Disclaimer: Wholly original work.
Characters/Pairings: Lord King Marac of the East, Lord General Minewin Devereny of the West, Goddess Lady Tormika
Summary: Minewin arrives just in time for the rainy season.
Notes: Well, this is ridiculously unrelated to the origins of... everything. But I am exceptionally pleased with where this went, because it's so much better than what I had planned. ^^;;
"General Devereny." An amused chuckle followed, as Lord King Marac of the East continued to survey his personal quarters. While he had left them empty earlier in the day, his old friend had apparently come to stay somewhere in the last hours and had made himself quite comfortable.
Lord King Marac had his theories about just what Lord King Oseme of the West's young general actually was, but he didn't dare voice them. Minewin never spoke much of his family or upbringing beyond his education in magic, and Marac was not the type to push. Not with friends, at least.
"New blankets," Minewin noted, running his palms over the rich red quilt beneath him. At least, Marac considered, he had taken his boots off.
Their friendship was also a fierce rivalry. While Marac knew he'd never be the mage that Minewin would eventually become, he had the edge on the battlefield. Though on their first meeting, they had given one another a wonderful challenge.
Minewin continued to challenge him.
"New blankets," Marac echoed, nodding. "Quite warm, since we're coming into the rainy season."
"I like the color," Minewin said, swinging his legs over the bed and standing. Marac hadn't noticed the book right away - apparently while waiting, Minewin had been reading. Without closer inspection, though, Marac was unsure if it was from the castle library or something the warrior-mage had brought with him.
"Strange, coming from you," Marac noted, before stepping forward to grasp Minewin's hand in his own. While he wore the rich colors of the East, Minewin wore black. It only fueled Marac's theories about where his friend came from, but he was a patient man, when it came to his friends. He would wait out Minewin's secrets.
Minewin chuckled, and once his hand was free of Marac's, he had his hands up in Marac's hair.
"I don't know if I like it," Minewin said flatly. "Why?"
"It was getting badly damaged," Marac replied, shaking out his yellow-blond hair once Minewin was finished. While it had only been a couple of hands of hair, Marac knew it made him look quite different. But it still hung heavy on his shoulders in the beginnings of curls. "It'll grow back."
"Fair enough." Minewin stretched, circling. "Are you going to ask why I'm here?"
Marac chuckled. Minewin was his junior by a handful of years, and still had a certain impertinence of youth.
"No, I don't think I will," Marac replied. "I merely stopped by my room to fetch a hooded cloak should the rains come while I'm out."
"Servants," Minewin mused. "You have them, you know."
Marac knew the look he gave Minewin was a tired one. He had servants, yes, but there was plenty for the castle staff to do aside from do things he had both the time and ability to do.
"I have them," Marac noted. "And I've busied them cleaning before the dampness sets into every stone of Nightstar."
He did not miss the faintest of shivers grip Minewin, but he also did not comment. Not when the next words out of Minewin's in mouth were the ones he knew he'd hear.
"So, where are we going?"
"A meeting with port officials," Marac said. "I shall get a cloak, you shall put your boots back on and we shall both be on our way."
Minewin grinned at him.
"It's 'Lord General Devereny' now, by the way."
Marac was fairly sure that Lord King Oseme had finally gone senile.
"So why are you here?" Marac questioned during dinner. Minewin hadn't popped out any sealed scrolls or anything, and he was sure Minewin would have delivered any correspondence from Lord King Oseme by that point.
Minewin sighed. "Apparently, we're all required to take some sort of enrichment leave... I couldn't really think of anything to do for a week, so I figured I'd come see you."
Marac's hand tightened around his fork, but he held his tongue. He wasn't annoyed - Minewin was a good friend and good company. But that Minewin did not think to visit family or any of the teachers he had mentioned...
"Me?" Marac asked.
"I sent Sine off to Ruame, too," Minewin replied casually. "If you don't mind me staying, of course."
Marac chuckled. He'd seen how Minewin had settled into his bed chamber. They both already knew the answer.
The rains began the next day, blocking any brightness from the sky and instantly turning the white city into a dull grey.
"Did you bring an offering to the Lady of Storms?" Marac questioned softly. While the day the rains ended was traditionally the goddess Tormika's feast day, quite a few small rituals occurred during the duration of the rains. On the first day, special offerings were left at her main temple in the city. Mana Corani was her city, after all. The temple was once her home.
Marac had commissioned dozens of gilded candles, along with candies and fresh fruit.
Minewin stirred against him, stretching and pushing down the blankets without regard for his nudity beneath. "Don't really do that stuff..."
Marac could not help the look he gave Minewin. For a warrior-mage, of all people, to forego leaving gifts to the gods on ritual days - it was unheard of.
"This is her city, isn't it?" Minewin questioned, rolling to get out of bed. He grabbed for his pants and tugged them on quickly, not looking at Marac. "I'll have to find something."
"I'll find something for you," Marac offered. He looked from Minewin to the window where the rain poured down like a sheet.
"No, no... Let me go find something and I'll be right back." Minewin pulled on his shirt and cloak and fussed with his boots for a moment before grabbing a few more things and then heading out the door without another word.
Marac knew better than to try to stop him. And it did make his own situation look a little better for when his attendants arrived.
The King of the East had bathed, dressed, had a long breakfast and settled in front of a roaring fire to read over a schedule of events for the rainy season. Marac sighed - the list probably had barely been amended since Night was the ruling king.
The door to his study creaked open, and Marac quickly looked up.
"It's really raining," Minewin noted as he trudged inside. Marac wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry, or simply send for a half-dozen servants with towels. Minewin was soaked through, long black hair plastered to his head and water dripping from his clothing.
"Is this your first time experiencing Mana Corani's rains?" Marac questioned, suddenly feeling a bit guilty for not giving Minewin a bit more of a warning.
Minewin nodded before reaching to peel his hair back from his forehead and cheeks. "I got something perfect, though."
Marac simply waited for Minewin to show him. But Minewin shook his head.
"Not yet," he said. "When we make the offerings, you can see. But right now... I think I need to find some dry clothing."
"Ask one of my maids to find you dry boots," Marac commented. He went back to the list as if it was actually interesting. He wasn't going to give Minewin the satisfaction of his curiosity.
"I'd be tempted by a bath, too," Minewin noted. "Except I think I've had one."
Minewin reappeared later, dry and wearing clothing mostly of his own. He smelled like he'd been dragged off for a long hot soak, however, about which Marac couldn't complain.
"Are you ready, Your Highness?" one of the attendants questioned. Marac surveyed the crated offerings that had been gathered and nodded.
"Yes," he said. "Lord General Devereny of the West will accompany me, if he also is ready."
"Ready," Minewin echoed. He glanced around once, focusing on Marac and his lack of a cloak.
"Let us proceed, then." Marac said, starting forward. Attendants followed, grabbing boxes as they went.
Minewin fell in step, which amused Marac. Not once after their initial meeting had Minewin ever bothered to defer properly. While he knew he should have been offended, Marac simply let it fuel his theories on Minewin.
As they stepped outside, waves of attendants with large pieces of canvas on poles ran to keep ahead of them, keeping them dry as they walked.
The goddess Tormika's temple was only a short distance from the castle, thankfully, and the entire procession, save for the pole-wielders, arrived without so much as a drip despite the downpour being so heavy that it was difficult to even see through it.
Marac did not miss Minewin suck in his breath ever so slightly as they stepped inside. Candles were everywhere, on every surface, burning brightly to stave off the dampness from the rain. It made the white stone of the temple gleam on the inside.
Yet Minewin didn't seem to be staring at the candles. Instead, his gaze was on the statue of Tormika that stood in the front chamber. Scarves hung from her outstretched arms, and a shawl was draped over the statue's shoulders. Fruit and flowers were scattered at the base.
"I'd forgotten what she looked like," Minewin said softly, almost to himself. Marac didn't say a word. Instead he reached for one of his own boxes of fruit and added to the selection at the statue's feet.
Minewin still hadn't produced any sort of offering, either.
The main hall was radiant despite openings in the roof where rain cascaded through, forming perfect waterfalls along the edges of the chamber. In the center, offerings were already piled high.
"Thank you for the rains, Great Lady Tormika," Marac said loudly, clearly, before dropping to one knee and bowing his head. Behind him, he heard all of his attendants do the same.
Beside him, however, Minewin simply stepped forward.
"Very funny," Minewin said softly, reaching under his cloak and into a bag that Marac hadn't even seen Minewin carrying.
Coiled and tied, Minewin set a long length of what Marac was sure was clothesline rope onto the nearest pile and then turned and walked out. Marac winced, but said nothing. Not a one of his attendants made a noise - no, they all still had their heads down revenantly and with the waterfalls, perhaps they hadn't even heard Minewin. Still...
Minewin didn't return even after the grey skies had turned to black, though the rains hadn't subsided in the least. The streets were beginning to flood, though Marac knew they wouldn't get too deep. The water would drain to the nearby riverbeds and for a season, Mana Corani would be an island.
Marac was pleased to note that his bed chamber was still littered with Minewin's belongings, which meant that Minewin hadn't left the region. However, as he tossed a last couple of logs into the fireplace, he began to doubt that Minewin would be gracing his bed. He poked at the coals, watching them glow for a minute before setting his poker aside and turning to finally rest.
On his bed, still dressed and still dry, Minewin was waiting for him.
"A length of clothesline?" Marac questioned.
"As I walked, a woman directed me into a small general store," Minewin explained as he unlaced his boots, which were not truly his but what Marac's maids had found for him. "She had her cloak up, but she had a beautiful voice."
"She asked if I was looking for an offering for Tormika, and I said that I was, but that I had no idea what a goddess would want," Minewin continued. He pulled the boots off and stood, watching Marac for a long moment. "She pushed her cloak back and I was surprised, because she had grey hair despite being so young."
Marac's voice caught in his throat.
"She suggested that something useful would be best, and that most people offered food or candles." Minewin undid his cloak and moved to hang it on a hook. "I didn't really think about it when she said it would be nice to hang up her clothing to dry when she got home, except that her clothesline had broken."
Marac watched as Minewin pulled off his shirt. He already knew what Minewin was going to say, but he also knew that he had to hear Minewin actually say it.
"Before I knew it, I was buying a clothesline." Minewin chuckled and tossed his shirt aside. His pants were next, and Marac didn't look away.
"I didn't realize until I saw the statue."
Marac said nothing. He simply moved to the bed and waited for Minewin to join him. Minewin's mouth was hot against his, and his skin was warm and dry. He had his guesses about where Minewin had holed up to stew, but he saw no reason to voice them.
Really, they were past the time for words.
The words could be saved for the morning, after all, when it came time for the next item on the list of rainy season rituals - breakfast with the goddess Tormika herself.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!