Chapter One: The Die is Cast
Author's Note: My first story on Age of the Five! I noticed not many people write about this, but I truly love Canavan's work. She is an absolute genius, and I read the Black Magician Trilogy as well. I hope this story will chug along just fine: my current fanfic, the Hand of Friendship, will take senior priority over Immortals After, but I'll try to update both as soon as possible. Watch out for it!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything that belongs to the talented Trudi Canavan.
Danjin Spear shuddered as he stepped out of the cage and glanced at the ground far below. He would not like to imagine falling down and down and down…smashing his bones into pieces on the hard floor. Would anyone care to tidy up his remains? But that was a silly question. The White would not allow such things to tarnish their Temple.
Shaking himself, Danjin approached Ellareen of the White's door, but before he could raise a hand to knock, Ella's familiar, somewhat muffled voice came through the smooth wood.
"…them down and avenge the gods," Ella was saying, her voice fierce with emotion. Danjin froze, hand still extended to knock.
"That is not necessary, Ellareen." came a quiet, thoughtful male voice: Juran. From his tone, Danjin guessed the man was frowning.
"It is so, Juran!" This voice was full of righteous fury and grief—Rian, the fanatical worshipper of the recently-deceased gods. "The Wilds murdered our gods, and we as the White—the Gods' Chosen—must execute revenge! It is what the gods would have wanted!"
"The most important issue right now is to help the people recover from the war," Danjin had been expecting this voice: sharp, dictatorial and angry. It was the voice of Dyara, second oldest of the formerly immortal White.
"Dyara is right," Mairae's soft, gentle tone echoed. "The Circle would have wished for us to devote our time to the people."
There was an almost inaudible sigh. Juran spoke again. "I agree that it is very wrong of the Wilds to kill the gods, but it will be time-consuming and dangerous if we leave to seek them out for revenge now. Our people are confused and floundering; we must help them recover in case of another Pentadrian attack."
"After all this, then?" The voice was Rian's.
Juran's reply was slow in coming. "I don't know, Rian. The Wilds are more powerful than ever before with Auraya at their side, and we have just lost the advantage of god-given powers. We would not stand much of a chance against them."
"So what do we do?" Ella demanded.
"We wait," Mairae said firmly.
"We wait," Juran agreed, and Danjin backed away as he heard the scraping of chairs and approaching footsteps.
When Ella opened her door to let the other White out, Danjin made it appear as though he had just stepped out of the cage. Juran appeared tired, Dyara's face was a mask of blank emotion, Ella had a defiant gleam in her eye, Rian's face was red with anger and Mairae's eyes were sad. They all acknowledged him with slight nods.
Danjin greeted the White in what he hoped was a steady voice, and then looked at Ella. She bade the White a good night, and then beckoned to him.
As the door shut quietly behind them, Ella turned to Danjin and whispered, "You were there all the time, weren't you?"
Danjin blinked, caught off-guard. "Um—"
"I'm still going after them, no matter what Juran says." Ella spoke in quick, urgent tones. "Rian is angry too. We'll wait until the people are calm again, before Rian and I get out of Jarime. We'll finish the Wilds off, all of them. It's the only way to avenge our gods." Tears filled her eyes unexpectedly as she spoke of the gods and she turned away from him, rubbing at her eyes furiously.
"Juran will not be pleased at your defiance—" but Danjin was cut off again.
"I don't care about what Juran thinks anymore, Danjin." Ella sniffed, and then continued, "He might not care about the gods, but I do, and I'll show their lost souls how much I trust them."
"Ella, don't. You might be killed."
"Then so be it. I'll join the gods in their realm!" There was a maniacal gleam in her eyes now. She spoke with passion and anger. "Rian and I already planned it out last night before I called today's meeting. He's as angry as I am. He's agreed to leave as well, for the gods we both love. Even if we die in our attempt to kill the Wilds, at least we reminded them why they should fear us, even without the protection of the Circle."
Danjin shook his head. He remembered Juran's remark—just before the battle—about how he was Ella's voice of reason. "This is unreasonable, Ella, but if you truly want to go, I won't stop you." I can't stop you anyway. He was glad that his voice did not tremble.
"Will you follow me, Danjin? Will you carry out your duty as my adviser and follow me to the ends of Ithania, even if it leads to your death?"
There it was…the offer. He could take it or leave it. This was his chance, his decision.
Danjin's mind couldn't think straight. Silava would be worried and angry if he took Ella's offer. If he followed them to the Wilds' hideout, he would most likely be killed. And he would meet Auraya, a changed Auraya, no longer the woman he looked upon and loved as a daughter.
"I…I will need time to think. And to consult my wife."
Ella nodded. "Of course. I will not press this decision on you lightly, Danjin. We have a few months to prepare. Make sure you make your decision soon."
Danjin nodded stiffly, then headed for the door.
He stopped, but did not turn back.
"Know that Wilds lie, both in dreams and in reality."
He caught the underlying message quite clearly. Don't trust Auraya's dream links. "I will keep that in mind, Ella." And he left the room.
Emerahl and Auraya stood facing Mirar across the clearing. The silence between them was tense with the worry of parting.
"You will not get yourself into trouble, Mirar?" Emerahl asked. Her voice was slightly hoarse to complement her forty-year-old appearance.
Mirar grinned back, but it was a weak attempt. "Trouble finds me, not the other way around. You look after yourself too, Old Hag."
Emerahl shrugged. "I've been looking after myself for a hundred years without your help, Mirar. I will be alright."
The Dreamweaver nodded in agreement, before his eyes shifted to Auraya. The former White smiled back at him uncertainly, tugging at her tunic nervously.
"I guess this is goodbye for now, eh?" Mirar asked.
Auraya's smile widened. "For now. Take care, Mirar."
"You too," he replied, watching them both carefully. "You're sure you want to do this?"
"Positive," Auraya answered, eyes hardening with determination.
"It will be a risk, meeting the White," Emerahl agreed, "but they need to know the truth, or we'll still be hunted by the Circlian and Pentadrain priests, and that will hardly help us even with the gods' absence."
"I've got an easier job than the both of you then, convincing Imenja," Mirar remarked thoughtfully. "She seems a sensible kind of woman, and I'll enjoy traveling around Southern Ithania again. Since Nekaun is out of the way, I'd best make myself a welcomed Dreamweaver in the south or you might just bump into me in Si after I get booted out of Glymma."
"Just remember to link with the The Twins as much as possible," Emerahl warned. "They should reach the Red Caves in a month, but along the way they will be able to observe the reaction of Circlians and Pentadrians to their gods' deaths."
"The Gull has gone as well, hasn't he?" Auraya asked.
"Early this morning," Emerahl confirmed. "He's going to swim up to the Gulf of Lore and break out into open sea when he can."
"We will link every night?" Mirar asked, almost hesitant.
"If it's possible," Auraya replied.
"We have a year to make changes before meeting back at the Red Caves with The Twins," Emerahl added, repeating their discussion from last night. "A year is a long time to do it. As I've said, I'll separate with Auraya after we get out of Jarime safely, and I'll poke around for Gifted people interested in a school of sorcery and healing. This time, I'll control them well."
"Do you intend to get all the White together to talk it out? I doubt Rian would appreciate that; the northern Dreamweavers consider him something of a fanatic." Mirar said, his tone light but laced with concern.
"We'll probably try to catch Juran alone, or with Dyara." Auraya replied. "He will listen to us. Juran is a reasonable man, and he does not enjoy violence, despite what you think, Mirar."
The Dreamweaver flinched at that, and scowled. "I can hardly help it, Auraya. How many people in Ithania have tried to kill me and thought they succeeded for over a hundred years?"
"Dyara might as well," Auraya continued, ignoring Mirar's statement, "and Mairae too, but Juran's judgment takes precedence over them both. Rian is likely to try and kill us on sight, and I don't know the new White, Ellareen." Auraya paused. "Juran may be the most powerful White, but without the Circle enhancing his powers, Jade—sorry, I meant, Emerahl—and I can defend ourselves if he decides to attack."
"It looks like you're all set, then." Mirar said, before he bade them farewell and turned, walking out of the clearing. He did not look back.
Emerahl's voice became businesslike. "So, Auraya, let's pack up and get ready for our visit to the White."
The youngest of all immortals chuckled. "Alright, Emerahl." She straightened. "Mischief!"
The veez scampered down from a branch and rushed across the clearing to his mistress in a flash of brown. Auraya laughed as Mischief leapt into her open arms and began to nuzzle into her. "Good Mischief," she praised.
Laughing, Auraya obliged him. The veez sighed in contentment before rolling onto his back in her arms and shutting his eyes. The former White never ceased to marvel at how amazingly trusting veez were.
"Auraya," Emerahl said suddenly, breaking the moment.
She looked up. "Yes, Emerahl?"
"I was wondering…you are going back to Si after all this, right?"
"Yes, of course. I couldn't bear to be away from the Siyee, and they will need my help to recover without the gods."
"Have you considered that they might reject you because you killed Huan?"
Auraya sobered, her laughing mood gone. "Yes. It is another risk I have to take. I must convince Speaker Sirri that it was Chaia who killed them all, not us immortals."
Emerahl nodded. "I hope she believes you. It will be difficult for all of us if you are to be kicked out of Si."
Auraya nodded, opening her pack. She placed Mischief inside and the veez curled up, still fast asleep. "Shall we link now?"
Emerahl looked up at the skies, judging the time of day. "Yes. I think they will be ready, and we should leave as soon as possible."
They both lay down and settled into the dream-linking state of mind. For several moments, quiet reigned. Then Emerahl sought for two familiar minds.
: Surim? Tamun?
: Good morning, Emerahl and Auraya. The Twins responded immediately, in dual voices.
: It is almost afternoon already. Emerahl replied in her casually blunt way. Auraya greeted them in a quieter, more formal voice, before falling silent. She usually stayed quiet while they conversed, unfamiliar with The Twins. The Gull and Mirar have both left.
: We have already linked with The Gull, and Mirar will have to wait for night.
: We are going to leave soon, Emerahl added. How will the journey go?
: It should be smooth. The reply was Tamun's. Most of the people have retreated back to their lands, leaving roads quite empty. With luck, you will reach Jarime without any problems.
: Who might we meet on the road?
: No one special, this was Surim. Auraya recognized his presence. The White are in their Tower. Their minds are no longer guarded. Ah, I almost forget—two of them want to seek revenge against you, even though Juran has forbidden it.
: Which two?
: Rian, Tamun replied promptly.
: The fanatic, Auraya added, unable to stop herself. The immortals shared a quiet laugh.
: And the new White, Ellareen, Surim offered. She is very devoted to her gods, especially Yranna.
Auraya's interest was sparked.
: We will watch out for them. Emerahl's assurance was as worrying as it was comforting. We need only seek out Juran.
: We will keep watch as well. Stay safe, both of you.
The Twins broke the link. Auraya roused from the dream state, disorientated. Emerahl had risen already, and was adjusting the many pouches about her person.
Auraya picked up her pack and slung it over her shoulder, shrugging to ease Mischief's growing weight on her back. In a few more years, he would be very heavy to carry around, but for now, it would do. She could always heal away the stiffness.
"Let's go," Auraya called.
Emerahl nodded, and together, they entered the new, godless era of Ithania.
So, how's the first chapter?