Shoel's Story

Chapter Sixty-Five: The Baptized Myokan

Written in collaboration with Silver Midnight


The necromancer looked surprised, touching the mark that had appeared on his head with a little confusion before smiling, still surprised but, Shoel thought, pleased. "Well, I guess I haven't completely screwed up my life yet if it accepted me.... Why did you use my real name?"

Sitting back with a tired sigh, but a smile of her own, she shrugged a bit. "It felt right to do... it doesn't mean you have to change it back, or anything, but I think maybe it's just more true to you, to the Charter's way of thinking. That's only a guess."

"Well," Hemlock began, a little hesitantly, "My good friends have never called me 'Hemlock'."

"That's probably why," she agreed with a smile.

"I mean... you don't even have to call me by that name, if you don't want to."

She cocked her head lightly, part of her surprised and part of her pleased. "You wouldn't mind?"

Looking a little embarrassed, he said, "I don't know about how you feel towards me, but I consider you to at least be a very good friend."

Shoel chuckled and reached over to take his hand. "I wouldn't go about baptizing just anyone. Myokan," she added, a little shyly. She'd only said the name, itself, a handful of times, and only once or twice when he could hear her. It seemed fitting, though, to the more friendly Hemlock-- Myokan-- and, perhaps, the Charter mage Myokan.

"Why not?" he asked with a little smirk, tilting his head again and giving her hand a small squeeze.

"Because...." She grasped at how to explain. "I don't know, it's something that's... very much a part of where I came from, and who I am. No one else I've ever told about it has even mentioned wanting to see what it was like, personally."

"Oh," Hemlock-- Myokan-- replied, looking a little taken aback. With a small sigh he freed his hand, leaned forward, and put his arms around the back of Shoel's neck, gently pulling her head down so he could kiss her forehead. Her Charter mark warmed, as did her cheeks, but she smiled and submitted to the affection. "Thank you... for giving me a chance, I know I was horrible at first."

"I'm glad I did. I'm glad you did, I wasn't much better." Somehow they'd gone from mutual dislike, to at least comfort and fondness. If there'd been anything she couldn't have imagined from Star City, it was certainly that.

Myokan smiled, shaking his head. "You're amazing, you know that?"

Now, she really went red. "Um, thank you."

"I was impressed when I saw how you handled the wraiths, even moreso when you banished Izrask." He was smirking, but it wasn't a demeaning or arrogant expression. "I've never seen anyone handle either situation so well, you've certainly got a good head on your shoulders."

At the flood of compliments, she tried to cover her blushing with her hands. "And it's going to get inflated, if you keep complimenting me like that," she pointed out embarrassedly.

"I would hope not," he said with a small smile that she glimpsed through her fingers, then set his forehead against where her fingertips on her own forehead. "It would ruin your personality, I think."

"Then I'll try not to listen too closely if you do it again." She eased her hands back down, thinking she might not be quite so red anymore, and instead mimicked his pose, slipping them around his neck so that their foreheads touched, mark to mark. There was a brief little spark between them, and the momentary sensation of her stomach dropping, before it settled into a comfortable warmth that very nearly enveloped her. She blinked a bit, pulling back in surprise, and the feeling immediately receded.

Hemlock-- Myokan-- blinked in the same surprise, apparently having felt the same thing. "That was... new."

"It's the marks," she said, blinking back at him again. "I hadn't thought of that.... Even when you just touch someone else's mark, or even your own, it's like touching a little bit of the Charter. It's how you identify a corrupt mage or a false mage, if it's dead, or it hurts to touch it... I've never actually touched mark-to-mark with anyone before, though."

"Well, at least it didn't hurt either of us," Myokan said, just a little dryly. "It felt... kind of nice."

"It did," she agreed, smiling some and leaning back to try it again; this time her stomach didn't drop, but it felt pleasantly like something was fluttering around in it, and the little bubble of warmth renewed. "Just unexpected."

He blinked, chuckling just a little and rubbing the back of her neck. "I hope that mine will never burn you...."

She shut her eyes, feeling more comfortable with the affection now than ever. "I can't imagine it will... it takes a lot to corrupt a mark, and I don't think you'd do what it takes."

"I hope not," he answered, frowning a little. "Though... I don't think I ever will."

Shoel drew back enough to be able to look at him, smiling reassuringly. "It would take a conscious effort. Honestly. If the Charter rejected people for being spiteful, or having a temper, or being jealous, or something simple and human-- um, mortal, in your case-- if it were just something like that, there wouldn't be near as many Charter mages. Including me. Don't worry."

"Guess I shouldn't kill anyone, though," he said with a little smirk, moving one of his hands onto her cheek. "And it would, in a way, be 'human'."

"Probably not someone who didn't need it, or who was an innocent," she agreed, though a little distracted by his palm on her skin. It felt nice, and she rested her cheek in it a moment. "And what do you mean? Being human, in a way? I thought you weren't human."

"Not considered to be," Myo admitted, closing his eyes. "I don't suppose you already read the Draclin'geyar creation myth? With the gods and the seeds and plants and all that nonsense?"

It was the first story in the book of folklore she'd read. It was, as she recalled, a rather silly story. Almost worse than the various creation myths she remembered from her own world. She just hoped that the draclin'geyar didn't have to re-enact theirs once a year. "I did, our last night in-- wherever that was, your people's city."

Myo smirked, resting his head against hers again, and she shut her eyes contentedly as their marks touched. "We actually originated as half-breeds between humans and the same clan of dragons the resident Spirit Dragons hail from, before the Mystic Wars."

"I suppose that explains the shifting," she mused. "Two forms, two heritages.... Doesn't explain the ears, though," she added with a smile, freeing one hand from his neck, without looking at it, to trace the top of one pointed ear with a finger.

"Actually, a lot of dragons shapeshift. At least the more powerful ones, which you really don't see a lot outside of their home realm." He gave a small sigh. "I don't even want to think about if the dragons weren't shapeshifters to begin with. Most shifter dragons, at least here, retain their wings though-- we don't. As for the ears, and the eyes, it's the traits of our dragon forms that carry over into human form. Same with the small size and build."

"I was being silly, about the ears," she pointed out with a little chuckle.

"At least I don't have elf ears, they're three times as big at least."

At the mental image of Hemlock-- Myokan... Charter, this will take some getting used to, she thought with a little amusement-- with giant ears made her chuckle again, and she drew back enough to be able to see him again. Trying to look at him so close up, at least as tired as she was, made her eyes want to blur. "Thank the Charter for small blessings. The elves on Atu are almost as bad, too."

"The only form my ears are quite that big in is my dragon form, and that doesn't really count."

"No," she agreed, "it's not quite the same. Dragons can have whatever kind of ears they like, and usually still look all right. There's one on Star City with ears that flop over."

"Like a dog?" Myo asked, opening one eye to look at her.

"Mmmhmm. It actually looks sort of silly, but he's just such an amiable fellow, he'd be the first to laugh at himself. Be glad yours don't flop over."

Myokan snickered, massaging Shoel's neck again, and she almost automatically shut her eyes; that felt nice. "Oh, I'm glad. They look silly enough in human form."

"Oh, I don't know," she commented vaguely. "I like them."

"Why? Because they fit in better here than yours do?" he teased gently.

"No," she protested, opening one eye in a momentary mock-glare that didn't last more than a couple seconds, "because they fit you."

"Don't really see how," was the dry answer. After that he just lapsed into silence, still massaging the back of her neck. Unable to really explain, she let him, resting her head on his shoulder tiredly instead. She'd worked a lot of magic today, and now it just felt nice to sit quietly with Hemlock-- Myokan; it really is a much nicer name-- in the aftermath of the Charter and his affection.

"If you're tired I could leave and let you sleep," he suggested, wrapping his arms around her supportingly. That only made her want to move less.

"I am going to be fairly boring," she admitted, anyway. "That was a lot of magic I used today."

"Well, I could stay if you want me to."

"And let me fall asleep on you?" She chuckled and reluctantly made herself sit up. "I can't imagine you'll enjoy that... I should probably let you go."

"I don't mind, really...."

Shoel eyed him with a kind of sleepy curiosity. He looked, if anything, sheepish. Or embarrassed? Then again, he'd been careful never to sleep close enough to even touch her, ever since that first night in the rain forest, when he'd stayed up watching all night then fell asleep across her legs. She knew herself well enough to know that, at any other time, she'd probably be embarrassed, too. So she smiled and, giving his cheek a light kiss, extracted herself from his arms and got up, keeping one of his hands to draw him to his feet, as well. "You probably wouldn't sleep well, and we're going down to Arliingran tomorrow, remember. You should probably go."

"That's true," he agreed, unfolding himself and standing a little unsteadily; apparently the magic had affected him some, as well, unless he was just tired of sitting. "So, I guess... I will see you tomorrow morning."

"Mmmhmm. And I promise I'll have my cloak, too," she added with a smile, remembering that she'd promised to help keep him warm if they shared Steady again.

"Right," he said, just a little sheepishly, still. "I'll have to go get Vesper after the hatching. Goodnight." He gave her a little bow, making her smile, then turned and went out the door, closing it quietly behind him with a pleased-yet-annoyed rumble from Kzats, who had probably been blocking the hallway for the past hour.

"Good night," she said after him.

Still smiling to herself the whole time, it didn't take Shoel very long to clean up and get herself into bed, warm pouch with its unhatched contents settled on her pillow beside her, full of contentment, if a little regret that she'd made Myokan leave. It's for the best, she mused sleepily. Though maybe someday....

She fell asleep before she finished her thought.


Chapter Sixty-Six



Shoel's abilities and homeworld are copyrighted to Garth Nix.

Quote borrowed from Garth Nix's book, Lirael, from The Book of the Dead.