Old May 21, 2017, 11:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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[PA] Act Two: A Shattering in F# Minor

Summer Era XXIV


Drive out, O king of suns
generous and great
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart

-Heyr, himna smišur
"Now that I am gone, remember me with smiles and laughter."

The head resting on his shoulder shifted gently but remained there, the delicate hand within his own giving a gentle squeeze before it, too, fell still. He remained silent as he stared at the stone on the ground before him, pale eyes grazing the words but not quite finding the meaning within them. They were empty, just as his heart felt... cold, even beneath the summer suns.

"And if you need to cry, cry with your brother, who walks in grief beside you."

He closed his eyes and exhaled, feeling his eyes want to burn again. The nights had not been kind to him, and the shadows beneath those eyes had darkened since his most recent travels. The brandy had been dying down. The stirring of his heart had picked up a painful pace. The weight on his shoulders had deepened, too, under a darkness that pushed in from all around him. It was getting more difficult for him to breathe. The hand within his own tightened as if triggered by the tightening of his throat.

"Look ahead, Brother, to the horizon. Not to the years behind you."

He opened his eyes again. Beyond he could see nothing but a sea of graves on a backdrop of vivid green. His lips twisted at the consideration that his father's was among them, and he felt his companion's other hand settle tenderly over top of his. Always there, always knowing. Always understanding.

"What if there's nothing there?"

The woman's sigh was soft and knowing. "There is always something there. If only you would ever look hard enough."

He narrowed his eyes at the point ahead where the land of graves met the morning sky. He tried to see what she had always wanted him to see, tried to reach out for what she had always hoped he'd find, but as always, his heart was met with little more than nothing.

He swallowed. The warmth of the tears that fell down his cheeks did little to light a fire within. He squeezed back against the hand in his, urging what strength it could provide for the days to come ahead.

"Forgive me," he breathed. For disappointing you. For failing, time and time again.

"Oh, Adyn. It was never my forgiveness that you needed."

A pause, yet even then he could feel her slipping away. His head bowed beneath the grief of it. To experience it again, and again, and again.

"One day you will see it, I promise you."

And with a final slip of her hands from his, he knew that Aria was gone.

Last edited by Adynirach; May 21, 2017 at 11:54 AM.
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Old May 22, 2017, 09:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It was long overdue, this visit.

Sorrowpeak, so aptly named, cradled the flesh and bones, the remains of those families that lived, and had lived in Noble's Nest for generations. Verdant grass and trees offered comfort and shade to those who no longer needed it, and the view was dotted by headstones and broken by the grand, stately mausoleums that had been erected long before the living memory of any human still living in the city. Many of them were of elven design, and stood out amongst the rest, seeming to fit more naturally into the landscape.

Houses for the dead, Kailin had thought them all, when she was a child. Places where living family could visit, have a cup of tea, carry on as if nothing had changed except the location. Fantasies... childish ones that proved how little she'd understood of death, then.

The Alyxanda's had a mausoleum, of course. A quiet, echoing space into which she would never have placed her father's remains. But of course she hadn't been here, and every time she came to visit she was reminded of that fact again.

He would have wanted to be somewhere outside, where he could see the sea beyond, where he could watch the weather change. But again, fantasies. Death was - if not an old friend - a well known enemy, by now. And she knew that her father didn't want anything, anymore. Was past wanting.

Not so, her. The walk up with Adyn had been quiet, though he'd held her hand. That was something, at least. She'd shown him where Aria had been buried, so close to his father's grave. (Had he been to visit Samson's grave yet? Kailin couldn't remember.) And then she'd left him to his grief, to the conversation she was sure he needed to have, and had gone to find her own.

Leaning against the wall of her family's mausoleum, the stone was cool, a welcome respite from the heat of the suns. They were dipping down now, coming to the time of brightening when the light shone burnished orange and copper as she looked out over the sea and the heat came from both above and below. At her feet was the small plaque, the one that had no body beneath it. The one that sat alone on this side of the building.

She smiled down at it through her tears, watching the few daisies she'd placed on top dance as they were tugged gently by the wind. Her aunt had not wanted the plaque here, alone, away from the rest of the family, but one did not argue with a mother crazy with grief, and Kailin had been adamant that her daughter's gravestone be somewhere open, with a view.

Fantasies, again. It only mattered for her, now. Lilia's body had been buried in New Coldmoon, so this was just a placeholder, anyway.

Sniffing, she wiped at her cheeks and bent down, touching a kiss to her fingertips and pressing them to the sun-warmed stone, head bent and hair brushing the ground, pushing the daisies to the side so that the name stood clear for a moment before Kailin stood and turned away. Lilia Arabani.

Kailin made her way slowly back toward Adyn, approaching from the side and a bit behind him so that she watched as his head bowed. Watched and felt it stagger her a bit, because she was fluent in the language of loss. How fresh it could be, no matter how long it had been.

Catching her breath, she found that she had fresh tears on her cheeks as she continued to where he stood. Slipping in behind him, she twined her hand with his as she came flush against his back, and in his other hand, she tucked the remaining daisies she'd carried, then wrapped her now free hand around his abdomen.

Pressing her cheek to his shoulder, she simply breathed for a long while, listening to the beat of his heart, feeling the wind play through her hair where it fell loose down her back. It should have been hot, standing there against him, but he was so cold.

"Aria..." her voice was thick, full of the tears she'd been crying, and she cleared her throat softly, "she used to make crowns of daisies, do you remember? Lilia loved them..." a soft, hiccoughing laugh took the place of a sob, "I like to think of them together, now. Aria, Lilia, Ellinor. Our fathers." Her arm tightened around his waist. He was so cold.

Fantasies, again. But one she would hold onto if she could, because the thought of her daughter out there alone in the dark would otherwise bring her to her knees, and she'd never get back up.
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Old May 22, 2017, 10:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Her absence left him cold.

The letters upon the stone were clearer now that he could truly see them. Aria Gallien, next to the smaller grave of a child named Ellinor.

What had he ever known but her, but their father? In the spaces where he had never truly belonged, Aria had stood beside him. In the moments when he had been afraid, Samson had held his hand. In the moments when he had been uncertain, both had told him that they would be there for him, ready to greet the man that he became.

He wanted to believe them. To believe that the things he truly needed would be there for him when his heart cried strongest for them. But now he felt alone as the pieces that filled his heart burned somewhere at the edges, leaving in its place a hollowness that he could not, for the life of him, fill.

The realization of that felt worse when Kailin slipped her arms around him. He resisted the urge to reach up to his chest, to clutch at the pain of it seemingly collapsing. Gods, she had tried. Tried to understand him, to help him, to love him. And what had he ever done beyond return what she had given, broken and consumed? He didn't understand the hole that stood where certainty had once been. Certainty that he was full and happy, that he knew what he wanted, that the shadows of his life could easily be left behind him. Why not? Why couldn't he just step away from the things he'd accepted only out of necessity, understand that he had enough to keep him well and loved and healthy now?

Why was it not enough?

He wanted to scream. He wanted to ask Aria how she had laughed even when she had wanted, so much, to cry. He wanted to ask Samson of all the times he had doubted himself and his path, to know if he had ever known a time where he had felt utterly and completely lost. He wanted to ask himself what in this world would ever satisfy him, if not what he had?

He was tired of feeling broken. And yet in knowing that whatever had been jostled loose throughout eras of struggle - of fear, of death - would never truly mend, he couldn't help but feel helpless. Tired. And despite the woman who held him, very much alone.

If only he could understand what kept him just out of reach of her... understand what made him unable to meet her with the same strength of heart and mind that she held him with each night. If only he could understand.

He listened to Kailin's voice, willing it to anchor him as it always had. The lull of it reached around his heart, and though its touch was warm, his heart still felt so very cold.

He did lift a hand to his chest then, letting the daisies that had somehow found their way into the other hand spill out onto the grave below.

"You did like daisies, didn't you...?" he said softly to the grave. I'd trade you daisies for a song. As they'd gotten older, the songs had changed to poems, and from poems they had changed to advice. A small hiccup escaped him at the sudden pain he felt at the absence of that advice. "I have so much to ask you still."

He closed his eyes. Why, after all, should he have to figure these things out on his own? How in Aeternia was he supposed to know what Aria kept trying to show him on that horizon?

He thought, perhaps, he never would. And that was what hurt the most.

"Forgive me," he repeated, his voice a rasp. Still the words fell on empty air, and he knew that no matter what answer came, the illness within him would be far from cured.

He let his head lift toward the sky. "I don't know where to go from here."
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Old May 22, 2017, 11:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Adyn spoke as if she weren't even there, and Kailin's heart constricted painfully, a vise closing around her throat as she held him. He'd been slipping away from her, lately, and she'd begun to muse about whether it might be harder than when he'd simply disappeared.

Loss was a language she was far too familiar with. And the loss of Adyn was something she'd lived through once before. It would be so much worse, this time, for the having of him.

Her hand slid out from between his fingers and flattened against his chest, so that she was now holding him with both arms. Did he even notice? She wanted to shake him, suddenly, to call him back from wherever he was going.

But she was fluent in grief. Knew that lost, untethered feeling that reached out from his words to pluck at those places in her that resonated. As was often the case, Adyn sounded the note, and she felt herself vibrate with it.

Biting back a cry, she tucked her head into that place where the strength of his shoulders ran into his neck, and breathed deep. The scent of him filled her, and she told herself to remember. Even knowing that she wouldn't, not for long, she tried.

"She would be happy that we danced, finally, at least," she whispered, the silent rain of her tears shaking her voice on the last two words. And there was no masking the grief in those syllables, deeper and broader than she could credit, even standing at the graveside of the young woman she'd loved.

"What is there to forgive, Adyn?" She forced herself to ask, taking one more lungful of him before lifting her head out of that space she'd come to love, wanting to find and kiss the angle of his jaw. Wanting to never let go. Living was so much harder than dying, sometimes. It was not the first time she'd thought it, and Kailin knew it would not be the last.

It struck her suddenly that they should not do this here. Here amongst the dead. Here over Aria's grave. But he was here, and she had brought him here, and until he moved, she could not force herself away from him. Not even to escape the answer she feared was coming.

Kailin shivered, suddenly cold, as if it had leeched out of him and into her. And still, she did not relax her grip, could not.
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Old May 23, 2017, 12:09 AM   #5 (permalink)
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She doesn't deserve this. A soft refrain within his mind. A silent reminder that what he wanted to take from her was something that he was not in the place to give. A promise to not allow himself to buckle beneath the grief of losing her.

It took everything that was left within him.

He should have known that the solidity beneath his feet would not last for very long. That the haunts would return, that the distant ache would strengthen, that the misery he couldn't explain would rear up at his throat once more to starve him. He didn't know how to make it better. He didn't know how to stop the hurt. But the fact that it was there at all was enough. He couldn't do this to her as well.

Her words were like ice against his skin. The blood seemed to slip away from him and drain into the grave below, to dampen the shadows at his feet until they were dark enough to fall through.

"She would," he breathed. She would always be happy. What he wouldn't give to be able to bask in that again.

"Everything." Another breath. His fingers brushed softly at the more delicate hand against his chest, wanting to clutch onto it and hold it there forever. He wanted, so selfishly, to give beneath the pressure of it. To tell her that everything was fine.

But it wasn't. And he wasn't. And he was left with the question why.

Yet no answer ever came. The space where Aria had been standing was vacant and far too cold.

"I love you, Kailin," he managed at last, throat tight from power the words held to him. His hand paused against hers and then pressed it to his chest, willing its warmth to find him.

"But I'm lost. And I need..."

Answers. Direction. Time.

He didn't, couldn't explain. Unknowable words teetered upon open lips, words he wished to the gods that he could give her.
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Old May 23, 2017, 12:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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She felt the brush of his fingers against her the back of her hand, and she wanted, needed him to finish the gesture, to pin her hand beneath his own and add the warmth that only he had to give. If only he'd had it to give.

His words of love struck her hard, and she shook against him, almost losing the battle to keep the sound of her breaking inside. The moan touched the back of her lips before she swallowed it down.

Lost. Yes... that was what she felt, what she remembered. What now yawned below her feet again. It was a funny thing, to find that there were still whole places in her heart that could crack and bleed. Such a familiar feeling, she sighed into it, a release, even as his hand finally found hers, pressing it against his chest.

If they pressed her hand past the hard bones of his ribcage, would she find him cracked and bleeding too? Such a delicate muscle, the heart, and such flimsy protection it had.

Her hand slid out from under his, and hands on his shoulders turned him to face her, using whatever strength the horror of this moment gave her. Couldn't step in front of him, because she would be standing on Aria, then.

Tears fell down her cheeks in twin streams, dripping from her chin and running down her neck to fall down the expanse of her chest to be caught finally by the material of her light summer gown. Pale green eyes tried to meet those cloudy blues, caught and held.

Her chest heaved with a silent sob before her eyes fell closed, and she did what she could to hold back the grief clawing at her throat, swallowing before her eyes opened again, the green made more vivid by the red of her tears, "I know, love." She swallowed again, her chest aching with the struggle for control.

The kiss she pressed to his mouth was full of salt and sorrow, desperate with the love that she knew wasn't enough.
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Old May 23, 2017, 01:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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His knees felt weak. He fought the buckle of them, his shoulders wanting to collapse forward, his head to curl in. Words couldn't describe how much he wanted to breathe in and find the world again. To wrap her arms more tightly against his body and to find himself again.

He let her turn him, if only because he had been yearning through his fear to see her face. His eyes were red, face stained with tears that had come to him many nights even before this moment, and all at once he could feel the fatigue of what had clutched at him too long.

He couldn't take the words. "I know." I know. I know.

His arms wrapped around her in a plea for the help he wished she could give him. The back of his throat felt strained and raw from his grief as he kissed her. There was little he could do to hold back his desperation, the hope that within it he would find the answers he was looking for.

His hands found her face as he forced his lips to let go. His heart refused to follow.

"Forgive me. Gods, forgive me." A cry escaped him as he shut his eyes tightly against the crushing force of her absence.

He wasn't running, he told himself. Not again. Not this time.

And yet he couldn't help but wonder as he continued to retreat from her, as with every word and every sob he seemed to leave her there, alone. It seemed that already, the only pieces that were left of him were being placed into her hands where they belonged - where they were safer. Where he wanted them the most.

He wanted to say something, anything. To say that he always got everything wrong. No words would leave his throat. He pulled her in, enveloped her in a helpless attempt to drive away what he had done. But it would never be enough.
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Old May 23, 2017, 01:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Kailin did know. And for the first time since he'd returned to life, to her life, she hated the knowing. Hated what she could read in his face when he turned to her.

But she had always known. Known that you couldn't hold fire, not without getting burned eventually. So, as tightly as she'd held him when he'd come to her, taken him into herself body and soul, she knew better than to try to capture him when he started to slip and spin away. What hope she'd had, that she might help him to burn steady and strong turned to ashes as she looked at him now. A coldness settled instead into her chest, a creeping fear climbing in that told her this flame that she loved so well might just burn itself out.

She tried to tell him with her kiss, everything that words couldn't say. Felt the desperation that was a match to hers as he returned it. His fingertips, his palms found the wetness on her cheeks as he drew back from the kiss, leaving behind a shuddering gasp that turned into a soft moan as he asked for forgiveness? From who? From her? Aria? Himself?

She couldn't help leaning into his touch, wanting any last kiss, every last caress. Wanting more, unable to let go.

Her head had finally fallen of its own accord into the hollow of his throat, and when he pulled her against him, she went willingly, her tears falling hot and fast down his neck now.

"No, love, there is nothing to forgive. I love you, Adyn. You," her hands pressed against his back, as if she was trying to make him understand something important. But she could not force that, either.

She drew back from him, sniffling to find her voice, husky and raw with the pain of holding in the sobs she was working so hard to control as she tried to find his gaze and hold it again, "You were always worth the risk. And you are not alone, Adyn, never again. We are your family," the words were harsh with something that was almost anger, and her hands clenched around the fabric of his shirt, shaking it. A warning, then, not to go disappearing this time.

"Kerric can't lose you again," these words were softer, but no less sure. Unsaid, the fact that she would swallow whatever she needed, to protect him, them. Would lose everything, herself, and make her sacrifice as silent as possible to protect that spark. Because she loved him, loved them both, and that was love. Painful, and messy, and horrible... and strong enough to kill a person, or save them.

One last time, she tilted her head up to reach that spot at the corner of his jaw, placing a kiss that shattered what was left of the ragged, wounded thing in her chest. Whatever control she had shattered with it, and she ripped herself out of his arms, the green of her eyes flashing up at him, wide and haunted before she spun away.

Kailin knew, as she walked away from Adyn, from her love - body shaking with the sobs that she could no longer hold inside - that he held the wreckage that was her heart. She wondered if she would ever get it back.
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