Torshael and Tayne's Story: The First Mission

Chapter Two


Weary but happy, Tayne landed behind Torshael at the great, graceful, ivory and silver gates of the City-- nameless but for that simple title, "the City". It didn't need one. It was the home of the Favored supernals, their families and sometimes their bonds, and the High One himself. Though everything in the City was clear crystal, pristine white, cool silver, or warm gold, fitting for the purity of its purpose, its inhabitants were a patchwork of colors: mostly white, yes, but with so many other colors that it seemed like a rainbow. The families and bonds of a Favored were rarely the same pristine shade as they, after all. Tayne himself, born of two Favored and brother to another, was one of the dullest-colored supernals ever to set foot within the City. Yet even so, he had spent all of his young life in the City: it was "home".

And now, after a whole year without even visiting, they were home. For how long, he didn't know, but it still felt good. Torshael gave their names to the gatekeepers, while Tayne shook himself vigorously, trying to see that he left as much of his travel-dirt outside as possible. Though there was certainly dirt and dust inside the City-- there were parks, and gardens, and less-than-neat supernals themselves-- he still didn't want to soil its streets with dirt from the world outside. At least they'd found a stream that hadn't been too cold, small, or quick-running before receiving their summons, and had managed to get mostly clean after the battle. Tracking in the soot from infernals' flames, dust kicked up from fighting, and blood just seemed even more wrong.

When the summons had come, they'd just been drying off after their bath, having refused the farmers' grateful hospitality in favor of the forest, not wanting to put anyone out, strain already tight purses, or cause anyone undue stress, particularly themselves. They'd been tired, sore, drained, and bloody, and not at all inclined to be fawned over while having to play the holy warriors and be polite to everyone, not when the "holy warriors" just wanted to be curled up asleep. They had, however, accepted some provisions, which they'd just broken out and started eating while they let Tayne's crackling fire dry their fur.

The summons hadn't been unexpected, but it had been a surprise how quickly it had come-- and what it had said. They'd completed their current mission, and had expected to be given the traditional day-and-a-night to rest, heal, and recover strength and spirits. This was hardly their first mission; they'd been out in the field for two years, though that had been their first tangle with more than two infernals at a time, and their first in which infernals had used humans as shields and weapons. It wasn't their usual style: usually, they just pillaged and burned, raping, killing, and destroying, like overgrown, unholy, chaotic bandits. Perhaps they'd heard of a Newly Favored in the countryside and wanted to make a real attempt at destroying him before he came fully into his power.

Well, whatever the reason, that had been the most trouble they'd seen yet, and they'd been looking forward to their reprieve when the expected but early message interrupted both of their thoughts, unmistakable in its origins:

::Torshael Peregrin. Tayne Peregrin. You have done well and deserve much honor: know that I am pleased. Upon the morn, return to the City. I await you with your next mission.::

Every time they'd received new tasks in the past, it hadn't required being summoned home. Only once-- the task they'd just completed, in fact-- had it required being contacted by the High One himself, rather than one of the Voices who spoke for him in less important matters. Because they had been praised before summoned, there were few thoughts that they were being summoned because they had done something wrong, or left someone undone-- but there was still plenty to wonder about. And in the space since the summons and the morning, there had been plenty of time to wonder.

The guards at the gate, verifying who they were, nodded and allowed the shining white and silver doors swing to open to admit them. "You are expected in Court, before the High One, at sundown. Until then," the nearer guard smiled benevolently, "rest and enjoy the City."

Which meant, of course, visiting with their family. Tayne and Torshael's parents, Favored both, lived in the City along with their bonds and their one daughter, Tayne and Torshael's sister Vienel. They were lucky that their bonds-- an elfin priestess named Analil, bonded to their mother, and a human mage named Jonas, bonded to their father-- were allowed within the city bounds. Many bonds had to live in a second city, within a comfortable distance but not within view, forming their own small society there and being visited by their bonds when time and necessity allowed. Whenever he bonded-- Tayne wasn't entirely sure when that would be, though most supernals who went out into the world did bond eventually-- Tayne expected his bond would live in that city whenever they were at home. Torshael's bond-- Favored nearly always bonded, and Torshael seemed to believe this a requirement for being a full Favored, though he had yet to find anyone that held his attention-- would be more likely to be allowed inside, particularly if he or she were useful to the City in some way.

Their father, Tashel, was away with his bond on a mission of his own, being another active field Favored, and Vienel was at work in the City's great library, but their mother was home and waiting to greet them, with open wings and a watery smile. "Oh, Torshael! Tayne!" Vaillal cried tearfully, throwing her white wings around them both as soon as they were both inside. Analil, her bond, leaned on the door frame with an amused smile as both sons eased their way free. "The High One warned me you would be home for a few weeks! Your father would have returned, but he was at such a delicate time in his task, he didn't think it wise. Oh, but he should be home before you leave, High One willing!"

"That's all right, Mother," Torshael said with his usual smooth smile. "We weren't really expecting anything special."

Tayne was just busy processing what their mother had just said: a few weeks. They would be in the City for a few weeks. That was the normal span for a simpler sort of mission. What kind of mission could there be inside the City, especially for a pair of warriors like himself and his brother?

After being fussed over for a while, and fed a very rich lunch, Tayne finally managed to escape to his old bedroom, pleading weariness-- which was certainly true, as much as it was an excuse to flee. His room was always kept ready for him, as he and Torshael didn't yet have the status to merit a house assignment of their own. Until Torshael was a full Favored, and bonded, they would live with their parents. Until one of them took a mate, Tayne would live with his brother.

Torshael followed not long after, and rather than finding his own room, stepped in with Tayne and stretched out on the floor, tail flipping idly. Tayne didn't mind. They were used to being together.

After a minute or two of quiet, Torshael asked, "So you heard what I heard? That the High One told Mother we'd be here for a few weeks?"

Tayne grunted a positive, in lion form-- the one he most preferred-- belly-up on his bed with his eyes shut.

"What do you think that means?" Torshael continued, his chin on his forepaws.


"Do you think it means-- we're not doing well enough?" Torshael wondered, his voice a little anxious. "So we're going to be doing something here, under supervision?"

"I doubt that, Tor," Tayne chuckled. "The High One praised us, remember? And besides, I can't think of anything for two fighters like us to do around here."

"Maybe it's extra training, then," Torshael mused pessimistically. "Maybe they think we need it."

Tayne rolled over and opened his eyes, swatting at his brother's thick mane. "Tor, stop it, you're just going to work yourself into a sulk, and that would definitely be the wrong way to approach the High One. This isn't going to be a punishment, I'm sure of it."

The white supernal sighed. "I hope you're right." He climbed back to his feet, fluffing his feathers, then gave Tayne's mane a nuzzle. "I'm going to go take a nap before sundown and our appointment in Court. You probably should, too."

"Planning on it," he agreed around a toothy, feline yawn, and as Torshael left chuckling, he settled down in an attempt to do just that.


Chapter Three

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