Sharpened Silk

Title: Sharpened Silk
Author: youcantseeus (youcantseeus12@gmail.com)
Characters: Ponclast, Aleeme, Abrimel, Pellaz
Summary: Thirty years after the horrors that Aleeme experienced at Fulminir, he seeks out Ponclast. Ponclast POV. (Ponclast/Aleeme, Abrimel/Aleeme).
Spoilers: Books 1-6. Also, possibly Paragenesis.
Word Count: 9000
Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of Wraeththu or any of the characters in this fic.
Warnings: Not a piece of rape fiction by any means, but there is a lot of discussion of pelki/rape. Self-mutilation. Ponclast POV.
Author’s Note: I’ve been working on this piece for a little while — it won’t leave my brain. Darker than some of my other stuff, but with an introspective bent that makes me fairly satisfied with the outcome. Reviews of all types are loved.

Sharpened Silk

Most days, I possess something resembling happiness.

I have so little and what I do own is granted by the grace of the Tigron. Several years ago, he deemed me fit to occupy the earthly realm. This does not mean that I was given my freedom – there are guards at my gates and watchers scouring my every thought for the slightest signs rebellion. But the Tigron gave me a cottage in the woods, far away from other hara, where I could meditate on my wrongs and spend time with my chesnari. I think that Pellaz did it more for Abrimel than for me.

This afternoon is like most and I go to my attic study to work on my memoirs. Writing memoirs preoccupies most first generation hara of importance. I am no longer important, but I was once and the ability to write about my life has not been stripped from me. On days when I feel rage, I find writing easy and my scribblings are full of angry recriminations and bitter regrets. However, my time in another realm imparted some level of calm to my being and on days when this is my dominate mood, I mostly stare out the small attic window. Our cottage sets on top of a hill and I should be able to see the surrounding forest, but the window is positioned so that I only see blue-gray sky unless I climb onto a chair.

I am still in prison.

I am staring out the window at that blue sky when there is a knock at the door. “Enter,” I say.

Abrimel comes in. This surprises me because my chesnari usually spends his afternoons in study. In many ways, the lonely, academic lifestyle suits him more than it does me. I enjoy gaining knowledge, but only as precursor to action. Abrimel loves reading, learning things about different tribes – so different from the typical Gelaming aristocrat who doesn’t want to learn about any tribe but his own.

“Somehar is here,” he says.

I give him a wan smile and he walks behind me to put his arms around my shoulders, a comfortably intimate gesture. There is a rumor going around Immanion that the Tigron comes to me for advice. For this reason, Gelaming aristocrats occasionally pay off my guards so they can get some advice of their own – normally about their inane love lives. The truly depressing fact about all this is that I am glad for the distraction.

“Did you tell him I wasn’t a seer?” I ask. Lately, they’ve gotten it into their heads that I can predict their futures. I am not a seer, though I can occasionally predict what might happen through common sense and a realistic view of harish nature.

“I told him,” Abrimel says. “He’s still there.”
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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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Break Open the Massive Dark

Editor's PickBreak Open the Massive Dark
by Thevina

Story Notes

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

Spoilers: Shades of Time and Memory

Canon Characters: Aleeme, Azriel, Cobweb, Moon, Vaysh, Cal (all others original characters)

Summary:

Now language escape, fugitive of forgiveness
Leaving as trace only circles of rust
– “Drought,” Vienna Teng

There are many casualties in the second assault on Ponclast that happens in The Shades of Time and Memory. This is a possible telling of Aleeme and Azriel’s story after their liberation from Fulminir.

Author’s Notes: Firstly, my huge thanks to my two betas, Elfscribe and Wendy. You have both helped tremendously in making this story as polished as it is— and thanks for pushing me to write Cal! Hopefully there aren’t any mistakes, but if any remain, they’re mine. My gratitude also to Persephone for being an advance reader and for sharing your enthusiasm and thoughts. One of my original characters makes reference to a Chickasaw legend; I found the story here initially.

Break Open the Massive Dark

Drifting into wakefulness felt like slowly rising to the surface from the bottom of a lake. Aleeme suddenly thrashed around, terrified that there was ice above him; he was trapped, he couldn’t breathe— he would drown if he opened his mouth to take a breath and his limbs were so heavy. He began to sink again, letting out a strangled cry despite the panic of expecting a rush of icy water to fill his lungs. He pulled in a deep breath of air, hearing an awful rattling sound that, with a shock, he realized was his own hoarse throat. There was a sound of canvas flapping, somehar muttering under his breath, approaching Aleeme at speed while with agonizing effort he forced his eyes open. He couldn’t even speak, he just gaped, fish-like, his mouth opening and closing as he struggled to figure out where the hell he was, why he was lying down, the source of the glowing soft light. Something horrific had happened; it lurked patiently in Aleeme’s mind, off to the side like something glimpsed in his peripheral vision, uncertain and shadowy. Whatever it was, it was really, really bad.

“Aleeme. Please look at me.”

The har’s voice was steady, but Aleeme could hear the worry in his tone, betraying his calm demeanor. With tremendous will, Aleeme turned his head to gaze heavy-lidded at the har standing at his bedside, clad in healer’s robes. He had porcelain skin and cat-like eyes that slanted slightly upward. He seemed to be struggling with emotions that he managed to keep in check, reaching down to brush some of Aleeme’s hair that had instinctively waved feebly toward him.

“Please don’t try to sit up or move around,” the healer said kindly. “You’ve done very well, but you’ll still be with us for quite some time. You’re safe now.” He held his hands suspended above Aleeme’s body, walking slowly around him, his lips moving silently.

Aleeme felt a soothing warmth in his torso when the healer passed over that area, but the sensation stopped as the har traversed above his pelvis, down his legs and up again. Not until he was above his stomach did Aleeme sense the heat and strange feeling that his blood was singing, responding to whatever energies the healer was channeling toward him. He tried to move his legs, managing only to wriggle his toes a little bit and feel a terrible ache in his inner thighs.

“What happened?” he asked the healer who had pulled up a chair and slipped his hands under the warm blankets to knead at his thigh.

The touch was professional, not at all erotic, but just as the exotic har opened his mouth to reply, Aleeme was assaulted by a memory of somehar else’s fingers gripping his shoulders in a bruising hold, a battering ram of an ouana-lim slamming into him over and over as he screamed and tried to escape, only to be hit in the jaw by a hideous-looking creature—

“NO!” he shouted, shaking with the abject terror, powerless to escape as his innermost chamber was wrenched open. “YOU FUCKING BASTARD!”

Aleeme swung with his fists, screaming and screaming, trying to kick, snapping with his teeth when he felt warm hands trying to pin him down.

“AZRIEL!” he sobbed, struggling against his would-be captors like a wild thing. There was a stinging in his left thigh and an icy sensation; hara with expressions of anxiety and concern came into his line of vision as he pulled against restraints they’d managed to attach to his wrists.

“Azriel!” he choked out of a raw throat, resisting the soothing waves of energy that radiated toward him. It was a trick— Ponclast had moved him, was going to do unspeakable things to him; Aleeme was too weak to fight it. He cried, the bitter, angry tears burning his eyes as he thought about another harling starting life in him, another harling created in hate.

“Just kill me!” Aleeme raged, though his mind was getting fuzzy. “I’ll die before this harling is born!” he yelled, gasping for breath. He began to feel as though his body had been filled with heavy cotton, becoming still even as he continued to struggle against whatever drug had been injected in him.

“Aleeme, you’re safe,” a voice said to his right; he sounded like he was trying to convince himself of that. “You’re with the best healers there are. Please believe me.”

Aleeme tried to spit at him, but his body no longer wanted to cooperate and instead he succeeded only in flinging spittle on his pillow. “You’re with him,” he moaned. “It’s a trick. Azriel…” The word tasted like blood. He wheezed pitifully, clawing at consciousness, desperate to stay awake. “Ulau…”

The world went black.

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Fairy Tale

Fairy Tale
By Lusa

Story Notes

Author’s Email: rhapsodyingreen@cox.net
Web page: http://www.geocities.com/lusa_thul/ecrirehome.html

Pairings: Aleeme/Azriel
Rating: R
Summary: Aleeme reflects during his imprisonment.
Spoilers: For pretty much all of Shades.
Disclaimer: Storm Constantine was brilliant and thought of all this, not me, tragically.

Fairy Tale

My hostling told me a human story once, about a princess trapped in a tower. She waited alone, empty and tragic until a prince arrived to save her. They fell in love and the entire world, from that moment on, was perfect. It’s all backwards and wrong for me. I fell in love, I felt that way, and I actually understood and believed all those silly fairytales. But then it went wrong, somehow, for reasons I still don’t really understand. I don’t want to, anymore, because I’m scared to learn just what they might be. Now it’s me locked away in a tower, not some distant character. Now I’m the one who suffers.

Can I describe this pain? Words don’t really exist for it, because what my life has become is something too terrible for them. Even ‘pelki’ falls short. That first time Ponclast touched me I thought I could fight it. That I could be stronger than this. All I would have to do was think of Azriel and he could not hurt me.

I still love him, but I can no longer even remember his face.

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Back Again

Back Again*
by Mnschoen

Story Notes

So, thanks to all of you who helped me find the two awesome Azriel/Aleeme fics that exist, and those of you who commented on my last fic (Don’t Leave Forever) so positively. I appreciate the feedback! Here, for Christmas, is some smut, before I get down to finishing what I started in the little “Aleeme is a nut-job” ficlet.

* Editor’s note: This fic arrived w/o a title, so I added one.

Back Again

Galhea had shed the fiery skin of autumn and was buried beneath heaps of snow before Aleeme reappeared at the gates. Azriel was out when he rode in: for what purpose Cobweb couldn’t say, except that his high har was restless and ill-tempered recently, and liked to spend his time alone. So Aleeme waited in the kitchen, nursing a cup of warm cider while Yarrow went about his business. He was getting a bit anxious, watching as the sky bled against the long line of the horizon, the sun slipping away as night captured Galhea.

Aleeme, staring into the dregs of his cup, began to doubt that Azriel would be glad to see him. They’d been children when they parted, making promises they weren’t fit to make, and it had been long months since they’d last seen each other. Perhaps Azriel—-kind soul that he was—-was with another lover even now, imagining a way to let Aleeme down gently. The fire guttered; there was a bustle of activity as Yarrow began to make ready the dishes to be served at dinner. By the time the table was to be set, Aleeme’s stomach was twisted into such knots that even the smell of shellfish in wine sauce couldn’t whet his appetite. He pulled restlessly at a lock of dark hair, laying his plans to be on the road by tomorrow; he was unwilling to overstay his welcome, and surely if Azriel had another lover he would be unwelcome.

Yarrow put a hand on his shoulder. “Dinner’s set. Come on out to the dining room. It’s not as warm out there, but I’m putting the fire out anyway.”

Making his way to the table, Aleeme frantically planned what to say to a bewildered Azriel, what excuses to make for returning. Of course the vows hadn’t been in earnest — only a child could make such hasty promises.

Determined to put these thoughts aside and appear polite at dinner, even if he was not longer a desired member of the household, Aleeme hurried his step and ran straight into somehar. With a little yelp he fell back, but hands clasped his and pulled him upright once more.

Azriel stood there, face flushed, breathing heavy as though he’d been running, still holding Aleeme’s hands in his own. At the sight of that familiar face, Aleeme felt relief and desire go rushing through him, and he couldn’t help but offer up a smile. “Az,” he said, careful to disguise the huskiness in his voice. He might be a fool for love, but Azriel was a fool for nothing.

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