Disclaimer: Everything recognisable as belonging to the world of Velgarth and the kingdom of Valdemar is the sole property of the author Mercedes Lackey. The sarcasm, back-biting and utter lack of anything resembling a plot belong entirely to etcetera-cat.
Notes: Writer’s Block is the utter suck, with all the awfulness implied by the poor grammar of that statement. Getting smacked around the side of the head with brand new ideas for other things— both chaptered and one shot— suck, but it does highlight my woeful inadequacies at focusing on a single project
Chapter Twenty-Nine- Rains and Pours.
A resigned sigh is the only thing that greets my announcement.
:I’m really bored.:
:I’m really, really, bored.:
This time the sigh has an exasperated edge to it, and is deeper toned.
:Well, I am.: I pause for a moment. :Bored.:
“Teva!” Samyel’s voice is frustrated and underscored by the rain that is still doing its best to flood the surrounding countryside.
I turn and give the Herald a tragic look. :But I’m bored.:
Sam groans loudly and lets his head thump back on the pillow of the large cot he is currently sprawled on. Alexander, who is also sprawled on the cot in a completely undignified fashion, his head resting on Sam’s stomach, laughs. “We’d noticed Teva.” Sam grinds out.
Across the Waystation, Harali lifts up her head and stares at me. :I’m surprised it’s taken you this long.: She tells me. :I mean, we’ve been stuck in here for three days, and you’re only beginning to climb the walls now. That must be some kind of record.:
:Hah.: I stick my tongue out at her, then pointedly turn me attention away from her— and her equally undignified laying position near to the fire— and back to the boys. I can practically taste the sugar crystallising out of the air around them.
:You should take a leaf out of my book.: Harali says. :Sleep; sleep is good.: She nods as she speaks. :The Heralds have certainly seen the wisdom of my ways.:
I ignore her. She’s been sleeping— or rather snoring— so much that I’m surprised no-one’s stuffed a carrot up her nose yet. If I had hands, I would have. Unfortunately, the two members of this happy little party that possess opposable thumbs have been too busy trying to grope each other when I’ve not been looking.
Hah. I see all.
:Anyone want to play hind and hounds?: I ask hopefully.
This time it’s Alexander who groans. “No,” he tells me. “We are not playing hind and hounds.”
:Why not?: I admit that I sound petulant.
“Because,” Sam clears his throat and raises an eyebrow at me, “I’m sure both Alex and I are seeing the game board when we close our eyes, we’ve played it that often—“
“—and, Teva,” Alex interrupts, “you cheat. Outrageously.”
I gape at them both and flatten my ears. :I do not!: I protest.
“Yes, you do.” Alex says drily. “But you still manage to lose.”
:I do not!:
:So the last eleven games were a collective hallucination then?: Harali asks.
I whip my head around to glare at her. :I thought you were supposed to be on my side.:
Harali gives me a look so old that it’s retired. :I think you’ve got cabin fever.: She says. :Don’t you think that she’s got cabin fever?: The question is directed to Alex and Sam. Alex shrugs slightly, grumbling when his shoulder blades digging into Sam’s stomach earn him a poke.
“What makes you think that, ‘Ali?” Sam asks. I’m not sure I like the expression on his face.
:Her behaviour for the past three days has been erratic at best.: A pause. :And I think she’s maybe delusional; she thinks she can play hind and hounds. Those are symptoms of cabin fever, right?:
I pin my ears back, stand in the corner and radiate indignation at the conversation happening around and about me. I get ignored.
“They are,” Sam agrees, “however, they’re also symptoms of Teva’s normal state of mind—“
:Hey—!: I object loudly.
“—so I don’t think we’d actually notice a difference at all.” He concludes smoothly, then shoots a wicked grin in my direction.
My traitorous Chosen is laughing again.
In fact, all three of them are stifling laughter.
I’m getting distinctly grumpy, over here.
:I—: I announce snippily, :—am going for a walk.: I turn abruptly around and flounce towards the door to the outer porch.
“Uh, Teva, it’s raining outside.” Alex points out, after making some attempt at catching his breath.
:I know.: I say, still in a snippy tone of voice.
“It’s pouring it down and you don’t like being cold and wet.” My Chosen tries next.
I sniff. :Your point is?: I knock the latch on the porch door with my nose and stalk into the porch, not bothering to close the door behind me before I bump the latch on the outside door, causing it to swing inwards; helped by a gust of wind.
I get a faceful of cold water. Grah— Still, I’ve announced my intentions, and I’ll go through with them. Especially since the alternative is being stuck in a stone box with the Bouncy Boys and the Great Snoring Wonder.
“Teva?” That sounds like Alex. I step outside and let the door bang against the wall behind me.
Before anyone can grab my tail and hold me still long enough to try and talk some sense into me, I stamp out into the tail-end of a truly miserable day. Within four steps, I’m fairly close to drenched and getting a good way on to being frozen solid. Still, I said I was going for a walk, and so I will. Yes.
Stubborn? I have no idea what you mean.
The ‘walking’ part of my cunning plan of sulking outside lasts until I find a tree large enough to shelter me; something that I find a short distance from the Waystation, in the form of a weeping willow next to a small pond.
I shoulder my way through the green curtain that the leafy branches make and find myself in a pretty waterproof green ‘tent’. A self satisfied nod as I poke at the mossy ground around the base of the tree with one front hoof. The rain hammering off the ‘roof’ of my shelter, as well as the surface of the pond is almost musical.
Ah, peace and quiet.
I stare myopically at the waterfall of soggy leaves and branches in front of me.
I’m bored and cold.
I’m bored and cold and wet.
Out of a lack of anything better to do, I begin to count leaves. It’s a strangely hypnotic pastime and it somehow manages to hold even my perennially short attention span.
I get so involved in counting leaves, in fact, that I don’t notice that I’m no longer alone under the tree until Alexander clears his throat.
:—ive thousand three hundred and seventy— argh!: I swear I levitate at least a foot in the air, all my hair standing on end as I half turn and give my Chosen a look that’s heavy on the stunned shock.
“Lord and Lady!” Alex jumps himself; possibly as his deranged Companion has just screamed at him. One can’t help but feel, however, that he should be used to stuff like that by now.
I blink several times and eye Alexander up and down; he’s actually managed to get dressed fully for the first time since we ended up in the Waystation. Although the breeches, boots and tunic are his own, the rumpled looking shirt and bad-weather cloak aren’t. Well, I’ll give him points for trying, anyway.
:What are you doing out here?: I ask him in a faintly suspicious tone of voice.
Alex clears his throat and crosses his arms in a theatrical fashion. “I was going to ask you the same question,” he tells me. “Since you were the one that stalked off in a snit.”
:I am not in a snit.: I protest.
A raised eyebrow. “So you came outside into the cold and the rain— both of which you loathe, I might add— to get closer to nature then?”
:I—: I flatten my ears. :I’m not in a snit.:
We both stare at each other in the misty gloom under the willow tree.
“You don’t like Sam, do you?”
I blink in confusion at the non sequitur. Where did that question come from?
:I… what?: I say unintelligently. :It’s not really germane whether I like him or not, is it?:
Alex sighs and looks uncomfortable. “Well, this Circuit is going to last at least another twelve months,” he points out slowly, “and… well.” Alexander blushes and I eye him curiously. The blushing is more like his usual behaviour; this let’s talk about our feelings! isn’t, however.
:Well what?: I prod, when he doesn’t continue.
He coughs in an embarrassed fashion. Now, this is definitely more familiar ground for me to be on.
:Why would you think that I don’t like Sam?: I change tack slightly.
“The way that you constantly snipe at him,” Alex says slowly. “And how you’ve been acting… offended… for the past week and a bit.”
I flatten both of my ears. :No I have not.: I protest. I seem to be doing a lot of that in this conversation.
“You have,” Alex insists. “And the only thing I can think is because you really don’t like Sam…” He trails off unhappily and gives me a sad look. Think puppies that have not only just been kicked, but have also had their dinner taken away.
Yes, that bad.
:That’s just my lovably caustic personality.: I tell Alexander. :I’m equally as horrible to you and Harali; and you’re my Chosen and Harali’s supposed to be one of my best friends!:
“Oh…oh,” Alex blinks slowly.
:I’m basically a bitch.: I finish cheerfully, flicking my ears upright again. :But, what’s there to do?:
Alex opens his mouth to reply and I cut across him hastily.
:Rhetorical question, Alex!:
He grins at me. “I was merely going to ask you if you’d find being called a dog as insulting as being called a horse,” he tells me impudently.
I step forwards and shove him in the chest with my nose. :You watch your mouth, mister.:
He laughs, then shuffles forwards and turns around so that he can sling one arm over my shoulders and lean against me. “Sam told me something interesting before,” he suddenly says.
I twitch an ear at him. :I’m not entirely sure I want to know.:
“Hey!” I get poked in the side of the neck. “Now who needs to watch her mouth?”
:Companions use Mindspeech.: I remind him cheerfully.
“Hmm,” a thoughtful sigh. “That’s true.”
:So, what did Samyel say?:
Alex laughs and taps his finger absently on my shoulder. “Apparently, we’re both doing well at this Herald business.”
:Well,: I snort, :I should hope so; he’s been doing it for several years, hasn’t he?:
Without looking, I just know that Alexander is rolling his eyes at me. “Not me and Sam, silly Dreamer; me and you.”
:I knew that.: You guessed it; protesting tone of voice again.
“Of course you did,” Alex says in an amused tone of voice, fingers still tapping out a complete lack of rhythm. And Harali thinks I’m the antithesis of musical talent.
:I did!: I twist my head around and give him an injured look. :You’re not doubting one of the wise and wonderful Companions, are you?:
“Havens forefend,” said drily. “I don’t suppose you’re ready to come back inside yet are you, I’m beginning to freeze here.”
:I’ve been out here longer, and you have clothes on.: I point out unsympathetically. :It’s not my fault the clothes don’t fit because they don’t belong to you.:
“I—what?” Alex blinks and looks down at himself. An embarrassed cough. “Oh, well, I just grabbed the first clean things I could find.”
That earns me another poke in the neck. I snort and sidestep, making Alex overbalance slightly before he regains his equilibrium.
:I think we should go back to the Waystation.: I announce, and begin walking back that way, shouldering aside the willow branches to emerge into the rapidly failing light of dusk
Alex mutters something and follows hastily behind me. “What are we going to tell Sam and ‘Ali?” He asks me.
:About what?: I squint against the rain and lower my head.
“About you stomping out of the Waystation and than me following you and then us both vanishing for the better part of a candle mark.”
I give Alexander a surprised look and pause for one moment, one foot still in the air. :You’ve never been out here for a whole mark!: I insist, bad grammar and all.
“I have,” Alex tells me. “First, looking for you, then standing under that tree with you.”
I consult my own, rather shoddy, internal sense of time. It appears my Chosen is correct.
:We won’t tell them anything.: I decide.
“You think that will work?” Alex sounds sceptical as he speeds up so that he is the first to reach the door to the Waystation, hauling it open so I can just walk straight into the porch area.
:The past six months should have them used to it.: I insist grandly, as he follows me inside and pulls the door closed. :And if not, then it’s proper preparation for having to spend the next year with us.: A self-satisfied nod.
Alex sighs. “Worryingly, you have a point, Teva.”
:I always have a point.: I smirk.
“You just sometimes don’t know what it is, right?”
:Hey!: I’m sure that picking on your Companion is not part of this whole Herald deal.