The Tattoo

Title: The Tattoo
Author: youcantseeus
Contact info: youcantseeus12@gmail.com
Beta: Oshun
Spoilers: For books 1-4.
Characters: Flick, Seel, Pell, Cal, Orien
Word Count: 22,000
Disclaimer: The following story is a work of fan fiction based on the Wraeththu series by Storm Constantine. I am not the original creator of the Wraeththu universe nor do I own most of the characters and locations contained in this story.
Summary: Flick attempts to make a statement with a tattoo. Seel is not pleased.

Chapter 1

Sometimes, I could read Seel like a book.

For example, when Colt and Stringer came over and proudly showed us that they’d gotten rough tattoos of one another’s names across their arms, I knew that Seel was fuming. He may have smiled and made light comments through gritted teeth, but I knew that later that night I’d be the one who would have to listen to him ranting about how foolish it was to have somehar else’s name on your arm forever and how it echoed human possessiveness and human love.

As it turned out, Pell and Cal got to hear him rant as well. Seel barely waited until Colt and Stringer were out the door before he started in.

“Could you believe that?” he asked the room as I started washing the dinner dishes. “I knew that letting that har charge for tattoos was a bad idea. Now we have hara making stupid decisions.”

Cal looked up from where he was sharing breath with Pell. They were always hanging all over one another. I was surprised that it didn’t bother Seel more, given how he felt about Cal, but he seemed determined to show that he was above caring. “What are you going to do, oh mighty Seel?” Cal asked in a playful voice. “Ban tattoos?”

“Of course not,” Seel said, throwing himself into a chair across from Cal. “I just would have thought that Colt and Stringer would have a little more sense. It’s not like they’ve just gone through althaia. They’re old enough to behave seriously.”

“Maybe that’s why they did it,” I said.

Everyhar looked at me. “Well,” I said, quickly, “Colt and Stringer have been together a long time. They seem pretty solid.” I was receiving a patented Seel glare. Seel was very good at glaring. “Maybe they feel secure enough about their – their feelings,” I had almost used to word “love” which would have been a huge mistake, “that they think they’ll last.”

The glare was only getting worse. “It’s sort of sweet in a way,” I babbled on. “I mean, for some people.”

Not for Seel, obviously. “It is not sweet, it’s disturbing,” he said and then he pointed at Pell and Cal. “And I better not catch you two down there getting matching tattoos anytime soon.”

Pell made a face. “No way,” he said. “Did you see those tattoos? They were hideous.”

I rolled my eyes as I dried a plate with a dishtowel. Of course Pell’s main objection would be aesthetic.

“You can get them magically removed, you know,” Cal said to Pell.

“But it leaves a scar,” Seel put in.

Seel continued brooding long after Pell and Cal had gone to bed.

“Matching tattoos,” he muttered. “Can you imagine feeling so sick about somehar that you’d want his name tattooed on your body?”

I finished wiping down the counters. “No,” I said. “I can’t.”

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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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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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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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Flight

Flight
by Meveny

Story Notes

The little fic I wrote to feed my unhealthy Thiede/Orien obsession.

Rating: PG (no rooning, sorry)

Characters: Thiede/Orien

Spoilers: everything, ’tis set after Ghosts.

Disclaimer: everything belongs to Storm Constantine, except for the typos, which are all mine *pets them* and the quote belongs to Leonardo DaVinci.

Flight

I am Aghama, the first, and he was the second. But in a way, he was also first: the first addition to my great race, Wraeththu, the conquerors of the earth. Of course that was not how it seemed at the time. It was nothing like that at all.

Thiede stood silently on his balcony, staring blankly out over the glory of Immanion, a single tear running slowly down his face. Since his return, Thiede did not spend this whole day in mourning as he once did, but even now, nothing could relieve the sense of loss. The fact that nohar else remembered the death this day represented did little to sooth his feelings.

Since his return to the earthly realm, Thiede had felt a bit “out of the loop” so to speak. While he had traversed other dimensions of reality, life here had gone on without him, as it had gone on without Orien. Even Pellaz, who was the only one he felt he could talk to, had moved on, barely needing him anymore. Pellaz had Cal and Caeru to confide in, but now Thiede had no one, and he hadn’t for many years. The time after his ascension was the first in many years that he had had somehar that understood, really understood. Hara of the later years didn’t understand the beginning, and those near to the beginning chose to forget it. In the endless depths of the otherlanes, Thiede had regained his partner, his confidante, and now he had lost him yet again.

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