Series: From Afar
Spoilers: First trilogy ending, glimpses of Shades
Date Posted: November 2004
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Disclaimer: Wraeththu and all characters, etc, associated with it belong to the wonderful Storm Constantine.
Credits: Well, a huge thank you to Storm Constantine for creating the Wraeththu books and for being generous enough to allow her fans to play in her world.
Part 1: The family
Miho liked to walked at dusk almost alone in the streets that were losing their colors to the night. Street lamps were being lit one by one by the guards ; they were still to be repaired, all broken down by the Shaking, like trees flatten by a great blow. That was weeks ago. But this was only the farthest outskirt of the great Immanion, and building up was done little by little. Miho had heard from some gossips that the center was almost back to normal now, back to its usual bustling life, be it day or night. It was like another planet entirely and one he was not so eager to discover.
As he went in view of the guards barracks, he turned to walk back home. He was wary of those hara, whose eyes always seemed to follow his every move each time he passed, boring holes of fire on his back. He still dreaded they’d come after him and try to beat him down or “play with” him… “You’re an adult now,” he chided himself… but memories were hard to let go.
He then decided to take the most direct way : it was later than he had thought and he didn’t want his father to worry. And little Ritsua. He quickened his pace. Ritsua would be crying by now, he was sure, wanting his bedtime tale. He wouldn’t go to bed without being told about the wondrous creatures his big bother would conjure up for him.
As he neared his destination, Miho noticed there were no light at the windows, no sign of life ; old terrors arose, gripping his stomach. He ran inside.
“Father?” he called. “Ritsua?”
He rushed through the courtyard, at the back of the house, and beyond, to his father workshop. Yes! There was light in there. He stopped to catch his breath – it was so easy now, fear has gone back, deep inside. Suddenly, the door opened and a cheerful little hara threw himself in his arms.
“Miho, I knew it was you!”
“It’s late, why are you here? Have you eaten?”
“Yes, Father gave me some cake.”
“Sssh, it’s ‘Solien’ for you, not ‘Father,’ you know that. Do you want the others hearing you and mocking you?”
“No buts, we already talked about that. Now come back to the house, I’ll give something else to eat and then I’ll tell you what happened to the Shining Prince after he got lost in the Dark Forest.”
The face of the child lightened up at the last words and he ran across the courtyard to the house. Miho stepped into his father’s place; it was a little untidy, which was unusual. His father was looking at him with an apologizing smile.
“He was watching me. He got hypnotized somewhat.”
“No wonder,” Miho answered, smiling back.
He understood only too well his brother’s fascination, as he himself had spent hours, back then, watching his father molding vases and urns from the raw clay.
“Do you want something to eat too? I believe the cake you gave Ritsua is what I prepared for your lunch.”
“I was stuck with this merchant’s order, I didn’t feel like eating,” his father explained. “So when I was finally done, I had to do something to calm down. Ritsua showed up and … well, you know how it is.”
“You must eat properly.” Miho said, sweeping the scrubs from the table near the window. “What if Leeruan were to lose interest in you? He could take Ritsua from us and have us thrown away from Immanion.”
“You’re too harsh with him. Leeruan is a kind har. He knows Ritsua loves us and he would never inflict the trauma of such a separation to his son. And he’s genuinely fond of me too, it’s not only because of my looks.”
“If you speak so well of him, why don’t you accept his offer then?” Miho asked with anger. “Let’s move to his palace! Throw the past away like all those well-thinking hara.”
His father sighed and looked up at him with pained eyes. Miho turned away. He could not bare to see this sadness unveiled, though he had been the one to trigger it out.
“Is it really what you want? You’ve always been against it. You were the one who actually came up with the best reasons when I couldn’t find any. Leeruan respects you because of that.”
There was a silence. Miho hated it. He wondered why he had to speak about Leeruan.
“Do you really love this har?,” Miho asked finally. “Have you let go of Mother?”
His father’s hand went to the pendant hidden under his shirt. He stood up and smiled.
“Let’s go back to the house. Ritsua must be fretting by now.”
Miho had known it would be his only answer.
As if summoned by the previous evening conversation, Leeruan har Yseldis showed up in the morning, loaded with gifts. Ritsua was hiding behind Miho, always so self-conscious in the presence of his father, always yearning to go to him also, Miho knew. Leeruan was a sparkling entity, the typical god-sent angel of the Gelaming. He put down his parcels and took shamelessly Solien in his arms, lips locked in the sharing of breath.
His long pale hair upon Solien dark hair. Heaven and Earth. Embracing.
Miho shook himself. He turned to his brother and said with a loud voice.
“Don’t look, Ritsua, those are ill-mannered adults who can’t remember where they are.”
Leeruan let go and laughed. Solien smiled and stepped back. Then, the Gelaming opened his arms to Ritsua who cried with delight et ran to him. Miho knew he should rejoice Ritsua had such a powerful father, who could protect him, just by being what he was. He knew deep inside he would always be a little envious of his brother. How himself had needed this kind of protection when they had come to Immanion for the first time…
Leeruan had brought wonderful presents, clothes and jewels, but the most important for Solien was the authorization to travel to Megalithica. It was still a hazardous country, despite all the efforts of the Gelaming in sorting it out, and common hara were strongly dissuaded from traveling there. Solien wanted to go and find the special clay he had once found, a long long time ago. Leeruan and he had had heated arguments about it, and Solien had been in lots of places of Almagabra, just to prove his lover there weren’t such a clay on this continent. Leeruan suspected Solien wanted to escape far from the Gelaming. He told so to Miho once : it was before the Shaking, the two “children” had been invited to Selanium, his domain, not far from Phaonica, the imperial palace.
“I know your father only followed us for your sake.” Leeruan had said. “Do you remember? You were too young for your father’s tribe to incept you and too old for the Colurastes.”
“I don’t know of these things,” he had replied with cold anger. “You don’t either, you weren’t there. We left the tribe, we sought the Colurastes, we traveled a lot for us to find the right place.”
“It’s here the right place. You were incepted by the Gelaming, you are Gelaming.”
“I’m not, you all make it clear to me everyday!”
“That’s not true.”
“You only did it to win my father over!”
“And you are feeling guilty about that?” His voice had been so sly, it had sent shivers down his spine.
“You say you love my father. You know he’s not happy here, so why don’t you let him go?”
Leeruan had sighed through his nose, leaning back in the plump couch.
“I know a lot about you, your family, a lot more than Solien would want me to know. But I’m not Nahir-Nuri for nothing, although my mentors would certainly be affronted to know I could say I love somehar without a second thought.”
He had chuckled idiotically. Miho too had wondered how somehar like this could be Nahir-Nuri.
“Anyway, I know Solien is still cherishing the memory of his lost wife, back from his human life. He keeps her alive even in you, it seems.”
“I’m not ashamed of my past,” he had said haughtily, “I love my mother. Two blasphemies for you, Gelaming, love and mother.”
“You know so little, young one,” Leeruan said wistfully, looking up at the ceiling. “The Shining Prince weeps inside too.”
At this time, Miho knew very little indeed and hadn’t been able to understand all the things this simple sentence was referring to.
However, Leeruan had finally given up to his lover’s request. Solien was staring at the paper with shining eyes. Too shining?
“I made arrangements for us to travel with Sedim. This way it’ll be faster and safer.”
Solien’s face jerked up with a start. Miho realized Leeruan might have been right about his father’s real intentions.
“And Miho and Ritsua will be living at Selanium for the duration of our travel, my hara will take care of them.”
Miho had gone cold. Deep, deeper in the beast’s den!
“Ritsua will have more harlings to play with and you can’t deny his education will be better. And frankly Miho could make with more friends.”
Solien had a stricken face.
“I thought… I would be traveling with the children… show them the land…”
“Now… I hadn’t thought you wanted it that way.” Leeruan lied, his face rigid, a cold smile on his lips. “Maybe we could discuss that privately.”
He put his arm around his companion’s shoulders and lead him towards his bedroom. When the door closed, Ritsua made a distressed sound and turned to his brother, his eyes shining with unshed tears.
“Is Father sad?” He always had a different way of telling “Father,” be it Solien or Leeruan.
“Solien will be all right.” Miho sighed. “Let’s go buy fruits to make a cake for your Father.”
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