April 5, 2019

1.20 The Family He Made

Agonin rubbed his forehead and temple with an exasperated movement. Minha was carefully taking mental notes over the paperwork they had dug through. She'd even paused the research into her next job she was working on just to help him go over these figures... again.

He stole a glance at the waiting letter resting on his desk - unopened.
He told himself it could wait until a bit later before he responded, otherwise he feared he’d be keeping her pinned to a pen and paper if he kept responding back as hastily as he always seemed to.
It should be concerning to him how much he started to parse out with his mind in an attempt to know her better. He knew her sleep schedule put her on a timezone similar to Monte Vista’s, where he did most of his work. She’d write him occasionally when she’d wake up with nightmares, which almost always aligned to his night schedule he kept for himself.

She mentioned it being colder too, so he could - potentially easily - pick out her location on a map…
But he refrained.
That would be too much.
Certainly too much. 

The Valley gets colder around this time of year as the fall holidays and Saturnalia draw closer. It was hard to picture her out in the mountains of Dragon Valley, though.
There was China to the north, which in their northern cities and mountainous regions also got colder during this time of year, though not by much. She had mentioned the town spoke another language, but English seemed predominant... but he didn't know which language as there were dozens, not including the varying dialect, that it could be.

Then again, he’d never asked.
Asking would be nosing about in business she’d already outlined as not being permitted to share. Especially given she wasn’t just keeping herself safe but those who were hosting her, too.
Irena’s rampage seemed to have calmed, though. He’d ensured that himself, which might’ve skirted the line of what he was legally allowed to do.
He couldn’t stand slavery.

Minha and he did what they could to end it where their reach extended, but even they had limits; rules he had to mind.
Minha was more comfortable breaking them, which she did regularly for her side jobs. She's closed down several sex-slavery rings by her own hands, but it never felt like enough. As one would crumble, another would rise. They could use more powerful help, but that would mean taking it on at the source.
He wasn’t ready to butt heads with half the pantheon yet - and doing it alone would be suicide.
No, he had to play the long game, and it was enough to drive anyone mad.

“Anything new?” Minha hummed as she shifted to looking for a book on the shelf behind his desk. He kept the most recent records there.
“Unfortunately there’s been a low-lying trend; there were tremors near the active springs. It’s staring us in the face, but I can’t identify more than that.” He sighed and pulled himself standing. He couldn't look at those papers any longer. They weren't yielding him any more information than he didn't already know.

“Don’t those areas usually get tremors?” Minha murmured, her mind turning over the information.
“Areas with active Spirit Springs usually do, yes, but it’s more like a constant tremor that occasionally becomes a full out earthquake. There’s some data showing pre-shocks to the ones that occurred on the day the rebellion in Irena’s broke out. It’s much more severe…” Agonin walked the wall of books he kept.
“That definitely seems like too much of a coincidence.” 

“Most certainly; the day a spirit rebellion breaks out and all of the spirit springs around the world start to shake at the same time…” His eyes drifted back to the letter. They’ve been over these numbers at least four times already, hoping to find something else new. They were still missing something, but at this point he was ready to say it wasn’t to be found in these papers.
“Do you remember those horrific earthquakes that hit… how many years ago was it now? Twenty? There was no rebellion then.” 

Agonin did remember those - they were the worst they’d ever been in centuries. Maybe it was all related?
Or maybe he was just reaching and none of this was connected.
He remembered looking for answers back then too for the tragedies that hit from those earthquakes, yet he found nothing.
There was a careful zap and suddenly another letter landed on top of the first. Agonin’s eyes were stuck on it carefully. 

Is she having trouble sleeping? There was no way he could hold off on answering this one. “Minha…”
Minha’s gaze hit the letter and she smirked with a slight roll of her eyes. “Need a break, my lord?” She teased him, already knowing the answer as she made for the door. "You really like her, don't you?" 

Agonin's eyes lingered on the letter, uncertain of how he should answer that question. It was true he'd developed a sense of closeness to Sol for as long as he'd written her - it was natural, like breathing. Up until this point he'd attributed it to getting to talk with someone who shared similar life experiences and understood the life he lived prior to him becoming a god. 
Now, though, he was starting to realize how little they talked of the past. 
They'd been writing now for months. He'd long past the point of just writing to offer his admiration and encouragement.

Minha didn't seem to mind his non-answer and instead her face actually softened into something much warmer. "I'm glad, my lord. She seems to be doing good for you." 

Dear Sol, 
You couldn't have timed your letter better if you tried. I've been up going over papers for hours trying to find connections that just aren't there. Needless to say, your letter is much nicer to read because of it. 

In regards to your question you asked what we were researching; honestly we're not even sure anymore ourselves. The night that you and Stein escaped there was a string of horrible earthquakes near spirit springs all over the world - all at the same time. We've been experiencing things like this before, and some twenty years ago we had a truly horrendous string of earthquakes that nearly ruined three countries because of it. These were not as bad, but given the number of magical occurrences happening on top of it, we keep trying to find a connection to see if there's something we can fix... yet nothing is revealing itself to us.

But that's a depressing note to think about. I was hoping I'd have more of a solution I could share with you, but for the time being please do not worry. I assure you we'll find something.
Also, absolutely do not worry about a second letter, it was exactly the brightening my evening needed.
The wine has gotten quite a bit weaker over time - something about health problems from too much alcohol. The world was a very different place when we were younger, and water was not as safe as it is currently. However, given you've likely not had wine recently could explain why you're feeling the effects of it still despite it not being potentially as strong.

Nostalgia... that's quite a word, and one I can't say I let myself experience often, but maybe I am a bit now - thinking back when I was younger and would steal wine with someone dear to me and stay up until the odd hours of the morning trying not to get caught. 

You know, it's strange, I wasn't sure if it was real or not for the longest time. My memories, that is. That was what Zachurr did to me - what he took. He took my certainty of certain events... of certain people.
A certain person.

For the longest time I was certain she existed... then certain she didn't. After Zachurr left the world though I've been stuck in limbo. There's no records on her - not anywhere. I've searched and searched and turned over the world countless times looking for anything to prove she existed. Not that it would even matter - almost two millennia has past. I just hate the uncertainty. 

Yet, writing to you has helped. I've been able to embrace the uncertainty and see that I can treasure the memories I have regardless of whether or not they were real.
It's been such a relief to talk to someone with a similar scar. I'm sorry to hear you've lost someone, too. My condolences are hardly enough, I know, as the pain of losing someone you love dearly is... well it's beyond comprehension for most. Sometimes it feels like I've been numbly moving through life after I lost the woman I loved. The uncertainty of knowing whether she existed or not, and if she had what might have happened to her, keeps me up most nights.

She was my family - who I wanted to be my family.
When I lost her it was like I lost my family. I was no longer connected to my mother in any tangible sense - as she denied ever knowing my lady existed. I never knew my father well - and the one time I met him I very much regret how complacent I was. 

I was found by the Lord Noe. He was the previous God of Order, and his wife. They had been all but run thin because of Zachurr, so their final acts were to train me as his replacement and move onto the next life.
For a long time I admired them, but now I think of them as cowards, especially considering they left behind their young daughter to be hunted and to fend for herself. 

Her name is Minha - you might remember me mentioning her before. She's my high priestess, and she'd absolutely kill me if she ever read this for making her seem weak. She's like having a little sister. I know she's incredibly strong but it doesn't stop me from worrying for her when she goes on side jobs that she keeps hushed so we don't end up pulled into a war. 

She's been with me practically since the start. 
I was married once, too, but it wasn't for love. I had risen to godhood fairly recently when I met Caelia. 

I was in the midst of hunting down Zachurr to finish him off when I found her in town about to be killed for being pregnant and unmarried. I must say out of all the changes we've made in society, I am grateful for that progress that being killed for having a child out of wedlock is no longer a common aspect of culture. 

I claimed us married instead, so they wouldn't kill her. Turns out Zachurr had left his mark on her as well and she was pregnant with his child. I was too young to know the consequences of this and subsequently she... died. In labor. 
Truthfully I felt useless. 

The child survived, though, and I named her Aria, as that was the name her mother wanted her to have. Anyone who ever poked about or asked would be told she was mine - and in every way she was. 
She's grown now and has a son of her own who's also grown. His name is Sheogorath. 

And just over thirteen years ago Minha found a boy in one of my temples who had been abandoned there. His name is Lucas and he was six when we found him. He's been with us ever since and I very much consider him to be my son.

He's been going through some growing pains recently. Let's just say I know something about him that he knows about himself, but he doesn't know that I know. So I'm waiting for him to tell me so I don't have to pretend to not know anymore. I just want him to be happy, that's really all. 

If it would be of interest to you, I could look into your lost love. I've been over those records from that time period inside and out when looking for my own, it would be of no trouble at all to check again.

As for your last question, you can tell Jonnie that I haven't aged since I took on godhood - though Minha begs to differ. She tells me when I haven't slept that I look my proper age as a joke. I suppose in a way it's maintained through magic as the magic is in our cells - our DNA. It prevents the mutations that generally cause aging. 

However, I changed my appearance when I rose - nothing structurally, just took on the white hair and clothes of the God of Order before me. Perhaps that makes me look older. I used to have dirty blond hair - I still wear it whenever I need to go out in public and not make a scene. 

Granted, I'm usually a little too "rigid" as Majnun would say, and stand out like a sore thumb anyways.
I've been struck by the letter you sent me a while ago - giving me a name to call you. Did you know "Sol" is "sun" in the language of some Islanders? I've had to pick up many languages over the years, and thought you might appreciate knowing the name you wear can have a bright meaning. It suits you.

I had a different name before I rose - it was one I buried and tried to forget, along with everything about my past in my confusion and hurt. I've hidden it well, but I don't mind sharing it with you. 
You've helped me come to a place of more peace with this past of mine than I can ever express. 
I hope you're able to rest well, I know sleep can be an evasive state.

Also, I've attached some herbs, steep them in hot water and they might help for whatever pains you might have when you wake.


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  1. Nononononononononononononononononono!! I NEEEEEED another chapter!!! Livviiiiieeeeee!!!

  2. And trust this to be the last Atalan story I've caught up on *facepalm* now I don't even have any Reapers or Willow or Nightingale to soften the blow 😭

  3. Queue Soliana panicking as she reads the name Jack! XD

  4. I'll take this as a realization!

    Whatever the future is for this story, glad to see Aria as a proud parent (because I keenly forget about Sheo EVERY TIME) as Agonin is in his heart. Not like I was expecting the "gods are homophobic" answer because...why do that...but I can feel Lucas' hesitancy with an ancient being who adopted him. I'd probably be the same way!