Over The Hills And A Great Way Off

Title: Over The Hills And A Great Way Off
Author: Camile_Sinensis
Author’s email: teapot@doramail.com
Website: http://red-shellac.livejournal.com/
Characters: Starring Caeru, Cal, Pellaz, and a noisy and intrusive Original Character. Supporting roles by Tharmifex, Ashmael, Velaxis and other members of the Hegemony, plus An Innkeeper of Kyme and Various Other Hara Of That Town.
Spoilers: The story takes place just after the end of “Shades”, so the gentle reader is assumed to have a working knowledge of all the shit that has gone down up until then.

Over The Hills And A Great Way Off

“I lost somebody once, I know how it is…” – Caeru Meveny, “The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit”

Chapter 1

“I assure you, Tiahaar, the package is on board. I myself saw to its loading, and I have been keeping a close eye on it throughout the journey. A very close eye indeed! It will be found any minute now, I’m sure. There is absolutely no need to worry.”

The Captain forced a weak smile, which was obviously intended to reassure Ashmael, but which had precisely the opposite effect. A long and interesting career in both the Gelaming army and as a member of the Hegemony had led Ashmael to the conviction that any announcement regarding the lack of need for worry was an indication that worry was almost certainly exactly what was called for.

Ashmael gave a dissatisfied grunt, which the Captain took as permission to leave, and he hurried back to his ship, the Despina, which was currently moored at the harbour edge, tight ropes wrapped around stanchions holding her firm against the stone sides, while her white sails were neatly furled and stowed in the masts above. Her crew were currently swarming over and beneath the decks, like so many busy ants, searching for the missing cargo. The Captain shouted some choice insults at them as he approached, with the presumed intention of motivating them to increase their efforts, although Ashmael found himself wondering exactly how casting aspersions upon the dimensions of a har’s male aspect would spur him on to greater things.

The Captain and his crew were, of course, not Gelaming. No Gelaming would resort to such base and unproductive methods. If the Despina and her crew were Gelaming, their best efforts would be assured by their own desire to elevate their personal spirituality and work for the common good of the city of Immanion and the entire Gelaming tribe. It was a wonder, Ashmael occasionally thought, that any of these object examples of selfless virtue ever stooped to anything so coarse as actually being paid.

He realised that there was nothing for it but to wait until the ship’s crew located what he had come for. The ship was a good-sized vessel, but not so large that searching it would take forever. He sighed heavily and sat down upon a capstan, pushing his hair out of his eyes and squinting at the ship, as if staring at it would speed up the process.

It was a beautiful morning, although beautiful mornings were entirely commonplace in Immanion, so this one did not announce itself as being in any way outstanding, rather it stood modestly in line with all its predecessors and contributed to the general air of loveliness in and around the city in a manner that was somehow self-effacing yet inviting of open-mouthed admiration. It was a very Gelaming morning.

The only unusual thing about the morning was its short-lived duration. It had not been morning for any great length of time and the air still carried the coolness bequeathed to it by the recently-departed night, although that would change as the sun rose higher over the hills surrounding the city to the landward side. The city itself had not yet fully awoken from its slumber; shops and stalls and businesses still awaited their proprietors and customers; sleepy hara were still rising from their beds, or not, depending upon temperament and an unusual peace lay over the harbour, normally a busy, bustling area during the daytime, full of comings and goings and noise and activity.
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Sojourn of the Spirit

SOJOURN OF THE SPIRIT

Author: persephone100 (persephone10034@yahoo.com)

Characters: Mostly OC’s

Beta: thrihyrne {Thanks again!} All remaining mistakes are mine.

Rating: NC17 (but only in a short section)

Spoilers: Enchantments, Bewitchments, Fulfillments

Synopsis: This is a story about a young pure born har going through feybraiha and his first aruna, including all the mixed feelings and embarrassing moments that always seem to go with coming of age, with the added twist of a mysterious houseguest next door with whom the young har is fascinated. It is set in a time period when most of the first generation incepted hara are nearing the end of their life span.

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

SOJOURN OF THE SPIRIT

The sun shone on my brother’s dark hair as he spun faster and faster, giggling, egged on by my two cousins, my best friend and myself. Soon he stopped and staggered around, out of breath and laughing until he tumbled to the ground in an exhilarated heap. My friend jumped on him and started tickling him, adding to his dizzy state.

“Stop! Stop, Coral! I’m going to pee myself!”

He finally quit and flopped down lying on the grass beside my brother, as my cousins and I began to twirl ourselves around playing the game we referred to as “getting drunk.” It was so called because we imagined that was what it would feel like to be high on sheh, wine or liquor. Not that we all hadn’t tasted it on special occasions, but we were certainly never allowed, at our ages, to get drunk. Being the oldest of our little clique, I would probably be the first of us to do so for real. Doubtless it was something my parents wouldn’t be too proud of me for looking forward to, even though they enjoyed it themselves with fairly recurrent frequency.

As we all lay on the grass catching our breath and letting the self-induced vertigo subside, my thoughts, as they were wont to do of late, turned to my parents’ almost constant admonishment that I would soon be approaching feybraiha. From all I’d heard from my parents and older cousins and friends who had gone through it already, it wasn’t something I was in any particular hurry to experience. I remember my cousin Solstice turning red, itching and crying at the drop of a hat. And then there was aruna. Of course I was curious and all the families in our community were completely open about it, but still as harlings not yet deflowered, we giggled, joked and speculated about it quite a bit.

The first inkling that maybe my coming of age was approaching faster than I’d thought, had happened only recently. Coral and I were playing near a small run, trying to catch dragonflies. We got heated from the sun and sought out a shady tree. Coral climbed onto a low branch and hung upside down by his knees. He giggled as his auburn hair hung down, almost touching the ground. His loose shirt had gone down over his head exposing him from below his hipbones to his neck. As I watched him I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off his golden skin. I wanted to smooth my hands over it and I had a strange sensation inside like I had fireflies in my stomach. The feelings surprised and embarrassed me and I was grateful that Coral’s face was covered so he couldn’t detect anything. I ran off into the bushes, feigning a need to pee and sat, trying to get myself together. Soon I heard Coral calling and searching for me. I took a deep breath and walked toward his voice. He didn’t hear me approaching him from behind so I tapped him on the back with both hands and yelled, “BOO!” He gave a cry of surprise, laughed and then chased me all the way back to the run. I’d escaped being found out–at least that time.

My hostling’s voice, calling my brother and me to dinner, abruptly ended my introspection.

“Willow! Wren! Dinner!”

“Come on!” Wren called, his whole face a smile. “Arrana’s making grilled chicken, remember? Race ya!”

We got to our cottage, exhilarated and out of breath.

“I win!” I shouted.

“You always win,” Wren said, pouting.

“Willow is two years older. That’s why he won,” our hostling said. “Sit down. We’re eating out here tonight.”

We sat at our outside table, near a grilling pit. The aroma of the grilled chicken was mouth-watering. Our hostling marinated the meat in his own concoction of honey, a spicy sauce and red pepper. It was my brother’s and my favorite meal. As Arrana, our hostling, turned the meat, our father came out of the house. He smiled at Wren and me but headed straight for Arrana. He pulled him into an embrace, kissing him. Wren rolled his eyes and I snickered. My father and hostling were obviously still very much in love which embarrassed my little brother but not me. I’d come to the age where I could appreciate their relationship to a degree.

“Gin,” my hostling murmured. Our father’s name was Ginseng but almost everyone we knew, including our hostling and my brother and I, called him Gin.

“I’ll get the drinks,” my father said as we all took our places at the table. He came out with a pitcher of iced tea for Wren and me and a bottle of wine for him and Arrana.

Arrana had prepared grilled summer vegetables and tomatoes with dressing as well as the chicken. Being that it was mid summer, we had an abundance of fresh produce, grown both as a community to share and in our individual gardens. Our little community was self sufficient, growing our communal gardens, raising sheep, goats, cows and chickens. We also had horses for transportation. We cultivated many fruit and nut trees and several varieties of berries and tubers. My parents and all the others knew how to preserve and store all the things we could grow for that purpose. My brother and I never wanted for any of the necessities of life and enjoyed many things we considered to be luxuries as well.

When we’d finished our feast, Wren and I helped to clean up and then went out to the table once again for dessert. Arrana brought out bowls of various seasonal berries with cream and sugar. Wren and I delighted in the summer sweets. All through dessert my parents made eyes at each other as we joked and talked about what we’d done that day. My father was a sort of overseer for a lot of the various workings of the community, but he was also still a very hands-on contributor when necessary. Our hostling mostly took care of our family and house, but was also available to help hara who were giving birth. All was going well until Gin suddenly asked me a question that put a damper on my contentment.

“So Willow, have you given any thought as to who your first aruna partner will be?”

I stared speechless as my hostling said, “Gin, don’t push him. He’s got plenty of time to think about that. He’s not even shown the first signs yet.”

“I know but he needs to prepare himself and choose the right one.” Then turning to me he asked, “Do you want us to choose for you?”

I gulped hard.

“I…I don’t know. I don’t know what I want. I…I…”

“See?” Arrana interjected. “He’s nowhere near ready. Just leave him alone for now.”

I wanted to kiss my hostling. He at least partly understood my suffering.

“Let him be a harling. His puberty will be upon him soon enough.”

Gin shrugged, letting the subject drop, much to my relief.

When our parents went into the house after dessert, our cousins, who lived in the nearest house, came over to us and sat at our table. Kaia and Luna were only a year apart in age, Kaia being a year younger than I was. Their older brother, Solstice lived close by with his chesnari. Our hostlings were brothers.

“What shall we do tonight?” Kaia asked.

I shrugged.

“We could catch fireflies,” Wren offered.

“We could go for an evening swim in the creek,” Luna suggested.

We were mulling over our choices when I noticed some movement in the yard on the other side of ours. Two hara who were my parents’ friends lived there. They didn’t have any harlings but they had, for about a year now, had a mysterious houseguest. I didn’t know if he was related to them or not, but it was rumored that he was at least a hundred years old and incepted, a term I wasn’t even sure I understood the meaning of. He kept to himself and spent most of his time in the small Nayati in the backyard that he’d constructed. We had a lovely big communal Nayati, but he never availed himself of it, preferring instead his own private one. The other harlings didn’t pay him much attention, but I found him fascinating. I watched as he made his way from the house to the Nayati. He strode with strength and confidence, his long blond ponytail neatly bound with a black cord. He carried himself with the stature of a warrior, not like I imagined a har of advanced years would. Of course I had no knowledge whatsoever about these things. The only aged creatures I’d ever seen were humans, and only then in pictures in books.

“Hey! Willow! So what do you want to do?” Kaia said in my face.

“Huh? Uh, I don’t know–a swim, I guess.”

Wren looked disappointed.

“Okay,” Luna said. “We’ll catch fireflies and then take a swim.”

Wren brightened and we set off for some midsummer evening fun.

When Wren and I returned home later, just after sundown, I noticed flickering candlelight in the small Nayati next door. I stood staring when my brother yelled from the back door.

“Willow, come on!”

“In a minute. I want to sit outside for a while.”

Wren shrugged and went into the house.

I sat for a few moments wondering what it was the mysterious har did in there. I looked around and seeing no other hara in the vicinity, I decided to find out. The Nayati was fairly far from the neighbor’s house, located at the very end of the yard. It was shaded by some large trees and surrounded by shrubs. I crept into the bushes and tried to approach without cracking any sticks. The Nayati was an open structure, something like a gazebo, so I had to be very careful and quiet. I finally scrunched myself between a bush, which hid me from the house, and a window, which if I knelt, I figured I could probably just peek over the bottom. Holding my breath, I slowly raised up to peer inside. It was fairly dark in the Nayati, lit only by a few candles but I had a side view of the har sitting cross-legged in front of a table with the candles, some burning incense and a few deharan statues on it. He sat perfectly still. From my vantage point I couldn’t even see him breathing. Had he been sitting there like that all evening? I assumed he was meditating or communing with the dehara or whatever extremely religious hara did. My parents took Wren and I to the community Nayati fairly regularly and they’d taught us about the dehara, our Wraeththu beliefs and mythology and all of that, but we usually only stayed a half hour or so. That’s all Wren could stand without fidgeting.

I noticed the strange har was clad only in some loose trousers and he was wearing something on a cord around his neck, but I couldn’t make out what it was. Once when the candles flared up, I thought I saw a tattoo on his left shoulder blade but I couldn’t be sure. He had several scars, including one very large one on his forearm and two on his chest. I guessed the rumors about him having been in battles were true. If he really was over a hundred, he’d probably had to do a lot of fighting in the early days of unrest amongst the different tribes. As I studied him, I couldn’t help noticing that he was actually very handsome. I found myself wishing he didn’t keep so much to himself. If I had the chance to talk with him I would have so many questions to ask. Or was I just–attracted to him? I rubbed my hands over my face. What’s wrong with me?

Suddenly I heard Wren calling me.

“Willow! Willow? Where are you?”

It startled me and I stood up. I looked into the Nayati to see the har staring straight at me, his face expressionless. I was so scared that I turned to run away and fell right into a bush. I struggled to free myself and ran, stumbling over my own feet until I got to our yard. I ran to the back door and into the house. Read the rest of this entry »

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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An Army of Angels

An Army of Angels
by Mischa

Editor’s Note:

This story was originally published in the pamphlet for Grissecon, the first ever Wraeththu fan convention, back in Oct. 2003.  It was written by the creator of the original Forever web site, Mischa, who passed on duties to me several years back. -Wendy

Author’s Note:

Title: An Army of Angels.

Author: Mischa Laurent

Disclaimer: All items contained on these pages are non-profit amateur fiction. ‘The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit’, ‘The Bewitchments of Love and Hate’, ‘The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire’ and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. No infringements on the copyrights are intended. These stories are for personal enjoyment only and should be reproduced, electronically or otherwise, only for this purpose and never for profit of any sort.

Notes: This fanfiction is set in the period prior to the beginning of the trilogy and is based on quotes from The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, which read:

“What did Ashmael say when he saw you?”  I asked.  Vaysh’s glassy eyes did not flicker.

“Say?  What do you think?  A long time ago, I died in his arms.”

My thanks to my betas and editors for their invaluable assistance thus far and in particular to Storm herself, for asking me to write it in the first place.

Dedication: To my daughter, Tiffany; congratulations on the commencement of your first Wraeththu book and here’s to many more!

An Army of Angels

Part One

The breeze lifted the smoke and carried it away.  It also brought to their ears the screams and pleas of the dying warriors below.  Vaysh curled his lip in distaste over the scene and turned his head to his companion.

“Must we linger here?”

Ashmael calmed his restless horse with his hands, never taking his eyes from the celebrations of the victors below them.

“We need to see which way they go when they leave, Vay.  Can’t have them turning up on our doorstep.”

Vaysh looked downhill once more.  The celebrations showed no signs of abating; the warriors in their paint and finery gathered around one of the burning vehicles, whooping and hollering, their weapons held above their heads, while to their left, their fellows searched through the bodies, stealing from the corpses and summarily executing any who still lived.

“They look like Indians in an old movie.”  He observed, disgustedly.

Ashmael gave a short laugh.  “Someone down there probably saw the same film you did.”

**

All afternoon they waited on their hilltop for the bandits below to gather themselves and depart.  The horses grazed on the other side of the hill, tethered to prevent them wandering up into view.

Ash appeared perfectly relaxed, chewing on a stalk of grass, his long lean body laid out comfortably, but the watchfulness of his eyes told the truth.

Beside him, Vaysh contemplated the scenery, refusing to give the carnage below any more credence by witnessing.

The rolling hills to the north gradually gave way to the sharper gullies and peaks where he and Ashmael sat.  The summit of the mountain that protected them rose abruptly from the earth behind him, covered by cloud and mist, even on the clearest of days.  Within this maze of networking valleys, dead ends and sudden rises, lay the small town they called home.

Formerly an isolated human town, Basik was a home to disaffected Wraeththu seeking shelter from the tribal storms that rocked the land and had grown into a quite sizeable community, one that Ashmael was in charge of protecting.

Vaysh had little to do with the town’s defence.  He had ridden out with Ash today, merely to spend some time alone with the har with whom he was chesna.  They had seen so little of each other lately, that even the prospect of spending the day patrolling the rough hills on horseback had seemed a bearable idea.

Coming across the raiders in the middle of their murderous rampage had been the vilest of misfortunes.  Ash may well be used to such sights, but Vaysh, insulated by his duties on the council had not seen much of fighting and death for the longest time.  Not since he and Ashmael had first set out to find Basik, footsore and weary, drawn by stories of a place hidden in the hills where Wraeththu lived in peace.

“Why do they do it?”  He sighed.  “Why can’t they just . . . get along?”

The question was rhetorical, but Ashmael answered anyway.

“Because death always accompanies birth.  It’s the nature of the beast, Vay.”

It was an old argument, one they had had many times before and now as then, there seemed no fitting comeback. Still, he tried.

“I can’t accept that.”  He shook his head sadly, pale hair flying about his face like wind-whipped silk.  “We are . . . better than this.”

“Supposedly.”  Ashmael disputed.  “Not yet, though.  Not until the first throes are over.  Until there are more who think as we do and less who see this as an opportunity for profit or power.”

“Inception is supposed to burn away our humanity.” Vaysh argued.  “Har like those down there need guidance, need to be taught the proper way.  Not killed on sight.”

“Vay, your lost lambs would murder us all without even blinking.  Don’t delude yourself.”  Ashmael turned toward his chesnari, a smile on his face to soften the words.  “I know your intentions are all good and don’t get me wrong, it’s a noble cause and one I subscribe to heartily.  What we disagree about is the timing.

You want it all now; I think it is going to take time.  Time and a couple of generations removed from . . . this.”  He illustrated his point with a sweep of his arm toward the dying fires below, the bodies and the drunken, staggering hara who had caused it.

“But we can’t progress if we don’t begin.”  Vaysh voiced the argument that had been doing the rounds of the council lately.  “We have to start somewhere.”

“True.  We do.  We start small, build our numbers, then we enforce. As much as you would like to picture all the warring tribes as misguided and misinformed, the truth is that they enjoy living the way they do.  They chose it, Vay.    Just as we chose to seek a different way.  Superior strength is the only thing they respect.  Only that will make them listen.”

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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.”

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