I’d already finished my NaNo early, because I knew I’d have to, but here’s a little treat. I spent some time working a few kinks out with Cait, so this a joint piece we wrote together. Kain’s bits are hers, Meliki’s are mine.
“Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, my friend. I seem to have stumbled upon a most interested situation – or rather, she stumbled upon me.”
Kain quirked an eyebrow, fingers trailing over his newest batch of greenery. Little plants, growing quickly. “And what would that be?”
That got his attention. Death magic was never something to brush off. Usually because of who wielded it. He tilted his head, his motions stilling for a moment before he plucked a small weed from the bed. “Is Nanae alright?” It wasn’t what he wanted to ask, but it was polite to address concern over her people first.
“I tucked the girl away in the den they have there, drown her in some well water to smother her own magics. Everything settled back down well enough, but that’s not the end of it. Her step-father is a witch -very recent marriage to her mother, and the poor woman is crawling with charms. He all outrage and accusation when he came for the girl, and he doped her with binding spells almost as soon as he got her home again. I don’t like it, it all smells rotten.”
He sat back on his heels, letting his gaze go out of focus. Messy. It was messy. A witch hoarding a girl with death magic… Infinitely messy. He hated messes that he hadn’t orchestrated. When done right, there could be a beauty in chaos – like when a storm finally broke and unleashed its fury. But when a witch was concerned, they rarely cared for the beauty involved. Too busy grasping and grabbing whatever power they could come across. Everything was acquisitions with those sort. No appreciating life for the sake of life. Everything needed a purpose. He sighed. No, a witch with death magic was not something that should ever be allowed to happen. They could cause enough trouble with their dabblings as it was… They couldn’t be allowed to expand to the realms of life and death.
“Rotten, indeed.” He turned an eye back to the bed and plucked another weed. “Well water though… That was a good play. So she has to return?” He knew she would, but he was curious what the deva’s plan was so far, no doubt she had something in the works. It was part of why he liked her.
“That was the idea – I don’t know how what he’s doped her with affects things though. It’s only a temporary measure, I imagine it’ll wear off within the week, and he’s interested in her power, he won’t keep suppressing it like that- undoubtedly it was only to buy him time. Then again, that’s all my water was for either. We’ve both a fair foothold on her magics, but honestly I’m not sure I want mine. That damned fool bird with the bar is involved to, and I can’t begin to guess what he wants with her.”
“Rook?” Now his head came up, giving her a look. He tucked away any other reaction he might have shown. Rook… Well, that was certainly… Interesting. He could guess at a multitude of reasons why he might care about a girl with death magic, but trying to figure out which was the real reason… Or even assuming one was more real than the others… Well, it would be like trying to guess his own motivations.
Meliki nodded. “That’s what I figured.” She picked a few more weeds, before finally the question that was really why she’d come here. “Do do we really want to trust her to Rook? I know I’m not one to talk, being one of the newest new comers here, but none of us really know anything about him, as far as I can tell. He hides in plain sight -that can’t be good….”
He nodded, understanding her concern. “Rook… Is complicated.” He smiled, faintly amused. “Then again, who isn’t?”
A few more weeds plucked from the bed and he pushed a little energy into a plant who needed more firm roots to keep from dying soon. “And I think that between the two of them, I’d rather witches keep far from death magic. It isn’t their realm and it should never be so.”
Meliki nodded, agreeing whole heartedly. The fact that any creatures belonged to the realm of death magic unnerved her. Then again, as a being whose sole purpose was to help bring about life… well, it was understandable that death bringers made her nervous. Still though….
“Is it really just between the two of them though? I still a fair claim on the girl at the moment – I don’t want it, but I have it. At this point, I’d almost rather keep her myself if my choices are witch or mysterious stranger.”
“Keeping an eye on her certainly couldn’t hurt. I assume you’d keep some of your spiders with her.” And if she kept an eye on the situation, then he could do the same, but with less energy on his part.
She nodded, leaving the weeds for a moment because she was too distressed to pay them proper attention. “Some of them are already fond of her even, too. But that just makes me worry more, because of the danger she poses. It’s only a matter of time before someone truly nasty finds this child and cuts a swath through us all to get to her.” She was still a moment, then added quietly, “I’d much rather this be someone else’s problem by that point.”
He nodded absentmindedly. His thoughts were already flying in a different direction. If she was genuinely worried… And this was a human… And she had a point, while he would rather Rook handle the death magic than a witch, a known player would be preferable to any level of uncertainty. He might not have suggested it if she hadn’t brought up the very good point of trouble raining on this district, either from the girl or from the wrong interested party. It was extreme, but…
“There is another party you might contact to take interest in the girl – their focus is balance, so they could easily minimize any threat she might pose.” He toyed with a poor looking leaf, pinching it off in the end. “They would be neutral in the whole affair.”
“Yes?” she asked, a little too eager. But she didn’t ever bother trying to play careful cards around Kain anyways – he could always read whatever she was holding back. “Why does it matter whether or not she’s human? I’m not completely positive on that account…”
“If she reads human right now, that will be enough…” He sighed, unsure how much of this he wanted to explain. It didn’t make him nervous to think of dealing with them again, perhaps it should, but in either case, if he played his cards right, he wouldn’t have to deal with them at all. “At the center of our plane is a smaller one, more compact and is essentially the fountainhead of energy for our plane. All energy passes through our plane and is directed – by belief, by directed effort… To those around us. Those in the center are fairly reclusive, only caring if the energy flow of the planes is disrupted… A human girl capable of directing death magic might qualify.”
“Ah, the seed of life,” she said, putting the pieces together in a way that made sense to her. If she was wrong, well, it didnt seem all that important that she properly understand. “So how do I go about contacting this neutral party?”
He tapped a finger against the edge of the garden bed. That was an excellent question. There was a possibility he could open a channel of communication, but the whole keeping himself out of it… It might be easier for a creature that wasn’t entirely corporeal to open a channel of communication. “Well, someone not entirely based in this physical plane might be able to open a channel for communication, if you know one.” He gave her a small smile, knowing that he tried to avoid underselling the earth deva.
“Hmmm….” She dug into the earth as she though, going after the weeds she’s been too distracted to pick earlier. Actually, that gave her an idea. “I often commune with a spirit in the center of the earth – at least, that’s how it seems in my mind. Would that do, perhaps?”
His expression turned considering. A spirit in the center of the earth… That was so vague as to be meaningless almost. It could be from any of the six surrounding realms or the innermost plane, though he doubted anyone from there would bother communing with a deva. “Perhaps, it’s certainly worth asking if they could put a word in for you.”
“They have a few names commonly used… The Shining Ones will get the message across… You might add that you have a human wielding death magic… May help direct your request.” He was glad she was going to ask now, it gave him the chance to keep an eye on the whole ordeal.
She reached into the core of the world, feeling herself slip between layers like the river and sand, down into the shining light. “Mother,” she breathed.
She closed her eyes and went deep inside herself, listening for the voice within the earth. The held the thought of the Shining Ones, firmly in her head, repeating the prayer for help she’d uttered earlier when she’d first decided the girl was too big a problem to handle alone.
“Help us,’ she whispered. “Help your children in this time of need. She, who is the giver of life, she, who is the mother of us all, hear your child, and know that are in need of you now. Help us, mother, help us to find Shining Ones that will keep this child from raining blood down upon us. Take my prayer to the ears that need to hear it.”
The held the thoughts clear in her mind, of her brush with Rain’s magic, of how Kain had said the neutral party, the Shining ones, lived with the seed of the earth, she sent her fears of blood and death and a plea for help, then she collapsed in on herself, exhausted. She didn’t usually reach that deeply that close together. It took quite a toll on her.
When she felt she could stand it again, she opened her eyes and withdrew her hand from the soil “Well then,” she said with a grin. “Something like that?”
“And now… It’s just waiting. But I doubt they’ll let a possible threat go long without investigating further.”
She nodded, eyes drooping. In her desperation, she’d put more of herself into it than she’d meant to. But hopefully her fear and her need would make her prayer strong and bright, and she could always nap if her eyes kept insisting on drooping so much.
She chuckled softly. “That obvious, am I?” She wrapped the little tendril about herself eagerly enough, despite her blustering. She knew he could tell exactly how much that had taken out of her, probably better than she could, with her brain all sleepy like at the moment.
“Mm…” He felt her pull on the energy and let it feed into her, enjoying the feeling. He reached out, moving just enough to wrap his arms around her. “I wouldn’t say obvious… I prefer to think of myself as just exceptionally skilled at reading those around me.” He chuckled, a rumble in his chest, making a gentle joke of his words.
He laughed again. “Name calling now, are we? Now, now, I’m being exceptionally generous and sharing here – I think what you mean to say is that I’m quite splendid in my offer of assistance. You’re welcome, by the way.” He nuzzled his jaw against her hair.
“You know me” she said with a chuckle, “I’m just cranky child in need of a nap.” She settled in more thoroughly, always feeling at home in his arms. It was like being cradled by a mountain. “I believe,” she said as she closed her eyes, “that I’ll do just that.”
“Ah, then I should get more comfortable if I’m going to serve as a bed for such a beautiful… If prickly, flower.” He easily scooped her into his arms as he rose to his feet. He carried her to a more secluded part of the garden, where a plush carpet of convenient clover would make a pleasant bed for himself to sprawl on. There was a moment of debate whether he would rather sun or lean against a tree in the shade, but he headed for a large oak nearby. Leaning against it would make it easier to cradle her against him and he did just that, settling her over his thighs so she could lean her head against his chest.
She laughed softly at his flower comment, but that was about the best she could manage. Even with his energy wrapped around her, her spirit was still exhausted, and having the weight of the Rain problem lifted from her mind, even just hypothetically, released a knot of worry she’d been carrying and she completely relaxed into Kain’s hold. When he finished rearranging them, she snuggled into his chest and fell into a deeply peaceful sleep.
She’d needed it.
He chuckled as she fell almost instantly into sleep’s hold and his. He settled back against the tree, considering her words a little more heavily. Death magic in a seemingly human child. Rook’s interest… He knew the man was more than he seemed and had his suspicions of what that was. Still, it seemed that the upcoming weeks or months could be very telling in a few ways. He was most interested in seeing what an Ancient One said about the girl.
Kain rubbed a hand against Meliki’s arm, closing his eyes in the warmth of the garden. No need to worry about currently, surely there was time for a nap before they’d get back to the deva on the matter. And a nap sounded good.