A Little Piece of Home

Visions of the First Age, 1

Alder

Crane fidgets at your side. He always gets so nervous underground. The feathers in his hair, white against his ivory skin, are mussed. You fix them, absently, and smile reassuringly when your husband meets your eyes.

“So, as you can see,” Iazhir continues, pulling your attention back to the matter at hand, “Should we employ the Rice Paper Concordant to adjust the geomantic issues, the dragon lines will lay in such a way as to form the Sevenfold Soul Binding, which you know, of course, is essential when attempting any sort of congress within the allowable function.” He seems inordinately pleased with himself; then again, arrogance is no stranger to Iahzir. Were you ever so self-effacing? Gods in Heaven, you hope not.

Tilting your head, you examine the diagrams floating before you, twitching them this way and that with a thought. Iahzir waits as he should, the nervous darting of his pupils all that betrays his anxiety. You have to extend some credit to him – his equations are flawless despite his youth. But there is something nagging at the back of your head, a little furry thing that warns you something is wrong.

You ignore it.

Behind you, the assembled crowd murmurs a soft undercurrent of sound. You should have known Iahzir’s little party would turn into a pitch meeting to find investors for his latest invention. He is young, you remind yourself, and newly come into his full might as a Chosen of the Unconquered Sun – you yourself were young once, too, and remember well the exultant feeling of putting the last character to a long-researched problem. Dimly, you even remember the dull brown feeling of mortality weighing heavily on your infant self.

Somewhere behind you are the rest of your Circle, mingling and drinking and enjoying themselves. Why are you the only one pulled into this conversation? Gods know you aren’t the best conversationalist, though discussing geomancy is certainly more your style than discussing the latest outfits with a gaggle of simpering idiots.

Glancing away from the equation, you catch Iahzir’s anticipatory gaze. “It’s very advanced,” you say, truthfully, “But I wonder if the entire project is unwise.”

“Unwise?” Iahzir barks with laughter until he catches your stern look. “Ah, my apologies. But understand that I’ve taken every precaution to ensure no unknown factors are present during construction.” He glances at his own equation, clearly reviewing it for any mistakes. “Yes, the requirements are precise, but still, such an undertaking can only bring more enlightenment to our kind.”

What an idiot. You and your brethren are chosen of the Sun – what need is there for further enlightenment than the warm gaze of the king of the gods? “You would do well to leave the advanced thinking to those of our kind that have more experience,” you say, not unkindly, but frustration and anger bubble to the surface of Iahzir’s expression before a more neutral one quickly replaces it. “You clearly have talent, Iahzir, but you are young, and your other projects, while impressive, did nothing to endear you to your brothers and sisters in Twilight.” Which was true enough. There were many among the Chosen that saw his creations as abominations to all that was good with the world. You’ve kept your own opinions on the matter to yourself for the most part – it wouldn’t do to taint a beneficial working relationship.

Their eyes unnerve you, though. You don’t know why.

“You could help me,” Iahzir says as you turn away; you glance back at him, frowning.

“I am not the right person to help you, Iahzir,” you say, again not unkindly. “Perhaps another of my circle will champion your cause, but not I.” You catch sight of Tlaloc standing near the refreshment table, idly watching the room; you beckon him over.

Tlaloc, resplendent in gold and orichalcum, strides over with the easy gait of someone used to travel. “Alder, my sister in the Sun, what causes you to call this lonely quicksliver falcon to your side?” he says, offering a flowery bow with a playful wink. Perfect.

“Iahzir is looking for a partner in his latest project,” You say, stepping away as quickly as you can. “Perhaps he can convince you where he failed to do the same to me.” Crane tugs you away even as Tlaloc offers a reply, and you hear Iahzir launching into his explanation of his diagrams and charts before you’ve gone three steps. Looking back, you see Tlaloc spin the diagram with a thoughtful expression. The furry feeling nags you, urging you to look again, to analyze and hypothesize and test, but you turn away.

Let Iahzir be Tlaloc’s problem now. You have much bigger things to worry about.

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