Exposure

Thevina Editor's Pick
Exposure
by Teapot (Camille_Sinensis)

Story Notes

Author’s email:  teapot@doramail.com

Summary:  Ashmael goes to Arahal for some lessons in self-examination, but learns more about Arahal, and the origins of Wraeththu, than he expects.

Characters: Arahal and Ashmael

Spoilers:  Nothing serious.  References to Ashmael’s history as revealed in “Enchantments”, and also draws heavily upon the short story “Paragenesis”.

Exposure

i Arahal

“I, too, killed someone once.”

Ashmael searched in vain for some nuance, some inflection of emotion, to tell him if Arahal was proud or ashamed of his admission. That he could find none did not surprise him – Arahal was a har who spurned the excesses of emotional incontinence; aloof and ascetic, he embodied the very essence of Gelaming philosophy.

To hear him announce that he was a murderer was almost like discovering that that world really was flat, after all, or that water flowed uphill, or the Tigrina was a modest, self-effacing individual who enjoyed a purely casual and offhand relationship with his looking-glass.

“It was a very many years ago.” Arahal picked up a long, ivory candle and set it in an ornate holder upon the altar. He encircled it with both his hands, not touching it, but seeming rather to caress it from a distance. A pulse of rainbow-coloured light arced across the space between his curled fingers, and a flame blossomed on the candle’s wick.

“Things were different. In the beginning.”

Ashmael stared into the heart of the flame, the pale blue centre where the light was in the process of being born before it rose to become the yellow corona above. The flame undulated in response to some small current of the air, moving in a way that suggested life. Ashmael knew it was simply an artifact; the complexity of numbers could explain it. Sometimes things were simpler than they appeared to be.

“It must have been difficult,” he said, not taking his eyes from the flame, “in the beginning.”

In the small halo of brightness, he could almost see the burning cities. The paroxysms of fear and destruction attending the collapse of human civilization. The violence and terror. A new type of creature arising from the ashes of the old, beautiful and deadly. Born in the heart of the flames. Wraeththu.

“No,” Arahal lit another candle by more conventional means, touching its unlit wick to the already burning one. “It wasn’t. At least, not until much later. In the beginning – in the very beginning, there was still order and civilization. There were still things of beauty.”

Ashmael wondered to himself how many were left who remembered those days. Very few, and fewer still who would speak of them. There was one har who would know and remember everything, but Thiede was a closed book, and even Ashmael’s legendary and reckless courage did not extend to demanding answers of The Aghama.

He was suddenly curious about Arahal. Curious to know why a har of his abilities so often seemed content play a supporting role. Not for him the glamour of Immanion, or a position on the Hegemony, although Ashmael knew he would have been a better choice than some of those currently serving on that august body.

“Tell me about it,” he demanded. “Tell me what it was like.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Still Waters Run the Deepest

Still Waters Run the Deepest
by niennaainur

Story Notes

Pairing: original non-canon characters and Tharmifex

Rating: PG-17

Summary: I love Tharmifex and I just know he is neither as bland nor as uptight as he seems in meetings and at public functions.  This story is recounted by somehar who has known Tharmifex Calvel for years.

Disclaimer: All the pretty Wraeththu, as well as the world they live in, were created by, and belong to, Storm Constantine, who (bless her!) is gracious enough to allow fans like me to take them out and play with them occasionally. No copyright infringement is intended, and I promise to wash them off and put them away neatly when I’m done.

Warnings: nothing spoilery – but with references to underwear.  While underwear (or lack thereof) already played a part in this story, their role was exaggerated precipitant to the serious academic discussions about the state of underwear in Wraeththudom which can be found in camile_sinensis‘s journal.

BETA’d by: bigunen!!!  (The patience of a saint…)

Part One

The afternoon sun was casting long shadows into the centre of the old stadium.  Most of the assembled people were down where, in the good old days, sports teams had done battle.  Now a would-be messiah was trying to whip the assembled group of ragtag humans into an ‘army of righteousness’ to do battle against the evil menace.  I sat in the stands, or what was left of them.  Trumble, I thought angrily was way more likely to lead these people to death than to victory. Trumble was feeding them false hopes of dispatching the Wraeththu menace, and while they were at it they’d deal with “The Others” – a new group of nomadic humans who were moving into our area and stealing what meager resources we still had. Trumble was an idiot, I repeated to myself, but he was turning out to be a very charismatic idiot.

I had travelled down to this gathering with my older brother Doug and a couple of our cousins – Doug had wanted a firsthand look at the so-called saviour of humanity.  Doug had tried to argue with Trumble – but no one wanted the truth; they wanted hope, even false hopes. Little Stevie, Doug’s oldest son, had arrived mid-morning accompanied by another young cousin with the news that Kari, Doug’s woman, was in labour and that Doug was to come immediately. I was chosen to stay for the remainder of the rally and return home in the morning with news.

I emerged from the stadium’s dark maze of corridors into what once had been a parking lot.  The pavement was now cracked and broken, with grass, weeds, and young saplings pushing their way through – nature was reclaiming her own.  The sun was setting and the shadows were long.  Across from the stadium were mostly deserted storefronts boarded up – looted long ago of anything of value.

My teeth were clenched and I felt like screaming.  Humanity was dying.  Those of us who were left had split into smaller family or neighbourhood tribes. We were scattered, we had no power – we were subsisting, barely existing.  And yet, a madman had convinced them that they could reclaim the past and they believed him.  Pure madness!  I let out a low growl in frustration.

“Russ, go outside and walk once around the block” – that’s what my Nana would have said to me; if you had a problem or you were going to lose your temper – a walk ‘once around the block’ would help put things into perspective.  So I adjusted my belt and set off.

I looked down the wide empty street, set the three tall apartment buildings in the distance as my target and began walking.  Human cities were now eerily quiet – no bustle, no cars, no music, and no people.

Read the rest of this entry »

Swooping to Landward

Editor's PickSwooping to Landward
by Thevina

Story Notes

Title: Swooping to Landward (from “Tristan and Iseult” by Matthew Arnold)

Pairing: Chithra/Lemuel (OCs)

Rating: adult/rooning

Word Count: 13,800

Warnings/Alerts: double penetration

Beta: Elfscribe. With this story in particular I’m indebted for her astute observations and recommendations. Thank you for your guidance so it became a more impassioned story.
Disclaimer: Were it not for Storm Constantine and her creation of the harish world, this wouldn’t exist and I’d be the poorer all around. I’m grateful to continue to play in the Wraeththu sandbox.

Summary: Opposites attract because they are not really opposites, but complementaries. (Sydney J. Harris) When a trio of Colurastes spend a few days in Orense, one particular Froia finds his life forever changed.

A/N: First and foremost, this is a gift for Rainwish, who was such an affirming anchor for me during this past spring and early summer when my life seemed to be imploding and/or exploding around me. I said I wanted to write something for her as a way of saying thanks, and she asked for a fic about the potential interaction between a Froia har (I began calling them Froian as plural) and a Colurastes. This is for you, my dear heart.

Lemuel, his hostling and father, and Cloudblaze are OCs who came to life in “Maelstrom and Mage, Desire Thine Darkling,” as did the location of Castlegar; they’re all in this story. If you’ve read that story, it will give this one a bit more depth, but it’s not necessary. This is set sometime in the Ai-cara 30s, I suppose.

I created several words in Froian vocabulary since it’s from a Froian’s POV. When Swift, Cal and Leef visit, mention is made to instruments and robes and the like, but without particular vocabulary. I’ll list them here so as not to be confused with Storm’s marvelous canon, though in fanon, especially Wraeththu, sometimes new characters and concepts do become part of the extended canon!

  • oulla= Froian traditional robes
  • barbol= a lute-like instrument (not included in canon, but I thought they’d go well with the flutes and drums)
  • surist= one of the musicians in the Braga’s court who plays for the theruna [and while we’re here, I created an additional theruna OC, and decided the plural is ‘therunans’]
  • nedbriar= outsider, non-Froian

Swooping to Landward

Rexines strummed and plucked at his barbol while I waited to hear a familiar tune. As the lilting, sinuous melody rose like incense smoke, I realized this was something new he’d been crafting. Given its sensuality, the modulations slithering one to another in a provocative series of quiet, daring combinations, I was certain that it would get transcribed and given to one of the surists. Still, it was just the two of us in this moment, both infected with the spirit of impromptu. I crooned a melody without words and let my body hold sway as I told a tale of aruna taken at dawn, a gold anklet given in affection. When Rexines brought the song to its close I ran my fingers through my hair, easing my hood back over my head and wiping at the beads of sweat that had formed at my temples.

“That was inspired,” Rexines said, taking a cloth to rub down the strings on his barbol.

“I could say the same,” I retorted, pouring us each a cup of sweet wine from a nearby jug. “Pity neither you nor I will ever actually get to perform anything like that.”

He looked over at me, one dark eyebrow raised. “And why do you say that?”

I fidgeted with one of my bracelets. “Because it’s too good. If you play it for Hephas, he’ll fall in love with it and only the therunans will get to dance to it. You know I’m right,” I said, strangely irritable given the joy I’d felt in our unchoreographed duet.

All at once the reed-door was pulled open and one of the young hara from the Braga’s court stood silhouetted in the mellow sun of mid-afternoon.

“There are some foreign hara near the southward docks,” he said excitedly. “The Braga sensed them three days ago, and he’d like for you two to go and bring them in. They seem to have much to trade, and are of a tribe he’s never seen before.”

I glanced at Rexines, trying to cover my disquiet. As Froia, we did have our share of hara from varying tribes — or hara without tribes — who wished for our assistance to navigate the swamps of our home. We’d not had visitors for a while, however, and my curiosity soon overcame my unease.

“Chithra, do you need to make any preparations?” Rexines asked me as he stood, putting his instrument in its handcrafted case.

“No. Well, I should get some water for the travel jug.”

The young har appeared to be satisfied with our response and he gave me a wide grin. “You’ll bring them directly to the court, of course,” he enthused. I didn’t doubt that the fact that it was an unknown tribe made him giddy with anticipation. Our people don’t interact with other Wraeththu all that often, so novelty of this type was exceedingly rare.

“Yes, we do know protocol well, Lunul.”

I noted the edge of irritation in Rexines’ voice, but the youthful court-har only made a gesture of thanks and closed the reed-door again. Rexines let out a sigh, adjusting his robes with the elegant fingers that could produce such evocative music from his instrument.

“You really don’t mind?” I said as I padded over to him.

“No,” he admitted, welcoming my lips to his with a low murmur of pleasure.

We shared breath for a short time, a token gift of flesh to accompany the gift of artistry. He was a not-infrequent rooning partner of mine, but neither of us felt drawn to become chesna. As we headed to the raft, I pondered that in silence.
Read the rest of this entry »