Death Gifts the Unimaginable

I thought I’d posted this back when I wrote it, but apparently I didn’t! This is a sequel to my story contained in Paragenesis, “The Rune-Throwing.”

Title: Death Gifts the Unimaginable

Characters: OCs

Word count: 6,044

Author: Thevina

Death Gifts the Unimaginable

 

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.

 

“Hroth?”

 

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.

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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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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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Along the Line

challenge_winner_april09Editor\'s PickAlong the Line
by Thevina

Story Notes

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

Spoilers: The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure

Pairings: Cal/Orien, but that’s not the focus

Rating: R

Word count: 1412

Warnings: Murder, quite dubious sanity

Disclaimer: The characters, plot and setting all belong to Storm Constantine. Thank you!!

Story Notes:
Initially mentioned by Cal to Swift in Bewitchments (I think that’s the first time it’s mentioned!) and then described in more gory details in Wraiths, Cal’s murder of Orien in cold blood, after taking aruna, to me remains one of the most inexplicable things Cal ever does. So… I decided to try and go there, in his head. It was, thankfully, a very short visit. I want to thank Elfscribe for beta’ing and Persephone for her feedback. Any remaining or added errors are my own. The inspirational song, source of the lyrics Cal sings as well as the title of this story is “All Along the Watchtower,” penned by Bob Dylan.

Along the Line

Cal hummed under his breath, a song from his human days. It hadn’t made sense back then, but now it crescendoed in his blood, a call to arms, a shift in the kaleidoscope to create a pattern that shimmered with truth and resolution. The night was fragrant and sticky, saturated with prophecy. He’d seen fear in Orien’s eyes earlier, all blinds of pretense pulled up and away as Cal had slammed him against the wall. Orien knew Cal could turn into a dervish of revenge, hate spinning and flashing from him, a self-contained tempest of destruction. And still, Cal also knew he would come; he’d summoned him and Orien would answer the call.

The hour had arrived for Cal to offer himself to the one he was convinced had led his beloved to the slaughter. Orien was a shaman, but also a skilled guide in the arunic arts. What could possibly be a more perfect ritual oblation before the sacrifice than aruna? With sanity fading as surely as that of a dying star on the cusp of going nova, Cal awaited him. Feet propped on a dusty dresser, he combed his hair, gazing sightlessly at the revenant with its hypnotic violet eyes that were reflected in the mirror.

“‘There must be some way out of here,’ said the joker to the thief,” he crooned softly, the old tune as fresh and clear on his tongue as though he’d just heard it on a radio. “‘There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.'”

With a steady hand he poured himself more wine and took a swallow. Just then the energy shifted; he’d not heard the front door, but he could sense Orien’s presence in the house, silently ascending the stairs with hesitation. Cal felt it all. Hyper-aware, he was a note plucked by mocking forces in the universe, the catastrophic overtones ringing through the ethers, a threnody for Orien.

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