Seventy-three

Seventy-three

A Chapter by Isemay

“I have failed in everything!” Imos hunched his shoulders hiding his face.


Cyran stepped forward and put his hands on his father’s shoulders, “You haven’t, Father. Do you remember when I was small and I decided to keep a pet?”


Imos lifted his head with a baffled frown. 


“I captured two frogs, a large one and a small one and put them in a box filled with leaves. When I opened it to play with them, the large one was eating the small one and I wept. You asked why I was weeping, I explained what I had done, and you told me, Father, that I had failed in something I was not meant to do. It was wrong of me to take them and put them in a box. You told me: ‘When you attempt a thing that you are not meant to do, a thing that is wrong, there is no success to be had.’


“It is time to stop trying to succeed in your wrong choices and to find that which is right. It was wrong to punish Hevtos. It was not your place, Father. Accept it and become yourself again.” 


His father looked into the middle distance and then laid a hand on top of his. “Whatever else I have done, I have succeeded in one thing. My son is something I can take pride in.”


“Thank you, Father.” Cyran broke into a smile.


“You do not wish to replace me as your cousin wishes you to?” Imos’ tone was bitter.


“No, Father. I would see the rifts in our family healed. I would see you restored to yourself and justice brought as it should be once more.”


The god relaxed somewhat. “It is a relief that my father has arranged for that vicious little beast to be-”


“Syreilla isn’t a ‘vicious little beast’.” Odos interrupted them. “My little rook is wounded because you cut short the life of her other half for a poor reason. She won’t burn your temples any longer, Uncle commanded her to stop. But she wasn’t pleased at the command, she’ll still quarrel with you. As will I.” He held out a faintly glowing white stone in the palm of his hand. “I’ve been kind to my nephew. I’m fond of him. I expect you to be kind to my fledgelings if you come across them and to leave them in peace otherwise. If you don’t, I have Uncle’s promise to lend me Syreilla to defend them.”


“I will not harm them. I had intended no harm to them. It was my intention to give them something better than the life of-”


“You would crush them, brother. They are tender and gentle, leave them where they are.”


Imos inclined his head as he took his stone. “I don't believe she paid a priest to steal from me. I would have known if one of the few I allowed so close to it were willing to betray me.”


“No.” Odos began to smile. “I wore the face of one of your White Hands and-”


Lurching from his seat and angrily speaking the language that made Cyran’s ears feel runny, Imos stopped when Odos broke into laughter. 


“Mother is free. Things can go back to being right again, brother. You’ll be busy enough rebuilding. You might consider putting your focus on justice and truth rather than on wealth and elaborate temples. If you build a priesthood that is widely respected as just and honest, instead of one where justice can be bought with enough gold, not even my little rook can burn it down.”


“I never thought of you as wise, Uncle Odos.” Cyran smiled at the annoyed look on his face, “I mean no insult, my time with Syreilla showed me that I see things imperfectly and I want to see them more clearly.”


“You can give up an eye.” Odos smirked and glanced at Imos.


“How could she do such a thing? And with no hesitation? Your daughter is terrifying.”


“She’s like Father, when a decision is made it’s made. You put the payment for our brother’s stone on her and she chose to honor it. Orsas Fellforger knows what she’s done, as do most of the other gods. It was spoken of briefly when she was sent to fetch the stones. They feel more at ease knowing the stone she claims has been carved and is no longer in her possession. I think they may even respect her vision now that they understand she sees more clearly than most.” Odos smoothed his stylish grey tunic, “I didn't point out to them that she doesn’t need her own stone. She can draw from anyone’s if she can get close enough to it.”


“How is that possible?”


“She’s a thieving Rook. You pushed thieves on me because I was drawn to the puzzle of locks, but she was born a thief.” 


The pride on Odos face made Cyran smile, “You’re giving her your thieves, Uncle?”


“We’ll share them. Half of them are already carrying feathers for luck.”


Imos sighed. “Your words are wise at times brother. You could do more with your wisdom than you choose to. Your daughter has seen to it that I have very little left. To rebuild my temples would take all of my wealth and my priests are shaken. I no longer have even my White Hands.”


“You have Antien, Father. I saw him alive in Withia.”


“Antien fled.”


“He did try to confront Syreilla outside of Withia after the temple there burned.” Odos shrugged. “He didn’t forsake you entirely, but she shook him to his core.”


“He has seen me unable to protect his brothers and unable to stop her from burning the temple. He is lost to me.”


“Antien is not lost to you, Father.” Cyran put his hand on Imos’ shoulder again. “Go to him as Brother Somi. Speak to him, tell him the truth of things, that you have done wrong and that you will make it right. Let him help you rebuild. I would be honored to but…”


“You have your own priesthood to build.” Imos smiled faintly. “I will give you a place in my temples or shrines if I rebuild them.”


“And if I have them, Father, I will give you a place in mine.”


“I wonder if my little rook will have priests…” Odos shook his head with a smile.


“Grandfather was delighted when Uncle Hevtos spoke of her audience chamber.”


Both brothers looked at him in surprise.


“Tell us.” Imos eyed him curiously. “It is as golden as his?”


“Her throne is a forked tree-”


“Outdoors? Unprotected?” Odos frowned.


“It is in Uncle Hevtos’ realm and he promised to keep her safe. To see it you must be invited and allowed in.”


“She may take after Father but she also takes after you, brother. You’re an honest liar and your daughter has a gentle heart and a vicious hand.”


“Rooks are friendly birds, but they have long memories if you wrong them.” Odos turned a speculative look on Cyran, “I want to borrow your son. When I was invited to visit with our brothers and my daughter, Zhetrahmihethrah took us to his chamber. She was charming and warm with them but she still refuses to call me ‘Father’. I tried to argue with her as I did Cyran and it gained me nothing.”


“Your argument was compelling, Uncle.” 


“Only because you’re a respectful child.” Odos smiled ruefully. “If I’ve been her father, no matter how poor all her life, it makes no difference what she calls me now. Being polite and respectful isn’t something my little rook is interested in when she’s sour with you.”


“If she can find forgiveness for you, it may help her to forgive my father as well.”


“Go.” Imos nodded and began to smile, “I have work to do. It occurs to me, if I have priests and shrines but no temples to rob, I will have succeeded in keeping thieves from robbing my temples.”


Odos laughed and grinned at his brother, “You may have stumbled on the only way to do it.” 


He beckoned to Cyran and opened a door. They stepped through onto Hevtos’ doorstep and Cyran looked around feeling more at ease than with his first visit.


“I had expected something more foreboding.” 


“Uncle isn’t evil. Death is a part of life. If you’ve lived well, or if you’re a good person at heart and call on your cousin to intercede,” Odos smiled, “you have nothing to fear here.”


“And if someone without a good heart calls on her to intercede?”


“She’ll weigh them and judge them by her own measure.” Hevtos came out with a warm smile, “I had hoped you would bring young Cyran again.” 


“Has she spoken to Vezar?”


“No. She told him she would but neither is ready, I think. Syreilla is working on her garden if you wish to go in to speak to her.”


“Yes.”


“Where are your songbirds?”


“I took them back to their troupe. They always have my blessing. Mabor’s was weak this year so it should be a better year for them than some.”


“I enjoyed them as did your mother.”


“They spoke highly of you. Why did they ask if I was your uncle?”


Hevtos laughed and led them inside. “The little ones said you look older than I do. They suspected I was teasing them.”


Odos laughed, “They thought Syreilla was older than their father and she’s twenty years younger, at least.”


“How old is Kwes? I thought they were nearly the same age.”


Cyran wondered what he’d said wrong as Odos broke into laughter and Hevtos gave him a curiously amused look.


“My little magpie is still a child as far as the elves are concerned. Half-elves mature a little faster but they won’t consider him of age until he reaches a hundred, he’s barely eighty. My Rook is…” Odos paused as if counting, “Three hundred or perhaps a hair over it. Still a child to us but to the elves she’s an adult.”


“I’m not a child.” 


His uncles both laughed and gave each other amused looks.


“You’re an adult to a human, nephew. To us you’re still very much a child. I prefer my children to be half elf for the longer life spans and the quicker reflexes. I want to have them alive for as long as I can be permitted to have them. My brother is a human god and he would have his children be human.”


“Your father has always been the same despite the worship of the elves.”


“Most of the others are the same.”


They came to the door that bore the image of a rook and Hevtos opened it leading them in. A large black bird took flight from its perch on the nest bed making a loud cry of warning and they heard what sounded like several more take up the cry outside. Syreilla came in through the balcony door at a trot with a smile on her face. 


“I love my birds, Uncle.” 


“That was too large to be a rook…” Odos frowned after the bird that had raised the alarm.


“The raven was a gift from Orsas Fellforger.” Hevtos gave the bird an annoyed look as it flew back in and took up its perch once more.


“I love it. I love all of them, and my raven is as clever as he is handsome.” Syreilla held out her hand with a smile and the large bird flew to her to be stroked.


“Why is Orsas giving you gifts?”


She laughed, “He’s sweet. I need to find a gift for him in exchange and to rival this handsome bird it needs to be a good one.”


After being kissed on its head the bird flew back to its perch and preened.


“Come upstairs and sit with me, I haven’t finished my garden…”


Cyran followed her out to see what she’d done as Odos and Hevtos spoke quietly in the peculiar language that was slowly becoming less harsh on his ears. She gave him an amused look as he peered at the now terraced balcony with its trellis arches and low stone beds for plants, many of which had not yet been filled. Several birds, mostly black rooks, perched and played among them.


“They think Orsas is trying to seduce me away. Whether he is or not, I like it here now that Uncle is happier with me and I can come and go as I please.”


He studied her face and came closer to peer into her eyes as she blinked at him in surprise.


“Edun was right. There is a sadness in your eyes, Syreilla.”


“Nephew?” Odos' voice was cool and when Cyran looked at him, he was giving a disapproving look.


“Uncle?”


“He thinks you’re trying to kiss me.” Syreilla grinned impishly, “I know better, and I don’t take offense, but the old man is as bad as your father in seeing things that aren’t there. He thought you were giving me the glad eye and I know you weren’t.” She ran her hand down his arm and he felt immensely relieved.


“Thank you, cousin.”


“I want to see your audience chamber.” Odos glanced at the peculiar stairs clinging to the side of the tower.


“It’s more of a place to sit…” Syreilla flushed and shook her head before leading them up.


Odos was beaming as they came onto the roof. “This is perfect.”


“I like it…” She seemed a little more confident at his praise.


“Where do you sit, Syreilla?” Cyran took his place 


“The tree is perfectly lined to perch in.” Odos gestured to the forked tree. “But I hadn’t expected the fork to be so high.”


“It’s not so high.” Syreilla hopped and swung herself gracefully into the fork to grin down at them. “It’s perfect, I feel like I can see from here.” 


With a sigh and a smile, Odos sat across from Cyran. “It suits you.” He glanced between her and Cyran. “What was your cousin doing if he wasn’t trying to kiss you?”


“I was looking into her eyes. She seems happy but Edun was right, there is a sadness lingering there. I don’t understand why.”


“There were two things I wanted to be when I took the job of collecting the stones, cousin. Free and whole. Syreilla Hammersworn belongs with her family and her clan. I gave her over and…” 


“She was whole, little rook. She found a way and so can you.” Odos studied her pensively. 


“She had Kaduil. He was her other half. She had her family and her clan…” 


“You have a family, cousin.” Cyran leaned on the back of the curved bench turning to look at her better, “And I’ve spoken to Vezar. I went with him to bring back a lich and a pair of lingering spirits. He would do anything you required to put things right.”


“I don’t understand why he…” Syreilla stopped and scowled, turning on her forked seat and exhaling heavily. “Let’s talk about something more pleasant.”


“You’ll have to ask him, little rook.” Odos rose from his seat and moved to the foot of her tree. “More pleasant would be talking about your family. You have-”


“I have my two uncles who love me, and one who doesn’t. I have a… you, who wishes I were Syreilla Hammersworn-”


“Look me in the eye, Syreilla the Rook, and tell me the truth about what you see.” Odos’ stern command radiated authority. 


Cyran blinked, it wasn’t something he expected from his uncle. Syreilla looked as regal as a queen as she leaned to look down. There was a long moment of silence only broken by the sound of her birds below in the garden.


“If you loved us, why did you abandon us? And why would you leave me to fend for myself when you knew Grandfather was angry?”


“I had already spent more time with you than I should have. I had never taken on the task of raising one of my fledglings but you needed me. Once I had trained you and you no longer needed me I stepped away to let you spread your wings. And your grandfather has to be allowed to calm before you can reason with him. I stepped away so that I could smooth his ruffled feathers and-”


“I needed you, old man. I was alone.”


“Syreilla… I never went far. Perhaps I should have told you who I was and let you know I was still there but I found a family for you. I spoke to Khiril and I arranged for you to meet Batran. The trouble I’ve caused makes being my child dangerous. Staying away keeps my fledglings safe from the other gods. Nothing can make them safe from themselves.


“I was so proud of how you and Syreilla Hammersworn grew to be that I chose to take another of Tirnel’s line. And I had been waiting for Cellindir to decide to have children for over a hundred years. I wanted songbirds and so few elves give me the opportunity the way he did. Having more children doesn’t mean I loved you less. I heard that in your tone when you told me to go take care of my fledglings.”


She exhaled and Cyran watched her grim expression for a sign of softening. 


“If you walk away from me again, old man, I will never forgive you.”


“If you let me be your father, I will be where I’ve always been, as close as I can be without causing you trouble or heartache, but now you’ll know it.”


Syreilla eased herself back and relaxed slightly, “A poor father is still a father. You weren’t that bad when you were there.”


Odos folded his arms and put on a wry smile, “No?”


“You could be terrible, but I always enjoyed playing dice with you when you were in the mood for it.”


He broke into laughter and took a deep breath before returning to sit. “If you get a table for it, I’ll bring the dice.”


“I’ll bring the dice.”


“You played a dice game together?” Cyran looked at them curiously.


“Massacre is one of my favorites.” Odos eyed him with a growing smile, “Do you play?”


“I’ve never played with dice.”


“Nephew!” Something in the god’s grin made Cyran wary. “I’ll teach you! Your father used to play with me, he should have taught you.”


“We’ll both teach him, my cousin needs someone on his side playing against you. I remember-”


The raven raised the alarm and Syreilla sat up holding out her hand for it. As it flew to her she frowned and fell silent. If he didn’t know better, Cyran could think she was nervous.



© 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


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A Chapter by Isemay