On August 14, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com
a Wednesday Words prompt, "I have to talk to you".
This prompted this A Godling for Your Thoughts?
(the third novel under revision of my Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest
series) freebie story. I'm now thinking of inserting this into the novel itself.
“I have to talk to you.”
Tayel turned to the girl who was slightly taller than himself, rounded cheeks quivering, honey-colored hair falling in full waves around her face. Melyssa looked nothing like Juno, Jupitre, or Thomas, for all they claimed to be her mother, father, and brother.
“Say whatever you’d like.” Perhaps he was inviting trouble by giving her permission to do this, but Tayel was already in trouble, along with his family. After all, they now had neighbors. “I can’t promise to say anything you’d like to hear.”
“Heh. Like mother, like son.” Mel actually grinned a little at his bluntess. She glanced in the direction of the corner where Map sat, away from everyone else at the party. “Much as I dislike boys in general, I got to respect your lack of pretense.”
Tayel wasn’t sure how to respond to such a statement. He glanced at his other mother, Ashleigh, who was laughing right along with Maggie in front of the window while Jupitre stood nearby, scowling.
He wasn’t enjoying the party, any more than Map or his son was. Thomas hovered around Danyel. Tayel tensed at this, but his twin seemed safe enough at Leiwell’s side. Perhaps safe was a relative term for they were listening to their host, Melyssa’s mother. Juno laughed, chattered, and fluttered her eyelashes, basking in the attention. Such a harmless manner she had. So deceptive. Tayel was sure she wouldn’t try anything at a party with her neighbors present. He allowed himself to relax. A little.
“This is why I’m confident you’ll be honest with me.” Eyes the same rose purple as a certain mysterious, charming man on the other side of the Door gazed at him in earnest anguish. “About your mothers and mine. About me.”
“Honesty changes when voiced by different lips.” Tayel glanced at a table covered with goblets, cheeses, and sweets. He was tempted to reach out and just pop one in his mouth. Not because he wanted cheese or a sweet, but to have something to do. He didn’t. He couldn’t. He had no idea if he’d be able to keep any of the food down or not.
“You’ve lived here for a long time, haven’t you?” Melyssa asked with some hesitation. “Do your mothers ever talk of who or where they were before coming to Omphalos?”
“Why do you want to know?”
Tayel tensed at this. He disliked questions. He hadn’t been about to ask any, but here was his twin, asking, opening a door to all sorts of answers they might not want.
Danyel stood at Tayel’s elbow, gazing at Melyssa with hard, shining eyes. Of course he had to ask.
“Look, I’m not sure if anything is what it seems in Omphalos.” Melyssa reached out to the table and grabbed a pie. “My family may not be my family. The only thing that seems familiar is your mother’s face.”
“Um, I thought I was familar.” Meggie walked over to the table, lay a hand on Mel’s shoulder before seizing a pie herself. She crammed the whole thing in her mouth and started chewing.
“You’re more than familar. You’re almost like my own feet. Something I take for granted, yet I’d miss if they weren’t there.” Melyssa stared at the young woman chewing and lifted her own pie to her mouth. She took a bite.
Meggie swallowed. “Well, obviously we know each other. We didn’t even have to ask where. We looked into each other’s eyes and remembered.” She shut her own for a moment. “I could see the Temple of Seraphix up on the hill, the greenery, the pine trees surrounding the slope-“
“-the pine cones which would rain down on us whenever our Master was irritated about something.” Melyssa smiled a little and swallowed. “Yes. Master.”
“What about her?” Meggie reached for another pie. “Funny. I haven’t thought of our Master since coming here. Weren’t we chasing her? With torches.”
Danyel tensed at this, gazing from young woman to young woman as if he was considering bolting. He reached out and squeezed Tayel’s hand.
For a moment, he felt as if he was running in a bigger, heavier body through a dark woods, screams of rage following him. “Freak! Halfling!”
“What’s a halfling?” Danyel asked out loud. He gazed at Melyssa in an almost challenging manner.
“Someone who is part monster.” Melyssa frowned at her own words. “They’re often spies for actual monsters, trying to lure humans to them as prey, food for their masters.”
“Do all halfings do that?” Danyel held on tight to his twin’s hand.
“Well, I don’t know. I’m not sure.” Melyssa’s frown deepened. “A human really can’t allow herself to wait and find out. The halfing could destroy her while she’s trying to decide if it’s evil or not.”
“Are you halfling?”
Tayel gripped his brother’s fingers at this foolish question, which could easily set this angry, fearful girl off.
Melyssa, however, didn’t get angry, although a line deepened in the center of her forehead.
“To be honest, I, um, wondered the same thing. A lot.” Meggie picked up a strawberry tart. “You didn’t always act like a human would.”
“And you? Were you human?” Melyssa crossed her arms and lifted her chin in a direct challenge. “Would you even be in Omphalos now if you were?”
“Huh, good point. I used to think I was.” Meggie took a bite of her tart. “Just what is a human any way?”
“Anything that isn’t human,” Melyssa said with a decisive nod.
“Um, all right. So we chased down the Master with burning torches because she wasn’t human, either though none of us were, either.” Meggie glanced at Melyssa out of the corner of her eye. “I don’t remember what happened next. Do you?”
“This is why I was trying to talk to Tayel.” Melyssa rolled her eyes. “I thought we might know something.”
Tayel shook his head. He was sure, though, that Danyel did know something. It was unusual, highly unsual when his twin knew something he didn’t.
“How can you do that?” Danyel squeezed Tayel’s fingers so tight, rage he could barely keep in vibrating under his skin. It made Tayel angry, too, palms sweeating with a hot fury so unlike his own cold anger. “She was your master. You weren’t any different than she was. Yet you hunted her down.”
“I…I…was frightened of all anyone not human, even though I myself wasn’t either.” Melyssa shut her own eyes. “I thought they were my mother’s spies, all of them.” She hung her head in shame. “There was no excuse for what I did. I wouldn’t have blamed Master for any revenge she took.”
“Maybe she did take revenge? She might have killed us all,” Meggie suggested before shoving the rest of her tart in her mouth. “Would you hate her if she did?”
Once more, Danyel tightened his fingers around his twin’s.
“No.” Melyssa shook her head. “Danyel is right. We turned on the Master simply for being who she was.” Mel hung her head. “We had no right to do that.”
“No, you didn’t.”
Both of the twins felt the hairs rise on the back of their necks at that melodious, deep voice, even before a cool hand dropped onto each one of their shoulders.
Melyssa and Meggie gazed with wide eyes at Dyvian, the local lord, the one who’d brought at the residents of Omphalos together.
“Your Master was kind to you, kinder than anyone else ever was. How did you reward her for her kindness?” Tayel felt the movement behind him of swaying hair and robes. Once Upon a Time was shaking his head. Perhaps he’d even wag his finger if they weren’t occupied in pressing them against the cloth of his tunic, along with his twin’s. “You betrayed her.”
A red light seemed to shimmer around the man, standing there, gazing at the two girls with no pity in his eyes.
“Forgive me!” Melyssa dropped to her knees, unable to look up at him.
“Melyssa, I thought better of you. I thought you wouldn’t allow yourself to be drawn into a society’s prejudices, losing all independent thought in process.” Dyvian lowered his eyelashes. “Perhaps you’re unworthy of Seraphix. Perhaps you’ve always been unworthy.”
“I don’t deny it.” Melyssa lifted her head, eyes swimming with unshed tears. “I’m trying so hard to be so. I’m trying to change. For the sake of my wish!”
“And you, Megan. How you can speak with such cheerful casualness of betraying and hunting down your master?” Dyvian gazed at the plump young woman with aggrieved eyes. “Is your loyalty given and taken away so easily?”
“Perhaps.” Meggie didn’t lower her hazel eyes, although she bowed her head. “One of the things I wish for is to have something or someone worth giving my loyalty to.” For a moment, her gaze flickered to Leiwell before returning to Dyvian. “I’ve never had my sister’s heart.”
“I see. You crave change. Both of you.” Dyvian released a long, shuddering sigh. “Perhaps I should forgive you. Perhaps I, too, should change.”
“Why does it matter so much to you?” Danyel spoke up, turning his challenging gaze on the man who’d held their elder brother in thrall for so long. “Why should it matter to you if anyone betrays Map or not?”
“The betrayal strikes far closer than anyone dreams.” If Tayel gazed at Dyvian long enough, perhaps he’d see the outline of a plump, dark woman dressed in green interposed over the tall, pale man. “To strike out at her is to strike out at himself.”
“Not for much longer.” Dyvian spoke in tight, rush of words which made the air shiver. “Soon I shall be my own man. Soon I shall be free.”
For one moment, Melyssa, Meggie, the twins, and Dyvian all stared at each other, the air between them heavy with unspoken things.
Only Dyvian let out a soft laugh and waved his hand. The girls laughed as well. The tension eased.
“Well, we all have a wish, don’t we?” Dyvian allowed his eyes to alight upon Tayel. “Tell me, little one, what do you wish for?”
Danyel blinked and released his hand. He lifted his own, stared at it for a long moment, before studying his twin.
The warmth still lingered in Tayel’s palm. If he looked down, he might see a warm green, with hints of blue with its depths, dappled in sunlight. Just a little bit of his twin he carried with him, in case everyone else in the world carried him away. “Not all of us wish to share our wishes with the world.”
“Indeed we do not.” A smile played upon Dyvian’s lips, even if a light gleamed with his eyes, a cold glow like a diamond or a crystal’s. “Secret wishes are more precious than hoarded treasures. I wonder how long you’ll be able to hold onto yours.”
Tayel clenched his hand into a fist, shut his eyes, hearing the noise everyone talking, refusing to look back at anyone.
Especially Danyel. Above all, Danyel.