Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission
Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight
Tayne thought, as he approached Tekas's front door the next morning-- late morning; he'd enjoyed being able to sleep in, especially after staying up pretty late the night before with Torshael and Haiiro-- that he needed to find a way to let Tekas know in advance when he was dropping by. The man had a business, after all, and probably had friends-- well, a friend or two, since he'd admitted to not having many-- he might have been entertaining. It simply seemed rude to just drop by, but it also seemed rude to send a telepathic message across the city to make sure he wasn't busy. Never mind that he'd done that a few times during battle preparations, but that was different... it had been professional, not personal. Now it was most definitely personal.
However, today, there wasn't much help for it. He climbed the steps to the front door and rapped smartly with the knocker, and held his breath that Tekas wasn't busy.
The door opened, and Tayne stared. There stood-- of all people-- Irithin. The seer was probably the last person he'd expected to see here, at Tekasynos's house. Irithin offered a short bow and said, "Yes?"
"Uh, I'm just here to see Tekas," Tayne managed through the surprise.
"Tekasynos is downstairs," Irithin said blandly, stepping back to let him in and then shutting the door behind him. "I'll show you down."
"Uh, thanks." Tayne started down the hall in Irithin's wake, sorely confused. What in the world could Irithin be doing here? "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
"I do not believe so," Irithin stated calmly, starting through the kitchen, quite as if he lived here or something. Not sure what else to say-- and still not any more enlightened than he had been a minute ago-- Tayne just followed as he opened a door he'd seen before but hadn't gone through, revealing a stairway down, hardwood with a path of carpeting down the middle. "You'll find him down there. I am not permitted entrance."
"Not permitted," Tayne repeated blankly. "Uh, all right. Thanks, Irithin."
The seer bowed slightly again, then drifted off. Looking over his shoulder one last time in confusion, Tayne started down. The room was remarkably open, for being underground-- a few narrow windows let in light through their curtains, and the floor was more wood rather than carpet-- and remarkably large, large enough for a supernal-- or, more likely, an infernal. He guessed Tekas could have fit in here, full-sized, with room to stretch, but as he got a better look, he doubted he would have done it. There were paintings everywhere, propped up against the walls and on easels, mostly turned the wrong way for him to see what they were of, and one covered in a dark cloth in the corner.
One wall was bare of burdens, and he had to blink at it a minute, half-certain there was some kind of illusion on it. It looked, incongruously, like a bird's eye view of Shu-Riin, something one might see from the top of a tower or flying over rather than from under it's street level. Either someone was an excellent painter, or an excellent illusionist, or a bit of both. It was actually a pretty accurate rendition, too; Tayne remembered particular landmarks from his own flights over the city.
And there, when he shook himself away from the mural or whatever it was, was Tekas, in the middle of the room with another easel. Tayne paused again, watching with a little surprise, as he worked a brush over the canvas there. He even had paint on his clothes and, amusingly enough, in his hair. Tekas was a painter? He was almost loathe to interrupt, as much because it made such an attractive picture as because he looked so focused.
Well, not too focused, apparently, for he held up his hand-- and the brush in it-- in his direction. He still didn't look up. "Be with you in just a moment."
"No problem," Tayne said lightly, content to watch for the moment. He'd never actually watched anyone paint before. He knew an artist in the City, but he'd never actually seen him paint anything.
A few minutes later-- Tayne still wasn't entirely sure what Tekas was working on, but it was intriguing to watch the color coming on in streaks and dabs-- Tekas set his brush down and turned, smiling at him. "Hello, Tayne."
"Hey," Tayne grinned. "Artist, huh?"
"It's a hobby," Tekas smiled. His voice sounded much better this morning.
"Fine hobby to have. Keeps one's house decorated." Tayne came over. "You safe to kiss, or will I wind up with paint everywhere?"
"It's dry," Tekas chuckled, so he made good on the suggestion and kissed him well for a moment. He had a feeling he might have wound up with paint on him somewhere, regardless of how dry it might have been, particularly as arms got involved as much as mouths. But he also didn't really care.
"So all these are yours?" he asked a minute or two-- or five-- later, after coming back up for air. "Can I see some?"
"Mmmhmm," Tekas answered, presumably to both questions, since he led him over to one of the stacks against the wall and started turning them around so he could see them. There was quite a variety: snowy, moonlit landscapes; young Kynnese dragons at play; even portraits, largely of people Tayne didn't recognize, settled on their own to be viewed at leisure without having to flip through a stack to get to them. They were really quite good, very realistic.
"You're really good," Tayne told him, impressed, as he settled the last stack back against the wall. "And you just start from scratch, like that one?" He motioned to the piece he'd been working on when he showed up, which was still an indiscernible collection of colors and lines.
"Pretty much. I'm fairly useless with pencils." He chuckled at himself. "So I never try to sketch anything on the canvas prior to painting. It really doesn't help at all."
"Hey, a gift is a gift, Tekas," Tayne said, grinning at him and putting an arm around his shoulders. "Whether it requires sketching first, or not. Did you know you even have paint in your hair?"
"Oh, I'm quite aware," Tekas smiled slightly. "But to what do I owe this visit, Tayne?"
"Just because I wanted to," Tayne answered with a grin. "I don't need a reason, do I? I am sorry I didn't let you know ahead of time; wasn't really sure how to do it without being rude in the process."
"No, you don't need a reason," Tekas said fondly. "You're welcome here any time, Tayne, no matter how spontaneous."
"I'll remind you that you said that when I show up in the middle of a business meeting or when you have important guests," Tayne chuckled, looking around for somewhere to sit, wondering if he'd have to make do with the stairs. At least the idea seemed to amuse Tekas, rather than trouble him. "Oh," he remembered, his confusion coming back with the memory, "and what in the world is Irithin doing opening your door?"
Spotting a small pile of Tekas's preferred floor-pillows, he led the way over as Tekas chuckled. What exactly was funny about Irithin being in his house? "He's being punished," Tekas explained as Tayne sat and tugged him gently down with him, and didn't complain when he kept a hand in his. "Apparently, the kid had his power stripped until he makes up for what he did-- seers seem to actually have some way to enforce their regulations on one another." Surprised, Tayne started to chuckle, too. Talk about a punishment.... "So he's doing service to the community," Tekas said with a remarkably satisfied smile. "And when I say community, I mean me."
Tayne actually laughed at that. "Oh, High One, isn't that fitting! How's he doing at it?"
"It's only been a day, but I've been pleasantly surprised," Tekas admitted. "He's been quite polite and attentive when I ask him to do something."
"Huh." Though definitely a little surprising, he supposed it fit well enough with what he'd seen and, really, Irithin's understated personality. "You liking having a servant?" he grinned at Tekas.
"It's certainly different." Tekas just shrugged. "I'm more amused by the irony, myself."
"There is that," Tayne chuckled. "He said anything about how he feels about the situation?"
"Briefly. We had a bit of a chat. He sees it as a sort of apology for what he did to me, and doesn't seem to mind it."
"Well, good," Tayne nodded. "You deserved a big apology, anyway. --He living here, too, or just working?"
"Living. He didn't have anywhere else to go, and I have plenty of space." Tekas shrugged with a slight, smug smile. "That means I can bother him in the middle of the night if I want, too."
"Handy," Tayne agreed, though he hoped briefly that he was as discrete as he was polite. It was a fleeting worry-- he refused to worry-- and he set about changing the subject to something else he expected Tekas might have things to say about. "So tell me what you're working on now?" he asked, glancing back at the started painting.
Tekas smiled at the question, and launched into a description of what he envisioned: a stormy seascape that Tayne tried not to imagine too hard, despite the infernal's excellent description. Instead, he just watched Tekas, animated with his explanation, and listened with a smile.
Tayne was in the middle of lunch with Tekas and a conversation about how the reconstruction of Shu-Riin was going, and wondering whether he should convince Tekas to give up on the talking-- which was admittedly pretty easy and comfortable-- and find something else to do with their mouths for a while, when something quite neatly derailed his train of thought.
Oh. Oh, High One.
Literally. He dropped his fork in shock and sudden fear that what he'd been thinking was about to get him a divine reprimand.
::You and your brother have done well, Tayne, in the face of a difficult assignment. I am proud of you both. But your presence is required in the City. You will be expected on the morning.::
Tekas was looking at him with surprise and concern. Tayne forced his thoughts to start moving again.
"Tayne, are you all right?"
"I-- yeah." Tayne shook his head in the aftermath of the powerful sending, and powerful shock. That hadn't been a reprimand, somehow. Or even a comment. Just a summons. "Yeah, I'm all right. Sorry about that."
It had been the summons.
::Tayne? Tayne, did you hear that?::
That was Torshael, sounding quite excited. He'd wanted to go home for days, but had been kind enough not to harp on it, though now he expected he'd be talking a mile a minute about it. ::Yeah, Tor', I heard that. Give me a minute, all right?:: Tekas was still looking at him worriedly; he had to pay attention to that.
" ... Are you sure? You looked spooked for a moment...."
Tayne grinned weakly, getting his wits back together again. Imagine, a supernal "spooked" by hearing his god's voice.... "The High One decided to call. It startled me."
Tekas stared at him in confusion. " ... why?"
"I, uh. Well, considering what I was thinking, I was half-expecting a reprimand...." But then, thinking about kissing wasn't likely to get him a random reprimand when other thoughts-- and deeds-- hadn't yet. Maybe he was just nervous; having the High One making himself known in the middle of that particular train of thought... that was enough to make anyone nervous. Did married supernals thinking about their wives ever have the same problem? ... did married supernals even think about their wives like that?
Tekas paused, sorting out what it was likely his lunch companion was thinking about, then said delicately, " ... ah. What was he talking to you about, then?"
Tayne blinked blankly, then slowly started to smile as what the message was not about gave way to what the message was about. "We're going home."
There was another pause, this one sounding vaguely stunned, then Tekas smiled at him. "Congratulations."
It was starting to sink in, now. Home. He was going home. He'd hardly thought about the City, or even the realm, in months, with the single exception of helping Torshael describe it to Haiiro, and that was about the past, not the future. Not about going back. "I was wondering when he'd call us... we haven't been home in over three years, Tekas. Three years! We can see our parents, and Vienel-- she's our sister, she'll have so many questions-- and-- and... oh." He stopped the flow of words when he realized that smile across the table was more than a little strained. "Oh, Tekas." He'd be leaving Tekasynos behind-- though he might have technically been able to enter the City, being no longer even a little evil, no one would ever let him, and besides, then it would be obvious what they... were. If they "were" anything.
Tayne reached across the table for one of Tekas's hands. "I'll come back," he promised. "If you want me to. I mean, not forever... I can't stay here, I have work, and Torshael to look after. But I can visit, as often as I can get the chance."
"I know." Tekas looked down at their hands. "I didn't mean to darken your mood, Tayne. I'm sorry. I guess I was just hoping you'd be around a little longer...." Me, too, Tayne thought fleetingly. "Three years can feel like an eternity when you're away from home. I'm sure your family has missed you."
"Mother will be crying when we show up on the doorstep. She always is, even when we've only been gone a week," Tayne agreed absently, wishing he could say something that would make Tekas's smile more genuine.
::Later, Tor', I'm kinda busy. I'll see you at dinner, though, all right?::
::: ... all right.::
Well, even if he couldn't have his brother's approval, at least he had his respect enough to let him be when he asked it.
"Tekas... I'll try to be back soon. After something like this-- saving the world, and all-- we'll probably be able to relax for a few months, at least. Maybe longer."
Tekas's smile was a little more real, now, though whether at the idea of his emotive mother or his words, he didn't know. "Take your time and enjoy it, Tayne. I don't mind waiting-- it's not like I'm going anywhere."
"At least you're easy to find, yeah," he nodded, giving his fingers a squeeze. "We're to leave in the morning. I promised Torshael I'd meet him for dinner-- he's probably running around like mad trying to get ready, already, he's so excited-- but... maybe I could come back and stay the night, before I go?" he suggested tentatively.
Amused, Tekas nodded, resting his cheek on his hand as he looked at him, letting their fingers interlace as Tayne relaxed his grip a little. "If you'd like. I certainly don't object."
"Well, hey, gotta have enough of you to last me until I come back, right?" Tayne teased with a grin.
That time the smile was entirely real, and all for him.