Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Thirteen Now Posted]
Through the months and then years that followed, life came to grow richer and easier for the family. Eventually, venturing out into public became notably less of an ordeal for Jeneth and Azvida; the hostility and blame toward the latter for Grosh’s entering the warren all those years ago finally seemed to have faded into the past, the heightened fear and mistrust brought on by that occurrence no longer immediate and fresh. Young Jeneth, or simply Jen as he liked to be called, was accepted into his place in society readily enough; now old enough to spend time in the snowgrounds, he had met with decent success in making friends among the other snorunt.
As for Solonn, his appearance still inspired something a little short of trust and comfort in most of the people whom he encountered; it seemed that there was just something too fundamentally difficult for many of the Virc about getting used to a hybrid in their midst. Not that it upset Solonn too much, however; he was just as content with the companionship of his family and Zilag’s as he had been for years now. As long as he had their support, he felt no real need for the approval of strangers.
Though he usually paid them visits rather than the other way around—their homes, designed for multiple inhabitants, were a bit better suited for entertaining guests—one or more of them did occasionally show up at his figurative door. Such was the case on this day, when the tapping of a horn against the ice warding his home managed to pull his attention from the helix that he had conjured up from the ice in the middle of the floor. He removed the barrier to find Azvida and Jeneth hovering there, with Jen standing in front of them and looking a bit antsy.
“Ah, hi!” Solonn greeted them warmly. “Come on in.” He cleared the floor of sculptures to provide more room for his three visitors, taking a quick mental snapshot of the ice formations in the hopes of being able to replicate them again once his company left, and moved aside to let the couple and their son into his home.
“Oh, that won’t be necessary,” Azvida told him with a hint of guilt in her voice at the trouble that Solonn had already gone to for their sake. “We’re just dropping Jen off here, if that’s all right—he wants to be taken to the snowgrounds later, but he said he wanted to come see you first.”
“We were hoping you could take him there when he’s ready so that your mother and I can go ahead to the temple. We’re wanting to get there as soon as possible so that we can get back and… try again,” Jeneth said, lowering his voice on those last two words.
Solonn knew exactly what Jeneth meant by that, and he did an admirable job of not letting the fact that he suddenly found the conversation to be rather awkward reach his face. Jeneth and Azvida wanted another child, but they had had even less luck in the endeavor thus far than they’d had the first time around. Their trip to the temple was undoubtedly to once again offer prayers for the gods to change those fortunes, Solonn figured.
“Sure, that’s fine by me,” Solonn said, accepting the babysitting job with which he’d just been landed. He’d had plans for that day, having intended to go up beyond the borders of Virc-Dho to spend some time with his father, but that could wait, especially since it didn’t seem like it’d have to wait long. “I suppose you’ll be picking him from there later?”
Azvida nodded. She then looked down toward Jen. “Be good, all right?” she instructed him. “Remember: I’ll know if you don’t.”
Jen gave her a slightly nervous look. “Okay,” he said. “Bye!”
“Bye,” his parents returned in near-unison, smiling, then departed.
Jen entered the living room proper then, and Solonn restored the ice barrier at the entrance behind him. The snorunt made his way to a spot just a little off the center of the room, stopped there and looked for a moment like he was going to take a seat, but then paused in mid-motion and straightened his posture once more.
There was a distinct look of unease on the snorunt’s face, Solonn noticed, which brought a frown of concern to his own. “Is something the matter?” he asked. He wondered if maybe Jen had figured out somehow that his parents were trying to give him a little brother or sister and if perhaps the snorunt was feeling like they were replacing him or something. Maybe he was seeking confirmation from Solonn that getting a younger sibling wouldn’t really mean the end of the world as he knew it after all.
Or perhaps Jen had mentioned the whole topic of little brothers and sisters to his friends at the snowgrounds, the subject of where such things came from had come up, and he was seeking confirmation from Solonn regarding that matter. Solonn sincerely hoped that that wasn’t the case.
“Well… I need you to do something,” Jen said.
Solonn looked at him with a mixture of puzzlement and relief; somehow Jen’s response didn’t seem to him like anything that would lead into having to explain eggs or anything of that nature. Where it was leading, however, he couldn’t guess. “And what might that be?”
Jen took a deep breath, seeming none too keen on elaborating. Not meeting Solonn’s gaze, “I… did something stupid,” he finally admitted, sounding and looking quite embarrassed.
“Oh… Well… I’m sure it can’t have been that bad…” Solonn said, sitting down.
“It is,” Jen insisted. He shook his head. “Why? Why’d I say that?” he muttered to himself, turning and beginning to pace as he spoke.
Solonn’s eyes briefly followed the snorunt moving in a small figure-eight in the middle of the room. “Well, what did you say?” he asked gently. “And to whom?”
Jen let out a loud, annoyed sigh, though Solonn suspected that Jen was directing the sentiment toward himself. The snorunt managed to get himself to hold still. “I told my friends I could make stuff with ice. You know, like you do. And they said ‘prove it’, and I said I would next time I went over there.” He took another deep breath, then forced himself to look Solonn in the eyes as steadily as possible. “So I need you to come with me and do it for me. Like… hide outside and make things made out of ice appear in there so it’ll look like I’m doing it.”
There was a hint of desperation in Jen’s voice that suggested that he didn’t really have much faith in that plan. Solonn had none in it whatsoever. “Jen… sooner or later, they’re going to figure out that you didn’t mean it about being able to do that… I can’t be there every time you see them.”
Jen finally sat down, his face showing only mild disappointment; apparently he had expected an answer like that one. “And you can’t just show me how to do it,” he said, already having been told long ago that that sort of control over ice was simply outside the scope of a snorunt’s abilities.
Solonn gave a faint, sad sort of smile. “I’m afraid not. I’d be glad to if I could, but… well, it’s just something that you have to find for yourself by really connecting to your element. You’ll be able to do that when you evolve. You’ll feel that connection, and you’ll know when you feel it. There’s nothing else like it.”
“What’s it like?” Jen asked, his head tilted slightly in curiosity.
“It’s…” Solonn began, but found himself almost immediately at a near-loss for words. He tried to describe it, thinking upon the sensation, calling on memories of past experiences with it to study within his mind… and as he did so, he found himself falling into the sensation in the present. The ice on the floor before him answered the unintentional call of those straying thoughts, snaking upward and resuming the helical shape that it had held in that very spot before, with little wispy projections emerging from the main body of the sculpture and another, smaller helix rising up through the center of it.
Solonn only realized after the fact that he’d fallen silent and had shut his eyes; when he opened them again, he saw what he had done and gave a faint, apologetic laugh for letting himself get carried away like that. “Whoops,” he said. “Anyway… there’s really no way I could ever explain just how wonderful it is or what it’s quite like,” he admitted. “And that feeling, that connection… that’s where this comes from,” he told Jen, nodding toward the ice sculpture. “Whenever you connect to the element, this is what can happen.” Maybe it was partly because the experience of being one with the element was so difficult to put into words that these manifestations in ice happened, Solonn mused silently. Maybe this was the only way that he or anyone else of his kind could quite adequately express that connection.
Jen leveled a stare at the ice formation in front of him for a moment. Then he screwed his eyes shut, his brow creasing in concentration. A couple of seconds later, his eyes popped open once more. “…Hey, I think it moved!” he said, gesturing toward one of the thin, branchlike structures growing out of the main helix.
It hadn’t moved an inch, but Solonn didn’t quite have the heart to correct him too bluntly. “Well, one day, you won’t just think you made the ice move. You’ll know when you have.”
Jen made a noise of frustration. “I don’t want to have to wait to evolve to do it, though.” His eyes shifted up to Solonn’s again. “Hey…” he began slowly. “Maybe… maybe I could go ahead and evolve right now. And maybe you could help me.”
“Not unless you want to risk losing your mind,” Solonn told him, his tone serious. “And at your age, I think there’s almost no chance that that wouldn’t happen. Evolving brings a kind of power we have to be ready for, and that takes time. If you get it before you’re ready… it’ll ruin you. You could go insane. You wouldn’t even be able to think of making anything out of ice. And if I helped you go insane, Mother and Jeneth would never forgive me. And I would never forgive myself.”
The light in Jen’s eyes flickered, fading slightly. Whether or not he believed Solonn’s claims about what early evolution could lead to, the glalie couldn’t tell for certain, but Jen did at least seem disinclined to take the risk. The snorunt sighed once again. “What am I gonna do, then?” he asked.
“Well… all you really can do is tell the truth. Again, they will figure it out sooner or later—you should really probably just get it over with.”
Jen looked aside, worry showing through his features. “I bet they’re gonna beat me up for lying.”
“They probably won’t,” Solonn tried to assure him. “They’d better not, anyway. If they even so much as look at you like they want to, they’ll have Mother and Jeneth to deal with.”
That they would, and as he thought about it, he wondered if it might be prudent for Jen to get a chance to tell Azvida and Jeneth about the situation that their son had gotten himself into before confronting the other kids so that they could be ready to defuse any potential problems before they arose. He considered the option of not taking Jen to the snowgrounds and just watching him until his parents could return, postponing the trip up into Shoal Cave to visit his father if such proved necessary.
That would mean that Azvida and Jeneth would be returning to his home after failing to find Jen at the snowgrounds, he realized as this course of action occurred to him, and he could already picture Jeneth’s disapproving stare and hear Azvida chewing him out for giving them a scare, however brief, but he figured—or at least hoped—that things would be fine once he got the chance to explain things to them.
So, “Maybe it would be a good idea to talk with Mother and Jeneth about this before you go and face the other kids again,” he suggested. “Would you rather just stay and wait here for them to come back?”
Jen considered this for a few moments. Then he shuddered. “I don’t want Mom and Dad to find out,” he said finally. “I’m more scared of Mom than I am of the other kids.” He stood then, turning toward the exit. “Come on… let’s go,” he said with resignation in his voice.
“All right,” Solonn said. He rose, unblocked the exit, and escorted Jen out, sealing his home off once more as they left it behind. His half-brother kept silent during the entirety of the trip to the snowgrounds; Solonn didn’t try to provoke him into conversation, suspecting that the snorunt needed to focus fully on steeling himself for his confession.
He lingered at the entrance to the snowgrounds after bidding Jen goodbye there, feeling it prudent to make sure that the other children didn’t react too harshly to what Jen had to tell them. He still didn’t really anticipate too much trouble, but he found himself compelled nonetheless to stick around long enough to confirm that things would be all right. At the very least, he figured that he should be there in a show of support for his half-brother.
Fortunately, the other kids seemed to take the news well enough. There were a couple of groans from among the small crowd in response to it, but they only sounded disappointed, not angry. Solonn heard “I knew it!” out of one of the snorunt and found himself inclined to believe that most of Jen’s friends shared a similar sentiment.
He did see a couple of pairs of their eyes find him, regarding him uneasily. He disliked seeing children looking at him with anything at all like fear and frowned in regret; the snorunt watching him turned away quickly, possibly misinterpreting the look on his face as one of stern disapproval.
Jen met his gaze then, and Solonn gave him a reassuring nod. It’ll be all right, he told Jen silently, and as if to confirm that thought, a change of the subject and enthusiastic joining in on the new topic arose from among the snorunt. Smiling at the fact that the situation seemed to have resolved itself just fine, Solonn turned and went on his way.
Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 06:00 AM.