Black Sun – Taklarsaza 4

April 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

When Rythe arrived at Tatris’ rather large (even for a Tsilath, even for a son of the Dytariex) rooms, she could feel the tension even through a shielded mind. On the long crescent strip of silvery metal that held up a kind of garden, with hundreds of plants in a near-riot of greens, purples, reds and oranges, the two male figures stood facing one another. That in of itself was unusual. Tatris, oh she could see Tatris standing his ground, trying to overwhelm with his presence. It wasn’t that her oldest brother didn’t know how to argue. It was that he so rarely had to bother to exert himself so far. Not many in the DytariexenKa Harrak would balk one of the line.

Kyrian, however, had always gone fairly fair to avoid confrontations, so the sight of him not only standing his ground but actually stepping closer to Tatris surprised her. The two of them were an interesting study in contrasting tones. Kyrian had hair like spun strands of copper, eyes the color of emeralds held up to a star, skin like polished pure gold. Tatris’s hair was like Rythe’s own, a mass of completely coal black. His skin was a far darker, almost brass color, and his eyes glowed more like luminous jade. Both were handsome enough males by the standards of the Tsilath, Rythe thought, although she’d not really ever taken this much time to look at them. Tatris looked like their father might have before they were born, while Kyrian definitely favored Siharra. He looked almost like a male version of Malan, their elder sister. If he had been Malan, seeing him come within a few inches of Tatris wouldn’t have been at all surprising, as the eldest children of their family liked bickering almost as much as the entire assembly of the ten thousand.

“Perhaps you failed to understand me. Our father and mother have already given me this charge. That means you can either go talk to them and explain why you seem to think you have the power to countermand their orders, or you can do as they directed and administer the oath.” Kyrian’s thought actually reached Rythe from her position some twenty or so steps away from them, which meant he wasn’t even trying to conceal it.

“Listen to me, little brother…”

“I will not.” Kyrian actually stepped closer still, now but inches away from Tatris. “I do not have to. You’re not Dytariex, you’re not in command of me, you won’t even be in command of me once I take the oath because I have a personal order from father and that takes precedence. Either adminster the oath or inform father that you refuse to do so.” Kyrian’s face curled into a hard, aggressive smile, jagged across his face. “Better yet, inform mother. She enjoys dealing with our excesses so much.”Rythe actually winced at that, knowing that their mother had already extended herself a great deal to ensure that Tatris got his way on several points involving the upcoming wedding. Tatris’ face actually betrayed an emotion, and not one that Rythe had expected, not rage, not even fear. He looked sickened, aggrieved.

“Kyr, you have no idea what service is. You haven’t been trained. Hell, you can’t even beat Arktiesh in sparring and you want me to swear you in and send you off to some forsaken ball of rock out on the fringe?”

“Yes, that is what I want you to do.” Kyrian backed off, drifting away from Tatris to take a more neutral position on the platform, acknowledging Rythe with a look and a nod. “I could explain, but without the action it would be meaningless. Believe me or not. Mother and father have placed this task in my hands. You don’t have a choice. And calling our sister here to attempt to dissuade me will not work.”

“That’s not why I called her here. You’re going to need someone with experience, and I can’t go myself. For one thing, taking a mate. Arktiesh won’t be back until the day of the ceremony and I can’t ask Malan since she’d probably refuse just because I asked, so Rythe is the only one I can think of who might care if you get killed enough to go along.” He turned to look at her. “Plus, you’re familiar with the area of space, yes?”

“I served on Shorendek. If not for Kotash coming here I would have been there when it was attacked. I am familiar with it.”

“If I swear our brother in…”

“If?” Rythe’s thoughts sounded remarkably sharp in her own head. “You don’t have a choice. I heard mother and father order it. So did thousands of the Tsilath who are here for your wedding. And why so much concern? Kyrian is old enough to serve and if he’s too weak, he’ll die. It’s not like mother and father don’t have other children.”

Tatris seemed somewhat taken aback by her attitude. Kyrian seemed amused by it.

Nevertheless, I am asking you to take a wing and accompany him. Will you?” Tatris crossed his arms. “Make no mistake, either of you. I will not do this, should father come here himself and demand, unless Rythe agrees. I do not care how many spoiled, pompous, orgiastic addicts complain about protocol and I am willing to gamble that father’s punishment will take place in private this close to my ceremony.”

Rythe could not read Kyrian at all, he’d gone back to his usual reserve and his shield was like an onyx wall around his thoughts. She got the sense Tatris was not bluffing. This fascinated her, since it meant that her eldest brother was either truly concerned about Kyrian, or he had some ulterior motive that made absolutely no sense to her. In the end, her curiosity won out.

“If he’ll have me, I’ll accompany him.”

“Kyr?”

“She can come if she likes.” Kyrian relaxed his posture fractionally, floating near what appeared to be a dark red cactus with long stalks running up the sides.  “I have to go to Klarakshton first anyway. Not likely to be much left at this point.”

Two hours later, Rythe arrived at Kyrian’s smaller, far less conspicuous quarters, a wing of a few rooms growing off of the family compound near the heart of the shining mountains. She wore her living metal sister in full war panoply, and knew that it was informing Kyrian’s door that she was outside. After a few seconds the silvery metal melted aside, and she floated into the room.

Kyrian’s parlor was surprisingly cluttered. There were several small pieces of furniture, easily willed into comfortable shapes for lounging, but each littered with metal and crystalline rods. She recognized them as kathalta, memory collections stored by the people before the rise of the living metal brothers and sisters, who could do the same job in much greater fidelity. To have so many kathalta implied that Kyrian was interested in their people’s ancient history, so far back that Tsilath and Naratsilath were not distinct. She had not taken him for a scholar. In fact, the teachers their parents recruited had always given her the impression Kyrian was so lazy he barely showed any interest in any subject at all. She brushed a finger over a large spire of reddish-brown metal and cloudy grey crystals, pondering what it held.

“It’s the life’s experience of Arthal Korendis’Ka Harrak, Harrak’s great great granddaughter. She ruled as Dytariex for 20 years. During her reign the concept of the Tsilath was developed.” Kyrian’s thoughts caught her off guard but she successfully restrained the urge to show surprise. Turning, she saw he too was in war panoply, and indeed that his living metal brother certainly seemed to know how to array itself. Large spines, spikes, razor edges, a featureless head with a crown of long, jagged, razor sharp barbs, even two folded wings locked behind his back.

“Impressive.”

“It’s based on the war form of Trenzin, Rytharen’s second, the one who fought the Green One. I found it while researching the great flight, made a few modifications.”

“Can you fight, Kyr?” Rythe felt slightly embarrassed blurting it out. “I mean, yes, you’re Tsilath, but do you actually have the slightest idea what you’re doing or am I going to have to babysit you?”

“If you want a straight answer, yes, I can fight.” He walked over to the wall and focused his will, the metal warping and running away to create an opening big enough for the kathalta. All of them. They all lifted from their resting places at once and made orderly progress into the space, each fitting into niches that formed to hold them. It took only a few seconds. “If not for what you showed us all yesterday, you’d never have found out.”

“A few corpses and suddenly you’re ready to go to war, Kyr? A static, visual projection of corpses? Of Naratsilath and Qualsilath? Who cares? More importantly, why do you care?”

“You really should study the Arthal sometime. You’d know why then.” Kyrian’s posture changed, and for the first time Rythe felt like she was seeing him as close to unguarded as possible to one of their family. He hunched over, his gesture pained even through the war skin. “Ironically, Tatris probably feels it more keenly than even I do, without ever having heard the thoughts. Can you believe he was actually willing to defy father over my safety? Worse, that he’d do the same thing for you even though he knows you hate him?”

“I don’t…”

“Wrong word. Not hate. Just not more than that. When you were born, Malan could not get enough time around you. You’d have thought she bore you instead of Siharra. Did you remember that?” His thoughts almost quivered as they reached her. “For now, it’s enough to know that I do care.”

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