Men and Wolves
The morning dawns bright and clear. Tyvian is missing at breakfast and at first we worry that he might be ill, but Rogan tells us he is otherwise engaged with his lover.

At first we are confused. Tyvian has never shown any interest in any of the many girls mothers and aunts have thrust into his path, and besides there are no women on the ship. Rogan smiles a smile as if to tell us how thick headed we are.

Tyvian's lover is Gehert Schrüg, the first mate.

We can not tell if we look stunned or simply stupid but by Rogan's laugh it is probably the latter. We are not entirely sure what to think. Our mind immediately jumps to Sculura, the whore who seduced Ra'aviik so completely only to use him to his own destruction. But we have been at sea for over a week. Lieutenant Schrüg has been a fixture of our social evenings since setting sail, had he somehow meant Tyvian harm he should have had plenty of chance before now. Our second thought is for the man himself.

The Wyrld is one of dualities. Day and night. Father and mother. Death and rebirth. Fiir'ti Cóng S'ai A'maan takes the dead under his wing, and Fiir'ti Cóng Lag S'ai A'maan births them again into the Wyrld. It is a balance. Man and woman. Each half, half of a perfect whole.

There is a way of things.

There were such couplings amongst the Ka'iin. To'rai and Arm'aan were caught once and Dra'kaiir Fas'rai had them beaten until To'rai was coughing blood. He called them "s'uluuk." Spitting the word like bile and said it was sacrilege dishonoring the Mother and Father.

We were taught to believe this.

There is a way of things.

But Tyvian is our brother. He joins us on deck mid morning, smiling the barely contained smile of a man who wants to share a secret. A man with a new lover. A happy smile.

Rogan's own smile widens at the sight of him and he needles Tyvian with jibes, but we retire to the rail to clear our head. Uncomfortable with these thoughts.

Eventually the needling stops and the conversation turns towards our destination. The captain says we will be in Amendar with the next few days, and the important question is raised as to how we are to stop the precipitous speed we now enjoy before the beast takes us all the way to Cóng Manaar. We could simply cut the ropes, freeing the boat of the leviathan, but that would leave the beast dragging a harness on it's back. Someone suggests Cerisc climb back onto the beast and remove the harness just as he put it on, but even he thinks this plan is foolhardy. It is Davyn of course who has the answer, silent through our deliberations he tells us at the last that Wisk gave him a word. A word to stop the leviathan when we reached our destination. We are not sure if he forgot to tell us, or has been enjoying his secret through out our discussion. The boy is getting more and more like Rogan every day.

Still it gives us all something to laugh at as we start to make our way to the galley to find Tyvian something to break his fast. And turning towards the stair there, standing on the deck, blinking in the bright sunlight is Jordann.

He looks around with confusion, but no fear and devours the simple stew the cook has prepared for the midday meal, with a healthy appetite, asking for seconds and then thirds. It seems he remembers nothing of the plague boat. Or if he does, perhaps it is only as one might remember a fever dream. We do not press him, though we long for answers, letting him instead tell us in his own time.

Rogan presses a bowl of the stew on Tyvian, insisting he take it to the first mate as a good will offering. We are glad of our father's complexion, though our ears are hot, we know we can not have turned the shade of red Tyvian's pale Dunbach face has become. We are not sure if it is an eagerness to rejoin his lover or to escape Rogan's teasing that sends him from the galley with such speed.

Soon the sailors start arriving for their mid day meal and we retire to the deck, Davyn taking Jordann to the bow to see the leviathan. We lean on the rail, enjoying the salt and spray. Rogan beside us has to stand on the bottom rail to rest his crossed arms on the gunnel. But he is in truly good spirits, glad to be returning again to Amendar and home.

Home.

It has become a home of sorts to all of us. But to Rogan it is home indeed. Laughing he tells us of his childhood. It makes us laugh to imagine him, scabbed knees and dusty hair, running through the streets of Amendar. The migdin boy, making up in bravado what he lacks in stature, chasing the neighborhood boys out of the Hawk's courtyard. An onion in a barrel of apples.

When he turns to us and asks when was the last time we were in love. We are a little taken aback. We told him about Mei' on the Galagoraas. He knows she is dead. But we have never really talked of her with anyone but Tyvian, and not truly even with him. Never have really talked of how she stood by us in battle as well as lay with us as a lover, of how we could never truly love another woman in her shadow, and we have never talked of the good times, the happy memories. We have never really talked much about ourself with either Rogan or Bregg at all. And so we talk. We tell him of our childhood. Of the mother who does not know us, the grandfather who cast us aside. We tell him of the monastery. Of a life of training, and discipline. Of Dra'kiir Fas'rai and his beatings. Of the day we burned our Pajak and the day we first went to war. We tell him too of the good times. Of running through the fields, laughing and playing with the other Ka'iin between lessons. Of lying in the grass to watch the Cóng Jeht migrate over the mountains, pretending they were dragons. Of stealing sweetbreads from the kitchen and hiding behind the temple steps to share with Mei'tii. And we tell him of how we first came to share eachother. Barely sixteen springs of age. Only children. Soldiers, huddled for warmth in a Stagsbury barn. Trading eachother our innocence, sheltering from a Nyverian winter storm.

Furasc l'iir in heart and mind and body.

It is good to talk. To remember without pain.

The sun is setting over the aft rail when the Captain comes to inform us that tonight the crew plan to celebrate the full moon. A night, he says, when the veneer is at it's thinnest. And indeed, we can see what he means. As the light fades and the moon rises the sea shines as if plated with silver, the leviathan, seeming almost to glow beneath the glassy surface.

Tyvian comes on deck and joins us again. We can smell the musk on him, both rank and sweet at the same time. Rogan starts in with his jibes again, so we join Davyn and Jordann at the rail, looking down at the beast.

…Sul'uuk…

We are not sure what to think.

Rogan wakes us form our contemplation with the offer of wine, one we are grateful of, and he and Cerisc go below to fetch both it and cider for the boys, leaving us standing with Tyvian in awkward silence.

We are about to say… something, when the quiet of the night is shattered by a monstrous roar and the shouts and screams of sailors from bellow. We are half way across the deck sword drawn before the echoes die away, Tyvian behind us. Rogan, who was just arriving with our drinks turns as well. At the top of the stairs he stops, pale. When we ask why he says he can feel something very evil below. Neither Rogan nor Tyvian is armed, and we have only our short blade, having left behind our habit of going fully armed days ago. An decision we now regret.

The screaming and growling is coming from the galley. While Rogan and Tyvian run the cabin to fetch arms, we go to the door. The sounds form within are sounds of fear and pain as well as the savage sounds of a beast. Without waiting for our brothers we shoulder open the door. Admits a wreckage of pots and dishes stands a massive wolf. Nearly as large as a bear, all black, with only a single streak of white running down its neck and back. It's eyes are deep and red and unlike any natural animal in the Wyrld and glow with a malice and intelligence we have never seen. In it's mouth it holds the leg of a screaming sailor and as we watch tears the limb clean off with a single shake of it's massive head. Blood spatters the deck and we can taste the iron in the air. Almost as soon as the sailor's convulsing body hits the deck the creature turns, jaws wide and lunges towards us. We stumble backward, raising our sword, but the jaws close around our arm, fangs sinking into the meat of our shoulder until we feel the grind of teeth on bone. We think we feel something crack, but the pain is too great and too sudden to be sure. Our head spins, and we feel sick, but when our sight clears we are still on our feet, the beast has released us and we have picked up our sword wrong handed.

We think we are swearing. Words are coming out of us, but our ears are ringing. The pain is a fugue, our arm useless and throbbing, blood pumping from the massive punctures with every heartbeat. Warm blood? We can not feel it soaking our shirt.

The beast growls. We hear feet pounding the deck in the hall and Tyvian arrives in the doorway, staff in hand. He looks at the wolf, then the ceiling, raising the staff. We expect to see a the wall of thorns rip the wolf's fur and flesh, but instead he blast the ceiling with a white light. This achieves nothing but to cause the wolf to turn on him instead. We shout, we think we shout, but whether we are heard or not it lunges for him, seizing his leg in it's horrible bloodied jaws, shaking it's head, trying to tear the limb from it's joint.

Even wrong handed and stunned as we are, the beast's broad flank is hard to miss in the close space. Our blade passes between the ribs. For a moment we feel it, slicing the meat and muscle, scraping bone, then, our blade slicing air nothing but. Tyvian is lying on the deck, blood soaking his robes, and Cerisc is curled, shivering, clean and unhurt, in the center of the carnage.

Cerisc…

He tries to stand up, looking about confused and bewildered, but we raise our blade, leveling it at him.

Cerisc?

More feet are running down the hall way, the Captain, other sailors. The captain is calling for the healer and Rogan is at our side. He ties a tourniquet around our arm and for a moment the numbness is gone, all at once replaced again by white hot pain. The deck beneath our feet is slick with blood. Our's? Tyvian's? We turn to Tyvian, but Lieutenant Schrüg is already at his side, hand pressed to the wound, staunching the flow of blood.

We know the pain of seeing our love wounded. It is a fear of loss and a passion to protect and defend rivaled only by a mother defending her children. We have felt it, and we have seen it too in Mei' when we ourself was hurt. Schrüg looks at Tyvian with that same fierce fear we have seen in her eyes when binding our wounds, and the tenderness with which he pulls the bloodied robes back from the wound is the tenderness of any man with his a'laasiis.

Or a'laasiir.
1

"Su'luuk." The way Dra'kaiir Fas'rai spat that word, it was the same way he spat when he called us sand elf. The same way he spat when he called us bastard.

We were taught many things as Ka'iin. We were given a mask. And we were told to kill. And we were told many lies.

Day and night. Father and Mother. Death and rebirth...

This past week we have passed through the veneer. When we are with Mei'tii amid the flames of that place it is a perfection that has nothing to do with the blood and bone of the Visible Wyrld. A heat in the heart that can not be endured by the body. A singularity of souls, not of flesh.

The Wyrld is one of dualities. Each half, half of a perfect whole. But whatever it's shape in the Visible Wyrld the body is only a vessel.

We should be happy to see anyone look at Tyvian in such a way and see him smile back.

The healer is here, with his crystals and silver tuning fork. He looks to our shoulder and we are distracted by another jolt of pain, which soon turns into a dull throbbing. The blood soaking out shirt is warm and the sick feeling in our stomach lessens. Replaced only by a light dizziness not unlike the effect of wine. We have lost a lot of blood. We see Tyvian speaking his words to Surin, Lieutenant Schrüg staring in disbelief as the wound closes under his hand.

The Captain is shouting now at Cerisc. The boy looking stunned, and mumbling something about a cave. His wounds healed Tyvian speaks softly, from where he sits, propped against the table.

He says that Cerisc was the wolf.

We should not be surprised. The boy was subject to that Ka S'kaiis and her tortures for weeks before we saved him. But that Tyvian knew…

The Captain barks an order and two of the sailors drag Cerisc to the hold to be clapped in irons. We do not believe Cerisc is responsible who what has happened. But the bodies of the sailors lie strewn about the cabin, Tyvian is propped up in a pool of his own blood, and we remember too the Lieutenant in the forest, his throat ripped out by the wolf, staining the snow. Cerisc is safer locked up.

The captain is eager to hear what Tyvian has to say, and though our brother looks both pale and shaken by the encounter his wound seems almost entirely healed. Part of us wants him to rest, the other wants to know the truth. And so he tells us of a conversation he had with Wisk soon after finding the boy in the mansion.

As the Sorgün told it, on the other side of the veneer are echoes of spirits. The imprints of beasts. Hungering for life in the Wyrld. The lady used men and women as conduits for these spirits, giving them body in the visible Wyrld in exchange for their service. Wisk believed Cerisc was to be such a conduit, though the process was interrupted. However when the veneer is thinnest the wolf has power to push through into the Wyrld.

A "shared space"…

The Captain orders Cerisc to be brought back. Though we still feel there is danger, he would not hold an innocent man. The youth looks less confused now, but more concerned. He tells us the same as Tyvian. That Wisk told him of this possibility, though neither realized it might be so devastating. He says he does not know what happened, only that he was wracked with pain, and woke in a cave, full of burning vapours.

Sulfur…

We would be angry, should be angry. Tyvian and Cerisc kept the secrets that killed these men. Secrets that have endangered every man woman and child we have encountered since leaving the monastery. But we are stunned, and distracted.

Cerisc describes, pain, fear, discomfort, but he is describing the same place or somewhere not unlike it, where we walk every night. We have felt other spirits there, as well as Mei'tii, though we have not seen them. Could it be the same? When we sleep V'aliir flies in the free air of the visible Wyrld, we feel her along the delicate tether that links us. Are we somehow the same as this boy? But V'aliir is no wolf, ravening after a life in the Visible Wyrld and we are not displaced by her.

Still, it is a secret we ourself have not fully shared.

We determine Cerisc is not to be left unattended until we can ascertain a way to deal with his condition. Until then there is little we can do other than chain him in the hold, which the captain refuses to do. And so, while Tyvian retires to his cabin to sleep we sit on the deck with the boy, in silence, each wrapped in our own thoughts until we each of us fall into our own sleep. We to the sweet smell of sulfur and wild flowers, he to whatever his dreams bring him.



1. A'laasiss - Lover (fem.) A'laasiir - Lover (masc.)

Session: The Scent of Desert Rain - Saturday, Jun 28 2014 from 12:00 AM to 4:00 AM
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Epic!