13 June 2014

Durandios & Arista

(unfinished; not sure if/when I'll come back to it)

The god lay under the spread of trees, a roughly woven green cloak cocooned around him so that, should anyone stumble across him, all one might see would be a lumpy sort of sack topped with a fringe of dark hair. Arista approached slowly. As the god’s chief servant, hers was the most difficult job in creation. She would be in trouble if she woke him and in trouble if she didn’t. Bending over him, her long, silver-white hair spilling around her and onto the sleeping figure, she took him gently by the shoulder and shook.

A head popped out of the top of the bundle, and Durandios’ green eyes began to focus. Arista rose to her full height, which was not inconsiderable and was enhanced by her thin frame.

All Ninatat looked alike, all having been carved from the same slab of silver, but Durandios knew each one by name and by sight. And he recognized Arista, certainly, who had been his attendant since he’d first breathed life into her. His attendant and his bane.

“What?” the god groused.

“You’re sleeping outside again,” Arista pointed out.

Durandios snorted, and Arista sighed. They had been together long enough that she was often frank with him, and though his tongue could be sharp, he wasn’t generally unkind.

“Please, let’s go back to the Realms,” said Arista. She often requested this, for herself as much as for Durandios, and sometimes he’d even do it, if only for a few days.

But not today. “No.” He kicked his feet free of the cloak and fumbled into a sitting position, looking up at her like a stubborn child.

“Then come to the house at least.”

Durandios was looking around him as if he’d never seen this place before, the trees, the clearing Arista had crossed to get to him. There was a river to the west; she could hear it chatter. No birds, though, she realized suddenly. The forest around them was silent.

Durandios thrust a hand up, a signal for Arista to help him to his feet. He wasn’t as tall as her, although he was nearly. She frowned at the cloak, which was covered in dirt and grass, a few leaves. Unbecoming to a god. Her own robes fairly glowed, and Arista felt a pang of guilt that she outshone her creator.

“Ah!” Durandios had passed her to walk ahead of her, and he held up a warning finger. “You know better than that.”

“We’ll get you clean when we get to the house, dress you in—”

Durandios turned, walking backwards with no loss of speed. “I’ll put on jeans.”

Arista groaned.

Jeans did not exist in AElit. And jeans would not exist in any other part of the world for thousands of years. But they were his favorite thing to wear at home, where no one would see him.

His wearing jeans meant they wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while. In the Realms, holy robes were required. And on the small, pastoral island of AElit, one would dress as Durandios was now in a cloak and tunic, breeches and sandals.

It wasn’t long before Moka Durand came into view, the higher walls rearing above the trees and its stone made white by the gleaming sun. It had the look of a monastery. There was even a bell tower, although Arista wasn’t sure why because they never rang the bell.

“Are you hungry, Ninano?” Arista asked.

“Not really.” He had turned around again, and they pushed through the little iron gate that marked the boundary of the estate. As if a god had limits to what he could take if he wanted to.

The path was straight and paved with stones. On either side marched the low hedges of a garden that flared out and around the house. The hedges formed a little maze that incorporated benches and fountains. Arista had designed it, and as far as she knew, Durandios didn’t even know it was there.

The mazes at the front of the house had low enough hedges to see one’s way through, but the maze Arista had created at the back was much more difficult. The hedges there were nine feet high. It was not a place to go for an idle walk. Durandios did not walk there, either; instead he tended to venture off the grounds and fall asleep beneath trees until Arista came for him. It was happening more and more frequently, and Arista had started debating (when alone, of course) whether to tell Tithendion.

But to tell Tithendion, Arista had to get to Argyros. And even when they did go to the Realms, they almost never went to Argyros.

Arista didn’t think there had been a falling out between Durandios and his father; she knew her lord too well to honestly think such a thing could be hidden from her. But the two of them had never been close. It was no secret in any of the Realms that Tithendion adored his son (and hated Durandios’ twin sister, but then, who didn’t); however, Durandios seemed to have very little affection for anything to do with the Realms.

Perhaps he’d been made too well. Tithendion had created Durandios to care for the world, to breathe life into it and keep it going. What concern of Durandios’, then, was the heavenly host? Aside from having made the Ninatat, of course.

It wasn’t the first time Arista had gone through these mental paces. If Durandios heard her thoughts about him—and he always did—he didn’t seem to care.

And if Arista had a heart, she was sure it would be broken.

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