July 3, 2018

1.13 A Lord, Not a Stable Boy

I hated all of them - those suitors your father would invite over fortnightly. 


I hated how haughty they were, thinking it was them who were the catch and not you.
I hated their habits and manners. They groped at the servant-maids for a laugh and saw women only for what was between their legs.


I hated how they smelled of smoke and booze, the scent hovering around them in a cloud wherever they went.
I hated how quickly they shut you out - those fools who think less of your ideas because you wear a corset. 


I hated that there were so many of them to the point it was like they were faceless. A new batch each time from some distant land with an equally distant claim. 


Yet the thing I hated the most was that they had everything I didn’t. 
There was nothing more maddening than that.


They were the worst kind of people in the worst kind of ways yet I still wanted a piece of what they had.


They had a real chance to be with you, unlike my pipe dream I lived in when I pretended they didn’t exist.


The only real chance I could have is if I miraculously won a set of titles and wealth. It would be perfect then. Your father wouldn’t even have to worry about his estate being swallowed by another family.


Then I could have you.
That’s all I want. I don’t need the titles, nor the wealth, nor the servants doing my bidding.
Just you.


~~~~~~

You were all I ever wanted.


You were so real.
Your voice. The fiery color of your hair. The mischief in your eyes. 


Some days I lurch awake on my desk with the image of you so clearly in my mind. How could that have been fake? How could these memories not be real?
For a long time I told myself that it was because you were too perfect - that was what made you unreal. That was why you didn’t exist. 


Zachurr was a monster who did terrible things to undeserving people.
Yet, I think that’s the problem.
Zachurr was a monster. 


There was no way a monster could’ve created such a perfect you for me to even dream about.
That is why I can’t let you go, Ana.


~~~~~~

The day was bustling as Agonin watched quietly from the secluded corner he had found. In godhood he discovered it was best to see and not be seen. It was an isolating thing to have as much power as he did, and his presence alone often intimidated those below him. 


There was once a day he would’ve given anything to just have half of the title he did now.
Isn’t there a saying for that? Be careful what you wish for?
He chuckled dryly to himself.
It only took several hundred years for him to find that joke funny.


It did used to bother him more, but that’s why he did his job the way he did. There was once a point when he tried to express that he was no different from everyone else around him, but he quickly learned that was not something people wanted to hear. They didn’t want a god who was like everyone else. They wanted a figure who represented the best qualities that they could work beneath. They wanted a being of great power to make the hard decisions and be infallible in the face of destruction.
They wanted a lord, not a stable boy.
If he stepped forward from his quiet, unseen corner the music would stop.
The people would quiet.
The fun would end.


Yes, he had all the power he could ever dream of at his fingertips now, and the world expected him to act like it.
Stein has told me little about you, but I’ll be honest to say I’ve not asked much until recently.
Wrapping my head around gods at all seems nearly impossible.
Don’t even get me started on buttons.

A real smile pulled on his lips then as he recalled the letter. That was what he wanted to be doing now, anyways. 


She was a peculiar woman from the letters he exchanged with her. She didn’t fear offending him, at least, not in the conventional way. It opened a bright spot in his days.
He let his eyes scan the room once more, telling himself he could reasonably disappear after confirming that everything seemed to be in order. Permission granted, it seemed, all was well. 

 
He moved carefully away from the main foyer and towards his office to find some peace and paper. He paused outside the door, sensing people within having a conversation. Rion and Lucas. The door seemed to radiate tension, and he’d heard from Minha that this wouldn’t be the first conversation that seemed like this.


Agonin had long speculated there were feelings involved between them. He’d gotten solid confirmation recently, however it hadn’t come from either of them, so he hadn’t tried to pry until they might be ready to let others know. That readiness, on the other hand, seemed to be the source of the tension between them. Agonin would need to try a more direct conversation with Lucas in the near future.


For now, however, he left them be and made for the stairs. There were other rooms, surely one wouldn’t be occupied.
Agonin found himself a quiet spot in one of the spare rooms set up as a bedroom. He idled by the desk as he remembered Minha had once tried to make this his room. Tried? She had. He had just forgotten about it.


‘You do know there are other places to sleep besides a desk, right?’
He rubbed his face with his hand, perhaps after this he would try to get some sleep.
A letter to S, then some needed rest. He knew it was bad if even Majnun had started pestering him about it.
He looked at the paper below him and pursed his lips. It felt informal to not know this woman’s name to even begin a letter with. Stein had been adamant about keeping her personal identity secret, and she had not offered anything more than S. It would be rude to ask for more. 


Sure, it was old-fashioned of him, but he couldn’t help it.
He had barely even settled in his seat when he closed his eyes with a sigh.
Two, gentle knocks on the door.
He would’ve laughed to himself if it were any other person just checking to see if the room was empty, but he knew this was a deliberate interruption.


“Hiding from the crowd?”
“Trying to.” He chuckled as he stretched in his seat and stood to properly greet the familiar woman in the doorway. “Did Minha call you?”
She tried to look innocent for a moment before her guilty smile gave her away. “She… might have. I hope I’m not intruding.”


Agonin shook his head, “you’ve never intruded on me, Aria.” He motioned her in and she shut the door quietly behind her.
“You always say that.” She smiled at him as she approached.
“I always mean it too.” He eased in his stance and leaned against the desk. “Do I dare ask what brings you by?” 


The guilty smile returned and Aria’s brow furrowed. “Minha mentioned you’ve been…” She trailed off, looking to the side as she struggled to find the right word.
Stuck in the past again, he finished for her inside his own head. After a few more seconds of her scrambling he shook his head. “Whatever Minha said, I promise it’s not as bad.” 


Aria wasn’t convinced. “We’re just worried, that’s all.” She brushed a strand of hair behind her ear in a nervous fashion he knew too well. She genuinely was worried about him. “This was how it started the last time, remember? First you stare at your ring with this particular look in your eyes, then you start combing through records meticulously, then before you can say ‘everything is fine-’” She mimicked his voice and stance as she quoted him, “-you’ll be in and out of the Land of the Dead, putting yourself in far more danger than you should be-”
Agonin raised his hands to stop her, she was getting far more worked up over this than he could bear her to be. “I’m sorry to have worried you, but I should clarify that I went into the Land of the Dead not for my own search, but at the request of Majnun. Didn’t he tell you?” 


Aria’s face shifted between worry, to ease, to mild humor. “Tell me? You act like he has ever just told me things.” She laughed and shook her head. “No, but Sheogorath did say Majnun’s nose has been itching. I take it yours has too, if you agreed to go into the Land of the Dead and risk the ire of me.”
“It has been, and I wish I had less grave news about what we found out there.” He shifted in his stance as she finally broke free and went to organize a stack of paperwork on the dresser. 


“Was that intentional wordplay, or accidental?” He could hear her smiling as she spoke.
“You know how I am with wordplay,” Agonin resisted rolling his eyes.
Aria turned to him. “Right, accidental. So what news was so grave?”
“The magic is getting restless in there, Harken was having a hard time articulating it at the last meeting, but I see what he means now, there’s only a handful of the gods who have seen this restlessness before.” He didn’t have to spell it out, her eyes were already widening.


“You don’t mean… the Era… it’s changing already?” She lowered herself numbly onto the bed.
He nodded confirmation. “The Era of Prophecies is coming to a close, and whatever new Era is dawning well… It feels less like the shift we had from the Era of Havoc to the Era of Prophecies and more like the shift from the Celestial Age to the Era of Havoc.”
Aria’s head hung. “So you think it’ll be a dark era?” 
No, it wasn’t worth worrying her over. “We have no confirmation of that - we won’t until the Durotsala starts.” The week that prequeled the change - the Durotsala - was always the most brutal. They would need to spend as much time as they could preparing for it. The good thing he could take comfort in was this time they had a far greater warning that it was coming. “If I had to take a guess, I’d say we’ve got several years before we’ll hear about this again. Either way, you know you’re always welcome here should you wish to head this way when things start going rough - or to help prepare, too. I know Lucas would be happy to have you around more in general.”  


Aria smiled at him brightly. “Is he on a mission today? I didn’t see him at the party, but then again I didn’t stick my nose in… too many people for my taste.”
“He’s talking with Rion in my office.” Agonin smiled, pleased the conversation shifted away for the time being.
“Oh!” Her eyes lit up. “Have they finally come out yet?”
He shook his head, “not yet and it seems to be causing some tension.”
“I think he’s afraid you’ll be upset with him.” She confirmed what he already speculated. 


“I assure you, I’ve been trying, but I don’t want to steer that conversation before he’s ready. He still calls me ‘sir’ most days. I remember when you used to do that." He sighed. "Is it me, do you think?”
Aria shook her head as she moved closer to him. “No, it’s hardly you. You’re just fine as you are. It’s just hard when you grow up being raised by someone that people hold in high regards. You’re a hero to people, dad.” She kissed his cheek.
Agonin couldn’t argue when she pulled that word. “Is that what they’re calling it these days?”
Aria laughed. “As far as I know they’ve always called it that.” 


He grumbled slightly as she turned to his desk, “perhaps my age is showing then.”
“Or you’re hanging around Majnun too much.” It took only a moment before her keen eyes spotted what he had almost forgotten was there. “Now, what’s this? A letter? I didn’t know anyone still wrote letters these days. Who’s ‘S?’”
Agonin pressed his eyes closed, “she’s-” 


Aria spun on her heel with wide eyes and a mischievous grin, “a woman? No-no! You don’t need to tell me!” She composed herself and gave him a softer smile. “Good for you, dad.” 
“It’s not-” They were interrupted suddenly as the door nearly fell open.


“My lord!” Tonya spilled in with Lucas and Rion behind her.
“There’s been an urgent message from Irena’s courts, sir!”
“Several recurring magical disasters have left several trapped in their homes!”
“A rebellion has broken out!”
“There’s been earthquakes happening in four different countries, none connected!” 


More and more messages began pouring in and Minha was at the door awaiting orders. Holding up his hand the group silenced. “One at a time; Irena’s circles - what’s going on there?”
Tonya straightened, words falling from her mouth almost faster than she could form them. “I got this scrambled letter, my lord! Jonfrey is there and he sent it and I-” 


Agonin reached to her with a certain hand and rested it on her shoulder, calming her. With a careful touch he surveyed her mind. Rebellion. Fires. Death. The library is being overturned.
That was where all the records were, but more importantly-
That’s where S. was.
His gut was sinking. There was so much information piling in-
They wanted a lord, not a stable boy. 


It was as if time slowed and he closed his eyes tightly, sifting through all the minds in the room and sorting the information accordingly. Magically induced earthquakes with no causes. Wars between gods that make no sense. Spirit rebellion. Mass hysteria.
The end of an era is dawning.
It was a whisper in his head that chilled him. It would make the most sense, of course, but it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. That information was useless to him now. This wasn’t the Durotsala - no, merely a pre-tremor of what that will be and that was the scary part. The good news was that they could stabilize from this - they just needed to stand strong.


Agonin retracted his spell and as the room came back to life he started his orders, turning back to his desk promptly. “Minha, gather those at the temples in the areas that need relief and tell them to start preparing rescue missions. Prioritize the families first, get any abled body man or woman with no further responsibilities to pad out the relief efforts. We need to get people out of their homes and into the temple for safety.”
He yanked the desk drawers open and brought out a piece of parchment. He could already hear Minha out the door giving her own orders to those who could hear them.
“Tonya, take Rion and gather some of the best fighters you can. Go aid those under Irena. If diplomacy is possible-” 


Tonya’s voice sputtered back bitter. “The spirits cannot be-”
He turned to face her and she quieted, backing away from his unyielding gaze. “You will take your orders as I give them or you will be dismissed.”
She was terrified of him and he relented his gaze away to the parchment as he scrambled for a pen. “If diplomacy is possible you will take that route. You are not there to fight for Irena, you are there to get any innocents out, do you understand me?” 


He glanced her way long enough to get confirmation before turning his gaze back to the parchment that he scribbled on hastily.
Agonin could feel Lucas hovering anxiously in the doorway. “... and what of my orders, my lord?”
The boy was mildly terrified, yet eager to prove himself.
It cooled Agonin’s haste and he turned to face the young boy carefully. “I’m headed to Time’s realm, and you’re coming with me.” 
"I'll come too." Aria interjected and he nodded to her.


“Is there a message from them?” Lucas’s eyes were wide with worry.
Agonin could almost recall the sound of their voice in his head and he resisted a chill that gave him. “I certainly hope so.” He responded back honestly.
He turned back to his scrawl and lamented that it had to be done so quickly. 

S.,
Please find safety outside of Irena’s Library if you haven’t already. I need to know you’ve made it out alive.
-Agonin

There was no time to lose; he took the twin seal he held and pressed it into the paper - not even to seal it, but so that it would find its mark with it’s identical other half that was held by the woman he hoped the note would reach.

2 comments:

  1. Oh god the angst was real.
    I ship Jack and Sol SO MUCH, it's so pure and adorable and heartwarming and TRAGIC AT THE SAME TIME.
    Like god YOU'RE SO CLOSE. it wasn't a dreeammm

    I love Jack as a stable boy, but I also adore Agonin as a god. Like Sol he's a catch in all the angles.

    God his concern for 'S' kills me though. DON'T WORRY SHE'S FINE. But at the same time keep worrying it's wonderful lol XD

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    Replies
    1. I'M LIVING THE ANGST AGAIN. Jack really laid it on THICK too.
      God I will never see Tragic the same way again (holds head to prevent the puns flowing out).

      Lol SEE Sol, he's 1000% a catch now - he's got the god in the streets and a stable boy in the sheets. ;)
      (snorts) imsorryihadto

      Heeeeeeeeee one could almost say this boy is FALLIN AGAIN!

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