Death Gifts the Unimaginable

I thought I’d posted this back when I wrote it, but apparently I didn’t! This is a sequel to my story contained in Paragenesis, “The Rune-Throwing.”

Title: Death Gifts the Unimaginable

Characters: OCs

Word count: 6,044

Author: Thevina

Death Gifts the Unimaginable

 

Ottar cursed his friend under his breath. Hroth had gone off on another vision quest, deep in the woods near a fjord a couple of leagues away from Freygard. It wasn’t that Ottar was worried per se, but usually Hroth sent at least a whisper-light thought his way, a picture or glimpse of the places he was travelling in the far reaches of harish dreams and mysteries. He kicked against the sides of his horse as he called out repeatedly to Hroth via mindtouch. His cries went out into a vacuum, and that worried him more than anything else. He guided his horse, anxiety creeping insidiously in his blood as he began calling Hroth’s name aloud. After cantering through a particularly dense copse of trees, Ottar saw the edge of the water. He let out a sigh of relief. Hroth was there.

 

As he drew closer, Ottar’s dis-ease returned. Something was wrong. He hurried his horse along and then hastily dismounted. Hroth sat in his usual crossed leg position, but he was far from still.

 

“Hroth? What’s wrong?” he asked with rising panic.

 

Hroth’s fingers dug into the cold earth around him, muttering all the while. Ottar listened intently, but whatever Hroth articulated, it wasn’t a language that Ottar recognized. It was guttural and seemed ancient. But for all Ottar knew, it was total gibberish.

 

“Hroth?”

 

He gently ran his fingers through Hroth’s hair. His thick braids were dishevelled, and sacramental ink was smeared across his strong features. He’d drawn symbols on the back of his left arm, and his one hand was in a state of constant motion, scrabbling at his stump, then the pebbles on the ground, then in his hair. It was Hroth’s eyes that made Ottar gasp aloud and his hands tremble like aspens. Hroth’s warm, ageless eyes were glassy, though he seemed to be focusing on someone or something not far in front of him. There was nothing to be seen save the dark water of the fjord, ambitious fingers of ice stretching greedily from the shore.

 

“What do you see? Where in Thor’s skies are you? Talk to me!” he begged.

 

Hroth’s muttering went on. He turned to look at Ottar, whose smile approached his lips and then slunk away. Hroth did not appear to recognise him, instead he continued to speak in some language that seemed to Ottar like some ancestral human tongue.

 

“I’m getting you out of here,” Ottar murmured fervently.

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MENGK

MENGK

By Amanda Kear

Characters: Mengk/Terzian, Cobweb
Word Count: 3127
Rating: 15
Spoilers: The Bewitchments of Love and Hate
Summary/Author’s Note: I was intrigued as to who Mengk was and how he ended up looking after Terzian.
Disclaimer: The world of Wraeththu belongs to Storm Constantine.

 

Lord Terzian was dead.

 

Mengk sat on the bare, scorched earth where the pyre had been. The smell of charcoal was in the air, and nothing but that remained of his Lord. The fire had been encouraged to burn fiercely – hotter than any wood fire had a right to burn – and no fragments remained. No hunks of charred wood, no cremated bone, not even the metal of a ring or belt buckle. There had been ash of course; the flaking residue of flesh and bone indistinguishable from that of timber or clothing. Yet that was now gone as well. Cobweb had taken the scant handfuls left from the fire’s hunger, powdered them in his hands and had thrown them one by one into the wind. All that was Terzian erased from existence by the breeze.

 

His Lord’s family had ordered the huge pyre to be constructed in the farmland out beyond Galhea. Mengk had thought at first that choice of location might be to permit all the hara of the town to attend the funeral, but that was not the case. The mourners were few: Terzian’s blood relatives, his consort, a few house hara and some high-ranking soldiers who had remained with the garrison at Galhea. Of course, there was that one Gelaming there too – he might call himself Seel har Griselming, but he was of the Gelaming mould and mindset. So a Gelaming was permitted to be present, yet of the ordinary hara that Terzian had ruled, and the rank and file of the army that he had commanded, there were none.

 

No, the location of the pyre had not been chosen to celebrate Terzian’s life, but because the place was isolated and undistinguished. There was to be no memorial to his lord. No gravestone, no statue, no plaque. Terzian was to be quietly forgotten. The Gelaming had no doubt insisted upon it. That seemed to be their style; to edit the universe and the hara in it until they conformed to the Gelaming ideal of perfection. Terzian’s name would undoubtedly be erased from history as smoothly as those of the myriad human rulers and warriors that Wraeththu had already forgotten.

 

Mengk would never forget. His grief was raw and sharp and burned as hot as the flames of the pyre. Every day he would remember Terzian’s name.

 

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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 »