Theris: Homecoming pt. 1

Writer’s Warning:

This particular story was once posted on my DeviantArt account under the user name LadyAnder. When I deleted my account, so did I this story. So yes, this story has been posted on the internet and was written probably about 4-5 years ago when I was working on the novel Risen. I’ve spoken about Risen in that it was this novel that spawned the stories. This particular short story was a practice of me fleshing Mien’s backstory out. I tried to make sure that this story doesn’t contain spoilers and as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t contain anything major. However, you’ve been warned.

I’m not sure if you nessarily need to read Hy’Ruh-Ha as this story was writter prior to it. In fact, when this story was written, I had no intention of writing Hy’Ruh-Ha.

Who is Theris?

Main character of the novel I wrote that I’ve not posted named Risen. Most of his stories are written in 1st person. He’s the reason that nothing I written after Risen(everything on this site) is written in 1st person. I’ve trouble writing multiple voices.

That being said, sit down and enjoy the story.

I had limited interaction with my family during those tender growing years where the concept “kin” is understood. After I became reacquainted with them, that concept never jumped at me. Feeling akin to them didn’t come easily. I felt more like a stranger in a room full of familiar but distant objects and faded memories.

I’ve spoken to those closest to me about it just for some perspective years later. Most don’t necessarily understand. It’s a cultural thing I suppose. You take pride in your family. You wield your house name, and honor it. That’s the romanticized version really. Realistically, many are a slave to their house more than proud members. You may dislike what they do and they may be scum of the earth but they are your family, you can’t act against them. If one does, there’s a mighty good reason for it.

My detachment to them was never because they were bad people. It’s just well, my wife says it best. Blood doesn’t bind me to people. It’s who they are. I suppose I got that from my mentor.

My mentor Mien isn’t bound by the blood of his family either. His situation has similarity to my own but very different. I witnessed his awkwardness with his family. They held their own belief of who he was instead of seeing who he was. Then again, my mentor cultivated that belief mostly out of fear. Those moments clung to me and perhaps were what helped me overcoming my clumsiness with my own of being someone different from what they imagined. Unlike him, I never pretended to be something I wasn’t. That memory clings to me, the day I met his infamous family.

What set the mood for this experience was the rain. It wasn’t raining at first though. We were on a mission with the sun bearing down on us. It had been a drought year. The ground was baked and crack. The heat was overbearing and the many Brotherhood bands going out on patrols were limited. We went out as needed. At the time, Master Sol, who was acting first of our band, was one of them called away to small village that suffered from a brush fire. It took out most of it. It took several days of long work to establish some sort of shelter as well healing aid, which wasn’t Mien’s specialty.  Given that I was a chanter with no knowledge of the healing phrase, I was useless in treating wounds other than putting on ointments and wrapping them. However, seeing burned flesh made my stomach turn. I turned to other duties like keeping the children happy and distracted from the destruction around them with games.

Another band came to take over situation with another chanter priest, Sister Kiao who was an astounding healer who in charge of the infirmary. She never did much field work as she was keeping an eye on locales close to the town. However, Mien sweet talked her into coming, as some burns were serious. The rest of our band returned to the monastery, Mien and I stayed behind instead of leaving it to Kiao. Mien didn’t want to leave his patients just yet as well as spend time with his bond partner. I wanted to leave. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help. It was just the old silvered haired farmers kept warning us like prophets about the shift in the wind and coming contour of blanket of white clouds was a sign of mass destruction. They told stories of great floods decades past. It sounded scary and thus it excited my young mind. However, I didn’t want to be the boy engulfed in a flash flood and have my cloths torn off by the force. My mentor Mien ignored them.

To give Mien some slack, he was young which meant his ability to make sound decisions on his own was impaired. Granted, I was told that ability was impaired already. It wasn’t that he scoffed at their warnings. It wasn’t that he completely written off their wisdom. It was that just that, well, he’s Mien. He tended to become focused on his work and doesn’t bend. Master Sol wasn’t there to get him to bend, as he was very good at reasoning with him. Kiao, the rational one, decided that it was better he stay there and help her because they could get double the work done. So that left me to reason with them and I had yet to gain that skill. I was still a boy.

“I’ve seen clouds before,” he said to me after I tried to get him to consider it. “There is nothing special about them as well as the wind.”

“But I don’t want to be swept away,” I told him.

“And you won’t. We’ll get caught in a little heavy rain,” he concluded. “If need be, we’ll stop in the nearest town and wait it out.”

That was his plan and I went along with it. Looking back, I should have tried harder to convince him otherwise.  Our relationship wasn’t that strict he was the teacher and I was the student thus, I need to keep my mouth shut and obey his every word. No, Mien would listen to me if I had a concern or an opinion even if he didn’t want to hear it. That didn’t mean he acted on it.

I voiced my concern again when it became oppressively humid in just a number of hours the day before we left. I noticed the clouds went from white to menacing gray by nightfall.  We should have left then but he didn’t want to leave until he was sure Kiao could manage on her own.

When we left the next morning, it was obviously too late. The thick moist air made my chest fell heavy. We knew I couldn’t walk long distanced unless I wanted to go through breathing fit. The arrangement was that I would ride his horse and he would walk beside it. That agreement only lasted until mid-morning. The air couldn’t hold any more moisture and the sky ripped open releasing it all in a blinding torrent. We stopped taking shelter under a bridge until the stream became too swollen over its banks then it was back to road again.

By that afternoon, the wind picked up and the rain stacked a little. Mien increased our pace but we were soon stopped by a group of soldiers blocking the road. The low lining parts of the Southern Road was flooded. They deemed it unsafe. They told us we had to go around which meant traveling a little into the dark to get to the next town. That soon turned to bust as we came to a wide stream and gap with pillars where a bridge once was.

I shouted over the torrent. “Is there supposed to be a bridge here or is this a challenge of horsemanship?”

Mien let out a long moaning sigh.

“That sounds like regret,” I said.

“The only regret that will be felt is by allowing you to give me another one of your unnecessary observations,” he snapped.

I brushed off his anger. He wasn’t mad at me but himself. “From your level of grumpiness, this is the only road home,” I presumed.

“Yes,” he said shortly.

“So what now?”

Mien turned the horse around. “We go towards Aubortown.”

“Are you sure,” I questioned.

Aubortown was a large town further away from the town we were headed for. We were north of Grace’s Hope and the monastery. Aubortown was to the east. We could get home from there but it was a roundabout way. However, from where we were, we wouldn’t get there until way past nightfall at our rate travel.

“I said towards it. We are going just a little outside of it.”

“What’s there,” I asked curiously.

“My family’s estate.”

“As in your home?”

“Unfortunately,” he muttered.

I knew very little about Mien’s family at that time other than the knowledge of his situation. He briefly described them to me but didn’t go into detail. I tried to ask Master Sol and he only told me it wasn’t a place Mien liked. It was obvious as he would visit but was never away for very long. In fact, he was given two months out of the year to visit them, as that was the arrangement. He would sometimes travel with Master Sol or went alone. It never matter which as he never stayed no more than a week before he was back at the citadel praising Dias and kissing every stone between the front steps and his room.

Night came on us prematurely and the rain, well, it never stopped. I began to get cold and hungry. Mien pulled me closer to him and draped the edges of his oiled cloak over me trying to keep me as dry as possible.  It was impossible. The further we went, the more violent the weather became.  Arcs of lightning flashed from cloud to cloud in brilliant crackling webs that made the hair on my arms stand on end. It became daylight so often that it paled the sun globe that Mien chanted up with the dazzling chain of light show above us followed by rolling thunder that went on forever.

As a boy, I was never afraid of storms. They fascinated me that Dias could create something so loud and magnificent. It was nature singing albeit angrily. During the ride, I enjoyed watching arcs of lightning until a bolt of leapt down from it and stuck a tree we were approaching.  Mien’s horse screamed and bucked. He wrapped one arm tight around me and wound his other hand around the reins. The horse spun around in circle beside itself.

The smoldering tree was split down the middle. The air smelled burned along with the smell of heated sap that exploded from the tree. I was shaking breathing heavily to the point I thought I was going to have a fit from the scare. However, tell-tell constriction in my chest never come just my heart in my throat. Mien was no steadier than I was. He held me with his muscles locked. I could feel his heart on my back. He didn’t linger and spurred the frightened horse onward.  For the rest of the ride the three of us flinched as the lightning crackled overhead. Nothing else raced down from the sky, but the wind picked up to making a rough trip even worse.

“We shouldn’t be out here,” I shouted above the gust.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” he yelled back.

“I’m hungry.”

I felt him chuckle. “When are you not?”

“I can’t see where we’re going.”

“I know where we’re at,” he assured.

I doubted that Mien knew exactly where he was going other than keeping his mare from falling into the ditch. Really though, there wasn’t any difference between the ditch and the road except the depth of the water. The road had become a stream with ruts making it treacherous. The sideways rain and the wind constantly trying to buff us to the side didn’t help with visibility. There were times when Mien stopped the horse to get his bearings. He would swing his chanted sun globe around as if he were looking for something and then continued on before stopping again.

“What are you looking for,” I asked after seeing him do that several times.

He continued without a reply for a little ways before he cried out, “Ah-ha.”

He veered his horse sharply to the left. There was a shift in the horse’s gait. We were no longer walking on mud but stone. For a moment, I thought we had found a town. Instead, there was a small lantern flickering in the wind in front of us.  The closer we got, I realized that the lamp was attracted to a house. I couldn’t see anything more than that through the blackness.

Mien and I soon found ourselves ducking from flying tree blanches and leaves. A sign we were upon a house. One blocked our path. Mien slide off the saddle and led the rest of the way on foot clearing out path as he went. It was only a short distance before we came to a front door. He immediately started pounding with the brass knocker on the door in the shape of a jays head. The two of us stood there waiting for a few seconds. He leaned to looking in the direction of a window and saw no light. He tried again, this time hammering with his fists until there was the light of a candle moving towards the door.

The door slowly creaked open and out came a voice of a drowsy middle-aged elf speaking.  “What business do you have at the Cyan estate so late at night?”

“Just two member of the Dias Brotherhood seeking shelter,” he answered.

The door opened wide. “All members of the Brotherhood are welcomed,” greeted the porter showing us in. “Come in quickly.” Mien pulled down his hood and the porter did a double take in surprise. “Master Thedoeric!”

“Hello Salvus,” replied Mien pushing me into another room.

“What is going on,” said an elf woman joining the porter with a lantern in one hand and a rapier in the other. Her surprise spread on her face when she saw Mien face her.

“Young Master Theodric,” she said and hid the weapon behind her. “What are you doing here? You’re soaked to the bone and you’ve a little one with you.”

“Greetings,” I said between my chattering teeth.

“Take off those wet cloaks and clothing at once,” she ordered. I undid the clasp and handed it to her. “Look at you two, both of you looked like a pair of drowned rats.”

She took both of our cloaks and another man hurried past us. “I’ll see to you horse,” he said.

Mien thanked him and started to make a fire but the porter took over.

“I’ll do that young master, you just settle down.”

“Can I get you anything,” asked the woman.

“Food,” I said eagerly then remembered my manners. “Please, also tea.”

She stared at me and tilted her head before her eyes became wide. “Is that…”

Mien held up a warning hand. “Please just treated him like a normal boy.”

The woman shook her head vigorously.  “You expect me to treat the King’s son like a normal boy?”

“Yes,” I said. “Also can I have a towel and a blanket?”

She looked past Mien to me.

“He generally speaks for himself,” said Mien.

“Of course, I’m Neeveda I’ll get you something nice and warm. I’ll see about rooms as well.”

“Thank you,” both Mien and I said at the same time. He then turned to me after she left. “Demanding much,” he teased.

“How is wanting things to make me not cold, wet, and hungry being demanding,” I defended rubbing my ears. They were popping and ringing from coming from something so noisy to relative silence.

Mien chuckled at me as I flopped down on the floor so I could remove my boots. There was a gallon of water in each of them and another quart in my soaked socks. He pulled off his cowl and shirt in one motion. Both made a loud slap as it hit the floor.

“Looks like you and I could provide a desert a years’ worth of water,” he said rubbing the water out of his short hair. I wound my hair wringing it out just as the woman came back with towels and blankets. She left again giving me time to take off my shirt and wrap myself in the blanket before returning with food. I was given a cup of tea, a slice of bread and cheese as well as a thin slice of cake. I shoved my food in my mouth while Mien barely touched his. He drank his tea and took a corner cake before he passed the rest of it to me. I studied him a long time watching the firelight making his distant eyes more gold than green.

“So what brings you gentlemen here,” asked Salvus.

I told them and Mien interjected a few times but for the most part, he was oddly quiet.

“Well now that you two are warm and full, might as well get you to bed. I don’t want to wake up the Lady,” said Neeveda.

Mien looked up. “What about my uncle?”

The woman glanced at the porter wringing her fingers apprehensively. “Lord Hugh was supposed to come back today from the roads, but we fear he got caught in the weather. He should be back by morning. However Master Dalaen is here with his wife.”

A wry crooked smile formed on Mien’s face. “I’ve come at a bad time,” he stated rhetorically.

“Oh no,” cried Neeveda.  “Master Dalaen wouldn’t want to you to be out there despite what his wife might think. Don’t worry about it. Lady Lass will be happy to see you as well, Mistress Rydell,” she said. “Don’t worry about these things now. You’re tired and need rest. Worry about it in the morning.”

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