Friday, May 08, 2015

Sunset (#FridayFlash)

With fridayflash.org winding down this week, I thought I’d write something about closure as well. It’s not nearly as fun as Chuck Allen’s Closing Time, but Termag’s history calls yet again…



Image source: openclipart.org
“…the blessings of the Creator and the lesser gods be on your journey, and may you find peace and happiness at your destination.” The knot of folk standing on the raft bowed with hands to foreheads; Captain Chelinn and Rathu the warrior-priestess put hands to hearts in response.

Chelinn and Rathu stood side by side, watching as the departing folk poled the raft away from the landing. As the Vliskoyr River’s current caught the raft, they turned and looked sadly back at Vlis, a city dying once more.

“Don’t look back!” Chelinn chided them across water. “Forward you go, to the Gulf and beyond!”

Rathu put a hand on his arm. “Tell me true, old friend,” she said. “Do you think they will take that advice?”

Chelinn’s shoulders slumped. “Nar. But we can hope. How many are left now? Fifty?”

“Fifty-seven, including the staff who cook and clean for us.”

“A thousand souls to this, in a few short years. Bah. I oft accuse Ak’koyr of avoiding the truth, when it is convenient for them to do so. It is time I stop doing the same. I have failed here, Rathu. It is time to gather the rest of the folk and follow that raft downriver.”

“Indeed?” Rathu slid her hand to his shoulder. “I expected you to hold out until the last dozen.”

For the first time that evening, a genuine smile came to Chelinn’s face. “Ha! I still have a surprise or three left in me, you old skullcracker.”

“Flattery? At a time like this?”

“I find that few folk have faith in me now. I must do what I can to keep the few friends I yet have.”

Rathu chuckled, a throaty sound that always made Chelinn—for only a moment—look past the comrade in arms, the dear old friend, and see the woman beneath. “So you failed. Ak’koyr will gloat, but we’ve never cared a half round’s worth for their opinion, eh?”

“True. And… ah. Far too late, I now realize my mistake.”

“You rarely fail, Chelinn. Perhaps the Creator is reminding you to be humble. Where did you—we—go wrong?”

“I did not choose my settlers wisely. I recruited among the disaffected of Ak’koyr, those who hated their rulers. I should have brought in others.”

“Others?”

“Yar. People who wanted more than to wave their pinky at Ak’koyr. Ah, there are some good folk among those I brought here, and they all deserved better than what they had in the First Round. But I should have brought in others. Others who were for Vlis, not just those against Ak’koyr.”

“I understand. Where will all of us go, then?”

“Phylok. Ethtar told me long ago that if this experiment did not work out, I and all who came with me would have a welcome and a home.” He chuckled. “Perhaps he foresaw this outcome. Perhaps that is why I waited this long, so I would not burden the good Protector with enough people to fill North Keep.” Chelinn looked downriver, painted red by the evening sun. “I will rename the barge Sunset. We can give everyone a few days to prepare, then bid this place good-bye. And I’ll send a detailed account home to Dacia. Perhaps Sarna’s grandchildren will find it useful.”

“You’re not going south, then?”

“Nar. I intend to be a thorn in Ak’koyr’s side, as always. I’ll see them too busy regretting my presence to gloat at my failure.”

12 comments:

  1. I've got to give Chelinn some credit; admitting when we messed up is hard. A nice little bit of history here.

    Oh, and thanks for the mention. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice to see this setback isn't the end. Don't let them gloat. That must be a mantra.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What wonderful hints at a wider world. Clearly there are stories to tell of Chelinn and Rathu. The dynamic between them is interesting—a deep-seated feeling, not un-akin to love.

    Much to like here.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice work. I especially like the last line.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't remember these characters from elsewhere in Termag (must have missed it), but I love the camaraderie between them, love how clearly they know each other. Great imagery.

    ReplyDelete
  6. it takes courage in that situation for Chelinn to admit he failed, and that he is prepared to keep fighting.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love coming back to this world you've created, Larry. It's so vast and detailed.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like the dynamic between those two. That world vastness I could definitely feel - it's like looking at a map and searching in which land the main quest continues.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gone but not out! I like the boat's new name.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Chuck, Chelinn doesn't mess up often... but it can be interesting when he does!

    David, he'll let them gloat (because they will), but he'll end up making Ak'koyr wish he was still in Vlis. :-D

    Kevin, Rathu has a small part in the very first Termag story (one I wrote in college, that begins a few years after this story, and will not see the light of eReader or blog in its current form). She didn't have to take vows for her order, but she & Chelinn have spent a lot of time adventuring together and have too much fun cracking heads.

    Thanks, Tim!

    Katherine, Chelinn is (to Mik and Sura) a historic figure... actually, he's one of Sura's ancestors, and Bailar is probably the only person in his time who has studied Chelinn's life extensively. But otherwise, he's from the end of the previous age (and helped to bring that end about).

    Helen, one of his biggest fears is failing those who follow his lead.

    Thanks, Patricia! I have been working on it on & off since college, which fell a couple years on either side of 1980 (at Da Tech, of course).

    Cindy, if you're familiar with Accidental Sorcerers, this took place about 800 years previous. In Mik and Sura's time, Vlis is once again being resettled, and this time it looks like it'll stick. They end up in Vlis at the end of Book 5; they'll be unexpectedly :-) moving on in Book 6.

    Thanks, Sonia. They float into the sunset, board a ship, and move on.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome, and they don't have to be complimentary. I delete spam on sight, but that's pretty much it for moderation. Long off-topic rants or unconstructive flamage are also candidates for deletion but I haven’t seen any of that so far.

I have comment moderation on for posts over a week old, but that’s so I’ll see them.

Include your Twitter handle if you want a shout-out.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...