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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Saltrock Odyssey

Thevina Editor's Pick

Saltrock Odyssey

Beta: Thevina/Thrihyrne    Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Rating: NC17
Spoilers: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit
Synopsis: This is a story of four hara, their journey to Saltrock and their life there.  It is set in the time of Saltrock just before and while Cal and Pellaz are there.   It’s also a story of their journey to self-discovery.
Disclaimer: All the characters, their world and all things Wraeththu belong to Storm Constantine, to whom I am very grateful.

It was another beautiful desert sunset.  We sat, as had become our custom of late, on a shelf of an outcropping of rock, gazing westward to view the sun making its descent, splashing in sequence its yellows, oranges, reds, blues and purples until at last the colorful display was replaced by the deepening hues of an indigo then black sky, dotted with bright stars in myriad number.  It was a dome of sparkling points, so infinite, yet seeming close enough to touch.

We sat there, night after night, my friends and I, with a bottle or two of liquor, taking in the desert night‘s splendor.  There was laughter, camaraderie and maybe even love in our conversation and banter.  We had come here by our own volition, to this dry and desolate place.  There were four of us in our little group; my best friend, Nyala, our other two friends, Sola and Lon, and me, Taj. We’d grown up together as humans and had been incepted together close to a year ago.  We’d lived in a city, so we had no tribe.

We had drifted until we’d found a place where we felt comfortable staying.  It was an outpost of sorts of the Kakkahaar tribe.  We were located close enough to an area where provisions could be procured and then sent on to the large tent city where the Kakkahaar leader, Lianvis, dwelt.  Because of this, and I assumed other outposts, Lianvis and his elite hara never had to leave their tent city unless they chose to, and they were still able to have all the necessities and luxuries they desired.

Lianvis and his entourage had deigned to visit our humble, and I do mean humble, outpost, Solarumn, once, since we’d been here.  Though he was very beautiful, he’d impressed me as being self-involved and dismissive of anyhar he thought beneath him; and he seemed to think most hara beneath him.   I remember there was much running around and many short tempers just before his arrival.  He came with his own luxurious tent which his servants set up at the highest point in the camp.  We couldn’t resist sneaking a peek inside one time when we thought no one was there.  It was lavish with beautiful materials of colors I didn’t even know the names of.  It was full of large pillows and ornate rugs.  There were flowing curtains,  shimmering fabrics and tassels everywhere. Nyala said it looked like the inside of a genie bottle.

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As Kinshar Met

As Kinshar Met

by Thevina (thevina33@gmail.com)

Story Notes

Spoilers: Wraiths

Canon Characters: Seel, Ashmael

Rating: Adult

Summary: At the end of chapter 12 after Seel saw Pellaz in his re-generation tank, Thiede is very specific with Seel and after telling him he’s *going* to move to Immanion within a month, says, “You will be pleased to know I’ve allocated a sedu to you. Your training in controlling it begins in two days’ time. I’ll send a teacher to Saltrock with the animal.” Seel isn’t particularly grateful.

As Kinshar Met

Seel was a mess. His feelings were a succession of storms: hot winds of anger, driving rains of futility, lightning bolts of anguish. Ashmael had asked him to kill this horrific re-creation of Pellaz, and in the moment, Seel hadn’t been able to do it. Thiede had known it all, of course. That thought was a red-hot poker of fury, one he took out on one of the few remaining glasses left in his room.

“FUCK YOU!” he roared, hurling the glass against the far wall where it shattered with a satisfyingly loud smash. “Fuck you!” he declared a second time, his voice more measured, the ‘you’ encompassing a roster of hara at this point.

He lifted the bottle of sheh to his lips, sickened by the knowledge that he was a pawn just like everyhar else. Could he ever act as unpredictably as Cal, enough to break free from his own marionette’s strings? The thought of Cal made his mouth sour, and he took another swig. He felt a shift in the atmosphere, and his skin prickled as though suddenly tuned into approaching static. A sedu and rider. Ashmael had arrived. Or he certainly hoped it was Ashmael— other Gelaming had visited Saltrock, but he wasn’t as attuned to them.

Dispassionately going through the motions, Seel cleaned up, sort of. He combed his errant hair, tucked in his shirt, and then walked to the bathroom and washed his face. He looked like he’d recently come back from the dead himself, and then wished that analogy hadn’t come to mind.

“Damn it all,” he said to his reflection, easing away from the cracked mirror when he heard the unmistakable sturdy thumping of Ashmael’s leather boots. What surprised him was hearing a second set.

“Ashmael?” he called out, striding to the head of the stairs, his heart rate slowing slightly at the sight of the General’s blond hair.

“The natives tell me you haven’t been out of this house in two days,” Ashmael said by way of greeting.

“Yeah, well…” Seel wasn’t particularly articulate, not when faced with the friend he’d just failed and a stunning golden-skinned beauty behind him. Seel looked steadily into Ashmael’s light and calculating eyes, seeing compassion there he honestly hadn’t expected after he’d botched things up.

“I couldn’t do it,” Seel said, his voice a pained sigh. “He had self-awareness. It flickered through and then went away. It’s so unnatural, so grotesque,” he spat, the turbulent feelings sparking to life again.

“I don’t fault you,” Ashmael reassured him. “Thank you for trying. I’m not sure that I’d have been able to do it either.”

“Thiede knew anyway. All of it. Your part in goading me to ask to see him, too.” Seel chewed on the bitter words, surprised when Ashmael merely made an affirmative noise.

“I should have predicted that.”

“I don’t suppose you’re the one Thiede sent for my sedu instruction?” Seel interrupted.

Ashmael gave him a provocative smile. “No. I weighed in with my preference, and you’ll get to work with Parallax, here. Before that, though, we’re going to bring you back to the land of the living. Least we can do after what you went through.”

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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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Interpret Me the Savage Whirr

Interpret Me the Savage Whirr
by Thevina

Story Notes

Editor\'s PickAuthor website: http://www.thrihyrne.net

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

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

Pairings: Seel/Ashmael

Rating: NC-17 (rooning, adult language)

Spoilers: Bewitchments, Wraiths

Author’s Notes: I’m not entirely sure where this story came from. I spent months writing a Vaysh/Ashmael gapfiller, and then as I was doing more research in The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, I discovered that Ashmael and Seel had a relationship, of sorts. So I explored that, from Seel’s POV. This does gratuitously reference my interpretation of Ashmael, and includes some key elements from “Maelstrom and Mage” for color. There are also two directly quoted sentences from Wraiths for grounding, and also extensive rereads of Bewitchments. Primarily, however, it was this paragraph of Storm’s that drew me in and ignited my pen:

Colt and Stringer saw Seel’s new relationship with Ashmael as a positive healing thing. They were not aware of the darker undercurrents and Seel didn’t enlighten them. Ashmael took to visiting Saltrock fairly regularly. Seel always looked forward to these visits, but somehow they didn’t seem real. In bed, Ashmael taught him things he’d never dreamed possible, all the while respecting Seel’s pride and pretending Seel already knew of them. Seel felt as if he were being groomed for something. Taking aruna with Ashmael was like being trained to explode the world. He could feel immense power simmering around him and yet he could not dispel the suspicion, however slight, that Thiede’s hand was behind it. He was under no illusion that this relationship was permanent.

Interpret Me the Savage Whirr

Seel discovered many illuminating self truths when he was seduced by Ashmael Aldebaran. He knew he was often pulled in conflicting directions at the same time; Cal had set that in motion, back in their Dark Ages, back in a time even before they’d become har. Seel had been drawn to Cal like the inexorable pull of gravity, and yet he’d been anxiety-ridden about it at the time. Now, an eternity later, Cal had proven himself still beautiful and also capable of the atrocious and diabolical. Seel’s loyalty and love for this troubled, inescapable demon was crushed, the broken shards of it making new cuts even as he tried to move on. Determined to assist in that was a different blond who’d come swaggering into his life. Seel had wished, even from Ashmael’s first advances at the Nayati, that he’d put up more of a resistance. Somehow he should have convinced his pride-injured spirit to turn Ashmael away— but, of course, he hadn’t really wanted that at all. Seel knew that his flimsy barricades had been seen through by the Gelaming general and in sharing breath, Ashmael had wordlessly knocked them down. When they inevitably took aruna, not long afterwards, they’d exhausted each other in their ferocity.

“Seel? You are miles away. Who’s taken over in your head?” Colt asked, raising his eyebrows and tapping at Seel’s temple.

“Just the usual. Ghosts and demons.”

Colt quirked his mouth to the side as the wind of the approaching thunderstorm played with his dark hair. “So you say. I think it’s something less dark than that. In fact,” he paused to take a swallow of wine, “I am pretty sure you’re imagining someone particularly fair.”

Irony having been an integral weft in the weave of Seel’s life, a roiling cloud distinctly different from the ones naturally occurring appeared off to the outskirts of Saltrock. The churning skies and sudden appearance of a magnificent sedu made the scene complete. Ashmael simply had to arrive, just at the moment his name had teased Seel’s tongue until he said it aloud.

“Who, Ashmael?” he asked by way of answer to Colt, even as the Gelaming and Zephyr thundered triumphantly to the ground. Colt gave Seel a quicksilver wink, though his expression didn’t change. “That’s who I believed was on your mind. No wonder they want you in Immanion so bad; all you have to do is think about this one and he simply drops out of the sky to see you.”

“Coincidence,” Seel muttered, but he found it a struggle to keep the smile from settling on his lips.

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