"Liars, the both of them!" her stubborn mutter was lost in the darkness of the night. Simple clouds overlay a dark blanket of sparkly stars and hid the moon away behind what appeared to be a grey tuft of fluffy cotton that drifted above her. Reflecting it to the fairly calm waters of the salty surf in front of her.
She inhaled, salt tinged the air when she did. It was nice. Easy, predictable. Unlike all else it seemed. The air did not harbour ill wishes or tried to spin make belief that shattered like a mirror into a thousand pieces when the truth popped up, dropping the mirror on the stones. All the fragments of that shattered mirror felt like all the lies weaved into a lifetime of untruths. And her mother was the biggest liar of them all!
Cian had no clue where to begin unravelling this network of untold truth when it came to her mother. It wasn't as if Sivh had not slipped before.
Liars, liars, all of them!
It sounded like a mantra, repeating itself within the confined space of her skull, pressing against the darkest spot in the back of her head. Well, maybe not the darkest spot, but dark enough. Especially since it bordered against the door in the wall where all of her unwanted and cramped up left-over stuff was hidden. Things she didn't want to deal with. The dark place seemed larger than before, and Cian wondered if it had to do with the pile of mess she felt she was drowning in.
For now it was all safely tugged behind a thick imaginary brick wall that she pulled up, coated in heavy spells. Just to feel safe. To conveniently be forgotten. Warded with runes and locked down under the thrall of enchanted spells, stamped upon its foundation to keep everything in, and her out.
Cian let her mind roam over the word. She didn't know any magic like that, did she?With the current turn of events she wasn't so sure anymore.
When she stood scolding her mother earlier that evening, Sivh confirmed everything she did not wish to hear. Her mother stood with her arm around that man's waist, leaning against him as she nodded at everything Cian spat her way. Confusion hit her like one of Basalts heavy blacksmith hammers colliding with its counterpart, the anvil, when Sivh did not deny anything. Nor did she counter or try to talk it straight. Which surprised her. It still rung in her ears.
Cian tried to wrap her head around the multitude of lies Sivh had weaved to keep up the charade of her father's death. She kept it up for so long that she sounded totally sincere in her grief when she told Cian about the man that was her father and that she lost him in battle. When Cian growled in anger that she should have been honest, all Sivh said that covering up the truth had been a necessary lie. When Cian asked why Indaris's vague answer was that the circumstances had been dire and dangerous for him as Arveim.
Or whatever he wished to call himself?
She didn't care in the end. Did not really wish to hear it. It was too much. Too raw to take in. Too much of a grey area.
What it mostly did was make her furious, again.
"LIES! All of it! Liars, all of them!" she called out to them. The expression on Sivh's face had been one of remorse. Her lips pushed together so tightly that they were only a thin line when she looked so furiously at her mother. Cian stormed off in her anger. Again...
Anger and scowls. That seemed to be her expression of late.
Now she ended up on the dim lit beach with its light brown sand. Setting herself down on a small hill covered with new grass that started growing again now the Legion no longer polluted the lands. At least for that she could smile. Tiny starts of new life sprouting from the soil in all areas was a good thing. Now the Broken Isles only had to deal with its current inhabitants. And Cian hoped that she would see more changes in the scenery over time. It would be nice to see the ancient forests of Val'sharah repopulate its trees and grow back into its original thick and lush state.
But she had not ended up here to muse over new life. She was feeling the unease of things she could not grasp. Mostly the why of it.
The soft sound of the waves in front of her beckoned her. Inviting her to come and dip her feet in the cold salt water where she could forget what had happened for the moment. Walk bare foot through the surf. Feeling the sand between her toes.
Instead she sat there, a nocturnal creature like all of her kind, slumped in a sitting position. Knees pulled up to her chin and arms wrapped around them, pondering the majority of the things she could understand.
Her thoughts went over old memories. From long before the Broken Isles. From before she was who she was now. She met a lot of liars over time. Persons who got so up close under her skin that she never saw it coming. Too naive? No!
Cian shook her head. Not too naive, just not paying enough attention. Too occupied was more the phrase.
Some of those people were worse than others. Some transparent enough to give away subtle hints of what they were about to do. Like looking her straight in the eyes, lying through their teeth. It made her furious. Some were not worth mentioning, like Firea...she grunted an unladylike sound for thinking about the woman at all. She disliked that one with a passion!
She did not sound any better than her own mother right now. Feeling they were both rotten to the core. Yeah, all of them!
Was her whole family like that? Did she seriously not see the hints that were spilled when all these untruth's were taking root and formed a story that was not even real. Making her believe things that she grieved over were really there. What was the fun in such lies?
Everything was out of perspective. Cian wondered why it riled her so much. Sivh done it before, keep the truth from her. She wondered what else her mother had conveniently forgotten to tell her over the years.
There was probably a whole damned list!
Cian clamped her face between her hands and bend her neck forwards, feeling the long tangle of messy silvery curls drop around her like a wild curtain of untamed vines. Fingers rubbing her temples, feeling the broken pattern of scars on her skin that came around from the left side and marred part of her eyelid, running over her cheekbone down to the sideline of her jaw. They were faint by now, but still there if she touched her face. Vald had tried to heal it as best he could, but some scars - he told her- could not be fixed.
Perhaps like some people could not be honest?
"Treacherous family," she muttered to the silence of the night.
"And what about you? Ciel? Are you not part of that very family?"
The voice that drifted from the forest edge that bordered the sand of the beach towards the dark even water she looked out on, startled her beyond anything. Cian's head snapped up, the tangled mess of hair falling in front of her face, only leaving her nose poking out and her right eye to stare out from between the uneven strands.
She nearly jumped up when she heard Duvall appear out of his stealthy movement. How the hell did he always manage to creep up on her?
The dark shade of blue on his skin seemed different at night, lit up with faint glowing arcane runes that shimmered over his skin, then they vanished again. She watched him with caution. The slender build of the rogue clad in a dark leather outfit was a sight on its own. He looked agile, lean and fast. The hidden array of knifes neatly tugged away in his leather belts and holders that crossed over his chest. She looked angry. He did not ask for an invitation, he just sat himself down next to her.
Their shoulders brushed when he moved. She grumbled.
Reminding her that here was another one of the people that disturbing her to a level that she knew she had to deal with him at some point. How many lies had he try to feed her? Did he try?
She sucked in her breath when he seemed to watch her. Silently giving her notice of that talk she had been postponing. But here he was.
"What do you want?" she bit his way. He did not seem surprised to hear the bitter tone in which she talked.
Cian stared up into his angular face. Duvall had high cheekbones with a straight nose that had changed over the time she got to know the rogue. His face was fuller and he looked far healthier then he had before. Now he no longer was turning into one of those damned ones. She could see he must have been handsome once. Perhaps long before he wasn't eaten away by the burden of an arcane addiction so bad that it consumed him and the rest of his people, turning them into an eternal starving looking carcass that fitted right in with the forsaken.
Doomed leftovers of their former glory days.
Even so he still had a certain appeal sitting there next to her, totally at ease with himself from the looks. She would never admit to him he always startled her to a certain degree, especially when he appeared out of nowhere.
"Did I say it out loud?" she asked instead, turning the awkward silence between them to use. He slowly nodded.
"You tend to do that without noticing," he mentioned. She shrugged, then lowered her gaze to her hands. Looking at fingers she had been clasping together in such a tight way that she could feel the protest of her muscles as she unclenched the cramped position.
"So they are all liars?" Duvall reminded her. Cian tipped her chin up to look at him. Even seated he was not entirely at eyelevel with her. She did not answer him, instead rolled her shoulders to get the annoying kinks out from the muscles in her shoulders.
"They are," she confirmed eventually. The lit up mix of purple and pink hues of his eyes assessed her in silence.
"And you? Are you not a liar too?" Duvall asked. He sounded so casual that it took her a moment to realise exactly what he was saying. Her mouth opened, gaping at him, then she closed it again. Her eyebrows rose, then she frowned. The frown deepened with the subtle muscles moving, bunching up right on top of her nose bridge, pulling the skin in wrinkles that creased her eyes in a different angle. Pulling her eyebrows tight together. Tipping her nostrils up in a way that gave her an incredulous expression when she stared at him in disbelieve.
"No?" She countered him, the lie instant. Why did that bother her?
"Really? Because I think you are a liar too. Or a grand master of denial at best," he smiled, satisfied when he saw her mouth open again when the impact of his words hit home. Cian didn't say anything, she inhaled sharply without a sound. He could see the rise of her upper body as she did so. Tiny movements he was attuned to observe in others.
"I think you have been lying to yourself so much that you forgot that there was no actual truth in some of your own actions either. Basically you are as bad as you claim your mother is," he sounded very serious about it. Cian blinked, exhaling slowly. Her nostrils flared out wider when she released her frown.
It took her awhile before she talked. Considering his words.
"And exactly how does that make me a liar?" she eventually asked, jumping around the subject of her being one too. He smiled again. Hints of merit showed on his features when the moon broke through the clouded sky above them. Just for a brief moment before his features were dipped in shadows again.
"Do you really wish to know what I think? Ciel?" He asked her, trying to get her to look his way. She didn't. She said nothing, but the way her hands clasped together again and her shoulders dipped in a certain way told him more than words could. He laughed softly.
"Ciel, my dear, you are making things so hard for yourself," he murmured. She flinched, hearing him say the nickname Vald had given her. It didn't sound right when he said it. It didn't suit the tone of his voice and it didn't have the ring to it that it held whenever Vald used it. Vald could say it in a variation of different ways, making it sound teasing, lazy, angry, happy or even surprised. Hearing it from Duvall reminded her mostly that she chose Vald instead of taking his invitation during the Love is in the Air festivity.
Ignoring that day was good! Denial at its best.
Admitting that to herself turned it into a truth that told her she had indeed been lying to herself in a way, just like he said. She silently cursed that thought.
"Do you want to hear my take on it?" He sounded neutral when he dropped the question her way. Cian thought for a moment. Staring towards the small waves running up the sand before they retreated. It was a welcome distraction when she averted her gaze from him.
"I see you do not. But maybe you will either way if I tell it to you anyway. Call it unasked advice from a friend, because I think you need this," he said gently, suddenly sounding so much more older and ancient then she was. He let her stare awhile longer into the shining salt water that only mildly wrinkled around. Churning small circles and then smoothing out again to a calm mirror of dark water.
"Sometimes people do things that do not sit well with the ones they love. People make excuses for the actions that hurt others. Trying to justify what they did. Because sometimes you cannot control it. No matter what you choose to do. You cannot really avoid the outcome, but you can do damage control. And I think your mother tried to do damage control over the years, in silence. Perhaps hoping she could ease the blow of the truth a bit when the time was right to tell you the whole story," he said. She bit her lower lip, listening to him as he continues speaking.
"But ever since you came here you have been angry and unreasonable. Swirling around in that anger like a whirlwind. You became bitter for some reason. And I think I get why. Too much happened to you the past years from what I gathered. I think even Basalt will agree with me on that part. From what I understood over the past year talking to your brother and your oldest child gave me a whole different impression of you then who you are now. Am I close? Does that bother you?"He asked, not expecting an answer when there remained an awkward silence between them.
She pressed her lips together, turning her head, ready to tell him off in a snappy comment that he had no business talking to her family. Especially not to Allium for whatever reason he thought made it right. When he continue, not allowing her to explode at him in anger. Cunning bastard!
"Allium told me how Basalt agreed to fly Thiandis, herself and Arrel here. And why she did it. She is far wiser then she lets us know, your daughter. Basalt told me in what state you were found when he finally tracked you down. How they grieved you in a way when they thought you were dead. Much like you did your father?" He reminded her. She shrugged. She didn't really want to hear it, well, yes and no. Denial and untruth in one.
"The current Cian does not live up to the Cian they used to know," he told her.
"Sometimes so many things happen in such a short amount of time that a person cannot deal with it all without going a little off balance. And I think you have been walking a very thin line between tripping and trying to juggle whatever was thrown your way as best you could. Stubbornness runs in your family it seems," he smiled at that. She nodded in silence.
"Stubbornness is not a very appealing trait anymore when you keep bouncing against the same wall over and over, is it? It makes you bitter when you cannot coax all the mess into something useful or push it onto the right path. I know a little about that myself. Being unable to live with what was thrown my way. I am not here because I am such a welcome addition to my own people," he didn't sound bitter when he added that to the question he left hanging in the air for her.
Cian's eyelids narrowed, wanting to deny it. She stared back at him. Knowing he was right.
"This isn't who you are, is it? Allium told me a little about you from before the Broken Isles. How you used to be. So different." It wasn't a question, but a confirmation from his side that he was well informed and that he could read her very easily when she sighed.
More silence between them.
"Am I that transparent? Are you telling me I should just forgive and forget?" Cian's voice sounded small when she asked him. "No, not forgive and forget, but perhaps hold less of a grudge, take advice from others sometimes. Learn from it. You might want to talk to your daughter sometimes, Ciel, she has quite a cunning mind for her age from what I learned. Intriguing young lady, stubborn like her mother," he smiled gently. Cian seems uncertain.
"Let's just say that becoming bitter to your surroundings hardens you in a way that helps you survive. I get that. I have been doing it myself for a long time. But sometimes you forget who you were. Not because you want to forget, but because it just happens. It slips. Like your mother. Sivh was probably so caught up in keeping up the fable they created around your father, that she easily forgot the initial lie caused a far heavier impact then she probably wanted. And you, my dear," he said it in a low tone,"-do the exact same thing. You are every bit your mothers daughter in that regard too from the way I look at it." She gave him a gloomy look. Instead he took her hand, squeezing long slender fingers clad in leather gloves and entwined them with hers for a moment.
"It is not entirely wrong, nor is it entirely right. But it is how one responds," he looked at their hands. "Just think about it, because like you, I think your mother- too- might have been in a very difficult position when it came to your father. Maybe you should hear their side of the story first before you judge them," he finally told her.
He let go of her hand when Cian looked sideways at him. Duvall leaned his long legs in front of him, digging his heels in the sand under him as he seemed to carve holes in the fine structured grains. He seemed to observe her, taking in her features after what he just told her. Then he moved, gracefully like Dusk. A predator stalking its prey.
Duvall's hand went for her face when he leaned closer. Gracefully cupping one of her cheeks, the other whipping away the strands of hair that covered her face. Pushing them behind her ears with a gentle effort.
She stiffened, her shoulders squared as she felt herself grow rigid. He all but smiled when he felt her sudden change. A sad smile curving his lips when he let her face go and tilted his head to the side to watch her more closely.
"In other times," he mused. The smile faded as if he was reminded of a moment lost in time to him. She stared back at him, wondering exactly how many years he had on her. Being cooped up within that dome for a near ten thousand years made him the way he was, she figured. Though Cian could not even phantom the magnitude of what that must have been like.
"Even in other times, I think Vald would have always been in your way," she said softly, telling him this way that she finally made a choice that specific night. He nodded in understanding.
"Ah, yes," she heard him say as he clicked his tongue. She held her breath for a moment.
"I'm glad you finally made a choice though. Albeit I would have wished it were different. I know Vald has been trying to help you, but perhaps you can try giving the people that care about you a little bit of that Cian you used to be? Ease the burden by looking at it together and you might find it is less horrible to admit you can use their help then to lie to yourself and tell everybody you can handle it all on your own when you really can't. In due time that will consume you. Like something else once consumed me. Don't go that way, my dear," he sounded regretful when he said it.
She watched him stand up with an easy grace to his person that she could never match. Probably because there were thousands of years between them. In both training and abilities.
"Thank you," she said softly.
"I hope you will consider my advice, it comes from a kind heart." He bowed to her, a formality of old. Then he vanished with a chuckle on the night, sliding into his stealth and blended with the shadows where she could no longer see him.
She glanced at the water in front of her, a black sea of slight movement. Making up the balance in her mind of all of the current events.