Few things managed to shock them anymore, but seeing Rhyshladlyn sitting in one of the plush library chairs, one long muscled leg crossed over the other, foot tapping to a silent beat in a clear sign of agitation for those capable of recognizing it as such, hands clasped together and resting in his lap, orange-amber eyes dark and glazed under lids that appeared too heavy to keep open all the way, mouth twisted with a sort of dark mirth that he only got when he knew what he’d said or done had truly managed to shock the twins, well Anis realized he and Alaïs were now able to add one more thing to the list.
“Two,” Alaïs said finally, blinking slowly, once and then a second time before shaking her head and leaning forward in her chair to look more closely at the younger of the three of them, her eyes squinted now as she looked for the added signs that her brother now had two known and named Others versus the one. “You have two now? Truly?”
Rhyshladlyn raised an eyebrow in a look that clearly indicated it took much strength not to respond sarcastically to that before he said, “Yes, Al, two. I saw the second one as she greeted me, rather rudely I will add, whilst I showered following the execution. She is definitely an… addition… and one that spoke nothing but Truth.”
Anis frowned. “How many do you actually have?” He asked, watching as Nhulynolyn appeared in a corporeal form only those the Other willed to see him could see before stepping off on some errand he had no doubt been assigned by Rhyshladlyn or had elected to do himself.
“I was not informed beyond that there are more than the two I am currently aware of and in contact with and only the one is of me,” Rhyshladlyn replied, muscles tensing briefly as his eyes cut to the left at a passing courier carrying a stack of thick leather-backed tomes, eyes firmly locked on the tile floor as ey scampered past as quickly as possible upon realizing who exactly ey had come upon. As soon as the courier was gone from sight, Rhyshladlyn sighed, muscles relaxing as quickly as they’d tensed up. “The sooner I can figure what to do about our problem, the better. I am so sick of seeing the entire Palace staff so utterly terrified to even look me in the eye.”
“About that…” Anis replied, snapping his fingers to Call up a tome he had found and placed it upon the table between them. “I believe I may have found something that would make it to where Lulphé cannot ignore the wrongs being done here–” Anis cut off as the feeling of magick trickled down his spine as soft and gentle as a lover’s caress, shuddering with it, eyes wide as he looked around.
Rhyshladlyn chuckled softly at the way Anis and Alaïs looked so afraid. “Fear not, sister, brother, t’was me. I cast a privacy of sorts over us. So our words will still be innocuous and in a code of sorts but we may otherwise speak freely to ourselves.”
Alaïs lost all ability to control her face at that, jaw dropping as her eyes widened, something Rhyshladlyn counted as a personal victory given that his sister was as poised as their mother at all times. “You…cast a privacy of sorts? What? How is that possible?”
“Is it akin to the spells and charms used to muffle sounds in rooms for the Festival of Flesh couplings?” Anis asked, sounding intrigued. He always did love learning ways to modify and tweak magickal castings.
Rhyshladlyn nodded at his older brother, smiling. “Yes, something like that, only it’s modified slightly.” The male shrugged nonchalantly. “It is simple enough of a casting, honestly. I don’t know why you’re so surprised.”
“Rhys,” Alaïs began slowly, carefully, as she was well aware that the male was not fond of being reminded of how powerful he truly was nor of having it pointed out to him when he did something that seemed simple and easy to him but was in fact highly complicated or outright impossible because until the moment he had done it, whatever it was had not actually existed. “Those spells that are put on the rooms are to keep any sounds from escaping the confines of those walls; they don’t actually modify outright was it heard by those passing by.”
Orange-amber eyes rose slowly from where they’d been reading the title on the tome that Anis had placed on the table, that expressive, sharply beautiful face they rested in closing off, a frown twisting his lips. For a brief moment, no longer than an eye-blink, those eyes shifted to sapphire-blue.
“I’m aware, sister mine,” Rhyshladlyn said, face still closed off even though a small smile had replaced the frown. “I merely modified it.”
Anis and Alaïs exchanged a glance that spoke volumes: We won’t tell him? What’s the point, it’ll only upset him. Alright, but we need to discuss how he’s disregarding how frivolously he’s throwing around his power; he’ll give himself away as a Qishir far sooner than we’re prepared for if he isn’t more careful. I know, Al, I know. Looking back at their brother, they spoke in unison, “Thank you, Rhys,” for no other reason than to watch him shudder.
“I hate when you do that,” he said, shaking his head.
Anis laughed, “It’s one of the few reasons we continue to do it, honestly.”
“Of course it is, you shit,” Rhyshladlyn replied, reaching out to pick up the tome from the table, turning it so he could read the title more clearly. “Is…where did you find this?” He asked, voice filled with surprise as it danced around them, settling against one’s skin like mist in the early morning.
“Yes, brother dearest, it is the laws that govern the Sinner Demons,” Anis replied, smirking darkly when Rhyshladlyn looked up at him briefly before flipping the front cover open to the withered, magickally bound and preserved parchment within. “And it was buried deep in the archives in the sub-basement of the old library.”
“With it we may be able to usurp that tyrant without ever needing raise a finger in battle,” Alaïs added, flicking the fingers of her right hand to make the pages turn until they came to a specific one before they settled. “If what it says here is correct, not even the Eighth Qishir can ignore what he’s done anymore, fear of starting a war between the Seven Worlds be damned.”
Rhyshladlyn stared blankly down at the words written on the faded parchment before him, fingers coming up to trace over them with a sort of awed reverence. His shock must have registered for suddenly he felt Shadiranamen and Nhulynolyn’s presences looking over his shoulders, one on each side.
Could this be the answer we were hoping for? He asked, not daring to let the hope he could feel beginning to grow in his gut spread up and reach his chest.
*He broke not only the Laws of the Worlds by taking your wings, Rhys, but also the Laws that govern his own people, handed down since the first Lord King sat upon the throne,* Shadiranamen replied and pressed a hand to Rhyshladlyn’s shoulder, squeezing briefly before letting go.
*And by falsely accusing Azriel as he did of the atrocity of forcing you into coupling on one of the most holiest of nights? He signed his death warrant according to this,* Nhulynolyn added, reaching over Rhyshladlyn’s shoulder and pointing to a specific spot on the page.
Gods have mercy, we could take him down… truly remove him once and for all. Rhyshladlyn thought with awe before looking up at his siblings, remembering as he did so Xhi Ahnkder’s Deathbed Prophecy and it brought a frown to his face.
“Okay, but what about that soldier’s dying words?” Rhyshladlyn said, hating that doing so took the looks of hope from his sibling’s faces but they couldn’t leave anything to chance.
“Shit, I’d forgotten about that,” Anis muttered, running a hand over his face as he flopped back in his chair.
“What was it he said again?” Alaïs asked.
Without missing a beat, Rhyshladlyn intoned in flawless Tengú Elaèy, “You shall get your comeuppance, Anislanzir, and mark this one’s words well: all those you think your ally now shall part afore you so that your Destroyer may walk unhindered to your throne and paint it red with the blood ey pulls from every pore on your body. So hath the Seers foretold it, so hath the Weavers made it, so hath the Walkers of the Grey Lands seen that it shall be done.” As he finished speaking a thunderous quiet descended on them, making the heirs to the throne look around in confusion, noticing that the quiet seemed to affect everyone around them.
“What the fuck…?” Rhyshladlyn whispered and at the sound of his voice the quiet snapped and he was thrown back in his chair as the World around them erupted into chaos as the walls shook and shuddered and those in the library screamed as they were thrown to the ground, tomes and parchment rolls and objects went flying in a whirlwind that hadn’t been there moments before. Across from him Alaïs and Anis were calling his name but he was unable to say anything in response to them. All there was was this burning on his right wrist that spread pain up his forearm to his elbow and he was vaguely aware that he’d loosed a shout at the initial lance of pain. But then the scene of chaos in the library around him faded from view and was replaced instead by a visual of the City from the tops of one of the Shiraniqi sand dunes just outside the walls. That visual swam at the edges, distorting until it settled on that of a tall neodrach with shoulder length ebony hair riddled with bells and orange-amber eyes so much like Rhyshladlyn’s own regarding him with recognition he did not share, dressed head to toe in battle armor that gleamed despite being the dark grey of twilight, arms left bare to show the tattoos that swirled and danced the length of them done in ink that matched the neodrach’s eyes perfectly.
“Who are you?” Rhyshladlyn asked, distantly aware that his siblings were touching his face, shaking his shoulders, that Shadiranamen and Nhulynolyn were screaming at him across their shared consciousness but he was unable to respond to any of them.
“My name is Maestrx Azhuriel, neodrach of Amèlanis, blooded Apprentice of Maestrer Thilael, and it is time that we rise up and reclaim that which is ours,” the neodrach replied, voice full of power that made Rhyshladlyn’s bones ache, power that was nearly godly in its strength and between one eye-blink and the next he was assaulted with ten thousand plus years of memories, not all of them his own, knowledge pummeling him that he should not have had because what he was being shown and told through this connection was not written down anywhere and those who had contained the knowledge within their own memories and minds had long since passed into the After. And with each minute that ticked by, with each moment that that knowledge level increased, the burning on his right wrist came to a peak and settled but was replaced by more pain, this time along his back, over spots he knew were his wing scars and he began to fight, magick rising to the surface like an angry wave in an ocean storm, but that power-laden voice spoke up, “Be calm and still, lil’it uhn, for you are safe.” And he listened, for this Dhaoine would not harm him. Somehow he knew that ey was incapable of it.
“Why is this happening?” He asked as he closed his eyes on the visual of eir face and fought to remain steady under the now slowing onslaught of knowledge and memories. “Why me?”
“Because, Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn, you are the first neodrach born in Shiran City, the first of the twenty-three sacred Sanctuary Cities, in over ten thousand years; a neodrach born to a race who has never seen one since its conception and to a race that the last one born was cut down for fear of eir power. You are neutrality made flesh and hail from a race thought dead; gifted six Others to guide you and help you; a Qishir of considerable power, gods-Marked by three of the most powerful Patrons ever known to the Dhaoinic races,” Azhuriel paused and Rhyshladlyn opened his eyes to look at em, feeling tears slip down his cheeks as he watched em reach out a hand and cup one of his cheeks. It was then that he realized why he didn’t fear em; ey looked almost exactly like his mother. “Because, Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn, you are the only one.”
“But why?” He gasped out around a sob, utterly lost as to why he was crying.
Ey didn’t answer only faded from view and the onslaught of knowledge and memories ended abruptly and he was suddenly back in the plush library chair, coming to awareness with a choked sob, staring into the eyes of his mother who looked terrified and concerned all at once and when their eyes met it was as though Azhuri just knew.
“It’s you.. isn’t it?” She asked and he had no idea when she got there, how long he had been stuck in that vision, how long the library had been ripped apart around him, how long it had taken for his siblings to abandon trying to pull him out before they ran to get Azhuri and gods only knew who else. But he knew the answer to her question, knew it in the way he recognized her tattoos as something akin to the ones that Maestrx Azhuriel had visible on eir arms, knew it in the way he recognized the eyes and the facial structure and the cool feel of neutral power his mother had always had, knew it in the way the Truth settled deep into his bones; but even more so… he knew it in the instant he saw the new tattoo of scales hanging from the hilt of a sword shaped like a feather on the inside of his right wrist, Marking him as a scion of the Soullessly Heartfelt, the god of Justice and Judgment.
“Yes, it’s me…” He answered finally and gasped when Azhuri pulled him against her in a hug that was utterly uncharacteristic of her. Looking over her shoulder as he clung to her in return, Rhyshladlyn caught sight of Anislanzir standing several feet away, just far enough to have missed the exchange between them, speaking to Anis and Alaïs who looked equal parts terrified, shocked, and utterly lost and confused.
“Gods prevail me,” he murmured and ignored the way his wing scars burned and twitched as his mother’s hands brushed across them as she ran her hands up and down his back in soothing motions. Burying his face in Azhuri’s neck, Rhyshladlyn tried desperately not to think on what this new development would mean for him because there was no way that Anislanzir would not recognize this for what it was: a coming into power. And if the twins and his mother and the dozens plus witnesses couldn’t give him the answers he sought the Lord King would rip it out of Rhyshladlyn’s own flesh. It wasn’t the first time he had done so.
*And if he tries, you will have us,* Shadiranamen and Nhulynolyn said in unison.
I pray that will be enough. He replied, mind a maelstrom of the memories he suddenly had and the knowledge those memories brought with them that he nearly missed the words his mah-avtmen spoke in response to his own.
“The Nameless did the moment you were born.”