adult,  Cymbeline,  fanfic

Coming of Age (Cymbeline’s Story, ch. 1)

I decided I’d just post this, mostly in celebration of Cymbeline’s “rebirth”. I never thought I’d say it, but I was actually pretty okay with completely erasing her profile from Mod Organizer. Things have been stressful, both in terms of things outside my control and things I subject myself to because I’m neurotic. lol So this provided me, in a time of turmoil, a much-needed blank slate, and I was happy to give her a bit of a new look, one that I think suits her age and general build.

Aria has that waifish northern Italian thing goin’, but Cymbeline’s much softer, and it’s difficult to find a skin that both serves that feature while at the same time not making her look like…well, you know. Unslaad Keizaal does it very, very well. She looks young, her face is full, but she doesn’t look like a child or a doll. I need to buff her up some – she’s at an age where, if you’re doing the things she does, you pack on muscle very easily. I don’t mean to say she needs to be ripped or anything, but she definitely needs tone.

Anyway, enjoy the words. If you don’t like how this story is being handled, by all means tell me. I have no problems putting it back on the shelf where it came from! And yes, Cymbeline is a Mary Sue, but if you can handle Rei’s level of speshul snowfwakeness you can probably handle Cymbeline since she’s not a raging asshole on top of it. lol


    Deep in the Druadach Mountains lived the Grey Hawk, an ancient and isolated tribe of manmer. They, like other Bretons, claimed Nedic and Aldmeri ancestry, but while their kin split off and ventured out of the mountains and into the provinces of Skyrim and High Rock, they remained cloistered, marrying into the few lesser tribes around them, absorbing them and retaining the features of their elven forbears. Theirs was a culture steeped in magic and meditation, one that worshiped Auri-El and Kyne, and who paid tribute to Hircine, who rewarded their fealty with bountiful game and kept watch over their hunting grounds.
   
    Their cave in the mountains, known only to the tribes who had long since named themselves Forsworn (and to a few particularly canny traders), was lofty and removed from established footpaths. They kept their peace and their mysticism in the face of envoys from their brethren during Faolan’s revolt against the Empire, and while Breton descendants entreated their support in their claims of birthright to The Reach. Taking the life of man or mer, even in self defense, was a grievous sin. Empress Hestra had given them no notice, and so far it seemed the Nords would do the same. If it came to it, they would fight, but there would have to be no other choice.
   
    In Sun’s Height of the 184th year of the Fourth Era, the Chieftain Math and his wife, the High Priestess Cerridwyn, welcomed their first and only child into the world. It was a girl, fair-skinned and blonde as her forbears. To her parents’ joy, her head bore the tiniest bumps which heralded the small fawn-like antlers signaling Hircine’s personal favor. Only a handful of Grey Hawk had been gifted thus, but it meant, for a future leader especially, remarkable bounty for their people. She was given the name Cymbeline, The Fated, and in accordance with the circumstances of her birth, she would become the leader of the hunt and a guardian, a deviation from the last few generations of her specific lineage which had largely produced seers and philosophers.
   
    Indeed, Cymbeline found her place at the forge more than at the altar, and when the time came for her to choose a weapon, it was a battleaxe that called to her, forged by her and her master to be as light as possible to suit her small frame. The weapon was still heavy, however, and its length was still best suited to one of the men or taller women who comprised the small cadre of hunters and guardians, but with time and dedication, she learned to compensate through her nimble feet, using her lithe frame as a counterweight and listening to what the blade asked of her body. With a bow, as well, she was no slouch, and by the time she was sixteen she could surprise mountain lions and outmaneuver deer – but it was always the axe she returned to.
   
    Even so, she was the daughter of the Chieftain, and with that meant hours of study and meditation at the hands of the High Priest Gaithan, to whom she was betrothed from the moment of her birth. She learned of herbalism and the mystic properties of the earth, and she read devotions to their gods. While she loved the gymnastics of training, she was not bloodthirsty. Hers was a soft heart, and though unrequired by their tenets to Kyne or to their Daedric Lord Hircine, she did not dress her kills until she had committed their souls and gave thanks beyond the usual evening mealtime ritual. It pained her to see or cause harm, even if it was for the greater good of her people, and even if it was simply through the natural course of life. Funerals heard her chanting more loudly than others as she gathered the strength to push through her tightened chest and closed throat.
   
    And so it was that on the day of her seventeenth year, in 4E 201, she undertook the rite of passage required of all Grey Hawk of high birth to enter into adulthood and prepare for the responsibilities of their station. In accordance with tradition, her mother and the other three priestesses woke her at dawn. She had fasted the day before and abstained from water and drink, purifying herself for the Divines as she spent the day sequestered with the High Priest in meditation and prayer. Though Gaithan was older, Cymbeline had accepted her role as his mate from the beginning. If she had been asked exactly why or what it was that she saw in him as a future husband, she wouldn’t have been able to answer with any certainty. All she knew was that he was kind, he had given her guidance that never proved false, and this was simply the way things had been and would always be. And after today, if all went well, they would be joined together and Cymbeline would take her place officially as the leader of the hunt, positioned then to take her role as chieftain when her father grew too feeble, far away though she hoped that day would be.
   
    Now, as she was gently coaxed to wake up, she was a ball of nerves. The fast saw her awaken with a dry throat and a nasty taste in her mouth. Her eyes and nose burned from dryness and her joints ached in harmony with her painfully empty stomach. In the dim torchlight she saw her mother’s fair face, smiling gently, and she felt her cool, slender hands cup her face.
   
    “It’s time, little one,” Cerridwyn cooed in a way she hadn’t since Cymbeline was very small.
   
    It was odd and anachronistic, and it brought with it a gravity that the teenager couldn’t quite understand. Her heart suddenly felt both full and empty, and without thinking, she threw her arms around her mother’s neck.
   
    Cerridwyn knelt properly beside her daughter and held her head to her breast. The idea that this would never happen again flashed like a blade in the dark in Cymbeline’s mind. The idea was terrifying, though what it meant she couldn’t say. She hadn’t feared growing up before, but did adulthood mean that she could no longer seek comfort in her mother’s arms? She dared not mention it, though, and once she felt the High Priestess’ lips press firmly against her forehead, she knew it was useless to dwell on such silly fears.
   
    “Come, my lovely,” Cerridwyn cajoled. “We must prepare you before the sun illuminates the altar.”
   
    Cymbeline obeyed and followed in her nightclothes, worn deerhide preceded and followed by white woven gowns. They left the chieftain’s chambers and stepped out into the great hall of the system of caverns that had housed the Grey Hawk for hundreds of years. At the very back was the altar and the shrines, rising above a shallow pool of sacred water. In the ceiling, just above the center of the altar was a hole to the surface. Cymbeline looked upward as they approached and saw a patch of sky, indigo fading into magenta. In less than an hour the sun would be just high enough to pierce the opening, bathing the altar in the most natural light it would see during the day. But it was early yet. In one of the many upper chambers kilns were being fired to bake bread, but for now that was the only other movement.
   
    The start of the ritual wasn’t exactly a private affair, but it didn’t call for widespread ceremony. In silence Cerridwyn ascended the steps to light the candles on the altar while her daughter was stripped of her soft hide tunic and coaxed into the pool where she knelt on the smooth stone floor. She shivered as the hair on her exposed skin raised in response to the cold water. The muscles in her upper back tensed, and she winced as her nipples hardened. Her last meal before her fast began was, against the advisement of her father, very small. She never had a large appetite, but now she was reaping the penalties as the exertion from shivering caused her to feel even more light-headed and weak.
   
    Closing her eyes against the unpleasantness, she heard her mother begin chanting invocations to their patron Divines, words she had heard several times during her life as she lay awake in the early morning listening to others’ rites. Cerridwyn’s silvery voice echoed through the caverns, lulling Cymbeline’s tired mind back into sleep. Hands were on her, carefully bathing her with the holy water. Her eyes snapped back open as a ladle of it was poured over her head, but she adapted quickly and fell back into her doze as the priestesses washed her hair, wincing only slightly as they bumped against her small fawn’s horns.
   
    Eventually she was helped to her feet and patted dry. There were people gathering below now, only a few. Her nakedness by itself wasn’t anything she was embarrassed by, but somehow the act of being toweled off by others caused her to feel oddly vulnerable. The careful hands of women whom she had known her whole life patted her top to bottom while others looked on, whether out of curiosity or lechery she wasn’t sure and thought it best not to think about. They and more continued to watch as scented oils were rubbed into her skin and flowers were woven into her long, still-damp hair.
   
    Finally she was, at least in the eyes of tradition, clean and prepared to receive the Divines, if they deemed her worthy. As sunlight began to peek through the opening in the ceiling, Cymbeline was draped in a linen kaftan dyed blue in honor of Kyne, while a sash with no loose end was cinched around her waist to symbolize Auri-El’s persistence. More of her people gathered below in silence as the sun crawled steadily higher, illuminating the chanter, her attendants, and the soon-to-be-woman in white light.
   
    Cymbeline sighed at the effort of standing. Her limbs were heavy and her stomach felt as if it were collapsing into itself, sending arrows of stinging pain into her sides. She was, for the first time since they had properly grown in, severely aware of her Daedric gift. They felt as if they were growing again, irritating the skin of her scalp such that it seemed even her hair was aching. But she forced herself to look up, seeing her father ascend towards where she and the priestesses stood by the pool.
   
    He was clad in his full ceremonial regalia: Antlers of his own, though anchored to the skull of an ancient and legendary elk bull, cast imposing shadows over the tableaux, and skins of rare white mountain lions were wrapped about his waist. Teeth and feathers adorned his neck, and in his hand he bore the staff of chieftains long since passed. Cymbeline had only seen him in full regalia a few times, but never before had she felt so intimidated. Her eyes, blurry and tired from dehydration, could only make out Math’s wizened, but gentle, face after a few moments trying to make sense of what had initially appeared as some terrible construct, an affront to Hircine himself. She knelt once more in deference to him, grateful to feel his warm hand fall softly on her head.
   
    “I never thought this day would come,” she heard him say, “and now that it’s here, I did not think I could feel such pride.”
   
    “Thank you, Papa,” she answered. Her throat felt tight.
   
    “When I was in your place, many years ago, I couldn’t stop talking about it before the day arrived. You’ve hardly said anything.”
   
    “Do you think I’m not ready?”
   
    Math smiled. “You’ve always been a quiet one, lost in your thoughts and keeping your own counsel. I think you are more than ready, but I also know your reluctance to put thought to voice. There are questions in your heart.”
   
    “What if I see nothing?” she asked quickly, as if having been given permission had loosed a cork in her throat. “What if I’m not worthy?”
   
    “Don’t become lost in doubt, Cymbeline. You have always possessed confidence; do not lose faith now. Remember what your mother and I have taught you. Remember how Gaithan has taught you to clear your mind and open your heart. Do this and the gods will grant you their wisdom.”
   
    Cymbeline pressed her forehead to Math’s knee. His hand cradled her head for a moment before he bid her rise. The sun was almost at its sacred position, and by now nearly the whole tribe had come to gather in the great hall. Cymbeline felt their eyes, expectant and in awe, but before her nerves could get a foothold, Gaithan approached her. It had been several generations since a chieftain had borne a girl. By tradition the chieftain’s first offspring would be wed to the high priest or priestess, but it was only ever the high priest who performed the opening rites for this ceremony. Cymbeline wondered if the others could feel the intensity that she felt between herself and her betrothed in this pivotal moment.
   
    He will give me to the gods, and I shall give myself to him, she thought suddenly.
   
    A familiar ache flared from her core into her very fingertips, and it was a fight to keep herself as Gaithan pierced her with his bright green eyes. He offered her a smile that she knew belonged only to her, but the time for personal wishes was past. Cymbeline shifted her weight against her sudden desire and breathed deep the incense from Gaithan’s censer as he lifted it to her face.
   
    “Lord Auri-El, our ancestor father, who protects our ways; Mother Kyne, to whom we owe our bounty and protection from those who would seek to undo us: On this day we present to you Cymbeline, daughter of Math. She seeks you as a child, with open mind and open soul, that in your wisdom you might grant to her understanding, and set her on the path towards enlightenment, peace, and true sight. This we ask of you, Lord of the Infinite, Mother of Hawks, that our people might continue to flourish under Right Rule.”
   
    Cerridwyn began her chant again, joined this time by the other three priestesses. Cymbeline gazed once more into her future husband’s eyes, receiving a kiss on her forehead before following her father towards the very back of the limestone cathedral, flanked by her mother’s three apprentices. They descended into a hidden nook, away from the eyes of all others. Cymbeline had never seen this area, though she knew of it. Access to it was strictly forbidden except to the holy caste and those select few who undertook these rites.
   
    And now here she was, facing a worn wooden door, lit only by Math’s torch. The smell of damp was strong, and she noticed that the walls around them had steadily become wetter, glistening in the firelight. Steam, almost invisible in the faint light, seeped through the door’s cracks, and a new, intense heat caused sweat to bead on her skin. When the door was opened for her, she was presented with a small room created by the rock with a remarkably active vent against the far wall. Turning her eyes to the left she saw a spot the torchlight couldn’t reach, a black hole of nothingness.
   
    “Good luck, my daughter,” Math bid. “The tunnels go long, but there is no natural light this far down. If the gods bid you walk, have faith, and you will not falter.”
   
    Nobody had told her of any tunnels, but she wasn’t afraid of the dark. She kissed her father’s cheek and stepped through the door, hearing it shut behind her followed by the scraping sound of the bar, locking her inside. When all was done, ideally when she’d had a vision or epiphany, she would call out to Gaithan who would be on vigil throughout. She had heard of others who had failed, calling out when the heat and the dark and the closeness became too much and incited panic, and she had heard of still others who had perished. Those were rarely mentioned and only then in the hushed tones reserved for rumors. Cymbeline didn’t know what to believe ultimately, but she knew if she got too close to that vent she could wind up scalded, and if she took to walking in this state, Divine guidance or no, there was a very real risk she could break something – and there was no way to know how deep the tunnels went.
   
    The upper portion of the cave was dark without firelight, but it was close enough to the surface that there were many small holes as the one above the altar to let in the sun- and moonlight. Cymbeline had never experienced total darkness to any real extent, and as the light from her father’s torch faded, she felt as if the dark had laid a heavy cloth over her eyes. She stood a minute, stock still for fear of falling, waiting in vain for her pupils to focus. Once acceptance had finally taken hold, she simply reached out to her right and found the wall, using it to guide her way down into a sitting position beside the vent.
   
    Sulfur fumes filled her head, but the heat wasn’t terrible. Her eyes drifted shut, and she began the exercises she had been taught all her life, focusing on the moment, letting her muscles go soft, clearing her mind. For how long she sat that way, she had no way of knowing, but eventually she felt the familiar sensation of dropping through the floor, shedding her hunger pangs and her weakness as a lizard would shed its skin. Her mind meandered here and there with no purpose or preoccupation, and as was more and more common during deep meditation, the furnace of arousal lit in the pit of her stomach, warming her and aiding in her relaxation. Her mouth was painfully dry while her skin was drenched in sweat and the condensation from the vent, but she was only barely aware of either.
   
    She found herself adrift in a void of soft, white light, as if she were a cloud caught in a grey winter sky. Beneath her was a river of many colors, and as she looked into its ripples she saw glimpses of unfamiliar places and people she had never seen. She watched, fascinated, wondering what the river was showing her and if she would see herself or anyone she knew. Some things stood out more than others: a woman – another Breton, but not from any of the native tribes – towering structures shrouded in gloom.
   
    There was fire, lots of it, and it leapt from the river to become real. From its depths rose a slender wyrm whose scales shimmered in all colors of the spectrum, reflecting the river which ran below him. Cymbeline was unsurprised to realize that she knew this creature as she knew her own father, and all at once what she was seeing became clear. The river running by her was the flow of all time, and the creature she knew as “Father” was Auri-El, in a form her people did not normally acknowledge except in passing. Most Divines she knew took different forms to different believers, or at least the believers thought they did. That the head of the Grey Hawk’s pantheon would appear to her as Akatosh in dragon form seemed both important and mundane. She knew Him and always had.
   
    “What would you ask of me, my Lord?” she asked, standing and looking the dazzling beast in the eye as an equal.
   
    “Kindhearted Cymbeline,” he answered. His deep, melodic voice seemed to originate from a point deep within her skull. “You are peaceful among pacifists and deliberate in thought, reluctant to cause harm to those who draw breath around you. But as a tyrant can lead his people to ruin through cruelty, so too can a leader too reluctant to act cause ruin through inaction.
   
    “It is time, my child, to learn temperance in all things, and to embrace balance through action. While the people of Skyrim pit one against another, they cannot see the sea change happening around them. Such is the flow of time and the short-sightedness of mortals. You have the ability to rise above and take action, though such action will not be without consequences.”
   
    Cymbeline let Akatosh’s words sink into her mind, unsure of what exactly he was proposing. “My lord, what actions do you mean?”
   
    “You are as I have made you,” he said simply. “Do not question your inner voice; you see more than you know. Open yourself to those around you, Daughter of Math, and trust your instincts. Take leave of your people and venture south and east. You will know your path when you see it.”
   
    “Leave my people?” she repeated. Her chest tightened with panic. “My Lord, how-”
   
    A gout of flame swallowed the great dragon and the river all at once, leaving in its wake a fleeting and terrifying vision of a village on fire. What caused the fire, or why, was unclear, but the sight and sound of people burning was enough to make her sick. She could smell melting fat and burning hair, and when she looked down she saw her own skin was blistering, and the fire that had only moments before been pleasant and warm was threatening to devour her, its suffocating and excruciating heat tearing her apart.
   
    She began to run, trying to escape the inferno, slapping at her arms and legs to shoo away licks of flame like flies, blind from tears as she tripped over her feet and banged into walls. Something in her way caused her to stumble, and she fell face-first onto the hard ground. As she looked up, surrounded by flames, she saw another dragon, black as pitch and built like a mountainside, not like Akatosh’s slender glittering form at all. Under one great claw was her mother, lying prone and unmoving, and all around were her other slain family and tribesmen. Her father’s beautiful ancient headdress was just out of her reach where she herself lay, and just beyond she saw what could only have been his burned, lifeless corpse.
   
    Cymbeline couldn’t find her voice, the smoke had filled her lungs so completely. Her cracked lips were splitting in the heat, and just as she managed to scream her confusion and grief, the dragon shrieked, and in the next moment, she could only see flame. Her skin seared and her eyes felt like they would burst. It seemed like a long time coming, but finally all was black, and nothing hurt.

“““““`

    The water was so cold that it burned. Cymbeline’s throat was so dry that it clicked when she tried to swallow, and on her tongue was the faintest taste of blood from her chapped lips. Even breathing hurt, her nasal lining was so parched, and her eyes were so sticky they’d almost glued themselves shut. But with a little effort, she forced them open, only to squint again when she found herself looking into the flame of a candle.
   
    “Mummah?” she mumbled.
   
    “Oh, praise Kyne, you’re awake!” Cerridwyn cried, leaning down to embrace her daughter. “By the gods I thought you’d leave us!”
   
    Cymbeline grabbed hold of her mother and held her fast, clinging to the soft fur of her cloak. She sobbed, but no tears would come. “I thought you were dead, Mummah, I saw you and Papa and everyone all dead!”
   
    Cerridwyn pulled back a little at the revelation, but not for long, continuing to rock Cymbeline, cooing gentle words of reassurance. “Here my lovely,” she said after a while, “you need to drink this.”
   
    The smell of vinegar stung Cymbeline’s nose and she heaved slightly. There would be honey in it, she knew, but she already felt her throat closing against the acrid stench.
   
    “I know you don’t like it, but water isn’t enough right now. It’s more important than ever you drink this.”
   
    Already bile was beginning to taint what little saliva she could muster, but she took the stone cup and, closing her eyes, tilted it up to her unwilling lips. Much to her surprise, though it still tasted foul, the brine triggered some heretofore nebulous need. There was salt and sugar, and her tongue felt outstandingly alive.
   
    “Slow down or you’ll be sick,” her mother warned, taking the cup from her hands, but it was too late.
    Without much warning, everything she’d drunk came right back up, splattering the floor next to her pile of furs.
   
    “Oh, Cymbeline…” Cerridwyn sighed.
   
    “At least there’s not slaughterfish in it this time,” she rasped, remembering the last time she’d been dehydrated and ended up drinking the nasty switchel too quickly. This time, however, was worse and the effort of heaving awakened a ferocious headache. She groaned and laid down on her side.
   
    “I’ll have Caoilte make some more,” the priestess said, the tone of annoyance just barely breaching the surface of what she said. Cymbeline curled more tightly into a ball as her cheeks flushed with shame. “As soon as you’re ready you will need to face Math and Gaithan.”
   
    Cymbeline nodded. “Mummah?”
   
    “Yes?”
   
    “The visions the gods show us,” she began slowly, choosing her words carefully, “they’re not the future are they? I mean, it’s only guidance. Right?”
   
    “If the gods speak to us they do so in symbols. You know this.”
   
    “I know, but it was so real!”
   
    “There will be time for interpretation, my darling. For now get your rest. I’ll be back with more switchel and some oil for your lips.”
   
    Cerridwyn’s shadow loomed large on the wall before slowly shrinking as she left the room. Cymbeline pulled a blanket up to her chin and wiggled a bit to try and tuck herself in with as little effort as possible.

“““““

    It was a while before Cymbeline found the strength to stand, but once her legs would hold her, she found her way, escorted by Cerridwyn, to the cloister where the holy caste and mystics came to pray. The salve her mother had brought to her, a mix of lanolin from their herd of bighorn sheep and cottonseed oil, had instantly soothed her lips, and already she felt the skin beginning to heal, but even after a whole cup of strong switchel and several more of water, her mouth still felt sticky and uncomfortable. Her stomach rumbled, finally waking now that her salts had been replenished, but she knew it would be a while before she would be able to eat. Even then, it could only be in small amounts. The new hunger pangs were compounded by the onset of nerves, and as she drew nearer to the cloister, nausea began to set in.
   
    The room was dark as it always was, lit only by the small, eternally-lit brazier in the center, on one side of which sat her father, and her betrothed. Math was once again clad in his ceremonial raiment, and the smoke from the incense conspired with the fickle shadows of the fire to cast his face into unsettling, shifting darkness. The elk skull atop his head appeared orange in the light, its empty sockets windows to nothing. The chieftain’s own eyes were obscured by the shadow of the bleached muzzle, and all Cymbeline could reliably see were his nostrils and lips. A chill ran up her spine, and though she suddenly had no desire to join her elders, her legs carried her to a spot across from them, and she sat obediently on her knees.
   
    Gaithan, who had been momentarily overshadowed by the macabre headdress of her father, smiled softly at her, and she returned it gratefully.
   
    “My daughter,” Math said fondly, “you undertook a rite more vigorous than many before you, and have come through unscathed. Surely this bodes well for our people.”
   
    Cymbeline swallowed and licked her lips, grimacing at the sharp bitterness of the ointment on her tongue. “I don’t know, Papa. Auri-El spoke with me, but the vision He gave me was horrific.”
   
    “What did He say to you?” Gaithan asked.
   
    “He said I must learn temperance in all things, that I must learn to find balance.”
   
    The men before her nodded.
   
    “He came to me as Akatosh. As a dragon.”
   
    The elk skull turned as Math looked over at the high priest questioningly. Beads and bones clicked as they swayed with the motion. “Auri-El has never before appeared to a Grey Hawk in this manner. Akatosh is a god of man, and even in the time of dragons our forbears were not at the mercy of his offspring.”
   
    “Our Father is the beginning and the end,” Gaithan said quietly. His low voice resonated in Cymbeline’s chest and caused a shiver of an entirely different nature. “We recognize Auri-El for our Aldmeri roots, but do we not still carry the blood of men? Who are we to decide the nature of He who is All? What else did He say to you?”
   
    Cymbeline told of everything she’d seen: the river of pure time, the quietude of infinity, and the fiery death of her kin at the merciless claws of another, different dragon.
   
    Gaithan’s eyes had been steadily narrowing during her recount while her father pursed his lips thoughtfully. She wished she could see his eyes.
   
    “Nordic texts written after the Dragon Cult’s fall became thin on truth and overburdened with embellishment and florid prose,” the priest mused. “From what I gather there are some mixed ideas on dragons now, whether they are superstitious nonsense or something to still be feared. If our Lord has appeared to Cymbeline this day not only as Akatosh, but also saw fit to show her such a scene, perhaps this is a sign that the dragons will return?”
   
    “But how does this help her?” Math asked. It was the first time Cymbeline had ever seen him question the gods. “We are not man, and we do not bear men’s problems.”
   
    “If the dragons return it may not simply be man’s problem. Nordic prophecies speculate that the First Born will return and bring with him the end of days. You know as well as I the war that rages below us, and the Forsworn seeking to capitalize on the chaos. They become ever more zealous in their efforts to win our allegiance.”
   
    “And again, what does this have to do with our Cymbeline? Those that call themselves Forsworn are manmer in name alone. Faolan and his descendants tainted what tribes remained even then and further forsook the old ways. They can wage their petty wars and defile the land with their hagraven allies, but we will have no part in it.”
   
    Cymbeline, who had been hoping for some reassurance, found herself even more worried than before. She had never seen her father so incensed, nor had she ever dreamed that he would argue so with the high priest. He himself was a seer, after all.
   
    “They are still our kin, Math. Would we turn to civil war as the men below? Perhaps this is Cymbeline’s part to play. She was named The Fated by you, yourself, do you not remember?”
   
    The tendons in his jaw flexed as he set his teeth and lowered his head. The elk’s empty eye sockets were now looking directly at Cymbeline. She looked away from them quickly as she processed everything that was being said.
   
    “I was hoping that what I had seen back then was wrong,” he said finally. “I do not relish the idea of my young daughter going out into that violent world, but we cannot defy the will of our Lord. If we are to interpret this to mean His wrath should you defy Him…”
   
    “Even if it doesn’t mean His wrath,” Cymbeline interjected, surprising herself, “we cannot claim to acknowledge His deity if we did.”
   
    “You are right. I simply wasn’t expecting this news, but we must trust Auri-El’s wisdom in all things, for it is through Him that we maintain the old ways.”

0 Comments

  • RefurbMadness

    Awesome, that's great to hear 🙂 This one's told in such a different voice I sometimes wonder, but it does loosen up over the next few chapters and once she leaves home when she starts bearing a funny resemblance to Sabrael lol

  • syl

    !!! I really like this, I am so glad you redid it.

    Also, make your switchel with cider vinegar, it is delicious. We made a bunch of homemade vinegar and making switchel/sekanjabin/posca etc goes much easier when you're using homemade or cider vinegar because it's much softer. I bet it would be fun with moonsugar….

  • RefurbMadness

    That makes me happy to hear 🙂 This gives me some encouragement to continue it as I kind of lost interest for a while.

    I've entertained a lot of friends' requests to drink their switchel with them and every single time I just cannot get more than a few sips in. lol I don't know that I've ever been unfortunate enough to have some with store-bought. I keep bottles of homemade for cooking and the store-bought junk goes under the sink with the rest of the cleaning agents 😛

  • syl

    LOL– my vinegar-making husband– who will honest to god drink straight vinegar to taste it, he hates it too. Loves honey, loves mint etc, loves vinegar, hates the combo. Shrug.

    Oh– you need to dilute it half-strength and drink it on the hottest of days, then it is wondrous. Or you can say the hell with it and drink prosecco.

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