prewar buildings. For all their spectacle they had crumbled, and had nearly disappeared into nothing. A few stone buildings, some a thousand years old, still operated. Some were bakeries, others internal marketplaces. The Cathedral I was aware to be still host to superstitions. I was not a follower of the White Christ, but his houses always put me on edge. All I had ever heard were stories. I wasn't willing to press my luck.
For an hour we walked along the train tracks, whose gnarled rails had rusted with time to become nearly unrecognizable. Though Cologne was not a modern city by any means, their wall was. From where I stood I could still see it. Once it had been white, but now was a lonely grey. I actually saw them put it up come to think about it. But that was a long time ago.
"I bet you want to know who Rose is?" he finally spoke up.
"Oh, wow... you're still here..."
He looked at me funny. His face was patient.
"What was that for? Have you been grumpy this whole time?"
"No." Yes. "I would just like to know where we are going. I don't do well in those kinds of places."
"What, a cathedral? Go along with it! It's just a building. what is there to fear?"
"Yeah... just a building. You know, I was kicked out out of one of them once." Leif turned his head back, his face contorted into confusion. I think he was more surprised that I had even gone near a church.
"That's too bad," he said in a low voice. "I'm afraid we are going to have to go in this one. That's where rose is."
Hearing this my head sunk gravely. Calmly, and perhaps to rile me up, he comfortingly put his arm around my shoulder.
"There there... Don't worry."
"Oh, shut up..."