Torshael and Tayne's Story: Between Missions
Finding and visiting with all his friends and teachers didn't take as long as Tayne had thought it would. His old teachers from the three years he spent in training were glad to see him and share a story or two about what had happened since they last saw each other-- a few were particularly fascinated to hear about the things he'd done with the education they'd helped give him-- and his friends were happy to catch up, share a few tales and jokes of their own, and have lunch or dinner or even a brief run around the City.
But his teachers were also busy, and there were only so many of them that he cared to see again anyway, and there didn't seem to be as many friends as he'd remembered.... A few were too busy to see him, wrapped up in their work or new families, and he didn't want to bother them. A number had been relocated to outside the City, and tracking them down would be difficult and probably a waste of time, given how busy they were likely to be, as well. A couple had disappeared from the realm entirely, if their families were correct, probably in the same way the infernals had. One had even died, and he'd missed the funeral while out of the realm.
Not even seven days after the funeral, and already he was at loose ends. He could have taken a position with the City guard, but there wasn't much for the City guard to do but watch the peaceful countryside, handle the very rare dispute that came to violence or gathering that got too rowdy, or occasionally help train new recruits. He knew he would have been bored. He could have accepted a mission outside the City, out in the realm on his own or with a temporary partner, but he knew Torshael wasn't going to go, and he didn't really want to work with anyone else. Even those friends who he managed to find and catch up with had lives of their own, positions and missions and families and other friends, and couldn't keep him company all the time. Vaillal was busy helping Torshael redecorate his monster of a house, and mooning about over Tashel when she wasn't busy, and Torshael was dealing with family matters, Haiiro usually with him. Vienel couldn't spare him a lot of time, though the hours he spent with her were remarkably easy and comfortable-- she reminded him strongly of a less outgoing version of their father.
And his own company was slowly wearing thin; he wasn't used to being alone.
He hadn't even realized the entirety of his discomfort-- though someone else obviously had. As he was pacing aimlessly around an upper story of Torshael's huge house and while his brother entertained a few more family members for dinner, he heard quite clearly, ::Tayne Peregrin. It is time to go.::
Tayne paused, blinking. Along with the words came an image, obviously meant for teleporting to. To his surprise, it was actually someplace he recognized.
::Star City?:: he sent back to the High One, and received a wordless affirmative.
Well, that was interesting.
So, without doing more than leaving a note for his family-- he didn't want to deal with explanations, apologies, good-byes, requests to come with him, whatever... the High One had said it was time now, and demons take it, he was going now-- he set about getting together a few things to take with him. He had to make a stop to pick up some gold to exchange once he got there, to pay for a room, but that was his only impediment to leaving. The banker gave him a mildly confused look, probably because he was alone taking out money rather than with Torshael as he always had in the past, but he knew as well as Tayne did that his trip and withdrawal was sanctioned, so he didn't actually comment. Tayne thanked him absently and headed out. He was at the edge of the City before he knew it, staring at the cemetery, bag of gold and sparse belongings slung between his folded wings, and wondering vaguely how he'd ended up there instead of the gates.
Tayne had mostly avoided the cemetery in the week since the funeral, avoided even thinking about it, and for a moment he suspected the High One's interference again. But the streets were exactly as they always were, and he thought that if the High One wanted him to come to the cemetery before he left, he'd have actually suggested it. Invitations were one thing, suggestions quite another. No, it was probably his own two feet and wandering attention that had brought him here, and really, it was just as well. He didn't know how soon he'd be back, and he ought to at least say good-bye to the one person who couldn't track him down again to hear it, himself....
The cemetery was huge, here since the formation of the City, and home to more graves than Tayne had the time or the patience to count. Very nearly every supernal that had ever lived and then died had some sort of remembrance here, whether or not their bodies had survived to be returned, and each one had a life-sized sarcophagus lid that remained above the ground, usually in supernal form but every now and then in another, more preferred form. Tayne suspected he'd wind up immortalized as a lion. He didn't actually know anyone who had taken the time-- or been morbid enough-- to walk the entire place. Though no one really ever talked about it, it was understood that space was somewhat warped in the cemetery, in order to accommodate so many graves and yet still be able to get you to the one you wanted in a timely fashion.
The Peregrin plot was one of the largest, with their family being so old and prolific, and Tayne got to it quickly enough, though the cemetery took its time getting him specifically to Tashel's graveside. The cemetery held various family plots, but also communal plots. Not all supernals cared to be buried on family ground, but the Peregrins had enough family history that it was a rare thing that someone requested to be buried elsewhere, like with a mate or a friend. The entrance to the Peregrin plot was flanked by a pair of somewhat fanciful images of their long-distant forefather Atiel. One showed him in battle with an infernal, and the other him chasing an infernal away. Tayne supposed it was probably supposed to be the Fallen, but if the Fallen was originally a supernal, as well, he doubted he would have looked like a modern infernal when he was cast out.
When he finally found his way to Tashel's grave, it looked just like any other, aside from the image on top. It didn't look new, or even recent, as if it had been there forever. The only difference was it hadn't been intruded upon by the plant-life yet, like some of the older sarcophagi on the plot, with their beds of flowers and creepers starting to claim their stone paws.
Tayne sat in front of his father's stone face, letting his bag slide off his shoulders and onto the grass behind him.
"Hey, Dad," he said, a little self-consciously but not nearly as much so as he'd expected.
Tashel's stone eyes were at least sort of looking in his direction, from this angle.
"I'm leaving again," he told the statue. "Sort of happens a lot, doesn't it? Never home for very long, either of us.... At least this time I'm not likely to get beat up or killed while I'm out there."
He had to pause, remembering that Tashel had been beaten up and killed while he was "out there". After a moment, and a heavy swallow, he muttered, "Sorry." Tashel didn't look particularly offended, so he continued. "But... I'm not even staying in the realm. Again. I'm going back to the same place Torshael bonded, how's that for ironic? For the same purpose, too. I think I might actually get lucky this time; the High One seems optimistic about it. Was his suggestion, actually...."
He sighed, looking up at the statue for a moment. "Wish you could've suggested it," he admitted, then stopped that train of thought before he could get too emotional. "I'm kind of looking forward to it. Bonding, I mean. If it happens. Won't be anyone like Haiiro, I'm sure; I doubt I'd wind up with anyone that gentle, poor kid. He and Tor' do well together, though. You'd love him-- Haiiro-- and I bet he'd've loved you."
There was so much more he wished could've said-- to a living Tashel, not a stone one-- but he couldn't say it here, now, when anyone could walk by and overhear. When he couldn't get advice or understanding, just a blank gaze and perpetual, useless readiness. Tayne reared up, reaching one forepaw up to brush Tashel's lowered muzzle. "Hope you're havin' fun, wherever you're at now," he said at last. "I'll miss you, Dad."
With that, Tayne dropped back down again, turned, and ducked his muzzle under his bag to flip it back on his back. He settled it between his wings, and turned away, back out of the cemetery. There was nothing else to say, and a space ship somewhere waiting for him to sign up.