Joined: 06 Apr 2004
Location: Den of Iniquity
|Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:32 pm Post subject: And so... (an update)
|Aillén brushed her wet hair back and sighed. Monsoon season was not easy to bear in Tigath, but it had been some time since she had last visited her Mathair and the other Seals of Grak'thar. Stepping into the mountain, her eyes widened. The normal bustle of the acolytes rushing around to get to classes or practicing the latest spell they had learned had nearly ceased. She should have been prepared for the changes though and her thoughts wandered to the last several years. After years of civil war, the Seals of Grak'thar had finally found a way to cease the fighting, but not without significant loss of life to the population of Tigath in general, the small Seal population, and the Seal gems themselves.
The war had hit Kele particularly hard. Her powers had expanded exponentially and she had nearly been driven mad by the tortured thoughts which entered her head during the fighting, despite the mental wall she put up to block them. Often times, she had to remove herself from the field of battle, for more than once, she had found herself prone or curled in the fetal position, sobbing with grief. To this day, she is unsure how she survived most battles. It left her more scarred than she had been before the war started and she'd had more than her fair share of scars to begin with.
Losses were heavy for both Aillén and Kele. Eithne, Conchobar, and Devnet were all casualties of one battle or another. Something else which Kele carried upon her shoulders. Dev's young daughter, Damara, was now the Mathair of the Clan. Kele, in her heart of hearts, was thrilled Dev had progeny and Aillén was free to chose her own fate. Damara had the best advisers; Kele had seen to that. It was not only to ensure the young Mathair's safety, but also to prevent other clans from thinking they could seize an opportunity and take advantage of the young ruler. Many of the clans' rulers now were either too young or too old. An entire generation of strong, proud fighters had been lost to the senseless violence which ravaged the land and its' inhabitants.
Aillén's thoughts returned to the deserted hall she stood in. Heading left, she went in search of her mathair.
“Aillén!” Caedmon called, walking down the hall toward her. He had changed so much during the years of war. His hair was practically white, only a few streaks of faded red remained. He had a prominent limp and walked with a cane now, somewhat stoop over due to injuries he'd suffered. The most significant change was his eyes. At one time, his eyes had been bright and vibrant; now, they were dull and pain was visible within them.
When she reached him, they embraced tightly. “Da!” she cried, hoping she wasn't holding him too tightly.
“If you are looking for your mathair, I'm sorry to inform you, she isn't here,” Caed said, holding her back and looking her over, like a protective parent.
They were not related, but for eighteen years, he had raised her as his own, and she could not help but continue to call him Da, despite meeting her biological father and being quite fond of him. Learning the truth about her family had taken its toll on Aillén and it took years to repair things between her and her mathair. Eventually, after time, talking, and more than a few battles fighting side by side, they worked things out.
“Do you know where she is off to now, Da?” Aillén sighed. “I still have to go visit my fathair, but thought I would come here first.”
Caedmon shook his head. “I'm afraid I am unable to keep tabs on your mathair. She seems to possess the ability to appear as easily as she disappears. Your fathair might know where she is though. My guess is that they are together. Even after everything your mathair has been through, one has only to mention your fathair's name, and she lights up like a moon-eyed Tigahrrim who's just equipped their first Seal or killed their first beefalo.”
Aillén laughed at the apt description of her mathair. The last time she had seen her, Kele hadn't changed. She was still the tiny, yet statuesque, furre she remembered. Her hair remained bright red and to all appearances, she had weathered the war far better than the other Seal Masters. It was only physical though. Mentally and emotionally, Kele was much more fragile than most. For all her strength, Kele was extremely vulnerable.
Aillén worried for her mathair. There were times she wondered how lucid Kele truly was. It seemed, at times, Kele lived in two different worlds at times. Sometimes, she wondered how far the Seal of Mind had taken her mathair, especially with the ravages of war which tore not only the country apart, but Kele, as well. Not only were the Tigahrrim rebuilding their own population, but the population of beefalo had dwindled to almost nothing because their food had become scarce. The plains had been torn asunder, grasses torn up and trampled beneath fierce battles.
Facing the fact that they had nearly decimated their food source, the Tigahrrim had turned to farming. Clans settled in certain areas, giving up their roaming. A few clans took the little grasslands which remained and gathered the last of the beefalo population up, creating ranches in an attempt to save the beefalo. It was an adjustment for everyone to move from the freedom of following the herds and gathering the berries and fruits which grew wild in the land to having to stay in one place and nurture the land they had taken advantage of.
The journey had been fraught with unease, especially as fighting within the area had just settled. Tensions were still high among the Tigahrrim, who were aggressive in nature. This led to skirmishes over land and the Seals of Tigath worked overtime trying to settle the disputes and ensure everyone had equal amounts of land for both farming and raising beefalo. The last thing the Seals wanted was for another war to erupt in the already devastated country.
Due to their weakness, during this time, the proud people made concessions to Austia. Caeseal Garrison officially became a part of Austia. It was not an easy transition for the furres, but with their numbers so decimated, they just could not hold the land they once had. But what they had given up, was land that had been trampled, burned, dug up, and destroyed. The buildings which had once stood on that land were now nothing but rubble with bodies buried within.
Kele, in many ways, blamed herself for much of the destruction. The “if's” she conjured in her mind haunted her. If only she had been stronger. If only she had not run away to Ansteorra. If only she had been Clan Mathair instead of handing the reins over to Devnet. The last two thoughts never haunted her for long, for she knew had she not gone to Ansteorra, she would never have met the love of her life, nor had Aillén. Those were not possibilities she allowed herself to entertain for longer than the thought entering her head. Those were immediately dismissed. There were other things that haunted her though. Maybe if she had reached Bryanna in time enough, she would have been the Seal of Mind and things would have turned out differently. If only Erisvan had never taken Bryanna. But those were things which could never be undone.
Aillén tried to be a comfort to her mathair, but Kele seemed to spend more and more time within her own mind. She was there, but not truly there. When Aillén spoke with her mathair, she always felt as if Kele was far away. Almost like her mathair was viewing the conversation instead of actively participating in it.
“Da, do you know when she might return? It's been a while since I've seen her.”
Caedmon shook his head sadly. “You should know your mathair better than that, my dear. You lived here when she was hiding the fact that she was your mathair from you. Even with you here, she still wandered the world. Bryanna was the same way. There is something about the Mind Seal which drives everyone who wears it to always be searching. For what, I don't know. What I do know is that every Seal who has equipped the Mind Seal has always, despite their responsibilities here and elsewhere, wandered, searching for something. I don't even think they realize they are searching. It seems worse in your mathair though. She was always restless, relentlessly seeking to do something outside of Tigath. The only place she truly seems at home is with your Fathair.”
Aillén nodded and sighed, running a hand through her hair and reminding Caedmon of her mathair. He had been in love with Kele for as long as he could remember. From the moment he met the vivacious, young furre who ran away from home, he'd been smitten with her. He'd wanted to handfast with her when she'd come back from Ansteorra, pregnant and alone. She would have none of it though. Her heart was well and truly spoken for. In all the years he'd known her, she'd been incredibly faithful to her love. Not one of his advances went unnoticed or received. She shot him down quickly and soundly every time. He'd thought, given time, she'd change her mind and want to be with him. All those years were a long time to go without seeing the one you love, but she had held firm to her convictions about Jon being the only one and had not once wavered.
He knew there had to be more to the story than what Kele had told him, for the Tigahrrim were not known to be the most faithful of furres. They could be loyal to a fault, but there was good reason as to why rule was passed from mathair to daughter. You knew the daughter born to a mathair was the true-born daughter. With males, it was not easy to know if their son or daughter was true-born.
He knew Aillén was Jon's though. He'd seen his rival before and Aillén was the spitting image of both her mathair and fathair. Her hair, eyes and fur color blended to create an amazing combination of the two. That, Kele's word on the subject, and her faithfulness sealed his opinion. He had no doubts Aillén's fathair truly was Jon.
He never understood why Kele never went after Jon all those years ago. The bits and pieces he did know, involved her returning to Ansteorra and Jon not being there and her needing to go into hiding because of things happening in Tigath. Over the years, he had garnered clues as to how painful it was for Kele to watch him raise Aillén as his own, despite her trying to conceal her pain, but after Aillén left and Kele chased after her, he wondered if perhaps it went further than that. On a few rare occasions, he'd caught flashes of anger in her eyes but had dismissed them as his imagination. Kele was cunning enough to hide her feelings about him raising her daughter and, knowing Kele, she more than likely disguised her feelings about watching him act as Aillén's fathair. Knowing she loved Jon as she had, she had probably been a volcano of anger watching a male other than her love raise the daughter she fought so hard to have and keep. Being the Seal of Mind, Kele was skilled at shielding her own thoughts and thus able to play a part well. He wondered if Jon was the only one who truly knew Kele, as it seemed he was the only one she was unable to keep a mask in place for.
Aillén hugged him tightly, bringing him out of his wandering thoughts. He tightened his hold upon her and sighed softly. “I'm glad you decided to brave the weather and come visit. How long will you be staying?”
Aillén stepped back from the embrace and studied Caed. Truly, she wished to leave as soon as possible as she was anxious to seek out her fathair and find out if her mathair was with him. She truly hoped Kele was safe with Jon. If nothing else, the few times Aillén had seen her mathair and fathair together during and after the war, Kele had always been lucid and happy. Even when Aillén knew things were weighing on Kele, she was still more lucid and happier when Jon was near. She only hoped her parents were together and happy.
“I don't know how long I'll be here. I would really like to go see Da and ask if he has seen Ma. Hopefully, she's with him.”
“You're as restless as your mathair.” Caed chortled, shaking his head. “At least stay long enough to dry off and warm up. Maybe get a little sleep, before you slip out without so much as a goodbye, just like your mathair.”
Aillén grinned and looped her arm through Caed's. “I'll stay and visit for a couple of days, Da. I didn't just come here looking for Ma.”
After two days of being warm and dry, Aillén stood in the doorway of the mountain, facing the rain and pondering staying for a few more days. She was too anxious to catch up with her Da and Ma to stay any longer though. Taking a deep breath, she stepped out into the deluge, jumped on her 'hawk and took off northward toward Ansteorra, the first destination in her search for her parents.
TLDR: I was inspired to write recently and so I did. It was really me just having fun and revisiting Ansteorra for a brief moment in time again.
Ruddiwyne: But I don't like her! I want a girl with a certain... special... something...!