Well I’ve been lurking around this forum for quite some time now. A few months back I decided I too wanted to “contribute” with something and promised myself that my next post would be a fanfic. Unfortunately inspiration got the better of me and I began writing far too many fanfics. Things were getting done _very_ _slowly_ which was no fun for me since I wanted to get back to posting and talking here as soon as possible.
Then a day or two ago I read through the “Character/Tribe Switching” thread and read a post where manga compared the idea of Rayek being born as a Glider to the idea of Rayek being raised by Gliders. Then krwordgazer posted her wonderful fic “Angry Young Glider” and I was hooked. I couldn’t get the idea of Rayek raised as a Glider out of my head, only with Sun Village parents. Thus this Worldpool story was born. I hope you’ll enjoy it and that the plot doesn’t sound all too improbable. I appreciate all pointers and constructive criticism!
I don’t know how many chapters this will have as of yet, but I can promise you it won’t be a short series. I will try to post regular updates (at least once a month, preferably more often than that) but inspiration tends to enjoy playing dirty tricks on be so I don’t dare promising anything.
Chapter rating: PG-13 (implied death and violence)
As a side note: Aroree won't be making her appearance until the next chapter.
Prologue: Death of the lifegivers
As Jarrah lay dying she couldn’t help but reflect on how she’d come to be here, to end her life so far from the Sun Village.
No one had been able to predict the sandstorm. One moment the sky was clear and the village was calm, the next the air was filled with dry dust, choking and scratching. The harsh winds frightened a herd of zwoots and they tried to escape the torment of whipping sand by stampeding right through the village. All Jarrah and the others could do was flee.
When the air was clear again they began nursing the injured ones. Thankfully no one was killed or mortally wounded, but many huts and gardens were destroyed. That would take many moons to repair, not to mention all the broken limbs and sand burns the herbal healers had to take care of.
As if that wasn’t enough to worry about they soon discovered four of their kin were missing. Jarrah could even now recall the stabbing fear as she heard Ingen’s name mentioned as one of the lost ones; fear for her lifemate, herself and their unborn child. Who could refuse her the right to go out in the desert with the scouts, if so only to bring back his lifeless body?
They had brought tents of course, made of thin mothcloth; easy to carry but good protection against the sun. When had Ahnshen first begun making them? Jarrah couldn’t remember right away and therefore decided to ignore it. How important were tents now anyway?
The scouts had all fawned over her, the lifebearer. One of them even dared ask her to go back after they’d found the first of the missing ones dead, half buried in a sand dune. Jarrah had refused, loudly. None of the others asked her again, though she did see two of them packing a fair share of their food and water into her bags when they thought she wasn’t looking. That at least made her smile, if only faintly.
The other two were found alive and well – or as well as you could expect someone to be after such a sandstorm and wandering the desert with no shelter for four days. That was when Kentre, the group’s appointed leader, decided they should head back. The desert was a cruel place and their supply of food and water was running low. Kentre saw no reason to risk the lifebearer and her child’s lives in search for someone who most surely was lost forever in the endless sand.
Refusing to be part of the blame for her lifemate’s death and still believing him to be alive Jarrah had snuck away from the rest of the search party the following night. She took as much of the water skins and dried roots with her as she dared, not wanting to put the others at risk because of her own needs.
It was the soul-bond between Ingen and her that guided Jarrah through the burning days and freezing nights. Ingen was alive, but lost and only she could find him.
Days passed in a blur. Jarrah only stopped to eat and rest for the child’s sake, shading her heavy belly from the sun’s glare and wrapping it in blankets to keep the nights’ cold away. Before long the soul-bond grew weaker and she began to despair that she’d only find her lifemate’s soulless body at the end of this search, if she’d find anything at all. Sobbing she put up the tent once more and lit a fire to warm herself and the child. She sang to it as she fell asleep, dreaming of life and birth that hopefully was to come.
The morning after she woke to find Ingen in her sleeping-cloths. He was half-dead from dehydration and the cold and heat, but alive. Nothing could describe the joy of their reunion.
The steep mountain walls that met her gaze once she stepped out of the tent were a shock. How upset and without hope must she not have been the previous evening to miss them? And there was a great passage there, large enough to let eight eights of zwoots rush through it at the same time and still allow them to effortlessly run side by side all the way.
Ingen saw this passage as the solution to their troubles. They could not head back towards Sorrow’s End right away, they did not have the food or water for that, but perhaps they could find some in the shadows of the mountains? The Green Growing Place the Mother of Memory once had lived in had to be there, on the other side. Had they not crossed the desert? Did the tales not tell of a great passage through stone? Whether or not she believed this the tales and her lifemate’s conviction gave Jarrah hope. She would follow him.
Another day passed and Jarrah’s hope grew fainter. The passage seemed endless and there was nothing more than sand and rock here, nothing. They would starve and their child would die before it had any chance to live.
The sound of water nearly made her cry. She probably would have if her body had had any liquid to spare on such unimportant actions. Both she and Ingen rushed towards that joyous noise only to stop dead in their tracks after having rounded the passage’s last bend.
Never had she seen so much water in one place, floating freely, wildly through a flat world of small, thin plants that grew close, close together. In the distance she could make out the shapes of large, four legged beasts she had no name for and beyond them…
They laughed as they took water from the gigantic brook and dug up roots to eat, relieved and elated, frightened and confused. They had become part of legends now and they could not turn back. Against the horizon the silhouette of the Green Growing Place beckoned.
That night, just as they had finished putting their tent up near the mouth of the passage, Jarrah felt their child stir. It wanted the freedom of fresh air, it wanted life. There had been no midwife and Ingen had not left her side one heartbeat from the beginning to the end. Somehow that did not bother her in the least. Come morning the child, now no longer an “it” but a “he”, had gotten his wish. Rayek, their beautiful gold-eyed son was born, healthy and strong.
They began preparing the journey back. They would need plenty to eat and drink. Water they had close by, but finding eatable plants proved more difficult. The things that grew here looked very different from the ones in the Sun Village and other than the roots they had found on their first evening there nothing they saw seemed suited for elfin stomachs.
Whose idea had it been to go to the Green Growing Place? Well it did not matter; they had both been at fault to agree on it. And she could not deny that her heart had beaten a much wilder rhythm than it ever had before as she first put her trembling palm on the bark of a tree. The cool whispers of the forest were both soothing and terrifying. But when they had come that far giving up was not an option. Jarrah had put her newborn child in the makeshift sling Ingen had made out of a piece of the tent and followed her lifemate in among the shades and trunks.
Why had the Mother of Memory never mentioned the monsters of the forest? The humans she had spoken of, but they had lived in the open, outside the Green Growing Place, preying on elves foolish enough to venture outside the deepest parts of the woods during daylight. Jarrah had not seen any humans, only peaceful plant eaters both she and Ingen kept well away from. And they had entered the forest by night, thinking it somewhat safe. Oh how fooled they had been.
The monster was huge, with long claws on each of its four paws and jaws full of sharp fangs. Its fur was thick and brown and its small black eyes shone with hunger. As soon as she saw it rushing towards them Jarrah new it wished to kill and devour her entire family.
She could not recall the exact words Ingen had shouted to her. All she knew was that they had her running in a heartbeat, knowing that he would somehow distract the monster while she protected their son.
The pain Ingen felt as the monster struck him nearly brought Jarrah to her knees. Through the agony and grief at the loss of her lifemate the voice of reason still managed to call out to her and make her go on. The monster was soon behind her though. In a last desperate attempt to save Rayek she hung his sling on a high branch, then turned around to face her hunter.
She threw the first rock without thought. It hit the bloodthirsty beast right between the eyes by sheer luck, causing it to halt momentarily. Jarrah immediately picked up three more and began running, throwing her new found weapons over her shoulder, hoping for them to hit their intended target. All she could think of was the need to lure the monster away from her son.
It took her by complete surprise when the monster lashed out with one of its front paws and struck her across the back with its claws. The pain was much worse than she ever could have imagined. She was thrown like a scarf caught by the wind and struck against the rough bark of a tree with a loud thud. She fell to the ground and couldn’t get up; the wounds and fear were too much for her.
And that was where she was now. The monster was approaching her, slowly. Her sight was blurred by tears and pain but she could still hear and sense the cursed beast, sniffing her scent and without doubt licking its muzzle in cruel pleasure at her suffering.
That was when she sensed Ingen’s life-spark. It was faint, as weak as her own had to be, but it was there. He was not dead, at least not yet and all Jarrah could do as she felt her soul lose its ties to her body was pray that her lifemate would live to care for Rayek. The last thing she heard before death took her were the wails of her abandoned son.
me want to read next part
I'm going to bed now, but rest assure, I'm planning to read this tomorrow.
Yeah mes wanna keep reading so keep writing!
Yeah mes wanna keep reading so keep writing!
You said the magic word ("Rayek") and here I am! ^_^
Wow. That's powerful! Poor Jarrah and Ingen. I tend to get wrapped up in my anger with them for how badly I feel they bungled raising Rayek (honestly, who lets an 11-year old move out?) but this... this shows me where Rayek's determination and strength of character comes from. It shows me that I can respect them after all. And while I do get ticked at them, never would I wish them such a sad ending.
As Jarrah lay dying she couldn’t help but reflect on how she’d come to be here, to end her life so far from the Sun Village.
To continue commenting now that I've ruminated on this a bit more... this has MASSIVE implications for the storyline. Rayek proves the existance of other elfin societies. He offers proof of life, of children, just by being. How will this affect the Gliders? Will they just assume that the death of his parents goes to prove how dangerous the Outside is and continue in their isolation? Or will their clear physical differences (seen either in Jarrah and Ingen's bodies or Rayek's) such as the very different body proportions (not only are the Wolfridrs and Sun Villagers significantly shorter but their ears are larger) and the darker skin, be too big a sign to ignore and wake up Voll to a determination to find these new elves?
Oh my God. I think Manga is having a heart attack.
Mrrr? What makes you say that?
Thank you all for the wonderful reviews. I am indeed working on "Chapter 1" right now and hopefully it will be done by the end of this week.
(A) Great minds think alike! I was wondering about how Winnowill would take this, since she'd've been deep in her madness by the time Rayek arrived in either time-line. :)
(B) If you need another beta-reader, I offer myself. I have a Bachelor's Degree in English so I really can help. I'm not just angling for an early view of the story. (Not ONLY angling, anyway... ;) )
Hey, I'm really impressed, Sofia!
The beginning is so tragic, yet so inevitable given the premise, that I really felt for Jarrah and Ingen. I'd never really liked them before, either. :P But they both show real courage in a terrible situation here, and I confess I had not noticed that about them before. They were very courageous people (all the Sun Folk were!) to make it through that drought. (And now I can think of lots of other situations where the gentle Sun Villagers have needed to grit their teeth and survive.)
I can see now, more clearly than ever, where Rayek gets that inner steel. It's his heritage!
And Aroree's going to find him, huh? Great! If you're having trouble with any of the characters, I'll help if I can-- feel free to bounce ideas off me by private message, if you like!
Sofia... where aaaaaare yoooooooou...?
It's finished! The draft of chapter 1 is done! It's six pages in Word and I'm pretty satisfied with it (although I'm sure it's full of typos and other fun stuff). Just give me a sign manga and I'll send it your way.
Here's chapter 1! As a warning I must mention that it's un-betad. Poor manga has been injured and therefore wasn't able to read through the first chapter. I hope she gets better soon!
Note: Story has been edited. Thanks so much to manga, Aldar and krwordgazer who pointed out the confusion with Ingen (especially krwordgazer who gave _a lot_ of help with the added sentences - they were mostly all her idea *bows*.
Chapter Rating: PG-13 (Implied death)
Chapter 1: Stray Gliders do find treasures
It had been many eights of years since Aroree had hunted alone. Usually at least two of the Chosen Eight flew together if they went further than half a day’s flight from Blue Mountain, but this night she had felt the need for solitude and distance.
Things had been…different amongst her people for a time now. Lord Voll seldom left his throne anymore. He just sat and stared out at nothing, eyes dull with sorrow. The few orders he gave were always at the subtle encouragement of Winnowill. All in the mountain knew this, though no one said so.
Aroree saw no reason to meddle, it was not her place. If Lord Voll saw fit to follow the advice Winnowill gave him than that was his decision. As part of the Chosen Eight all Aroree ever had to do was follow the will of her lord. In the past that knowledge had given her comfort, made her life simple and easy to grasp the meaning of. But now things were coming undone. How could she serve such a saddened ruler without feeling sadness herself?
Cloudbrusher – her bond-hawk – interrupted her dark thoughts with a shrill cry of delight. Startled Aroree nearly let go of the harness. “What is it?” she muttered, more said to herself than actually asking the big bird. Her answer was a shift of Cloudbrusher’s wings; he had begun circling above something.
It didn’t take her long to spot Cloudbrusher’s prey of choice. After millennia of hunting and scouting she knew the forest they were flying over like her own personal chambers. Reading her bond-hawk’s body language was no greater challenge either. In no time at all she was on her way downwards, preparing to drive the bear Cloudbrusher had set his eyes on out in the open where the great hawk’s talons could strike without branches and leaves getting in their way.
There is no describing the shock that overcame Aroree as she gave the bear a closer look. From Cloudbrusher’s back the big animal had hardly been more than a vague brown dot. This close to the treetops that was no longer the case and Aroree could now see that the bear was feasting on its own catch. The half-eaten prey was a disoriented haze of brown limbs and bloodied clothing to Aroree’s wide, disgusted eyes. Some poor human youth must have ventured a little too far into the woods and…
Aroree felt no grief over the young five-finger’s death. Humans had such short lives no matter if they died of age or got killed by the dangers of the outside world. No she did not grieve, she pitied. The death must have been painful and nothing as interesting as a human deserved such a pain filled end.
Songs of sorrow would be sung in the humans’ home tomorrow. They would ask their Bird Spirits why they had allowed the youth to perish at such a young age and the Gliders would have to think of an answer. Winnowill would not be pleased.
But it was not only pity that ruled Aroree’s mind as she cast a second glance at the bear and its feast. Since their bodies held many similarities seeing such violence against a human was a faint shadow of seeing it against an elf.
Aroree closed her eyes again, trying to block out the unwelcome memories. She had been very young when Blue Mountain was newly shaped, but not young enough to have forgotten how the world was like before Lord Voll had set down the rules of who went outside and who didn’t. All the elves that had died so needlessly during walks in the forest, all that immortal blood spilt by the fangs and claws of lowly beasts before their lord’s wisdom could keep them safe. It was truly distressing and all she wanted was to forget. Cloudbrusher could wait a little longer, she’d let the bear finish its meal before chasing it out of the forest.
The wails caught her attention as she turned her back on the bear. The sounds weren’t made by any animal she could name, although they seemed faintly familiar somehow. Curious and eager for a distraction Aroree began to follow them.
The source of the noises proved easy to find. Not far from the glade she had left the bear and its prey in a bundle of cloth hung on a low branch, a wailing bundle of cloth. No animal then, but a human baby. The human youth that now lay dead must have had one of his younger siblings with him for some unfathomable reason. How thoughtless. The child wouldn’t have been safe for long so close to the ground.
Gently Aroree untangled the sling from the branch, easing the bundle into her arms. She would simply have to bring the infant back to the humans, or perhaps to Winnowill. The humans would then learn a lesson about not keeping a close enough eye on their children and perhaps there would not be so many grief filled questions for the Bird Spirits later.
A small hand suddenly pushed its way out of the bundle and waved aimlessly in the air, as if searching for something. Aroree could only stare at it, feeling as if all her thoughts and memories had been smacked against a rock wall. Four fingers, the hand had four fingers!
Shock soon gave away to confusion and the need to verify what her eyes were telling her. Pushing aside the cloth where she knew the baby’s head had to be her wide-open eyed stare was met by an amber gaze as elfin as her own. The child was quiet now, apparently satisfied to have its face freed from the cloth. It regarded her with calm, piercing eyes.
Aroree felt her heart tremble. How, how could this be possible? Had not Lord Voll himself said that there were no more children? And to find one out here, hanging in a tree, was madness!
So shocked was she that she couldn’t keep herself floating. Luckily she wasn’t high up in the air so she didn’t injure herself when she landed on the ground. Startled by the sudden feeling of the forest floor beneath her feet Aroree hugged the infant tighter to herself. She stared at the ground in dazed confusion, not quite understanding how she’d come to be standing instead of flying.
A soft wail of protest drew Aroree’s attention back to the child. Apparently it didn’t enjoy being held so close. She loosened her grip, which thankfully made the infant quiet down, and once more pushed aside the cloth so she could truly study what she had found. Leaning back against a tree trunk for support Aroree finally managed to clear away the shock and confusion that clouded her mind – if only for a moment – and just looked.
The eyes would take time to get used to. Never had she seen irises of such color on an elf or such a soul-searching gaze. They were beautiful though, of that there was no doubt.
The color of the child’s skin was perhaps what had – and still – confused her the most. There was no doubt in her mind that the infant was an elf, but to her knowledge only humans could have brown skin.
A disturbing thought crept into Aroree’s mind as she gently stroked her fingers through the child’s short hair. The blue-black mane was so much like Winnowill’s that she could help thinking… No, that was impossible. Joining with humans out of curiosity was one thing, she had done so herself a few times. Having a child with one was an entirely different matter. Was it even possible, even for as strong a healer as Winnowill? No, surely not.
Yet the idea kept nagging at her. How else could this be explained? A dark skinned elfin baby left alone in the forest…
**Is there anyone there?** She hadn’t meant to send, but this mystery was becoming too much for her. She shook her head at her own pointless act and took to the air again.
**…w-who…** The answering sending startled Aroree half to death. She didn’t recognize the sender, couldn’t even guess who he could be.
The sending itself was faint, almost nonexistent and filled with pain. Aroree immediately came to the conclusion that the sending was weak because of the sender being wounded. She couldn't know that it was only the stranger's acute pain and desperation that had pushed his mind past its usual boundaries, enabling him to send to her as he died. How could she? She had never heard of an elf that couldn’t send.
**Aroree. Is it your child?** she replied, letting an image of the infant follow her mental words. There was a long moment of silence, then:
**Rayek…son, my son. Save him, please…** Such pain. Aroree hadn’t been subjected to such physical pain in many, many turns, not even through sending. It nearly brought her to her knees.
**I have your son, he is safe!** she hurried to assure the stranger. He was badly hurt. She had to find him and get him to Winnowill quickly! **Keeps sending! I will find you and bring you both back to Blue Mountain. Our healer will tend to you.**
**…no! Flee, flee…monster…** Gone. Whoever the stranger had been he was dead now.
Aroree felt frozen to the core. Never had she been forced to feel an elf die like that, feel the soul leave a maimed and crushed body. Tears fell from her eyes as she hurried to make her way back to Cloudbrusher. The fear in the stranger’s sending had been as real as the pain. She did not doubt there was something dangerous in the forest. She needed to get the child back to Blue Mountain where he would be safe.
Had Aroree’s mind been free of the fear and grief brought on by the stranger’s death she might have made the connection between the bear’s brown skinned prey and the baby in her arms. As it now was she was hardly aware of her surroundings enough to grab a hold of Cloudbrusher’s harness and give him the command to return home. The gigantic hawk obeyed after a moment’s protest; seemingly understanding that something more important than feeding him had happened.
The child began to wail once more, as if he could sense Aroree’s distress and sympathized with her. Aroree focused her blurred vision on the child’s tiny face and brushed a finger softly against his cheek.
“Rayek,” she said her voice dark and deep with grief. “Child of rocks. We will keep you safe in Blue Mountain, I promise you that. Never shall we do as your father and leave you at the mercy of the world outside.” Determination was clear in her words, even though she still was weeping.
Aroree blinked away the tears and gave the forest a last glance before turning all of her attention to her goal. The stars shone brightly above the mountain that was her home and she couldn’t help but smile slightly at the beauty of it. When they got back home they would be safe, she was certain of that.
As Cloudbrusher settled into his nest Aroree hurried to wrap the cloth around the child. He had fallen asleep during the flight back, exhausted from crying.
The Aeries were empty, except for the hawks, which Aroree was thankful of. On the way back she had decided that the first one to see the child had to be Lord Voll, no one else, and keeping the child hidden would be eight times easier if she could avoid people to hide it from.
Unfortunately luck didn’t follow her down the hall. **Aroree!** came a sending just as she was about to turn around a corner. Glancing over her shoulder Aroree spotted Yeyeen, one of her fellow Chosen, flying towards her.
**Where have you been? I don’t believe I’ve seen you at all today. And what are you carrying?** Yeyeen flew closer, curiosity clear in her sending.
Aroree stopped and half turned to face Yeyeen, but kept the bundle safely out of view. “I-it’s something that needs to be taken to Lord Voll.” She didn’t dare send, that could reveal too much.
Yeyeen frowned and tried to peak over Aroree’s shoulder, but backed away when Aroree once more began gliding towards the Throne Chamber. Yeyeen was far too loyal to the rules of the mountain to try and grab something that clearly was for Lord Voll out of mere curiosity, but that didn’t stop her from following Aroree.
When she finally entered the Throne Chamber Aroree had gathered quite a crowd. Elves that’d been close-by during Aroree’s small confrontation with Yeyeen had overheard the open-sending and come to investigate. After that more and more had come to join the growing group of followers as the word of Aroree and her mysterious bundle spread throughout the mountain.
Lord Voll too seemed to have caught word of Aroree’s strange behavior for he said nothing as she entered his Throne Chamber, only nodded a greeting to her, frowning ever so slightly. Equally silent Aroree glided to the foot of his throne, bowed and held up the bundle over her head, offering it to her lord.
“What…“ Lord Voll began to ask and leaned forward to get a closer look. He was cut short by a whimper from the bundle.
All the Gliders’ whispers – both mental and verbal – died away at that small sound. It had been a long, long time since any such a noise had been heard in the halls of Blue Mountain. Everyone held their breath as Lord Voll gently took the bundle into his trembling hands and pulled aside the cloth to reveal its contents.
Lord Voll gasped softly as a tiny, dark skinned face with large golden eyes appeared from within the bundle. The whispers started up again, now unusually lively for the normally subdued, calm Gliders. “A child!” echoed against the walls, breaths of astonishment carrying the words from ear to ear.
Aroree ignored her shocked kinsmen, focusing all her attention on the Lord of the Gliders. Lord Voll had brought the infant up closer to his face, his eyes misty with unshed tears. He eased the child to lie on one of his arms so the infant could rest its head. The baby gave another whimper and managed to untangle a hand from the cloth that held him. Lord Voll met the small hand with his own, much bigger one and smiled as the child wrapped its small fist around one of his fingers.
“Where?” he spoke softly at last. Reluctantly he tore his gaze from the child and turned to look down at Aroree. “Where did you find him?”
“The forest my lord,” Aroree answered, a shudder going down her spine. “He was all alone, I…“ She trailed off and took a deep breath of air. “His name is Rayek. His father sent it to me before,” she gave a half-stifled sob, “before he was killed.”
This time the shocked silence that filled the Throne Chamber was one of fear instead of joy. Aroree felt tears falling from her eyes but could not stop them.
“He sent to me as it happened,” she confessed, sobbing louder now. “I-I felt him die! And he told me – he told me to bring his son to safety, so I brought him here and…” She couldn’t continue. The memories were too vivid, too new. How could one describe the icy feeling of the soul fading away from a sending? To make the others understand the horror of a mind voice falling silent as it desperately wished for the safety of its kin?
Sending was not an option. She could never expose her fellow Gliders to such pain and terror, not even if her lord asked her to. Death was something no elf should have to experience. Oh how wise Lord Voll had been to shelter them in Blue Mountain, how wise!
“Such pain,” Lord Voll spoke suddenly, nearly echoing Aroree’s thoughts. “Go to your chambers and rest Aroree, you have served me well.” His tone was so warm and caring, far more empathic than anyone had heard him in many centuries.
Aroree managed a shaky smile through her tears and bowed her head. “I thank you my lord. I take my leave.” With Lord Voll’s kind words keeping the frightening memories at bay Aroree hurried away towards her chambers.
Long had it been since such exhilarated joy had filled Blue Mountain. Swiftly after Aroree’s departure the rest of the Gliders had crowded around the throne, tradition and rules of approaching the Lord of the Gliders forgotten, or perhaps just ignored in the rush of excitement. Everyone were trying to get as close to the child as possible. As of yet no one had dared asking to hold him, but the wish shone clearly in more than one pair of eyes.
The child – Rayek – seemed to have nothing against the attention. His amber eyes darted from one face to another and he was more than ready to try and grab a hold of any and all fingers that came close enough to his small hands. This behavior fascinated the Gliders even more – if that now was possible. Laughter soon filled the hall and one of the musicians began to play a soft, cheerful tune on his flute, trying to attract the child’s interest.
It was that scene that greeted Winnowill as she entered the Throne Chamber. She had heard the excited sendings all the way down to her personal chambers and had now come to investigate. Aroree could not possibly have brought a child to Blue Mountain, could she?
The Gliders that blocked Winnowill’s path moved away as they saw her dark glare, but they were unusually reluctant to do so. Her heartbeat sped up a little at this. Could it really be a child? What else could have brought on this near defiance in the Gliders’ actions?
When she saw the infant she had to stifle a gasp. How…?
“Winnowill!” Lord Voll called, though she hardly recognized his voice. He sounded so – alive. His eyes were alight and keen, seemingly spotting every move the people around him made. And he was smiling.
“I was just about to send for you,” Lord Voll said, either ignoring or not noticing her stricken expression. Winnowill suspected it was the former. “The child needs food and he’s far too young to eat anything else than milk. Would you?”
Stunned Winnowill held out her hands to accept the offered infant, acutely aware of the longing – and even jealous – looks cast her way. Setting her confusion aside for a moment Winnowill let her healing powers awaken from their half-slumber. Soon she was seated at the foot of Lord Voll’s throne, the infant suckling on her breast.
As the Gliders watched the child nursing Winnowill allowed her mind to drift, trying to solve this unwanted riddle. A dark skinned elf? Had Aroree somehow spawned a half-human? Impossible; there had to be strong magic involved to manage such a feat and Aroree had far too weak a will.
Reaching out with her magic Winnowill examined the boy. He was all elf, of that she was sure. There were subtle differences, such as skin color and how he would grow, but nothing important. And he had potential. She could sense sparks of magic in him, seeds that if nurtured could grow to greatness.
Tyldak swooped down from the ceiling, the last to arrive. The beat of his wings drew Winnowill’s attention upwards and sparked an idea in her mind. She could shape this child, make him hers. It would be a challenge, molding him to her will from birth.
Winnowill smiled to herself as the child drifted off to sleep. Perhaps, just perhaps she could turn this unplanned newborn into an advantage.
If anyone noticed the faint glow of magic around Rayek they didn’t say anything.
I have a moment and only a small comment to make anyway. (I do have some technical cooments but they can wait.) Characterizations look great all around but Ingen couldn't have sent back to Aroree; in the Sun Village at the time only Savah (and maybe Sun Toucher) could send. That scene needs either some explanation (like Aroree noting the surprise and lack of skill of the sender's mind voice) or some rewriting.
A brief note about my injury... I was cleaning my knife and it went off. I'm ok but I did need one stitch just above the knuckle of me right index finger. Between that and the tetnus shot, I'm living Rayek's early youth-- you know, when he'd lost the use of his dominant arm and had to learn how to do everything with only his weak arm. Unlike him however, I doubt I'll be like this long enough to be ambidextrous when it's over.
I'm also preparing to go visit family for two weeks so I probably won't be on the forum for awhile.
Whew here as well. Finally read this, and I'm actually getting into it already. I really like the way you write, and how you're dealing with the story. I feel like this is one story I'll actually be enjoying for quite a while. Many fics here start out well, and then make strange turns, often making the main characters into something they weren't before. (And I'm not talking about simple personal growth here.) This, however, shows plenty of promise. I mean, Winnowill breast-feeding Rayek! What a concept, what a delightfully twisted little web you're spinning! I really wonder what she's planning to do with the poor child. (And I hope this wasn't all we heard of Tyldak...)
What a sad ending for Jarrah, whom I got to like in the prologue. I knew she would die, of course, but I'm glad you shared her end (or remains, really) with us. I've been told I'm one for dark stories, but the feasting bear was a nice detail nonetheless. Also, Aroree's view on humans (they're so fragile and live so shortly that they almost don't matter) is another great detail. It's completely natural for her to think this way, but it shows how Blue Mountain's superiority, like:
[quote:033a2d5cf4="Sofia"]"Death was something no elf should have to experience. Oh how wise Lord Voll had been to shelter them in Blue Mountain, how wise!"[/quote:033a2d5cf4]
I wonder why you decided to name Aroree's bondhawk Cloudbrusher instead of Littletrill, though. Not that I mind - and I know this takes place 600 years before she was bonded to him in the real Elfquest, but if Rayek can be raised by Gliders, then it wouldn't have bugged me if you decided to have Littletrill being born a little prematurely... Anywho, it doesn't matter much.
The sending thing I wouldn't know much about, so I'll leave that for someone else, but it did kind of seem a little unnecessarily complicated. However, if it's to be explained in-story as well, I'll shut up until then.
Seeing how much I like this so far, I might get painfully honest later on if there's something I disagree with. It's your story, yes, yes, but I hope you treat this well.
It might be a good thing that you've chosen a setting none of us knows very much about. I do that myself, and it gives you the opportunity to do your own thing, kind of. But if you're going to follow the canon storyline closely (like with Littletrill), you'll have to keep up the balance. However, Rayek growing up with the Gliders is bound to cause some ripples. As always with these kinds of what-ifs, I wonder what will happen between Rayek and Leetah now that things are different.
[quote:77b32bef6a="Sofia"]Criticism is ever so welcome as long as it's constructive! In other words: You don't yell "You sux!" in big, angry red letters without explaining why and I don't ignore you. Sound fair? *smile*
[size=9:77b32bef6a]Yay for Tyldak![/size:77b32bef6a]
Sophia, I think you did a great job on this segment! Your idea of having the dead Ingen send makes sense to me-- and you're right, it's a good way to do it-- though a bit confusing at this point in the story, especially since I think that the instant he died, he would stop feeling pain. It does seem to me that a simpler method would be to simply say, "Aroree couldn't know that it was only the stranger's acute pain that had pushed his mind past its usual boundaries, enabling him to send to her as he died."
Use it if you like! :)
I personally thought it quite appropriate that Littletrill had not been born yet-- in fact, I would have probably found fault with it if you had done otherwise. I agree that the story should follow the canon in every instance but this one change (Rayek's arrival among the Gilders). It makes it much more interesting if you don't change other things, because then the reader can see clearly the ripples that the one change you have made creates in the original plot.
I wouldn't worry too much about mischaracterizing those Gliders we know little about. You clearly understand the Gliders' way of life very well, and I found Aroree's reactions completely believable. I think that as long as they have the Glider mindset, you can do as you like with characterizations of Gliders who have not been fully characterized by the original authors.
Keep up the good work! I'm enjoying this immensely!
And I'm so glad Manga's injury was not a serious one!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Chapter two should have been out ages ago! ;)
(Just teasing you, Sofia.) You have some great points about how the change is going to affect Rayek. I'm not sure how much time my folks'll give me with the computer but if you'd like to discuss it I'd be happy to. It sounds like so much fun! :)
Thank you for your concern, Wordgazer. ^_^
[quote:685bdad22a]Seeing the world of Elfquest go crazy because of one little change is always entertaining *smirk* [/quote:685bdad22a]
Oh, I second, third, fourth and fifth that. Whee!
This. is. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! MUST HAVE MORE!*passes out from the amazingness of the story*
*wakes up a couple minutes later* WHEN'S THE NEXT CHAPTER GOING TO BE UP!?!?!?! *takes a few (seven-hundred) calming breaths*
This is one of the coolest EQ stories i've read! And I was just thinking about writing a story were baby Rayek is found by the Gliders the other day! Guess you beat me to it.
It'll be realy interesting to see how growing up in Blue Mountain changes Rayek. Will he have a special relationship with Aroree because she was the one who found him? Will he grow up to see Winnowill as a love-mate... or a mother? Will he be overwhelmed by all the constant attention that's sure to come his way? And what will happen to Ekuar without his Brownskin to find him? How will Rayek react to Leetah, with skin like his, showing up at Blue Mountain with the Wolf-riders? Soo many questions! Please write more soon! :bow:
So glad you liked it! And more is coming, soon, I promise. *sighs at her own slow writing* Chapter 2 is nearly finished now, I've just got one scene left and then I'll send it off to manga so she can spellcheck and tell me if I've gone too crazy *smile*
Yay! More to come soon! That's good news :-D.
I'm so happy people are enjoying this little piece of Worldpool madness! I just sent chapter 2 to manga, it'll be posted as soon as she gives me the OK.
That's great :D.
*carries lots of comfy pillows into the thread, sits down and waits patiently for the next chapter*
*sits down next to Satiretto with a ice-box filled with Red Bull and Coke and several bags of Doritos* Beta quick manga!
I've beta'd it twice now. I suspect Sofia would have an easier time getting it posted if the forum would quit going buggy. :)
It's not just my computor?
Nope, it's not just your computer. I've been having trouble with the forum off and on for a week or so; I got an email from Richard sent to one of the EQ lists telling us he's aware of the problem and trying to fix it.
Oh Sophiiiiiaaaaa! Where are yoooou!
I'm here! And I bring you a new chapter!
Sorry that it took so long, but between forum-troubles and homework I just couldn't find the time for the final editing and posting until now.
Now I'll stop whining and let you get on with reading the fic. Once again, many thanks to my wonderful beta-reader manga!
Chapter Rating: PG (Well, it has some Winnowill, and she sort of makes G an impossible rating through her mere presence in a story...)
Chapter 2: The walls’ eyes watch
Rage is the first emotion to come as he sees it: the Child. They all fawn over it, feed it and clean it. Even Mother pays it attention. That, this, everything makes no sense and that angers him. The whispers of the Child’s abandonment only serve to confuse him more. Why bring it to Blue Mountain if it was meant to die? No elfin death was allowed to enter the Mountain, Mother saw to that.
Two-Edge stalks his secrets tunnels wringing his hands. The rage fades away to pure confusion as he watches the Gliders silently quarrel over the Child. Everyone wishes to have the Child by their side. Whose chambers it’s going to sleep in, who gets to feed it, who gets to dress it; everything becomes a competition. Each music maker broods for days to try and think of a more soothing lullaby than the one that had been played the night before. The weavers try to make their cloths softer and every piece of the Child’s clothing more practical each time he grows out of what he has been given to wear. The Rock-Shapers quickly predict the need of personal chambers for the Child as it gets older. They abandon all their art and sculptures, each one trying to find the best place for the Child’s new rooms and ornamenting them with the most beautiful things they can think of.
Mother stands in the middle of this chaos, pushing for things to go her way. She is the one that can grant the greatest of all gifts now: the ability to feed. Only a favored few are given the milk the Child needs and they are looked upon with jealousy by the other females.
The rage returns as he watches Mother nurse the Child. Why does she care for it? He could ask her, but knows she’ll only lie. Isn’t that how the Game goes? He asks, she evades, he screams, she laughs.
He rushes down underground and hides. Here he can ponder and shout without fearing disturbance. And it is here he realizes what the Child’s purpose is. It’s a part of the Game. How, he doesn’t exactly know yet, but he knows Mother, he knows she is planning. If he is to be on equal footing with her he must play his part.
He returns to the tunnels high in the Mountain. The Child is older now. It can walk and talk – poorly, but it no longer just eats and sleeps. Mother is nowhere to be seen; she has returned to her human pets. She is biding her time. So will Two-Edge.
It had been many years since Blue Mountain had been so full of life. Nowadays there was hardly a chamber that had not at some point been visited and thoroughly examined by the child Rayek. And most of the chambers’ owners were more than delighted to have Rayek as a visitor. They nearly fought for the privilege of being in his presence.
Aroree didn’t. Instead she kept as far away from him as possible. Not because she disliked the child; she loved him as much as any of the other Gliders. He was a reminder to them of their youth, of the new lives that had been denied their people for so long. But to Aroree Rayek was also a reminder of death.
Two years were nothing for an immortal such as her and she still recalled the sensation of his dying father’s sending in detail, every word, every emotion. And each time her eyes met with the piercing amber colored orbs of Rayek his father’s voice grew louder. She couldn’t handle that, so she fled.
But this time she could not hide in her chambers. Moments earlier she had seen the child rush down a nearby hallway. He’d been running as swiftly as his short legs could carry him, his movements still unsteady from lack of experience. She had whirled around in the air and began to glide back the way she’d come when she’d heard the soft thud and the horrified gasps. Then the sobbing started.
Weeping was uncommon in Blue Mountain. Yes, when the child had joined their numbers he had cried from time to time; hunger or discomfort fueling his whimpers. But never like this. The sobs that reached Aroree’s ears now were sounds of pain.
Before long all Gliders within hearing range from the child had gathered by his side, hovering around him with despair written in each facial feature. Yet more would soon join them, called to the hallway by panicked sendings. Kireele, the one who’d been accompanying the child last, had curled up in a corner nearby, tear-filled eyes hidden behind his hands. He knew as well as Aroree that he would be blamed – was to blame – for this.
Rayek had fallen. One of his knees was scratched and bruised, bleeding. Aroree couldn’t look away from the wound. She was one of the Chosen Eight, a hunter. She saw bleeding wounds every time she or her bond-bird brought down a prey. This was different; this was an elf’s blood, a child’s blood.
She did not dare touch him; no one did. They all crowed around the child as he sobbed and curled into himself, drawing the injured leg closer to his body. They were all too terrified to be able to comfort him. Their horrified sendings would scare him; their shaking hands risked doing more harm than good. No one touched Rayek until Lord Voll arrived.
Without a word the Lord of the Gliders kneeled by Rayek’s side, his feather adorned mantle spreading out on the floor like the wing of a young hawk. Lord Voll gently put a hand on the child’s head. Rayek gave a start at the unexpected contact, then seemed to calm. He stopped pressing his face against his uninjured leg and looked up, eyes still wet with tears locking with Lord Voll’s steady gaze.
Slowly Lord Voll gathered Rayek in his arms, stroking the child’s hair in a soothing gesture. Rayek moved closer to the Lord of the Gliders, his tiny fists closing around whatever parts of their leader’s clothing he could reach. Lord Voll sent for Winnowill while muttering calming nonsense to the now quiet child.
Aroree left as soon as the healer arrived. She felt disgusted with herself and her fellows but she couldn’t understand why. She dealt with this emotion as a Glider did with all puzzling feelings; she repressed it and tried to forget.
The Child swiftly learns not to cry. Clever. Two-Edge knows Mother would make the Child a cage if the Old Bird saw it cry too often. The safe way is chosen by being careful, being silent. She will not be allowed to build a cage if there is no pain. Two-Edge knows the Old Bird nearly as well as Mother does; knows the old elf would think it cruel. That makes Two-Edge laugh.
And the others, the unimportant ones, they are so anguished as soon as they think the Child to be unhappy. That is why the Child learns to laugh silently. Too much noise scares them; they think it a sign of pain and distress.
Two-Edge does not admire the Child. The Child is too young, too simple for such a thing to be possible. Perhaps something truly interesting will happen, but what such a thing could be Two-Edge does not, could not, say.
Tyldak had settled down on one of his favorite perches, an alcove from which he could oversee one of Blue Mountain’s largest indoor gardens. He wished for time to think and this was the perfect place for that.
His life had been – new and strange of late. Winnowill had not called for his company in a long time. She kept to herself, only speaking to her human servants. He could not say he minded this. On the contrary he relished in his freedom. He’d flown far from the mountain - farther than he had in millennia - to stretch his wings, to feel the winds.
Something kept calling him back to Blue Mountain though. It was not Winnowill and it was not Lord Voll. It was the child. Tyldak, being one of the youngest of the elves, had no clear memory of children. His age mates had never had offspring of their own, none that had lived long enough to be born at least. The elves who were younger than him he had seen when they were children, but those elves were so few and it had been so long ago…
Tyldak did not feel ashamed for this fascination with the child. He was far from the most stricken of the Gliders. Many in Blue Mountain spent the majority of their time attempting to get close to the child. They made him things, wished to teach him things, wished to entertain him with stories and tricks.
Tyldak never did any of that. Instead he studied from afar. He watched as the ones who prepared food fed the child beesweets, thinking themselves unobserved. He hid in shadows and listened to music and tales thought up purely for the enjoyment of Rayek. He saw the child grow and learn both movement and magic.
But most of all he saw the child himself; the dark skin, the strangely colored eyes, the large ears. Rayek was different. Not by choice like Tyldak, but still different, and that intrigued him beyond word or thought. The Gliders were all just different shades of the same shadow, but Rayek was special and not only because of his age.
They were only rumors, but Tyldak suspected the whispers of the child’s powers were true, at least to some extent. He had seen Winnowill train him, once, lifting a large stone with magic. It was a rare talent, being able to levitate other things than oneself; Tyldak could not name more than an eight of elves who possessed the skill.
And Rayek was sure to have other gifts. Winnowill could never have bothered to teach anyone but a truly powerful magic user her secrets. Tyldak did not pretend to understand the mountain’s healer, but since his change he had slowly begun to understand her better. She only took interest in those she could use as tools. If the child had been less magically gifted than she herself, she would not have bothered to become his teacher, only made sure he knew she was the one to make decisions. That she had bothered with lessons told Tyldak all he needed to know.
Tyldak was startled out of his musings by a sudden, unexpected movement, first outside then inside the alcove. Pulling his right wing closer to his body he discovered the small form of the subject of his reflections, attempting to hide behind him. Tyldak couldn’t help but smirk a little. Half of Rayek’s hair had been arranged into neat braids, while the other hung in loose tresses. His dark cheeks were flushed and his mouth was set in a determined, yet surly line.
With one eyebrow raised Tyldak waited for Rayek to explain himself. He did not have to wait long.
“I don’t like it when they make such a big thing out of dressing me,” the child muttered, twisting a few braids around his fingers. “I can dress myself!”
Tyldak’s faint smirk remained in place, but he could not help feeling a little sorry for Rayek. The child was still very young, barely an eight of years, but he had been able to put on his own clothing for quite a few turns of the seasons. That didn’t seem to stop the clothing makers from helping him out, often. Then again, the child was overreacting. If the other Gliders wished to show him such respect, why was he sulking about it?
“Does not Semtra and Ohnri dress Lord Voll? It is a sign of affection and respect; you should be more grateful for it.”
Those words didn’t seem to have the wanted affect on Rayek. Instead of acting repentant, he pouted. Tyldak briefly wondered how long it would be before Rayek saw the world as his elders did. How long was an elf a child? He could not remember any drastic changes in his own mindset, but his memories were dulled by age, so his own recalled youth was no help in this matter.
“But they don’t braid his hair!” Rayek suddenly exclaimed, startling Tyldak back from his thoughts about the aging of the mind. He had to nod in agreement. Lord Voll’s hair was left in peace by all; there was not reason to deny that.
“Our Lord wishes his hair to remain unbraided and we respect those wishes, is that so surprising?”
Rayek crossed his small arms over his small chest. That glint had lit in his eyes again. “But I don’t want my hair braided either! Why do they listen to Lord Voll and not me?”
Tyldak stifled a sigh. Before Rayek, no one had called into question so much of the Gliders’ existence, at least not so frequently. Ever since he’d learned to speak the child seemed to have made a habit of questioning everything about the world around him. It unsettled Tyldak, but not as much as it did the others. Most of the Gliders tried to hush or correct Rayek when his eyes lit with that telltale spark.
Lord Voll seemed to be the only one amused by the child’s inquiries. The Lord of the Gliders would answer Rayek’s questions with a serene smile on his lips, never getting impatient, even though Rayek had no qualms against questioning said answers.
Tyldak saw no point in doing as Lord Voll. Why answer questions when your answers would be scoffed at? No, it was better to remain silent and the child would tire and go elsewhere.
Apparently understanding that he would get no reply Rayek frowned, but seemed to choose to keep quiet and leave Tyldak in peace. Tyldak nearly smiled as his good fortune and stretched his wings. He made ready to take flight, escaping this awkward situation -
“Is Winnowill my mother?”
- and almost hit his head on the ceiling, so surprised was he by this new notion of Rayek’s.
“What by the stars gave you that idea?” Tyldak couldn’t help but exclaim, staring at Rayek as if he’d grown a fifth finger on his right hand. The thought of Winnowill being the mother of anyone sent shivers down Tyldak’s spine; it all seemed too twisted a thing to wish upon any creature.
Rayek let his eyes stray to the small elf sculpture in the alcove wall, something akin to embarrassment – and disappointment? – flowing across his countenance for the briefest of heartbeats. As swiftly as it had appeared it vanished and was replaced by the child’s usual thoughtful, almost defiant expression.
“Our hair has the same color, the exact same color,” Rayek muttered to the elegant sculpture. “And she’s my mentor. She hardly speaks to anyone but me and Lord Voll. And the humans, but they don’t count. Why couldn’t she be my mother?”
Tyldak held his tongue. During Rayek’s first years in Blue Mountain there had been rumors – malicious rumors created by a few of the those who had not been allowed to nurse the child – that he’d been born from the joining of Winnowill and one of her human playthings. They were soon silence by none other than Lord Voll himself, who’d sent the truth of Aroree’s mind-encounter with Rayek’s father. There was only truth in sending and the Lord of the Gliders’ mind voice was the most honest one of all. But that was some time ago now. Had the rumors started up again? Was that how Rayek had begun thinking such thoughts?
“Who is, then?”
It took Tyldak a moment to add this new utterance to the previous parts of the conversation – or questioning.
“We do not know.” With those words he broke the silent agreement all the Gliders had, to never tell Rayek of the fate of his father and the mystery of his mother. Somehow he wasn’t sorry for it.
Rayek’s first response was to frown. Not in anger, no. He looked more thoughtful than anything else. His gaze was still locked on the statue. “Then where did I come from?”
“Aroree found you outside the mountain. Your father told her to bring you to safety. He was…dying.” A slight tremor of the lips was all the reaction these words got from Rayek.
They stood in silence for an endless moment. Tyldak thought about leaving, but couldn’t make himself do so. Instead he waited, staring at the alcove’s sculpture, just as the child had done.
Rayek stood with his back turned to Tyldak, staring out over the garden. He’d crossed his arms over his chest and – from what Tyldak could see out of the corner of his eye – he was still frowning.
“Take me flying!” Rayek suddenly commanded, turning back around to stare up at Tyldak with self-confidence only one who was used to being obeyed could possess. Tyldak blinked, thrown off balance by the unexpected change of topic.
“Take me flying!” Rayek repeated, voice just as calm and commanding as the first time.
“Now?” Tyldak finally managed to reply, raising one of his eyebrows. How could children be so fickle?
Rayek rolled his eyes. “Of course! I-,” he hesitated for the briefest of moments, “I want to see the outside, the forest, and no one else will take me.”
“And what makes you think I will, when none of the others do?” Tyldak asked, mimicking the child stance by crossing his wings over his chest.
“Because you will,” came the reply, accompanied by a small smirk. “And because I need to learn. I can’t fly yet, but I will soon,” his voice held a lot of confidence as he stated this, “and wouldn’t it be terrible, if I flew outside of the mountain and didn’t know what was out there? Anything could happen.”
Tyldak had to return the child’s smirk with one of his own. Clever, but Rayek had never been dull or slow when it came to arguing, even at such a young age. It would seem he had no choice. Either he could bring Rayek on a short flight around the mountain or Rayek would find some way out on his own. He wouldn’t have put it past the child to attempt to climb down from the Aeries.
“Very well then,” Tyldak finally replied and knelt. Rayek stared at him in confusion. “Wrap your arms around my neck. If you don’t, I might drop you.”
Rayek hesitated for a heartbeat or two, before taking a step closer to Tyldak, reaching towards his shoulders. Having made sure that Rayek was securely settled, Tyldak took to the air. The sound of his wings and Rayek’s thrilled shriek echoed through the garden and alcove for a few moments, before fading away into silence.
The Child’s actions have begun to confuse Two-Edge. It has begun to avoid those who dote upon it. It hides from those who wish to feed it, to sing for it. Instead it seeks attention from those who ignore. The Child hides in dark corners, following the Chosen One who once brought it to the Mountain. It attempts to follow Mother down through her twisting tunnels, to catch a glimpse of what she does when she is not teaching it her tricks of illusion. It watches the Changed One – one of Mother’s favorite toys – as he circles the ceiling.
Two-Edge is interested now; riddles interest. The Child has become unpredictable, or at least not easily understood. Perhaps it was time?
Oh wow. You have a young Rayek down perfectly, I think. Will he become a Chosen Eight? Who will he replace?
No, don't tell me.
You couldn't write quicker, could you? :D
NEW CHAPTER!*jumps up and down like an abnormal squirel* I loved this Sophia! Putting Two-Edge in was a really cool twist! And Tydalk's reaction to Rayek asking if Winnowill was his mother was sublime! Write more quicklysoon!
Lovely new chapter, Sofia! It has Two-Edge! And everyone's so in character! *bounces around the office*
I'll be over here, waiting for the next part :-).
Sofia, I enjoyed this newest installment immensely. Everyone's actions were very believable. It was funny how when Rayek fell down, the Gliders acted so helpless. And Tyldak's conversation with the boy was priceless! I love watching those two interact!
Wow, being raised as an orphan by the childless Gliders is probably being even worse for Rayek (in terms of getting spoiled rotten) than being raised as a magic-user in the Sun Village was! It does make sense, though. Poor Gliders.
Well done! Looking forward to more, when you have time! :D
*pokes Sofia* Sofia? Are you alive?
How did I miss this? Sofia, this is awesome.
[quote:d81150e63d]The Gliders were all just different shades of the same shadow (...)[/quote:d81150e63d]
*procedes to poke Sofia relentlessly*More?
Oh, I'm sorry! Coughing-type-sick sucks. Don't kill yourself rushing ok? *hands Sofia a bag of cough drops and the ultimate stress releaver... dark chocolate and bubble bath liquid* Get better soon! And just a hint, gargling with warm salt-water helps throat problems.
Thank you for the chocolate and bubble bath liquid *feels so loved* And I'm _finally_ finished with the challenge fic *is extremely happy and relieved* so now I can focus my attention on WAF again!
As a sort-of-bonus I've started working on another Worldpool fic that's even crazier than this one (yes it is possible). Let's just say it involves 50% gender bending, 50% rolereversal-ish situations and 100% tribal confusion.
Of course my main focus will be WAF so the "Chaos Project" won't be showing up here until February, at the earliest.
As a sort-of-bonus I've started working on another Worldpool fic that's even crazier than this one (yes it is possible). Let's just say it involves 50% gender bending, 50% rolereversal-ish situations and 100% tribal confusion.
*pushes story back onto the first page*
*looks around for Sophia* Are you still alive? :poke:
You...must...continue...to...WRITE!! Glider Rayek...so...awesome! I love how he runs away from those who keep doting on him and argues with Tyldak! It's so friggin' CUTE!! Write more, and include some Winnowill little Rayek moments...oh, High Ones...just imagine what would happen if he walked up to her and asked: Are you my Mother?? She'd hit the roof!
(Laughs evilly at the very thought) I offer you several tins of fudge and the best dreamberry wine, stolen from the Voll and Winnowill in my head.
Give that back!!
Over my dead body, mates...
You'd be shocked at how quickly that can be arranged.
BAD Winny! BAD! Put down that baseball bat! VOLL! Control your girlfriend!
Gotta run, write more soon or-AUGH! KEEP AWAY FORM ME, BLACK SNAKE!
Yay! Sofia, you're alive :D. And about to bring more chapters! Verrrryyy good.
You live!*hugs Sophia* I missed you!
Sophia, I'm really happy you're okay. Please keep writing, you're very good.
Huzzah! She returns! Good to see you back, Sofia. :)
Thank you all for your kind words! I will hopefully have chapter 3 sent to manga by the end of this weekend for beta-reading. If I don't, feel free to kick me (I'll be kicking me at least, if that happens...*hurries back to writing*
*camps out by her mailbox.* ;)
(Performs CPR on thread)
Live, blast it, liiiiiiiiiiiive!!
(Gets electrical shock pads out)
*throws a few Pheonix Downs on thread* Sophia we miss you!!!!
Indeed we do! Please come back!
...I did it again, didn't I? *shame* I disappeared (and just discovered that manga replied to my last mail _a long time ago_ - my inbox has been very crowded and it got hidden away *is very sorry* I shall reply ASAP!)
Chapter 3 is not forgotten! It just needs some rewriting (ok, a lot of rewriting *sigh* teenagers are so difficult to write well for me, but still I try) and school has been stealing my time of late - graduating this year and my final project/tests/applications for university classes take up a lot of my waking hours.
To manga: Thousand apologize! I'll send you an e-mail right away! *bows head in shame*
GASP!! Eeeeee! Sofia liiiiiives!!! (Pounces on and huggles) I'm just happy to know you're alive! Take all the time you need...only through long, torturous writing/rewriting can awesomeness be obtained. (Sends cookies to Sofia as 'Welcome Back To The Dark Side' gift)
It's been a couple of months now again since you wrote anything :D, but now I'm _here_ (having actually figured out why I couldn't log in... and it was for a stupid reason *feels stupid*). SO now I'm here to put further pressure on this thread and am of course expecting the next chapter, poppet.
(Though I know you're still stolen from the fictionate world by some huge thing called RL)
O_o I can't believe how much time's past since I last posted here - I even missed replying to melodytime for a month! *sighs* WAF chapter three is on it's way - but I keep messing it up all the time! I really should be forbidden to write teenagers, but I don't want to rush through Rayek's childhood either...
Hopefully the next version I send to manga will be better. In the meantime I thought I'd open a small drabble-thread, for shorter things I've written - just so you'll know I'm still alive while I work on the next chapter.
Re-posting time! (Sorry I didn't have time to reply to all the wonderful comments!)
Summary of what's happened until this chapter:
After a terrible sandstorm Jarrah goes in search for her lost lifemate Ingen. When she finally finds him, it is in the Passage from the Green Growing Place of legends. There she gives birth to their son, Rayek.
To find food for the travel back to the village, they leave the open plains and go into the forest. There they are attacked by an unknown monster. Ingen attempts to distract it while Jarrah flees with Rayek. Ingen can't hold the monster at bay for long and Jarrah becomes its prey.
In a last attempt to protect her son, Jarrah hangs his sling on a branch and then tries to lure the monster away from him. She doesn't get far before she is struck down and killed.
Meanwhile Aroree is out hunting. Her bond spots a bear and prepares to attack. Aroree stops him - she has seen the bear already has a kill of its own; something that to her looks like a young human.
Disturbed by this sight of violence against something vaguely elfin-like, Aroree seeks a distraction and quickly finds one. Hearing a child crying, she mistakes its source for a human baby and flies in its direction. When the infant shows to be an elf, Aroree is shocked.
In her confusion she sends and gets a reply from Ingen, who's pushed himself to send through fear for his child and mate. He lives long enough to tell her Rayek's name and warn her of the monster.
Aroree, traumatized by feeling the death of another elf, rushes back to Blue Mountain, where she believes the baby will be safe. She hands Rayek over to Lord Voll and after having told him how she came to find him, she flies off to her chambers, while the others celebrate Rayek's arrival.
Winnowill is the last to arrive at the celebration in the Throne Chamber. She, unlike the rest of the Gliders, does not rejoice at the news of Rayek. Still she quickly finds a way of using him as a tool in handling the Blue Mountain hierarchy, through giving chosen female Gliders the possibility to breast-feed the child. She also shapechanges him to grow more like a Glider, thinking it to be useful later on.
Raising a child in Blue Mountain is no easy task. Few of the Gliders have ever been parents and those who have, have more or less forgotten what it was like. Only Lord Voll manages to keep calm during any and all mishaps and answers all the child's questions, no matter how senseless they might seem to others.
The majority of the mountain adores Rayek and everyone tries to get to spend as much time with him as possible. Only Aroree avoids him, his mere presence an instant reminder of his father's death. Winnowill too only approaches the child at rare occasions, preferring to keep to herself in her underground chambers. She gives him magic lessons, which Tyldak, whom she now seldom calls upon, finds curious.
Tyldak, though as fascinated by Rayek as most of the others, prefers to observe rather than talk. Rayek seems interested in Tyldak as well and does not hesitate to approach and talk to him.
Two-Edge too takes notice of Rayek. He is at first confused and enraged by the child's presence, then decides he must be a new part of Winnowill and his Game and begins plotting.
Rayek is now eight-and-two years old and is stargazing in the Aeries...
Chapter 3: Flightless
Night had fallen and the Mountain lay eerily quiet. All Gliders, even the Chosen Eight, had retired to their chambers. Still, though elves slept, the stars shone brightly in the dark sky, greeting one lone point-eared figure as it made its way up to the openness of the Aeries.
The wind rushing down to greet him was the only sound. Even the Great Hawks were still in their nests, eyes shut to see only dreams, if they did dream. Rayek glanced at them briefly and found to his surprise that their still forms made a shiver run down his spine. They looked almost like Kontema's sculptures; like the bones above-
Frowning at himself, Rayek unfolded the soft, thick cloth he’d brought with him and spread it out on the largest stone ledge, as close to the edge as he dared. The breeze, playful though it was, was also calm and he had little fear of falling. The endless openness of this place was his alone for the moment. Behind him the birds rustled around in their nests, moving in their sleep. To his shame he started a little at that and couldn't stop himself from glancing both once and twice at them over his shoulder. They were moving and breathing. They were not statues. Just as they shouldn't be.
With an annoyed sigh Rayek lay down on his back and folded his hands behind his head. His hair, having yet again fallen victim to Semtra, fanned out in a tangle of braids under him.
Is something wrong with me? The question came unbidden and unwanted, but could not be ignored. He narrowed his eyes further and glared up at the darkness with its small lights. Even Tyldak enjoys this – this 'calm' – and no one loves a wild flight more than him. Why can't I...
He squirmed on the blanket, twisted from side to side, but could find no comfortable position. With a curse that would have made Ohnri scowl at him he sat back up and shifted his darkened gaze from the sky to the woods below. He sat in silence for a while, just trying not to move a single muscle. An image of Brace's unmoving form flashed through his mind, accompanied by Door's stone-like golden locks and Egg's unseeing eyes. He shuddered.
Such a child, he cursed at himself as he lay back down again. Above him a cloud floated by lazily, briefly hiding the starlight away. If any of the others so wished, they could touch that cloud. They'd just leave the ground behind and take off – Tyldak would be even faster than Kureel's hawk. And then they would see everything. There was a longing to that thought that he himself couldn't understand or quite shape. I can barely get off the ground at all...
He gave a small huff of annoyance and turned on his side, ignoring the overhead sky in favor of the steep mountain walls and lighter horizon. Somewhere far, far in that direction the Vastdeep Waters had touched the setting sun before the evening had ended. One day he’d go there and watch it, up close. No, not go, he'd fly.
“What are you doing here?” The words weren’t unkind, but neither were they gentle or friendly. Rayek rolled over onto his back again and leaned his head back as far as he could, spotting Kureel leaning against the mountain wall where the ledge began.
“Nothing,” Rayek replied with the carefree, bored tone of ten-year-olds everywhere, betraying none of the emotions of his recent thoughts. He kept his gaze locked on Kureel, trying to read the other elf’s face. “What are you doing?”
Kureel had his arms crossed over his chest, seemingly not all too interested in Rayek for a change. His attention was focused on something further in, in the depths of the Aeries. At Rayek’s echoed question a small smirk formed on his face. “They’ll be hatching tonight.”
Rayek started, immediately shifting his eyes to follow Kureel’s steady gaze into the dark. Now? But no one said anything about a hatching today. He hesitated for a moment, before he truly remembered who he was talking to. No one knows more about hawks than Kureel. With a swift, eager jump Rayek was on his feet and by the other elf’s side.
**Can we watch?** There was a respectful wariness in Rayek's sending, but it did nothing to hide his enthusiasm.
**If we don’t go too close,** Kureel sent back, both amused and pleased.
Rayek nodded quickly, his small face set in as serious an expression as he possibly could make. He leaned against the wall next to Kureel, attempting as well as he could to mimic the older elf's relaxed stance.
They both stood, just watching, for a long while. Finally Rayek began to fidget. Nothing was happening and the air flowing into the mountain had taken on a cool temperature. For a heartbeat Rayek considered fetching the cloth still lying on the ledge, but caught himself before he had time to move. What if I turn my back at the exact moment one of the eggs crack? It might all be over before I have a chance to turn back around! Rayek’s face took on an obvious mask of concentration; he wasn’t going to miss a moment of this.
Kureel’s smirk widened faintly as he glanced over and saw Rayek’s focused expression. Stretching he sat down, folded his legs and leaned against the wall. Rayek took little notice of this at first, then hurried to do the same.
It was almost light outside before the pecking started. Rayek had dozed off halfway through the night, shoulders stiff with tension. At the faint sound he sat bolt upright, eyes, still hazy from sleep, flying open. “What?” he muttered, stifling a yawn.
Kureel made a hushing gesture with his left hand. **It’s the fledglings. They’re pecking at the shells of their eggs.**
In and around the gigantic nests the adult hawks had begun to stir. Five soon-to-be mothers and fathers had gathered around their collections of purple-shelled eggs, scrutinizing them with piercing black eyes. Rayek drew in a surprised breath when the first beak broke through its birth cage.
The chick didn’t have nearly as much feathers on its head as its parents. Its eyes were half-closed and the entire creature was covered in some sort of sticky fluid. It should have looked disgusting. It didn’t.
Kureel and Rayek didn’t exchange a thought as the chicks – nine in total – struggled their way out into the world. When the chicks were clean and had begun chirping for food, Rayek finally couldn’t fight back the yawns anymore. Kureel, his smirk almost a small, warm smile, put a hand on his shoulder. **Go sleep child, the chicks will be doing the same soon.**
For once Rayek obeyed without arguing.
”Are you still asleep child?”
Rayek stretched and blinked owlishly a few times, before he sat up. In the doorway of his chambers stood Ohnri, a gentle smile on her face. “I’m awake,” he muttered, rubbing sleep out of his eyes with one hand.
Ohnri floated into the room and began taking pieces of clothing down from one of the many shelves; it had carvings of the Great Hawks as decoration. “You are the last one to rise today child – whatever were you up to last night to make you so exhausted?”
All traces of sleep disappeared from Rayek’s eyes within a heartbeat. He didn’t even protest when Ohnri glided over to the side of his beddings and began pulling a tunic over his head.
“I was in the Aeries!” Rayek crowed, triumph in his voice. “I stayed up all night to see them hack out of their eggs! There’s eight-and-one of them and they were all sticky, but now they’re clean and fluffy and do you think I can have one?”
“What are you talking about dear child?” There was faint amusement in Ohnri’s voice.
Rayek sighed loudly. He’d thought the topic of his rant perfectly obvious. “The hawks of course! The hatchlings left their eggs last night. Do you think Lord Voll will let me have one? The Chosen Eight don’t need all of them – only Oroleed is in need of a bond bird right now! Do you-”
Ohnri’s hands paused suddenly, tunic only half on Rayek. It wasn’t long before Rayek had managed to get it on all by himself. Tunic no longer covering his eyes, he noticed the stricken look on Ohnri’s face. “What is it?” Rayek asked, honestly confused.
“I-“ Another pause. Ohnri had begun to wring her hands. “I-I don’t know – I mean I – oh I…”
With both of his eyebrows raised to the line of his hair, Rayek watched Ohnri stutter and bob up and down ever so slightly as she glided back and forth by his bedside. When she stopped she seemed to make some form of decision and turned her attention back to him.
“I’ll go speak with Lord Voll right now. You just- you just wait here, agreed? I’ll be back as quickly as I can.”
Once more elated Rayek only nodded, already sure of his victory. Ohnri was out of his chambers faster than Swiftwing left the Aeries when a hunt was called. Rayek got out of his beddings and went in search for his boots, a wide smile on his face.
No one spared Ohnri a second glance as she came gliding into the Feast Hall and stopped by Lord Voll’s chair. However the quite dinner conversations stopped abruptly the moment Voll began coughing, loudly. With a shaking hand he placed his goblet of wine back on the table and covered his mouth with the other. No one else dared move.
Gasping for breath he shifted around to face Ohnri, eyes as wide as hers now. “Are you sure?” he asked her. His voice betrayed nothing, but his face told everyone in the hall enough. Anxious murmuring followed Ohnri’s short nod.
“He seems quite taken with them, my lord. I-I did not know what to say. I told him I would speak with you. He’s still in his chambers.”
Those at the table who were part of the Chosen Eight stood. “Is there trouble, my lord?” Yeeyeen asked
“Do not worry yourselves,” Voll addressed the others, hands held up in a calming gesture. “There is no danger. Merely another one of Rayek's...ideas.”
Every pair of shoulders in the Hall visibly relaxed. Some of the Gliders even gave relieved laughs, or comments such as; “Again?” and “I hope it does not involve food this time – the cooking fire was nearly impossible to clean after his last adventure. I doubt Helonai ever will stop bemoaning that.”
With the initial panic soothed before it could grow, Lord Voll rose from his chair. All Gliders did the same and bowed, not sitting back down again until he'd left the Hall. Ohnri, the only one still with worry in her eyes, stayed behind. Then, before anyone could ask her unwanted questions, she too left, heading in the opposite direction.
Voll's steps carried him to Rayek's chambers just in time to meet the child as he was rushing out. Rayek stopped a hand's breath from tumbling right into Voll's cloak.
Despite himself Voll had to smile. “Where are you going in such a rush child?”
Rayek, eyes alight with eagerness rarely seen within the walls of Blue Mountain, immediately replied:
“The Aeries! Did you see Ohnri?” He was fidgeting where he stood, shifting his weight from one leg to the other, nearly jumping in place.
Voll hesitated. Then: “Yes, I did. She said you had seen the hatchlings.”
Rayek nodded, his expression unchanged. However, when Voll said nothing else for a long moment, something dark began to creep its way into Rayek's eyes. He stopped fidgeting.
Voll felt his heart grow heavy. Still, there was only one possible answer to Rayek's request. “I fear, young one, that a hawk bond is far too great a burden for you. Yes, the hawks do care for themselves mostly, but flying, outside. It is enough a danger when Tyldak carries you. If you were to fall from the back of a hawk, there might not be someone to catch you in time.”
During this small speech Rayek had transformed completely. Gone was the open eagerness and joy. In its stead there was disappointment and anger – though Voll got the impression that the anger not exclusively was directed at him.
“But they can't fly yet!” There was faint desperation in Rayek's voice, though neither it nor his eyes were pleading, only demanding. “And I'm sure I can learn to float before they leave the nest, I swear it!”
Voll hesitated. It would be so easy to give in and say yes – so easy to bring the joy and eagerness back to the child's eyes. So easy to leave him to fall, plummeting to his death...
It was only endless years of self-control that stopped Voll from visibly flinching at that image. Instead he drew himself up taller than he already stood and his eyes narrowed into a stern look Rayek seldom, if ever, had received before. It left the child frozen, the disappointment and anger in his eyes temporarily giving way to unpleasant surprise.
“No.” It was all Voll said. He held Rayek's gaze for a heartbeat longer before he turned around and walked away.
It wasn't until he had three corridors between himself and Rayek that he let his stern mask crumble into a look of worry. He stopped to collect his thoughts, tracing the ornaments on the nearest wall with one of his hands in a distracted fashion. Hopefully he had done the right thing.
Rayek stood stock still a long while after Voll had left him, jaw slack in disbelief and shock. Then, body finally under his control again, he shut his mouth with a loud snap of teeth hitting teeth, just barely missing taking a bite of his tongue. He fisted his hands and made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat. His eyes looked both lost and angry and he didn't seem able to rest them on anything for any longer amount of time. Both the floor, the wall, the ceiling and the bedding inside his own chambers ended up at the receiving end of his confused, enraged stare, but did not have to suffer it for more than a few breaths of air.
The frustrated sound worked its way up his throat a second time. Rayek made no effort to hold it back, but he did stop himself from kicking the wall.
Child! Had thoughts been venom, this word would have been the deadliest in his mind. Child, always child. He'll never let me near the hawks, never!
He paused, hands curled into fists and eyes stinging. This brought him up short and his face returned to its first expression of shock. Then his posture changed again, shoulders slumping slightly, gaze once more directed at the floor. His cheeks flushed and his eyes stung more. Because I am one. None of the others would act like this. They'd never- He hurried to wiped his arm across his face and took a deep breath.
His knees threatened to buckle. Behind him, inside his chambers, his beddings beckoned with privacy and rest. It would be so easy to just go back in there and fall asleep. The rest he'd gotten after the hatching hadn't been long. No one would fault him for it.
You could just lie there 'til you rot or you could go practice, a voice in his mind, his own yet not, hissed suddenly. Once more Rayek's eyes widened in realization. His face set into a look of determination to rival the one he'd had during the wait for the hatchlings.
I'll learn. I'll learn and I'll show them. And I won't stop training until I'm the fastest. Until I can lift the Great Egg like it was a feather.
With this as a shining beacon in his mind he straightened up and began walking. He needed to find Winnowill.
The air in Lord Voll's personal chambers was cold. It always seemed to be, especially when they were there together.
“He is spoiled my lord,” Winnowill whispered in Voll's ear, standing oh so very close. There was a bittersweet longing in the mere hand’s width between them. She didn’t step closer. He didn’t turn around.
Instead Voll nodded, slowly. “You may be right Winnowill. Spoiled him we have. But has he not deserved it?” His hands came to rest on one of the many ornaments in the room. It was a small stone egg, dark in color with gold and precious stones woven into a pattern of a shell. He lifted it into his hand and studied it with unseeing eyes.
“My people all deserve the best treatment I can give them,” he spoke out loud, mostly to himself. He did not see Winnowill flinch – she stood behind him, keeping out of the torchlight that illuminated the chambers. There were no openings in this room, other than the door, covered by a drape of heavy cloth to provide solitude for its occupants. “And he, who brings us all such joy, should he not be repaid in kind?”
Winnowill took a few steps closer to the table the egg ornament had stood on, still keeping the same distance from Voll. “He's yet a child. He will learn to appreciate gifts, in time. Now he only takes them for granted. Soon he'll be counting what you've refused him, instead of what you've given him. Would that make him happy, my lord?”
With a heavy sigh Voll put the small egg back onto the table. He gave Winnowill a tired, but perhaps also grateful smile. “Your words ring true,” he agreed. “Still, there must be a way to lighten this blow.” His fingers followed the pattern on the egg, threatening to upset its balance momentarily. “I confess, I could not feel more guilty had I truly struck him.”
There was silence between them – a stillness that once would have been comfortable now only served to make Winnowill take a few more steps towards the chambers' exit. Voll watched her do so, but said nothing, showed nothing in his eyes.
“Will you speak with him?” he asked, gaze once more on the small egg's pattern. “I fear he is far too upset with me to listen if I were to talk, at least not today.”
Winnowill gave Voll a nod that in any other elf would have been the beginning of a bow. She left. Voll stayed. The air in his chambers was still cold.
“And what are you doing down here so early?” Helonai said, making the others in the chamber start. They all looked up from the food they had been arranging, to see Rayek, his back turned to them, seemingly just about to leave.
Rayek halted and gave a sigh and a sound, which most likely was a muttered curse. Turning around he made no attempt to hide the loaf of bread and the piece of dried meat he'd taken. He met Helonai's questioning gaze with a steady one of his own – though his eyes did wander towards the exit once or twice, before he gave an answer. “I slept through he morning meal, ” he offered as only explanation.
Helonai and the rest of the chamber's occupants – Tenle, Yeron and Padhei – only smiled in response to this. “Then you should have told us and we would have made you something warm to eat. That will not be enough. Though you do seem to be in a hurry, so I guess it can't be helped. Here, have some fruit as well.” Helonai took an apple from a basket next to him and handed it to Rayek, who took it without a word.
“And this,” Padhei said, hurrying to add a small jar of honey to the collection of food. “It will go well with the meat.”
Yeron rolled his eyes at Padhei, but still picked up a few cherries, wrapped them lightly in a cloth and wordlessly handed them to Rayek.
Floating up to reach the top shelf on the far wall, Tenle fetched a basket and returned to the others, to offered it for Rayek to put his prizes in. “Wouldn't want you to drop anything,” she explained unnecessarily, earning her a nod of understanding from Rayek.
They all smiled as he left, watching him until he was well and truly out of the room. Then they went back to their own tasks as if they never had been interrupted.
Out in the hallways Rayek kept close to the walls, eating as he walked. He walked as quietly as he could, eyes and ears open wide, alert for signs of others being close. Once or twice he had to dodge into a side chamber, avoiding someone floating around a corner or down from a hole in the ceiling. He had to be careful. Although most of the others kept to the upper parts of the mountain, the climb down to the lower corridors was long -
“Where are you going, child?”
-and the Gliders flew silently. With a sigh Rayek swallowed the last of the bread and turned around. Kireele, who now floated in front of him, gave him a soft, friendly smile.
“I'm looking for Winnowill.” Rayek folded his arms over his chest, eyes defiant, as if daring anyone to oppose this plan of action.
A look of worry did cross Kireele's face, but was soon replaced by his usual gentle smile. “Well then I shall have to help you then. The way down is much swifter when you fly.”
Rayek's gaze became edged. “I can get down on my own. There are staircases.”
Something flashed over Kireele's face, but it was gone before Rayek could give it a second thought. “Then I will go with you and you can make sure I don't fall. You are far better at walking than I.”
Rayek managed both to stifle a sigh and to not roll his eyes. That reasoning had stopped working on him years ago, although Kireele never seemed to notice things like that. Still, arguing with him would only mean more wasted time. With a short nod he accepted the offer and began walking for the nearest staircase. Behind him Kireele stopped floating and put unsteady feet on the ground.
“Ah, Rayek, I was looking for you.”
The way the child's eyes lit up at that was pleasing. Why it pleased her, Winnowill refused to reflect upon.
“Really? I was looking for you too!” he admitted and made halt at the bottom of the stairs. Kireele, who seemed to have accompanied him down, gave Winnowill a respectful bow and floated off, with only one backward glance over his shoulder.
“And what did you wish to speak with me about?” she asked, settling on a bench by a nearby fountain.
Rayek hesitated for a moment, something like wariness holding him still by the staircase. In the next moment that was gone, replaced by enthusiasm and determination. He walked straight up to her, but didn't sit down.
“I want more lessons,” he stated simply, arms crossed over his chest.
A smile, cold and sharp as the blade of a newly shaped knife, split across Winnowill's face. “And what makes you so sure you deserve more lessons?”
Rayek's self confident air faltered slightly. Still he stood his ground.
“I heard of your – request.” Rayek flinched and pulled his gaze away from hers, to observe the water splashing up into the air behind her. “Have you any idea how old the Chosen Ones were when they received their first bonds?” No answer. “I thought not. Countless of years older than you I can assure you. And they could all fly.”
“But Padhei told me that even Lord Voll used to-”
“That was then.” Winnowill's voice was icicles and frostbites. Rayek's crossed arms tightened around him, briefly becoming more a self-hug than anything else. He still would not meet her eyes.
The tense moment did not last long. Winnowill shrugged off the short lapse in self-control like a redbreast shakes loose broken feathers and stood. She bent down and gently took hold of Rayek's face, cupping his chin in her hand. She stroked her fingers soothingly along one cheek, earning a shiver. Not even she could tell if it was one of pleasure or fear.
“I will give you no lesson today. Keep practicing what I've already taught you and you will learn what you strive for, in time. But,” her grip firmed, making sure he'd meet her eyes, “if I hear of more ingratitude from you towards Lord Voll, my lessons will end. Do we have an understanding?”
There was fear in the child's eyes now. Not the fear of death or pain. She could not quite place it, but knew she had seen it before: in the eyes of her own reflection.
Quickly she loosened her grip and with a last gentle stroke of her hand down his cheek she left Rayek by the fountain. She had things she did not wish to think of and that she did best in her own part of the mountain.
There was a tray of food waiting for him when he finally got back to his own chambers. The broth gave off a thin mist of steam, so it could not have been left there for long. Rayek did not touch it or the fruits or the bread. Not even the goblet, filled with juice of his favorite berries, tempted him.
He curled up on his bed and stared at the wall with all the shelves. Winnowill's threat was fresh in his mind, as was the fear of it becoming reality. Never learn to fly. Always bound to the ground while everyone else soars high above me. He nearly choked, but not only because of that thought.
Ingratitude? The word was strange, foreign. It stirred many questions. The broth was long cold before he'd settled on answers for half of them; and they still left him feeling unsure.
**Where are you sulking, fledgling?**
Kureel's sending nearly made him fall to the floor. For a moment he believed he'd imagined it, but it was soon followed by another; this one only the feeling of impatience and slight annoyance.
**I-in my chambers,** Rayek replied, confused.
**Well leave them and get yourself up to the Aeries!** Kureel commanded casually, annoyance leaving room for amusement. **I should have known no one had told you yet or you would have been here before me.**
Hope and the fear of having said hope shattered began to form somewhere in Rayek's chest. **Why?** was all he could think to ask.
**Lord Voll says I am to give you your first riding lesson. Can't have you unprepared for the next hatching, now can we?**
Rayek had left his chambers before Kureel had finished sending.
**No, no, not like that! Be careful so you don't ruffle the feathers - it is very unpleasant for the hawk and gives him no reason to let you ride him.**
The sending was followed by a complete halting of motion from the one it was directed at. Brush, elder among of the great hawks, merely clucked softly and glanced back at the two elves next to him with patience, as if they were small fledglings scrabbling over meat; their behavior annoying, but tolerated for their lack of age and experience.
Voll smiled to himself as he watched Kureel guide Rayek's hands in fastening the harness correctly onto the hawk. The tunnel mouth Voll occupied lay well away from were the last rays of the sun could reach, keeping him half in shadow. Kureel and Rayek on the other hand were near the outskirts of the Aeries and brightly illuminated by orange red sunlight. Voll had become accustomed to the grim expression of extreme concentration the child wore whilst learning, but seldom had he seen such obvious enjoyment in teaching displayed by Kureel.
~**I thought you had decided not to give him one.**~
There was no flinching or other sign of surprise form Voll at the sudden sending. He merely glanced over his shoulder, much like Brush in his manner, greeting the newcomer with a curt nod. “I had and I stand by that decision.”
One of Winnowill's eyebrows arched upwards in a silent question.
"There will likely not be another hatching for a hand of eights. From what I have seen of his lessons, by then he shall be an accomplished glider and we can revisit the matter then. In the meantime, I see no reason the child should not learn his way around the hawks," Voll explained, his voice as soft as his eyes; both once more turned to Kureel and Rayek. "I gave all of the Chosen instructions not to let him onto the back of a hawk until he himself can fly and then only when accompanied by one of them. Kureel volunteered to be his first teacher."
Winnowill leaned against the mountain wall in a deceptively relaxed fashion that spoke volumes -- or would have, had Voll had the ears to hear. "I fear you are too soft-hearted at times, my Lord." Her tone was decidedly not soft.
Voll only nodded in agreement, smile still on his lips. "Perhaps. But sometimes compromises are needed." Winnowill made a faint noise in reply - or perhaps it wasn't a reply at all.
They stood in silence for a few heartbeats, observing.
"There was another matter..." Voll began, but stopped himself as his outstretched hand found only air. Eyes closing in a brief show of pain, Voll opened them to stared down the tunnel after her for an endless moment. He then returned he returned his attention to the lesson.
*dances happily around thread*
wowie! you have a new fan!
Teenage Rayek [i:609956f297]would[/i:609956f297] be a handful. I bet that's why I'm having so much trouble with "Return to Innocence." Good luck, eh?
Maybe this will help: Rayek's pretty much a freakishly powerful teenager in the OQ. Sure he's 600 years old but he's mentally a teen. So says my hubby, anyway, who has a less biased take on Rayek than I do. <g>
Good point, thanks for that manga! Now I only have to mix in the whole "raised by Gliders"-thing, take away Leetah and see it if makes his attitude worse or a lot worse
"worse or a lot worse?"
Not having one person he feels understands him? Not gonna be good, no. Don't forget the sorta soul-bond he's got with Winnowill. That'll surely show up to put a spanner in the works too.
*falls to her knees* Sofia, I am begging you. Please update this story! It is not only wonderfully written, it is worldpool, it has Gliders and all of the characters are IC. Please update
*lays out some Sofia-bait* ^_^
Well Sofia you have a new reader. I very much enjoyed every last word. Great story so far.
-puts out Sofia bait- I don't normally have a lot of time to read these fanfictions...but I read through this instead of homework and am now hooked. 8D?
...uhm. *awkward pause* Hi guys!
In all seriousness though, I'm so sorry for leaving people hanging! (Damn you Work In Progress!)...again...and again.
You know how it is, real life taps you on the shoulder to remind you that you've got exams and friends you should meet face to face sometimes - and then other shiny fandoms come along and demand you write fics for them too and before you know it forever has passed!
So yeah. Chapter 4 is called "The Egg" and currently has 5 pages in Open Office. Hopefully I'll get it done.
Startear, manga, cometduster and Chama, thank you for reading and not giving up on me! I'll work hard to get you the next chapter without it ruining the story - I hope
I do know how that happens. xD; Speaking of which, I should scuttle back to studying for English...and finish writing the short story for the school paper-thing...and maybe work on my stories from more...
I'm glad you're still alive though. xD Have fun writing! (And studying/having friends/discovering other fandoms to mess with/etc.) xD
Since the last chapter was up, I've had a baby! Which is not meant as a reproach about time but an illustration of real life getting in my way too.
Believe me, I know how real life can get in the way of writing. Just update when you can Sofia, meanwhile I'll just wait and hope I'll get the alert which tells me that you've updated once more.
Awww, poor fic how I've neglected you.
I am actually planning to finish this one of these days. I've been working on chapters on and off for the past four (five?) years, so it's not completely dead (just resting).
I've uploaded the fic as a work in progress to Archive of Our Own, in case someone wants to read it as a story without the comments (which are lovely!) breaking up the chapters:
I still remember *hangs head in shame*
... in fact it's me who owes you something .... and I' terribly late :/
.doc would be a good idea in any case - save it well. I don't trust the upcomingsite change to the full ... too many experiances with mixed results.
A new chapter would be awesome! *hugs*
I remember too! ^_^ Happy to read what you can do. No pressure, just support. ^_^
@manga - Hi there! Been ages since I last talked to you, happy to see you on the forum! Seems we've been running past one another for a long time (I haven't been too active here for a long time, only sporadically). I'll do my best to get another chapter or three up this summer :)
Yay! I'll look forward to it. :)
interesting story! just started reading it because...and it's quite enjoyable! not like other stories of this possibly situation...i rather like how Winnowill is still quite herself. though a part of me is scared for what will happen when rayek hits initiation age...dear lord, the women will be falling over themselves to sleep with him!