Blood Tells

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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:18 pm

"Of course." Djehuty takes a final look down at his chalking on the sidewalks before muttering, "You live until wind and rain drive you away." Picking up his coat where he folded it at his feet, he tucks it over an arm before turning back to Liv. "Lead on home."
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:16 pm

With a nod, I reach into the air, into the veils.
The air in my mother's country has a bite to it now, a taste of winter in the air. I turn. "It's past the sturgeon moon. They'll have moved to the winter holt. This way."
The winter holt is much like the summer; a great high hill, a stand of oak on its brow. But this one is enclosed on all sides, with neat doorways set in it, locking out chill winds. People are still out playing, getting the last of the warm days, and soon we're brought inside.
Inside, it's warm and cozy, with family dens lining a great communal space in the center. Friends and relations eddy about us, asking after us and our friends, asking what I've come home for.
"Anybody seen Ishk?" I call, and ten hands point the way.
I glance back at Djhuety. "Go and listen to the music; I'll be along in a little while."
Then I turn back into the bustling throng.
My mother is sitting in her den, mending nets and humming under her breath. She looks so content I'm almost ashamed of marring her day.
"Mother?"
My mother looks up from her net weaving, and her face splits in a grin. "Liv!" She stands, giving me a quick hug. I return it awkwardly, then drop down beside her, picking up the net. "Woah, what went through this? Pike?"
"Eels." My mother says, annoyance in her voice, "there are a lot of them about these days. We'll have to organize a hunt soon."
I wrinkle my nose. We learn very young to hate eels at the holt. Eels are not clever, but they are fast and cunning, and big enough to kill a dratsie kit or leave a nasty wound on an adult. We wipe them out regularly when they nest close to our holts. "I'll try and be here when it happens." I promise.
Mother nods. "So what are you doing home again?" she asks, returning to her work, braiding new strands into the net, "Will you be staying for a bit?"
I shrug, braiding new bits into the net weave. "Not this time. I'm here for the night and for a bit of talk."
My mother Ishk nods.
For a few minutes, we sit together in silence, doing the work at hand.
"Tell me about my father." I say abruptly. My words break the quiet like a rock shattering the surface of still water. Ishk glances up at me, her dark eyes surprised. It's a very rare thing, me asking about my father. For years, I didn't want to hear about my father. Often, I made a point of ignoring her when she spoke of him. When I was a child I pretended I didn't have a father at all. I was angry with him, I think, and her, a little, for their love and the way it left me. I blamed the man for the weaknesses of my body; for my malformed hands and my magic that was crooked, my strange blue eyes and my awkward, clumsy build, all long bones and little grace. In my head, he had always been 'that fool fiddler', 'that damn human'.
"What was he like?" I ask, my eyes on the net. My mother sighs, a thoughtful sound.
"He was kind, and sweet, and laughing. He loved to laugh." She smiles softly. "He was hopeless at swimming. If I had not found him, he would surely have drowned the night we met."
I remembered the story, how my mother had gone swimming downriver under a full moon, and found for her catch a man floundering in the deepest part of the River. I nod. Mother smiles. "He was happy and always doing,though at the heart of him I think there must have been a longing. And when he played..." she reaches out, running a hand over my hair. "well, ahn ghra, when he played, it was in the same way that you sing. That was his magic."
My eyes widen. "What?" I say, taken aback. She smiles. "When he played, we saw what was in his heart. Not so clearly as we do when you sing, but it was there as sure as stars."
I stare at her in shock. "My singing is from him? You never told me..."
Ishk smiles softly. "You never asked kit. You never let me say a word. Yes. That was his magic. Human magic, different from ours to be sure, but just as bright." She ran her hand over my hair, studying me fondly. "He would have liked to have met you. He did not know we were to have a child, nor did I. Not until later."
"He left." I state flatly.
My mother shrugs, her chocolate-brown eyes sad and patient. "He was like wind rippling over water. You do not begrudge the wind its coming and going."
She lay her hand over mine, the lovely pearl-sheened webs between her fingers soft as folds of rabbit skin. "And I have you. Grandmother said you would be a special one. When we knew you were to be born, she said a child of water and wind would be something to see. And she was right. You are the best bard of all Dratsie, my kit."
The words feel like a blow to my gut. The same words. The words of the prophecy.
"Is that...were those the words she used?" I breathe out, "child of water and wind?"
Ishk blinks. "Yes, I think so."
I push myself to my feet, away from my mother. She cocks her head. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, nothing really," I say hurriedly, pushing the clinging net folds off, "but I need to speak with Grandmother. I'll see you later tonight."
Then I turn on my heel, and take off running.
Grandmother Sruth has her own little home, set aside a bit from the bustle of the Holt, cut into the side of the hill. I push open the door in the hill without so much as a knock, something I never would have dared when I was less angry. But she has betrayed me. She, who is one of the steadiest things in my life, has now shown herself to have a current under the surface that has swept my feet out from under me.
Grandmother, sitting at her own little table and sipping at a mug, glances up at me in surprise. "You called me child of water and wind when I was born." I state, my voice quivering with anger, my hands balled into fists so tight that I can feel the bones creaking, "You knew, didn't you? You knew. You used the same words as that thrice-damned prophecy." My voice cracks, and the shocked pain shows through the anger."Grandmother, why didn't you tell me?"


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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:19 am

"Would you have thanked me if I had? I told that boy of yours to watch out for you, that you were something special, just as I told everyone the day you were born. You were the only one that didn't believe it." She gets up to fetch another cup, and pours tea from her kettle for Liv, her movements slow, but retaining the fluidity of her people, despite her curling form.
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:29 am

"Special?!" I laugh, and the sound is mocking. "Humans call deformed children special, and they call programs for them 'special education'. I thought you were doing the same! You could have warned me, even a bloody hint would have done!"
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:32 am

She growl slightly, her teeth coming to a point. "We're not human, kit. And it was always there for you to find if you hadn't worn your father as a shameful heritage."
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:40 am

"Well what else was I supposed to do, revel in it?! I didn't have a father! All I had were memories and my own malformed body. What pride is there in that?!" I demand hotly, "I was a child who could do nothing right! Couldn't swim right, work right, change right, would never find a mate, nearly got my own holt attacked...and he's not my boy. I don't have a partner and you know it. And I finally, finally deal with all that emotional luggage, takes me nigh on fifty years to do, and NOW you tell me that I'm part of some grand prophecy with some special power and destiny?! NOW it just lands on me?! What in the name of yew and black water and eels teeth makes you think that was a good idea?!"
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:49 am

Gram contemplates Liv a long moment.

"You're as thick as they come. Which among us had the bard's gift like you did? The talent to weave music back to the primal rhythms. Name any one of your cousins that could have been so victorious in a bardic as to drive a wedge between kin when the humans still pose such a threat. Your body was weak because of the power gifted to your voice, granddaughter."

"Did you really think your father was just a man that feel into the nets? I knew the moment I saw him that history was repeating itself in my lifetime."
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:51 am

For a moment, I blink at her, still angry, and now bewildered. "What?" I ask slowly. She chuffs, rolls her eyes, and motions me into a chair. Warily, I sit.
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:56 am

"How much do you know about my sister?" she queries, pushing across a plate of biscuits.
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:58 am

"Which one?" I ask carefully. Then it hits me. "You mean Rinka? The one I look like?"
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:04 am

"That was the name she used among her kin," Gram smiles.
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:06 am

I sit back, crossing my arms. "If you have a tale to tell, go ahead." I say, still a bit sullen.
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:44 pm

Picking up her cup, Gram looks into it a moment.

"My sister, Rinka, had the unfortunate need wander, as you may have heard; she was not content, as I was, to simply share in the life of the holt. She always preferred to travel among our closer kin, spending much of her time among the Silkies clans and the more influential mer communities. When she was abroad, she chose to be known as Ahes, though she always reclaimed her name when she returned to us."

"Some eight centuries ago, she was traveling in Brittany, a planned visit to one of our fellow holts we had lost touch with in the passing of the seasons. They had traced the water course from the sea, back into the mainland, when the began passing through a heavily wooded area; they where pleasantly surprised to discover that hidden behind thick, hedge like growth of trees and brush, the waterway had made for itself a place of calm waters, deep and inviting." She pauses and smiles, "I suppose its given with our nature that they would chose to put off and conceal their cloaks and namings in favor of time to enjoy the waters."
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:19 pm

My eyes widen. "They left their skins in the open?" An uncomfortable trickle runs up my spine. I have a feeling about what must have happens. I know how it goes when a soul skin is left in the open. I know the stories.
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:41 pm

Gram grimaces. "And believe you me, she was scolded proper when she told the tale herself. A troubled young man was passing not far from the place they had cast off their clothing and saw the disturbed earth where they had hurriedly hidden their garments; He saw the the chach of some animal, and as it was later in the afternoon, he decided to investigate and see if he could scavenge some meat before he was forced to return home."

"His surprise when he discovered the namings wrapped loosely in the folds of the three cloaks he dug up. Being curious and in some odd way noble, he sought for evidence of the ladies that had lost their cloths and followed the track through the hedge. Clumse man; my sister said he caught himself on every other branch and alerted the Silkie before he even came to the pool. His surprise must have deepened when the footprints gave way to the webs and flippers of the travelers shifting and when he first caught sight of the three playing in the pool. And as he sat down and set the garments beside him, all three stopped and stared at him."

"Let it never be said that my fool of a sister was timid." Gram shakes her head. "I know only from her account, but she claims shifted her form there, before this man that held her naming, and approached him with out a care for his sense of human decency, motioning to her and her companions garments, saying, 'A gentleman of the court does not do himself honor in stealing the cloths of bathing maidens.'"
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:46 pm

"She actually....was she insane?" I ask, half amazed and half appalled.
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:50 pm

"There are still mixed opinions on that..."
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:55 pm

I lean forward. "And so? Did he return their soul skins?" I can picture the girls in my head, terrified. To lose your soul skin...to have another take it from you...our soul skins, woven with our true names on the day we're born and in the shape of the creature we share a nature with, are precious to us beyond reckoning. To lose it would be.....
Grandmother smiles wryly.
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:04 pm

"The man stammered an apology, at which my sister must have smiled, and returned the garments. And after they had once again clothed themselves, her companions were eager to leave, not trusting the human that would doubtless tell the fairy story of the three shapeshifters he had met in the woods; but my sister must have seen something she liked and told them to travel on ahead and stayed to speak with the young man."

"It turns out, he, Gradlon, was the young favorite of a childless king that presided in a nearby town. The settlement, keep and surrounding villages had been to war with a nearby perish in a dispute regarding three villages that had been set at the perceived border, but the minor war had been recently settled by permitting the villages to be claimed by the other faction; in exchange, the widow of one of the princes slain in the dispute would come to live in his own kingdom to act as consort to the king in hopes of producing an heir in his growing age."

Gram makes a face at the thought of the servitude, but continues.

"The woman said to be quite beautiful at one time, but her anger at being sold to Gradlon’s liege made her bitter and she continually went to pains to make herself barren to his seed. And in her spite, her eyes fell upon the king’s favored and she planned to force a wedge between to two in an attempt to win her own liberty. She sought to seduce him, in ways both obvious and covert; fortunately for himself and his position, he had no desire for her, and spurned her. Her most recent ploy had been the halting of payment between her liege and Gradlon, forcing him to stay until such time as he was paid. He had been forced to sell many of his effects to pay those whom he himself employed. He managed to get away some ttime every week to escape the formality of the castle and brood on solutions, taking only his horse and lance, all that truly remained to his name, and he was beginning to fear that even these would be stripped from him."
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:12 pm

"You said history is repeating." I say quietly, "How so?"
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:16 pm

"These things stay in the family," Gram smiles. "Your father looked more then a little like your great-uncle. And your mother was the second generation to find a human attractive and show herself to him, bold as brass" She winks. "Must be one every generation, me thinks."
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:19 pm

I snort. "Lucky me, aye?" I mutter sarcastically.
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:46 pm

"Daft as week old kit." Gram grumbles to herself, refilling her cup. "My sister's mate became king at the old ones death and did for his lands, what little there was, what the Once and Future King did for Britannia. Between the two of them, they built trade between the Silkie, Dratsie, and his own people. The village of Ys on the coast was elevated to the capital of his lands and became a city of trade and culture; We even built much of it in the tidal zones for our own folk that chose to live with the humans, with a great wall to protect the city and harbor from the storms and tides."

"My fool of a niece and an elf killed the city by opening the gates to the sea during a storm. The waves undermined the city and caused it to fall into the harbor, leaving it fit only for the seafolk." She shakes her head. "Her son and his grandfather were the only two humans to escape that night."
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re:blood tells

Post  Liv on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:00 pm

"But what..." then all the peices fall into place. My father's name. Betrys Ab'Ys. Ys. My great Aunt helped to build it, and my father...
"My father was the son of your neice's son....the child of the city Ys." I meet her eyes. "Did he know?"
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Re: Blood Tells

Post  Djehuty on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:07 pm

"Slip in a few generations, kit. Mortals don't age like we do." Gram hides a smile. "And I think the blood diluted enough to hide its legacy from anyone that wasn't looking for it, though it an name meaning 'The Traveling Son of Ys' was a marvelous first hint when I decided to dig into your father's past."
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