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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Return (Coming Home)

Challenge SubmissionReturn (Coming Home)
By Ninzini

Story Notes

Short summary: A song-fic based around “Return (Coming Home)” by the Cruxshadows. Off their great album Wishfire.

Character: Thiede, Velaxis.

Spoilers: Everything up through Ghosts.

Song: You can sample a bit of “Return (Coming Home)” on the Cruxshadows “Downloads” page — use the little built-in player to scroll down to “Return” and double-click. I’ve always loved the triumphal quality of this song.

Author’s Notes:  This little fic is strongly inspired by “And The Flowers Bloom Like Madness in the Spring” & “After the Rains,” a pair of exquisite post-Ghosts fics by Camille Sinesis, focusing in on Thiede and Velaxis. That relationship, which made instant sense to me, is filled with so much poignancy and bittersweetness, to the point I wanted to touch on it a little myself.

Return (Coming Home)

Thiede gazed out across the rooftops of Immanion, out towards the harbor and deep into the distance, where the sun was quickly sinking beneath the horizon. The balcony terrace was tinted with orange-pink light. Thiede idly tapped his fingers on the arm of his chair as he waited. Waited for Velaxis to come home.

I’ve seen the terrible hand of struggle,
And felt the pain that hubris brings.
I have tasted the wisdom of divinity
And the horror of its sting.

Velaxis had spent the afternoon with the Hegemony, which was in session, and afterward, Thiede supposed, had kept himself busy working out details with individual Hegemons, striking deals and smoothing out problems as only he could. Thiede, meanwhile, had taken one of his periodical walks through the city, having lunch in an ordinary, simple restaurant and sitting on one of the city piers to watch the boats come and go. Then he’d enjoyed  long bath and a glass of wine on the terrace. There was nothing else that needed to be done.

And though they tell you I am lost,
And their words report my death is come,
The Fates have left me breathing still –
And very much alive.

Thiede decided to cast out his mind in search of Velaxis. No, he was not yet in this wing of the palace. A pity. Thiede had finished a bottle of wine and had nothing to do but wait. Such a waste of time, really, he thought to himself, although how he was wasting his time, he really couldn’t say. It was just a habit of mind, thinking that he had things to do. The days of running Immanion, plotting intrigue, puppeteering – charting the fate of the Wraeththu race –  were over. Now it was his turn to simply enjoy life and its simple pleasure. Thiede was still learning exactly what that meant.

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Gossip Between Friends

Editor's Pick

Gossip Between Friends
by Oshun

Story Notes

The only thing that might be more engaging than an evening of gossip between friends, might be gossip plus aruna. Contains an explicit description of aruna between Velaxis and Thiede. Thank you, Elfscribe, for the Beta. Any remaining errors or failings are my own. (Inspired by the recently closed Seel, Swift and Thiede challenge. Stands alone, but is set in the same time period and references events of my recent stories “Fated Obsession” and “What is This Thing Called Love.”)

Author’s Email: heartofoshun@aol.com

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

Pairings: Velaxis/Thiede (Gossip includes references to Swift/Seel, Vaysh/Pellaz, Pellaz/Caeru, Velaxis/Ashmael; hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.)
Overall Rating: NC-17

Word Count: 3,404

Spoilers: The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure

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

Gossip Between Friends

Another beautiful night had descended upon Immanion. I left my Sedu at the stable and quickly made my way to Phaonica. As I walked, I realized that during the past several months spent in Imbrilium, I had grown to miss Immanion. None of the more obvious reasons that might immediately come to mind contributed to my longing. I had no particular attachment to the spectacular architecture, the luxury, the services, or the other amenities. Imbrilium provided for all of my needs and then some. The work I did in Imbrilium also might be considered more challenging than what I had been doing in Immanion. Since I had developed a more personal relationship with Ashmael, the General asked me more and more frequently to attend important meetings in Imbrilium, and increasingly sought my opinion on a whole variety of questions. I should have been happy with that development.

Strains of music wafted toward me from somewhere on the palace grounds. I recalled hearing that Rue was hosting a diplomatic party of some sort. I also had missed Rue in Imbrilium. For all of his frivolity and preoccupation with matters of less than world-shaking importance, Rue had a way of cutting through Gelaming pretensions that I always found refreshing. I hoped I would be able to visit with him at least briefly in the morning before I had to leave again.

After following the familiar maze of hallways and staircases through the palace that led to Thiede’s apartment, I rapped gently on the door. Since I had overheard Arahal mention that if anyone needed to reach Thiede he would be in Immanion that evening, I hoped I would find him in his rooms. The chances he would be there alone were excellent. Thiede was not likely to insert his awe-inspiring presence into a social event organized by Rue for the purpose of giving Pellaz an opportunity to develop his own unique relationship with visitors from an outlying tribe.

Thiede called out, “Come in.” I sensed him scrambling to telepathically identify me. There were few things much more satisfying to me than surprising Thiede.

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Down the Whispering Well

Down the Whispering Well
by Thevina

Story Notes

Editor\'s PickAuthor’s Notes: This is a sequel to Maelstrom and Mage, Desire Thine Darkling. Several of the original characters from that are prominent in this, as well as my concept of how Vaysh died the first time. Toward the end there are a few direct quotes from Enchantments; it would have seemed quite odd to ignore those pivotal scenes but I didn’t wish for it to be a retelling, word for word, of familiar scenes but from Vaysh’s POV. Storm wrote them eloquently already; this is only a different lens through which to see those scenes.

Novella summary: Being brought back from the dead doesn’t mean happily ever after, especially if you’re Vaysh. Life has its costs, and he pays dearly. An exploration of Vaysh’s character in the years before and through Pellaz’s transformation, and the burdens he endures, because he must.

Author website: http://www.thrihyrne.net

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Ashmael, Vaysh, and the harish world all belong to Storm Constantine; I’m merely playing with great abandon in her sandbox.

Pairings: Vaysh/Ashmael (historic); Vaysh/Velaxis, Vaysh/OC

Rating: NC-17 (rooning, drug use, angst, off-screen character death)

Spoilers: Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit

Down the Whispering Well

Succor my skin, beloved,
in sizzling drops of musky happenstance.
Lick gauzy flames, sear my bones,
Bathe me in fecund tears of myrrh and exaultation—
gnaw, ravenous, on my transmogrified soul.

I’ll dance with you, my firebrand,
Down the whispering well.

There, enrapt, we libertines
Will sing the stars indivisible, you and I,
suckling on voracious delight.

My heart, my drum—
Immortal, beat in me the tattoo of forever.

The air was different that day. Unseen wings beat a thrill of anticipation into the usual stillness; the wind-chimes tintinnabulated in silvery agitation. I was lifted from my cocoon, held up for the duration of the short walk to the bath. I couldn’t stand unaided, my legs had transformed from slender but muscled to white spindles. I grimaced as I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, though my heart seized with anguished joy each time I was able to do so. I had died. I knew it. My brain hadn’t surrendered the memory of the excruciating pain of the branch as it had crushed me, my sight and feeling seeping away, of Ashmael’s voice, so wild and full of hurt…

I let the warm tears spill over, as they always did, now that I’d recovered enough for these new eyes to work. I was here, and not-here; the silent, efficient hara kept me drugged after my initial screams of agony had been too much for them and my other keeper to bear. Thiede would bring order to this impossibility. He would come in with a serving-tray of coral, he would drape an amulet around my neck, a chambered nautilus like my hollowed soul and he would breathe life into this husk, this miraculous aberration, my somatic re-creation.

“Why?” I asked the unspeaking hara through my tears, but they didn’t pause. They bathed my weak body, rubbing my near-useless limbs with oil before artfully arranging my hair with ribbons of white, and tiny opalescent beads. I begged for more drugs, for anything to slow the panicked tattoo which threatened to overwhelm my re-made heart. Pity me, for God’s sake, the Aghama’s sake, pity…?

A quicksilver slide of the needle and my breath no longer thundered in my lungs like a thoroughbred racing across a field. Perhaps Tassia could bear me away…

I was an abomination, and yet, as I drifted into the languid haze of disembodied thought, I couldn’t help but love myself and the demiurge who had made me again. Head lolling, I peered dazedly at my arm— tears meandered down my face at the sight of flawless, pale skin. No inception scar marred my forearm; no vibrant braid of ink to boldly proclaim my love for my chesnari remained. Apparently the voice of all physical flaws was to have been silenced. This body, this mute skin, this was Thiede’s doing.

Did I captivate him only when voiceless?

Soft footsteps padded through the open doorway. He stood at the end of the bed, his palms pressed together, his long, steepled fingers pressed against his cheek. With his head tilted as it was, he looked for an instant like a child about to say his prayers. His eyes— a thousand sunlit mornings glowed there; I flinched under the shimmering, proud lanterns that shone in his face.

“You shall be above all others,” he promised, approaching me with the lethal, captivating grace of a lynx. There was no softness in his tone; the words rang in the air, a regal pronouncement. I was brushed with the scent of saffron dawn as attendants removed his clothes and I was laid bare for him.

“Thank you,” I croaked, my voice an elegy in dust. I was un-dead. I was moulded clay. I lifted my eyes as his lips hovered above mine, the faint scent of his breath enough to kindle an explosion of sparks in my groin.

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The Longest Night (Ever)

Editor\'s PickThe Longest Night (Ever)
by Haylzee and En

Story Notes

Paring: Pellaz./Cal, Caeru with appearances from pretty much everyhar.

Rating NC17

Warning Drunken displays of affection, sap and fluff!

Spoilers: Nothing specific, although characters from as far through as Ghosts to appear.

Summary: After being separated for some weeks, Cal and Pell are reunited. Unfortunately, the reunion takes place at a formal dinner during which Pell gets drunk and roony. Will Cal be able to resist Pellaz? Will he want to?

Disclaimer: All characters and the world they inhabit belong to Storm Constantine, we are simply borrowing them for our own amusement.

Authors’ note: We wrote this to soothe our own self inflicted angst wounds.

EXTREME SILLINESS WARNING. If you are looking for something deep and meaningful, best to move on. After all the doom and gloom, we just felt like a bit of comedy…with some sex thrown in.

The Longest Night (Ever)

Part 1

Walking a few steps ahead of the Tigrina down an ornate marble corridor, Cal tried to ignore his consort’s last minute attempts to improve his outfit. When Cal arrived at Caeru’s apartment to escort him to yet another gathering of Almagabra’s finest, he thought his chosen outfit of simple leather pants and a black shirt were more than appropriate. Caeru, however, had other ideas. Rue had immediately attacked Cal’s hair with a brush, ignoring Cal’s protests that it had already been combed and quickly followed that by holding up various jeweled adornments for Cal to pick from.

Cal had eventually conceded to wear a gold cuff bracelet and a second pair of earrings before exasperatedly pulling the Tigrina out of his apartment and towards the banquet room.

Cal battered Caeru’s hand away from his hair before shooting a glare over his shoulder at the other har. “Would you stop fussing?” He asked, rolling his eyes at Rue’s innocent expression.

Cal sighed and stopped walking, turning to face his consort. “Fine. Fluff away.”

Caeru grinned before reaching up to smooth his thumbs under Cal’s eyes, smudging the kohl that lined them a little more. “I just want you to look your best,” He laughed. “You should be thanking me.”

Cal grimaced slightly, letting himself be pampered and polished by the Tigrina, while still attempting between attacks to edge towards the hall where the dinner they were already late for was being held. “I’ll thank you when you’re finished,” he muttered. He started when Caeru pulled what appeared to be a small jar of coloured eye dust out of nowhere. “What are you doing?”

Deftly, the Tigrina unscrewed the jar, which was full of sparkling gold powder. “Just some final touches!”

Cal was tempted to jerk away, but simply sighed as Caeru raised a gold coloured finger towards his eyes. “I don’t need any of that stuff,” he said uselessly.

As if reading his mind, which he probably was, Caeru grinned wickedly. “Resistance is futile, Calanthe,” he tutted. “Now, close.”

Cal grumbled, but complied and let the Tigrina pat the cosmetic onto his eyelids.

“You want to look nice for Pell,” Caeru said.

“Do I?”

“You haven’t seen him for weeks,” Rue said, standing back to admire his handy work. “Don’t tell me you’re not excited to see him.”

Cal just raised his eyebrows. “Will he even recognise me, one wonders?”

Rue rolled his eyes, then, ignoring the hara who stood around them holding glasses of bubbling wine, stepped forward and pressed his lips against Cal’s. He pulled back and smeared the lip gloss he had left behind neatly across Cal’s lips. “There. Perfect.”

Pausing just outside the door to the hall where the night’s festivities were to take place, Cal shook back his hair and held out his arm for the Tigrina. “Glad I’m presentable enough to escort you now, tiaharr.”

Rue smiled and took Cal’s arm. “Always presentable enough for that, Calanthe.”

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