Full Circle

Challenge SubmissionFull Circle
by Persephone100
(persephone10034@yahoo.com)

Characters: Mainly Cal and Pellaz, also Astarth  [Cal’s POV]

Beta: thrihyrne  (Thanks, Luv! <3)  Any remaining mistakes are mine.

Rating: PG  Aruna is alluded to and mentioned.  Nothing explicit.

Spoilers: Enchantments, Bewitchments, Fulfillments

Synopsis: Cal embarks on a quest to rediscover his past and goes to Fallsend.

Disclaimer: All the characters, their world, and all things Wraeththu belong to Storm Constantine, to whom I am very grateful.

Full Circle

A sudden cool and welcome evening breeze blew in from the open balcony, causing the candles on the ornate wooden dining table to flicker and almost go out.  It brought me out of my stupor.  I’d enjoyed a typical dinner at Phaonica, like I did most nights.  There was excellent food, the best drink, pleasant and beautiful company: all the necessary elements to a perfect evening for perfect Gelaming hara.  I had my chesnari and soul mate, Pellaz, at my side, giving me his secret smiles and touching me meaningfully and often throughout the evening.  I relished all of this to an extent.  I’d been through rough times, rougher than most hara I knew and this, I told myself, was my reward for it all.  Not that I deserved it– I knew I didn’t.  All the more reason to cherish every moment.

Suddenly an unbidden memory assailed me as I regarded Ashmael, our illustrious General, as he sipped his drink and spoke with a tribal leader he was trying to woo over to the Gelaming’s Federation of Tribes.  I remembered an unsettling dream I’d had about him after my stint as a kanene.  I’d taken aruna with him in the dream, but I didn’t know who I was.  I didn’t feel like I was me.  I only remembered the dream because it was disturbing.  I physically shook the thoughts away with a shiver.

“Cal?  Are you okay?” It was  my beloved’s voice.

“Yes, my love.”

That night as my one and only and I lay together in post-coital bliss, I pondered.  What had brought that memory of my dream creeping back into my psyche?   It was years ago.  Why now?  I remembered I’d been with Panthera when I’d awoken in a cold sweat from my aberrant dream. He’d been the one to comfort me and I’d forced myself to stay awake for a while so the dream wouldn’t continue.  After that my thoughts wandered to of all places, Piristil.  Thaine, Fallsend, Piristil– the place I’d been a kanene, the place I think of as the rock bottom time in my life.  However, my next thought was that if I hadn’t hit bottom, would I ever have risen to the top?  I remembered when I was there, I swore I’d leave.  I’d vowed to become somehar, that I’d return to the higher status I’d had and wanted back.  Notice that I didn’t say the status I deserved.

Well, here I am at Phaonica of all places, and a joint Tigron to boot!  How the once mighty have fallen and come back stronger.  Although I do for the most part think our “royal” status a joke, I also realize that my position allows me to help hara– for real.  Maybe I think I can make up for all the wrong I’ve done, I don’t know.  But this position I’m now in sometimes makes me feel like a fake, a poser.  I’m not royal material, I know that.  Sometimes I’d like to forget that, but then I feel alienated from myself so I have to do something– usually something completely inappropriate– to remind myself of who I really am.  Lately I’ve been inundated with just those very thoughts.  It’s easy to become complacent in such a place as Immanion, especially when you consider yourself one of the highest-ranking hara in all of Wraeththu society.  Sometimes I even get an evil thrill out of lording it over hara.  I hate myself for it, but it happens.  Lately I’ve been feeling out of myself, like I don’t even know who Calanthe is anymore.  Why do I care?  I’ve always liked things to be easy.  Why do I fight it when things are going well?

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A Calanthe By Any Other Name (is still Cal)

Editor's PickA Calanthe By Any Other Name (is still Cal)
by Thevina
(thevina33@gmail.com)

Rating: General

Canon Characters: Seel, Swift, Cal

Summary: Cal may be an enigma, but he always arouses strong reactions in the hara closest to him. In seeking his rescued son, Swift finds new patience to deal with his chesnari’s bitterness toward the har who has profoundly shaped them both.

Author’s Notes: I wrote this as a gift to the dear Heartofoshun as a thanks for her exceedingly helpful copy edit and evaluation of Maelstrom and Mage before I sent it to Storm for further edits. She asked for a story that dealt with how differently Swift and Seel perceive Cal and how very different their relations with him are. Set at the end of The Shades of Time and Memory at Imbrilim, after Swift and Seel have seen Cal and discovered that he rescued Aleeme and Azriel from Ponclast.

A Calanthe By Any Other Name (is still Cal)

Swift finished his second glass of wine in a contemplative silence, waiting for his chesnari to return to their tent. It was ridiculous for them to be staying, in some ways, since their home wasn’t that far away, especially by sedu. He didn’t trust the Otherlanes right now, however. Plus, his beloved son was here. Cal had saved him. He’d rescued Azriel from Ponclast’s filthy clutches…

He felt Seel’s presence and straightened up, hearing successively the outside and then the inside flaps of their tent thrown aside. Seel clomped in, his maelstrom of emotions so obvious Swift imagined he could see the conflict swirling around him. His hair was wildly messy, almost moving of its own accord as Aleeme’s hostling’s did.

“That walk doesn’t seem to have helped much,” Swift noted as Seel continued to pace.

“Too many hara,” Seel complained bitterly. “I want to get out of here.”

“You mean Cal’s around, and you wish he’d never reappeared.”

“Would you stop being so fucking insightful?” Seel said explosively before clawing at his scalp. “And it’s not just him. There’s Lianvis, who’s scary and creepy at the same time, and the Gelaming contingency— I’d forgotten how fucking superior they act.”

“I thought you were glad to see Ashmael.”

Swift pushed himself up and out of the chair and retrieved a brush, determined to take care of Seel’s hair. It was something that usually soothed him, but given what all had gone on in recent days, Swift realized it might well take a potent sedative to get Seel to simmer down.

“Yeah, I am,” Seel admitted grudgingly, scowling at Swift when he approached, hairbrush in hand.

At another point Swift might well have told Seel that he was acting like a harling and he could pout and sulk all he wanted, but he’d be doing it alone. But since Azriel and Aleeme had been rescued, and he knew they were alive and whole and healing — though the healers were being frustratingly vague — Swift was more magnanimous than usual.

“It’s good to see Ash again,” Seel said, half to himself as he brushed out the tangles. “Out of all of them, he’s he most down to earth. When he talks, he makes sense.”
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Desert’s Fierce Kiss

Desert’s Fierce Kiss
by Thevina
(thevina33@gmail.com)

Rating: Adult
Pairing: Cobweb/Lianvis
Summary: Potentially set canonically at some point not quite a decade post-Bewitchments, Lianvis visits Forever (in search of Ulaume) and spends some memorable time with Cobweb.
Author’s Notes: Written for Gingerspark (former Niennaainur), who requested this pairing.

“So. How long before the scorpions arrive?” Cobweb asked, picking up a cup of tea with steady hands.

Ithiel raised a tawny eyebrow. “A few days yet. Our scouts intercepted them on the very southern borders. Their leader is with them.”

Cobweb shuddered, gooseflesh washing along his forearms despite being covered by layers of silk. “Him,” he muttered, looking into the cup all at once to see if there were messages to be read, but the leaves were silent. “Why did he come?”

“He didn’t say much to the patrol.” Ithiel gave Cobweb a sympathetic look. “Lianvis, much like you, is a force unto himself. We are allies, as you know.”

“We’re overrun,” Cobweb snapped. “I’ll be courteous. I always am, even when— after all that… Gelaming,” he finally concluded with a venomous hiss.

“I believe he’s coming because he’s looking for someone. A har that used to be close to him but vanished a few years ago. He hadn’t been told about Terzian’s death, so now he wishes to give his condolences in person on top of his true purpose.”

Cobweb fixed his old friend with a brittle stare. “I can’t imagine that desert sorcerer could miss anything going on in his tribe, much less an actual har.”

Ithiel took a deep breath and let it out again, his gaze flitting around until it alighted on a bottle of sheh. “I’m only telling you what’s been told to me.” With an agile hand he poured himself a drink and helped himself to two green olives from a plate sitting between them.

“Thank you for that,” Cobweb said gloomily. “At least Swift and Azriel aren’t here.”
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Saltrock Odyssey

Thevina Editor's Pick

Saltrock Odyssey

Beta: Thevina/Thrihyrne    Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Rating: NC17
Spoilers: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit
Synopsis: This is a story of four hara, their journey to Saltrock and their life there.  It is set in the time of Saltrock just before and while Cal and Pellaz are there.   It’s also a story of their journey to self-discovery.
Disclaimer: All the characters, their world and all things Wraeththu belong to Storm Constantine, to whom I am very grateful.

It was another beautiful desert sunset.  We sat, as had become our custom of late, on a shelf of an outcropping of rock, gazing westward to view the sun making its descent, splashing in sequence its yellows, oranges, reds, blues and purples until at last the colorful display was replaced by the deepening hues of an indigo then black sky, dotted with bright stars in myriad number.  It was a dome of sparkling points, so infinite, yet seeming close enough to touch.

We sat there, night after night, my friends and I, with a bottle or two of liquor, taking in the desert night‘s splendor.  There was laughter, camaraderie and maybe even love in our conversation and banter.  We had come here by our own volition, to this dry and desolate place.  There were four of us in our little group; my best friend, Nyala, our other two friends, Sola and Lon, and me, Taj. We’d grown up together as humans and had been incepted together close to a year ago.  We’d lived in a city, so we had no tribe.

We had drifted until we’d found a place where we felt comfortable staying.  It was an outpost of sorts of the Kakkahaar tribe.  We were located close enough to an area where provisions could be procured and then sent on to the large tent city where the Kakkahaar leader, Lianvis, dwelt.  Because of this, and I assumed other outposts, Lianvis and his elite hara never had to leave their tent city unless they chose to, and they were still able to have all the necessities and luxuries they desired.

Lianvis and his entourage had deigned to visit our humble, and I do mean humble, outpost, Solarumn, once, since we’d been here.  Though he was very beautiful, he’d impressed me as being self-involved and dismissive of anyhar he thought beneath him; and he seemed to think most hara beneath him.   I remember there was much running around and many short tempers just before his arrival.  He came with his own luxurious tent which his servants set up at the highest point in the camp.  We couldn’t resist sneaking a peek inside one time when we thought no one was there.  It was lavish with beautiful materials of colors I didn’t even know the names of.  It was full of large pillows and ornate rugs.  There were flowing curtains,  shimmering fabrics and tassels everywhere. Nyala said it looked like the inside of a genie bottle.

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As Kinshar Met

As Kinshar Met

by Thevina (thevina33@gmail.com)

Story Notes

Spoilers: Wraiths

Canon Characters: Seel, Ashmael

Rating: Adult

Summary: At the end of chapter 12 after Seel saw Pellaz in his re-generation tank, Thiede is very specific with Seel and after telling him he’s *going* to move to Immanion within a month, says, “You will be pleased to know I’ve allocated a sedu to you. Your training in controlling it begins in two days’ time. I’ll send a teacher to Saltrock with the animal.” Seel isn’t particularly grateful.

As Kinshar Met

Seel was a mess. His feelings were a succession of storms: hot winds of anger, driving rains of futility, lightning bolts of anguish. Ashmael had asked him to kill this horrific re-creation of Pellaz, and in the moment, Seel hadn’t been able to do it. Thiede had known it all, of course. That thought was a red-hot poker of fury, one he took out on one of the few remaining glasses left in his room.

“FUCK YOU!” he roared, hurling the glass against the far wall where it shattered with a satisfyingly loud smash. “Fuck you!” he declared a second time, his voice more measured, the ‘you’ encompassing a roster of hara at this point.

He lifted the bottle of sheh to his lips, sickened by the knowledge that he was a pawn just like everyhar else. Could he ever act as unpredictably as Cal, enough to break free from his own marionette’s strings? The thought of Cal made his mouth sour, and he took another swig. He felt a shift in the atmosphere, and his skin prickled as though suddenly tuned into approaching static. A sedu and rider. Ashmael had arrived. Or he certainly hoped it was Ashmael— other Gelaming had visited Saltrock, but he wasn’t as attuned to them.

Dispassionately going through the motions, Seel cleaned up, sort of. He combed his errant hair, tucked in his shirt, and then walked to the bathroom and washed his face. He looked like he’d recently come back from the dead himself, and then wished that analogy hadn’t come to mind.

“Damn it all,” he said to his reflection, easing away from the cracked mirror when he heard the unmistakable sturdy thumping of Ashmael’s leather boots. What surprised him was hearing a second set.

“Ashmael?” he called out, striding to the head of the stairs, his heart rate slowing slightly at the sight of the General’s blond hair.

“The natives tell me you haven’t been out of this house in two days,” Ashmael said by way of greeting.

“Yeah, well…” Seel wasn’t particularly articulate, not when faced with the friend he’d just failed and a stunning golden-skinned beauty behind him. Seel looked steadily into Ashmael’s light and calculating eyes, seeing compassion there he honestly hadn’t expected after he’d botched things up.

“I couldn’t do it,” Seel said, his voice a pained sigh. “He had self-awareness. It flickered through and then went away. It’s so unnatural, so grotesque,” he spat, the turbulent feelings sparking to life again.

“I don’t fault you,” Ashmael reassured him. “Thank you for trying. I’m not sure that I’d have been able to do it either.”

“Thiede knew anyway. All of it. Your part in goading me to ask to see him, too.” Seel chewed on the bitter words, surprised when Ashmael merely made an affirmative noise.

“I should have predicted that.”

“I don’t suppose you’re the one Thiede sent for my sedu instruction?” Seel interrupted.

Ashmael gave him a provocative smile. “No. I weighed in with my preference, and you’ll get to work with Parallax, here. Before that, though, we’re going to bring you back to the land of the living. Least we can do after what you went through.”

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