Lihan Hawkhome, Part II

Thursday August 14, 2003 @ 04:05 PM (UTC)

From the makers of Part I

Lihan froze. The children still stared upwards, and a little one in the front row laughed at Lihan’s fearful grimace. He spared a moment to shoot the urchin a nasty look as he turned to scarper for the opposite door. He peeled around the Hearth at the center of the chamber, and saw two guards, swords sheathed, walking curiously towards him. As their eyes reflected his aura and comprehension dawned, Lihan hollered,” Projectile vomit!" and ran between them, admiring their bewildered faces in passing. “That went remarkably well,” he muttered breathlessly as he ran, coat-tails flapping and several quills falling to the marble floor, for the open portal.

He dashed out, blinking, into the glaring afternoon sunlight. There was a piebald horse with a liveried messenger holding its stirrup, whickering in the yard. “Excuse me!” he shouted, and leapt into the saddle, pinching the man’s fingers with his rather scuffed traveling boots. He pulled his heels in tightly, and the horse obliged with a gallop. He saw the guards in passing, and a posse of children, led by the redhead, emerging from the manse en masse. Brat. Then he was gone, through the closing gates and onto the roads, leaving a comet’s trail of evanescent glow behind him. Stars only knew where he could go from here. As he settled into the piebald’s loping pace, he shook his head. I had to use an escape plan. He shuddered.

Lihan had been born in the northeast corner of Creation, where the cold of the North met the forbidding trees of the East, and frost made the ground too hard for mud pies. His father was a fur-trapper, making his living off the dangerous but beautiful creatures that roamed the woods so close to the Wyld. His wife kept the home fires burning. They were young, as were all the families on the frontier. Everyone wanted to make a nest egg and get out quick — before the creatures got lucky or the dreadful Fae swept across the marches for a visit.

All the children of Woodsend were friendly, or at least civil. Their small numbers and the constant tension of their parents reduced their own troubles. Lihan had a sweet, lopsided smile and twinkling eyes, but was actually quite responsible, and therefore had to look after his little sister a great deal. Since she was not yet two, and mostly slept, he wiled away hours with pine needles or twigs, pine cones or chicken bones, building houses, castles, temples, fortresses, and towns, which little Ida, upon waking, would eye with gurgling delight and paw with disastrous consequences. He did not mind. There was always another growing behind his eyes.

Lihan was building a temple out of pine cones in the little bedroom they all shared. It was Autumn, and the smell of dead leaves wafted from the few summer greens the villagers had planted. Ida was sleeping on top of his parents’ big bed, her fringe sticking to her head with sweat despite winter’s touch on the air. He looked up to check the path for signs of his mother, who was washing at the creek, and he placed a pinecone badly. One whole side of the ziggurat disgorged pine cones like a volcano spewing forth boulders, and Lihan said a word he’d heard the fur traders say.

Crawling awkwardly in his heavy fall clothes, he pursued the last two cones under his parents’ low bed. He heard hoof beats! He squirmed mightily to get to the first cone. Maybe the traders had come! Or a messenger, or even a bard! He would just clean up his cones and go see. He was straining for the second cone, sneezing slightly, when he heard the first scream.

It was not a scream with words in it, or one in which you could recognize a certain person’s voice. It was fear, despair, loss, and agony given a common note and a common time. The sound did not fade, but stopped with a strangled suddenness — but by that time, there were other screams — screams with words, with people. They were under attack! The voices tried to move south, out of the village, but redoubled and returned.Surrounded, thought Lihan. He could do nothing about his mother. Suddenly, he thought of Ida, who would soon awaken at the noise and cry. Just as suddenly, as he turned to shimmy out of the tight space to get his sister, there were feet on the dusty plank floor of the cabin. He had never seen such feet before. The ankles were as thin as his mother’s wrists, and clear as the water in the brook before it reached the town. You could see veins of strange blood, silver and bronze, dancing through the diamond-clear flesh. The ankles led down into slippers, not boots, slippers that were made of gold that flexed and furred like velvet. They were beautiful and strange, enchanting yet viscerally wrong. He did not need to see the rest of the graceful invader to know that the Fae had come to Woodsend, and brought ravening Chaos with them.

To be continued…


Now I want to play some exalted. Shit and goddamn.

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