Sixty-two

Sixty-two

A Chapter by Isemay

Stepping through the door, Cyran inhaled deeply as the sea air washed over him. It was evening and the small copse of trees they were half hidden in wouldn’t have been much cover in the daylight. 


“I rarely come here. Father prefers more formal ways of doing things, priests tend to annoy me.” Odos gave him a mischievous smile. 


“Do I annoy you?”


“You’re no longer a priest, nephew.” The god clapped him on the shoulder. “I’ll help you set up your camp. You’ll want to see the city when the first rays of dawn hit it.” 


“You won’t be staying with me, Master Odos?” 


Odos’ face became unreadable. “You call my children, ‘cousin’, why do you hesitate to call me ‘Uncle’?” 


“I have no wish to be rude, it feels… it feels too intimate, too informal. You are owed respect.” 


“It’s far more rude not to use the term of address I’ve asked you to use, and I am your uncle.” Odos studied him, “Your father once told my daughter that a poor father is still a father. And it’s true, no matter how much he may wish otherwise at the moment. I am your uncle and I’d like you to call me that.” 


Cyran looked to the ground as he considered the words. 


“His wishing it were otherwise has nothing to do with you, Cyran.” Odos placed a hand on his shoulder. “My brother has his good points but he’s never been warm. You’re the first of his children I’ve ever met and I suspect the first to know your parentage. With my little rook bullying him for killing Syreilla Hammersworn and the realization that he’s done things that were wrong, he’s out of sorts. He’ll come around and be better, you’ll see.”


Nodding, he realized he felt tired. “Thank you.”


“Thank you…” Odos gave him a pointed look.


It drew a small laugh out of him, “Thank you, Uncle.”


“Better. I’d stay with you but you don’t have a spare tent.” 


“We can take turns keeping watch, I don’t mind if you sleep on my mat.”


“A generous offer.” Odos rueful smile made him suspect that the god had intended to sleep in a much better bed.


“If you would prefer to sleep-”


“I had intended to go find my little rook and see how she was faring with the elves. I left her with a friend of mine and he can be sensitive to slights. I warned him that she’s never gotten along well with elves…” 


A yawn wrenched itself out of him and Cyran covered his mouth with embarrassment.


“Let’s get your tent set up so you can rest, Cyran.”


“Thank you, Uncle.”


As the tent was put up, he glanced at Odos and remembered Syreilla had suggested he inquire about his dreams. He frowned trying to remember them.


“Is something bothering you?”


“No, I… Syreilla told me to ask you about… I had some dreams, Uncle.”


“Ah.” Odos nodded and took a seat near the opening of his tent, leaning on the horse’s saddle. “Tell me. I like hearing dreams and I enjoy trying to find some meaning in them.”


“The first…” Cyran made himself comfortable lying in his tent with his head at the opening. “I had a dream that I tried to talk to my father… I tried to tell him that I wanted to be a god of correction and healing. I want to bring things into the light and make them right. I want to heal the rifts I see, Uncle.


“I felt like a child trying to...” He shook his head.


“You are a child, Cyran. You were trying to express what you want to become, a god of mediation, a god of truth, healing and repair.” Odos smiled warmly as he spoke and Cyran contemplated the words. “That is noble and your father will be proud.”


“Eludora spoke of a dichotomy, discord, lies, and… those would also…” His brow furrowed. “Is that what the second dream meant? I was seeking, so much was in shadow and everything kept changing…”


“I would guess the second dream was just your uncertainty, seeking and finding your way takes time and things are constantly changing. It's the only thing that stays the same. You’re too young to grasp the full meaning yet. And as for the dichotomy, you wouldn’t be a god of discord unless you embraced discord and your followers came to expect that of you. If you embrace truth, healing and repair, mediation, it will shape you. You’ll see and feel the opposite better than anyone else and in time, with understanding, you’ll be able to manipulate it.”


“Syreilla embraced the dichotomy, she said.” 


“Yes. My little rook… that’s her nature, fury and tenderness. She’ll be worshipped as a goddess of vengeance and as an intercessor to Hevtos, a protector of gentle souls whatever they’ve done. I’m not pleased that it binds her to him, as my daughter she should be with me.” Odos’ shoulders slumped slightly.


“I wouldn’t expect her to remain in anyone’s shadow.” Cyran put a hand on the man’s foot.


“No.” He breathed a laugh, “She was intended to aid Vezar and she became the one they spoke of.”


“I made the mistake of thinking Syreilla was the less dangerous of the two, I thought she was merely the servant of a servant…” 


Odos sat up straighter with a grin, “You’re still alive. That’s surprising.”


“I sent two of my brothers, they both died. Though I suspect, if we had all gone to collect her we may all have died. She’s more formidable-”


His uncle broke into laughter, “My little rook is more formidable than a dragon.”


Cyran laughed with him and then yawned loudly.


“Get some rest, Cyran, I’ll keep watch.”


°°°°°°°°°°


The morning light striking the city of Briasa was as impressive as Odos had said it would be. From their position on the floor of the wide valley, Cyran could see the sun catching the gold statues and banners of the white walled temple on the top of the cliff and the city seemed almost draped like cloth, the houses all painted white as well, with glimmering bits of gold and glass catching the light.


“It’s magnificent, Uncle.”


“It is. I’ve been called flamboyant, but people forget how much my father enjoys a good spectacle. I come by it honestly.” 


Cyran tore his eyes away from the sight. “I would enjoy seeing your home as well, Uncle.”


Odos laughed and shook his head, “This isn’t Father’s home, this is just his favorite temple. His home is at the top of a mountain so tall that the clouds shroud it from mortal view. The air is so thin that only the divine can visit it.”


He turned his gaze back to the city, trying to imagine something even grander and failing. 


“From the walls of the temple, Cyran, you look out over the sea and the sun glitters off of the water. That’s why Father likes it. All the light, all the shimmer and reflection.” Odos squeezed his shoulder. “Let’s pack up camp and I’ll see you settled with the priests before I go find my little rook.”


“Thank you, Uncle.”


They packed up hurriedly and Cyran ate a little as he walked, allowing Odos to ride. The city was farther than it seemed and before they reached the city gate, Odos clutched at his head and slipped from the horse.


“I’ll have to meet you at the temple. My little rook…” He vanished and left Cyran standing alone next to the horse.


At the least he could now ride instead of walk. He wondered with a frown what his cousin had done. Picking up his pace as much as he could, he made his way into the city. The way to the temple was well marked and the roads were wider than he expected.


At the top, at the magnificent golden gate, he dismounted and a priest came up to him looking sour, “Where do you expect to leave that beast?”


“I was told to meet my uncle here.” Cyran frowned, “I have no money and I-”


“Beggars are unwelcome, begone!” 


The man made a shooing motion and Cyran had to restrain himself from attempting one of Syreilla’s wards. Instead, he took a breath and spoke clearly, “Uncle Odos? Some help would be greatly appreciated.”


The priest looked at him as if he were mad and then a commotion came from behind the gate. 


“Lord Cyran! Your horse will be tended to!”


Several priests bustled out toward him, bowing and looking flushed, “Please, my Lord, the son of Imos is most welcome here.”


The man who’d called him a beggar looked ill as he dropped onto his knees. 


Cyran smiled ruefully and stepped closer to the man to put a hand on his shoulder, “Be a little kinder to beggars. It isn’t so long ago that I would have behaved much as you did. I bear you no ill will.”


The priests all looked relieved. His horse was taken and he was shown inside to a chamber he could use to wash before he was escorted through the gilded nave to an alcove reserved for quiet contemplation and prayer. The windows overlooked the sea. 


An elderly priest waited with a faint smile on his face. 


“Welcome, Cyran, son of Imos. Odos has gone to speak to his father once more about his wayward daughter.”


“What has Syreilla done?”


The man laughed softly, “I have not been permitted to know, but she is Odos’ daughter, I suspect it involves mischief or theft.” 


Cyran exhaled and inclined his head, “Or losing her temper. My cousin has a temper so impressive that even the goddess of war stepped out of her way. She can be sweet but provoking her is… unwise.”


The elderly priest gestured for him to kneel, “Is she as warm and gentle as the rays of sun in the spring and as cruel and relentless as the burning rays that heat the desert sands?”


“Yes!” He blinked as the man laughed again.


“She takes after her grandfather. Odos will have his hands full with her, perhaps it will keep him out of mischief.” 


He couldn't help but laugh. “His son said he enjoyed being kept busy.”


“His son?” The priest blinked and knelt next to him. “Odos has a son as well?”


“He does, a little younger than Syreilla. Kwes isn’t as gifted as his sister but he’s clever and charming. I’m fond of him. I encouraged him to take up something other than theft as a profession but whether he does or not he has a good heart.”


“Odos is mischievous but he has a gentle nature. His daughter is a harder woman?”


“Syreilla the Rook is the goddess of righteous vengeance and protector of gentle souls. She intercedes with Hevtos on behalf of those who ask her to.” The man looked surprised so Cyran continued, “My cousin has a soft place in her heart for children and she will rain down fire on behalf of a child if asked, but to see her with a child you would think she was a goddess of gentleness. Those who have done anything that would make them the target of vengeance feel dread in her presence, children have no fear of her.”


With a growing smile the old priest nodded. “She turns her temper to a good purpose.”


A throat cleared behind them, “Your Excellency?”


“I will leave you to pray.”


Bowing his head, Cyran prayed to Imos that the divinity would cease his anger and speak with him. His pleading prayers were disturbed after a time as Odos and another man entered into the priest’s alcove. He listened carefully; in his kneeling position, they didn’t seem to notice him.


“Slapping the defiance from your face always worked.”


“It didn’t, Father. I learned to conceal it better.” Odos sighed heavily. “If you struck my Rook she would have lashed out at you.”


“She tried. I put her in the stone tower I had made for you. I only needed to put you in it once.”


Odos sounded as if he breathed a laugh. “Father, if there is a way out my Rook will find it. I was forced to lie and apologize for you to let me out, she would die first.”


There was a moment of silence, “Was I a poor father?”


“At times, in comparison to some I’ve seen over the years.”


“I taught you to be respectful.”


“You did, and to be deceitful, sneaky, and perhaps…” Odos sighed, “No, I know I haven’t been as attentive as I should have been. My little rook is the way she is because she suffered a great deal in my absence. She was born, I left her to her mother, and when I returned after twelve years to look in on her she was gone. The woman had discarded the child. When I found my Rook she was shattered, angry, and already a thief. She was picking pockets and stealing to survive under the tutelage of a man I’m certain is enjoying some of the more exotic punishments Uncle has to offer the worst of the dead.


“Respect from her is earned with kindness. She may never trust you or even speak civilly to you after you’ve been cruel to her, Father. My little rook has your temper and mother’s soft heart. Wound that soft heart and she won’t rest until she’s made you suffer.”


“She did love Imos…” Atos sounded tired. “I will wait until her temper cools and speak with her more gently.


“Why did you never speak of her or bring her to me?”


“I’ve had many children over the centuries, Father. She’s the first to become more than just a gifted thief or poet. I tried to make up for my absence by educating her, she has a natural affinity for magic and I had her taught. She’s fearless and when she finds someone she considers family she will defend them no matter the cost. Her name is still spoken with awe among the living. Many believe she died and Uncle resurrected her to serve him.”


There was a bark of a laugh. “Why? Was she such a good thief?” 


“Syreilla Hammersworn was famous, not only for her skill, but for her temper. As fiery as a Hammersworn is still a saying you hear in certain corners. If you crossed her the rumor was that she’d come for you breathing dragon’s fire.”


“That isn’t isn’t a gift you could have given her.”


“The mortals mix it, Father. It’s dangerous but she does it with more skill than anyone else alive. She even breathes across it to wake it. The mages who aspire to keep away from Uncle are more terrified of her than of his grandchild she was told to assist. The Golden Rook is spoken of in hushed tones, Father.”


The pride in Odos’ voice made Cyran smile faintly.


“Cyran…” 


Wincing, he came to his feet. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, Uncle, I didn’t want to interrupt you.”


Atos stared for a moment and beckoned for him to come closer. “Imos has a son? I was not told?”


“Divinity-”


“He doesn’t call me Grandfather either?” The god looked oddly pained.


“Imos doesn’t allow his son to call him ‘Father’. I had to argue with young Cyran to have him call me ‘Uncle’.”


“Perhaps…” Atos sighed and shook his head with a dejected look adding years to his features, “Perhaps your Rook was right and I was a poor father. This one is gifted. Imos should claim him with pride.”


“Call him Grandfather, it’s ruder to decline than it is to accept.” Odos reached out and squeezed his shoulder.


“Arguing with you is like trying to grasp a breath of wind, Uncle.” Cyran bowed to Atos, “Grandfather, I only wished to show the proper respect, not to upset you.”


“Has he spent time with your Rook? Perhaps he could teach her how to be respectful.”


“He has, they got along well as long as he listened.” 


Cyran could feel the flush creeping up his cheeks. “She can be impatient and she doesn’t like to repeat herself, but she didn’t allow me to come to harm. Syreilla can be thoughtful and charming when she wishes to be.”


“Syreilla.” Atos smiled faintly, “That is a better name than Rook.”


“Only those who love her call her that name.” Cyran blinked as both gods suddenly looked at him in startlement. “That was what she told me when she asked me not to call her Lady Rook.”


Odos began speaking angrily in a language that made his ears ring and tingle and Atos placed a hand on his arm. “I don’t call her by that name because calling her my little rook is how I claim her and show her affection.” 


“Return with me to speak with her. She may be less angry if you join me.”


“She’ll try to provoke you again. She may even try to strike you again, Father.” 


Cyran realized his mouth had dropped open when Odos closed it with a finger.


“I will hold my temper.” He turned a faint smile on Cyran, “Come, child of Imos. You may enjoy my home, you have grown into your divinity enough to survive it.”



© 2021 Isemay


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Added on February 3, 2021
Last Updated on February 3, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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Isemay
Isemay

Germany



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Spent some time away from here but I've come back to peek in and post again! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review hone.. more..

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One One

A Chapter by Isemay


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A Chapter by Isemay


Three Three

A Chapter by Isemay