Legacy II

Feb. 2nd, 2010 01:48 pm
[identity profile] lanfykins.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] zg_shadows
The Duke of Lys Ardh leaned forward in his throne. If the necessity of keeping this small place apart from the world of iron told on his strength, it did not show in either his unlined face or in the glory of his court.

The girl before him seemed cowed by neither. She stood straight-backed, balanced so evenly that only by looking at her feet was it possible to tell that one leg was crippled and twisted such that only her toe took her weight.

"Do you really think I will Sain a crippled stranger into the Warrior Court?" he asked; though not unkindly.

She pressed her lips together in impatience; oddly, the mannerism seemed familiar. "Then introduce me to someone who will. Because I need to change my name, and quickly."

"You have enemies," he concluded, and the oak tree behind him creaked and groaned as it began to move in a wind that no other could feel.

She bit her lip, but did not look away. Instead she met his gaze almost defiantly, and there was something he recognised about the set of her eyes, as well. "I do."

For a moment the world held its breath; and then he chuckled. "Your mother had enemies too, as I recall."

***

Her wings ached with the effort of flying so low, so slow. The dry riverbed twisted; she followed, and suddenly the setting sun was full in her sensitive eyes, like a spike driven into her skull. She automatically banked and something caught her wingtip; the other ploughed into the ground and she tumbled across the concrete-hard ground.

"Mama!" a childish voice cried in distress, and instantly she reverted to her human form, with cramps in her shoulders and bruises all over.

"Hush, Cel," she said, fast and quiet. "Mama's all right, see?" And she used the bank for support as she forced herself to her feet.

A few metres ahead, Dafydd hushed the children and got them moving again, though Celyn kept looking back over his shoulder, scared and uncertain. Only when they were out of sight did she give in to the swimmy feeling in her head, and lean against the bank and try not to throw up at the shooting pain in her crippled leg. Broken or bruised or twisted she couldn't tell. All that mattered was that she could still fly. She waited out the worst of the dizziness and then quickly changed back again, beating her wings for height and trying to ignore the sick feeling in her stomach at each jolt.


***

The fae had cast off their mortal countenances to dance in forms of fire and wind and fur that weaved in and out of the circles formed by Garou and kin. Earth and air were one to them; and to their partners too, although more than one kin looked scared to suddenly discover themselves ten feet in the air.

Only every seven years was this possible; at the gathering of Fae and Garou that Sulien Maneater and Marcus Rolling Thunder had negotiated more than twenty years ago. Still, not everyone was dancing.

Dafydd Wavebreaker watched the revel and thought bitterly about the Nation's priorities. The Fianna and Silver Fangs had almost been wiped out, and yet still the Elders of the tribes clung tightly to ancient ideas of bloodlines and purity. Purity! Treating Garou and Kin alike like breeding stock. And as for the interminable wrangling over tradition and technicality when there was no end to the things that needed doing...

New world, same as the old world, the Children of Gaia said. And who could gainsay them?

He was, he gradually realised, not the only one sitting this one out. Individuals and couples tagged out and in, but there was a girl who never moved; only stood watching the dancers with her arms folded and her long black hair crackling about her face in a wind that didn't exist.

As he watched, a man he didn't know walked up to her with a hand outstretched as if to ask her to dance, then hesitated and clumsily changed it into a glance at his watch instead. Following his original glance, Daffyd saw that the girl's leg was deformed so badly that walking must have been difficult and painful. There was something of the Fianna in her eyes, but there wasn't a Fianna within fifty feet of her, as if disability was catching...

She was very pretty.

He found himself idly wandering over. "Hi," he said casually. "Can I get you a drink?"

***

She swooped down to land, transforming as she did so, and Dafydd caught her as she started to crumple.

"You're hurt." He swung her up in his arms and carried her to what little shelter there was among the rocks.

"My leg. Don't let the kids know." She struggled to get down again.

"They're asleep." She saw it was true; Robyn and Celyn, who normally fought so fiercely, were sprawled beside one another where they had fallen in exhaustion. Even little Jamie was too tired to do more than grizzle feebly.

Daffyd lowered her carefully down beside the baby, and she picked him up and held him to her chest as she fumbled at her shirt. Jamie suckled for a few minutes and then fell into an exhausted sleep, leaving her other breast hot and sore with milk.

"There was nothing in sight on my last pass," she said as she worriedly stroked the head of her youngest child. "With any luck, we've got at least an hour."

"Luck hasn't been a feature of this chase so far," Dafydd pointed out as he sat down beside her with a great sigh. He kissed her, and for a moment she laid her head against his shoulder, feeling his heartbeat fast against her cheek. They'd been running for two days now, Dafydd carrying the children where he could; they'd used every trick that Daniel had taught her, or that they'd learned in twelve years as saboteurs, and still the hunters were on their trail. She wondered which of them would be the first to say it.

"I'll take the watch," Dafydd said abruptly, and she sat up to let him go.


***

"...and Catha says to trust your eyes, not your noses; they can conceal their taint." Dafydd stopped, and narrowed his eyes; the pack's alpha was looking at him oddly.

"I thought your wife's name was Starling."

Dafydd gave an inward sigh. "She changes it," he explained, as he had done in so many similar situations. "She says that if she doesn't have a name she can't be tracked by one." And the face she had shown them wasn't what she really looked like, either, but they didn't need to know that.

"Davy..." the Shadow Lord paused, obviously weighing his words. "I did some research after you left us last time. Your wife says she's Fianna, but I've not found a single family that knows anything about her. Even the Fae; she just turned up, one day. And she knows a lot about what the creatures of the Wyrm can and can't do. A lot."

And there it was; the whispering that had been everywhere these last five years, bare and open in his words. Dafydd set his jaw and fought to control his Rage.

"Do you think I don't know that?" he said at last. "Fine. The intel's good for the next day or so. Use it or don't, it's up to you." And he turned on his heel and walked away.

***

He came in fast, in lupus, and was shifting even before he'd come to a stop. She couldn't understand wolf, but she read his urgency, and had started shaking the children awake even before he spoke.

"They're moving through the trees ahead," he told her. "We're surrounded. They'll be here in ten minutes, maybe less." He hesitated. "Rosaleen," he said at last. "We can get through, but they'll be after us, and we're on our last legs. If I stay to hold them up..."

"Don't be ridiculous." She grabbed his hand and pulled herself to her feet. There was a dizzying burst of pain from her leg, but she was relieved to discover she could put weight on it. "The children can't run, and I can't carry them."

His face was stricken. She put her arms around his neck and leaned, for a moment, against his sturdy, muscular body. After a moment he put his arms around her waist, holding her as gently as if she were a frail bird that might break in clumsy hands.

"I'll stay," she said, forcing it past the sudden tightness in her throat. "Go Hispo. I'll tie the children on."

A six year old. An eight year old. A babe in arms. Too heavy for Davy, surely, but she lifted them onto his back, tied them tight with rope from her pack, made herself smile, knowing from their white, questioning faces that they were scared almot past the point of crying.

"Mama," Robyn whispered, wanting a reassurance that she wasn't sure she could give.

"I'll see you later," she told them, not telling them how much later, or where. "Now run, Davy. Run as fast as you can, and don't look back."


***

He couldn't blame the Nation. It was a worry he still wrestled with sometimes himself; his wife's reluctance to tell him anything of her childhood. Not even the name she had lost when the Fae had taken her in; the name she had once said was the only thing she had of her mother.

He couldn't explain why he trusted her. What it had meant to him that she let him call her by the same name, always. And even he didn't understand the wistful look in her eyes when he called her his Rosaleen Dhu.

***

She had thought she would be afraid, but she wasn't. She rubbed her arms; her skin felt cold. The world stood out sharp to her senses; she could see a bird wheeling half a mile up, hear a pebble clatter down the side of the slope somewhere away to the South.

She wondered whether this was how her mother had felt. She would never know. Her mother had left her only two things; a name she couldn't keep, and a legend she couldn't live up to. She wondered whether her mother would have been proud of her now.

A flash of green light in the corner of her eye and they were on her. She pivoted on her good leg and a tangle of thorns appeared where she had been, slowing them, drawing patterns of black blood on their black hides.

Speed; they were fast, but she was faster. She threw up her head and howled, and her cry was answered from the throats of eight huge hounds, their coats frosted with rime, their eyes glowing red as they plunged among her assailants.

Her enemies were too strong; the dogs wouldn't last long. She dove to the side as something smashed down where she had been; she was not the only one here with magic.

She rolled and tried to come to her feet in a manoevre that Daniel had spent three years hammering into her, but her bad leg gave beneath her. Too much time living. Not enough time fighting. She couldn't find it within herself to regret her choices.

Two minutes since Davy had left. Was that enough? A weight like a building dropped onto her, and there was a sickening crack as her body flared with pain. She couldn't get breath to scream. Claws raked her back.

She reached out for the well of power that called to her. The fears of men. Winter everlasting. As always, it rose eagerly to her touch, flaring through her like liquid oxygen, wild and uncontrolled. The great beast that pinned her hesitated as suddenly her blood ran cold as ice onto stones that steamed with the chill. She raised one hand, her arm blue and crystal, as the sky turned white above. And then she let go.


***

Thirty three years after the Apocalypse, an exhausted Garou carrying three hypothermic children stumbled into one of the Nation's rare safe houses and collapsed.

Tracking back along his trail, the local kin found themselves on the edge of an ice field that stretched for at least a mile, back to the splintered ruin of trees that had been a copse before the sap froze in their branches. Two of them tried to venture out onto the ice, but were beaten back by the intense cold.

When the ice finally thawed, they found at its centre the remains of a number of powerful Wyrm creatures, and the signs of battle. But of the woman who had called herself Rosaleen, nothing remained at all.

Date: 2010-02-02 04:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twicedead.livejournal.com
This makes me very sad. Can't we have the thousand year one instead?

Date: 2010-02-02 09:17 pm (UTC)
ext_20269: (cats - ying/yang)
From: [identity profile] annwfyn.livejournal.com
You see, when I read this I thought the two could run together quite smoothly. You can see them as different points of view of the same story.

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