Cast out by his village and having committed murder, Tallo seeks only release from this world. But Fate has other ideas in mind... The title comes from a line in the poem "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" by Dylan Thomas. All recognizable characters and events belong to Mercedes Lackey. No infringement is intended, and no profit is being made. I've just always wanted to hear the rest of this story, and I'm tired of waiting for someone else to write it. So I did, and now I'm sharing it with anyone who wants to read. Anyway, this isn't supposed to be an epic or anything; this was meant to be a one shot, but it was so long I had to break it into pieces. However, it is finished, and will be posted in its entirety fairly quickly. My goal is to give a fairly decent, somewhat lighthearted interpretation of Moondance and Starwind's early life together. Tell me what you think.
Rated PG-13 for the use of brief, strong language, scenes of intimacy involving a consenting fifteen-year-old, and because attempting suicide is bad.
"The Man in the Wind and the West Moon"
I stood, facing him across the circle. I brought the knife up and toward myself. All I had to do was speak the words, make the gesture, and it was done. There would be no going back… Raising my head I met his eyes, and I knew that already there was no going back. So, I did the only thing I could do.
I killed him.
"Tallo, for the sins you have committed, you stand accused. You used gifts for which you had not received training. You used these gifts to deliberately cause fear in the heart of another for self gain. In doing so, these gifts escaped your control and caused the death of an innocent. Have you anything to say?"
"Very well. The only acceptable punishment for these crimes is death. Step forward and accept your punishment." Standing there, my mind fled backward in time, reliving in the seconds before my death the life that had brought me to this point.
I woke up, slowly. It was pleasantly warm, and for some reason that felt wrong. I blinked up at the ceiling above me. It didn't look like any ceiling I had ever seen before, and a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach told me that this was unlike any other dwelling I had ever been in before. I picked up my right hand and raised it to my face; I couldn't seem to feel my other arm, and for awhile I stared at my right hand to see if it could tell me why this was. It was not being very helpful, but the more I thought about it the more I could feel my left arm. Except… it felt heavy. I frowned. Heavy? Something was wrong… Well, that was brilliant logic. And where was Alik? It was hard to think; my head felt foggy, and trying to push through it to remember the last thing that happened to me was hard. Alik and I were planning on running away… was this it? Had we done it? No, wait… I frowned. I remembered loud voices, discovery, pain… Turning to the side, I looked at my arm and as I did I remembered what I had done to myself, and why. Everything was coming back to me, and I suddenly decided I didn't want to remember.
This decision, however passionately made, came a little late, as it seemed at this point that I didn't have a choice. Unless… This strange room did have a window. I went to it, hoping against hope that I was on a second story, but more realistically I just hoped there was no one watching it. But when I reached the window, what I saw surpassed my wildest expectations. The ground lay so far beneath me that I was dizzy just thinking about it. My heart leapt up in my throat. Perfect… Gripping the frame of the window with my good hand, I managed to get one leg out and onto the small ledge provided by a branch that jutted out from under the floor of the room I had just exited. I might have paused to ask a few questions about architecture, but I really wanted to get this over with before the guilt of what I'd done caught up with the memory of it and I had to live with both of them for even a second. The second leg followed the first one, and I heard the door to the room behind me open. Better hurry up then, I thought to myself, and I closed my eyes and leaned out into the sunshine and the warm breeze, letting go of everything behind me. But my beautiful freefall was destined to be interrupted. As I released the windowsill, a hand reached out and grabbed me by the wrist.
It took a moment for this to register in my still fuzzy mind. I hung there, my entire weight suspended from this stranger's hand. After a moment I could hear a voice that sounded like it was swearing; I started moving upward as he pulled me back in through the window. My lip curled in a feral snarl; before I had even though about it clearly, I reached up with my injured arm and, seizing his arm, I pulled myself up until I was closer. When I got close enough, I sunk my teeth into the hand that held me. I heard him cry out in surprise and pain, but, rather than releasing me as expected, the hand held me tighter. I screamed like a wild thing as I was hauled back in through the window, and I clawed at anything or anyone I could reach. The man that had grabbed my hand was there, and a woman behind him, and someone else, but all I cared about was that I had failed again. I couldn't go on like this! This time it would have worked, too, if he hadn't been there. He still had me by the wrist and he didn't act like he was going to be letting go anytime soon. I went limp in pretended defeat as the people around me conversed in a language that sounded alien to my ears. I could feel the grip on my arm lessening as he let his guard down; at one point he leaned down next to me. He was about to say something, but he had finally released the hold he had on my wrist and I took the opportunity handed to me. My feet were still under me, and I dove for the window almost faster than I could think of doing so.
But he was faster.
I was almost to my freedom when he caught me; his arms going around me this time, hugging me to his chest. "No!" I screamed. "No! You can't stop me! I…" There were tears running down my face now, the first I had cried since I woke up, as I fully remembered what I had done. "I can't… He… I… god…" Whatever I had been attempting to say dissolved completely in tears. All the energy left my body; I relaxed against the arms that held me tightly until they turned me around and I buried my face against his shirt, trying now to drown him as well myself as he lowered us both to the floor and simply held me until my body gave out on me and I fell asleep again.
My eyes opened. I was looking at a wall, no window visible, and even though there didn't seem to be a way for him to know that I was awake, a voice behind me said, "Living is hard. I know that. Even for those of us who do not have such things to bear as you do, it is still difficult. But that does not make it less worth the living."
He fell silent then, as if waiting for a response. There was nothing I could think of that I wanted to say. Except "I'd rather die," and I figured that wouldn't go over too well. I felt I should say "I'm sorry," or something, but I couldn't do it. I wasn't sorry, and false words wouldn't come to my lips. After a few moments he rose and left the room. Raising my head, I looked around. I frowned; there was nothing in the room that I could use. Well, not without making a great deal of noise, and I had no doubts that he was waiting just outside the door. Sighing in frustration, I fell back down on the bed.
Staring at the wall proved to be exceptionally boring. I didn't feel like sleeping. Dragging myself off the bed, I started pacing the room. Maybe if I backed up into a corner and threw myself at the opposite wall... I sighed again. This wasn't going to work. If I wanted to get the chance to pay for what I'd done the right way, I was first going to have to convince these people that I didn't intend to hurt myself. Wait a minute… Who were these people anyway? I sighed yet again and threw myself down on the end of the bed. This proved to not have been the best idea; the impact jarred my arm and woke up a hundred other half healed bruises. I frowned. How long had I been here? How long had it been since…? I touched my forehead; I distinctly remembered a rather large stone, one of the first flung at me, striking me right there and leaving a long, ragged gash. It was gone now, and I could barely feel a scar. A sudden desire to find out something about what had happened to me overrode my preoccupation with what I had done to Alik. I approached the door.
It opened without difficulty. As I had thought, someone was sitting outside. He stood up as I opened the door and I really looked at him for the first time. It was the same man from earlier; his hand was bandaged where I had bitten him. Taking that in, my eyes traveled up his body to his long white hair and the golden skin exposed by his loose, sleeveless shirt. His eyes were a clear, bright blue- an unusual shade. We stood there looking at each other for a long time. Strangely enough, it didn't feel uncomfortable. Finally, he said, "Are you hungry?" I opened my mouth to say no, but my stomach growled loudly, denying any protests I might have made. I blushed, but he just smiled at me. "Come with me." With that, he turned and led the way down the hall.
I followed him.
I followed him past doors to unknown rooms and open windows that called temptingly and past people the likes of which I had never seen before. We went down several flights of stairs, the strange feeling in my stomach I had had since waking disappearing as I came closer to the ground, and eventually we reached his destination. He pushed the doors open onto a virtual paradise.
I stood in that doorway for several minutes, unable to take it all in. The room was huge, and plants grew wildly all through it so that the very air was green with them. There was a pool of water in the center half hidden in the foliage, though the longer I looked at it the more I realized that it was not just one pool but a succession of them, of different sizes and, judging from the amount of steam coming from some of them, temperatures. Suddenly remembering my escort, I turned back to him only to find him looking over a table laden with food. Where had that come from? I was sure I would have noticed it if it had been there as I came in. It and the large white bird perched on the back of one of the chairs. As I cautiously approached, the bird raised its head from inspecting the food and looked at me.
The intelligence in that gaze was unnerving. It was almost as if the creature could see right through me. I had never seen a… what was it exactly? An eagle? No, I didn't think so. My knowledge of birds was very limited. The bird kept staring at me, and I blushed to think that it might know what I was thinking. It made a soft chirruping noise at me and then returned its attention to the table, the food, and the man standing over it. The man… What was his name anyway? Not that it really mattered. But suddenly it did matter to me, immensely.
"What's your name?"
I blinked. Wait. That was what I had just been thinking. But… I wasn't the one who just said that, was I? No, I wasn't. His eyes were fixed on mine, as piercing as the bird's. "What's your name?" he repeated, his voice soft and friendly.
"Tallo," I responded shortly. "What's yours?" I tried to sound casual, but inside I was on fire with the desire to know.
"Starwind," he said easily. "This is Sonrisa." He pointed to the bird when he said this. It trilled and bobbed its head, as if recognizing its name.
"Sonrisa," I repeated. "What is… it?" This earned me a strange look from Starwind. Obviously, it was a bird. I tried to clarify my question. "I mean, what kind of bird is… Is it a he?"
Starwind smiled. It seemed the bird was a good conversation topic. "She," he emphasized the pronoun, "is a gyrfalcon as well as being a bondbird, which makes her slightly different from a regular falcon."
"Bondbird?" What was that supposed to mean?
He chuckled. "I believe it will be easier to explain after you have eaten and bathed." He gestured to the table and then to the pools behind me. "There," he pointed to one, "for washing, and there," he pointed to another, higher pool, "for resting after." He smiled at me. "I will go and find you some clean clothing." I nodded, slightly overwhelmed and suddenly overcome with hunger. I barely noticed when he left, and it was only several moments later that I realized he had left me alone.
Or not. The bird was still sitting on the back of the chair looking at me. It was extremely unnerving, and since I didn't even want to think about what the creature was capable of doing to me if I angered it, I decided to follow Starwind's directions to the letter. After I quieted my complaining stomach, I headed over to the washing pool. I stood beside it for awhile, wondering what exactly I was supposed to do. Just… go at it? I glanced around. There didn't seem to be anyone else here in this enormous room except me and that b… me and Sonrisa. It was creepy, but I could feel the bird's glare soften when I thought her name. Even stranger, I could feel a feeling of assent coming from her; as if what I was thinking about what I was supposed to do was in fact the right thing. Well, why not. I started my undressing with my arm. I unwound the light cloth wrapping and stared down at the angry red line that ran almost the length of my arm. It was only when the tears started falling onto my arm that I realized I was crying. Well shit, I thought, and I started shaking as the tears came more forcefully.
A soft chirruping sound made me look up. Sniffing loudly and wiping at my eyes with the bandage I looked at the bird standing right in front of me. It was standing on the ledge at the edge of the pool that I was sitting on and its head came level with my chest. It was definitely the biggest bird I had ever seen. No…not it. She. "Sonrisa," I whispered. She chirruped at me again, then hopped forward and nudged against my hand. I reached out my fingers and brushed them against the top of her head.
She clucked deep in her throat. :Chick need feel better. Stop hurt self.:
My eyes flew open wide. What! The bird? The idea of mindspeech was not completely foreign to me, but now it suddenly occurred to me that since I woke up I hadn't been hearing things in my head the way I usually did. Hesitantly, for this aspect was slightly more unfamiliar to me, I thought at her, :SONRISA.:
:Ouch.: She emitted a shriek as she jumped back from me. :Chick need learn not talk so loud.:
"I'm sorry!" I held out my hand to her, desperate not to loose the contact. But I should have known- all I ever did was hurt people. Alik… Oh, god, Alik… The tears started again.
"Here now, enough of that." A strong hand cupped my chin and brushed at my cheek. I looked up at Starwind. "Tears solve nothing," he continued, his voice urgent and persuasive. "All you need is to learn control. I can teach you this control. How to master these powers of yours, so that you no longer hurt those around you."
"Control?" I questioned warily, still wiping at my face with the now soggy bandage.
"Yes, control," he repeated, "but first I think you will feel better after you have washed."
I glanced down at the water in the pool I was sitting beside. I hadn't quite gotten to the getting in part. I nodded. However, I was reluctant to continue to disrobe with Starwind there. He seemed to realize this and departed again with an encouraging smile thrown back at me over his shoulder. I managed to get myself undressed and into the water without further incident. The water did feel good, and it eased all the remaining aches out of my muscles. I tried very hard not to think about where those aches had come from, and this proved easier than I had thought. Sonrisa had returned; she sat on a rock across the pool from me and twisted her head upside-down to look at me while making the most unusual chirping noises. Her antics made me laugh and gave me something to think about besides the past.
Towels lay by the side of the pool; I decided Starwind must have left them, dropping them there when he came to comfort me. I blushed slightly. I didn't want to seem like a burden, crying all the time. But it wasn't as if I had asked these people to help me! All I asked of the world was to let me go. For some reason, that seemed to be the one thing it refused to give me. Without my really thinking about it, I was already scanning the room. I could drown myself in the pool, I thought, but frowned. It was too chancy. There were the towels and the clothes I had found and put on; tied together they could make a long enough rope. I had already checked out the table when I got my food- there wasn't anything there sharp enough to serve me.
"Well, feel better?"
Starwind's voice startled me out of my train of thought. I had forgotten about him, and that he would return to check on me. Looking at him I suddenly felt even guiltier. Now I felt guilty about trying to give myself the punishment I deserved for the terrible sin I had committed! I dropped my eyes. I had made no response to his query, but Starwind didn't seem to mind. Watching him from the corner of my eye I saw him look me over. He must have seen what he was looking for because he motioned for me to follow him and said, "Come on then." Sonrisa flew over from where she was sitting and landed on his shoulder- very lightly for such a large bird.
The feel of his eyes upon me filled me with a sudden lust, and that filled me with horror. Had I already forgotten where that led! While I might wish for death, I did not desire to become the target of another angry mob. That guaranteed pain rather than death, and I was not enamored of pain. Nevermind how Starwind himself might feel about it- several times already he'd gone to the trouble of saving my life, and that was how I repaid him! I watched the floor as I followed him, not trusting myself to look at anything else.
The problem with looking at the floor soon revealed itself. Starwind stopped in a doorway and turned to me; not watching where I was going, I ran right into him.