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Edalene

The Orm'del Sea is an ocean that separates Eastern and Western Idalos. It is said to have many horrors awaiting those that wish to travel through its waters.

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Aeodan
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We Bare The Fires of Our Souls

Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:01 am

First trial of Cylus, arc 718


I'd spent a season reasoning with myself, hiding behind my guilt and shame at leaving behind Nolan, allowing Ninacky to die, and the consequences facing Aegeo for his despicable but necessary deception... I hid from it, buried it beneath logic in an attempt to reconcile what happened in Vhalar. Zi'da passed with its typical tides, ebbs and flows, and still Edalene and I carried on. Thomas and Malena and the twins, we were like a family, but each of us bore the weight of Vhalar moreso than we'd ever let on. I wanted to talk to Thomas about it, to get him alone and discuss it as men, but the time had not been right. There was a time to share one's stories, over a meal and fire. It hadn't been that time yet. But for Edalene and I, there were no stories. It was pure and true emotion, and we couldn't hide anything from each other for long. My guilt was mounting, every trial stacking against me, threatening to weigh the air from my chest... But I felt something inside Edalene too. It was unhealthy to keep it from each other.

Had I known what to expect, we would have just continued to play happy house. There is always place for the Truth, but sometimes, it's impossible to hear.

-Journal of Aeodan Burnett



Aeodan sat with his feet over the side of The Black Dolphin, staring out over the sea as the perpetual twilight of Cylus clung around him, sticking to him like a shroud. His gaze rarely moved, even as the Biqaj behind him danced and laughed, swung and swam. Two young Biqaj, twin boys named Ekue and Loruae, wrestled at the prow of the ship, grunting as they spun about each other, hair tangled with beads and shells, clinking as they struggled against each other. Aeodan, though, did not watch them this time. In his hands, instead, he clutched the figurine that Ninacky had, its subtle warmth keeping the chill from his fingers. On the ships, the chill was a given, but the figurine made it more bearable. It was likely in his head, but when he was alone, he liked to hold it. It reminded him of what he'd promised, and what he'd lost.

He felt Edalene's approach before he heard her, but when she sat down beside him, he put a strange hand on hers. It was hairier, rougher, but there was something comforting about it. He looked over at her, as he often did when they were alone, and remained silent. The look of sorrow in his eyes was one she recognized, and he just sighed and looked back out over the sea. He'd wanted to discuss it so many times, but never had the rescue burned so brightly in his mind as it did then. He loved Edalene, she was the other half of him, and they needed to talk about it unless their feelings would become an echoing drum of misery, going round and round until one of them went insane.

"You know, I used to sit on the banks of the river and put my feet in. I'd wonder if there was more to the world than what we saw, what we knew. Books and tomes and facts, but I only felt what I imagined, you know? I read about Raduv the Ferocious, the clan-king of the Borou Tribe in the North, but I never knew what it was like to trudge through the tundra, to feel the snap of my enemies necks as I drove them from my homeland. I'd never made a promise I couldn't keep, and I certainly never felt as helpless as I did on that trial," Aeodan said, the first candid words he'd said about the event since they stepped off Narav's stolen sloop. Aegeo and Vhalo had left, and Aeodan had wondered if he'd gone with them, would the Enclave have secrets or ways to take it from him.

Memory... He stared at his fingers, the nails black as if painted, and wondered if Vri could take the memory from him. But sitting there, for the first time since she'd died, Aeodan didn't wish to forget his promise to Ninacky. He couldn't fulfill it, but he could ensure that he never let another companion die with wishes unfulfilled. He could feel the blood of Cassion flowing through him, calling him to greater purpose and pushing him to strive to fulfill the goals set before him. He could feel the wanderlust growing in his belly, and he ached to row to one of the islands and find something new, to do something, to experience peril.

But he was facing a different kind sitting next to Edalene, and his heart raced in his chest as he looked at her, his face familiar to her now more than it was in Rynmere. She'd seen it every trial for ninety trials, and it wasn't as strange, but there, his eyes were more familiar in his old face than the new one. There was a look of defeat, of anguish, as the scene replayed perfectly in his mind over and over. Ninacky's throat splitting, every fiber of her skin untwining one by one as he looked. He watched in crystal clarity as Aegeo lifted her above his head, the final sacrifice as her flaming body kept the Mantis at bay.

"I... I blame myself, Eda. I promised to get Thomas to safety, and I promised she'd get to tell him that she feels for him what I do for you. It was something else, Eda. She had real fire in her blood. Not like Aegeo... She believed in something. She believed in her love for Thomas," Aeodan pleaded with her, more for himself than her benefit. Still, though, the tears that rimmed his eyes threatened to fall from his eyes told her that he was full of remorse.

"I don't know what to do about it," he said, and he gripped the statuette tightly in his hands. The flickering of the candle behind him grew in intensity, and he could swear that he could feel its heat on his neck. Blinking, though, he focused on the sea. It was peaceful. If only he could be as well.
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Edalene
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We Bare The Fires of Our Souls

Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:52 am

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That damn figurine.

Lying in the boughs of the ship, away from the biting Cylus air, Edalene knew that her brother was staring at Ninacky's totem. Even without seeing him, that blaze of emotion that swelled through their link whenever Aeodan looked at it had become familiar. With it came guilt, and longing, and loss, and Edalene hated it.

Not out of jealousy. Not out of a desire to take the pain away. But she hated, more than anything, the gulf that had built and built over the past seasons until it was too wide to cross. The only bridge that would allow the twins to traverse it was one made of Truth, but Edalene had yet to offer up hers for the journey.

Guilt swirled in her every trial. Aeodan could feel it, she knew, but he did not truly know why - did not truly know what she had done. When she awoke screaming from nightmares, or in a cold sweat shaking uncontrollable, or when she nearly flung herself into the water from overwhelming despair, he was there with crooning words and fingers running through her hair to calm her. Even with a form she still was not used to, Aeodan was always there.

But how long would he be there when he knew what she had done?

No more. No more secrets, no more waiting in this journey. Suddenly determined with a fire that might have been gifted from Ninacky herself, Edalene swung her feet over the bed and strode determinedly to the bough of the ship. The Nji'hardi were a rowdy lot, filled with joy and song, and while it was often a balm, to-trial it was jarring. She found Aeodan easily, their link acting as a magnet always drawing her to him. Without saying anything as he stared at her with eyes that were his own in a face that was not his, she joined him, her feet swinging over the bough. She leaned against his shoulder, drawing comfort from the strength beside her. Edalene feared it may be the last time she had it.

At his words, despite the sorrow that they both wielded like armour, she could not help a gentle laugh. "I often think that if I'd known what adventures were really like, what they took from you, maybe I'd be more interested in the sciences instead." It was not true, of course. Aeodan, marked by Cassion, was called with a ravenous hunger to see the world, and while Edalene did not have the Immortal's blessing, it was as much an innate need for her as well. "But then again, I don't think we get to choose if we go on adventures. Stories choose us. It's all we can do to try and stay together as much as possible on the journey."

When she had first come aboard The Black Dolphin, the rocking of the ships had made her ill. She'd thrown up many times a trial, sea-sickness worming its way into her body, but now after ninety trials, it was a comfort to her. A constant lull of security, something that would always always be, in a world where so much was uncertain. Aeodan looked at her, and her dead heart clenched in pain as she took in the tears that rimmed his eyes. She wished she could take the figurine, fling it into the ocean and never see it again, for all the torture it gave Aeodan in this moment. But he would never forgive her - and she would never forgive herself.

With black-rimmed fingers, Edalene reached up and stroked his cheek, smiling sadly. While she was becoming used to his new form, she missed his old one. He was her twin in every way - soul, mind, but no longer body. "I don't think there's anything you can do but remember," she said softly, looking into the eyes she had beheld since birth. "Remember, and forgive yourself. She wouldn't - she wouldn't have wanted this penance. And if she loved Thomas in the way you love me, that we love each other, I have to believe she would have given her life if it meant saving Thomas. I would do the same for you."

They were insufficient words, she knew that. And without resolution, guilt and blame would eat away at Aeodan until he was a husk of a man. It was time. Time, she thought bitterly, time to tell Aeodan what Ralaith had made her do. And the worst part? She had no reason to offer. Only blind faith to an Immortal Aeodan did not understand.

"You cannot blame yourself, Aeodan," she said, looking back out over the sea, unable to look at his tortured features. She took her hand from him, folding it into her lap. She did not deserve his comfort or touch. "For whatever promise you made, you did so much for her. It was not your fault. You could not have done anything."

Her throat dry, tears rimming her cheeks, she spoke the words she had dreaded for ninety trials.

"It was mine. Ninacky died because of me."
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We Bare The Fires of Our Souls

Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:59 am

First trial of Cylus, arc 718


His eyes scanned her face as she approached, instantly aware of the guilt and shame that clouded it. It was darker than the season around them, filled more with storms than any sea he'd ever seen. Something inside him ached, not far away but on the surface. His jaw clenched, flexing outward the stubble he'd never grown in his own form. He sighed as she sat next to him, nodding along absently. He knew that she would console him, but there was no consolation, no solace for the liar. Instead, he deserved his penance, for it was his to bear.

It reminded him of Galaus of Argos, a soldier whose friends and brothers were slain at his insistence on ensuring their safety. Galaus took it upon himself to direct each and every one of them to their escape point, and in doing so, lost sight of the greater goal... He saved some of them, but not his brother. His flesh and blood, sworn in utero to be his to care for from the moment he entered the world, fell to an arrow from a Lothar bloodscreamer, one whose savagery was visited upon the corpse of the fallen warrior. Galaus, since that trial, bore with him the weight of his brother's death, until eventually he assaulted Uthaldria in vengeance.

Alone.

Aeodan wrapped worn fingers through Edalene's as she spoke of adventures and choice. Nobody on that ship understood more the nature of Adventure, of Cassion. Koga Khan to the Biqaj on the ship. Aeodan was bound to him now, the pulsating scar on his shoulder blinking red even in the darkness to remind him of the blood he shared, the lust for Adventure now coded into his very being. He was Aeodan, the linguist, the scholar, the brother and the lover, but now too he was Aeodan the Sojourner, linked to the road as much as he was his life. He squeezed Edalene's hand, listening intently now as she spoke of his letting go of his guilt. Would that it were so simple.

Aeodan remembered, as he often did, a story from his childhood, one far less grisly than the death of Galaus. There was a poet, renown in Rharne for her ability to drink corn liquor and brawl, all the while remaining stunning in beauty and sharp of wit. Shilah, her name was, and she wrote often of clouds and the sea, growing roots in forests dappled in sunlight. But she had a poem, "The Overcast", that always stuck out to Aeodan, perhaps for its somber nature against a typically sunny disposition. 'Let not your grief dim your trial/let not it cast you to ruin/love is short and life is shorter/wist after only those you cannot regain'.

And tears rimmed his eyes. He watched as Edalene took her hand, a blind fear building like a rising pyre in his chest. She never withdrew from him, even in the face of death and resurrection. He watched as she withdrew the pale limb, it quivering in her lap. He could feel it inside of her, the reason for their distance, the building tension that grew between them since they had rescued Thomas from that fire. He waited, electricity sparking between them, until the words came from her mouth.

The blood drained from his face, leaving a ghostly pallor hard against the day-night around him. He stared, blankly searching his sister's face for the sign of a cruel joke, of a jest at his misery, for... something. His knuckles whitened on the carved figurine, the last vestige of his promise left awry. The candles behind him flickered, blaring in intensity as he lost control of himself in that trill. A worried hush fell over the few Nji'hadi gathered near them, eyes turning their way. Aeodan forced himself to relax, jaw set tightly enough that he thought to crack a tooth under its pressure.

"I--" He began, stammering as he tried to process his thoughts. For the first time in his life, he couldn't think, he couldn't wrap his head around words. Words, his truest weapon, strength against a thousand voices telling him he would fail. Language, his refuge, retreated from him, leaving him exposed to the hoary truth threatening to freeze his soul.

"What do you mean, she died because of you? Eda, I watched as Allan shot the arrow through her throat. I was standing there. I watched the point split her skin, I wore the warmth of her blood," Aeodan said, face still blank. He knew, of course, what Edalene had meant, and when he thought about that moment, he could see past the crystal clear figure of Ninacky, behind her to Edalene.

"I-- How? How could you have stopped it?" Aeodan asked, the shadow of a monster growing behind his eyes. "Ninety trials of thinking about that moment, I realized something. There was nothing any of us could do. I could have killed Allan earlier. We could have stayed away from the Seekers, from Malena and Vhalo, Aegeo, Nolan and Nin--" His voice faltered. Swallowing, he gathered his strength.

"And Ninacky. But we didn't. We chose to pursue a path that would lead us to that Pyre, and we knew there was a risk. But I promised, Edalene, and short of the gods themselves, what could we have done? Knowing I was helpless, that doesn't make it any easier," he explained, frowning. He reached out and took her hand.

"I couldn't have asked you to kill Allan any more than I could have," he paused, his dark eyes finding hers and flashing with strength and something else. Something sinister.

"Then."
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We Bare The Fires of Our Souls

Fri May 18, 2018 1:35 am

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Of course he couldn't let her withdraw. For the first time in her life, Edalene wished and wished for Aeodan to let the distance lie between them. She felt his sorrow and his fear as she took her hand from his, and even as he stuttered through what-ifs, he couldn't let it lie. He reached out again and held her hand. He had always done so, through their lives. He was always reaching for Edalene, desperate to be within her circle, and Edalene was always allowing him in.

But he would pull away. She knew it. With a desperate ball of blackness in her chest, she knew with certainty that the Truth would drive a wedge between them; the first true wedge in their lives. And so she wished that he would let her withdraw. Surely it was easier, kinder, for her to pull from him before he wrenched himself away from her.

Still, she let him retake her hand, his older and larger hands dwarfing hers, where once they fit together perfectly. She choked a laugh, bitter and cold, and stared down at that hand, the one she was still relearning. "But I did," she whispered. She couldn't look at him. Edalene still gazed down at their entwined fingers. "I did kill Allan."

Reflexively, her hand tightened on his, as if she was desperate to cling to this one last moment of closeness. Before everything changed, and he hated her. She looked up, then, and hated how his face was twisted in grief and anger. Never had he looked at her like that. And never again, she was sure, would he look at her with the same love that he bore for her. Now it would be different.

"I had a well left," and her voice was so small Aeodan would have to strain to hear it. "I looked up and saw him. Allan. He froze for a moment while he had his bow drawn at me. For a moment, I was so sure he would let it loose. Put a shaft through my heart and kill me. As I killed his father, arcs ago." Her gaze shifted back to their entwined hands, as she sunk into the black memory of a moment of time that she could not bring herself to regret. Even if she regretted the aftermath. Ralaith had told her to do so.

She had to believe there had been a reason. Otherwise, she had damned her life and her love for nothing.

"And in that frozen moment as we gazed at each other, I knew he wouldn't do it. He couldn't do it. Some part, however small, could not kill me. And I watched..." She trailed off, gasping a little for air, as if speaking this brought the memory alive, and it clung to her lungs with an iron grip. "I watched as the bow shifted. Everything was happening so fast, but it felt like a lifetime to me. He loosed the arrow in a different direction, and that was the arrow that felled Ni--."

She couldn't speak her name. She had no right to.

"Only then did I let loose the well and kill him. Only after I watched him take the shot. I could have," and Edalene's voice changed, suddenly becoming bitter and self-hating, like tar lined her throat and she had to claw through the mud to get the words out, "I could have thrown the well before. I had time. I did." The strange clock on her neck tingled as she spoke. "But I let him kill her. And then I killed him."

Her words failed her. She knew she needed to explain why, why she had let it happen, what great purpose it had served, but finally speaking these words aloud had broken her. She couldn't offer up the one thing that might buy her any mercy. But Edalene knew she deserved this. She deserved the hatred that surely would flow forth now.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry, Aeodan."

And how she was. For Ninacky. For Allan. For losing the love of the only one who meant anything to her.
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We Bare The Fires of Our Souls

Fri May 18, 2018 2:22 am

First trial of Cylus, arc 718


He watched her, her face and her composure, her eyes and her mouth. He could feel her, too, could feel the fear and trepidation. For arcs, the two had known each other better than they themselves, and though Aeodan's body was new, his mind wasn't. He knew Edalene's thoughts, probably before she would think them, and he tightened his grip, knowing she expected him to jerk away. His mouth was a hard line, his jaw tight, the lines in his forehead forever creases in a form he had taken, not earned. Though in his own form, he feared those lines would likely soon form. Through her explanation, her apology, his face remained hard. The thin crease that was his lips never moved, but instead it was his eyes, somehow the same but older now, heavier, that followed her every movement. Aeodan allowed her to finish, sitting in silence as it hung between them.

Tears burned behind his eyes, but he would not allow them to surface or to fall. Instead, he remained the mountain, strong and stalwart against the weather of her confession. The scene had burned itself in his mind, and he knew she was telling the truth, even had he not felt the surge of guilt and shame searing inside her. He watched the scene, endlessly, night after night. He could recall the smallest details. He could see the frayed stray hairs on Ninacky's head. He could see the look of recognition and regret in Allan's pallid face, he could see the pause and the moment he and Edalene had shared. There was time, Aeodan knew, for Edalene to finish the job. Time.

Time was a strange thing, Aeodan realized. It could go on and on, with or without those it affects, but it never stopped. It never stayed still, and it only reversed in their minds when viewing memories. There was time, yes. But was there? Was there really? Aeodan squeezed Edalene's hand after a time, his dark eyes going out over the calm seas as he considered her words. He mulled them, perhaps too long, but there was time. There was always time.

Was there?

"I don't claim to know everything, dear sister. Not now, nor ever. I am a child, just the same as you, in this world. We clutch and claw and desperately fight against happenstance, the two of us. There was nothing about that pyre that would leave us feeling happy or proud. We were set up. None of us had the time. The Mantis had taken it from us before we ever arrived. They expected us, and we didn't expect them to expect us," he said, finally turning those dark orbs back to her. A new face, new hands, a new body, but the same eyes. The same eyes that had stared at her over the flickering flames the night before they entered the Temple of Farafan, the same eyes that she'd woken up to every trial since. They were his, and they were always going to be his.

"The reason doesn't matter anymore. My promise, it doesn't matter. What you or I could have done, it's moot. We accepted our mission, we chose to help, and each of us knew the consequence of failure. I never considered the consequences of success," he lamented, but continued. "Allan's death was as much in vain as Ninacky's, and if they live on in us as fond memories, as stories told around a fire and a meal, then we have done all we can for them."

The finality in his tone would startle Edalene. No longer was Aeodan the indecisive scholar, the lukewarm boy whose legs didn't work. Flowing in his veins was the blood of Cassion, and within the depths of his experience, pain and loss and triumph. They should cherish what they had, not what they lost, for they would never get the lost back. Instead, they would only have time forward to look upon, and to enjoy.

"Were I to go back, I would try to save her. Knowing what I know now, I would have leapt into that arrow, because that's who we've become. We are no longer the ones who read the stories. We live them. We make them. We dedicate them to those we love and lose, and that is that," he said, and it was obvious to her the blood of Cassion had affected him to his core. Craggy lines etched in his face, stolen but perhaps earned, told her that he believed his own words.

"Were I to go back, and be given the choice to save her and lose Thomas, I would choose the original story, every time. NInacky's loss was senseless, it was shameful, but it was for the greater good. I have to believe that, or I have little left to believe in," he said, his eyes trailing across the deck of the ship to where Malena and Thomas sat, one each with child, and a small smile finally broke the stony features of his new face. He watched them for a long moment, still gripping his sister's hand tightly.

"We are here, now, with our family. You and I. Not those pretenders, not the Seekers, you and I and Thomas and Malena. We are hosted and feasted by the very clan that Thomas told us of in the forest that night, and I've never been more sure that we belonged anywhere in our lives. I love you, Edalene, and if Ninacky's death meant the survival of our family, I will sing her praises over every meal and campfire we cook and light for the rest of our lives. She will never die, not truly. She deserves that," he said quietly, his eyes slowly returning to Edalene. He'd had a dream he hadn't shared with her yet, but he would, in time.

"She did us the greatest service in her sacrifice. Let us not waste another trill in dirge, but in celebration of the life she allowed by giving up her own," he said, the same small smile breaking his lips.

"I want to marry you, Edalene. Here, on this ship. I want you to be my wife, through this life and the next, and every single one after. Say yes, and I will give you immortality in my love." He stared at her, the tears finally surfacing, hot and unhindered.

He had said it.
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We Bare The Fires of Our Souls

Fri May 18, 2018 2:49 am

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Even as Aeodan's eyes roamed over her face, she could not look up to see what she knew must be on his face. In the silence, she could feel his grip tighten on hers, but she kept her eyes downcast, fixed on the gentle lapping of the cold sea against the boat.

She could just let go and fall into the dark abyss.

But when he spoke, it was not what she had expected to come from his lips. Edalene had agonised, night after night, torn between nightmares of that moment and nightmares of this. She had seen in her mind so clearly the disgust that would grace Aeodan's new face, the curl of his lip, the bitter words - always, her brother so eloquent, using his tool of speech to cut deep to the bone - that he would spew out. She could see so precisely Aeodan turning his broad back on her and walking away, leaving Edalene to fall to her knees in despair, only half a soul.

But it did not come to pass. Slowly, Aeodan spoke, and he retained his grip on hers the whole time. With an effort, she brought her gaze to meet his, and in his strange face sat eyes she knew very well, for they mirrored her own. And in them, she saw grief, yes, and pain, but she saw mercy and kindness - and love.

Edalene could not help it. She gaped as her brother spoke, but did not give voice to the thoughts and chaos that swirled in her mind. She had only told half the story, but she could not interject. Her tongue felt numb and useless, and she could only stare as Aeodan ruminated. For so long, he had carried the weight of Ninacky's death, and now he was telling her that he would continue to carry that pyre, alight with memory and joy, and not failure. He was absolving her.

Even as he looked to Malena and Thomas, two she had come to view as parents, she could not tear her gaze from his. She imagined speaking. But Aeodan-- Ralaith-- my fault--, but the words would not come. Somehow, she had spoken the Truth, and Aeodan had lifted the weight off her shoulders, and his own. They would be a family.

And more.

Edalene could not stop the choked sob that tore from her throat at his words, and her free hand flew up to her mouth in shock, while the other gripped Aeodan ever tighter. "Aeodan," she murmured, but no words came after. Tears spilled from her eyes to match his, and she couldn't bear it any longer. Sobbing, she threw herself into his arms, curled up small against his new frame, larger and stronger and still, somehow, Aeodan. With her head tucked under his chin, Edalene clutched at his shirt, and her body was wracked with sobs.

She cried for Allan. For Narav. For Aegeo. For Ninacky. For Aeodan. For herself.

Finally, when the sobs quietened, she turned her face into his now damp shirt. "I thought I'd lose you," she mumbled into his chest, still clutching herself tight to him. She was shaking, now, the shock of such varied emotions settling into her body. "I thought..." She trailed off. What she thought - what she had seen in her nightmares - would never come to pass.

With an effort, she pulled herself far enough to see his face. A hand reached out and smoothed the creased forehead, his soft hair, down his cheek and to lips. Her thumb stroked across his lip, before she dropped her hand, and with her tear-stained cheeks she finally smiled. A small smile, a quiet smile, but from it bubbled a word there had never been any doubt she would say.

"Yes."

There was more to discuss. More words. She still needed to tell him so much, so much she had left unsaid for so long, but for now, Edalene said the only words that mattered in this moment.

"Yes. Yes. Yes."
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We Bare The Fires of Our Souls

Fri May 18, 2018 4:21 pm

First trial of Cylus, arc 718


Aeodan's eyebrows raised, now slightly lighter than a golden brown. The wrinkles on his forehead increased, but not in a worrisome way. A smile pushed up the corners of his eyes, his straight teeth piercing the plane of lip as he smiled wide. For arcs, he'd love Edalene like no other could, and for arcs he'd hidden it behind a wall of shame and fear. The truth, though, always found a way out, and it led them to this place, with these people.

All the hurt, the anguishing, the blame... It stung, but it didn't define them. The twins, Thomas, Malena, the Nji'hadi, this was their life now, and Aeodan did not want to waste one more trill of it in misery. He squeezed Edalene's hand, the smile stretching from ear to ear as they looked out over the sea. This was their life now, for better or worse, and as long as they sailed under the banners of the Nji'hadi, as long as they ate their food and sang praise to Koga Khan, this was their station. Aeodan's eyes tracked the horizon, the faint feeling of need pulling at his heartstrings as he desired to walk along it. One trial soon, he told himself, his vow to Cassion still holding true. He would live, truly, now that they'd escaped Rynmere. And the first step there was to marry the love of his life.

He needed to tell her the dream.

"Eda, the trial that Cassion blooded me, I was plagued with a vivid dream. Perhaps a nightmare... When I slept, it was fitful and exhausting, and the dream I had stayed with me from the bit I woke up. In it, there was a ring, and Thomas and I... We were looking for it. I don't know why, but I was desperate for it, as if some force called me to it. Thomas and I, we fought valiantly, all earth and fire and flesh, and by the end of it, I held in my hand this ring, a simple silver band, and its mate. I knew, then, that one was meant for you, the other myself. I don't know what significance those rings have, but I know I must find them. Every time I recall the dream, my blood races, my heart pounds... I can hear adventure in my ears. I will ask Thomas to go with me, much as he did in my dream, and I think that the two of us will return with those rings in hand," Aeodan explained. His dark eyes, now a mixture of joy and sorrow, lit on hers for a trill or two before moving back to Thomas and Malena.

"That adventure is for tomorrow, though. I think, this trial, we should go be with our family. We will share our news, and perhaps a few songs with the Biqaj, and then we will retire to the first restful night of sleep either of us have had since Rynmere. I love you, Edalene," he said, standing and pulling her to her feet. He wrapped a strong hand around her waist and guided her towards Thomas, Malena and the twins. As soon as they were close enough, Malena held out Mara, and Aeodan wrapped the small bundle in his large arms, whiskered face staring down with a smile. Thomas beamed, and the six of them stood among a sea of sailors, of dancers and singers, of married twins and fierce commanders. They were home.

They would share the news, surely, but in that moment, it was nice to be a part of something larger, something in which they belonged.
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