A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 33byTaLtos6©
***Barrett and Cha'Khah are over the moon with their little adopted surprise. It came too late, but justice has come to Garrend and Ksyusha and Nika are free. Things are looking up - well, for some, anyway.
And of course, there's the mystery of the incantation which everyone wants to get out of Vadren. ~chuckle~
Book of the Mountain Clan Part 9
They sat in the bar inside the mountain, listening to some of them tell of what had happened. The atmosphere was pleasant and friendly as they learned more of the newcomers while a little music played softly from a corner of the bar.
Barrett had found a small device a while before and while he didn't know what its purpose was at the time, he liked its shape and the way that it fit into his hand, so he'd carried it in the pocket of his jacket for almost a month before he had the time to devote any real thought to it. The lettering on it mystified him as much as anything else about it, but after managing to get at least a little of the computer network in the place up and running, he gradually and quite by accident learned what an MP3 player had been long before.
After that, it was only a matter of finding a stable power supply and some cables which he made up, and they had a little music in the bar from a stereo that he found there.
"Did you see us -- Nika and I?" Ksyusha asked Vadren quietly, "I did not want to be too bloody since I knew that you might see."
"I did," he said, "Who -- what were those dark things?"
"I do not wish to use the common term for them, Vadren."
She looked around and saw that no one was looking at them. "The ones which you call Xer are also known as hellhounds, I have been told." Ksyusha nodded, "What you saw were the hounds of some hell someplace. I must be at a certain strength in myself to even call them, and they will do as I ask if there are instructions. They are very grateful to take the souls of the ones that I tell them they may have, harming no one else, but I would never call them as weak as I was without what you did for me."
Dahlgren looked over at Ksyusha and asked if it went well.
She nodded, "In many ways, this has been a terrible day, and for some others, it brought a sort of tempered joy, such as to Cha'Khah and her man Barrett.
To Nika and me, it brought us our freedom and we are thankful for it and the friends we seek to make here. I can say that I did as you asked, and though Verrick will take a time to get back since I left him with little of his abilities, at some point some of the Wild Elves will come."
How many do you think, Ksyusha?" Dahlgren asked, "How many are there in that tribe?"
"Hard to say," the tiefling nodded, "I did not spend much time there. But I would guess that the tribe numbers perhaps two hundred and more. I think that more than half will come for certain. There are always old ones who would remain and there are some who would never come for any reason. You have time to prepare in any event."
She looked at Dahlgren, "But why did you ask me to say it?"
He shrugged, "I was speaking with Arrax, and he said that it would be a good thing. If Mo-Wenn grows up and wishes to rule, she may -- if her people want it. Even if she chooses not to rule, there's a lot of room here around the mountain. Cha'Khah and Vadren said they'd act as interpreters and ambassadors in a way to help get everyone over the rough spots that are bound to come."
He looked away for a moment and continued, "We've done well here, but it would be better to have neighbors who can be trusted to a degree, and for that, one needs a common purpose. I'm a little short of those at the moment, speaking personally, but I can't think of a better bunch to chew on the problem, and I'm sure, from what Vadren and Cha'Khah have said, that this area would suit them well. They could live here in the way that they prefer and still be out of the gaze of the people in the town."
"What is a good thing that I see is that, with a group of the Wild Ones here, and us as well, "Vadren smiled, "there is far less chance that one of them might be taken advantage of. That has always been a source of trouble for them. I've seen it before."
He leaned back on the padded bench where he sat against one wall with Ksyusha next to him. "I agree with Dahlgren. They need a homeland, and we need people here for warning and a little protection and company. I think this mountain needs the greater tribe that may be built in time."
He looked over to where Nika sat with Cha'Khah on one side of her and Rachel on the other. She was the center of attention in a minor way and was enjoying it as they helped her with her grasp of English. Mostly, the efforts brought them all gales of laughter between them, and the mugs of ale went a way toward lowering the barriers.
Azrael wasn't there. He'd been gone for most of the day, looking into some rumors, he'd said. He'd heard of another gold depository in these same mountains. Rachel was enjoying the company, but she felt that something was wrong.
It had been wrong for a long time, she thought, looking back. Vadren was more of a father figure to Sariel these last few months, and the last little while, Sariel had been with Barrett, fascinated with the things that he could do with old technology. Dahlgren and Selena often had Sariel sleep over since it was hard to keep him and Nahl'een apart, being the best of friends. Even Arrax spent time answering any question that Sariel might have. Azrael seemed to be too preoccupied with something else to have very much time for his son.
Rachel sighed, wondering what she'd done wrong. He never said that there was anything wrong, but their bed had become only a place to sleep and she was often there by herself. She pushed the troubling thoughts from her mind, deciding to enjoy the evening. She knew herself, and these thoughts would return to her, so why ruin her evening?
Ksyusha was asked of her homeworld and why it was that she had come with Nika. The two looked at each other and exchanged a few phrases before Nika nodded and held her hand out to Ksyusha to act as their spokesperson.
Ksyusha agreed, but said that it would be thirsty work to tell of it properly and Nika agreed with her -- as long as she might have another small tankardful of ale out of it.
The rest sat back expectantly and Ksyusha grinned, "It is all Nika's fault.
"Where we are from is hot and dusty much of the time and there are great regions of nothing. The people live in communities leading simple lives, mostly. But they are very different from people here. My father came here a long time ago and to the people here he was mighty. It confused him very much, he told me. To himself, he was not mighty, though he is as a chieftain and has much power and strength.
But he used none of it as he sought to repair his craft so that he could return to his home. The way that the people here dropped to their knees and prayed to him mystified him and after a time, he grew a little tired of it all and tried to keep them away. Still, they thought that he was a god."
She smiled," I suppose that to them, he was something like that. Somewhere a legend of his doings was born and from what he learned from my mother, most of that was nothing more than fanciful tales which never happened.
Anyway, my mother sought him out and he heard her. I am lucky that it went well between them, for they are very different, one to the other. I have much from them both in me."
She looked around at the others, "I think that you all know of how Nika and I found each other, so I think that I must say something about sparks."
She was about to begin when she saw the way that Nika had found herself between Cha'Khah and Rachel and she laughed a little, "I suppose that it is already too late to tell of the way that sparks are so friendly and likable. All that I will say is that you both should be careful. Hug her to you only a few times and you will find that when she is somewhere else, you will feel that you miss her somehow.
Sparks are very intelligent things and when they love someone, they hold nothing back. Most are not as shy as Nika."
It was a joke, but it brought them all laughter as Ksyusha continued, "My father's kind does not really know what they began as, but there have always been sparks. The people have been there for so long that no one knows much anymore, and it is not considered to be important to us all. I am accepted there, though I am a little different, because it is obvious to them all that I am part something else. But we all know much about sparks.
I have only this shape to live as, and if I do not use my ability at illusion, then what you see is me. Very few sparks have only one shape. Most have two and some like my friend have three.
Long ago, they were a creature a little like what are called goats here, but they could fly, having wings. Gradually, their diet became a little less vegetarian, but not exclusively and so their gut changed over time so that it could also process a little meat as well as vegetation as they spent less time grazing and more time hunting. They were hunted by other creatures and this is the reason for the other shapes. Without meaning to at all, Nika's kind became more predatory, since as a group, predators live better lives than prey.
The way that they were once is the way that they are all born and the other shapes come only later. It confuses some of us, and it is said that they have many shapes, but they only have as many as three. They can blend some of the features of the others as they wish, that is all.
The girl that you all see here is a third adaptation that they have to look as we do a little. Here, on this world, it helps Nika to look a little harmless and sweet, and we would use it when we need to deal with humans, since most are not like Barrett there and are frightened of me. It has not worked terribly well yet, since she does not speak English, and we were too busy hunting the elf for her to have much time to learn as she tries to now."
Nika wasn't really listening to Ksyusha since it made her feel a little self-conscious. She knew that both of them were a little mysterious to the others and it went both ways. She sat listening to the music as she looked at Vadren whenever she thought that she could steal a glance and she really enjoyed the company of Rachel and Cha'Khah. She sipped her ale and listened more as the beat began to work and her feet began to move a little, hanging in the air as they were.
"When Nika and I got sick, we could barely move," Ksyusha said as she went on, "Raising my hand took concentration. We saw each other not far away, and over hours, we managed to reach each other to hold on as we could.
We saw visions then. Some were not important and we knew it, but after a time, we both knew that we were seeing the same things together. There were always the unimportant ones, but now and then, we saw others.
Since Nika was very small, she has had dreams which run over and over. For her, this is natural. But she always saw one individual again and again. All that she knew was that he was not there.
When we were sick, the dreams began and I saw them with her, so we both saw the one -- as we came to call him, but we both saw him with us together -- as though it was in a time which had not happened yet. We spoke of him for hours after we were better -- days later, and then we both knew that he was not where we were. After I returned home bringing Nika with me, she fit into our lives so well. I am sure that my mother still cries because she misses both of her daughters.
One day, my mother was telling me of other sorts of beings which live here, and not only humans. It was a part of her lessons to me and Nika was there listening. The talk of the Elves and all of their kinds took days. Then she spoke of the sort that are rarely seen, if ever. From her description of them, Nika and I knew what the one was. We learned all that we could, trying not to be too obvious as to why we were so interested in only one type."
She shrugged, "After that, we wanted only to leave, but it took a lot of time before we were able to come. When we got here, we did not know where to look, though we tried and found nothing. But we knew what we saw and always looked wherever we traveled."
"The dreams," Selena began, "how clear were they?"
"What were they of?" Cha'Khah asked.
Ksyusha shrugged, "Some of them were too close to us, and many have come to pass. We knew that we would come here from them. My father and I had not even gone to look at a craft for me to buy, and I knew what it looked like. I even knew where it was and that it was for sale. I knew what was wrong with it and what it needed so that we could travel this far with it -- things such as this."
She looked a little uncomfortable then, "I have always had very fast reflexes. I see how you all look at the way that I move," she said, reaching for her tankard. What they all saw was that some of her hand was on its way before she'd even begun the motion. "Where I am from, many move this way, but ones like me in their power, we show it the most."
She looked at Arrax and smiled, "Please put your drink down and with Shaevre's permission, ..."
Shaevre didn't know what was wanted, but she nodded, and then all that they knew was that Ksyusha had moved. They saw the blur as it left and then she was back, lifting her tankard with an enigmatic smile as Arrax laughed and touched his cheek in surprise.
"Thank you for your kiss," he grinned in amazement.
"I have lived for over a year without much of this ability," Ksyusha said, "but I still had my reflexes. When I was at the place where the poor elf perished, I saw that I needed to defend myself." She turned to smile at Vadren, "But in that instant, I saw the one -- exactly as I'd seen him in the visions."
She looked down, "I did not know it then, but I am thankful now that he was so kind in his treatment of me."
Cha'Khah spoke up then, "You are this sure that he is the one that you saw where you were?"
Nika nudged Cha'Khah and tried to say something. They all waited and finally she shrugged, "My, ... dream first. Vadren, ... he is, ... " She ran out of vocabulary, but they all knew what she meant as she pointed with a certain nod.
"How deep do the dreams go?" Selena asked, "Are they all like pleasant little daydreams, or what?"
Ksyusha shook her head, "Some are pleasant, most are mundane, and some are not pleasant at all. We have seen him eat a thousand meals in many places."
Nika said a few things to her and she nodded, "We have seen him with you," she nodded to Cha'Khah, "We have seen him with a female whose man owned an inn. She liked Vadren and we saw him with her in a room while her man was looking after some horses outside."
They all laughed, "That is Vadren then surely!" Cha'Khah grinned.
"From what you're saying," Selena began, "It sounds as though you both believe that this is all laid out somehow?"
"In some ways, yes," Ksyusha nodded, "though it was not my intent to devote my life to finding him or even seeing him at all. As much as the visions have been accurate, living one's life on a world where one did not begin brings its own troubles, and I have had many -- until tonight.
Now, I am not even very surprised that our paths have crossed, but at the time, I stood in shock. Even so, I have said what I needed to say to him -- as I have said it before to him many times in my thoughts since we had the visions. I spoke for Nika and for me. It is all that I can do. What he does with my words is up to him."
She looked at Vadren with a smile, and was very surprised and relieved to see that he returned her look -- and her smile very evenly.
She nodded, "I am certain enough, and Nika is certain beyond any doubt."
They turned to look at Nika, who immediately placed her elbows on the table, her chin in her hands and sat with a hugely exaggerated expression of rapture with a wide smile and vigorous nods.
When the laughter had died away, Rachel chuckled as she wiped a tear from her eye, "Whoa, Vadren. It looks like your number might be up here."
Cha'Khah grinned as she nodded, "You are in a lot of trouble now, cousin."
Selena looked confused, "What did you see that told you that this is it, Ksyusha? I still don't get it. You're BOTH this sure that it'll even work?"
Ksyusha felt very foolish, but she knew that what was there was what she'd seen and so far, ...
"Please, "she said, holding up her hand, "I have no wish to embarrass him further. Nika and I have only met him today."
"Well, I'd love to hear it," Selena said, "I'm not doubting you one bit, Ksyusha. We've all seen that you two are very different and we all really like you. It's just that, ... well, I don't know how uh, love stories go where you're from, but down here, it's not that easy."
"Well anyway," Rachel began, "I think it's pretty sweet to hear." She looked from Nika to Ksyusha, "And one thing that you ought to know about us here; we say whatever we want to each other. I don't think that very much ever gets held back if something needs to be said and we're all pretty proud of that. I'd guess that you'd both just fit right in."
She looked at Dahlgren, "They are in, aren't they?"
"As in as they want to be," he smiled, "Arrax, Barrett and I all agree, we think that they're needed -- especially if the elves decide to come." He grinned, "We didn't ask you guys because we saw that it wasn't needed, because you're right, they fit right in. You all looked so taken with them before we even knew it."
He laughed," We all talked about it for a moment, and then we said that we'd ask you, and Barrett laughed and said that we were a little late for it."
Rachel looked at Vadren, "He doesn't look all that embarrassed to me, anyhow. He even looks a little pleased in that mysterious Vadren-the-Mage sort of way of his."
Vadren shrugged, "It is only mysterious on the outside, "he said, "Today has seen so much," He looked at the clock and then back at them all, "Well, yesterday now. Barrett and my cousin have a very quick start to their family. Before I sensed who was still hunting Xunafae, I was thinking about myself -- as I often do, being selfish. I suddenly saw that I had a want to have someone -- and there is nothing new in that, obviously. I was angry over what had happened and how many of us could and would have run to aid Xunafae if we'd only known of it.
That is where my own desire comes from that there be others here. We have too many wild dogs and not enough allies for all of our strengths. I also found a pair of friends who want me and are not shy to say it. I could withdraw as I normally would, but I have a sense that in this one case, my caution would be of no use to me anyway, and I now have little desire to be as I was before. Now, I want to have what my friends have, and that is just as well, Rachel.
I doubt that I could get away from these two very easily anyway. Sometimes one has to know when being cautious is another word for being stupid. I have been very fortunate that some of the humans who are not terrified of me also feel a little curious -- enough to try to draw me to their beds. But it is never for any wish that it last beyond their quick fascination with my body.
I see little of that here -- "
He stopped as he felt Ksyusha's hand grazing over his pants under the table, "That may not have come out the right way, I think."
"I still can't see --"
Selena stopped in mid-sentence as she felt Nika's hand on her arm. When she looked, the spark demon was nodding seriously, "True," was all that she could think of to say.
"Well, if Vadren is this certain of how he feels," Ksyusha said, not smiling even a little, "I will tell you why we are so sure, Selena. Think that you have seen Dahlgren in your mind since you were a girl. Think that it was only him that you saw and you were sure of it for all of your life.