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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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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Love The One You’re With

Challenge SubmissionLove The One You’re With
by Oshun

Story Notes

Takes place immediately after The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit. Written from the POV of Pell. I want to thank Elfscribe for Beta reading.

Any remaining or added errors are my own.

Author’s Email: heartofoshun@aol.com

Web page: http://heartofoshun.livejournal.com

Pairings: Pell/Vaysh

Overall Rating: R

Word Count: 1,553

Spoilers: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit

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

Love The One You’re With

That evening I watched Vaysh in his dressing-room mirror as he stood behind me, fiddling with my hair. It seemed to be taking him forever. I shifted in the chair, crossed and uncrossed my ankles, and rolled my shoulders, which had started to ache.

“Stop preening, Pellaz,” Vaysh said, yanking on a tiny braid. “No doubt, the Hegemony would be interested to know that their shiny new Tigron can’t even sit still long enough to have his hair combed.”

He pressed his lips together in an unguarded expression of concentration. Vaysh is awe-inspiring with his porcelain skin, grace of movement, and that bright hair, a garish unnatural red, yet somehow right on him. I thought of how I would still love to see him with his original hair color. He would not like that, because surely it would soften him, smudge the edges, and expose some of the vulnerability that he fights so hard to suppress.

I have never questioned why I find Vaysh so compelling. Everyhar will tell you that he is one of the most exquisite hara they have ever seen. And they are looking at him through his mask. Lately, more often than not, he drops that mask for me. Without it he is breathtaking: fire-wrought steel, power, and his own unique bittersweet wistfulness.

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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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Changes

Changes
by Oshun

Story Notes: My friend Keiliss requested I write her a fic with Cal/Pell. This story was inspired by the following line from Fulfillments: “I’m not the same person, Cal. You do realize that, don’t you?”

Author’s Email: heartofoshun@aol.com

Web page: http://heartofoshun.livejournal.com/

Pairing:  Cal/Pell; other characters: Caeru, Vaysh
Rating: R

Word count: 1,530

Disclaimer: Characters, plot and setting all belong to Storm Constantine.
Spoilers:  Fulfillments of Fate and Desire

Changes

Under the gaze of an omniscient smirking moon, they stood at the top of steps leading down from the portico of the Hegalion. After the meeting where Cal first met the Hegemony, Cal, Rue and Pell had left the council chamber together. Pell felt the entire universe held its breath and observed. This was momentous.

Cal exhaled heavily and looked from Pell to Rue. “That was strange, wasn’t it? Do you think it went all right?” The unasked question: ‘Did I do well?’

“Better than all right,” Pell answered, moving to press his thigh and hip against Cal. He needed to touch him, assure himself that Cal was real.

“Oh, you’re good,” Rue admitted grudgingly.

In the space of less than three hours, Cal had managed to surprise, annoy, anger, frustrate, and delight Pell. It had been the shortest and certainly the least formal of any meeting of the Hegemony Pell had ever attended. Cal not only won the hearts of the spectators at his first meeting, but there was no doubt he had impressed the members of the Hegemony. Perhaps he had even softened part of the formidable resistance among them.

That fit entirely with Pell’s memory of the Cal he had once known. Brash, overwhelming, unpredictable. And yet, he did not know this new Cal. The old balance between them apparently had been completely turned on its head. Pell was no longer innocent or fresh and the guilt and darkness had been scoured out of Cal. Pell recalled he had worried how Cal might react to how he had changed if they ever met again. Thiede had hardened, tempered, and refined Pell, burned away the sweetness Cal had once loved. But Cal had somehow spectacularly wrought his own reforging, if not entirely without help. Pell wondered if he could be wrong: that the more things had changed, the more they had stayed the same.

Cal distracted Pell from his ruminations by squeezing his hand forcefully. Casual but alert, Cal nodded in the direction of Rue, who fidgeted and looked furtively after Velaxis who descended the steps near them, clearly anxious to leave. Temporarily appeased, yet still chilly with Pell and wary of Cal, Rue mumbled a hasty good-bye, and accepted a short embrace from each of them before turning quickly away.

Cal reached out and grabbed Rue’s arm, pulling him back, his voice simultaneously careless and caressing. “It won’t be so bad.”

“Hmm. Well, I don’t know . . .” Rue answered, shivering and shaking his head at Cal’s lazy conspiratorial smile. “We’ll see.”

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