Complications: a conversation with Thayren

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[Background: At various times in Cordir's history, I have written stories set in TFC, but written via email, off mud. This was one such story, written by Thayren & I, written before I immorted, probably in the summer/fall of 1998. The story is sectioned as we traded it back and forth. Oddly enough, we tended to write the story sections from the other person’s perspective. A set of asterisks designates author change.]

As you enter the Sanctuary, you are surprised - no, more truly, shocked - to see a familiar giant standing near the altar, not worshipfully, but calmly and respectfully looking around. Echoes of both his father and his mother are clearly seen in his face and his stance; he does not possess, at least not yet, his father's rather frightening grandeur, and the sly twinkle that was always in his mother's eye is somewhat muted in him. But a strength all his own is at last beginning to make itself felt.

All this passes through your mind in a brief flash of impressions, and you curtsy to him deeply, regaining your composure. He bows just as formally, and says in the voice you remember well, "Lady Cordir. Greetings; I hope I give no offense by waiting here for you." His voice is not as deep nor as sensual as Deamhan's, but brings back just as many memories, if of a rather different sort. For the barest instant, you could almost think Thaygar in the room as well; then it passes.

* * *

Regaining her composure, Cordir smiles, and makes a gesture of welcome. "Milord Thayren. You are always welcome in any place that I call home. No offense taken at all. Please, make yourself comfortable. I'll have refreshment for you in a moment." She gestures towards one of the more sturdy and oversized chairs - actually the one that Gryphon uses when He is in residence.

She crosses the chamber swiftly to open a cabinet of rowan-wood, and withdraws two large mugs and a firkin. A murmur and a gesture, and steam rises from the firkin, from which she pours now-hot mulled cider. Another reach into the cabinet and a plate of cheese and bread is withdrawn.

Carrying these, she lays them on the table aside your chair, and curtseys again. "How may I be of service to you?" She seats herself on a stool nearby and awaits your answer.

* * *

He sips at the hot cider appreciatively, holding the mug carefully in his huge hand. Leaning back in the chair, he stretches his legs out (carefully, not knocking into anything) and smiles, looking around rather pensively. After a moment, he meets your eyes, and smiles again. "It is a good place, feels welcome."

You note with some surprise that his voice sounds almost wistful. He looks around again, then appears to come to a decision, and leans forward. "Lady, you and I have been friends for many years; you knew my father, more truly than most of even the few who still remember him." The smile grows wry for an instant. "Perhaps better than I did in some ways...You know that I have been unaligned all my life; I could not have joined the followings of either of my parents, and in any case neither seemed quite...appropriate. I have been content to wander on my own for a long time."

He glances down at his hands for a moment before continuing. "My father's hands, really, even though the one doesn't flame," he murmurs reflectively, with a small chuckle.

* * *

As you speak of Thaygar, an expression as wistful as your tone flashes briefly across her face, and her hand steals to caress the black cloak she wears. As she does so, you realize that the cloak is moving, flowing, even in the still of the Sanctuary. With difficulty, you pull your attention back to your conversation and continue.

* * *

"I never...The Triat never seemed to call to me as they did to my father...Not that I ever quite disbelieved, is more a matter I have left alone. Perhaps as a farmer lets a field lie fallow; perhaps this is a field I should not have let lie so long. But I have heard that you seek to Ascend, and it seemed to me that this is as good a reason as any for me to seriously consider if there is a faith which calls to me." He has been looking around the Sanctuary thoughtfully during most of this speech - not particularly avoiding your eyes, simply looking at other things. But at this last, he meets your gaze, and seems to be looking rather deeper than most.

"And, too, I have had dreams," he continues slowly, still seeming almost to search for something in your eyes. "Everything seemed to have a... well, sort of a glowing spider web all over it, part of it, if that makes any sense. There was a hall with a dark marble floor, and three archways, and I thought I saw ebon fire...and though you were not there, I knew somehow that the place was linked to you."

Cordir starts violently, almost as if struck, when you describe the room you saw. Seeing this, you pause, and frown, concerned at her reaction. She regains her composure, though her eyes grow much more thoughtful, and silently gestures for you to continue.

* * *

A wry grin. "Webs and blackfire - I would be a fool if I thought the Triat had nothing to do with this dream." He grows serious again. "So tell me, my lady, my friend, what this dream may mean, and by what faith you propose to lead mortals..." He takes another sip of the hot cider, almost automatically, his eyes never leaving your face, and waits for your answer with the unhurried patience you remember so well.

* * *

She is silent for a time. She seems involved in some very deep, internal decision-making, and when she finally lifts her gaze to yours, it is clear some sort of resolution has been reached.

Her tone takes on the formal chaunting-pitch of a bard telling a tale:

"When the world was borne, Three were there. The Maker, the Destroyer, and the Enchanter. It was their creation, but there were many trivial aspects to its administration that they did not wish to be annoyed by. They created assistants. Some call them Gods. Each had its own purview. Then, a trio of beings arose. Perhaps they were shadows or Incarna of the Three, perhaps borne of Nature itself. But their purview was Fate… the interweaving of all lives, destinies, possibilities.

"Those Three Incarna served their Lords well, tending to the Tapestry. One would Spin the threads, one would Weave them, and one would Cut them when it was time for their ending. Birth. Life. Death. Maiden. Mother. Crone. Wyrm. Weaver. Wyld.

"Another Being arose, not created by the Three, but the antithesis of all they stood for. The Adversary. The Three ordered their Servants of the Tapestry to search it for one who would be the keystone of a plan. That man was Nash. The Fates placed into his path a scroll, for they knew his vanity was so great he could not resist reciting it. He created his Bible, and threw it into the Place Between the Void and Pattern, and recited the Scroll. The intent was that the Universe would be destroyed and the Adversary with it…. but the Bible, the Fates, and the Adversary were all swept into that Place, and trapped there.

"After the Three remade their Creation, the Bible was released. This weakened the barriers around the Place Between the Void and the Pattern, enough for the Fates to send dreams to one who would be their student, their teacher, their Prophet. A Giant, named Thaygar."

She nods as you start as violently as she did earlier. A small enigmatic smile plays on her lips, as she continues.

"Thaygar opened the Way for the Fates to escape. He focused the minds of his followers on Them, the daily actions of his Ebon Hand glorifying and personifying the Three Incarna who lay trapped, unknowingly assisting Them by raising power in Their names.

"Unbeknownst to their Prophet, the Three had extended themselves greatly and formed mortal bodies, to try and rebuild some of the knowledge and Aspects that had been lost in their long imprisonment. Life after life was lived, their awareness growing with each incarnation. Until one day, a young woman, mind and soul shattered by a past so horrible she could not remember it clearly, found solace and healing within Thaygar's Ebon Temple…. setting in motion a series of events that would not only lead to the final Release of the Three, but Thaygar's own Final Ascention.

She pauses a moment, and you can see her visibly centering herself. "Until this time, the Three were … scattered. They remained the Incarna trapped in the Place between the Void and the Pattern, but they were also the mortal incarnations they had created….. But…. for the first time…. an incarnation was given direct access and guidance by one who Felt and Saw and Praised the Three who lay trapped. The circle was complete.

"I… am that woman…. and I am …. in some ways…. that Incarna that still lays Sleeping. Until I am able to Ascend, I will not be able to break the barriers and assume the full Mantle that awaits me. My Sister, the Macha, the Wyld, may be able to break through first, for her Trial has already begun, while mine is only just beginning…..

"The place that you Saw…. is what will someday be My holy place….. " a bemused smile. "I, myself, Saw it for the first time only a few days ago."

She falls silent, allowing you to absorb the impact of what she has said. When she senses you are ready, she continues. Her eyes, when they meet yours, are not the sapphire you are familiar with, but rather the dark night sky, streaked with bits of light that must be stars… or perhaps not stars, but a webbing of light.

"I will lead the Chosen of Fate, the Chosen of the Triat. The Adversary will be able to break free of its prison soon, and it is our task to prepare those that the Wyrm births, to make them as ready, through gentle shaping, for the War that will come. Mine will not be the path of Good or Evil, but the Path that lies between the two."

A slight blush colors her features.

"It .. is odd…. at times… for sometimes I Know and Am Weaver…. and other times… I am simply Cordir, who served your father with love and devotion, who respected and admired you, who is about to bear her first child, who shakes with self-doubt, who is decidedly mortal with a mortal's fears and cares.

"But I had thought…. if you could be found…. that I might dare to ask you if you would help me in what I endeavor to do. Though you have never declared an allegiance, I have always heard the Weaver's song in your soul, ever since our first meeting….and I would be honored if you would join me in my labors."

Her hands clasp each other lightly in her lap, but you can sense, somehow, that it is simply to still or conceal their shaking as she awaits your reaction.

* * *

He smiles ruefully as you speak of being Weaver and yet mortal, and nods. At your next words, though, he goes very still, staring at the mug in his hands - or through it to something else, more likely. The rueful smile returns after a moment, and he speaks to those words first. "I too have felt torn at times...not that I am an Incarna of anything so far as I know, but simply for being" (you hear the capital letters) "the Son of Lord Thaygar and Lady Siren, Master of the Order of the Ebon Hand and Lady of the Dark Mist...and also simply someone who has struggled with the meanings of faiths and beliefs and confusions. The past few weeks, I have begun to feel more strongly the need for something more in my life than my solitary wanderings and those few friends I am close to. That holy place I saw called to is not welcoming, like this, but it is..." He pauses, looking for the word. "Needed. Correct. Necessary. Right. True. Even beautiful in its own way." He looks at you gravely, and his formal manner strikes you again as strongly reminiscent of his father. "Lady Cordir, I accept your offer. I will gladly serve you; now as a friend in whatever way I can, later as liege when you have Ascended. And as friend then, too." A small smile, and he seems genuinely moved - a rare display of emotion from him. "I am glad, very glad, for you. You are much grown since the earliest days of following my father, and it will be an honor to be a part of your Making." He glances again at your cloak, then down at your belly. "If it is not forward to ask...I did not know you were...associated...with anyone..."

* * *

Cordir smiles, one of profound happiness, tinged strongly with relief. Her voice is quiet, as she answers. "Thayren, having a friend, now _and_ then, will be a gift of incalculable value. The Mantle of Immortality is not necessarily a gentle or kind one. Having a friendly shoulder will help me a great deal."

Her smile softens, and she blushes slightly, laying a hand upon her belly. "I…. well…. that is to say…. I am not able to formally marry the one that I love. We plan on exchanging Oaths in a private ceremony, but because his faith is different than ours, the Lords Implementors deny us the sanctity of marriage. He is one who reminds me much of you, in many ways." The blush returns, and her voice is soft from embarrassment. "You were, to some degree, the model by which I always compared others. I'm sure you knew I had quite the crush on you, when I first joined your Father."

His jaw doesn't quite drop, but he does stare at you in blank amazement, and then turns very bright red.

She shakes off her blush, and smiles. "I am honored to call Deamhan An-Shalach of the Kindred my beloved, and the father of my child. He and I will hopefully be exchanging Promises within the next few days, if all goes well."

She breaks off and giggles, looking down at her stomach. "Yes, silly one, I'm talking about _you_…." She caresses her stomach with a happy smile. "The child is getting more and more aware of things around her. She can generally tell when I'm thinking about her too loudly, and complains of the noise!" A grin, tinged with delight and pride.

* * *

He manages to find his voice. "That' to you both, then. Er. All three of you. Whatever..." He still seems kerflummuxed. "You had a crush on _me_? On...on _me_?"

* * *

Her laughter is not mocking; more surprised at your bafflement, somewhat embarrassed for her own sake, and partly delighted at shocking you. "Yes, Thayren, on _you_. You were the epitome of what I wanted to be, or at least you seemed so to me. Calm, thoughtful, wise…. harmonious, somehow. You seemed to have the inner calm I desperately sought in my madness, then, and I envied and coveted it. Then again, you were also The Son Of Lord Thaygar, and therefore unreachable and the perfect object of a young girl's first crush." She smiles, and looks up at you. "There's also your appearance, which is rather nice." The smile turns a touch sad. "Your size also drew me, because I had never felt safe, and I felt so around you. You so huge and impressive, and me, so tiny and weak." She forces herself to smile, and says, "I've learned to protect myself, and to run quickly…"

Her voice becomes soft, but determined. "I will _never_ be helpless like that again. No one should have to be. That is a part of what I want to do, should I be able to regain my full powers. To protect, to serve, to cherish and nurture those who are not strong, and teach them the skills they need to stand on their own. There are jackals in this realm that enjoy preying on the weak… and I intend to rob them of their prey by teaching their prey ways to escape and grow strong enough to survive."

She smiles, and allows the serious tone to slip out of her voice, replaced by one more happy. "So… where have you been hiding for these years and years? Tell me, what have you been up to since I saw you last, ever so long ago?"

* * *

He chuckles, still a little embarrassed. "Seeking some of that inner calm I apparently managed to fake having...I was rather lost after Mother and Father both left the Realm, for good as far as I can tell." He sighs. "They were never precisely conventional parents, but I _was_ glad to be their son." A grin. "Even if I wasn't so glad to be Their Son."

He sets the now-empty cider mug down and cuts himself a slice of bread and cheese, then passes you some as well. You note with amusement that the slices he hands you, while the same size as those he cut for himself, are far too large for you. "I've spent a lot of time in N'Kai. Partly just honing my fighting skills, of course - the polyps at least don't seem impressed by my lineage, and those Spawn steal from anything that moves." He shrugs. "Hoping too, perhaps, to catch some message from the Triat, some...some something. A reassurance that it had some meaning beyond disgusting monsters and slimy water."

You raise one eyebrow a little. "And?"

A rueful smile. "And nothing. Not there, at least"

* * *

Cordir frowns and tilts her head to one side, looking at you. "I would have thought, with your bloodline, the Gate would have opened for you." She nibbles thoughtfully on a piece of cheese.

At your blank look of non-comprehension, she explains. "Do you know the place beside the Dhole's cave; the octagonal doorway leading down?"

You nod.

"Well, there is a very...interesting... place there. The mother of the Dhole lies within it's innermost chamber, attended and guarded by Polyps one hundred feet long. There are also vision-crystals, which tell interesting tales of how N'Kai came to be... The Queen herself has an interesting ability - through her phasing skills, she can create a Gate.... I traveled through that gate, and, after a series of misadventures," here a wry smile. " I found your Father."

At your startled exclamation, she nods. "We did not speak, per se, as I was on my Mastery Quest, and forbidden by my oaths to do so. But we communicated briefly in His enigmatic way." Here, a soft chuckle. "Predominantly, I babbled. I did not really expect to find Him. I expected to die. But instead of Death, I found Absolution and Awakening."

She is silent a moment. "There was an island, amidst an oily, black sea. Upon it, I found an altar identical to the one in your Father's Temple. When I knelt before it, the Ebon Hand opened, and a dark flame shot out, burning a Sigil Odegra upon me." She vaguely gestures a circular area from the base of her throat to her stomach. "When that happened, the first link between Incarna and Mortal was forged." Her tone falls to a whisper. "I suppose it could be said that Cordir _did_ die on that journey, for I am not the same woman who stepped despairingly into the Abyss by Lake Hali."

Again, a moment of silence. "So.... when did you See my Temple?"

* * *

" My dreams only started when I left N'Kai." He looks at you consideringly. "I have been prey but seldom to those jackals you speak of; most simply leave me alone. I _was_ once killed by two idiot clerics who, knowing I was Siren's son, assumed I was evil as well." He rolls his eyes. "They apparently did not even take time to learn the most basic facts about giants...mortal ones anyway. But I have seen too many others hunted and slain for pleasure or theft or cruelty; I will teach what I know of survival gladly." He looks at his bread and cheese, shakes his head and blushes a little, chuckling, and takes a bite. "A crush on still seems most bizarre. But I suppose if my size is that emblematic of protection," he grins at you, "then I could employ it usefully in service of the small." Growing serious again, he says somewhat hesitantly, "I have never had a crush on anyone, or been in love...Those women to whom other men seem very attracted - Athera comes to mind - do not hold my interest. The few I have found myself drawn to, I have been so drawn by their character and strength, but I have never wished for more than friendship with any woman yet...What is it like?"

* * *

Cordir blushes and laughs delightedly. "Now _this_ I would have thought more unlikely a scene than any! Someone asking _me_ about love..." She chuckles again, then tries to become sober. "Well, it is different every time. I know the four times that I have ever... cared... about someone, each were very different. With you, it was awe, and a need for safety, a girlish crush. With Keller..." her voice becomes somewhat flat and monotone. "Keller I loved for his fire, his determination, his..." an ugly laugh "..what I thought to be his purity... Gwyrdain... his reliability, his uncomplicatedness. Deamhan..." Her voice softens, and her eyes drop to her left hand where a bit of moonlight - perhaps a reflection from the skywell above? - flickers. "Deamhan I love for the wholeness of his being, not simply for this attribute or that. What is it like? Again, hard to say. There are many kinds of love; brotherly, maternal, sexual, intellectual, soul-mates.... I think Athera specializes in the purely sexual aspect of it... and I know _many_ who are _not_ attracted to that single-minded sort of "love". For me it is a blending of many things. It is friendship, respect, sexual attraction, trust, understanding... It's not just passion for coupling's sake or worship on some pedestal. It's a willingness to... no.. a _need_ to make the other happy... where _their_ happiness is as important as your own. It is deep and constant and brings joy and security." Her face is quietly radiant, a gentle smile playing on her lips. One hand steals to her belly, which she lightly caresses. "And the idea of bringing another into the world to nurture and share that joy with... suddenly doesn't seem so odd an idea...."

She blushes, and says, "I hope you'll forgive my rambling so." She rises and refills his mug of mulled cider, reheating it with a murmured word. "But did that answer your question at all?"

* * *

Thayren smiles at you. "It helps. Thank you." He chuckles suddenly, as if a rather surprising thought had occurred to him, but somewhat sadly as well. At your curious look, he explains, "My sister, Sigar...It's been centuries since she died, and most of the time I think I have come to terms with it, but I find myself missing her now and then at the oddest moments." A wry grin. "We were twins, and sometimes I think she would have complemented me, and I her, in ways we both would have found useful and enjoyable. She was a bit of a hothead, for one, where I decidedly am not...At times I think I could use her passion for life. Even if it did cost us both greatly." His face changes - you suspect that the emotion on his face now, which is simply sadness, would have been bitterness not so many years ago. "And she could certainly have used a bit of calm. Ah well." He leans back in his chair, taking a bite (a huge one) out of his bread, and is silent a moment. "How fare the others of my father's following? It has been a long time since I have seen Typhon or Ivarr, longer even than since I last saw you, I think."

As you begin to answer his question, you feel a familiar presence in your mind. *Hello, beloved. Time for a random caress for no reason whatsoever.* A pleasantly warm tingle runs all over you. *Except perhaps that I love you.* A mental wink and grin, and then he is gone again.

* * *

Thayren smiles. "Well, it is good to hear that so many are still about. Any you meet, do pass on my good wishes. As for my sister..." A wry smile. "I do not speak of her often, so I suppose it is no surprise that you had not known of her." He refills his cider mug and takes a drink, cupping the mug meditatively between his hands. "Although Mother and Father were no longer living in Mount Aire when we were born - it was long after they had both Ascended - Sigar and I spent most of our time there. She was the elder by a few minutes, no more; we were inseparable. Shortly after our seventeenth birthday - celebrated with Mother's infamous yellow jello..." He snickers as if at some private jest. "...Well, we were young and both a little hotheaded at the time, though Sigar always far more so; she had a temper on her. We were out walking near the Mayor's residence, joking with one another about something or other, and Sy-tar was out in front of his house, just greeting people as they passed by. Now, Sy-tar had never liked my sister much; I seem to recall some childish incident once having to do with jello and the Mayor's windows, which he never quite forgot, and she for her part was never as courteous as she could have been. So they began talking, and she made one smart remark too many, and Sy-tar became angry and began to insult her, and then not only her, but our parents too; he called our mother 'an old bat,' I think, among other things." He sighs and shakes his head. "So Sigar lost her temper and challenged him to a duel to make him take back what he'd said about Mother...I tried to hush her and calm her down, but she never was one to do things by halves...And of course Sy-tar was well known as a great fighter, and Sigar but lately begun on her war-training." A faint touch of pride in his voice as he adds, "She did manage to dodge him once..." The sadness returns full force as he glances up at you. "So I have spent most of my life seeking peace from the hatred I have long borne Sy-tar for taking my twin from me. Perhaps I will find it in service to you as Weaver." He smiles at you. "I look forward to it. And I am glad for you, very glad, that you have found such a close heart-mate."

* * *

Cordir blinks at your mention of "jello", and a blank look crosses her face. "You'll have to forgive me, but I'm relatively unfamiliar with your mother… she and I never met, and I did not speak with many of her followers - only avoided causing them any difficulty, per your Father's instructions. . . ." her voice trails off, and she sits quietly a moment, thinking.

A more serious, yet gentle tone: "I am sorry to hear of your sister. She sounds quite brave, and I mourn your loss."

He smiles. "I am not sure it is the sort of loss one ever recovers completely from, but I no longer grieve daily for her. Simply miss her, that is all. You would have liked her."

Another pause. "I never had siblings as a child. My first family was the Ebon Hand, and in many ways, Thaygar was a surrogate parent to me. My first _chosen_ family member was .. is… my sister, Jahiliya, and her mate, Zrie….. although, my Fate-Sister, Macha - whom you may know as Polnevdra - and her beloved are also those I count as family. I have often wondered what it would be like to have a family of my own…." A soft smile steals over her face. "I will soon know part of it, anyway…and I'm quite glad I found him, too… I should like you to meet him some time. Perhaps at our Promising, if you would like to attend? I think you would like him. He is a man of honor, of faith, strength, passion, beauty, gentleness….." Her eyes get quite soft, and a happy expression creeps across her face, leaving a very tender, happy smile in its wake.

*I'm bragging about you, beloved. I love thee.* A gentle hand strokes your hair, and you can practically hear her purring with general happiness.

* * *

Thayren chuckles. "I shall have to meet him, if only to see this man who is even more impressive than I am," he says teasingly. At your blush, he snickers. "Truly, though, I would be glad meet him." He finishes his cider and sets the mug down, then stands and stretches. You realize again just how huge he is, and are strongly reminded of his father as the light catches his face in a particular way for an instant. "I should be going," he says regretfully. "There is a young lad having some difficulty with his cloaking spell, and I promised to tutor him. But I am very glad that I found you here." He smiles happily, then seems to recollect something and looks at your cloak again. "But before I go, where did you get that cloak? It is very lovely - and that _is_ an Odegra on it, if I am not mistaken?"

* * *

She chuckles, and nods. "It is. It's.... well..... I'm not supposed to have it, yet, but I wanted it's comfort now, so I took it from when I get it and brought it here to now." She thinks about what she just said, and giggles. "It's a gift from your Father, that he gives me upon my Oathing to Deamhan.... but that has not happened yet.... and I needed it's comfort now, so I Reached forward and brought it back. Isn't it lovely?" Her fingers trace the claw and teardrop pattern upon its back, then slip over to the delicate traceries of the clasp. "I never knew that the Sigil Odegra had it's own complement / opposite... Argedo... here... take a look."

She stands, and with a deft, quick movement, unbuckles the clasp, swirls the cloak off of her shoulders, and hands it to you.

* * *

He raises an eyebrow at the somewhat jumbled explanation of where it came from, and chuckles. He handles it respectfully, murmuring appreciatively over the fine weave. He finally hands it back to you, admitting, "I knew nothing of Argedo either. Perhaps my father has learned something new in his time away from us." A grin. "Perhaps he always knew and just didn't tell. He did cherish his Order secrets." Thayren assumes a slightly more formal posture in front of you and lifts his hands in a ritual gesture. A magical cloak's glowing threads weave themselves in the air about you and sink into the physical cloak you wear. He smiles and bows, reminding you once more of his formal father, though Thayren's manner is warmer. "Fare very well, friend. I will stop by here more often; I do not wish to wait as long before seeing you again. Give my greetings to Deamhan. I hope we can meet in the future." He smiles at you, waves happily, and heads off to his promised tutoring.