aragorn: (Default)
Blues Drive Monster ([personal profile] aragorn) wrote2012-02-26 10:05 pm
Entry tags:

(no subject)

Title: The Long Night
Fandom: Sabra La Tau
Characters: Noric Pellaeon and Xavier Elder
Rating: G

Note: The Long Night was a three-day festival held in old Orion, where it was believed people's voices would be heard by the dead.

They decided to head to a fairly large village in Orion that was near to where Noric’s home had been. Xavier had been alarmed - quite alarmed - that people were expected to jump onto gliders and fly between the trees in order to get from place to place. No amount of explaining on Noric’s part had remedied this, and so he’d simply not commented when they took off from the outpost, Xavier clinging to his back the entire time and occasionally announcing that this was an absurd and primitive way to travel.

It wasn’t as though carriages were a good idea in Orion, so Noric figured the argument was already won, even if he said nothing.

They arrived a day before the festival was due to start, and managed to check into an inn. And so they had gone out again, walking around the village as Noric explained how the support structures for the floor worked. Found Xavier largely disinterested until they were able to purchase a book on the matter, and then Noric mostly concerned himself with collaring Xavier if he was in danger of walking straight off the platform.

He told the Lepus man that night that he would be going out to his old village late in the afternoon the next day. He made no pretense that he would be going with him, and thankfully Xavier didn’t press the issue.

They went out again in the morning. Noric asked a shopkeeper about Mos Vintoll. It had suffered a fire and the supports broke, was the common story. Everyone agreed it had been a terrible tragedy, but what could anyone have done?

There was no mention of beastmen. Noric did not correct them.

As the sun began to set on the first day of the Long Night, Noric shouldered his pack in their room, and put on his boots. Xavier was absorbed in a text about Orion history. As Noric opened the door, the other man looked up, and said, “When will you be back?” He paused, hand on the doorknob.

“...in the morning,” he replied, and stepped out, shutting the door behind him.

It had been with a great sense of trepidation that he arrived home in Orion, but it was nothing to how it felt riding a glider ever closer to where his true home … the ruins of his true home … lay in the rainforest. Everything was familiar, and that familiarity twisted in his gut. After about an hour, he finally saw it up ahead, and coaxed the glider down.

There was not much left that could be called a village. The fires the beastmen had set did their job all too well; most of the platforms were charred, broken messes, large chunks missing. No houses had all four walls, what few houses were still standing. His own house-- no. It had been towards the centre of town, and most of the centre had collapsed into the jungle, the wooden boards breaking and burning away.

He stood there for a moment, silent, looking at the ruins. Then, he got to work.

The sunlight was nearly gone by the time he’d pulled enough pieces of wood together for the bonfire. He set it up as close to the centre as was possible now, drawing a match and lighting it. Watched it flicker in his fingers for a moment, his breath loud in his ears. Then he set it alight, and sat down in front of it, watching as the flames grew.

Darkness fell. The bonfire crackled away, burning bright in the gloom. Still Noric did nothing, just watched the fire. He didn’t know how long he sat there, motionless, keeping everything at bay. But eventually he started to talk.

He spoke to his parents first. Told them he was sorry he couldn’t save them, sorry he’d fled, sorry he’d chosen to run from his homeland as far as he possibly could instead of come back and do the honourable thing by them. That it was too hard for him now, to try and make a home here, knowing their home lay in ruins, festering in the jungle. He said he’d gone home with a man who’d saved him, who was a little strange, but he seemed more like he needed a friend than was truly just an eccentric. Said he hoped they could be happy for him. Could forgive him. Anything.

Then he spoke to his friends. He spoke to his teachers. He spoke to the people he traded with in the market when his parents had been too busy to get food. He spoke to his girlfriend, whose body he’d seen in a flash as he ran past it, burning and blood-soaked on the floor as the beastmen swarm set upon them. He told her he wouldn’t remember her that way, that he hoped the gods found her as beautiful as he had.

Somewhere between talking to her and his cousins, he became aware that he was crying. He didn’t stop. He kept going, spoke to every person he could remember, and then the ones he didn’t, because no one else would do this for them now. He was the last, and there would be no more Long Nights held here again. This night would go forever.

The bonfire had burned into embers when he finally said, hoarsely, that he wished them the best, with all his heart. He hoped the Gentleman had smiled on them, and taken them onwards, to a peaceful rest. He hoped … he would see them again, someday. But not now.

Now, he had to live.

---

It was after dawn when Noric returned to the room at the inn. Dimly he was aware that Xavier was still reading, in the same chair he’d been when he left, but he didn’t look at him. He just went blindly to his bed, kicked off his boots, and crawled under the covers, and let darkness take him.

When he woke again, sunlight was streaming in through the window. He felt wrung out, eyelids hot and scratchy. He shifted, rolling over, and his eyes landed on the bedside table. A plate of buttered bread and honey was sitting there. Glancing up, he looked askance at Xavier, still in that chair.

Xavier acted for all the world like he hadn’t noticed, nose still in his book, despite the fact it was upside down.