Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission
Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight
Haiiro hadn't been sleeping well the past few nights. Of course he knew why, but that didn't mean he could really do much about it. He felt badly for Torshael, who was suffering almost as much through it all-- when Haiiro wasn't sleeping, or was stuck in a nightmare, usually so was he-- but he really couldn't do much about that, either, except apologize.
Torshael kept wanting to talk about it, but he had no idea what to say. Torshael wasn't going to understand that he felt bad because he'd killed one extremely evil, insane person-- who had, technically, already been dead-- and deeply, possibly mortally wounded another. He wasn't going to understand why it bothered him to have people see him in the streets and suddenly want to talk to him, like he was some sort of celebrity or hero. Torshael was used to that sort of thing. It just made Haiiro want to hide in his room and not come out again. He certainly didn't understand his nervousness at the imminent visit to his bond's home city, which he expected was going to be even worse: he'd stick out terribly, and everyone would stare at him again, only then it would quite likely not with respect or gratitude.
So there wasn't much talking, and though Torshael worried about him and was always on hand in case he needed anything-- he'd even started coming down to the various make-shift infirmaries to help him, even before his power started coming back-- there wasn't much he could do except just be there and be patient with him. And that did help, a little. He just still wasn't sleeping well.
So it was with some surprise that he found himself asleep almost immediately, the night Tayne took Tekas out and Torshael fretted about what he might do to the reputation of supernals on Kynn if he got horribly drunk twice. It was even more surprising that he found himself not in any reliving of the past battles, or some scene twisting his memories into something more frightening, but standing on a peaceful meadow, under an equally peaceful blue-violet sky-- complete with a few fluffy clouds overhead. There were trees in the distance, and a lake to his left, serenely reflecting the sky. It was such a nice change that he sighed and made himself relax-- which was about when he realized he actually knew he was dreaming. That was a nice change, too. A lot of times it took him waking up to realize that.
After that realization, he spotted a figure perched on one of the boulders at the lakeside. Whoever he was, he was dressed in violet, with long, white hair-- and white, fluffy ears and a horn. Even as he watched, the Kynnese robes he wore slowly melded into a deep blue.
Yulaan smiled at him, and said, "I've been waiting for you, Haiiro."
Haiiro swallowed around a sudden lump in his throat and tried to smile, back. "Father."
"You're distressed," Yulaan commented-- not questioned. "Is there something wrong?"
Shaking his head, Haiiro said, "It's not important...." He actually got to see his father; he didn't want to ruin it.
Yulaan stood, robes fading again to a pale gold, and approached him. "It is, if you're upset. If you want to talk about it, I'm more than happy to listen-- you look like you could at least use a hug."
"I...." How could he even explain? It made no sense, not even to him. He stared at the ground unhappily. "It's stupid.... She was evil, she was going to kill a god, and she did kill so many other, innocent people. But I still feel horrible. I've never killed anyone before...."
Sometime while he spoke, Yulaan had come up in front of him-- he could see the hem of his robe, though he still didn't look up-- and as he trailed off, he took one more step and put his arms around him. Haiiro sighed shakily, resting his cheek on the offered shoulder and almost automatically putting his arms around his father's waist. "I know that feeling," Yulaan said gently. "Better than you might think. To take another's life, no matter what kind of person they are, and feel nothing would be contrary not only to your bloodline, but to who you are as a person. You have every right and reason to feel as you do, and no justification, nothing I can say, will ease that for you." Haiiro squeezed his eyes shut, trying not to cry. "And for that," Yulaan finished sadly, "I am sorry."
"I know," Haiiro sniffed, feeling his battle against tears to be failing, at least a little. "I just... I don't know if Torshael and Tayne would understand-- they do this sort of thing all the time. And no one else seems to. They all-- they all want to congratulate me, or thank me, or--" He broke off, afraid that if he kept talking, he'd start really crying. It just seemed so wrong to let someone thank him for killing someone.
"They are not thanking you for that death, Haiiro," Yulaan told him, as if he knew what he was thinking, or just understood the direction of that thought. "They are thanking you for their lives, and the lives of those they care for. Most do not know it was your hand that ended that battle. They thank you because you have given them hope."
They didn't know? Haiiro freed one hand to wipe at his eyes, trying to stave off their rebellious leaking. He hadn't realized that-- he'd just assumed everyone knew. It seemed like something so important that no one could help but not know... but maybe it was just because it had seemed such a big thing to him, that he'd just assumed. Knowing that, surprisingly, helped a little. Maybe no one would think of him as a killer, of bad people or otherwise. "At least we made it...." They'd survived-- Yaashir had survived-- and most of the city's populace had, too. Even if it did require killing someone and almost killing someone else.
"I'm glad you did," Yulaan said, and Haiiro could sense the smile even though he couldn't see it. He released him entirely, ready to step back, wiping his eyes again with one sleeve.
"Thank you, Father," he said with a small smile, himself.
"Feeling perhaps a little better now?"
"Good to hear," Yulaan smiled.
For a moment, Haiiro didn't know what to say, just looking at him speechlessly. Unfortunately, it was another of his worries surfaced to fill the silence. "I might be leaving soon," he said sadly. "Torshael and Tayne should be called home in the next few days. Will I still be able to see you? Every now and then?"
"Of course." Yulaan put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "And you don't need to wait for me to check in on you, taelaan." Beloved son: it was technically his last name but, here, it was also an endearment. Haiiro smiled a little shyly at the sound of it. "If you need to speak with me, or even if you just want to see me, all you have to do is call my name. I can hear you anywhere, just as I can hear my brothers and sisters, and your brothers and sisters. And if you really listen, you might just be able to hear them, too."
"I think I'd like that," Haiiro said softly. "Thank you."
Yulaan nodded approvingly. "I also wanted you to know... I'm very proud of you."
Haiiro only had time to blush happily a little before someone else spoke up. "I'm proud of him, too. He's got a good heart."
Startled, Haiiro looked around, but he needn't have bothered. When the owner of the slightly-echoed voice appeared, he was hard to miss: dark skin, gold eyes, and hair vibrantly crimson-- not auburn, not strawberry, but crimson. That wasn't even the half of it; he had arched back horns, four-fingered hands whose fingers looked more like claws than hands, dragon-like feet, and a set of eight spider-like legs protruding from his back, though they were currently curled against his shoulders, relaxed and motionless. Haiiro couldn't help but stare a little, fascinated, though he could guess just who it was. His eyes were playful, and his smile genuine, and he didn't seem to mind being stared at. "Hope I'm not intruding."
"Yaashir," Yulaan said, perhaps by way of introduction, or just greeting.
"No, that's... all right." Haiiro finally pulled his eyes away from the spider-legs and smiled shyly. "Hello, Yaashir."
Yaashir nodded amiably. "I know you might not like the idea, but I'm going to say it anyway. Thanks for beating the living-- and unliving-- hell out of Ishtar and Ereshkigal. I owe you one."
For a minute, Haiiro was confused. "Eresh-- Zu?" he hazarded.
"Mmmhmm," Yaashir nodded, looking thoughtful.
"Do you know if Zu-- or Eresh... kigal," the name was odd to say, "is still alive? Or Ishtar? Ishtar said something about it not being over, that she'd find me somehow...." He wasn't particularly troubled about Ishtar, but the statement had certainly puzzled him. "And Zu disappeared...."
"Ishtar," Yaashir said slowly, as if thinking, "is definitely dead. ... Although it would honestly not surprise me if she weaseled out of it being permanent. Again. She's incredibly stubborn...." Haiiro sighed, hoping that wouldn't actually happen. He could just imagine the grudge she'd hold against him, now, in addition to Yaashir. "Zu, on the other hand," Yaashir continued, "is still hanging on, for the moment. It's harder to keep tabs on an outsider, so that's really all I've got at the moment."
"That's all right," Haiiro nodded quickly. "That's more than I knew before, and we'd half-expected it, after Irithin told us your champion was supposed to fight her someday, and he never did, this time. Thank you."
"Seers, bah," Yaashir grumbled, nose wrinkled with annoyance but still seeming amused. Haiiro couldn't help but smile.
"I've been hearing that a lot, it seems like."
"I'm not surprised," Yaashir said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Seers aren't very well liked, except by Inanna, since she gives them their gifts in the first place."
Haiiro chuckled softly. "Well, Irithin managed to make himself unpopular... if most of them are like him, I can see why."
"The majority at least have a bit of sense not to manipulate people so severely," Yaashir commented, "but the rest still have a bit of a superiority complex."
"Oh. Irithin won't tell me, but maybe you could," Haiiro suddenly remembered. "Why did he do all of that, anyway? Manipulate Tekas, send him away...."
"He thought he was helping you. Tekasynos has connections which allowed him to summon my Blessed to aid you... but he would not have done so unless we was somewhat... backed into a corner, you might say. Worried for you, but unable to act on it in your presence." Yaashir sighed briefly. "Irithin could not see past his own visions. He believed he was doing what was necessary, based on what he had seen-- that his way was the only way. But if he had let things run their courses, he would have found such interference was completely unneeded, as you did just fine on your own. A fine example of 'seer superiority' at work." The deity just shook his head.
"Ah. That makes sense." It obviously was the wrong way to go about things, but still: it made sense. "Well, I hope you're safe for a while, now, at least," he told Yaashir with a small smile. "After all this."
"I think it will be fine. Just... keep an eye on that sword, eh? It's quite a piece of work."
"I will," Haiiro promised. "It's my blood that made it, after all. Hopefully it will be safe enough with us...."
Yaashir nodded approvingly, and continued, "Anyway, I suppose I should be making myself scarce. I think I've made enough of an interruption in your dream this evening."
"It wasn't a bad interruption," Haiiro assured him with another slightly shy smile. "This has been the best dream I've had in a while."
Yaashir laughed. "I can't say I normally get such a pleasant response... thank you, Haiiro."
"I can't see why not," Haiiro smiled, back. "But you're welcome."
"I'll take my leave, then," the god said with a polite bow, which Haiiro mimicked in farewell, then vanished.
And since Yulaan wasn't vanishing-- quite the opposite, as his robes had sometime during the conversation changed to a vivid red, much like Yaashir's hair-- Haiiro quite happily found someplace to settle and actually just talk with his father, for as long as the kirin was willing to linger.