Rating: PG, I suppose?
Character/Pairing: Light Pelleas/Micaiah
Summary: Pelleas commits accidental larceny of the tome variety and finds ghost stories to be far more accurate than he thought. Some light PelleasMicaiah
A/N: Inspired by noticing that it looks like Pelleas is clinging to a light tome in his official art and well, you know how these things go in a shipper's mind.
And no, the title isn't misspelled. It's the original Latin root word, or so my dictionary says.
Pelleas hadn't meant to take the tome. He'd intended to give it back as soon as the right time presented itself, but then she'd been gone for weeks on a scouting mission that he himself had asked for. She had forgotten it during a meeting, and he hadn't noticed until she was miles away skirting the borders of the Hatari. He'd almost knocked over an inkwell in surprise when he saw the book, with its golden-hues and lines etched out in a design much like a star. It opened under his fingers, the white pages spread out like wings of mythical beasts and birds, the writing like veins and feathers over the thin paper.
Feeling almost guilty at the intrusion, Pelleas flipped through the pages so with such care as if he was dealing with fragile ancient artifacts, or the most delicate of fine china instead of a mere book. The volume itself showed much wear. The binding had been nearly broken, there were dirty smudged fingerprints and even a spattering of blood over one of the pages. (He hoped that hadn't been her blood, he hoped it had been someone else's last breath, even as cruel as that might seem.)
He leafed through every page even as the language was one he had not studied. It was all a lovely nonsense, the flutter of the pages under his fingers. Like wingbeats and lullabies, something so soft and pleasant he couldn't help but love the sound.
Pelleas kept the tome with him always as a safety precaution. He told himself that if he ever put it down he might misplace it, and then what would he tell Micaiah? That he had failed in the one thing she had inadvertently charged him with? It was easy to lose things in Daein Keep. Books, armor, even people seemed to fall deep into the rooms and twisted caverns, never to be seen again. Howls raced through the keep at night. Echoes of screams and sounds that were harder and harder to blame on the night wind. Even as he was too old for such childish superstitious notions, the ambiance got to him. Shadows clawed at the windows and the light of the moon was eerie, its red-gold light no comfort.
The servants were loathe to stay overnight in the keep. At sundown they grew antsy, until even the slightest sound would cause them fright – A mouse in the walls, a bat in the rafters, the slightest scrape or overturned barrel would send them scattering away. As a mage he was just knowledgeable enough about the ethereal side of the world to know that there might be unhinged spirits. Supposedly those killed under torture were especially prone to haunting their former captors. He had heard about the former king – his father's doings. Even if it was only rumors and snippets, Pelleas had understood that Ashnard was no enlightened peaceful king – and he could guess of the atrocities committed during that reign, even if he had never witnessed them directly. Even as the prisons in Daein's dank lower corridors lie empty, the bloodstains were so deep within the stone that they'd never get washed away.
But through that Ashnard had been powerful and decisive, something Pelleas would never be. Sometimes he couldn't help but wonder... was kindness the sacrifice one had to pay for strength? If so, Pelleas thought he'd never become a strong king.
It was enough simply to keep himself from being a scared child and running to someone else's room for comfort. His mother would be all too willing, but still, he was too old to be haunted by ghosts and monsters under his bed. Even if the sounds that came were enough to make his blood run cold — the moans, the laughter, they infiltrated his sleep until he couldn't tell waking from dreaming as by dark the nightmares came weather he slept or not. The sins of the father, the sins of the former king came to rest upon his shoulders.
At the darkest hours the room seemed some unknown land, the dressers and wardrobe were jagged mountains against the wall. In between those silhouette worlds were gaps and chasms and the sounds that came from the walls and everywhere but his room. He was surrounded by this scraping of nails
Perhaps other, better educated mages could be able to discern of these spirit's, to calm them, reason with them or drive them away – but Pelleas only knew enough to sense their presence.
He thought to ask her when she returned if she knew of some repellent or method of exorcism. She had worked as a fortune teller for some time, and it wasn't completely unfounded to think that she might offer amulets and talismans; little snippets of safety to be hidden away.
He touched the volume one last time, as if this fragment of her presence would be able to shield him though the night.
After that touch, the screaming stilled into a semblance of peace and the night grew calm again.
Throughout the months to pass he only heard echoes of the battles. It was a curse, to be safely ensconced in this sea of stone walls and with all of them out there fighting, but he was king. If he was injured or even killed the entire country could be thrown into turmoil overnight. He was the weakest, and most valuable player on this board, and he couldn't join in no matter how he longed to.
But then, what could he offer on the battlefield? He had some skill in magic, but there was already Micaiah and another young female mage In the end his presence would be superfluous, for magicians needed to be protected, and they had barely enough units as it was without calling more to be his bodyguards.
Weak as he was, Pelleas couldn't protect her on the battlefield. He could hardly protect himself , let alone another person. Still when the night was calm he had waking dreams, fantasies of pressing her out of harms way only to take the blade himself. The look on her face would turn from shock to awe. His name would be on her lips, their lives would be bound by the thread of a life saved.
But that, was the thing of imaginings alone. In the end he knew that he would be the one to be saved by her, not vice-versa.
These days, he never let go of the volume. At first it had been merely to keep it safe in her absence, to be its temporary guardian on her return. He felt guilty, how he clung to her book like bits of silver hair he'd once found where she had been, like some kind of fairy thread. It was one of those useless mementos that he'd found; amulets of her to ward back the loneliness.
With that book in his grasp, he felt safer, stronger perhaps even wiser. As if he could make through the grueling days and through the hellish nights. He doubted it any unusual tome, simply the plainest light tome he had come across. Generic, nothing out of the ordinary, but it was hers, and that was enough to give him hope.
There was a nagging sense of worry at her absence. She was only a tad bit late, yes, but Pelleas convinced himself that it was nothing. He never faulted her any lateness or anything – to him she could do no wrong. She could keep him waiting for hours and he'd still be far more worried for her safety than any infringement on regal codes. He'd wait days if need be, however long she needed, it was long enough for him.
Still, the stinging sense of concern was there, always there in the back of his mind He tried to push it aside by focusing on a book of tactics but found his mind too cloudy to absorb the words on the page. After several tries he sighed and set the book aside.
Instead, he set his attention on the room itself.
The room most used for tactical endeavors was large enough for a peasant family to live in. Pelleas had never focused on the sheer size of it before, having always paid rapt attention to its other occupant rather than the room itself.
Daein was a country born of conflict . It was only fitting that their libraries would be sparse while their barracks and war rooms would be the main focus of every builder and mason hired by the earliest kings. All the artwork was of bloodshed. Battles, victories and deaths; there were no maidens or flowers or fruit. It was something that Pelleas had noticed, something he hoped to change, one day. There was a tapestry on the far left wall called Battle Of The Subhumans. It showed a valiant battle that had succeeded in driving back the vicious subhumans that dared to encroach on their lands. Taxidermy of deer, foxes and quail lined this room. Their soulless glass eyes stared back, unblinking and frozen.
Even a large brown bear was mounted on the left side of the large fireplace. Over it was two swords mounted diagonally from each other. Because it was Daein they were not merely decorative objects, but weapons that had taken lives. The red stains hadn't been wiped from them, but kept as a note of honor.
Pelleas had always been slightly unnerved by this room, but he couldn't quite bring himself to strip it of the corpses they called decoration, considering their history. His father had been an avid hunter, and he had heard that every single one of these were a conquest of the former king's. Pelleas couldn't even imagine taking down a rabbit, let alone a bear. It was less about effort for he supposed that he could hit it, if he must, But Pelleas wasn't sure that he could go through with it even if the chance arose.
When she came in there was a streak of dirt smudged over her face and cobwebs in her hair. Dusty from travel, he noticed a bruise on her arm he hoped had been from falling and nothing worse.
When she came into the room Pelleas stood a little taller, as if for once he could bear to stop stooping under the weight of his life.
"Oh Micaiah— You're alright? You didn't come and well...I was afraid you'd been delayed by less savory prospects."
"Sorry, King Pelleas. We had to buy some new weapons, some of ours broke on the battlefield."
Guilt overtook him. What if this one tome could have been the key to victory? What if by him keeping it, he'd damned her to be weaponless on a battlefield? He cursed his selfishness.
"I— I have it. You left it here one day and I meant to give it back to you but I haven't seen you.."
He withdrew the tome which had been kept in pristine condition. He would've kept it under glass if possible, but he liked the feel of the book in his hands too much.
She took it from his hands and looked it over.
"This one is very worn. See the binding? It wouldn't last more than five more times. It'd be more of a liability than a help on the field."
"Oh..." Pelleas said. It seemed that he had treasured little more than a dulled sword. He wasn't sure if he was to feel foolish or ashamed so he settled on a combination of both.
"I'm thankful you would take such good care of my tomes, though," she said.
"Well, it's the least I can do—" Pelleas said.
She ran a hand over it with a thoughtful glance of fingertips across the cover. The reverie only lasted a second before she handed the volume back to him.
"You seem to like it, so you can keep it. Maybe it'll bring you good luck."
"Really? You're...not angry?" He said.
"Why would I be angry? You kept it safe for me, didn't you?" She said.
"Well, um. Yes. I did look through it, though – I couldn't read the text, but— I shouldn't have intruded. I'm sorry." He bowed his head in apology, a far from noble gesture for a king to make.
"It was a tome, not a diary. I'll teach you sometime," she said.
"I'd like that," Pelleas replied. He lifted his head again and smiled, or attempted to. It came out more lopsided than he intended. "I'd like that very much."
"Ah, Micaiah--" Pelleas said. "Do you know anything about repelling ghosts? I— I mean, The servants keep worrying about them. I don't want all the table salt being thrown out at doors."
"I see. It's understandable that the servants would be worried. There's a very strong disturbance around the Keep," Micaiah said. "Malevolent spirits can't stand light relics, or anything holy, blessed– That tome should drive them away if you keep it with you."
He wondered if it'd been an accident at all. Had she been protecting him from afar? Had the leaving of this very book been a clever tactic to keep away the nightmares and sins of the past that were all too willing to manifest upon him?
But then, that was looking far too deeply into the situation.
"I hope you sleep well tonight, King Pelleas," she said. And he knew that she knew, on some deep instinctual basis of her own. She knew everything he hadn't said and how to be the balm for his wounds. If she had meant to or not was not the matter, only that she had at one very dark moment kept him from harm. And for that he'd always be thankful.
Pelleas felt no shame now, though he'd had to remind himself many times there was nothing to be guilty about. He'd practically had her permission, and this time when he touched to find fleeting glimpses of light, of her light. The sounds of pages were his lullaby, with this one volume he would be shielded from whatever raging outside the doors and windows of his room.
For all the noise, screaming and scraping, braying of hellhounds they had never dared come closer. In the moonlight the tome shimmered like a flicker of candlelight was contained within. A tinge of sunlight, a lamp to keep his slumber safe until the morning rays could filter through and drive away the last remaining darkness of yesterday.