It is currently Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:49 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: [story] Kindred
PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:53 am 
Offline
Member

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
Posts: 10296
The High City of Gintrue was a sprawling, boisterous metropolis filled from canals to clouds with people of every size and walk of life one could imagine. They all wore bright, nearly garish, clothes in dozens of different cuts, and every day the streets were filled with the bustling to and fro of a busy market day. The skies overhead were a shade of blue so pristine, it nearly looked fake and the weather was exactly at that point before it became unpleasantly warm, cut even more pleasantly with a stiff breeze that rolled in from the fields beyond the city, the wind wending its way through the spires and steeples of the High City’s skyline.

Even in such a cacophony of civilization and tumult of individuals, Aerik drew stares.

It wasn’t so much his somewhat disheveled and rakish looks, that was actually in fashion right now, but rather, the heavy hide jacket and pants that he wore. In a sea of colorful silks and cotton fabrics, he stood out as being almost shockingly rustic and provincial. Despite the oddity of his appearance, anybody that met his eyes didn’t stare whatsoever after.

He had light hair and unassuming, if scruffy, features, but it was his eyes that were the most remarkable thing about him. They were a crystalline and pale amber with an unnerving intensity that belied the easy manner in which he moved through the crowd. Or rather, in which the crowd parted around him.

Truth to tell, he didn’t much care for Gintrue. It was one of the most gentrified and social planes he’d been to, but neither of those things counted for much in his ledger. He preferred solitude, and that meant he generally preferred to avoid places like the High City. He’d have preferred the arctic poles that Gintrue was well known for.

Which is really, in a roundabout way, what had drawn him to Gintrue.

He’d been meaning to come gather knowledge about what made the frozen areas of the world so famous, but he’d had to eschew the task. He’d reached out to an acquaintance that had owed him a favor to do it for him, but it had been over a year since he’d heard from Jonas and despite the fact they weren’t particularly close, Aerik had felt uneasy about the prolonged silence.

Pax hadn’t heard from him either and that was a different matter. She was an information broker and talented in bizarre ways. If she didn’t know something, it was beyond odd, bordering on the downright dangerous. Rather than owe her anything more than he already did, he had decided to just put up with it and see if he couldn’t pick up some trace of the missing mind mage himself.

As of yet, there hadn’t been any real progress. He sighed and glanced about, picking through the milling crowd before he shook his head. He hadn’t been here but a few weeks, but it seemed an overly daunting task to try to find one person, and a transient at that, out of so many. The fact that he’d made it this far was entirely due to the call spell Jonas had crafted for himself, but what had become of him after he’d arrived was a mystery.

Turning, he headed towards the hostel where he’d chosen to stay, but only a few feet from it, something caught his attention. A sensation spreading through his mind from somewhere indescribably elsewhere and he slowed, ducking discreetly into a cutway away from the busy streets.

Someone had just used one of his charms. The same sort of spell that he’d used to track Jonas to the High City. That someone had contacted him wasn’t all that unusual, but the feeling of the spell was old. Far older than any of the charms he could think of ever handing over to Pax or any others he’d encountered.

He closed his eyes and shattered the veil of the world, stepping into the Eternities, the space beyond and between the worlds of Dominia. The charm pulsed like a beacon, far off over a horizon impossible to conceive of, pulling him through the Blind Eternities. Aether froze in his wake as he skated across the line of mana anchoring the charm to him.

Stepping out onto the frozen world where he was born, he began to suspect what had drawn him here. The charm had been one of the ones he’d left with the gifts he gave Marten. It had been decades since he’d seen his brother, but he’d left something on his brother’s doorstep every year since he’d slipped from the bonds of Lania’s perpetual night.

If Marten had used one of his charms, it had to mean something was deeply, deeply wrong.

He hadn’t even been sure that Marten would be able to work out how to use them, to be honest. His brother had never had much skill at anything save for sailing. In his family, that was more than enough to make his way in the world, but Aerik had been different. He’d wanted something more than to break ice and cast nets for fish, more than a life of endless toil in the frozen waters beneath the moons’ pale ever-watchful gazes.

He’d left home and never looked back until it was far too late to return. A life as a caravan mercenary had led him to lands his family had never dreamt of, stuck in their traditions and happy with it. Traveling had opened the world to him, but what it had brought him had meant the world to him. He’d met his wife because he’d had no interest in staying.

He’d traded a family for a single soul that had meant everything to him. But she was gone now, so all he had left was whatever scraps he could pick up from what he’d left behind. It’s what led him to leave the gifts, but never had spoken with his brother.

They’d lived two different lives and Aerik wasn’t at all sure what he could even say to him. It looked like he’d have to think of something sooner rather than later.

It was far too early for anyone else to be out, sometime in the late hours after moonset. The village slept deeply around him as Aerik dashed over the frozen snow in the streets, his charm guiding him even more powerfully now. He slipped through the village, along backalleys and side streets, picking out familiar landmarks here and there from his previous visits to Erindring. Fairy torches danced with their illusory glow, casting light to twinkle on the snowbanks and mounds of ice, glittering in a way to rival the infinite stars far above.
He slowed, bracing himself for what he might find as he neared the central fountain. It was the center of the village, both figuratively and literally. The volcanic waters and springs ran constantly and was the best source of freshwater they had. Or at least the best source that wouldn’t freeze if given half a chance.

He came around the corner, still shrouded in the shadows as he took in the scene that had drawn him back to Lania. Sitting on the lip of the fountain was someone Aerik didn’t recognize. There was no question it wasn’t his brother, but he didn’t rule out the familial connection either.

The girl stared up at the stars, kicking her feet absentmindedly. She was wearing a dress he’d delivered to his eldest niece years and years ago, but the dress’s original owner would have outgrown it not long after that. She was young, but not Marten’s youngest, he didn’t think. Aerik tried to remember the middle girl’s name, as he watched her stargaze.

She favored her mother, if Aerik had to guess. She certainly didn’t much look like Marten, or himself, with her long dark hair, but there were enough telltale signs inherited from her grandfather that made him certain they were related.

Life was strange sometimes, he thought to himself.

He could feel the charm on her, and some of the pieces of the mystery fell into place. Marten hadn’t figured out how to contact him, his daughter had. It wasn’t particularly complicated, but it still required a little talent to pull off, especially if you had no real training. There was no question she’d never taken any sorcerous lessons, given her village’s opinions on the matter, so the fact that she’d cast the spell to summon him was impressive.

Aerik hesitated if he should speak with her or not. She might have just been trying to solve a puzzle she’d stumbled across, unsure what effect it might have. Or she might actually be in some kind of trouble. It didn’t look like she was, but appearances could be deceptive.

He sighed and anxiously steeled himself, stepping out into the open. Regardless of what had brought him here, she’d reached out to him, knowingly or unknowingly. The least he could do was speak to her.

She kept kicking her feet as he approached and it wasn’t until he was halfway across the square that she realized she wasn’t alone anymore. She startled and leaned away, clearly cautious, but there was something else to her. It wasn’t that she seemed afraid, but there was fear there. Not of him, but like she’d just been caught doing something she knew she shouldn’t.

“Ah, hell….” He sighed and shook his head. He recognized her better now for what she was. There was one like her in every generation of his family, someone that didn’t quite fit in, someone that wanted something different out of life. He’d been the exile in his family.

If he had to guess, she was the odd one in hers.

“Do you know who I am?” he addressed her, keeping his voice gentle.

“No.” She frowned, really looking at him now. When she continued, she sounded confused. “You look a little like father.”

“I would.” He put his hands in the slits of his pockets and tried his best to look unintimidating. “I don’t know if you’ll believe it, but I’m your uncle. That charm you’re holding was left in case anybody ever needed me.”

A slow realization widened her eyes and she hopped off the fountain, carefully getting closer to stare at him better. He and Marten didn’t strongly resemble one another, but there was little mistaking that they were brothers if you knew where to look. Aerik reached behind and scratched his head, giving her the best friendly smile he could awkwardly muster.

“You bring us gifts. The same time every year.” She murmured and he sighed, nodding a bit.

“Yeah, that’s me.”

“Why are you here?”

“I’d like to know that myself, actually. You’re the one that called me here.”

She blinked in confusion and he shook his head.

“That charm, the one you’ve got. I carved the spell into it.”

Her breath caught at that and she darted away suddenly, hiding behind the fountain with her eyes shut tight and head shaking. He started and carefully followed her around the fountain, at a complete loss.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry!” She repeated, practically squeaking and he confusedly laid a hand on her back, trying to soothe the panicked girl. “Nobody is supposed to know.” she sniffled.

“It’s alright. There’s nothing wrong, I won’t tell.” He stroked her back lightly, feeling the frail frame beneath his hand. “Just… just stop, okay?”

She continued to sniffle softly until she glanced up at him with wide eyes, searching his face for any falsehood. Seemingly satisfied she nodded and allowed Aerik to lift her back to her feet. For his part, Aerik had no idea what to do with the girl. He just guided her back to the fountain where she sat back down. He stood next to her awkwardly until she looked at the space next to her.

He shrugged and sat, turning their gazes to the stars in silence. Aerik had dozens of questions in mind, but he didn’t know where to begin, not wanting to overwhelm the poor girl. Considering he still couldn’t recall her name…

“What should I call you?”

“Elis” She answered, falling silent once more before looking his way with a shockingly serious expression on her face. “What should I call you?”

“Aerik.” He chuckled and shook his head, amused at the question. “You can call me Aerik. I wouldn’t ask you to call me uncle, considering this is the first time you’ve ever even met me.”

“No, that’s alright.” She responded somberly. Her eyes were a rich chocolate brown.

“How old are you, Elis?”

“Eleven.” She swiveled to face him “Why have you been gone?”

Aerik’s eyebrows rose and he blew out a breath. Apparently, they were taking turns. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure what to tell his niece and looked back up to the stars as if he could find his answer there.

“That’s a very long story. The shortest version I can think of is that I wanted things that our family never considered worthwhile.” He glanced her way and leaned back on his hands. “And I think you know how that feels, don’t you?”

She flushed and looked away, shifting to put her knees up against her chest. There was the unmistakable look of a child’s guilt on her face and he made a decision then. He wasn’t sure if she’d agree to it, but he felt compelled to ease some of her feelings.

“Tell me about your secret, Elis. How did you discover the talent you have?”

She remained silent and refused to look at him. He waited, but if anything, she seemed to be drawing back into herself and he grimaced. He reached over to tap her shoulder softly and she jumped slightly in surprise, turning to look at him with an anxious expression.

Aerik held up his hand and fog rolled off his skin as mana welled in his mind. A shard of ice bloomed in his palm, crystalline lattice growing with an almost musical snap until he held a small frozen sculpture of a fey female figure. She stared, wide eyed, in awe and he placed it next to her. Her gaze didn’t waver whatsoever as she reached out to touch it.

“Tell me about your secret, Elis?”

She glanced up, seemingly just remembering that he was sitting there, though her eyes were reluctant to leave the conjured statue. Her features lost some of their wonder and the somber look on her eyes spoke volumes to him. She crossed her legs and rested her palms in her lap.

“I was helping Nana weave nets one day. It’s something I’ve done about a million times, so I wasn’t thinking too hard. I was daydreaming about the boats and just going through the knitting motions when something just felt different. It was like the net lit up, except it wasn’t the net. The lights disappeared when I thought too hard about them, but I’ve practiced a bit more, especially this late.

“I know that it’s sorcery, but I don’t think Mum or Dad approve of it. Nobody in Erindring seems to think much of it.”

“I know how it feels to be surrounded by people that don’t understand you.”

“Did you have sorcery, too?”

“That came much later. Kona taught me how.” Aerik said, trying to keep the sadness out of his voice. Elis tilted her head, clearly picking up on some of it and he smiled at her, though his eyes remained sad. “She was my wife.”

“Was? Oh...” the child looked down. Her head shot back up and she practically tackled him in a hug. He was so taken aback that he nearly toppled off the fountain, a perplexed look on his face before he gently patted his niece on the back.

“It happened a long time ago. It’s alright.”

“No, it’s not.” She drew back and gave him a serious look at odds with her age.

“No. It's not." he sighed. "Anyone ever tell you that you’re too clever for being so young?”

“All the time.” She laughed slightly and let him go, scooting back on the fountain, only then realizing that the ice sculpture had fallen into the spring and had nearly melted entirely. Aerik saw the look on her face and channeled another spell, spinning a more delicate and elaborate figure out of the ice. She marveled at it again and then carefully took it from him.

“How do you do this?”

“Experience. Though my exact talents are more complicated than most, I think.” He looked at her, taking in the familiarity of her face, even as he thought of what strangers they were. If he were ever going to do it, now would be the best chance. “Do you want to learn?”

She started a bit at that, looking at him with a mixture of fear and hope born of a sincerity that only the innocent could have. He stared back, trying to will her to accept.

“Mum and Dad wouldn’t like that.” She said hesitantly.

“Elis, I’ll teach you about magic, if you want me to. If you don’t, if you think it’s too much or that your parents wouldn’t approve, I’ll still be there if you ever use the charm. I had to leave everything I knew behind to find what I was looking for in life, but if I can help it, I’ll keep you from having to make that kind of choice. People like us, we have to stick together.”

“Can you teach me to build a snowman?” She asked with enthusiasm. He chuckled and shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s not magic.”

“That’s not what I asked, is it?” She demanded and he just smiled. He reached out and rubbed her back lightly.

“Sure. I’ll teach you to build a snowman.”

_________________
At twilight's end, the shadow's crossed / a new world birthed, the elder lost.
Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: [story] Kindred
PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 9:19 pm 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
Posts: 9187
Having just spent most of the day with my ten year old nephew who said to me that he thinks I'm the person in the family most like him, this story is serendipitously apropos. I love that it lampshades the Jonas connection, and it will be interesting if the deeper workings of Gintrue end up involving Aerik in any real way. I also like the call back to last year's? Aerik festive story.

Finally, if Elis ever decides to strike out on her own into the waste, maybe Salkhi can take her under his metaphoric wing. As long as, you know, she's willing to devote her life to eradicating the vampire blight on Lania...

:D

Maybe best to wait until she's a few years older...

Thanks for posting, Barinellos!


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: [story] Kindred
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:34 am 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Oct 19, 2015
Posts: 1089
Location: Homestuck rehab center
Identity: Inertially male
Preferred Pronoun Set: he/him
I really like stories about "different" people sticking together, so it's no wonder I appreciate this. It gives us something more about Pax (which I had talked about on the Requiem piece), and connects to Meeting and All the Worlds on Stage (though I found it weird the mind mage contact being called JonAs instead of JonUs), and little details like those are always great to find. I remember missing on an Aerik's seasonal tale, which seems to be referenced here(?), I'll check up on that soon I hope.

Thanks for sharing!

_________________
Johann the Bard (The Adventure Zone) wrote:

To anybody reading this, including my future selves: have a good life!

My creative archive


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: [story] Kindred
PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 5:55 am 
Offline
Member

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
Posts: 10296
Having just spent most of the day with my ten year old nephew who said to me that he thinks I'm the person in the family most like him, this story is serendipitously apropos. I love that it lampshades the Jonas connection, and it will be interesting if the deeper workings of Gintrue end up involving Aerik in any real way. I also like the call back to last year's? Aerik festive story.

Finally, if Elis ever decides to strike out on her own into the waste, maybe Salkhi can take her under his metaphoric wing. As long as, you know, she's willing to devote her life to eradicating the vampire blight on Lania...

:D

Maybe best to wait until she's a few years older...

Thanks for posting, Barinellos!

Thanks for reading!

I've had this one in the back of my mind since I wrote January's story!
I'm honestly considering doing another to follow it up, but I'm not sure I'll be able to hit that anniversary deadline.

I really like stories about "different" people sticking together, so it's no wonder I appreciate this. It gives us something more about Pax (which I had talked about on the Requiem piece), and connects to Meeting and All the Worlds on Stage (though I found it weird the mind mage contact being called JonAs instead of JonUs), and little details like those are always great to find. I remember missing on an Aerik's seasonal tale, which seems to be referenced here(?), I'll check up on that soon I hope.

Thanks for sharing!

Thanks to you as well
I like that I'm getting to follow through on a piece of Aerik's backstory about the various black sheep of his family. It always seems to be the uncles...

Aerik's seasonal tale was posted back in January. If you do a search for "Snowman" you should find it.

@Both: So, admittedly, I'm really pleased at the tease leading to a bait and switch with Jonus and Gintrue here. I'm hoping it scrambled up expectations well enough to disarm you for what came next.

_________________
At twilight's end, the shadow's crossed / a new world birthed, the elder lost.
Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: [story] Kindred
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:36 pm 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Nov 04, 2013
Posts: 5149
OK, so, this was exactly the sort of thing I needed this holiday. Thank you so much for sharing, Barin! Regardless of whether or not this becomes an annual tradition, the two installments we already have are wonderful enough in their own right. <3


Barinellos wrote:
So, admittedly, I'm really pleased at the tease leading to a bait and switch with Jonus and Gintrue here. I'm hoping it scrambled up expectations well enough to disarm you for what came next.

UGH IT WAS SUCH A TEASE. I was just feeling so pleased with myself for catching the reference, and hurriedly trying to figure out just how Aerik might fit into the hinted-at larger puzzle, when he suddenly jumps and ups sticks to go back to Lania!

:panic:

(Admittedly, when he first sensed someone using the charm, I just automatically figured it was Antony, who presumably might have taken one off of Jonas's body. Then, when Aerik puzzled over how old of a charm it was, I was immediately like, "OH NO. IT'S THE DUCHESS." So... wrong on both counts!)

Anyway, I really, really love the interactions with Elis, here, and there's something very real -- very effecting -- about her reaction to his offer to teach her. Of course she just wants to build a snowman. She's not looking for a teacher. She's looking for an uncle -- for a friend. (Also, do I hear "Frozen" playing again in the background...?) It's just a subtle, special moment, about the importance of connection, and the durability of family, and it really gets to me, and feels especially appropriate for the season.

Anyway, again, it's a wonderful story, Barin, and I really enjoyed it. Thanks again for sharing!

_________________
"And remember, I'm pullin' for ya, 'cause we're all in this together." - Red Green


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group