With buckets of water, stolen from the animals of the outside stables, the fires hissed out with the compassionate songs of the guards and the warriors. Apologizing to the property owners for so much carnage and damage. Everything was black and red and sticky and wet. The guards and warriors on the backs of mounting beasts rode forth, Valthran close to his mother and father as they all went to follow the exiles into the ashlands where fires burned.
“Why do I not go with my partner?” Clemnilshala asked directly before beginning the next prayer as the wind that followed the force of so many beasts running forth spread sparks and embers along windows and began new fires. “It will not hurt my heart, Senaar. I do not understand.”
“Because, for this night, you were my partner. You abandoned your partner on the battlefield and came to my aid, so therefore, you and I are responsible to care for our people now.” They patted her head and ruffed her hair.
“And we get first crack at the bath when we return to the stables, ‘Shala. Tell me, would you like to wash blood and battle out of your hair with dirty, already used up, water?” Selmnilor chimed in. “Ah, my child, you fought with Valor! I am filled with pride that I over flow into these fires.”
Selmnilor stopped at Senaar’s hand. Selfish pride hurts the people around you.
“Yes…and you get to bathe before the others get back.” Senaar handed a water bucket to Clemnilshala and instructed her on how to throw the water so that it gets to the base of the fire in high places such as flower beds and high up chairs.
A bath in clean victory awaited her at the stables. The same priestesses that bathed her in oil before, came to her side here. The protoge’s worked diligently in the night as well. Would these priestesses be waiting always for her return? Blood stained the water, black ink came out of her hair, they sent prayers with quiet songs while they brushed and sponged as directed. After battle, warriors, guards, they do not have to bathe themselves. It felt good to be a warrior. If only for a night.
Oil was poured over her head, it soaked her hair and washed over her ears and face, rising to the surface of the bathing water that was a cloudy, ugly, color now. Clemnilshala grinned cheek to cheek, smiling wider than she ever did. As though she understood all the secrets that the Weilvog had to offer. She would not doubt the Vaniaal any more. This was the right path for her.
“The days of leisure that you blessed me with.” She looked to the priestess and her protoge’s “Please, take them amongst yourselves. I have training tomorrow.”
The morning sun hadn’t crested the charred wall of the city before Clemnilshala got up. Valthran had returned some time in the night, bruised and battered, they spent the rest of the evening by candle light comparing their wounds. Valthran won the contest with a gash to his leg given by an adult exile that his father Valoriously killed. They dressed in their training gear, Clemnilshala smiled and butted her head against Valthran wishing him a good day. His tail cocked high with the blessing. This was already a good birthday to him.
Eynnil do not celebrate the days of their births. As they are so long lived they celebrate decades and milestones instead. But for now, this birthday was a good day.
In the training yard Senaar awaited them, he had tassels for their hocks, he had personally spoken with the Vaniaal and told them the story of the raid and how two trainees, two younglings, not quite adults yet, had come to the aid of the guards. How Valthran went with Throsaan to vanquish the colony and how Clemnilshala threw herself between the blade of an exile and themself. Selmnilor was there, smiling as a tear welled in his eye. Throsaan did not move but the air seemed to warm around him as they looked to their son. Silvered tassels to be worn when ever they go into town, to show great valor at great cost. To the self. The Vaniaal himself said that should the five, Selmnilor, Senaar, Throsaan, Valthran, and Clemnilshala wish to be leisurely today that they may do so. Let wounds heal. Selmnilor planned to go to market, to purchase something for Hashala. Throsaan and Valthran were going to train privately. Senaar would stay and help the younglings. The decision fell to Clemnilshala who wanted to sit for a time today, in the morning, and study a scroll of the rites of exile.
“I wish to understand.” She had said, for reading the scrolls was grisly and gruesome to even adults. But her wish was granted she was given a copy of the collected rituals to look at only until lunch time.
She read, behind a training post, the markings, the crimes that someone can be exiled. It scared her, rattled her core like rocks inside of a drinking glass. These were the things she must never do. She must never break the will of the Weilvog, the Anghniel, the Vaniaal. She must never slight her superiors and must never fail to ask for forgiveness. She must be bold and selfless. But never brazen nor proud. The markings that would litter her skin with dark refuse were ugly and jagged. She read the prayers and ritual songs. About the needle, the post and the table. It proved to be a lot. This was what she must never become. She must never stray from the Vaniaal’s path.
The exiles, they never asked to be forgiven, they could still be here if they just took their penance. How stupid of them.
Inside of the same scroll was the opposite ritual, so very similar to the ritual of exhilation that she thought this was for golden eyes that abandon their path. A silly thought. The rituals to become golden eyed were rigid but the Weilvog and the Anghniel themselves put the lustrous markings on the skins of their favored children. Golden Eyed warriors were known to change shape from before to after. Given a pure form based on the judgement of the Anghniel. Clemnilshala had seen golden eyed warriors who must of had these changes, a number of priestesses had long necks. But some golden eyed people stayed the same, like Senaar and Throsaan.
2 thoughts on “After the Great Fire”
Really cool chapter, you’ve done a good follow up of a rather action packed scene. The idea of exiles can be a polarizing subject I imagine, just at least from the accounts portrayed by previous chapters and our cast of characters. This chapter answers some of my thoughts/questions by showing how these characters react to a striking event. A raid by exiles. By showing some things such as their bathing rituals, celebration of heroics, or even bragging about battle wounds, it really goes to show positive reinforcement that keeps the cause alive and charismatic amongst its revered. I’m glad we don’t get a solemn “bury your feelings” type of flavor here, but a reinforcement that keeps our young heroes engaged and determined to achieve new feats. Bravo!
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Thank you! It’s a problem I’ve found in other stories, by no fault of the writers mind you, when they show that something is wrong it’s hard to imagine someone going along with it. I really want to show that my protagonists are not all good nor bad.