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|Hmmm... well... they finally meet up^_^|
angst... but that's no surprise... been dying to write much of this for awhile... but that's my taste not yours^_~ hope you enjoy!! let me know if it all works!! (there's about 6 chapters left i think btw...)
thank you Becca for editing help!!! *hugs*
Ranar stood just outside of the gate surrounding his house. Rain was pouring down on him, the wind whipping through his ebon cloak. He squinted into the blur of green and white that the rain masked, trying to determine the best route for him to follow. In the days that had passed since Theoth had vanished, Ranar had collected his wits somewhat, trying to logically determine the path that Theoth had followed. By the note it was obvious that he was out to hunt down the dialos that Ranar didn’t even know walked on this plane. After his panic had settled slightly, Ranar had scoured his study, trying to figure out what Theoth had taken or flipped through before he left. At first he only noticed his notes of the area were gone, but as he began to flip through his dialos research, he noticed many papers out of place and a map missing. Armed with this knowledge, he had decided to scour the woods surrounding Revenon, going first to places marked on the map, following what he thought to be Theoth’s logical route between them.
So here he stood in the rain, ready to plunge into what his mind kept telling him was a futile search for the last living member of his blood related nuclear family. He wrapped his cloak tightly about him, pulling his hood over his face and trudged off into the gloom. It seemed so hopeless, wandering the woods of Revenon in search of one wandering son. He could be anywhere. Ranar kept trying to push the negative thoughts to the back of his mind, but they kept surfacing, making the woods seem bigger and bigger and the rain heavier and colder as he walked. He couldn’t stand to lose another son. Losing Elioth had nearly killed him; what would happen if he lost Theoth?
Again he tried to push the thoughts to the back of his mind, knowing that dwelling on them would only make him give up all hope. The sky darkened momentarily as a great shadow passed over him. He tilted his gaze upward, thinking it to be due to a large storm cloud or a violently shuddering tree bough. Puzzled, he scanned the sky, seeing nothing. He stood for a second, pondering this, but soon was walking again leaving it to settle itself in his memory.
A pained cry and a violent thrashing in the trees far to his right coupled with a harsh crash suddenly seared through his hearing. His mind flashed instantly back to fifteen years ago when T’ranel had first come to him. What was that? There was the disturbed flutter of a few irked birds and then the sounds of the forest returned to their storm woven normal. Ranar, feeling every moment repeat itself, turned without debate this time towards the sound. It had been a considerable ways off and he had to concentrate hard to make sure he did not veer off course.
He was beginning to wonder if he had followed his path inaccurately as he neared Iril Kivel, the Silver Sea as it was called. In reality it was a small lake, nearly a pond, that boardered the valley Revenon was located in. He neared its rain marred face, eyes flicking in every direction searching for the cause of the disturbance. Maybe it had just been a branch falling, the wind was very strong after all. But the cry would not be erased from his mind. It would have been the most life-like howl the wind had ever made if it was to be blamed for that. Standing on the shore of Iril Kivel, Ranar strained to see into the sheets of rain that fell ceaselessly on him. He began to turn back into the woods to trace his path back, hoping to find the cause in his second search, when something caught his vision.
Cautiously moving against the wind and rain, Ranar crept along the edge of the lake, squinting towards the black blur that had materialised in his view. His eyes widened as he came close enough to see it was definitely not a blur but a person floating in the water. Casting off his cloak, he propelled himself as fast as he could manage into the frigid water towards the being. He drew back for a second upon realising just what this ‘shadow’ was. A dialos? But he quickly ignored his misgivings realising that he, too, had black hair and that could not be the only indication that a person was dialos. The black pool around the figure though made him slightly more suspicious. As he moved into it to grab the person, he gasped in shock. The black seemed to latch into his clothing and was doing a wonderful job of reducing it to worthless shreds. Great. So this was a dialos and he was definitely in a pool of his blood. Gabbing the still figure, he pulled out of the burning puddle as fast as he could and yanked him towards shore.
Ranar laid the unconscious dialos on the shore’s edge, searching around for and grabbing his cloak as he went. His skin was so pale, he mused, flipping him onto his back so he could see his face. He stared hard at it for a second as if deciding something, but then winced as something started burning at his leg. He drew back and noticed, very quickly, that the dialos’ arm had a huge gash in it and was still bleeding. Trying very hard to remember what he knew of this loathed race, he searched the dialos’ belt and pulled a strip of black cloth from it. The veils they wore served a double purpose as he remembered. Not only did they shield the world from their eyes but they could be used to staunch the wound of an anarla. He assumed the wound to be from an anarla instantly as he knew a wound from any other blade would have been remedied by the healing powers in the dialos’ skin. Not sure if he was grateful for this knowledge of not, Ranar used the edge of his cloak to swiftly wipe away the worst of the blood from the dialos’ arm, sighing as it burned through the fabric. He had expected it to do that, but it still made him squirm seeing first hand the blood’s power. He snorted softly as his research aided him in waving the cloth correctly. Anarla wounds were tricky things as he remembered, and if not bound exactly according to design, would flare up painfully, causing the dialos even more injury for their carelessness. Maybe this was why he had done so much research... so he could save this dialos?
Shaking his head at himself and very unsure of why he was helping this cursed being, Ranar pulled a glove from his pack and smoothly tugged it over the tourniquet he had just made to secure it. He was slightly surprised at how well the glove fit; it was almost as it if had been fitted for the dialos’ hand. Yet it was his. Stowing his ruined cloak in his pack and shrugging that onto his back once more, Ranar gathered the dialos in his arms and stood, turning towards the haven. He was surprisingly light, feeling more like a small child than a grown man. Ranar pondered this as he walked, wondering if it had something to do with the race that he had not discovered yet.
He was just nearing the city gates when he remembered that the dialos in his arms was just that; a dialos. Obviously it would not do to be seen carrying something birthed from the fabric of nightmares into his haven that he was supposed to be protecting. He swiftly changed course, heading instead to the secret entrance known only to the Renvarnnyen household. He sighed wistfully as he neared it. Elioth had used it on so many occasions to sneak in and out of the house when he was growing up. He shook his head at the memories that sprang up in his mind. Elioth had been such a character growing up. He passed under the flowered arch that alerted him to the passage’s presence and focused on the maze ahead. Through a meandering, dimly lit hall and up a smooth flight of white stone stairs and he stood in an inconspicuous corner of the courtyard. Glancing around quickly and seeing no one, he darted across the courtyard and snuck into his house.
Ignoring the water dripping everywhere as he walked, he glanced over at the couch to see that T’ranel was still there. She had nearly passed out in pain a few days after Theoth had left. Apparently, Ranar had figured, the dialos was either very close to them or had just passed into their realm. In his hurry, Ranar had drained the fire-blood from her and rendered her unconscious when that hadn’t fully helped. He glanced down at the equally still figure in his arms and wondered if bringing him here was going to hurt T’ranel even more; or even if he was the cause of her pain.
Somehow he didn’t think the black shadow he carried was at fault.
Trying to focus on that emotion to fight off the guilt beginning to seep through him, Ranar carried the dialos up the stairs and into his room. He went to lay him on his bed, but noticing how wet they both were from the rain and lake water, decided to put him on the couch by his window instead. Massaging his arms and flinging off his pack, Ranar walked over to his wardrobe and pulled out two sets of clothes. It wouldn’t do for either of them to stay soaked as they were. Shrugging off his robe, he dried himself quickly with a towel and gratefully wrapped himself in the dry clothes. He shivered slightly as he did this, having not realised until he was warm and dry just how cold he had been. He couldn’t imagine how cold the dialos must be having been out in the rain for goodness knows how long and then nearly drowning in the spring chilled water of Iril Kivel.
Bearing another towel and the other robe and very unsure of what he was doing, Ranar peeled the blood soaked, rain drenched fabric from the dialos’ deathly pale skin. He sucked air through his teeth upon seeing the dialos’ arms and chest. Scars lined his arms in a sickly methodic manner; obviously self-inflicted. His sides told of unnumbered beatings, the edges of whip lashes licking around his torso. “Poor boy.” Ranar found himself whispering as he dried the frigid skin. His legs were hidden by a pair of fitted black pants, part of the dress of the dialos. It served as a sort of armour if he recalled correctly, and was woven from the finest fabric the dialos made. They were already dry so Ranar didn’t bother removing them.
He slipped the other robe around him, careful not to touch the anarla at his neck. He eyed it curiously though, intrigued by the swirls of both black and silver. He had never heard of silver in an anarla before. All of his accounts showed them only to be black. He pushed the thought away. Finished now, Ranar gently carried the dialos to his bed and covered him thickly in blankets. The dialos mumbled something and snuggled deeper into the warmth, face relaxing slightly. Ranar was strangely moved by this; the action had been strangely akin to a child’s. How different was this cursed race from his own? It was kind of unsettling to think that the dialos might have emotions and feelings and hurts just as he and his people did. It made them more difficult to despise at any rate.
Sighing, he walked over and picked up the dialos’ discarded robe, rubbing it with his hands. The fabric was incredible; fine and smooth and already nearly dry. He wondered what it was spun from and how it was made. It was more richly woven than anything he had seen before, besides, of course, the fabric composing the dialos’ pants. Draping it over a chair to let it dry, Ranar noticed a second anarla hidden in the fabric’s folds. Unlike the one around the dialos’ neck, however, this one was completely black. Staring at it for a second, Ranar decided it would be best to just leave it there; he could tell the dialos about it when he woke up. Besides, he didn’t know the consequences for touching one.
The dialos whimpered slightly in his sleep, arousing Ranar’s paternal instinct. He turned and walked to him brushing back his shadowed hair as he would a small child’s. The dialos was obviously in some sort of deep pain and not just the physical ache of his arm if Ranar read him right. He tried to ignore this and focused instead on the motion of his hand. It was just like soothing one of his sons when they had been woken by a nightmare, whimpering and on the verge of tears. Tears. Ranar’s eyes widened. He had a dialos in his care. A dialos. Their tears! Maybe this one’s tears could heal T’ranel! It wasn’t a common occurrence, after all, to find a dialos and live to tell about it. And not only had he found this dialos, but he had rescued him... the dialos was in his debt... This might work out after all. Slipping out of his room and gently closing the door, Ranar walked slowly down the hall, pondering his luck. And in his room amid the rain washed shadows, the cursed one slept in darkness.
Brilliant afternoon sunlight poured into Garnor’s face. He groaned having been woken from a very dark and soothing sleep and rolled onto his side, blocking the sun from his eyes with a pillow. He started suddenly. A pillow? Pushing it from his face, Garnor sat up quickly, feeling very wrong. Blinking against the glare of the sun, he looked down at himself and drew a sharp breath. He was in a pale green robe that was definitely not his. And this room. He looked around slowly, something tickling his consciousness as he did; but it was gone before he could register it. Bright and airy, decorated tastefully with greens and blues, the room was smaller than his, but still fairly good in size. A door was to his right in the far corner and he could see from its ajar position that it was a library or study of sorts Books and papers lined the walls and the edge of a material strewn desk was just visible to him through the door. There was a door in front of him as well, but it was closed. To his left was a large window through which he could see the tops of trees dancing in the sunlight that streamed and washed around them and into the room.
He rubbed his face with his hands, thoroughly confused as to where he was, but froze feeling something wasn’t right. He pulled his hand back from his face. What he had felt was fabric rather than flesh against his skin. Covering his left arm was a long black glove. Removing this cautiously, he gasped recognising the cloth wrapped around his arm. It was Alranos’ veil, expertly twisted around his arm in a tourniquet of sorts. Whoever had bound his arm obviously knew a lot about the dialos to have done it so well. It was an almost disturbing notion. He had thought the dialos were the only ones who knew how to bind an anarla wo- he froze in his thoughts as everything came back to him. The rain. His wings. The water. The pain. Alranos’- he closed his eyes tightly, holding his head in his hand. All the hurt washed over him again as he remembered; Alranos was dead. Alranos was gone. And he was alone. Alone.
Seeking distraction, he pulled his anarla delicately from his neck and flipped it into a blade, letting his face fall into as numb a mould as he could master. There would never be a lack of threads to sever. Turning himself inward and ignoring the grief washing through him, he went about the duties now officially his. The duties of Death.
Ranar stood from where he had fallen asleep by T’ranel’s side early that morning. In the night, her condition had neither improved nor worsened, which was encouraging, but she was still unconscious. Ranar didn’t dare bring her back as it were, afraid that the pain would be too great for her body. He sighed and stretched his arms, shaking the sleep from his eyes. Something lurked at the back of his mind yet. Scratching his head and yawning, he tensed as he remembered. There was a dialos up in his room.
He sprinted up the stairs, very anxious to see what had become of the dialos. He didn’t dare knock on the door for fear the dialos was still asleep, but opened it slowly instead, allowing for the dialos to protest if he didn’t want him to enter the room. There was no sound, so Ranar slipped inside, assuming the dialos to be still unconscious, and closed the door. As he turned, his face blanched. “Ih sira Chai.” He breathed, watching the pale, skilled fingers slip through and gather black threads soon severed with the mottled blade. He recognised the movement and sighed as he realised what this implied. He hadn’t saved just any dialos; he had rescued and cared for Death himself.
Struggling with the ethics of this, Ranar stared down at his hands. What had he done? Saving Death? He tried to make himself see what a terrible thing he had done. But somehow he couldn’t. Somehow it seemed almost... right. No, he couldn’t regret saving the being in front of him. But then what did that make him?
A pair of dark eyes met his. Though darkly cold by nature, they were deeply inflicted with an unspeakable pain. Ranar knew upon seeing these that his assumption about the dialos had been true. There was a lot of turmoil in the dialos’ soul, something deeper and darker than he could fathom. It drew him in and he had to struggle to pull himself from their depths. Once he got past the eyes, he noticed the dialos’ face. It was beautiful in its youth, though also drawn by pain, expertly masked. But as he looked deeper, something inside him twisted and he couldn’t help but stare and the young face in front of him. “You...”
“My lord?” The eyebrows furrowed in concern, though the numb mask of the face did not break. Ranar realised what he must look like, staring at Death as if he’d seen a ghost, and shook himself, trying to settle whatever had been upset by seeing the dialos’ face. He didn’t have to fight the though too long, however, as a new thought filled his mind. How did you talk to Death?
“Um. Uh...” Ranar found himself lost for words, completely unable to speak let alone coherently. He looked desperately at the dialos, hoping he wasn’t offending him by staring.
Something resembling a dull understanding crossed the pale features. “I understand, my lord. It isn’t everyday you have a dialos in your care. Maybe I can help.” A thin smiled graced his pale features, “I have enough questions for you to last at least until you get your voice back.” He chuckled at the trembling Maiel in front of him. “Let’s start with names. Mine is Garnor. Yours would be...?”
“Ranar Renvarnnyen.” Ranar stammered, still in shock that he was talking to Death; to Death!
“Ah, a Renvarnnyen. That would make this place Revenon, would it not?” Garnor raised an eyebrow at Ranar.
“Y-yes. How do you know that?”
“Alrano-,” It seemed to Ranar that the very word choked him. He closed his eyes for a moment before continuing, “I was told to try for Revenon first. And that a Renvarnnyen ruled there. I mean here.”
“Oh.” Ranar cocked his head to one side, curious having seen such a dark pain in Death’s face. He wondered what was inflicting it so heavily on him. “Why were you told to ‘try’ here?”
“It’s a long story.” Garnor sighed, suddenly looking uncomfortable, “Is this your room, Lord Ranar?”
“Yes.” Ranar ignored the obvious breach in subject. There was time. “Yes it is, and you’re probably wondering how you came here.” And then as if it were an afterthought, “Oh, and please, just Ranar. I wouldn’t have you calling me ‘lord.’” There was something very unsettling about having Death treating him as a superior.
“Yes,” Garnor was looking about the room strangely, “Yes, I am very curious about how I came here... especially with Revenon’s reputation.” Suddenly he was looking at him, “Does anyone know I’m here?”
“No, not even my daughter knows there’s someone else in the house. Then again, she wouldn’t know... she’s...” Ranar trailed off, debating on how much to tell this dialos, “Well, she’s very sick. Let’s just leave it at that.” He continued before Garnor had a chance to comment, “And as to how you came here, suffice it to say I was out wandering and I heard this tremendous crash in the woods. Being the lord of the haven, I felt it my duty to go investigate and I found you, floating in Iril Kivel-”
“The Silver Sea...” Garnor murmured.
“What did you say?” Ranar didn’t think he had heard him right.
“Oh, nothing.” Garnor shook himself. “Please, continue.”
Ranar stared at him strangely for a second, but then did as Garnor said and continued. “Well, as I was saying, you were floating in Iril Kivel so I pulled you out. I was trying to figure out what to do with you when the blood from your arm there started burning me. I found that wound very quickly,” He smiled quietly at Garnor who was cringing at this, obviously uncomfortable that his blood had harmed Ranar, “It’s all right, nothing serious.” Ranar added quickly, trying to calm the dialos’ fear, “Anyway after I discovered that wound, I cleaned it out the best I could and bound it up with your veil there. I hope I did a decent job for you. I know to do it wrong could prove to be unnecessarily painful.” Garnor nodded approvingly, making relief seep through Ranar, “Once I did that I brought you back here. Your robe is on the chair over there. I just didn’t want you to catch a cold, if dialos can get sick that is, so I put you in one of my old things. I didn’t touch the anarla. It’s still where you left it. Both of them.” He added, shaking his head at himself by now. Why did he care what happened to this cursed soul in front of him?
“You did a wonderful job, Ranar.” Garnor interrupted his thoughts. He was staring at the bandage, rubbing it thoughtfully, “And I thank you for taking care of me. I just wonder... I wonder why. Why would a Maiel, the ruler of Revenon particularly... why would you save me if you knew what I was? Who I am?” He added softly as if ashamed.
Ranar sighed deeply, “To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know why I saved you nor why I keep caring for you now. Goodness knows I’ve had enough pain in my life because your blade. By rights I should have left you in that lake.” He shrugged, “I can’t explain it. It just seemed right to help you. So I did. And here I am. And here we are. Nothing can be done about it now anyway. Besides, I don’t regret it. I don’t think I could.” He looked up, a little shame marring his face.
“Well... I thank you, Ranar Renvarnnyen, Lord of Revenon. You have Death’s debt.” A thick silence fell between them for a little while, each thinking on the exchange that had just been. Garnor was the first to break it. “Forgive me, but I must ask you something.” Ranar raised an eyebrow in reply. “Why do you know so much about my race? You knew about the anarla, you knew about my blood, and most remarkable, you knew how to bind an anarla wound. Why do you know all this? Or have times changed so much in the time that I have been gone that now the dialos are well known?”
Ranar shrugged and sighed, “No, times haven’t changed. No one knows anything about the dialos. Information on your kind is very hard to hunt down and it has taken me many years and a lot effort to track down what I have gathered on your race. As to why I am seemingly obsessed with knowing everything there is to know about the dialos... well... let me just say that it is a long story. Like yours.” The silence began to fall again, but Ranar broke it before it could settle this time. “There is one thing though that I would ask you. If you’re feeling up to it that is.”
Garnor raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“My daughter.” Ranar began hesitantly, “Her name is T’ranel. She came to me several years ago as an orphan- apparently her father had been directly taken by a dialos. I ask you this because you are of that race and are here now.”
“I-” Garnor began to protest, but Ranar raised a hand.
“Please, let me finish. Lately she has been very sick. She keeps saying that her blood feels like it’s on fire.” Ranar watched as Garnor’s eyes began to widen. “It’s become so bad recently that I’ve had to render her unconscious. I was wondering... well... would you take a look at her... tell me if you can see what’s wrong? What with your blood and her father...” Ranar trailed of uncertainly.
“Alranos.” Garnor murmured, then raised his gaze. “Could I see her? This- yes- I.” He shook himself and began scrambling out of the bed. “I think I might know what’s wrong with her.”
“That is what I asked, wasn’t it?” Ranar eyed the now standing dialos warily and walked for the door. “Follow me.”
Garnor followed Ranar excitedly. Surely this wasn’t- but with her father being taken by a dialos directly meaning the dialos must have come to earth. And with her symptoms being complaining of fiery blood... and Alranos had known Revenon surprisingly well as he recalled...
They reached the foot of the stairs and Garnor practically ran across the room to where the blanketed form lay. “Find my daughter,” The words echoed through Garnor’s memory. Was this T’ranel the daughter Alranos had spoken of? The pieces began to fit together. Fiery blood? Alranos must have been keeping her blood latent somehow. Being half dialos, her Maiel body would not be able to tolerate the acidic blood that Alranos would have given her. And with Alranos gone, her blood was free to wake to its full power causing her the great pain and fiery blood.
He drew near to her and gasped, all doubt erased from his mind. Her face mirrored Alranos’s though softer and more delicate the features of her mother showed through. He inhaled deeply and knelt down beside her, hands hesitantly touching her face. As his skin made contact, he nearly cried out and tightly closed his eyes. The soul was the same. He felt Alranos in her. The soul was the same! This was definitely his daughter. Alranos! Alranos! I found her!
“Garnor?” Ranar was looking at him curiously. He drew back swiftly from the Maiel/dialos, looking up into Ranar’s face. “Do you know what’s wrong with her?”
“I-” Garnor’s face, though masked, revealed a heated struggle going on in his mind.
“You do, don’t you.” Ranar’s voice was soft. “You know what ails my T’ranel.” Garnor nodded slowly. “Tell me- tell me, can you help her? Can it be cured?”
“I-” Garnor sighed, “I can. I can help her. I don’t know if ‘cured’ is the right word for what I can do for her, but I can get rid of her pain if you’ll let me.”
“If I’ll... let you? What exactly do you have in mind, Garnor?” Concern and distrust were beginning to surface in Ranar’s face.
Garnor, seeing this, was quick to respond, “My blood can heal her blood, it would neutralise hers. It would also establish a link between us by which I could control it. A link of threads would be even more valuable... If you’d let me.” He looked away, “And, well, you know, I’m sure, what the most healing thing a dialos can give is, Ranar Renvarnnyen.” His voice was barely audible.
“Surely you don’t mean-” Ranar’s eyes widened, staring at Garnor in disbelief. But he only nodded. “You would cry for her?”
“I would do anything for her. And I can and will explain to you why, but not now. It would take too long and every minute more she has to endure with her blood so uncontrolled brings her closer to death. And I can’t tell you the pain it would inflict on me to have to sever her thread.”
Ranar inhaled slightly at this reference to T’ranel’s death and drew back, raising his hands submissively. “Do what you need to do, Garnor. If you would cry for my ‘Nel, I’m certain you would not harm her.”
“Thank you.” Garnor’s voice almost cracked with the pain he was bearing. “I’m sorry... it’s just.” He shook his head firmly. “No, I can tell you that later.” He looked at the stairs determinedly. “I need Alranos’ anarla. Please, Ranar, keep her unconscious. To have her wake would be all but fatal right now.”
He dashed up the stairs, mentally going over his plan. So T’ranel’s blood needed to be contained. If he gave her some of his, a link would be established between them by which he could keep the level of her blood in check. Of course, that also would make her a near pure-blooded dialos... but it would save her life, which was the important part. He ran into Ranar’s room and carefully pulled the anarla from his now dry robe. It felt so weird to be wearing green he realised suddenly, but then shook his head at himself for thinking that and darted back towards the stairs, continuing mentally with his plan. Once that link had been established, he would be able to easily find her thread. If he found it and connected his where Alranos’ thread had been, he would have a greater measure of control over the blood as well. And as for the tears- he paused for a second on the stairs- well, they would heal her as fully as they would even if he was a little weaker for it.
As he walked into the main room, a sudden thought crossed his mind. The third anarla. If T’ranel was nearly a dialos, Alranos must have known that this would happen to her some day. His eyes widened; the Maiel that had killed him must have taken T’ranel’s anarla! Great. So now he had to hunt that down as well. Having an anarla would ‘heal’ T’ranel completely or bring her into the full-blooded dialos form that her blood cried out for her body to be. The links would have to work until he could find that.
“Thank you,” he murmured to the pale Ranar that was sitting by T’ranel, hands on her forehead, whispering words to keep her deep in the fold of darkness. “Please trust me on this, even if it looks terrible as I do it.” Ranar paled another shade, but nodded his approval.
He unbound his arm, hissing as he saw the burnt and bloody mess the wound from Alranos’ anarla had made. He rolled his eyes. Here he was doing it again. Garnor flipped Alranos’ anarla into a blade, watching with some bemusement as Ranar’s eyes widened. He’d have to let the Maiel look at the weapons before he left. It was obvious they entranced him. He took the newly formed blade and drew it carefully across his skin, cringing as the pain of his blood crept over his wrist.
He wrapped the hilt in the fabric of his veil and handed it to Ranar who accepted it cautiously and with wide eyes. “Cut her skin.” Ranar, used to doing this, but never with an anarla, drew the blade with equal care across T’ranel’s upper arm where the scar wouldn’t be seen. “Thank you.” Garnor stared vacantly at the shimmering red blood that welled up from T’ranel’s wound. Red blood. It looked so strange. So... alive. Shaking his head at his thoughts, Garnor let a bit of his blood trickle into her wound. The muscle surrounding it tensed slightly and her skin hissed with the contact, making Ranar’s pale face look desperately up at Garnor. He simple nodded reassuringly, telling him it was all going according to plan. Pulling Sanctuary from his neck, he placed it across her wound first, and then over his so the effects Alranos’ anarla would be erased.
Ranar watched in a sort of fascinated horror at this exchange of blood though his face only expressed a great disbelief that this dialos would inflict so much pain on himself in order to help his daughter. Garnor was watching the edges of his wound meet as his anarla’s power healed it for him. He never tired of seeing that. It was always so amazing to see; and from the look on Ranar’s face as he noticed this, he thought it was amazing as well.
He closed his eyes then and turned himself inward, testing every corner of his being for the link that he had just established. He found it quickly and followed it to T’ranel’s thread. Grabbing it with his free hand, he pulled out of himself and grabbed his thread as he went. He shivered violently at the sensation it caused. It was more disturbing than anything he knew to touch his own thread. It was like poking at the raw part of his without any mercy or care. “Want to watch?” Garnor asked Ranar quietly. To the Maiel, the threads were not visible. It looked to him that Garnor was swatting at the air and snatching nothings from its substance.
Ranar nodded, dumbfounded, but curious.
“Put your hand on the back of my neck then and relax. I’ll let you in.”
“It’s either that or my hand,” He couldn’t help but grin feeling Ranar’s shaking hand on his neck, “Relax. You most likely won’t get to see something like this again.” The shaking dulled to a slight tremor. Garnor reached out and felt for Ranar’s thread which he found almost disturbingly quickly and bound it to his consciousness. It felt so familiar to him. Shaking his head at this thought, Garnor heard Ranar gasp as the tapestry of threads was revealed to him through Death’s view. “Pretty, isn’t it?” Garnor sighed, looking at the threads in his self. “This is T’ranel’s thread.” He motioned, pulling the shimmering, life-filled thread into view. The white you see is Life. It can be very addicting to stare at, trust me.” He felt awe rising in Ranar. Smiling somewhat sadly, he pulled his thread in. “This is mine.” It still gleamed with Life, something that surprised Ranar, and even Garnor a little. “You don’t have to be dead to be Death,” He murmured in response.
He searched T’ranel’s thread for the raw edge where Alranos’ would have been attached. After some searching, he found the dark patch where her thread had frayed when Alranos’ had been yanked from hers. He cringed slightly on seeing this. He had caused it when he had severed Alranos’ thread. He sighed and brought his thread near it. “I’m going to bind us together now. By doing this I’ll be able to control her blood and keep it latent. Do you understand?” He felt Ranar’s emotions fighting each other though his thread. “Is that all right?” It was so strange to be linked to someone this way. Finally the approval won out over the unease.
“Yes. Do it.” Ranar’s voice was barely a whisper which was understandable considering most of his being was inside Garnor’s consciousness.
Garnor nodded and brought his and T’ranel’s threads together, scratching the side of his slightly so the marred edge could bind with the raw edge of T’ranel’s. It felt very strange, but almost destined he decided. Shuddering at the new contact, Garnor prepared to pull himself out of this inner sight, but felt Ranar question him. He smiled to himself for being able to read the Maiel’s every desire through their connection. “Yes, Ranar, I can show you your thread.” He pulled from behind him the brilliant white line and brought it into his sight.
“That’s mine?” the weak voice queried.
“Yes.” For some reason unbeknownst to him, Garnor’s heart ached as he held the thread.
“Can I- can I touch it?”
“If you really want.” Garnor shrugged doubtfully, “It feels terrible. To touch your own thread that is.”
“Oh.” Garnor could feel him debating through the thread and shook his head as he felt the outcome. “Could I anyway?”
Garnor held the thread out to him. Ranar hesitantly brushed his fingers over it and drew back, shaking violently with the contact. “See?” Strong agreement. “I’m going to pull us out now.” He released the thread, letting go of his sight and opened his eyes to the real world again.
Ranar unclasped his hand from Garnor’s neck. “Ugh, Garnor, that was- strange. It was like I was touching my soul.” He was staring at his hand strangely as if it wasn’t his own.
“Well, you were.” Garnor snorted softly, “I told you it felt terrible. Now imagine scratching at the surface so you could join it to another thread. How do you think that felt?” He was smiling slightly, but focusing on controlling T’ranel’s blood. It was nearly back to normal through his blood and now the thread connection. It was surprisingly easy to manage, Garnor observed, amused.
Ranar shuddered, still stuck on the thought of scratching his thread. “Thank you, Garnor. Why you would go through all this pain for my ‘Nel is... well... I am in your debt for healing her.”
“It’s not over yet.” Garnor sighed wistfully. “Will you take Sanctuary while I’m gone? I don’t trust myself with her right now.” He laughed falsely, “Too much pain. Might overreact.” His hand strayed to his arm, tracing one of the many scars engraved in its length.
Garnor jumped, “My anarla.” Silence. “It won’t hurt you through my veil. You’re holding Alranos’ aren’t you?”
Ranar laughed nervously as if just realising this, “I guess I am, aren’t I”
Ranar nodded, so Garnor unbound Sanctuary from his neck and passed her to Ranar’s outstretched hands.
“Feel free to study them,” he nodded at both his and Alranos’ anarla, “I know you want to know everything there is to know about the dialos. In return for keeping them for me, I will answer your questions about them, me, and my race when I return. If you like.”
“Thank you, Garnor.” Ranar’s voice was quiet with awe.
“Give me some time, but if I am not back by nightfall come and find me. I’ve never done this as Death before and don’t know how much I can spare. I will need your care if I give too much. Understand?”
Ranar nodded solemnly. There was a brief silence as they both pondered what Garnor was planning to do next. It was very risky on his part, compromising his soul in the balance. Too many tears and he would die, too few and with too little passion and they would be a waste. “Here,” Ranar offered as a spontaneous gesture, handing the vial T’ranel’s mother had given her.
Garnor’s eyes widened and his face took on a look of such a searing pain that Ranar couldn’t stand to look at him. “Where did you get these?” He murmured, his voice taut with an unspeakable grief.
“T’ranel’s mother gave them to her before she died. ‘Nel said they were found on the ground near where her father had fallen. Near where the dialos had stood.” Ranar wondered if giving these tears to Garnor had been a mistake.
“Thank you, unspeakably, for these.” Garnor held the vial tight to his chest. “Where can I go where I will be alone?” Garnor was not used to controlling his emotions just yet and seeing what could only be Alranos’ tears had just about broken the wall preventing his grief from reaching the surface.
“If you walk out that door,” Ranar pointed to the frame in the far right corner, “And through the gate you will find yourself the forest. Walk straight into it for a ways and you will find my garden. No one is allowed there but me, so no one will bother you.”
“Thank you,” Garnor’s voice was a mere whisper, anything more would have freed the tears he was desperately trying to hide. Ranar nodded in pained silence, broken at seeing this suffering soul.
Garnor padded out on silent feet, craving yet fearing what he was about to do. Alranos’ tears held tightly to his chest, he slipped into the forest, fingers digging into where his heart was as if in an effort to stay the pain. He staggered forward until he reached the clearing that he assumed to be Ranar’s garden. What he saw nearly broke his resolve once more. Lilies like he had never seen grew everywhere in stunning yet strangely wild patterns. They carpeted the ground almost so thick as to make it seem purely white. In their center was a pool. He felt strangely drawn to it and walked forward across the flowers. It gleamed silver and gold in the sunlight, a perfect mirror of the green leaves of trees reflected in its depths.
He cast off his robe then, leaving his chest and arms bare, his legs covered by his black pants. He crept to the pool’s edge and waded silently through the clear, shallow water; sending smooth cascades of ripples through its mirror-like surface. He reached a smooth, grey rock protruding from the pool near the center, and climbed to its peak. Sprawling out carelessly on the edge hanging over the pool, he let the wind run chill fingers through his hair. The smooth shadow shifted from where it covered his back, revealing the myriad of scars criss-crossing over it. He traced his hand absently over one of the many lines cut into his flesh so long ago by his captor’s whips. That had been literally a lifetime ago and yet it was yesterday to him. The wind released his hair and he allowed his hand to fall from his back, letting dead memories lie where they were supposed to in the grave of the past.
He leaned forward into his hands, shuddering has his will began to desert him. Pulling back, he let his hands push flat against each other, palm to palm, and rested his fingers against his nose. He closed his eyes as a shaking sigh escaped his lips. “Ah merciful darkness,” he murmured, “Not often Death cries.” He looked up into the slowly clouding sky and sighed, giving in to the need to blink, scattering his face with moist trails, dim as shadows. “See what I do for your daughter... Alranos?” Upon speaking the name of his dead predecessor, his will was broken He gave wholly into the pained sobs that yearned to wash through him then, not caring what it meant.
The vial Ranar had given him was quickly filled and stoppered, but the demands of his tears were not as easily appeased. The hard shall that had been controlling his emotions had been shattered and though he tried, it could not be replaced. Too much emotion piling on him far too fast and all the pain, bitterness, and raw emotion would not, could not be hindered as it was released through his defenseless tears. Such relief. But it could not last. Soon he began to feel very light-headed and sleepy as if deprived of breath for too long. Though he felt he could weep eternally, he slowly gathered his pain to him and sealed it within his being. It stopped his tears, saving his life, but slaying his soul; seeping it in grief.
He looked up at the sky. It was getting dark. He should head back. Sighing heavily, he moved to stand but soon found himself on his back as his legs gave out on him. He bit his lip pensively. The tears had weakened him more than he thought they would. He shrugged, exhausted, and gave into the world of dark dreams that he was fighting off, reasoning that he couldn’t move anyway- what was the point of staying awake? He settled deep into his soul and drifted into black.
Garnor awoke to a richly black sky, drinking in the hue as if it were a sustenance for his very soul. He groaned slightly, testing his body for weakness and finding it to be mostly healed. Rolling his shoulders and massaging them slightly with his hands, he sat up and surveyed the scene in front of him. He was still perched on the rock in the middle of Ranar’s garden’s pool. He chuckled dryly as he felt the pattern of the rock’s surface pressed into his back from where he had slept for so long. He felt an irresistible urge to stretch his spine, so he gave into it, flexing his body luxuriously, only slightly surprised as he felt his wings materialise from the shadows. “Hello, my friends.” He whispered, wrapping them around himself and revelling in their soft touch.
He breathed deeply of the crisp night air, pulling his knees to his chest and letting his head rest on them, keeping his wings wrapped around him as a blanket, deeply soothing on his skin. Ranar would be coming for him soon, he knew, but he didn’t want to leave this place. He felt so at home here in the black, rooted to the spot where he had risked his soul. Coming to that thought, Garnor pulled the vial from his side that contained his tears- his life- and brought it up into his vision. They were so dark, he mused. It was almost disturbing. He stared at them as if entranced for a moment longer, but then closed his fist about the vial and dropped his chin to his knees once more.
“Garnor?” Ranar’s voice broke through his brooding. He flinched, his wings wisking away into the darkness involuntarily as he did so. He called them back instantly, almost angrily, missing their touch. He didn’t want to speak. The silence was too soothing in his mouth. “Garnor?” Ranar’s voice was uncertain. Had he spotted him?
“Here.” His voice had enough substance so as not to be called a whisper, but was barely audible across the shadows.
A sigh of relief. “Oh, there you are.” A wet swishing sound reached his ears; Ranar moving through the dew-laden grass and growth of the garden. It stopped as it neared the pools edge directly behind him. A brief silence. “Are you all right?”
“Fine.” Garnor quipped, irritated at having to speak again.
An awkward silence from Ranar’s end. Garnor did not move or even blink into it. He heard Ranar shift uncomfortably behind him and raised an eyebrow as the Maiel drew breath to speak, “It’s just-I” he paused and sighed heavily, “I wanted to see that you were okay. It’s after nightfall. I was, well, I was getting worried.” He lapsed into silence again.
Garnor sighted, recognising the hurt in Ranar’s voice. He didn’t deserve his anger. Garnor had been the one to tell him to come out here at nightfall anyway. “I’m sorry.” He said, a little softer this time, ashamed at letting his selfish irritation show through, “I’m fine. I just... feel a little strange is all. I don’t give up half my soul everyday you know.”
“Of course.” Ranar’s voice was controlled, still as death.
Garnor sighed, defeated, “Come up here with me?”
“Up there? With you?” The shock in the voice was barely masked.
“Please? I- I could use some company.”
“.... If you wish.” Ranar’s voice was still.
Sounds fluttered across his vision. The smooth rippling of fluid; the sucking of fabric pulling out of water; the soft scratch of skin against stone. Ranar settled himself silently at the dialos’ side, his soft light scattering the thick darkness as a fine mist infused with the lifeblood of stars. Garnor watched with some bemusement as the luminescent veil was absorbed indefinitely into the black of his wings, but soon faced forward again. The Maiel pulled his knees to his chest, mirroring Garnor’s position, and looked over at him, face unreadable. “What is it?”
Garnor sat in the thick silence for several moments, not wanting to break again. He shifted slightly. “Here.” He offered, holding the tears out to Ranar who accepted them into a palm that trembled slightly. Garnor watched his face from the corner of his eye, reading a carefully controlled shock as the Maiel stared at the tiny vial in his hand. “They’re just tears.” He muttered softly, trying to bring himself back to a quiet numb.
“Garnor...” Ranar tucked the precious vial into his chest pocket, voice an uncertain mix of hurt, awe, and gratitude. There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Finally Ranar ventured, “Garnor?”
“Hmmm.” Only the profile of the dialos was visible, the rest of him immersed in the dark of his wings and his hair, his pale skin the only thing able to reflect the gentle light radiating from the being beside him.
“Can I ask you something?”
Ranar drew a deep breath as if unsure of whether he should be asking or not. “You don’t have to answer me.” He finally murmured. Garnor let Ranar find his courage, wondering what it was that the Maiel wanted to ask. Finally he sighed heavily and continued, “Seems to pain you to bring this up, it’s been bothering me for that among other reasons, but- who is this Alranos you keep speaking of?”
Garnor tensed slightly, nearly dispelling his wings again. “Was.” He said softly.
“What?” Ranar’s voice was tipped with concern.
Garnor sighed and stretched his arms out in front of him dismissively, letting his wings fade this time. “Was. He’s dead. Just dead. Yesterday.”
He felt Ranar flinch hearing this, “Oh Garnor, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean-”
“It’s all right.” Garnor interrupted. “Really, it’s fine. You have a right to know.” He smiled somewhat sadly, turning his head sideways on his knees so he faced Ranar. “Alranos was the one who brought me into this form, the form of a dialos. I suppose you would know him best as Death... until yesterday he was Death... but he was so much more than that; so much more. He was my father and brother of sorts for the short time I was with him in training- caring for me and nursing me back to health after I had nearly died from before he rescued me, I suppose you could say, from this world. So misunderstood. Such a noble soul.” Garnor trailed off into wistful silence.
Ranar was enveloped in this quiet for a time too before hesitantly asking, “Were those his tears I gave you?”
“Yes.” Garnor’s voice was very soft, very vulnerable.
“No wonder you reacted as you did.” Ranar breathed, more to himself than Garnor, “I’m glad that you have them now. You’re the one who should- seeing as you knew Lord Alranos the best.”
“Thank you.” A pensive pause. “I’m sorry for snapping at you earlier. I didn’t mean to, just was lost in my own world for a while there.”
“It’s okay. I understand. I would have been far less gracious than you were I in your position.” Ranar commented dryly, earning him a little smile from the downcast dialos beside him. “You ready to head back?”
“Yes. That would be good.” Garnor’s smiled widened. “Want to see my wings?” His voice was reminiscent of a child showing off something he had made in school.
“You have wings?” Alranos eyed him quizzically, though he did realise that Garnor was not wearing the black robe he had thought him to be clothed in when he first saw him out here... had that robe been his wings?
“Yes, I most certainly do. Only Death has wings. I just discovered them yesterday.” He snorted at himself, “Well, obviously only yesterday. Haven’t been Death much longer than that.” He let the shadowed wreaths unfurl from his back, almost glowing with pride as they reached their full size. “Aren’t they pretty?”
Ranar shook his head at the dialos beside him. Garnor was acting just like a child. He really was like every other being once you got past his pained, numb exterior- just a hurting soul yearning for love and acceptance with all their might. “Yes, they’re beautiful.” He smiled, almost touched. “You’ll have to tell me more about this when we return. Seeing those made me think of a whole lot of questions for you.”
“I’ll be glad to answer them.” Garnor glided smoothly to the bank. “When we get back.”
Chuckling, Ranar could have sworn that he stuck his tongue out at him as he landed lightly on the shore.
“Okay, let me see if I understand what you’re telling me.” Garnor thought for a second before continuing, drawing a deep breath as he did so, “Your son, Theoth, your last tie to your blood related family, ran off just over two weeks ago to find a dialos, presumably me, that you had theorised was wandering about somewhere in this plane due to T’ranel’s illness?”
“Yes.” Ranar couldn’t help but smile as the dialos caught his breath after such a long sentence. They were seated in a very comfortable room that the family used as a lounge of sorts. It was more a porch than a room in reality, but because it had the appearance of having four walls, they called it a room. In the far corner, edged up against the main house, was a three-chaired table, and it was here that Garnor and Ranar were having a long and deep conversation in which many questions had been answered, and even more created.
“Hmmm,” Garnor’s face was dark with thought, “Do you have any idea even roughly where he might be? I might be able to find him if you can give me a general area to look in.”
Theoth raised his eyebrows at this, “You could find Theoth? How?”
Garnor shrugged dismissively, “Well, I am Death, aren’t I? He does have a thread that I could trace.” Though he smiled, Ranar couldn’t help but notice that the young dialos still cringed slightly whenever he referred to his new position in the hierarchy of the dialos.
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Obviously.” Garnor smiled. Ranar chuckled softly. Garnor had been revealing his vulnerable, almost cheery side to him more and more, something both he and Garnor found to be strange. They had found they had a connection almost instantly, but were unsure of what it was. That didn’t mean they didn’t enjoy it though. Both he and Garnor found each other’s presence strangely soothing as if they had found each other as part of some divine design. “So,” Garnor’s smooth voice interrupted his musings, “Do you have any idea where your son might be?”
“Oh.” Ranar took a second to shift the direction of his thoughts. “I don’t know how long this will be accurate as I don’t know if he’s found anything nor do I know how fast he’s travelling at, but I do have an idea.” Garnor raised an eyebrow at him, encouraging him to continue, “Actually, I was out looking for him when I found you in the rain that day. I was following what I thought might be his route, you see, because he had taken from my study a map that had all the places I thought I dialos might come into our world marked on it. I was going between two of them when I found you.” He shrugged, “So he might be somewhere in the area surrounding the haven still, I didn’t research much further than that.” When Ranar glanced at him, Garnor looked only half attentive, the other half of him battling something in his soul. “Something wrong?” He asked, slightly concerned. It was difficult to tell anything when you were dealing with Death.
“Was that a bad thing?” Garnor’s voice was over-laden with apprehension.
“Was what a bad thing?” Ranar cocked his head to one side, letting the concern spread over his face.
Garnor was silent for a brief second, but then continued as if half-fearing the answer, “Finding me?”
“Oh, Garnor.” Ranar’s heart nearly broke hearing this. He shook his head, “No, it was a wonderful thing finding you. I don’t know how to explain it, but... I feel like I’ve done myself an enormous favour by keeping you around. I can’t imagine not finding you. What would I have done?” He smiled at the dark-faced dialos in front of him, trying to dispel his fears. A slight smile was returned to him as Garnor tried to believe what Ranar had just said. It would take an infinite more hearings, though, Ranar knew, before it even began to sink in a little.
“It is my honour.” Ranar let the pensive silence fall for a little while, giving Garnor a chance to think, but then broke it amicably asking, “So are you going to try and find my son or not?” He grinned at the dialos in front of him, amazed for having never believed that he would be conversing so casually with Death.
“Oh, right.” Garnor shook his head as if clearing his mind of the final remnants of whatever thoughts had been occupying it, and began to get the look of turning himself inward, “Just give me a minute, this might take awhile. I don’t search among the living threads very often. And there are a lot.”
Ranar nodded even though he knew Garnor wouldn’t see him, “Take your time.” He watched as the dialos grew even more entangled in his own web of consciousness, knowing that he was all but beyond his reach right now. He yawned and looked about the room, surprised to see T’ranel enter cautiously through the far door. “’Nel?” he queried, watching his adopted daughter in a bemused manner as she scrutinised the room, eyes flitting everywhere, “Something amiss my dear?”
She had recovered almost completely after receiving Garnor’s tears, reporting that her blood felt more ‘normal’ than before the first of her fits had ever even began. Ranar had been so relieved that he had almost told the whole haven of Garnor’s accomplishment, but then thought better of it, remembering that Garnor was a dialos and there was much hatred towards that race, even if the stereotypes were false. The only thing she complained of, and it wasn’t even really a complaint, was that she felt slightly different as if something inside of her had been rearranged or changed somehow. Something in her very core. Garnor had of course known the cause of this- he was no Alranos for controlling blood, and besides, their threads had been switched which would obviously be felt in T’ranel’s soul- but he had remained silent, fearing what T’ranel would think if she knew the truth of the matter and how they were bound.
She stepped delicately into the room, eyes never resting on any one object for more than a brief glance, and made her way slowly towards Ranar as if following some faint and unseen path, “There’s this dark energy coming from this room. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Almost searching.” Her eyes brushed past Garnor but swiftly returned to him, narrowing as she tried to focus her senses on the invisible energy path.
Ranar observed her honing in on Garnor with a slight bit of concern. He, of course, knew the energy had been created by Garnor in his search for Theoth, but how had T’ranel sensed it? He certainly didn’t feel anything. “Garnor?” He queried, nudging his arm, “Garnor?”
The dialos jumped as if woken from a dream, “What?” He said, blinking and looking around, slightly disorientated at first, but quickly remembering where he was and what he had been doing, “What is it?”
“T’ranel here says she senses a dark, searching energy coming from this room. I can only assume it’s you.”
“What of it?” Garnor raised a very confused eyebrow at Ranar, nodding a distracted greeting to T’ranel who was staring at him in an almost unnerving manner.
“Well, my concern is: how exactly does she sense it? I don’t feel anything and I would think if she felt it that I would as well. Would you know anything about this?”
“I...” Garnor’s face darkened in internal debate for a moment, “...do.” He said slowly; carefully. He laughed dryly, “Actually, I know everything about it, well, nearly everything at least.” He glanced almost apologetically at Ranar.
His gaze was met with a raised brow, “Well? What do you know?”
Garnor sighed, gathering his thoughts to him, “T’ranel, do you want in on this?”
“I’m sure I do.” She stopped staring at him and seated herself in the third chair at the table.
The dialos rubbed his temples with his fingers, displaying his thought. He looked to Ranar, “Do you remember that night, or afternoon rather, when I first saw T’ranel?”
“Yes...” Ranar said almost impatiently as if Garnor was stating the obvious, which he was.
“Remember when I said I would do anything for T’ranel and would explain to you why later?” Garnor was obviously stalling.
“Yes, I remember almost every detail of that day, Garnor, get on with it!” Ranar urged, but T’ranel raised a hand.
“You said that?” She asked Garnor softly.
“That you would do anything for me?”
Garnor looked her full in the eyes. “Yes. And I meant every word of it and still do.” Their gazes remained locked for a moment.
“Why?” She queried finally.
“Yes, why?” Ranar’s impatient voice quipped through.
“I was just getting to that.” Garnor smiled teasingly at the ruffled Ranar, placing his hands flat on the table, and drew a deep breath, “I guess being blunt is the best way to go right now. Ready?” The dagger look he got from Ranar was enough to encourage him to continue. He licked his lips and looked directly at T’ranel, “The explanation for all of this is that you, T’ranel Iravaer, are the former Death’s daughter.”
The reactions he got hardly seemed to surprise Garnor. He held up his hands defensively, “I told you I was going to be blunt.”
“Yes, but you never said you were going to say that T’ranel was Death’s daughter!” Ranar’s eyes were huge and he was nearly standing in his chair, shaking from shock.
Garnor chuckled at this, “Well obviously, if I had said that I was going to say that, there would be no point in me telling you because you would already have known.”
Ranar shook his head, “Well, yes, but,” He searched for words, “How do you know this?”
Garnor paused a minute in thought, watching T’ranel out of the corner of his eyes. She had paled considerably, but was too shocked to speak at the present moment. “There are several things,” He began finally, testing each word, trying to give the best explanation, “but I don’t know which ones you will accept, so I’ll just tell you everything.” He drew another breath, “Alranos, that is, I mean was, your father’s name,” he said to T’ranel, “His last words to me were that I should find his daughter. I had heard nothing of a daughter, so I had no idea what to do with this. Fate, it would seem, brought me here so I could find you in time.”
“In time?” T’ranel’s well shaken voice was heard for the first time after the announcement.
“Yes. In time.” Garnor looked at her for a second before continuing, “You see, what you had been feeling in your blood was the effects of your dialos father’s influence. The Maielian body of your mother could not stand the acidic blood given to you by Alranos. Because of this, you felt that your blood was ‘on fire’ and that is why you felt such pain. Alranos had been controlling your blood through your thread since you had been born. As he began to drift from the duties of Death and finally when he died, he, obviously, lost control of you thread. So I took over.” He added carefully.
T’ranel was very silent for a moment, letting this absorb into her mind. Garnor let her be. Ranar was still too wrapped in indignant shock to speak. Finally, after what felt to Garnor to be approaching the boarder of eternity, T’ranel’s ever gentle voice broke through the silence, “What do you mean, ‘took over’?
Garnor sighed, “What I mean is that, well, do you understand the concept of threads? I didn’t know if Ranar had included you in his dialos research or not...”
“Yes, I know a little about it. The threads attach your soul to your body and when they are severed, your soul is free, no longer bound to your physical being.” She laughed distractedly, “So actually you don’t kill the person, you just free the soul- which is actually a favour to it rather than keeping it bound to the body forevermore.”
Garnor looked at her as if she had just said something very unexpected and very profound, which to him, she had. “Thank you.” He said, his voice expressing a gratitude that was felt to the depths of his very soul. T’ranel nodded, expressing more understanding of his race than could be acquired by simple research. He shook his head, trying to get his thoughts under control once more. “Well, why I asked is because, and forgive me if this offends you, I only meant and ever mean to protect you, for Alranos’ sake as much as for yours,” he murmured as a quiet after-thought, drawing a deep breath as he was wont to do when nervous, “It’s because our threads are connected right now. I connected them where Alranos’ thread had been right up until his death in order to take over the task of keeping your blood in check. That’s also why you’ve felt strange lately, because it’s me and not Alranos who’s in touch with your soul.” He drifted into a pensive silence, eye’s looking at his hands which he had taken a sudden, intense interest in it would seem, feeling very vulnerable now.
There was a thick silence. T’ranel was staring intently at the top of Garnor’s head, mulling all that she had just heard around in her mind, “It’s okay,” she finally ventured, earning a hopeful look from a pair of painful black eyes, “And I-” now she looked at her hands, “Thank you.” She looked back up again, “Thank you for pretty much saving my life and so much more.” She nodded at Ranar who was watching the exchange curiously, but not daring to join in.
“It is my honour,” Garnor echoed Ranar’s response from earlier, meaning every word more than he could express.
T’ranel smiled, “I have one more question for you.” She laughed at herself, “Well, at least one more question for you.”
Garnor raised an eyebrow, grinning with her, “Yes? What is it?”
“How did you know I was Alranos’’ daughter? And how long have you known?” She rolled her eyes, “I guess that’s two already.”
“It’s no problem,” Garnor dismissed her, voice distracted as he tried to gather the most effective words to his mouth, “I saw you and I put my hand like this,” He placed one shaking hand hesitantly on her cheek for the briefest of seconds, shivering with the touch, “And I felt Alranos’ soul in you. I can see him in your face and can feel his soul in yours.”
T’ranel’s gaze was sceptical. “How?”
“I am Death’s heir. I mean, I am Death. I’ll never get used to that,” He muttered sullenly, shaking his head darkly, “Dealing with souls is my art, my craft. I should think I would know my predecessor’s soul. After all I was the one to sever it from his body.” With the last statement, bitterness filled his voice and face. T’ranel almost regretted asking.
“You had to sever his thread? How cruel are Death’s duties indeed. That must have hurt.” Her voice was soft.
Garnor looked up, his face a cold, hard mask. “Like you can never know.” He said flatly into the deep silence that settled.
Ranar bit his lip nervously and searched to change the subject. “So, Garnor, umm... did you find any trace of my son?”
The dark eyes fixed intensely onto the azure orbs that were Ranar’s which were watching in some sort of fascinated horror as all the raging pain threatening the dialos’ face was dissolved into his soul. Garnor shook his head as some sort of final banishment and redirected his gaze back the Ranar. “Sorry about that.” He looked decidedly uncomfortable as if not wanting to ask a necessary question, “I- I hate to ask you this, but- well, would you mind if I relieved some threads while we talk? It’s been awhile since I’ve had the chance and I don’t know that I can ignore them ravaging my mind much longer...”
“Go ahead.” Ranar answered in the only way he could- though he began to look just as uncomfortable as Garnor. He laughed lightly, “Who am I to stop you anyway?”
Garnor nodded and slipped Sanctuary from his neck, pulling black threads and severing them mechanically; it was already a habit. He hardly noticed the paling faces in front of him. “I did see a trace of your son, Theoth you said his name was?”
“Yes, Theoth. Where did you see him? Can you find him?” Ranar, though warily watching as the raven threads were cut, had a very anxious expression on his face.
Garnor’s face darkened considerably, “He’s wandering just outside of Selenar, that’s what, a week’s journey from here? Oww.” Ranar nodded as Garnor reflexively pressed the flat of his blade against the little nick he had just made in his hand. He was getting distracted, “Would you hold these for me for a second?” He gestured at T’ranel, pushing the black threads into her near-white hands before she could answer and bringing his own hand up to his mouth, sucking on the wound for a second before holding it up and watching as the skin closed. He half smiled. “And this is where it pays off to be a dialos. Sorry about that ‘Nel.”
T’ranel was stroking the threads with a visible uncertainty, “They’re so soft.” Her voice was distracted.
Garnor’s face darkened, “Only those with the black blood can feel the velvet of the threads, ‘Nel. You truly are Death’s daughter. Do you believe it now?”
“May I see them?” Ranar, still uncomfortable with finding out who his adopted daughter was, was eager to test Garnor’s theory. Both Garnor and T’ranel nodded and Ranar took the black strands into his palm, rubbing them with his fingers. He shuddered, quickly returning them to Garnor’s outstretched hand. “It was like holding the hand of Death. They burned.” He was rubbing where the threads had touched reflexively, trying to return his skin to normal.
“Am I that repulsive?” Garnor asked wryly, staring into Ranar’s haunted eyes with a slight smile. The living always had such a strange relationship with death- concept or person- Ranar hadn’t meant it as an insult to Garnor, to Death, sitting in front of him, and the dialos knew it. He smiled until Ranar relaxed slightly, still a little shaken for having touched something so intimately connected to Death, and then continued, “I believe we were talking about locating your son?”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” Ranar fully snapped out of his distant state and shook his head, clearing it. “He’s wandering around Selenar you were saying?”
“Yes,” Garnor said carefully, “That is where he is.”
“Can you-” Ranar was interrupted by Garnor’s raised hand, falling into silence as the dark eyes flashed at him.
“I wasn’t finished.” He seemed distant again.
Ranar and T’ranel shared an uneasy glance. “I- I’m sorry, Garnor.” Ranar ventured. “Please continue then.” Though he knew he was dealing with a moody Death, he still couldn’t help but feel slighted. Recognising this emotion he chuckled softly to himself- who was offended by being slighted by Death? How comfortable around this mystical severer of lives had he become?
“I’m sorry.” Garnor murmured softly, “There’s something you need to see first. I don’t want to show it to you though. You don’t need anymore pain- either of you.” The eyes flicked over to T’ranel as well.
Ranar’s amused mood vanished, “Is something wrong with Theoth? Has something happened to my son?”
Garnor’s gaze dropped and he spoke hesitantly, “Yes. Something happened to Theoth. He- he is no more.” He looked up into Ranar’s swiftly blanching face and murmured, “He had an encounter with Death and-” Garnor was forced to stop as the impact of his words hit Ranar. The dialos flinched visibly as the maiel began to speak.
“Theoth- what do you mean ‘no more’? An encounter with- with Death? He is- is he dead?” He choked on the word but then continued before Garnor had the chance to answer, “But he can’t be dead! You said he was wandering around Selenar- the dead can’t wander. What are you playing at, Lord of the Dialos? Death? What do you mean when you say my son is no more? Did you steal him from me? Rob me of the last of my children? The last of my bloodline? You unfeeling wretch! What do you think-”
“Enough!” The force in T’ranel’s voice surprised both Ranar and Garnor as she glared, seething, at her adopted father, “Don’t ever say Death cannot feel. Don’t you ever call him unfeeling.” She put a hand defensively on Garnor’s shoulder, angry eyes never leaving her father’s now ashen face, “Can’t you see the pain in his eyes? Can’t you see what he lives with day by day? That guilt? He’s the bad guy, eh? Well what if we were never freed? What if we were stuck tied down to our lifeless bodies for all time? This poor being, tortured Death, quaking under my hand right now as he tries to keep in the guilt and shame that you just threw back on him, he does us a favour in the end and all we do is shun him all our lives? Do sickness or age or weapons mean nothing to you? Death has nothing to do with it. He just suffers under our accusing glares and loathing gazes and keeps on saving the souls from an eternal fate imprisoned on this earth.”
“No, don’t start. I’m not finished this time. You stopped for him, you’ll stop for me.” She glared at Ranar who was all but shaking under her onslaught, “This being saves us in the end, my unseeing father. And all we do is hate him. We hate that he ‘takes’ our loved ones, that he ‘steals’ our children and fathers and mothers, that he exists is enough to justify our hatred of him, eh? We pile on him all our grief and confusion at what we call death, the end- the next door. He takes it all silently and he can’t even shed a tear in his defense. Cold and unfeeling he is named- a great evil without compare. What a conceited existence we are if we cannot see what a favour he does us- if we cannot see what cost it is to him. He is the most tortured being in existence or imagination. And he can’t even show it. He has no tears. No, don’t you dare call him unfeeling. He’s feels more than we can even imagine. Than we can ever know...” She trailed off feeling Garnor shaking under her, “Garnor?”
“I’m okay.” His voice was like drawing smooth, black charcoal over paper. “Just- not used to people defending or trying to understand me is all.” He laughed, not meaning it, “It’s a little strange.” There was a brief silence into which no one dared to speak. T’ranel reached down and wrapped her arms around Garnor for a moment, earning her a wide-eyed look of surprise from the dialos which softened but still remained unbelieving after she let go. He chuckled softly before fixing Ranar with his gaze, “Theoth isn’t dead, by the way, my Lord Ranar.” He allowed this news to sink in before continuing, “Having an encounter with Death, as I would hope you know, does not always lead to the end of life. I mean come now, you’re sitting right across from him and you don’t appear to be dying.” He grinned at Ranar before his face darkened, “No, Theoth isn’t dead. But before you let hope get the better of you, let me add that he might as well be dead for what he’s going through right now. He’s been cursed- and it was not Alranos’ doing.” He added seeing Ranar’s face harden against him.
Two pairs of eyes, one a brilliant azure, the other a fiery black, met and bored into each other, challenging and searching the soul behind them. Garnor wondered, as they battled, now Ranar was able to endure his eyes, but it didn’t surprise him really after knowing of the bond they felt. He felt little could surprise him about the maiel in front of him anymore. As such, he didn’t even feel a tinge of victory when Ranar’s eyes dropped from his and the top of his head shuddered, sending erratic highlights through the black hair. “I’m sorry.” His voice was barely a whisper. “I’m so sorry, Garnor. So sorry.”
A pale hand rested gently on the maiel’s shoulder, though it wasn’t exactly forgiving, “You’re not the first to have had that reaction. I suppose Death just isn’t meant to be understood.” He withdrew his hand and stood, running his fingers through his hair and sighing deeply. He leaned against the wall, gazing wistfully out into the garden just outside the room and into the woods beyond, silently gathering threads to his hand and slicing them away without thought. His eyes were slightly glazed, Ranar noticed, and he was looking intently in the direction of Selenar.
“Can you see him?” He asked softly.
“Yes.” Came the gentle reply.
“How is he?”
Death’s shoulders dropped for a moment and he let the threads fade. “Do you want to see him?”
“Is that possible?” Ranar asked after a pause. He hadn’t liked the shift in Garnor’s posture before he asked that question.
“Oh easily. I can watch whoever I chose through this anarla or simply by touching their thread.” T’ranel flinched as he said this, “Oh no, ‘Nel, I don’t watch you constantly- though I am influenced by your moods and such. I block as much as I am able to out, but a thread connection is a strange thing. I can’t control it all- maybe I’ll learn how to do it better as I progress or once we can find a cure for you.”
Ranar’s eyebrows raised when Garnor said cure, but he didn’t question it. Instead he asked about Theoth, “Can I see him then?” He stood and walked so he stood about two feet from the dialos, peering at him intently.
“Of course, which way would you prefer? Through the thread or through the anarla?”
“Would I have to get inside you like I did before to see him through his thread?”
“Yes, you would.”
“I’ll chose the anarla then if that’s all right.”
Garnor nodded, bemused, “All right, Sanctuary it is then.” He unclasped the blade and flipped it out into chain form, letting the tip dangle down. Ranar watched with a strange interest as the black mottled silver blade began to switch to green while Garnor chanted softly in his tongue. He stopped suddenly, violent eyes meeting Ranar’s, “I will just warn you, he is not in a good way. This is not a pleasant curse he’s been subjected to.” He closed his eyes once more and Ranar almost thought he heard Garnor muttering something about deserving it, but before he could question him, the chain shivered and a forest scene spread into view.
“Ih Chai what happened to him?” Ranar cried out as he located Theoth all but crawling along a haggard path among the roots. He was pale, as pale as Garnor if not more, and bleeding in many places. His blood was unsettlingly dark and his breathing laboured. Grey tears poured constantly from his face and he was obviously in intense physical pain as well as mental anguish, “Ih Chai what happened?” Ranar whispered again, reaching out to touch the image of his son so battered, but Garnor pulled the anarla away.
“Don’t touch it.” He hissed, “It’s what your son did. It’s why he was cursed.”
Ranar couldn’t keep the tears from his eyes. Theoth looked as if he had but a few moments to live; his last living blood tie to his life. “What do you, Garnor? What do you mean?”
“He wielded it wrongly and it cursed him with eternal living pain for so long as he touches it- but he can’t let go either. To let go would be death, and a death of fire and hell. He won’t be recognised among the living as you can see in a state like that, half dialos, half maiel. But the dialos hold no welcome for him either.” Garnor’s voice was uncharacteristically cold.
Ranar looked at him desperately without understanding. Even T’ranel was taken aback by what could almost be classified as hatred in the normally docile to depressed tone. “What did he do to deserve this, Garnor? What did Theoth do?”
“Theoth?” Garnor spat, glaring at the pitiful form in the anarla, “He is Theoth no longer. Alranos in his dying moment I suppose would have named him Salak. It’s a name in our tongue for ‘cursed’ as he is now.” He dropped the image from the anarla, suspending it in his hand and lifting it up directly into his view. The form froze as if he could feel Garnor’s burning gaze on him. “Salak.” Garnor muttered coldly.
“What did he do? Garnor! Answer me!” T’ranel’s voice was frightened and strained as she fought to broke whatever it was that had bewitched the dialos.
“What did he do?” Now the coldly burning eyes were focused on her and she found she had to take a step back under their intensity, “What did this cursed one do?” He looked at her, breath erratic and seeping emotion, eyes wide as he tried to control himself, “He killed Alranos. He killed Death! He-” A broken sob flew past his lips and he fell to his knees, dropping the image into the reaching hands of Ranar while he curled up into himself, deathly still as he agonised trying to keep his emotions in check.
Ranar stared vacantly at the image of his child in his hand, the other hand resting lightly on Garnor’s frozen back as if trying to comfort him. “He’s so pale. He’s so pale.” Ranar could find few other words as he sat otherwise in silence, drawing his hand from Garnor’s back and stroking the image tenderly. “He shouldn’t be so pale.”
“Should he?” T’ranel’s quiet voice was barely audible as she stared with great compassion at the prostrate form in front of her. How often did Death humble himself like this? She felt vaguely honoured he could bare his emotions in front of them, but knelt beside him and rubbed his back distractedly, staring also at the image of Theoth, no, Salak, she corrected herself, in the palm of her adopted father’s hand. Her brother had killed Death. What would Ranar do now?
|A Stolen Song||A Memory Resigned to Die|
|Death's Tears Prologue||Death's Tears Parts 7-10|