Disclaimer: All concepts relating to the world of Velgarth, and kingdom of Valdemar, are the sole property of the author Mecedes Lackey.
Notes: Plot bunny, how I loathe thee. Other ‘fics, how I procrastinate at thee… Additionally, at a much later juncture, Herald Jacquelle challenged me to write this as part of my LiveJournal writing challenge, if I had a mind, I’d be tempted to accuse her of reading it. This is the sequel to Sound and Fury.
:Go away and stop bothering me.: My ears pin back to my skull and I narrow my eyes to emphasise my point. The young foal stares up at me in shock, before yelping and skittering off in an ill co-ordinated tangle of limbs and hooves.
Hah. An actual snort accompanies the mental one as I watch the annoyance retreat with something approaching satisfaction. I don’t spend my time in the far reaches of the Field to be pestered by horrible littles—
—or anyone else, for that matter.
With still narrowed eyes, I glare around the sheltered patch of grass I am standing in. To one side is the exterior wall of the Palace Compound and two of the other sides are bordered by thickets of gorse and other evergreen shrubbery, making my private spot quite the little hideaway. Although… ‘hideaway’ is somewhat of a misnomer… all the Companions in the Field know that this is where I spend most of my time, so it’s not really a hidden place.
They do avoid it though, and that is what is important.
I like being avoided.
Lowering my head, I tear up a mouthful of the sere grass and chew it fiercely, teeth clacking together with vibrations hard enough to make my vision blur.
Stupid idiotic colt— asking questions about things that don’t concern it— thought fragments seethe inside my mind, echoing off the ever-present ache and silence and gaining fury as they mix and mingle into one another.
Overhead, grey clouds thicken and gather in the sky. It looks like it might rain.
The sound of a twig breaking startles me and I jerk my head up, inadvertently meeting the calm sapphire gaze of the Groveborn. Pinned back ears again.
:What do you want Dadero?: My Mindvoice is flat and unwelcoming, something which His Greatness seems to completely ignore.
:Garen was scared.:
That stupid, nosey foal. :I’m sure he’ll get over it.: I allow the flatness to dissipate enough for a snippy tone to become apparent. :Did you actually want something?:
Dadero hesitates for a moment and has the grace to look uncomfortable, his tail flicking from side to side. :Are you keeping… well…Datti?:
How dare he? I widen my eyes and stamp one front hoof, crushing grass beneath it. Raising my head high I muster an acidic glare from deep within myself.
:I am keeping absolutely fine Dadero.: I snap, feeling a brief hint of pleasure at seeing him flinch slightly from my deliberately loud, harsh voice. :Why should I be anything but fine?:
:I—: Well he may stumble over words to me; he who took away my Gillan.
:And I will be even more fine if people stopped bothering me all the time!: Another hoof-sized patch of grass is squashed, and I turn the stamp into a stalk, physically shouldering past the larger form of the Groveborn stallion and making my way out into the Field.
I can feel the Groveborn stallion’s eyes on me, although he doesn’t say another word.
I keep up my stiff-legged gait and hold my head up high as I feel the eyes of the nearby Companions fix on me, then jerk away in embarrassment. I don’t care what they think. I insist fiercely to myself. They mean less than nothing to me and I don’t care what they think.
A faint breeze tugs fitfully at my mane and tail as I head in the direction of the Stables; a place that I rarely frequent, preferring to stay in my little hideaway in a far corner of the Field. Faintly, I catch snatches of shushed Mindspeech— mainly from youngsters beginning to ask isn’t that…? And being hastily distracted by the adult Companions.
Some of them think that this is my own fault. Well I don’t care what they think! I shout at myself. I don’t care—I never care!
I draw what tattered remnants of self pride I have around myself like a cloak, shielding my inner hurts from the greater world, and continue towards the Stables, stomping across the flat wooden bridge that connects the Field with the large yard in front of the Stables.
My hoof beats don’t chime, they clatter unmusically. I stop in the centre of the yard and glare at the open-ended shed that makes up one end of the Stables; there are entirely too many Companions in there, almost half of the herd.
A gust of cold air swirls around me and a few dissolute raindrops hit the ground.
I do not feel like company, and I turn abruptly on my heels and begin to stalk down the gravel road that connects with the main road out of the Palace complex. I’m not entirely sure where I am going, except for away from everyone else—
Thunder rumbles in the far distance and I snort. Rainstorm be damned.
I go out of the Palace walls a lot; it’s one way to escape from the sanctimonious sugar of the rest of the Field, and the Gate Guards don’t even glance up at me now; nor do the guards on the City’s edge. They’re used to seeing the unsaddled Companion mare with the mean look and the attitude problem and they wisely keep their distance.
Thunder rolls in the distance again as I start out on the road away from Haven. I… do… know where I’m going; to the same place that I always go, the only place outside of Haven that I go.
Dadero tried to tell me it was self-destructive, once. What the Hells does he know? He has his perfect life with his Chosen and everything is happiness and light for him; he has absolutely no right to tell me what to do.
Sometimes, my destination seems so far away and other times, like today; with the roads deserted due to the approaching storm, it seems to take less than no time at all before I’m… there—
Here, where the river runs alongside the road and the bank is shaded with bent over trees that trail their branches along the surface of the water with velvet caresses. Here, where there was a boy fishing one day, in another lifetime.
Here, where I used to remember what happy felt like.
There’s no sunshine today, no birdsong today, and the first spots of rain are kicking up puffs of dust from the road and speckling the smooth surface of the river with concentric ripples.
I move off the road and stand under a large willow tree, right on the river bank, just where a strand of sand has built up, making a silty little beach, strewn with pebbles and strands of dead water weed.
If I lower my nose to the ground and close my eyes and concentrate as I inhale, then sometimes I can almost fool myself into thinking that I can still smell the young boy called Gillan who was sitting here and fishing before…
I can only smell dust and leaves and storm clouds in the air.
The rain begins to fall properly, battering down the grass of the exposed bank on the other side of the river and quickly slicking the dust of the road into something resembling mud. The surface of the river is now a cacophonic chaos dance of splashes and ripples and rings. I stare at it for a long time, occasional drips of water sliding between the dark green tent of the shading willow branches.
The air is full of rain-mist and it’s getting darker.
If this was a story, then I’d find a Chosen, but this isn’t a story and Gillan was only mine for a short time.
I stare at the shivering, shattered surface of the water flowing past me, lit by flickers of lightning, and I listen to the thunder chase the clouds across the sky.
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