A/N: Pfft, yeah, I probably shouldn't start this yet. But I am anyway. This is Keyd's POV piece, which is just going to run as one big long chaptered novel for as long as I care to continue it (not broken up into different novels). The events in the chapters will roughly match up with each chapter of Alan's POV, in case anyone wants to ref back and forth or something, since now all the things Keyd and Rysa ever said in their language will be translated! Also it might make slightly more sense if you've read all those other ones, but you could probably read this alone too.
Author: Alyn Drasil
Rating: overall R, PG for this one
Disclaimer: Sill mine.
Warnings: swearing, m/m business, unbeta'd, later on some het
The rain lashed violently down at us from the ink-black sky as we ran. Stumbling over slick tree roots, crashing through the overgrown leaves of this jungle country, Rysa's hand tangled firmly with my own. We dragged each other along, a relentless pace, the warm, muggy air making it more difficult to breathe, each inhale like sharp pressure in my chest. I heard Rysa gasping beside me, felt her heart pounding through our bond, as she felt mine.
The battle had been difficult and widespread already, in difficult inhospitable jungle and swamps, making it near impossible to keep our forces organized. In the middle of it, Ahieel and several others had cut us off from the others of our small group before we had realized, isolating and overpowering us. We had fought back, with all that we could, but we were simply not enough. The only thing left to us was to run, as disagreeable to both of our senses as that was. But the terrain, the weather, our exhaustion and expenditure of our energy meant we had nothing left to do.
Rysa suddenly pulled us to a stop, dragging me around the huge smooth trunk of a giant tree, its base knotted up with large, gnarled roots.
"We—make a rift," she panted, bending over a stitch in her side. Her hair was matted over her face, wet and flattened, but her eyes burned fiercely in the darkness.
I didn't know if I could summon the energy, physical or oen, to do what she was suggesting. "Can we—"
"We have to!" she shouted back, over the roar of the rain, the battering of water drops on the huge leaves around us. I could feel the pressure of bach energy all around us, closing in from all directions, but I was unable to pinpoint any of them. I was too tired, too distracted, everything was buzzing and swimming around me. But I managed to take Rysa's hands, pressing our palms flat between us, so we could open a rift.
We focused together, Rysa following my lead as to where to direct our energy, to connect with the presence to break the boundaries between worlds. I was putting the last of my energy into this, and Rysa was too—when I felt the chest-deep split of the boundary opening, I was surprised that we had managed to do it at all.
Without a word to each other, we went through, Rysa just a step ahead of me. The pounding of the rain and the thick humidity of the air cut off as sharply as a curtain being drawn back, and we stumbled out onto a rocky, shrubby hillside, the air light and warm around us, a slight breeze blowing.
There was light here, faint gold-pink from a sun that was setting somewhere behind the tops of the trees. A silence pressed down around us, still and lonely. Grey stones jutted out of the ground here and there, with faded and chipped lettering on their rough surfaces. A little ways down the hillside was a small stone building, not large enough to be any sort of dwelling, with climbing vines beginning to wind their way up the sides.
Rysa went to one knee, her hand to her throat, taking deep, long breaths. Something hitched in my chest and I had to turn away, retching, my body heaving but nothing coming up. My vision blurred with moisture and my head pounded and swirled in a hot, numb mess. I didn't allow myself to collapse; I had enough composure left to do only that.
Behind us, the rift was dwindling, closing fast. We couldn't support its power, which was good in this scenario. No one could mark it, come through after us or figure out where it had led us. I would have lent more energy to closing it, if I had any left. As it was, I had to let it do so naturally, hoping it was fast enough.
I had led us to a world I had been to before, a rather unnoticeable place. It was why I had chosen it. It was a safe world, a clear one, off of the mark by either side for many years. I had once been part of a scout team here, without Rysa, and I knew very basic things about it. In terms of being culturally developed, it had large urban areas and some advanced technology, more than other worlds and less than some. It was a very middle world, neither outstanding nor irrelevant.
Something jarred, harsh and startling, in my chest, a blast of strong bach energy that sent both Rysa and I staggering forward. She caught herself on her hands, already on one knee, and I stumbled against one of the square stone markers. Both of us turned to the rift, which had become almost too small and closed for passage.
But not quite enough. Someone was coming through, an invasive explosion of jangling energy, both familiar and unwanted. I could see the form of the person coming through, more slowly and with more difficulty than normal because of the size of the rift. But he was still coming through.
Rysa jerked up to her feet, alert and wary at once. "Ahieel!" she cried out, and that was all she had time to say before the rift allowed her brother through.
We split, reflexively. Rysa running down the hillside towards the small building while I headed up, into the thicker trees. We were still too exhausted to hold our own, either together or separately. I didn't know which of us Ahieel had chosen to follow until I felt a flare of panic through the bond, the speeding up of her heart, and realized that he had gone after her.
I reversed my steps at once. I couldn't leave her alone to fight him—she was a match easily for him when they were on equal ground, but he had the advantage now. I felt Rysa though our bond, a mass of panic and fast heartbeat and then—nothing. Everything blanked out, as clean as the cut of a knife, and I staggered with the shock of it. I had never felt anything like it, and the abruptness of it was terrifying.
I had no time to recover before I felt a burst of strong energy from my right. I ducked reflexively, rolling to the ground and coming up on my knees just as a blast of wild energy cut out from the trees, blasting the section of the hill where I had been into a charred circle. Ahieel was quick to follow after it, stepping into the clearing, his eyes hard and his face set.
"Where is she?" I roared, bearing down on him with nothing but my bare hands. "What have you done?" He easily sidestepped me, letting me blunder past. I caught myself, spun on my heel, in time to block a hard blow from him off the edge of my forearm armor plate. Ahieel spun into me with his other hand, which I also managed to just barely block.
His hands were glowing, his energy surging powerfully with the feeling of a large spell. I didn't know what it was, but my only instinct was to avoid it. But I had driven my body to its limits, both physically and of the energy in me. I stumbled as Ahieel made a third strike, couldn't avoid the pass of his arm, I felt his hand brush along my shoulder, and then—
Blackness. Brief, complete darkness. It surged in and out again in less than the span of a blink, a dizzying moment of vertigo.
And then I heard voices. Loud ones, slurring ones, a language I did not speak nor understand. I felt cold on my skin, a biting wind in dry air, a complete difference in temperature from a few moments ago. Time had passed, then, somehow. And something was against my face, my mouth, soft, warm, and breathing. The hard edge of something pressed into my cheek, and I became aware of a body, a human body, standing against me.
I reacted as I had been trained—hands flying out and catching at what was in front of me. My fingers grasped around thin wrists and held, although I was fairly sure that this was not Ahieel, it could still be a threat. I opened my eyes into darkness—pure darkness at first, which slowly faded into a bluer, defined vision as my eyes adjusted.
There was a boy in front of me. He looked my own age, but I had learned that ages could be deceiving between worlds. He was light-haired, light-skinned, but his eyes dark in the blue night air. Over his eyes were two square, transparent lenses in frames—glasses, they were called.
"Hey, guys," the boy said, in a voice filled with an odd mix of emotion. "Is anyone else noticing this?"
I understood him when he spoke, but he was not speaking Isji. He was already aligned with frequency. Clarbach, I thought at once, but just as quickly, ino/i. I felt no energy from him. He had the physical appearance, but he was probably just an inhabitant of this world. Maybe one who was more sensitive to the presence than others. The others, the one around him, were not aligned.
The boy shifted, tried to pull away. I tightened my grip, and heard him inhale very sharply.
"Don't—move," I said. My voice came out dry and rough and brittle, nothing at all like the way I should sound. But the boy tightened up, going stiff and still under my hands. I tried speaking again, "who are you?"
For a brief moment, the boy's face was quite blank, his eyes barely focused. Then, stuttering, "Alan, I'm Alan."
His name even sounded like a clarbach name. But I was still sure he wasn't. He was quite small, for one thing. Even standing on my boots as he was, his eyes were only level with my throat, the top of his head just above my chin. His hair was short in a soldier's cut, his clothes very simple and plain—what I could see of them in the darkness.
He was shaking a little, breathing hard—and I realized he was scared. I let him go, and he staggered away, his eyes wide and moving over me slowly.
"Wow," he said, sounding dazed, and then rattled off a jerking sentence of near-incoherencies. I ignored that for the moment, instead trying to collect myself and my bearings. I was still on the same hillside that Rysa and I had entered this world from. It was night, cold, a breeze blowing through the underbrush, and the loud, uneven voices of several other males echoed from the darkness.
But the boy in front of me was the only actual concern. He had done something, something that had helped me, and that deserved respect, and gratitude. I lifted my hand—the boy cringed slightly—and placed my fingers to my collarbone.
"E deuhana aun," I said, bowing my head slightly. I did not use that gesture lightly, although I didn't expect him to know that.
He stared at me, uncomprehending. "I—I—what?"
Suddenly, a second boy crashed through the underbrush behind him, weaving and staggering. The boy in front of me, Alan, whirled, yelping something at him and waving his arms
I took the opportunity of his distraction, opened my wings and took off from the ground. For the first few moments I thought I wouldn't even make it up—my body was still rigid and somewhat numb from disuse, and my armor made me heavier—but the oen in me wasn't affected by things like that, and my wings carried me easily above the trees.
It would be better to wait until these people left—if the one boy who had understood me had still been afraid, several of them who didn't would most likely panic. Once they were gone, I could search for Rysa. On a precautionary whim, I cast a strong tracking spell on the boy named Alan—if I needed assistance in this world, he would be one I knew I could communicate easily with.
After a significant time had passed, and the young men hadn't left the area—instead spending more time wandering around, drinking out of bottles and pushing each other around, drawling at each other in loudly slurred voices—I realized it might be a very long time before they did leave. Keeping airborne until then would be tiring and unnecessary, and so I let myself drift down into the tops of the trees, finding thick enough branches to support me and the weight of my armor.
I saw the one that I had spoken to, the one who had somehow woken me, Alan. He was sitting in front of the old stone building, methodically drinking bottle after bottle that he pulled out of a blue and white box beside him. One of the others tried to take one of the bottles away at a point, and Alan aimed a poorly coordinated swing at him, falling backwards in the process and nearly hitting his head against a pillar of the building. The other grabbed him, righting him, and then left him alone.
As oddly interesting as the antics of the inhabitants of this world were, I had something else to worry about. Rysa. I didn't know where she was, if she was all right, or injured, or even still in this world. I couldn't feel her at all through our bond, which was almost frightening. I wasn't sure what kind of spell Ahieel had cast on me, only that some times had passed during its length, and that Alan had apparently removed it. If Rysa had been cursed similarly, Alan could possibly be useful in removing it from her, as well. Finding her was my first, my only, priority.
As I stayed hidden, concealed in the trees, I felt a slight edginess around me. Something that was making the oen in me agitated, like a small itch. But there didn't seem to be anything around to react to; no obvious sources of energy, and I'd already determined that Alan was no vessel. It could have been this world in general, although I didn't remember feeling such a thing when I had been here before.
I turned my attention back to the boys below. Alan was still sitting on the steps of the building, in the same spot. But now one of the others, a boy with very dark hair, was now sitting beside him, a hand on his shoulder.
"'m…fine, Law, fukkoff," Alan was saying, and he gave the boy an ineffective shove. The other boy's hand move from Alan's shoulder to his knee, and he said something in a low murmur. I wasn't sure if I would have been able to hear him, even if he'd been aligned. As it was, I could hardly understand Alan through his slurred speech.
"This's mine," Alan said in response, jerking away. "Gettur own. Doan tou…tot…touch. Yeah. Doan touch me."
The other boy exhaled slightly and sat back, taking his hands away. Alan flung the bottle forward into the trees, where it careened off the edge of one of the stone markers, and shattered. Alan startled, looking around like he wasn't sure where the sound had come from.
"Think somwon broke somethin'," he said, and then his head dropped forward into his hands, and his shoulders hitched sharply. The other boy's hands returned him at once, rubbing slow circles on his back. But he pulled back at once when one of the other boys came around the edge of the building, crossing his arms hurriedly over his chest and even moving himself further away from Alan's side.
Something about the boy's nervous reaction struck something in me. A sense of painful familiarity. Although it was probably nothing truly similar, just a coincidence—but I knew what it felt like to be afraid to touch other men, even casually, especially where others could see. I had fought with that for most of my life. Seeing this boy, from a completely different world and culture to my own, act so familiarly was both frightening and reassuring.
It seemed that the boys were finally leaving—the dark-haired one and other lighter brown-haired one both helped pull Alan up from the steps, slinging his arms around their shoulders and starting to drag him off down the hillside. Another one of them halfheartedly threw some of the empty bottles back into the blue and white box, hefted it up between his arms, and followed, with the last boy in tow.
Just to ensure that they were truly leaving, and not going to come back in the middle of my search for Rysa, I followed them. Moving quietly above them through the trees, down the hillside until they all staggered out into an area of flat black pavement, where several boxy vehicles were sitting. I remembered those from my brief time here before, but not what they were called.
The brown-haired boy with Alan pushed and heaved him into one of the vehicles with some effort, and shut the door on him. The dark-haired one had gone over to the other two carrying the box. The brown-haired one went around to the other side and got in himself, weaving and moving with an obvious uncoordination, and I wondered if it would be safe for him to operate it.
The other, dark-haired boy suddenly ran back up to the vehicle, waving his arms and yelling. He rapped on a pane of glass in the vehicle's side and spoke loudly through it, gesturing and pointing. After a moment, the brown-haired boy got back out, then got in again through another door in the back. The dark-haired boy got in his place instead, and after a few moments, the vehicle started rumbling and purring, and then pulled out of the square paved area into the flat black road. I felt the tug of the tracking spell, giving me a general feel of which direction Alan was being moved in. And then I went back to find Rysa.
It didn't take very long. I began in the area where I had last seen her, the stone building that the boys had been moving around all night. She was around the back of it, pressed up so closely to the wall that I missed her, the first two times I went past.
She was beneath the crawling vines that had grown thick over the walls of the place, frozen still, unmoving, her entire body a rough shade of grey. I had almost not wanted to find her here—I had hoped, that somehow, Rysa had escaped whatever it had been that Ahieel had done to me. But now, I saw what he had done, and now understood what I had awakened from—or been awakened from. A curse of unmoving stone.
The only hope I had now was that boy, Alan. He had somehow taken the curse off me; he must be able to do so for Rysa. I was reluctant to leave her, alone and unprotected like this, but I had no other choice. And there was no telling how long we had both been here, on this hillside, equally as vulnerable. A few more minutes, while I found Alan and brought him back here, couldn't be any more dangerous.
I followed the tracking spell, keeping myself unseeable to any eyes that might have been on the ground below. But this world got very dark at night, and since I could barely see anything myself, I didn't think I would be spotted, spell or no. The spell lead me over a large, sprawling town, most of the buildings tending towards being short and rather small. Nothing like Lojt, where singular buildings like this were only on the very outskirts.
The spell directed me to a cluster of small, very similar looking buildings, with grass and pale walkways in between them all. I could pinpoint that Alan was inside one of them, stationary. However, the one he was in had four different doors leading into it, and it took me several minutes to figure out which one was the one that would take me to him.
Once I was sure I had the correct door, I tried the handle. It wasn't locked, or barred in any way, and I was free to walk inside with nothing keeping me out.
No lights were on inside, and the entire front room that I entered was sunk in a deep blue dimness. There had been a very faint light fading on the horizon outside, but none of it reached in here. Tiny lights glowed from several places, lighting up as small green bars and squares. The tracked spell was pointing me down a narrow hallway, back to the furthest room.
It was a personal room, with a bed and a desk that were recognizable, although somewhat different from what I was familiar with. Alan was in the bed. His arm was hanging down to the side, his face turned to the side, half-pressed into the edge of the mattress. I ended the tracking spell, and the tug I felt towards him faded away as I approached the edge of the bed.
In any other situation, I would have been hesitant to wake him. But I couldn't wait any longer for Rysa. I did hesitate, for a moment, and as I did, Alan stirred, turning his face a little out of the pillow, towards me. There was something there, in his features, the line of his nose and angle of his jaw, that reminded me of something, someone. But, there was no time to think of it now.
I reached down and shook him, taking him by the shoulders.
He reached up, feebly trying to push me away, muttering sleep-hazed things. I shook him harder, and he struggled a little more, swiping an arm absently at me and trying to roll over. When I gave him a final, harder shake, he made a rough noise in his throat, and his eyes blinked open.
There was a moment's pause as he slowly focused on my face—and then he made an odd yelping noise and flailed backwards, his head knocking into the wall behind his bed. I winced inwardly, and reached down and caught his wrists to hold him place, so he wouldn't do that again.
I gave him a moment to recover, and then I said, "Alan. Come with me."
He stared at me, his eyes going wide and rather blank. "What?" he said. He had fallen completely still beneath my hands. "What?"
"Come with me," I said, again. "Now." I tugged on his wrists, just a little, but he was lighter than I expected. I pulled him up to a full sit—his eyes rolled a little and then he winced, shying his face a little towards his shoulder.
"I—" he said. He gave his head a little shake, and then pulled his face into a contorted grimace. I wasn't sure exactly why he kept doing this—it looked like he was in some sort of pain. "Who are you? What are you?"
They were fair questions, and he would need to know the answers eventually. So I answered. "My name is Keydestas. I'm an oenclar."
His mouth fell open a little. "I—you're a what the fuck? I—"
"I don't expect you to know what that is," I said, my sense of urgency returning now that I had found Alan. Rysa. I had to get back to her. "I need you to come with me."
"I—what? Why?" Alan reached out, pawing for a moment at the air, until his hand hit the edge of a small bookcase, his fingers closing around the black frames he had been wearing the night before. That—that was what had looked different about him. He fumbled them onto his face, hanging slightly crooked there, and stared harder at me through the lenses.
"You woke me," I told him. "You could do so for Rysanys."
He shook his head, squeezing his eyes open and shut, hard. "Hold the fuck on, I don't just—follow your orders, I—"
"I'll answer anything you want me to, if you first do this," I promised him. I would have said anything. I needed to get him to Rysa, as fast as I could.
He blinked again. "Can I…get dressed first?" he asked, the most coherent he'd been yet.
It was a reasonable request, although he appeared to be dressed to me. I nodded at him, and said, "I'll wait."
I'd realized by now my presence didn't calm him. So I left the room, to allow him a moment to collect himself, and to dress. I didn't know the customs well of this world, and it was always better to be more cautious, especially regarding issues of privacy.
While I was waiting, I paced back and forth in the small open space of the front room. Pacing kept me calm, gave my body a rhythm to focus on, to clear my mind. One of the few things about me Rysa had never understood – she thought it seemed a neurotic, nervous activity. But I was able to slow my heart's anxious pounding, back to a calmer pace. By the time Alan came down the hallway, his face pinched up a little, I was back in better control.
"Ready," I said, as soon as I saw him. I took his arm, which made him flinch and jerk backwards a little.
"Hey, wait," he said, resisting just a little as I guided him across the room to the door. "Can you at least tell me where—"
"Graveyard," I said, hoping that was indeed what it was. The sky was already growing much lighter when we stepped outside, and Alan reeled a little, blinking.
I didn't want to take the time to explain to ask permission for what I was going to do next. I would apologize later, if he wanted it. I spun him, taking him under the arms and unfolding my wings, taking us to the air. Alan yelped something, struggling reflexively. It was an odd, very reliable reaction that we had encountered in quite a few races. The urge to struggle when being airborne—something that seemed somehow suicidal.
Alan was babbling slightly as I evened us out at a good height, still twitching once in a while. I had a good grip on him, but even then I was worried. If he managed to squirm free somehow, there would be no way to help Rysa.
"Stop moving," I told him, sharply, as I was mostly sure that he was afraid of me, and might listen best to outright commands. "Or I'm going to drop you."
Thankfully, Alan fell still then, becoming a hanging dead weight in my arms. I could feel him breathing hard, rough in his throat. He held obediently still the rest of the journey back to the hillside, staggering a bit when we landed. I should have been more considerate, but I could hardly think about it at the moment. Alan didn't follow me as I moved towards the stone building, and I called his name to get his attention.
He came after me then, getting around the corner of the building as I was starting to pull some of the vines off of Rysa's immobile, grey body. He watched me do it, silently, his hands in his pockets. When I stepped back to give him room, and looked at him, he blinked hard.
"I—what?" he said, flinching backwards. "What?"
"I need you to wake her." I said. I thought I had made that clear, but I had problems with communication sometimes. It was just yet another reason I needed Rysa.
Alan looked at her, eyes wide, moving his gaze up and down her. After a long, long moment, he said, "it's a girl."
"Yes," I said, unsure why this was something to comment on. "An issue?"
His face flushed red. "Uh, no," he said, stammering a little. "I just—you want me to kiss her?"
"I want you to do whatever it was that woke me," I said. I wasn't sure what kissing had to do with it. But whatever he needed to do.
Alan babbled out something in a low, fast murmur, addressing the ground at his feet. I couldn't understand a word of it.
"Enough," I said, interrupting him. "Wake her."
His head snapped up, his mouth tight. "Yes, sir," he said, exhaling a little. He looked back to Rysa, and took an uncertain step forward. He looked her over again, gaze traveling from her boots to the top of her head. Rysa was taller than me, and therefore quite a bit taller than Alan, and he hardly came up to her chin. But he stepped up on the toes of her boots, and, after a hesitation, pressed his mouth to hers.
An odd shudder ran through me at that. Had he—done that to me, too? The moments as the spell had come off were still hazy and indistinct memories to me, but I did remember that Alan had been very close to me, his breath on my mouth. Had he kissed—
Seeing stone-grey suddenly flush off of Rysa's skin and armor startled me back to the more important issue of the moment. Alan tried to pull back from her, but Rysa reacted the same way I had, the way our training had impressed us to—her arms snapped up and caught and held him in place. Alan's shoulders went slightly limp in her grip, like he had just given up.
Rysa's eyes flicked to me, moved past, then snapped back. She moved Alan aside and same forward, dragging more of the trailing vines off the wall with her. I went to meet her, and the clash of our armor plates was deafening on the quiet, lonely hillside. But we were safe, and uninjured, and together. Nothing was more important than that.
I thought I heard Alan speaking in the background, and I focused more attention to him just to hear him say, "—because I'm going to go. Now."
"Don't move," I said to him, reflexively. He had helped us, and could possibly do more so if we needed it. I didn't want to let him out of my sight. "Don't go anywhere."
"Right, no problem," he said, his shoulders dropping again in that obedient way.
Rysa stepped back from me then, truly noticing Alan for the first time. Her gaze was hard and assessing, but I knew she had to be curious about him. Now that Rysa was safe and awake, I could afford to be curious about him too—this unlikely boy who had unwittingly helped us.
"Who's the boy?" Rysa said. Her voice sounded rough, unused—like mine had when I had first come out of the spell.
"Alan," I told her, because I didn't know any more of his name than that. "He woke us."
Rysa's head whipped back to him, and I felt her tension through the bond. "How?" she said, looking back to me then. "How?"
I saw Alan shrug, and Rysa gave me a significant look. "Keyd," she said, a question and a warning. Yes, sometimes it was risky to accept help from world natives without knowing what they would demand in return—but I hadn't had the time to think about it.
"Alan," she said then, impressing his name on me. She thought what I had originally thought, too—that he was a clarbach, or somehow had something to do with them.
"No. He isn't. I don't know what he did. He doesn't seem to know," I said. Alan muttered something in the background.
"He woke you, too?" Rysa asked me.
"Yes. Unrealized?" Since Alan didn't seem to understand what he had done,
"No," Rysa said, after giving him another hard, searching look. "I think not."
I supposed she was right. There was no feeling of energy around Alan at all, either light or dark. If he had been Unrealized, he would have had something to sense. But there was nothing.
"How long has it been?" she said then, adding another question to the list of things we didn't know. I shook my head, unable to answer.
Rysa exhaled through her teeth, and darted her eyes sharply around us. She swiveled herself slowly around, taking in everything, where we were, just as I had. But there was an expectancy to her searching, and I knew why.
"You think he's still here," I said, not a question. There was no way to tell how long it had been since the spell had been on us, hours or days or even longer than that. Ahieel could easily still be in proximity, or he could be weeks gone, assured that his spell would have held us for as long as he wanted it too.
"I don't know," she said, with the pace of her heartbeat telling me that she was anxious, and frustrated. "If we knew how long it had been—"
"You were all covered with ivy," Alan said suddenly, and both of us turned to him. I wasn't quite forgetting that he was there; but he kept fading to a slight presence in my peripheral senses. He fidgeted a little, but continued, "so, uh, it had to have grown over you. So at least that long."
Rysa glanced back at the wall of the old stone building, considering. I kept looking at Alan, who was fidgeting even more under my gaze. So far he had only been oddly compliant and easily ordered around, but this was the first thing he had said that showed any sort of attention, or thought.
"True," Rysa said then, looking back to the stone building, the gaping hole in the vines that we had torn away.
"This is a really old part of the graveyard. I don't think anyone comes here often, no one would have noticed new statues," Alan added, pushing his hands deeper into his pockets. An early morning wind was ruffling through his hair, pushing it over his forehead. The color was so unusual, I found myself watching the way the light filtered through it, lighting up warm and gold. "Uh—you could have been here a really long time."
I hadn't thought of that—and he was right. I muttered a quiet curse and turned away, needing to think.
Behind me, Rysa took over. I heard her say "hello", to Alan, who said it back, hesitantly. "I am Rysanys. Rysa," she said, introducing herself without her family name, and with her casual. We didn't know Alan's social standing, so it was the most neutral and proper way to do it. I had not offered Alan my casual, as I had been trained never to do that. I was never supposed to be addressed by it.
"Rysa," Alan repeated, on an exhale. "I, well. I'm Alan."
"I'm sure that you must have questions about what's happening," Rysa continued, in her very practiced diplomacy. I faded the sound of their conversation to a distant hum in the background. I was poor at this kind of between-world, species interaction. Already I could sense Alan reacting better to Rysa then to me, which was usual. I let her do it.
In the meanwhile, I tried to cast a time-catcher spell, to see if I could get even a vague approximation of how long Rysa and I had been caught under Ahieel's curse. But I was getting a poor reception from the presence; I couldn't even seem to sense it. There was nothing to use as a reference, no natural energy to connect with. It was somewhat maddening.
Rysa knocked me in the shoulder suddenly, and I turned around quickly, almost startled.
"Calm," she said to me, as a command. "If time has passed, we may be safe for now. We need a place to rest, and think."
I gestured distractedly to Alan, still bothered by my inability to connect with the presence. "He has a place."
"Hey," Alan said, frowning. "Wait."
Rysa went back to work on him at once. "Alan. Naturally we won't force this, but if you would allow us to just rest and collect ourselves—we would be most indebted."
Alan was already nodding, looking convinced. I had always envied this ability of Rysa's—one that had nothing to do with oen and the presence, but just the way that she could naturally use words to influence others.
"All right," Alan was saying. "Yeah, sure."
Rysa held up her hand in a traditional gesture of thanks, and said "iaymat irad," the most indebting and polite expression of gratitude. I probably should have done the same—but Rysa was better with these things, made them seem natural and genuine. I might have only made Alan more nervous.
"How do we get there?" Rysa asked him then, and Alan flinched, and glanced at me. I felt a startling and unexpected heat rise up from my neck. I wasn't sure why. But it was an uncomfortable, inappropriate reaction, and I tried to ignore it.
"He flew us here, but—" Alan said, and I went a little warmer even still at the memory of that. I hadn't thought about it before, how intimate that action was—I had been too focused on Rysa, and helping her. At the time Alan had only been a tool to revive her. But now—
He was someone whom I had spoken to, someone who was slowly sharpening into a clear personality, with unusual looks and a strange strength about him that I was only starting to notice. We had deal with many natives of other worlds who reacted very poorly to us, with fear or hostility or violence, even when we came in the most peaceful of ways. I had not treated Alan with much value at all, and yet he had still helped me, helped Rysa.
Beside me, Rysa had unfurled her wings from her shoulders, and I felt a small beat of expectancy from her, passed through our bond. I opened my own wings as a response, the question of if I could deal with flying with him again answered.
It seemed I would have to.
Keyd thinks a hell of a lot. Makes up for not talking, I guess.
This won't be updated with any sort of consistancy - basically when I find time to do it.