Escape from the Flame of Separateness
by Thevina (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairings: Original Characters
Spoilers: None— this is set in pre-canon history
Beta: Elfscribe5. My profound thanks to you!!
Summary: Ottar’s second year as a har of Freygard becomes nightmarish when his mentor is possessed by a nameless spirit and the aftermath of their subsequent aruna irrevocably changes his life.
Author’s Notes: The title comes from a poem by Rumi. The characters, setting, and cultural elements to this story are actually taken from the story I submitted for the early-era Wraeththu compilation Storm is putting together (it was accepted, though it will need some expanding). The characters and setting became so real for me that I decided to write a sequel- there’s enough information in this that it’s stand-alone, but I’ll look forward to the publication of said compilation, whenever that is, so people can read the genesis of this story.
. : ~ Escape from the Flame of Separateness ~ : .
Ottar cursed his friend under his breath. Hroth had gone off on another vision quest, deep in the woods near a fjord a couple of leagues away from Freygard. It wasn’t that Ottar was worried per se, but usually Hroth sent at least a whisper-light thought his way, a picture or glimpse of the places he was travelling in the far reaches of harish dreams and mysteries. He kicked against the sides of his horse as he called out repeatedly to Hroth via mindtouch. His cries went out into a vacuum, and that worried him more than anything else. He guided his horse, anxiety creeping insidiously in his blood as he began calling Hroth’s name aloud. After cantering through a particularly dense copse of trees, Ottar saw the edge of the water. He let out a sigh of relief. Hroth was there.
As he drew closer, Ottar’s dis-ease returned. Something was wrong. He hurried his horse along and then hastily dismounted. Hroth sat in his usual crossed leg position, but he was far from still.
“Hroth? What’s wrong?” he asked with rising panic.
Hroth’s fingers dug into the cold earth around him, muttering all the while. Ottar listened intently, but whatever Hroth articulated, it wasn’t a language that Ottar recognized. It was guttural and seemed ancient. But for all Ottar knew, it was total gibberish.
He gently ran his fingers through Hroth’s hair. His thick braids were dishevelled, and sacramental ink was smeared across his strong features. He’d drawn symbols on the back of his left arm, and his one hand was in a state of constant motion, scrabbling at his stump, then the pebbles on the ground, then in his hair. It was Hroth’s eyes that made Ottar gasp aloud and his hands tremble like aspens. Hroth’s warm, ageless eyes were glassy, though he seemed to be focusing on someone or something not far in front of him. There was nothing to be seen save the dark water of the fjord, ambitious fingers of ice stretching greedily from the shore.
“What do you see? Where in Thor’s skies are you? Talk to me!” he begged.
Hroth’s muttering went on. He turned to look at Ottar, whose smile approached his lips and then slunk away. Hroth did not appear to recognise him, instead he continued to speak in some language that seemed to Ottar like some ancestral human tongue.
“I’m getting you out of here,” Ottar murmured fervently.
Thankfully Hroth put up no resistance, but he was a strong, muscled har and it took some work for Ottar to get him in the saddle. He took the fastest way back to Freygard but didn’t ride at full speed for fear that Hroth would fall. His mind raced— what had happened to one of their most advanced spiritual leaders? Hroth was their Hienama! He’d survived the butchery of humans early in his harish life, but now he was acting as though he’d lost his mind. Ottar had only been har for a year or so now, but he’d never heard of any har going insane. As he bolted back to Freygard, Ottar realized that he might simply have been sheltered. Panic guided him to the house of Hroth’s oldest friend, Hansggedir.
“Who’s chasing you? Loki venom-eyed himself?” the older har asked.
“It’s Hroth. I found him in meditation, but it’s like he’s stuck in some trance and can’t or won’t return to us. He’s acting… crazy.”