Mentioning Gwenaelle, Brennan and Others
Spring, Year 762 of the New Age
Glenmore, Gwen’s Grave
“Good morning, Sunshine,” the sable stag said with a sad smile, looking down on the small mound, and the arrangements of rocks that marked it as a royal’s grave. “The boys are doing well. Bó says they’re feeding well, and if they keep it up they’ll be big and strong in no time. Fae is due soon, she’ll be able to help, I’m sure.” He glanced to two much smaller graves not too far from Gwen’s, one marked as a duke’s and the other marked as a Prince’s. BóAnn only had enough milk for the twins because they had no other fawn to share it with, both a blessing and a curse.
Hanging his head low, he looked away from the smaller graves and back to Gwen’s. “They’re starting to play. Aveline is trying to teach them about butterflies but mostly they just want to chase them. I think she might be encouraging to lick slugs but I’ve yet to catch her at it.”
He sighed, his tone saddening. It had been half a dozen days since the golden doe’s death, and though the initial pain was fading, he did not think he would ever stop missing her. He still missed Brennan. “I wish you were here,” he whispered. “... I miss you.”
The solemn stag fell silent, simply standing by the grave. Tears did not come - he had spent so many he wasn’t sure he had any left - but there was no mistaking the loss that he felt written into his every feature. Scarlet
It had been a matter of simply avoiding the place for her. Not because she had some tiny hope that the grave would be empty, but because she didn’t want to see the sight again. Surely a grave for a lady would be different from one for a commoner, but they would share the same content; a loved one. A golden friend with an easy mind that she shouldn’t actually love, everything considered, yet did. A friend who, despite being so different from herself, had become someone she held so dearly.
Yet, despite that she was almost there. She could have avoided it for longer, postponed the pain that would inevitably come, but giving it time to grow would only make it that much harder and hurtful when she finally did do it. It didn’t make it easy though; she had stopped more times than she cared to count and wanted to turn around, go back, every single time. Despite that she had come closer and closer until she had ducked under that one branch, expecting the place to be empty due to the hour, but finding that it was not.
The scarlet doe froze on the spot, the branch digging into her neck. Drustan was standing in front of the grave, talking to it. She recognized the tone he used; she had used it herself back then. Biting the innerside of her lip she forced herself to stay silent and kept her eyes dry as she had a relapse of wanting to turn back; she had an excuse now, an escape. If she did it though, then she would not be able to return to here again. She had used all that she had to get here; she had to do it now or she would never be able to.
She didn’t want to interrupt his sacred time, for he was surely mourning as much as her at least, but she wished to be here too and had to allow herself to show that weakness for once. She waited till he fell silent before making her move though. Stepping into the grass she gently let her magic flow so that it could speak for her when her own voice would only fail her.
A single vine would sprout and gently curl, letting the sable stag know that he was not alone.Drustan
His dry emerald eyes flicked to the movement between his forefeet, and the corner of his mouth twitched in the ghost of a smile. He would recognise those vines anywhere. At least for once they were not trying to tangle his legs.
Drawing a deep breath, he lifted his head and turned. Sure enough, the red doe stood not far away, a somewhat hesitant expression on her face. Ignoring the restrained habit he usually favoured around her - he knew how she detested him sharing her personal space - he quietly walked over. Whatever protest she might have, he was deaf to it, and he draped his head over her neck in a firm embrace.
It didn’t mean anything other than what it was. He needed comfort, and she needed comfort. Feeling alone was something he didn’t think either of them really needed. Regardless of how standoffish she could be, and how often she’d pushed him away, there was no reason she didn’t need a hug just as much as he did.
“I’m sorry, Scarlet,” he murmured, not letting go, “I’m so sorry.”Scarlet
A few days ago she would have pushed him off, made him go away or gone away herself. A few days ago they weren’t mourning, so whatever she would have done back then didn’t really matter now. It did not mean she leaned into his embrace or returned it though, for she was still who she was. She was still the doe refusing to do such an act of friendship and care; well, refusing when it came to everyone besides those chosen few. The sable stag was not amongst them. However she did not lean away either, did not make the smallest protest. Instead she simply stood there, her body frozen up ever so slightly. It wasn’t what she had wanted, but it was what she had needed
She heard him murmur, but she did not return it. Her voice would still falter her if she tried to say anything and if her strongest asset first caved in, then she would not be able to hold things in.
Slowly, but surely, she fell into his embrace though. She softened up, even if she still did not lean into it. As soon as it happened it seemed to be more than she could bear though; more forcefully than intended she strode forward, making her way out of his embrace, no matter if he made an attempt to keep her in it or not. She could only hope that he understood that it had nothing to do with him, but simply with how she dealt with things. She was an open found in these times; it was good to hold, but do it just a bit too tight and it would hurt too much.
The scarlet doe stopped in front of the grave marked with stones. There was a bit of decoration here and there, but it felt void to her. She might lay here, but this wasn’t her place. It didn’t have her life, her childish excitement and wondrous way to look at the world.
It didn’t even have a garden phlox.Drustan
Any other time he might have been pleased that she at least let him steal a hug, but his mind was on Gwen, too full of grief to be thinking about joy. She did pull away after a short time, but he did not protest. He let out a heavy breath that might have been a sigh, and he turned to stand beside her at the grave.
Leaning down he gently nudged one of the stones back into position by a matter of millimeters. He could easily use his magic to settle the soil underneath it, but there was nothing else he could think of that would be worse on concentrating on the ground that buried his golden mate. He’d already buried her, he did not want to remember the feeling of pushing soil over her body.
He shivered as the memory came back regardless, and he shifted his weight closer to Scarlet. At least if she complained he was too close it would give him something else to think about.
“I didn’t want her to feel alone,” he muttered, antlerless head hanging, eyes never leaving the mound of soil. “I hope... I hope she isn’t alone. I hope she found Brennan... and Orik.” He glanced briefly to the other graves. With a family as large as his own, one might think he wouldn’t notice as much when one of them was gone. But in actual fact it just meant he had more to lose, and with each of these three deaths he’d lost a part of his heart with each one.Scarlet
The doe looked in silence as the sable stag pushed repositioned the stone. As he spoke of hoping that she had found Brennan and Orik, her eyes wandered for a moment to the other graves. She had never come to know Brennan, so she felt no sadness at his death besides that of sympathy for the others. He had been a loved fawn as far as she had come to understand, even if he had been somewhat sickly. Orik was the same case for her; sympathy for those who grieved him, but she felt void of emotion when it came to his death and was to a degree confused as to why the loss was grieved as it was. It was sad to lose a fawn, she couldn’t deny that, but no one had ever known Orik. He had never taken a breath, never made his first bleat, never done anything. He had been dead from the beginning, so how could they really be sad?
“I don’t think anyone is alone after they join the king in the sky,” she said quietly, forcefully keeping her voice from trembling. She returned her focus to the largest grave for a moment. Her eyes then wandered to the sky before she shook her head; if he really had a kingdom up there like her mother had said he had, which could hold all those whom had died, then one could only wonder why he didn’t just bring everyone up there and let them forgo all the suffering in their own kingdom.
Whether her friend had found company in the heavens or not, did not change that her grave was without the splendid it deserved. She could have asked him, could have taken him into council as to what should adorn the grave of the golden doe, but she didn’t. If she wished to gift her friend something, even when she was dead, then it was up to her to choose what she wanted to give. Taking a step forward she let her magic flow without saying a word. It wiggled through the earth, sending shoots and buds up through the ground. Some grew tall, others stayed low to the ground. Some sprouted colourful flowers, while other let their leaves unfold to give them a lush, green background. A few brought sweet scents to the area, but most simply lightened it up like the golden doe could light up the day.
It wasn’t perfect, far from, but at least it was something.Drustan
Simply watching the pensive doe, he could only guess what she was thinking. She was difficult to read at the best of times, but it was obvious that she missed Gwen too. There was a disturbance of magic in the earth, and the sable stag dropped his gaze to watch the flowers bloom. He could feel her magic work, forming the flowers and leaves, but he struggled to understand how she did it. He never had been able to produce flowers reliably, or work with any genery in general, yet most Glenmores had a knack for it yet not for soil and stone.
“She would have liked these, Scarlet.” The stag smiled sadly at the display, put one hoof at the foot of the grave and managed to will one single flower into existence - a dandelion - the only magic he could manage until he discovered the art of forming soil and stone a few years ago. “I never could grow flowers like the rest,” he murmured. “Things are changing, but in times like these my magic does not create anything beautiful and tender to bring a smile to anyone’s face. In times like this, sometimes I feel all my magic is good for is burying those I love.” He added, staring blankly at the beautiful array of flowers that now adorned Gwenaelle’s final resting place. Scarlet
“I know…” she said quietly and with an absent mind; it was more a reflex than a thought-through response. She simply stared at the flowers, waiting as if something magnificent would happen if she simply stared long enough. As always nothing did though; nothing changed and instead her eyes grew tired. They started to burn, both from straining of the stare and from the emotions she locked within. She should just cry, she knew that, but that didn’t make it any easier. She might have cried had he not been there, although there was no reason for her to hide it from him; he had seen her at her worst, her weakest, and had asked her not to bear the weight of everything and share it with others instead. If there was anyone she should cry in the presence of, then it was him, yet she still held them back and simply blinked the pain away.
As he spoke again her head jolted just a tiny bit in weird surprise. In some way she hadn’t expected him to say more. She listened though and found that she turned her attention to him. “Beauty is relative.” She wasn’t entirely sure why that mattered. “And in times like these, we don’t need beauty and smiles as much as we might think… we need strength and unity…”
Closing her eyes, she turned her head away and let her focus fall back on the flowers… let it fall back on staring. She stayed silent for a few moments, before she then suddenly spoke; it almost surprised herself. “But… if you want to make beauty, then… then…” She sighed; she could debate her heart out, but she couldn’t soothe others’ with words. “There’s room for more. I… I can try and guide you or… or… you can make some of it last… I don’t know…”Drustan
The stag simply nodded, not knowing the words. He wanted nothing more than to give Gwen a final gift, that wasn’t her grave. His emerald eyes looked to Scarlet, hope and loss in equal measures shining there. “Show me,” he murmured, summoning his magic and gently offering it to her like an outstretched muzzle.
He’d never shared his magic this way with anyone except his princesses, and he wasn’t sure what to expect. Scarlet had no light, his magic wasn’t drawn to her, but he could still feel something
. He wondered for a moment if she would respond - he knew from experience how close you felt to the other when you combined magic - and Scarlet was not the sort to initiate contact. The fact she had offered still stunned him, but he knew not to question it.
The twining of magic was like the twining of tails, being able to feel the other so close yet still being your own entity. It was intimate in a way, and a sign of trust. If she were so inclined she could take the proffered magic and use it against him before he could react. She was faster with her magic than him, and had proven before that she would not hesitate to use it if he broached the barrier she’d set up around herself. But he trusted her, he pushed his magic close enough to hers to touch it, and the sensation was surprising. It was green, tangled and strong like vines, not anything the soft almost water-like light magic of the princesses.
She had strength in the plants around them, in the vines and the flowers, and he wished he could spend hours looking through her depths but they had a purpose. He hoped she would not shy away, as she had pulled away from his physical embrace earlier, but perhaps she would see the trust he put in her and extend it to him. Scarlet
Her ear closest to him flicked in response to his words, showing that she heard him. She said nothing though, finding no need; she had offered and he had taken. If he gave something back, then it would only be natural to accept it.
Entwining her magic with another one’s was not something completely new for the red doe; she had stretched it out to help Isobell in the past and had in the past year let her magic guide Dorn’s. However that had been different. Neither were strong in magic, so she could push and drag as she deemed fit, keeping them close, yet also at the distance she felt comfortable with. If needed she could push them off and take over or drag them along, letting them feel the experience without really having to do anyone. She could not do that with him and she knew it.
Yet she still committed to it before her mind had its word on the matter.
Tentatively at first she reached out for his magic and found barren stones where she expected fertile soil; his magic was heavy, so much unlike the frail one of Isobell or the blossoming of Dorn. It confused her, but she stood by it regardless and attempted to guide it. She could not use her vines and roots to give support when hardly nothing could grow, so at first it became a panicked attempt at molding his magic instead. However she found only unwanted results; she could crush the stones, make them to dust, but she could not force them into the shape of a flower and so she quickly retreated, fearing what could happen if she pushed too far.
Holding only the frailest of connections she pondered what to do and found only one answer; she would have to dig into his magic and uncover what had been hidden so long ago. She did not wish to do it, she did not even know if he did, but some things you had to do for the right person… for the right friend
Reaching out again, she let her vines dig into the stones, searching for what had to be underneath. It was an careful act, a gentle search, and soon she reached what she sought to find: the ground that had given life to dandelions but nothing more. After that it became a soft, yet forceful, act of pushing away the stones and keeping them away so that an opening was made; one which could give life to so much more. It would only keep open for as long as she kept it that way, but it should be more than enough.
Whether it was flowers he wanted Gwen to have or simply whatever he could come up with, the scarlet doe could not tell, she only knew it was none of her doing when more flowers bloomed on the grave in front of them. They grew larger and stronger, colourful and sweet-smelling, for every moment. Eventually a little dandelion showed itself too and she could not help but think that that one might not have been intended.
And only now, when she had to do nothing but hold, did she feel the closeness, the trust and intimacy she usually strayed from, and for once she found that she did not actually mind.Drustan
It was a curious sensation, her magic was like a fawn trying to push and harry him along but met with a weight she could not hope to shift alone. Trying to guess at what she wanted, he moved his magic in the direction she was suggesting but it felt strange and uneasy, like taking a path he had never set foot on and wasn’t entirely sure where it came out.
Her persistence paid off when she found a gap in his magic and worried her way inside to dig out what she wanted. Suddenly he felt not just the soil and stone, but the life of the plants before him. Gasping, he worked with her as they nurtured and encouraged the blooms, growing and strengthening them, together.
His senses were full of the sight and scent of flowers, and when Scarlet ceased needing to guide him, he took a deep breath and held onto the memory of what they had accomplished. He hoped the long-buried magic she had unearthed would remain. Flowers and blooms were not useful as a King, but as a father and mate they were one of the most important tools towards happiness. “Rest in peace, Sunshine,” he murmured.
Drustan slowly released his magic, letting it fade back inside him, and gently unfurled it from Scarlet’s. For once, he noted, he was the first to pull away. He opened his eyes and set them on the russet doe with a contented smile. “Thank you, Scarlet,” he bowed his head, glancing to her feet. With more concentration that he dared admit to, he summoned just a little power and shaped the thought of it into a bloom. To his surprise, it worked, and a small scarlet flower on a green vine emerged from the soil and curled at her forehooves. Huffing, he hadn’t a clue what the name of the plant was, but it seemed to suit her. Scarlet
There was no resistance when he withdrew his magic, but neither was there the feeling of it being pushed away, for Scarlet felt content. It hadn’t overwhelmed her, but neither was she left feeling empty and thus she did not cling to the feeling. In the back of her mind there even was a tiny thought about how she wouldn’t mind trying to guide him again.
At first she did not notice the small flower, as she now looked at the blossoming grave, but soon she sensed it. Perhaps because she had just touched his magic or simply because she was somewhat sensitive to other using magic around her; regardless it ended in her looking down at her hooves. At first she couldn’t figure out what it was, but the moment it flowered she knew; it was a tiny scarlet mosmer, the very plant she was named after. It brought back memories, for as much as she was named after it, it was the flower of her parents.
Looking back at him, she smiled weakly, but sincerely. “Thank you too, Drustan,” she said, fighting a knot in her throat, which had been brought on by… well… everything really. She was finally letting go and having already thrown caution to the wind once, she decided she could do it again. She no longer had a reason not just do it and so, with a slightly sudden move, she was the one to initiate an embrace and found herself leaning into it ever so lightly. Finally she was accepting that as much as she wanted to deny it, she did need his support, regardless of how much she might have loathed the thought in the past.
He might not have meant to grow it and he definitely didn’t know the meaning of it, but it did not lessen what it meant to her.