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A Black Jewel has obliterated the longstanding Eyrien rulership of the Territory. As the Rihlanders begin to reclaim their homeland they do so under the stern gaze of their "savior". Three separate peoples struggle to both claim their own identities and become a unified nation, but old hatreds are difficult to shed.
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Author Topic: Comfortably Cold  (Read 87 times)

Description: Attn: Andrei

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Comfortably Cold
« on: Dec 26, 17, 08:04:40 PM »
Kalvar did not return back to the farm very often these days. Usually he went back to the home that he'd shared with Alyona and Yelivan all of these years once a quarter to check on how the crops were proceeding. The farm, rather vast, had always done well under his care. Under Andrei the farm flourished. His son was not a good diplomat but he made an excellent businessman and horticulturalist, and Kalvar appreciated the green thumb that Andrei seemed to have inherited from his father.

Of all his sons, Andrei was the one Kalvar understood the least. Odinar was the child of what Kalvar had always wanted to be: A strong and confident Eyrien warrior. Odinar could lead men into battle and face his fears without flinching or reservation. Reo was passionate and idealistic, like Alyona had been. But Andrei was a mystery to him. He stood apart from his children, alone in many ways.

Their relationship had not been good the last decade. It was worsened after Alyona's death. The last thing that bound them together was gone; only their name and their blood remained between them. Andrei came to family dinners out of duty. Where Reo would argue with Kalvar or try to sway him to certain thoughts, Andrei remained cold and stoic.

As he set down upon the walkway toward the house, he knew in his heart this meeting would not go well. But he would not let discomfort sway his path any more than it already had.

"Andrei." Kalvar spoke aloud as he stepped onto the porch. He was unable to reach out to his son through a spear thread, so instead amplified his voice with his Red to make himself come across clearly even if he was afield.

"I need to speak to you."

Offline Andrei Elbremov

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Re: Comfortably Cold
« Reply #1 on: Dec 27, 17, 01:14:58 PM »
That voice.

How was it that those innocuous words, spoken from that voice, could stir up such embroiled emotion? A mere heartbeat before, Andrei had been calm and focused on his task, which was to single out a certain desirable trait in these newly acquired potato plants, and now, with just hearing that cold, impassive, unyielding voice, he was unable to concentrate on anything in the present.

How he hated that voice.

Oh, yes, of course, he wanted to talk. He always wanted to talk. He had never wanted to act, until it had come too late. Was it cowardice still that kept him standing on the porch, when he knew full well how to use the door? Andrei could not imagine that his father remained so distant out of healthy respect for another’s territory. He had, after all, stolen this one from the ruling Eyriens. What were the boundaries of a flourishing farm compared to the boundaries of a Territory?

Andrei sighed. He was so very tired of talking.

“Coming, father,” he said, loud enough to be heard through the walls but still managing to keep boredom in his tone though he felt anything but bored. Bitter, yes, and yet still such a pale word to describe the searing anger it had once been. Hatred did not quite cover the entirety of Andrei’s emotions either. But was that not how emotions worked? They were a complicated knot of more than one -- fear entangled with anger, anger entwined with hatred, and hatred inseparable from suffering, all stemming from the pain of loss. One could lock them away, into the dark recesses of heart, but they never dissipated. And all it took was one voice to unlock that door and give them the daylight they so badly craved.

Andrei wiped his hands and was still going through that motion as he opened the door and stepped into view. He regarded his father with that impassive expression that did not entirely mask his hatred that time since his father had caught him off guard. “I suppose you would like something to eat?” he opened with. A quick request sent on a psychic thread had someone fetching drinks and snacks, most likely tea and savory rice cakes. Andrei motioned towards one of the chairs on the porch. “Sit, if you’d like. Or stand. Whatever suits your mood. I gather you aren't here for your usual quarterly business, since you are weeks early, so I cannot imagine that you bring me any sort of good news,” he said.

Andrei did not sit. He continued to watch his father while his hands continued to pick imagined specks of dirt from beneath his fingernails with the rag. “And what would you like to talk about today, father?” he inquired, his voice purring with derision.

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: Comfortably Cold
« Reply #2 on: Dec 27, 17, 02:19:53 PM »
Andrei.

Of all the sons, Andrei looked the most like Kalvar's own father. What was it about that which made this most difficult? That Kalvar, himself, had been a terrible son? That Kalvar, now, was in the same place his father had been; unable to reach past the arrogance of youth and a determined spirit? Now they were two men who shared blood and loss and could never again see eye to eye.

Never again? Andrei would live for centuries, but Andrei would die before Kalvar would. He would have to bury his son, like he had to bury his wife before him. The thought that, centuries from now he might see his son to the All-Mother with this rift between them...

It pained him deeper than any blade could reach. But there was still time, he told himself. There was still time for their wounds to heal and their bonds to be made anew. Had he and Odinar not found common ground? Had they not found some understanding of one another, after centuries of discord?

Perhaps theirs was not a doomed relationship, like Kalvar and his father's had been.

"I would like that, thank you." He was not truly hungry, but to accept Guest Right, even within his own home, was a token of appreciation. Andrei had done well in offering it, even if he had done so with a tone that Kalvar found disagreeable. He ignored the slight for now. Strike one. If Andrei continued Kalvar would cease it with a word.

While Andrei stood, Kalvar sat. One of the chairs that he had made with his own hands was still there. All of them were, in fact. Sentiment, perhaps, had not made Andrei throw them away. It was comfortable for him and his wings and its familiarity brought him some additional comfort.

"I rarely bring you ill tidings, my son, today least of all." He would not go further into Andrei's life, just yet. Another time, perhaps. "I am holding a Moot in Markoth; at the foot of Ebon Varos, for Winsol. Tyr Madsen will be attending as the Skald of ceremony.

I know you love his work."
Like your mother. "I want you to be in attendence." His voice did not sound like a request, but he phrased it that way nonetheless.

"Also, this weekend we will be having family dinner. I am bringing a pair of guests. If you have someone close to you that you would like to bring, I would welcome you to feel that you can invite them as well." Before, when Alyona had lived, she had always insisted that friends and friends of friends be invited into their home. Since her death Kalvar had kept the matter a family-only-affair. This was a change from what the routine had been the last two years.

"And.. " Kalvar paused, considering the comfort of the request. "I would like you to help me prepare the meal." That, also, was unusual; as Kalvar almost never allowed anyone in the kitchen with him. Alyona had been the only one, and even that was rare.

Offline Andrei Elbremov

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Re: Comfortably Cold
« Reply #3 on: Dec 31, 17, 03:20:08 AM »
As his father informed him that he was hosting a moot, Andrei’s expression shifted to one of bored curiosity. As a child, he had loved moots, had begged his mother to take him to every one he knew was coming, had once entertained the idea of becoming a skald, even with his mixed heritage.

But to hold a moot in the shadow of Ebon Varos, both taunting and driving the knife of Eyrien arrogance once again into the shattered but enduring heart of the Rihland people? His father was had fallen into madness.

“I want you to be in attendance.”

Andrei immediately began to refuse. Kalvar’s words sounded like a request but it was never that simple. Why should Andrei go though? Did Kalvar think that a moot put on by a revered skald like Tyr Madsen would be enough to draw Andrei out of his self-imposed exile? Hardly.

And yet, Kalvar went on with his...requests.

"Also, this weekend we will be having family dinner. I am bringing a pair of guests. If you have someone close to you that you would like to bring, I would welcome you to feel that you can invite them as well." It was a tradition that had been in effect when Alyona was alive and the fact that Kalvar had decided to resurrect it now felt more like a slap in the face of her memory rather than the healing salve that it could have been. Besides, nearly all of Andrei’s...friends...wanted nothing to do with his father unless it was in the realm of seeing him deposed.

No, Andrei would not be inviting anyone to any of these “family” meals anytime soon, if ever again.

"And.. " Kalvar said with a pause. "I would like you to help me prepare the meal."

The appearance of the refreshments was possibly the only thing that prevented the absolute stillness of Andrei’s form from becoming the centerpiece of the conversation. He woodenly moved to distribute tea and rice cakes with vinegared carrots top them.. By the time he took a seat, he had composed something of a reply, though it was cold and unyielding as stone.

“You are right,” he said. “You rarely bring me ill tidings anymore. Instead, you bring me absurd ones.” He knew that opening statement was going to begin their conflict and he meant for his father to know that his requests were exactly that: absurd.

Andrei settled back into a posture that emanated someone in control but he did not feel that way. He felt that old, old fury gathering beneath his breast as he asked, “What are your intentions, father? Reconciliation? A show of apology? Humility?” Laughable, every one of those things. There would be no reconciliation, no apologies, no humility or amendments.

“Do you think the Rihland people will agree to this...moot of yours? Welcome it?” Andrei was certain that they would not. In fact, he was certain that not even the draw of the great Tyr Madsen would be enough. There would be a boycott for certain. “How awfully easy would it be to bait the poor souls of these people into such an event, give them hope for a greater tomorrow, and then to shatter the remaining fragments with one sweep of the Black.” That’s what people like Melany Kriemhild would say. And they would be right.

And he hadn’t yet touched on the absurdity of Kalvar attempting to make amends with his son by inviting him to assist with making the next meal.

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: Comfortably Cold
« Reply #4 on: Dec 31, 17, 11:38:42 AM »
Andrei's words were sharp and barbed, and instantly Kalvar's cool mien became a cold one. His eyes narrowed at the arrogant response that came from his second son; the one who held the most of his look but who Kalvar felt had none of his wisdom. Only a self-righteousness that bled through his words. Though Kalvar would never acknowledge it, that was the trait that they shared the most.

Absurd he called it. But Kalvar did not give into the anger that was easily risen. He remained calm, for now.

"Some will." He said slowly, not in apology but in bald acknowledgement of the strife beneath the Black Keep. "Others will not. There will always be an element that hates what is in place. One cannot appease extremists." He took a breath to focus on his point and shifted the full weight of his view to his son.

"My intention is not to lure or kill anyone. My intention is to unify this Territory. It is a land that is fractured, and it is my role to attempt to bind it and to heal it. If it was my goal to kill the Reclaimers, I would not need bait to draw them out." He knew it was a tactic he could have employed, but for now the Reclaimers had done no true crime that was worthy of destruction.

Something Andrei said nagged at him and bothered him a great deal. He leaned forward toward his son, his voice lowering a note in volume to hold a less iron-edged timbre. "I am not Kirian Svetlana or Drakkar Eventide. Have you once seen me against against the Rihlanders?

I have done nothing but try to help these people since your mother's death, Andrei. I know you blame me for her death -- and perhaps that is a burden I deserve. But I have always acted to help.."
He wanted to say our people, but he stopped short and knew that Andrei would deny, vehemently, that claim.

And yet, it might draw Andrei into a point he had not fully considered...

"Our people.

Can you not see the value in this? In including the Glacians, the half-breeds, the Eyriens who stand with this new way? Would you truly see us divided still?"

Offline Andrei Elbremov

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Re: Comfortably Cold
« Reply #5 on: Jan 12, 18, 10:31:24 AM »
"I am not Kirian Svetlana or Drakkar Eventide,” his father said. No, Andrei agreed, he was not. He was, in some ways, worse than those two. But it was all about the perspective, trading one oppression for another, the tyrant you knew for the one you did not.

“Have you once seen me against the Rihlanders?” Against no, but Andrei could think of plenty of times when Kalvar had simply been...inactive. And all it took for evil to flourish was for good men to do nothing. Which was precisely what Kalvar had done and look what it had cost them?

“I have done nothing but try to help these people since your mother's death, Andrei. I know you blame me for her death -- and perhaps that is a burden I deserve. But I have always acted to help.."

A pause and then he audaciously added, "Our people.” Andrei’s position immediately changed, exploding from his seat in anger, even as Kalvar went on to say, “Can you not see the value in this? In including the Glacians, the half-breeds, the Eyriens who stand with this new way? Would you truly see us divided still?"

“‘Our people?’” Andrei echoed hotly. “‘Our people?’ You dare to say those words, after the years you spent hiding in cowardice from ‘our people?!’” Regardless of the value, the possibility of unification (or at least the first step in a long road), Andrei could not see the past the offense of Kalvar calling them “our people.”

“You have no right!” Andrei continued, aware that the conversation had taken a sharp, angry turn into dangerous territory, “to say those words! Not here!” Not while Alyona’s death still hung between them. “You cannot claim to seek unification of this Territory while you hide in Ebon Varos, ignoring the problems that were there before! You have done NOTHING to deserve to say these are our people!”

In Andrei’s mind, Kalvar had wiped out the Territory Court and then had continued as though little had changed. The Rebellion was still out there, plotting. The Reclaimers were recruiting, eager to see Kalvar deposed and Rihland restored to its rightful ruler. And the Exchange was still making money off Prohibitions. Nothing had changed since Kalvar had taken command -- they had, indeed, traded one tyranny for another.

Unification, therefore, was a joke, a bitter, awful joke of an idea to propose at this point in time, with so many factions lined up to cut the throat of the man sitting on his porch. How did Kalvar not understand that?

He didn’t, and would never, just like he had failed to see why his inaction, his silence had amounted to the same thing as supporting the former Territory Court he had slain. It was an old, old argument between them, one that would never change, because the past could not be changed.

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: Comfortably Cold
« Reply #6 on: Jan 17, 18, 04:41:23 PM »
Andrei's idignation at Kalvar's terminology didn't surprise him. His son's anger came to the fore and battered against his restraint, for he felt his own temper rising. Hundreds of years of training kept it in check -- bottled it up to make use of it later when the time was right. When some physical activity was necessary.. when there was some call for violence.. he would remember his son throwing his good will in his face.

"I am not a coward." Kalvar said the words slowly, his temper in check for now but the iron in his words made it very clear Andrei was walking a very thin line. "You, who have never fought for anything in your life, cannot make a claim to know what cowardice is. You, who have never killed another, cannot understand what it means to show restraint. I did not impose myself to this farm and to the life with your mother - the life that bore you out of cowardice.

I had made a conscious choice not to fight. I made a choice not to war upon the people that had mine for over a thousand years.

Your mother understood that."
Kalvar said slowly, the words were still cold, but he felt the pain of her absence and her levelheadedness now. She always had the soulful, right thing to say to ease the tempers of the men around her. But she was gone now because he had not acted sooner.

"She would have been ashamed of what I have done, Andrei. That is the burden I must also bear, atop my failure to her as a husband, atop my failure to you as a father. And I will bear it -- as well as every other burden, of uniting our people. And I will call them that, because if I do not than that is to damn you and your siblings to the same fate.

For if I am not one of Rihland, than neither are you."


He exhaled, slowly, and shook his head as he looked around the confines of the house he had built decades ago. He had torn it down after the Purge and rebuilt it, and built more and more upon it to house the growing family that he had gained in the last fifty years. It was still his home; still filled with the memories of his wife and his children when they were young. But it had the scent of her still, the feel of her words thick in the wood and in the air. The more time he spent here the more he felt the guilt of her death gnaw at him. More so, he knew, because of what he had shared with Andrei:

She had never wanted him to fight again.

"You do not understand the sheer difficulty of the task ahead. We must take the first step to try to balm the wounds that have been laid upon all of us. The soul of our Territory is sick, and the first step toward its recovery is this attempt at inclusivity.

Please."
He said the word slowly, after only a moment of hesitation, but he stressed it nonetheless. "Come to the Moot. Let them see us united, even if we do not agree. There will be time enough for us to debate over dinner. I will hear you out on your suggestions to better our home."

He was making the attempt to push his temper away, to elucidate the positives he knew about his son. His sharp mind. His ingenuity. And yet.. the mark of 'Coward' was a slander that still burned at him.


Offline Andrei Elbremov

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Re: Comfortably Cold
« Reply #7 on: Jan 18, 18, 11:03:01 AM »
Andrei listened to his father verbally strip away his hubris by reminding him about how Andrei had yet to take a life, had yet to bleed for what he believed in, had yet to make the hard decisions that Kalvar had made, all until he was nearly vibrating with impotent fury. And then, the final cut, this one somehow so deeper than the rest, as his father said:

“Your mother understood that."

Somewhere in the recesses of Andrei’s mind, a dark howling echoed, a sound of pain and loss, equal parts rage and grief. It was still too new, that wound that refused to heal even two years later, and it threatened to overwhelm his composure now. If it won, he would destroy something in his grief, break down and cry in an effort to funnel his rage.

Meetings with his father always did this. It was no wonder why Andrei preferred distance.
 
The silence between them simmered, even as Kalvar admitted, "She would have been ashamed of what I have done, Andrei. That is the burden I must also bear, atop my failure to her as a husband, atop my failure to you as a father. And I will bear it -- as well as every other burden, of uniting our people. And I will call them that, because if I do not then that is to damn you and your siblings to the same fate. For if I am not one of Rihland, then neither are you."

Oh, yes, remind Andrei of his hybridization. Half-breed. Eternally betwixt and between. Remind him of where that other half had been bred from, sitting there in that chair, exhaling slowly to contain himself the same way Andrei struggled to do right now.

"You do not understand the sheer difficulty of the task ahead. We must take the first step to try to balm the wounds that have been laid upon all of us. The soul of our Territory is sick, and the first step toward its recovery is this attempt at inclusivity.” Well, on that point, they could agree, though Andrei would not voice it. Rihland was a soul shorn asunder that desperately needed to be mended and renewed. Kalvar thought that he was the one to do it, or, at least, the burden had been passed to him. Andrei, of course, disagreed. He thought Rihland would be better off without his father leading it. But that, of course, was an old argument and that was where their agreement on the matter of Rihland’s soul diverged.

“Please,” his father said, and that gave Andrei great pause, for it was rare that his father ever said that word. "Come to the Moot,” he went on to say, “Let them see us united, even if we do not agree. There will be time enough for us to debate over dinner. I will hear you out on your suggestions to better our home."

Like Hell Andrei would appear at the Moot as a show of unity.

The silence between them as Kalvar waited for his son’s answer was reminiscent of the grave that lay between them and the cherish woman within it. Andrei met his father’s gaze steadily, considering what avenue to take first. He would, of course, need to inform the skalds about this breach of culture, which meant he would meet with Melany Kriemhild. Perhaps she could persuade Tyr Madsen to abort this flagrant disrespect of their ways.

And Kalvar’s offer to hear out suggestion was a dead end, a false promise to lure Andrei into a comfort Kalvar never planned to give. Andrei had suggested, numerous times, how to make amends or how to better the Territory, and Kalvar had judiciously dismissed each one. So, no, Andrei would not be going to dinner in order to make his ideas heard.

The only reason he even considered attending that dinner was because of his siblings, most of whom he still cared for...somewhat.

He would not give Kalvar an answer about the Moot. Not yet. Not until he knew what his connections in the Reclaimers and the Exchange planned to do. And so, after that lengthy silence, Andrei finally said, “I will see you at dinner,” and hoped that his father would see that as much of a truce as he was going to get just then and kindly see himself out.

 

 

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