He hears the sound of someone speaking in the distance, muffled as through a heavy fog, indistinct. It lulls him further into the sea of warmth he has briefly surfaced from. Waves of sleep crash over him, trying to knock him from the rock of consciousness he clings to, simultaneously threatening, and oh, so tempting. But his stubbornness rears its head, and he remains awake.
The voice rolls on and on, an incomprehensible continuous cadence, sometimes ringingly denouncing, grand, furious, then quieter, pleading, wheedling, begging. He doesn't like that voice- as golden as warm sunlight, rich as pouring honey, thick, and warm- pleading. He stirs in annoyance, and finds he can't. His limbs are weighed down by some indefinable weight; he cannot even move his littlest finger.
His brow wrinkles, a thought niggles at him before it is swept away by the ever rising tide of lethargy. The sea overwhelms him, drowning him in the blackness of colors so intense, so intense-
And his mind can form nothing more. He slips, and falls, spiraling back into the depths of sleep, chased by tones a bronze bell would make, if it's clapper was made of clear crystal.
His rise to consciousness is a steady, slow, process, as of waves pushing him with their ebb and flow, depositing him on the beach, only to pull him back under, then to bestow him gently on level ground again, this time a bit more firmly, but in the next moment, playfully yanking him in again.
His thoughts come slow, tentative, like a shying animal, running at any conscious attempt to draw them in. The first to actually reach Will Ohmsford's son is identification: That was Dreamrose.
He is grateful for the enforced calm of Dreamrose as he slowly, logically concludes; Kidnapping. He watches questions drift past him, and makes no effort to answer them, or to gather his thoughts, thoughts that swim past him slowly, so slowly, but just out of reach, and any effort he makes towards them causes ripples that push them further away from him...
He is warm, with a bone deep warmth that makes him wish to stretch out like a large cat and luxuriate. He wishes he could purr, for he would if he could. It is a golden warmth that lights up behind his eyelids in the brightest of red-golds, greens and yellows, passive, and light on him, intangible.
Slowly he uncurls his right hand, and his fingers protest; they are clenched, his arm is on his chest. A thought worries him fleetingly then it is gone, a mere shadow darkening his brow for the tenth of an instant. He feels the prickling of grass, cool green grass, beneath his other hand, and turns it, open palmed, wondering at the tickle of bending blades of grass beneath it, springing up in the wake of his movement, as he passes it over the ground once... twice...
He thinks of opening his eyes, looking around. It is very important to him for an instant. Then it's urgency is drained away, and he almost laughs. After all, why?
Time passes, he does not know how much. It is immaterial to him. He dozes, never truly aware of what happens. At some point, he painstakingly pushes himself onto his side, curling around his right arm, cushioning his head with his left, lowering his cheek onto rough sweet smelling grass. Again memory provokes him, pushing him to remember, but pain stops it, a bone deep ache from within himself that overwhelms him in wave after wave after wave, each pulse leaving him sweating, pale, trembling.
The warmth leaves him, as does the light. He thinks, but his thoughts flee from him. He dreams, but sleep is far. He worries, and knows not why.
Darkness falls, and the images he plays with behind eyelids darken too, falling into a morass of swirling... something. He does not know what it is, and his singer's tongue finds no words for it, but it frightens him. He does not wish to be sucked into it too.
He knows he is sick, and wishes for the cool hands of his mother on his forehead to chase away the nameless, meaningless fears. He wishes for the murmur of his father's deep voice in the next room, the sweet clarity of his sister's songs, the scolding worry of his mother's care. Instinctively he knows he is far from them.
The clarity of his earlier thoughts, elusive as they were, escape him, and he curls tighter, a meaningless effort to shelter from fear, from loneliness.
Then there is heavy warmth above him, a warmth heavier than that of the sun's, and softer. He smells wood smoke, and something else, elusive but familiar, the smell his mother carries, when he hugs her tight, buries his face in her shoulder and stays still for a few minutes, a ritual he has never outgrown. His hand, searching, finds soft cloth, clearly lining for the heavier material over him. He pulls it tighter around himself, uncurling slightly, and falls asleep, unable to help himself.
The fever he carries is an unfortunate side effect of the drug. It takes him three weeks to recover, weeks he remembers little of, except dark dreams, fighting vertigo at the very fringes of a deep deep fall, fear gripping him when he has nothing to fear, and other memories, of odd calm, the world turning with him at its axis, staring up at a canvas roof, seeing it warp in front of his eyes.
But one thing all the memories have in common is that elusive scent, in the bed he turns on, in the blanket he pulls tighter around him, in the cool water that sometimes bathes his brow, carried by that presence that has just left when he opens his eyes. It calls forth intense loneliness for even in his fevered dreams he knows that nothing else is familiar around him.
That one reminder is just salt on his wounds.
Later he is told that he would call for his family in his sleep. He has nothing to say to that. After all what could he say?
Then he is better, much better, weak, but coherent, both in thoughts, and in actual ability to speak. It is sudden, a direct fall from the heights of illness on which he has been dancing. He rolls over one night, and sees the stranger by his bedside, a man, his hard face lit dimly by the lantern dangling from the middle pole of the tent in which he has spent most of his last few days.
Thoughts - finally - click and he knows where he is. Or at least who has him.
"Gypsy." He nods at the man, his flamboyant clothing confirming every little scrap of information that has had Jair telling himself that he is an idiot; the tent, the ever so familiar smell, herbal, he now remembers, dry and green, even the grass and sunlight he remembers waking in. So many clues, that he is only now in enough mental self-possession to put together.
He tells himself he is still too ill to feel curious as to motives. He knows he is lying to himself. His self-esteem falls to new depths. Only one thing holds it together; nothing shows on his face.
The gypsy is startled, he sees, judging not by his expression, but by his eyes, gleaming as they are in the flickering light of the lantern. Jair has the advantage of reading his mother, year in year out. His mother, who always laughs, and is always beautiful, but whose temper always shows in the hard glitter of her eyes, whose weariness is read in the pools they become, wariness in the deepening fine wrinkles by their sides,and her joy in the deep lidded content of her gaze when it rests on her children, her husband.
Jair is a silver tongue, a singer. He sees truly what he sees, and has words for it more often then not. He can speak, and even without layering his voice with... magic, he can describe so, another sees what he talks of. It is the skill he has cultivated, fulfilling his joy in images, his childish love of his Wishsong, in discreet ways, in ways that do not worry his parents.
He looks now at the gypsy and waits. And watches. "Singer." The gypsy's voice is deep, and if Jair's intuition is correct, the man deserves the same title. Perhaps he too sees more clearly than Jair gave him credit for. Jair doesn't actually believe that. He is extraordinarily good at observation, and he knows it. And the knowledge is not pride, but a quiet confidence in hard earned skills. He is no longer a little boy who runs bragging at every stranger.
He says nothing, choosing to let the gypsy carry the conversation. And it is not because he is still feeling the walls of the tent revolve around him slowly. It isn't. Jair doesn't believe himself either.
The man clearly expects him to speak. Jair is not willing to indulge him. It is a silent stare off for a while, and Jair traces the man's features with his eyes, a hard chin, bright eyes, cheekbones so reminiscent of both his mother and Brin. And the black hair. Jair inherited his father's, Shea's mop of elven-gold hair. But that is irrelevant. The man looks like kin of his, so very similar in features, the high brow, the clear look in his eyes. Jair knows, truly, that it is entirely coincidental, that all gypsies look very alike, as much intermarriage happens.
It takes a while for the man to realize that Jair truly will not respond. Exasperation flickers through his expression, but he does speak up. "You are Jair Shannara."
"Jair Ohmsford." Jair corrects, slightly startled. Few people would call him that. The man looks slightly triumphant, a slight smirk pulling at the corners of his lips before it is suppressed. Oh. So he intended to get a reaction out of Jair. Jair deliberately relaxes further on the bed, settling the heavy blanket closer around himself.
"That's not what we've heard." The gypsy's voice goes sauve, smooth, and Jair hates it suddenly, intensely. "Magic, elf-boy?"
Ah. That relaxes him a little. They were targeting him. This is no gypsy clan with a grudge against his family, or something. He doesn't know how much he was worried about that until the weight is gone.
Then it redoubles as he remembers that Brin's gift is far more potent than his. But they don't know about that. Brin's gift was always better hidden than his. He hopes. He really really hopes.
His voice is steady is he responds, "Magic?" Lilting. Boyish. Startled.
"Magic. Rumors are our stock in trade, lad." He actually smirks this time. "Though people do seem to think it's all gypsy tricks. By the way, how is Eretria doing?"
Jair tells himself not to show anything. He is not sure he succeeds. This gypsy knows his mother...
In the end he doesn't respond. Let the man take from it what he will. There is another long pause, and Jair doesn't care that it is a little uncomfortable; either his head is swimming or the tent's walls are. And he knows what his eyes say. Unfortunately he also knows what his mind says.
After a while the man sighs and stands. He is very tall, looming over Jair's bed like that. He looks down at Jair for a long while then says, "Well, I will leave you to recover. This conversation is not over yet." He whirls on on heel and leaves the tent with what seems to be, to Jair, customary haste. Jair gets no impression that the man is angry.
In the lifting of the tent flap, he sees darkness, night outside. He wishes someone had thought to blow out his lantern, and wonders momentarily why the man had been at his bedside at such an hour.
He is unable to care for long, or replay the conversation in his head, because sleep tugs at him and pulls him under.
No one is around when he wakes next, and he pulls himself slowly to a sitting position, thinking, wondering, if he dares try to stand. His hands tremble where they lie on the bed's cover, and he quickly folds them on his lap, unwilling to show any weakness in this strange place. The apprehension that he had somehow misplaced for a long time seems to rush over him, and he wonders what the gypsies want.
His magic, of course. But in what capacity? What can they do with the Wishsong, anyway? And how do they intend to make him use it? Why did they kidnap him? What about his family?
He forcibly dismisses his fears. They weaken him, and there is nothing he can do about it. It takes great effort to stand, and his limbs are shaky once he is on his feet. It takes pure force of will to get to the tent flap, and when he does manage it, he is pale, trembling, and clutching the sides of it to keep himself upright.
Outside it is readying for a storm, scuttling grey clouds racing each other across a dark sky. Every once in a while thunder rumbles threateningly. The camp is situated on a rolling slope, with Jair's tent on high ground, affording him a remarkable view. People scurry around below him, all in the same bright gypsy colors that his mother so gladly shed, bright splashes of color on green green fields. They ready caravans for the storm, moving horses into shelter, covering wagons with canvas, taking supplies to high ground. Not one person seems purposeless.
Soon someone spots him and a cry for 'Derk!' goes around the camp. The so called Derk emerges from another tent, and looks around. Someone motions towards Jair, where he is silhouetted against the brighter light of the ever-lit lantern within his tent.
Jair stands there, listening to the growl of thunder, angry, threatening. A whiff of wind carries the smell of rolling freshly damp earth, the quintessential smell of a storm, impending or otherwise, to him, and he raises his head like a wolf hound at the scent.
He watches the gypsy man approach him, and knows it is the stranger who was in his tent last night, or was it last night? He is not sure. It does not matter. It has been long enough for his family to have long since panicked, worried, made plans, inquired around, went out searching, and not long enough – never long enough – for them to have given him up for dead.
The man reaches him, looks at him for a long long moment. Long enough to observe the white-knuckled grasp Jair has on the tent flap which is the only thing keeping him upright, and certainly long enough to see the sweat dotting his brow, and the pallor of his appearance.
Jair lifts his chin uncompromisingly and stares back at him. He knows that in the very back of his mind sheer terror lurks. He is determined not to show it, or any weakness that might lead to exposing it.
The gypsy runs his hand through thick black curls, and stifles a sigh. "Come." He says, and offers a courteous helping arm when Jair hesitates.
Jair takes a death grip on his arm, leaning almost his entire weight on the man, truly unable to stand on his own. Emphasized by this forced closeness is the deprecancies in height. Brin is the tall one in their family, and Jair the short one. This man has Brin's height, and is stocky besides, making Jair feel small in comparison, his head only reaching the gypsy - Derk's - chin. But Jair is used to the feeling.
The man leads - carries - Jair down the hill, towards his destination. When Jair stumbles as he does regularly, he solicitously stops. He is regularly called out towards by other people, most taking it as an opportunity to gawk at Jair as well. He calls back cheerfully, never pausing, steering Jair masterfully past them.
He notices when Jair sees their destination, a tent a full fourth again as large as most others around, as Jair tenses, and his already tight grip on the man's arm tightens further. He notices and makes no comment. Jair is grateful for the kindness.
Not grateful enough that he pauses the hum he has been continuously building in his throat, weaving it skillfully into the background noise, swelling when the thunder rumbles, or when someone shouts, dying again when other noise dies.
The wind is picking up, and the rustling that creates forms the perfect backdrop for his hum. It lies dormant for the moment, not actually doing anything, just coiled power lying within his throat, deception in a snake poised to strike. He has lived long enough not to underestimate the power he can weave in his voice.
Derk takes him to the tent flap, where Jair transfers his grip onto the tent fabric once more, pausing for breath, or so it appears. He is clearly not supposed to accompany Jair into the tent, but he lingers for a moment, before patting Jair's shoulder swiftly and saying, "Keep that chin up, lad."
Then he is gone, and Jair feels the loss of the only familiar face in the entire camp.
Then he gathers his courage, builds his song, and enters.
2,966 words is the actual text of this thing. This thing is my attempt at something I will completely relax while writing. There will be no pervading atmosphere to be captured. If it has one, it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't. The plot might be completely irrational. I don't think it is now, but it might change. Depending on how frustrated I am.
See, the fact is, Cross my heart is hard to write. You have no idea. This is therapy. It's very descriptive... at the moment. The next chapter might be complete dialogue. Nothing else. It's also written in present tense. For some reason that heals rough nerve endings for me.
What I'm really saying is... Don't expect much from this. It might turn into crack at the slightest movement. It will only be continued sporadically. I like the Wishsong. Y'know why? I like describing sound. I'm having psuedo geek moments too. Does the wishsong... create an illusion for listeners? In which case, plugging your ears is a fool proof evasion of it. Is the song a kind of medium through which magic happens? Can you use instruments to the same affect? I'll probably be exploring this. I might just as probably be not.
I also like Jair. And Garet Jax. Not so much Brin. By the way, Jair is older than in Wishsong. And Wishsong never happened. So this is AU.
Therapy. I like it, cause for some reason, it's 'mood' is really easy. I've written this over a period of a week, the original starting thingy, having actually been one of the random super descriptive stuff I scribble in school. And I think it hangs together.
I also wanted to call the chapter: 'In which Jair falls asleep.' Because each segment seemed to end with him turning over and going back to sleep.