Briar’s Tale

Author: Persephone 100
Characters: OC’s – mostly Briar, Briar’s POV
Beta: Thevina/Thrihyrne
Rating: NC 17
Spoilers: none
Synopsis: Briar has an experience that has a profound effect on him.
Disclaimer: All the characters, their world and all things Wraeththu belong to Storm Constantine, to whom I am very grateful.

Briar’s Tale

Rain. I’ve never particularly liked it, even though sometimes a rainy day can be relaxing and give one time for retrospection but looking back on my life was something I avoided. Rain also meant I couldn’t drink my coffee on the rooftop garden. I always felt better up there where the air was fresh and I could imagine myself above all that was behind me as well as below me.

As I passively watched the trails of water trickle down the window, I sighed, thinking to myself they looked too much like tears. I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. It was Naemien, my partner. I couldn’t call him my lover because I wasn’t in love with him, or my chesnari because I didn’t feel committed to him. He was my partner, the one I lived with, took aruna with, and the one with whom he shared the bounty of his success. He was the one I’d rooned, clawed and schemed my way up to be with. He was wealthy, powerful and strong, everything I’d thought I’d wanted. And here I was, his consort, with all the glamorous and luxurious trappings that went with that status.

He put his arm around me and kissed my cheek.

“A rainy day,” he said, “always seems to make my beautiful Briar sad and moody.”

He rubbed my back and whispered in my ear. “But no less gorgeous and desirable,” he added, kissing me on the neck.

“Well,” he said, stepping away. “I’ve got a meeting with some hara. I’ll probably be in my office and the conference room all day, but don’t concern yourself. I’ll have the serving hara bring us some sandwiches. See you at dinner, my lovely.”

I gave him a smile as he left, then continued gazing out the window. Part of my being Naemien’s partner involved my planning of all the parties and entertainment that was needed. I actually enjoyed that responsibility. I was also expected to be the perfect decoration for his arm and in his bed. He was kind to me and he was very handsome and a good lover. I enjoyed aruna with him and he never stopped telling me how much he wanted and admired me. I’d been very satisfied with our arrangement for almost seven years now, but…
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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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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 »

The Wind that Broke the Door

Challenge SubmissionThe Wind that Broke the Door
by Chantress

Author’s Email: chevron6@gmail.com

Rating: R (non-explicit aruna and descriptions of past abuse)

Spoilers: The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire

Characters: Astarth, Flounah, and various cameos

Summary: A look into Astarth’s mind and later life after the end of Fulfillments. Sometimes, the more things stay the same, the more they change.

Disclaimer: The concept of Wraeththu and all characters and situations pertaining thereto are the property of Storm Constantine, who has very graciously allowed her fans to play with them; no money is being made from this story, and no copyright infringement is intended or should be implied.

Author’s Note: My first Wraeththu fic. (Eeek!) I’ve only read the original trilogy and about a third of The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, so bear with me if I inadvertently commit canon murder because of my ignorance of something that happens later on in the series. Arsche and Roz appear courtesy of my good friend Mr. Powell, just because. 😉

The Wind that Broke the Door

Chapter One: Preparations

“I thought I’d never have to do this again,” I complained to my reflection as I finished applying my makeup.

Damn Quince. Of all the nights he could have decided to get fed up with everything and leave, he had to pick this one. Fallsend was packed with foreign hara (mostly from Jaddayoth, but a good number from as far away as Megalithica), and most of them seemed to have descended upon Piristil. They were mostly here for the tour, of course, followed by a late supper and a rehashing of the delectable horror of having been in the very room where the inimitable Panthera had been chained, but there were always some who’d pay the extra few spinners for a night with a genuine Piristil kanene. (Not that there were that many of us left from the old days, but most hara only cared about the brand name, so to speak, so who was I to miss out on an opportunity to profit from this?) With twelve kanene currently living in the musenda (not including myself), plus four alternates who could be called in at a moment’s notice, there were usually more than enough to fill the demand, even on busy nights—until now, that is.

I sighed and scowled, blotting away a bit of excess lipstick. Quince, who I’d been relying on to entertain whichever of the Gelaming showed up that evening for the yearly audit, was probably halfway to Jaddayoth by now, fueled as he was by alcohol and self-righteous indignation; Semiru was due to deliver his pearl any day now; Yasmeen had broken his leg the day before and was staying in the House of Healing for the rest of the week; Roz was having one of his “episodes”; Ezhno was visiting relatives in Jasminia and wouldn’t be back for another two months, at least; it was Flounah’s utterly sacrosanct night off; and there was no telling where the hell Kelis had wandered off to this time. So with only nine kanene and a full house, I was going to have to pick up the slack.

“Woolgathering, Astarth?”

I spun around. Flounah was standing at the door, watching me with folded arms—not quite inside my room, just far enough to be mildly insulting without giving me any real reason to object.

“How does it feel to be one of us again?” he continued, then narrowed his eyes and added in an all-too-audible undertone, “Not that you ever weren’t, of course.”

“Shouldn’t you be packing?” I said, pointedly turning my back on him again.

“I have a month; my things aren’t likely to run off before then, you know—unlike yours. Speaking of which, Ezhno hid your favorite earrings under that utterly tacky stuffed dragon of his. There’s probably a bunch more of your things in his room, too, but that’s where he usually stashes your jewelry. I’ll just put these here, shall I?”

He set the earrings down on my dressing table; the gold and rubies glittered up at me invitingly. I stroked them, sighing with regret, then put them back in their place of honor in the top tier of my jewelry box. I wouldn’t be able to wear them again unless I got my ears re-pierced, and I dreaded the pain.

Ah, what price beauty? my hostling’s voice whispered mockingly in my head—a ghost from the past I’d thought long-banished. I gritted my teeth against it. I can’t remember, I thought desperately. Not now. Not like this.

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Of Gems and Pebbles

Editor's PickOf Gems and Pebbles
by Gingerspark (formerly niennaainur)

Title: Of Gems and Pebbles

Author: gingerspark (formerly known as niennaainur – LOL now I feel like Prince ;P)

Pairing: original non-canon characters

Rating: PG-13

Summary: In relationships – communication is key!!

Disclaimer: All the pretty Wraeththu, as well as the world they live in, were created by, and belong to, Storm Constantine, who (bless her!) is gracious enough to allow fans like me to take them out and play with them occasionally. No copyright infringement is intended, and I promise to wash them off and put then away neatly.

Warnings: none really… a wee bit of angst

Beta read by: bigunen

Of Gems and Pebbles

My name is Kess and I am beautiful, really beautiful; in fact I am drop dead gorgeous. I hate being beautiful. It is a curse. Being beautiful is the most isolating of existences. Everyhar assumes that being ‘a looker’ should make ones life superior, but they are wrong. I had thought that by becoming a har things would be easier, but I was wrong. Both humans and hara react very oddly around beauty; to hate you because of it, and to desire you because of it, sometimes at the same time, are indeed odd.

I shifted the pack I carried. It held everything I owned. I did not own much. The recent rain had made the mountain road muddy and slick and, in certain steeper sections, the run-off had carved deep channels in the loose gravel. There would be more rain soon judging by the tang in the air borne by the chilly wind. Summer was ending, harvest time was in full swing, and the nights were getting cold.

I was hopeful that whatever town I wandered into next would have employment of some kind. I hoped I could smile fetchingly, tilt my head in ‘that way’, and charm myself into a job. There wasn’t much I couldn’t do; farmer, thief, bartender, courier, shop clerk, temple dancer, blacksmith – I had done it all. I might hate being beautiful, but I do know how to make it work for me.

“They just hired somehar at the pub so I don’t think they’ll be looking for help…” the blond’s voice trailed off doubtfully. “Oh! But you might want to try The Corner Café… it’s down there,” he pointed, “on the corner – you can’t miss it!” he giggled. “I don’t know if Corvus is looking for help but he really needs it!”

The Corner Café was closed. I stood in front of its locked doors weighing my options.

“Café doesn’t do dinner!” a passing har with a harling on his hip called out.

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