Ring out The Old, Ring in The New

Ring out The Old, Ring in The New
by Heartofoshun
(Heartofoshun@aol.com)

Pairing: All about Swift, Seel, Cal and Pell (in a foursome)
Words: 27,431
Rating: R
Summary: I began writing this Wraeththu fanfic story as my Christmas present to myself. It reflects self-indulgent time spent with some of my favorite characters, an AU resolution of an aspect of the original story that is unlikely to ever be covered in canon, and a nod to possible festivities and traditions of the winter holidays.

Ring out The Old, Ring in The New
(A Story of One Winter Solstice in Immanion)

Prologue

Almost any harling can tell you the tales of the four of us. Our love stories are the stuff from which Wraeththu legends have been constructed. People cherish the story of how the Tigrons had been separated for decades and yet each held the other in his heart until they found one another again. Cal’s journey from Megalithica to Almagabra, from murderer to beloved, finally restored to their adored Tigron Pellaz’s arms, has titillated and fascinated hara since the first rumors of it. The narrative of Calanthe’s quest for enlightenment rivals those of the ancient legends of humankind with its colorful supporting cast, the details of its twists and turns, tragedy, passion, exotic locations, and his unquenchable love for Pell.

Many even know the story of Seel and me, of how a wise and beautiful Gelaming intellectual, know for his reason and sound judgment, fell madly, inexplicably in love with young Swift, a rash, handsome, inexperienced Varrish prince. Together this oddly matched pair created by means of an amazingly potent Grissecon the magic elixir that would bring down the defenses of Fulminir and stop the bloodthirsty Ponclast in his tracks.

Fewer knew that Seel and Cal had been lovers even before they were incepted and remained chesna for some short time afterwards. Their early attachment had survived Cal choosing to stay with the Uigenna and Seel leaving him to join the Unneah. It even endured Cal taking another chesnari, the wild and dangerous Zack, and then turning up a short while later, no longer with Zack, but completely besotted by Pell. What their affection had not had not been able to survive had been that Cal, mad with grief and paranoia at the death of his beloved Pellaz, had blamed his friend and Seel’s mentor Orien and brutally murdered him.

By the time of that winter solstice, Seel and Cal had outwardly accepted one another for years. Yet they still watched each other with wary hawk eyes, afraid of discovering disapproval or mistrust lurking under a veneer of tolerance. Those who loved either or both of them knew that the continued estrangement was unnatural and ought to have ended years earlier. Other hara had long ago forgiven and pushed aside far worse crimes and betrayals dating back to those early days of cataclysmic upheaval. After Cal had passed through the crucible of suffering that burned away his anger and his guilt, after he discovered that Pell lived again, re-born and re-made, he would have welcomed reconciliation with Seel. It was Seel who could not let go of the past.

I had not the vaguest idea of how to break the deadlock. Seel refused to acknowledge the unbreakable ties of their ancient bond. Their festering lesions scarred over, leaving a dull constant aching. I understood that those wounds must be excised, cauterized, and salved in order for either of them to become completely whole.

Pell and Cal, occasionally accompanied by Rue, traveled to Forever from time to time. Cal adored Forever, the closest thing he had to a home in his life before reuniting with Pell in Immanion. Yet the effort Cal exerted to avoid a confrontation with Seel and not to impose upon him, made their sojourns tense. Only rarely, I think, did Cal completely relax during those visits to Galhea. Perhaps he almost did when he and I took long horseback rides together. As much as I loved Cal, I felt no guilt for bringing Seel there. Seel was my heart and my soul mate. But the few times at Forever when I saw Cal’s eyes light up with mischief, or heard him laugh, I could not but think it should always be that way and not only when he was safely out of Seel’s sight.

Sometimes Cal would tease me the way he had in my youth or call me “pretty Swiftling” and I would remember all that he had done for Forever, everything he meant to Cobweb and me. I suppose that the long afternoons that Cal spent tucked away with Cobweb and Snake, the three of them chatting over endless cups of tea or sheh, were a respite for him as well. But that wasn’t enough to satisfy me. I wished Forever could be a refuge from the politics and protocol of Immanion for Cal. Cobweb’s irruptions of irritation with Seel over ridiculously inane things when Cal was around told me that my hostling felt the same way. To his credit, Seel did put forth a sincere effort to be considerate of Cal, especially after his rescue of Azriel and Aleem.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon one’s perspective, Cal and Pell never stayed with us for long, only a day or two. Less frequently Seel and I traveled to Immanion. When we went there, we often stayed for several days, commonly for a week or even two. It was easier for Seel to re-adapt to Almagabra and lose himself among the multitude of hara and projects demanding our attention than it was for Cal to feel at home again in Forever.

It was to be Pell who at last would take action.

Not long before twilight, we arrived in Immanion at the beginning of the winter solstice. At Pell’s urging we had agreed to stay for two weeks, throughout the extended Natalia celebrations. As long as Seel and I had been together, we had always spent Natalia in Forever. But I liked the idea of leaving Forever completely under Cobweb’s care during those festival days for once. He would enjoy organizing the holiday gatherings again without the need for consultation or negotiation with Seel or me. Cobweb could act as the host of Forever and re-create the nostalgia of good times past however he chose to remember them. Natalia is one of those holidays that seem to place hara under a compulsion to romanticize their past.

* * * *
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Frozen

Frozen
by Morgana

Story Notes

Author’s Email: morganalebeau@yahoo.com
Web page: http://www.paranoid.nl/avalon

Pairings: Vaysh/Ashmael, Pellaz/Caeru and Cal/Caeru (Pellaz/Galdra mentioned and Thiede/Vaysh as well.)

Rating: NC-17
Summary: Vaysh tells the story of his life and wonders if there is a happy ending set aside for him as well.

Disclaimer: Not mine. These characters belong to Storm Constantine. No copyright infringement is intended. If she wants my little story, it’s hers.

Warning: AU of course.

Major SPOILERS regarding book 6!

Beta read by Patricia and DA, thanks sweeties!

All remaining mistakes are mine.

Frozen

You only see what your eyes want to see
How can life be what you want it to be
You’re frozen
When your heart’s not open

You’re so consumed with how much you get
You waste your time with hate and regret
You’re broken
When your heart’s not open

Mmmmmm, if I could melt your heart
Mmmmmm, we’d never be apart
Mmmmmm, give yourself to me
Mmmmmm, you hold the key

Now there’s no point in placing the blame
And you should know I suffer the same
If I lose you
My heart will be broken

Love is a bird, she needs to fly
Let all the hurt inside of you die
You’re frozen
When your heart’s not open

Part 1

/Do happy endings really exist for people like me?

I, for one, didn’t believe they actually existed until I met Pellaz.

Pellaz…

Pell upended my life in so many ways. It started the day Thiede summoned me and told me I was to serve his newest creation, which would be his best yet. I had hoped he was right and that he had succeeded because I know what happens to the poor hara he subjected to the process in the past. I should know: I am one of those creations.

But I am a failed experiment and I know it. Thiede broke me when he tried to make me. I don’t want to remember that time. It is a time filled with pain, loneliness, panic, and a terrifying sense of helplessness. When Pellaz went through his ‘remaking’, he had me. I took care of him. When Thiede made me, I had no one except for a few silent, heartless hara that looked after me and Thiede, of course. But Thiede quickly lost interest in me once he realized that I had been ruined…and that I was barren.

Tears flow from my dead eyes and my hands turn into claws as I remember the pain he made me go through. The pain and even worse: the loss.

Pellaz lost Cal when Thiede took him. I didn’t just lose Ashmael. I had also lost the pearl I had carried. I never told Pell the real reason why I am the way I am…so cold and distant. He thinks he knows. He thinks it is because I lost Ash, but I could have dealt with losing my chesnari, and yes, I know the way that sounds. I would have tried contacting Ashmael once I had regained some measure of freedom in Immanion. But I couldn’t reach out to him…not after losing our pearl. And Ashmael never reached out to me.

I am dead to him. Pellaz told me that Ash had used exactly those words when they had talked. Do I blame Ash for declaring me dead? No, I don’t. I lost our pearl. I am responsible. I am to blame.

Ashmael is the only har I ever loved, the only one I ever wanted to take aruna with. Thiede forced himself upon me. I never wanted him to do those things to me. I fought him. I struggled, but to no avail. Maybe that is why the transformation went wrong. Maybe I wouldn’t have turned out wrecked and barren had I allowed him to do as he pleased. But I fought him all the way.

Yes, I know what you are about to say. I take aruna with Pell willingly while I declare I only ever loved Ashmael, but I was hurting. Do you understand the pain I was in?

I was hurting so badly. All I ever wanted was Ashmael back in my life, but he had declared me dead. What was I to do? Does anyone begrudge me finding momentary oblivion in Pellaz’ arms? If you do, put yourself in my position and maybe then you will understand my pain.

I lost Ashmael and our pearl because Thiede wanted to have his shot at creating a Tigron! He should have waited. Thiede should have waited to take me until I had delivered our pearl. Maybe then I wouldn’t have turned out barren. Maybe that’s it? Maybe the transformation went wrong because I was carrying a pearl? I lost it and, as a result, I became barren?

I should stop tormenting myself, but can I? I lost everything! Thiede lost nothing. He just waited for the next candidate to come along, which was, of course, Pell.

I have lived behind this mask of ice for the last few years and it served me well. Living in Thiede’s icy presence and becoming ice in turn was my only defense, but then Pellaz came along. I still remember how vulnerable he was after Thiede had burned him…how much he depended on me.

At first, I didn’t want to care for him. There was so much anger in me back then. There still is. But Pellaz needed me and, in a way, I needed him. While tending to Pellaz’ needs, I realized I *did* care about him. It was no longer possible to lock him out, to pretend I didn’t care.

And then there is Phade. I really like Phade, though I will never admit that aloud. He is every bit the rascal Ashmael used to be. Phade reminds me of Ashmael and, back then, it was hard to keep my distance. It would have been easy to return the bantering.

But I am no longer like that. I am no longer the Vaysh Ashmael loved. No, he did more than that – he adored me. He would have died for me. He tried… But that knife was meant for me and nothing Ashmael could have done would have changed the outcome. I would have died – if not that moment, I would have died the next day. Thiede wanted me and what Thiede wants, he takes. He is like a spoiled little child in that way.

Yes, the Vaysh Ashmael once loved is gone.

Dead.

Ash said it himself. I will never fall asleep in his arms again. I will never again wake to his sweet kisses. He no longer loves me.

The Angel of Immanion they call him these days… The first time I heard that I almost burst out laughing, but the mask was firmly in place and didn’t slip. But on the inside I laughed. They should know their Angel the way I know him. There is nothing angelic about Ashmael, save his looks perhaps.

I should stop thinking this way. It is making me melancholy and I don’t want to feel that way. I don’t want to feel at all. It is safer not to feel because then I won’t end up hurt again.

And it is not like I have to face Ashmael on a daily bases. Not any more. Ever since Thiede returned to Immanion, and Cal, Pellaz, and Galdra admitted their feelings for each other, I see less and less of Pell. And that in turn means seeing less of Ash because I no longer have to accompany Pellaz to any meetings. Oh, I am happy for Pellaz, don’t misunderstand me. He got Cal back and, on top of that, Galdra as well.

Pellaz has his own private harem these days, although I will be careful to phrase it like that. They all love him: Cal, Galdra, Caeru, Loki, Darquiel, and even Thiede himself, but who loves me?

I pity myself, you say? Yes, I do. But I hide it. No one will ever realize the pain that lies beneath the ice. My soul will remain frozen and so will my heart./

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Northern Lights

Northern Lights
by Morgana

Story Notes

Author’s Email: morganalebeau@yahoo.com

Web page: http://www.paranoid.nl/avalon

Pairings: Pellaz/Cal/Caeru and Rune/Galdra

Rating: NC-17

Summary: After receiving a head injury, Pellaz’ younger self takes over for a while.

Disclaimer: Not mine. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters belong to Storm Constantine.

Warning: AU of course.

Spoiler warning: Set after book 6.

Beta read by Patricia and DA, thanks sweeties!

All remaining mistakes are mine.

Northern Lights

Prequel

Pellaz-har-Aralis, Tigron of Immanion, was curled around his consort’s body and soothed Caeru who had suffered from a nightmare only a few minutes ago. Although Diablo’s attack had happened some time ago, Pellaz still felt like he had to fight for Caeru to stay with them. Holding Caeru’s hand in his, he rubbed the knuckles with his thumb.

“Pellaz, don’t do this to yourself. The attack wasn’t your fault.” Cal stroked Pellaz’ hair and tried to comfort his chesnari. “There were forces greater than ours at work at the time, you know that.”

Cal… What would he do without sweet, understanding Cal, who had become his chesnari in every sense of the word, thanks to the purification rituals and Thiede’s training the blond har had gone through? Pellaz shook his head. “No, Cal, I am responsible for this mess,” he whispered saddened and in a guilty voice. “None of this would have happened if I hadn’t coerced the two of you into creating that pearl.” Pellaz rested his weary head on Caeru’s shoulder. Feeling safe with Caeru and Cal, he voiced his unsettling thoughts aloud. “Cal, I made one mistake after another.” His latest mistake had been losing control and allowing Galdra to make him with pearl. “Why did Thiede pick me to be Tigron? I am a failure. I can’t even keep my consort safe – or you, Cal.”

Cal petted Pellaz’ hair, but the touch offered Pellaz no comfort. He felt like he had put both of them, Caeru and Cal, through too much pain. “I am the wrong har for the job, Cal. I wish Thiede had never found me – had never made me Tigron. Then you wouldn’t have gone insane, Caeru wouldn’t lie here more dead than alive and I wouldn’t be with pearl.”

Cal, lacking the right words to comfort Pellaz, remained silent. Pellaz’ outburst had taken him by surprise. Normally the dark-haired har oozed self-confidence.

Pellaz rubbed Caeru’s fingers and turned his head so he could study Cal’s face. “I wronged the two of you. I wronged so many hara – including Galdra.” Tears, which he had forced down most of his life, spilled from his eyes and flowed down his cheeks to drip onto Caeru’s chest.

Cal moved closer and enveloped both of them in an embrace. “Hush now. There is no need to doubt yourself, Pell.”

But Pellaz didn’t listen. He was lost in self-reproach and self-hatred. “I should…never have…been made…har…let alone…Tigron,” he whispered, as he slowly succumbed to fatigue. His eyes closed, his body relaxed, and he drifted off into sleep.

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A Touch of Spring

A Touch of Spring
by Morgana

Story Notes

Author’s Email: morganalebeau@yahoo.com

Web page: http://www.paranoid.nl/avalon

Pairing: Vaysh/Galdra

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Sequel to A Love Like Winter. While Vaysh deepens his relationship with Galdra, Pellaz regrets banishing his friend from Immanion and tries to make amends.

Disclaimer: Not mine. No copyright infringement is intended.

Warning: AU of course.

Beta read by Patricia and DA, thanks, sweeties!

All remaining mistakes are mine.

A Touch of Spring

Vaysh felt curious as he stepped into the cave which Galdra had convinced him to go to in spite of the snow that still covered the lands. Vaysh still didn’t do very well with the cold and would have preferred to stay inside, but Galdra had wrapped him up in a warm bearskin cloak before pulling him outside. Vaysh, of course, had followed. “What’s so special about this place?” As far as he could see, the cave wasn’t extraordinary at all, yet Galdra continued to guide him deeper into it.

“You’ll see. Just wait.” Galdra looked at Vaysh from over his shoulder and grinned. The last few months had been heaven as far as he was concerned. They had deepened their relationship and Agi had accepted them as his surrogate parents. The harling still mourned losing his father and hostling though, which was understandable.

The redhead pulled his cloak closer and shivered. Exhaling, he expected to see his breath crystallize with the cold, but it didn’t happen. “Is it growing warmer again?”

Galdra nodded. “This is what I want you to see.” He raised a hand and pointed in the direction that he wanted Vaysh to look in.

Vaysh smiled, pleasantly surprised when he saw a large pool at the back of the cave. Steam floated up from the water’s surface and the air around him was a warm mist. “Hot springs?”

The blond pulled Vaysh along. “Yes, a har found them some years ago. These springs are a well-kept secret.” He released Vaysh’s hand and removed his cloak.

“Secret? Why keep them a secret?” There would be plenty of hara wanting to soak in them!

“Because the water has unique powers. At least, that’s what our shaman says.” Galdra disposed of his shirt and trousers and gestured for Vaysh to take off his clothes as well. “You can’t wade into the water wearing all that.”

Vaysh sighed. “I should have known…” He should have known that Galdra was somehow setting him up. “Why don’t you go in alone? I don’t feel the need to disrobe.” Even though the air was relatively warm, it was still cool enough to make him shiver.

“Trust me, Vaysh.” Galdra unbuttoned Vaysh’s cloak and let it drop onto the ground. “I want to share this experience with you.” He had wanted to take Vaysh there for a long time, but the snow and ice had been hampering him. Galdra proceeded to remove Vaysh’s clothes and to his delight, the other har allowed it. The shine in the fierce red color within the soft hair had faded because Vaysh couldn’t keep dyeing it and the blond was coming through again.

“I trust you,” Vaysh admitted gently. “I just don’t want to get cold or wet.”

Galdra laughed and decisively did away with Vaysh’s skirt. Once the red-haired har was naked, he took Vaysh’s hand and pulled him into the pool. “You’ll like it. I promise.”

Vaysh didn’t put up any resistance as he waded into the water. During the last few months he had come to trust Galdra unconditionally. “You’re right,” he whispered blissfully as he settled into the water next to Galdra. “This is nice.” The water was probably thirty degrees warmer than outside and cradled his body. Closing his eyes, he rested his head against Galdra’s shoulder. “So what’s so special about this cave that it needs to be kept a secret?”

“The shaman didn’t tell me in detail,” Galdra admitted. “He mumbled something about someone’s true nature being revealed.”

“Have you been here before?” Vaysh opened his eyes again and slid away from Galdra before immersing himself in the water completely, even wetting his hair.

“Several times, but nothing out of the ordinary ever happened.” A thoughtful look appeared in Galdra’s eyes. “The only difference is that I feel rejuvenated when I leave. Sometimes I feel exhausted when I come here and when I leave, I feel energized.”

Vaysh stretched out his arms and legs as he floated face-up on the water. Closing his eyes, he whispered, “Thanks for dragging me along. This is restful.” His body tingled and Vaysh didn’t know what to make of that. It probably was the rejuvenating effect Galdra had mentioned earlier. With his body floating, his thoughts started to drift as well. “I’m so happy I met you… It sounds corny, but I can no longer envision a life without you.” The top of his head made contact with Galdra’s chest and he opened his eyes to gaze upon his chesnari. Galdra was watching him curiously, but Vaysh didn’t think much of it, considering he had just admitted to how much he loved the blond har.

In amazement, Galdra raised his right hand and moved his fingers through his chesnari’s hair, which was floating in the water between them. “You changed my life too. I was miserable because I had lost Pellaz and then you entered my life. Why didn’t I notice you when I was visiting Immanion?”

“I was always at the back,” Vaysh replied and raised his hand to palm Galdra’s cheek. “And you were focused on Pellaz. I think some force was at work to make sure you fell for him. Only your combined essences could defeat Ponclast. You were supposed to be concentrating on Pell and not me.”

“Thankfully we beat Ponclast. That means I can concentrate on you now.” Galdra knew that he would probably never visit Immanion again. He wasn’t even sure he would ever see Pellaz again, but somehow that didn’t matter any more now that he had Vaysh. “Do you feel like the water is having an effect on you?” he asked innocently, but at the same time, his eyes twinkled with mischief.

“I feel relaxed,” Vaysh replied contentedly. “Maybe we can come here regularly?”

“Of course we can.” Grinning, Galdra bowed and pressed a kiss onto Vaysh’s hair. He could tell his chesnari about the change the water had caused, but he preferred for Vaysh to find out himself.

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A Love Like Winter

A Love Like Winter
by Morgana

Story Notes

Author’s Email: morganalebeau@yahoo.com

Web page: http://www.paranoid.nl/avalon

Pairing: Vaysh/Galdra

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Pellaz sends Vaysh to Freygard to improve the relationship between their tribes after book 5. What happens when fire finds a way to melt the ice?

Disclaimer: Not mine. No copyright infringement is intended.

Warning: AU of course and spoilers up for book 5.

Sequels: Continued in A Touch of Spring

Beta read by Patricia and DA, thanks sweeties!

All remaining mistakes are mine.

A Love Like Winter

Prologue

Vaysh was careful not to show his surprise at receiving the order Pellaz had just issued. “You want me to go to Freygard and strengthen the ties between their tribe and the Gelaming?” The assignment that Pellaz had just given him stunned him. “I thought you would rather forget about Freygard and its inhabitants?” Seated opposite Pellaz, he noticed the nervous twitch that appeared in the left corner of the Tigron’s mouth.

“I can’t pretend they don’t exist, Vaysh, even if I would rather do just that.” Pellaz rose from his chair and started pacing the room. They were in the Tigron’s office, but even there Pellaz seemed ill at ease. “I can’t deny what happened during Grissecon or before that.” He bowed his head and sighed. “I should never have fallen for Galdra.”

Vaysh got to his feet and his green cloak dragged over the ground behind him as he made his way over to his friend. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You never stood a chance. I’m convinced that Galdra and you were supposed to be together in some way.”

Pellaz’ head jerked back and he searched Vaysh’s gray eyes suspiciously. “What do you mean by that?”

“Did you ever consider how convenient it was that Cal wasn’t at your side when Galdra arrived in Immanion? I’m convinced Thiede summoned Cal for a reason.”

Pellaz swallowed hard. “What you are suggesting is monstrous.” The implications of Vaysh’s observations made Pell nervous. “But I also know that Thiede is capable of orchestrating something like that.”

“Thiede isn’t the only force out there,” Vaysh hinted, but then quickly changed the subject since he didn’t want to confuse Pellaz. Thiede’s blood ran through his veins as well, enabling him to read energy and essences, an ability he hadn’t sensed in Pellaz yet. Therefore Vaysh knew there might have been other entities at work when Pellaz and Galdra had gotten together. “What am I supposed to accomplish in Freygard?”

“We need to strengthen our relationship with Freygard. We can’t risk them drifting apart or alienating them from Immanion.” Pellaz’ dark eyes revealed pain, but the Tigron still continued. “I can’t go there for obvious reasons, but Galdra has no past with you. He barely knows you.”

Vaysh rested his right hand on Pellaz’ shoulder and squeezed gently. “You can’t run away forever.”

“It’s too dangerous for me to confront Galdra.” Although the fact that Loki was Galdra’s son was the best kept secret in Immanion, Pellaz knew better than to mislead Vaysh with such a trick. “I need to keep my distance for Loki’s sake.”

“It’s not my place to judge you for the decisions you make, Pell, but sooner or later, the truth will catch up with you and Galdra will find out he fathered Loki’s pearl.” To some degree, Vaysh felt pity for Pellaz, but at the same time, he also realized that Pellaz had shaped his own life. Pellaz had decided to name Cal Loki’s father for obvious reasons, but the truth was that Galdra was the harling’s father. “I know how much Cal loves Loki and the harling has a good father in him. What worries me is the fact that you’re so distant towards your own son.”

Pellaz’ eyes simmered with a mixture of pain and rage. “Vaysh, I never wanted to create a pearl. It happened against my will.” Pellaz moved away and Vaysh’s hand slipped from the Tigron’s shoulder. “Can’t you understand? Loki is the living proof that I betrayed Cal. Each time I look upon Loki’s face, I see Galdra staring back at me. I’ll never be able to love my son the way he deserves to be loved!”

Vaysh shook his head. “I disagree, Pell. You made the decision to have this distance between the two of you. If you choose to do so, you can also bridge that gap.”

“In that case I don’t choose to do so.” Pellaz’ dark hair tumbled in front of his face briefly as his jaw set firmly and he glared at Vaysh. “Let Cal love him for the both of us because I can’t.”

Realizing that this particular subject had been closed, Vaysh returned to their original topic. “When do you want me to leave? How long must I stay? Are there any special matters you want me to look into?”

“You will embark tomorrow. They sent a boat.” Pellaz’ expression changed and softened as he noticed the surprise on his friend’s face. “They won’t allow you to travel by sedim. That’s why they sent the boat. They want to be in charge. They have ‘Readers’ as we have Listeners and the presence of a sedu will be seen as a breach of confidence.”

Vaysh cringed. “But traveling that way will take me weeks!” Weeks spent in a small cabin below deck. He hoped he wouldn’t become seasick. He had never traveled by boat before. He wasn’t particularly eager to find out how he would fare, but it looked like the Freyhellans would insist.

“Two weeks to be exact. I made sure you’ll be comfortable.” Pellaz shrugged. “The cabin should be warm and dry.” He had done some research and had learned that the sea could be rough this time of the year. “You had also better pack warm clothes. It’s winter in Freygard.”

Vaysh closed his eyes and cursed the fact that Pellaz had chosen him for this mission. He didn’t want to go, but couldn’t deny Pellaz his request. Pellaz *was* Tigron and Vaysh his aide. “Winter…why does it have to be winter?” He already felt perpetually cold and Freygard in winter was a place he could have done without visiting. “Is there really no other har who can go?”

Pellaz shook his head. “I need you to go, Vaysh. You know what happened between Galdra and I and you’ll be discreet. I can’t send Tharmifex or, heaven forbid, Cal. You’re the best choice.”

Vaysh knew Pellaz was right, but was loathe to admit that to his friend. “I won’t stay any longer than strictly necessary.”

Pellaz nodded. “Thank you, Vaysh.” In an unexpectedly affectionate moment, Pellaz pulled Vaysh into his arms and held him tight. “You’re the right har for the job. I know that.”

Vaysh however wasn’t as convinced as Pellaz was, but he would go at any rate. He just hoped he would be able to return to Immanion quickly.

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