Thursday, December 10, 2009

1 - Icy Letters

Welcome to the re-launch of Kyrus Talain.  Things are being re-done and re-shuffled.  Let me know if you you think the name works or if I should re-think it.

I shall be leaving a blank chapter between the new posts, and the old ones, so if you insist on forging ahead there will be a huge jump-cut in the information.
The snow burned under his bare fingers as he dug them into the letters in the headstone, kneeling in front of it. He dug his nails under the thick rime of ice on the rough black stone. A blast of wind nearly knocked him forward into it and he used the stone to brace himself. The ice cracked away and the two words cut into it came clear and black out of the snow.
Kyrus Talain.

My father. Who died when I was four. Was killed when I was four. The Milari killed him, actually their War Master who I’ve come to this country to meet. I supposed some people might blame him for that. Ilax Vania by name. I doubt very much that I will ever stop hating the man.

He was the only one ever to defeat Kyrus Talain on the battlefield. By all accounts he’s an honourable man. Like my father was. I am supposed to hate him. I do respect him. It might be possible to persuade him to teach me.

Me. My father never knew I existed, thankfully for him. My existence would have brought him great shame, since he was never married. Me. Whore’s son.

He didn’t know who he really was. But he spread his numb hands across his father’s name carved into the gravestone and swore that he would find out if he were worthy to be called ‘son’, worthy to earn a surname. Especially that one. Talain.

His father’s father would blow a lung if that happened.  When mother had tried to have him acknowledged, Grandfather had had them shown off Water’s Hope Loggia.  Kyrus snorted softly to himself.  It was more like thrown them off.  They’d had to beat mother to make her leave.  It had not been a good Flooding festival.

By the time he got up, his fingers were turning blue and he could barely feel his knees. It wasn’t bad weather according to the Milari. Just another winter day with blowing snow, and a misty blue sky above the peaks. Every time one of those wispy clouds blew across the sun the wind whipped new snow to mix with the ice-scree already there. What a country. I wonder that my father fought so well in the thin, cold air.

His heart pounded in his chest like a galloping horse and his lungs laboured to clear themselves of what felt like icy slush. He pushed his fingers up under the scarf covering his face to breathe on them, trying to warm them quickly. It was the one time of year that the Milari kept their faces decently covered, going unveiled every other season of the year, but it had nothing to do with modesty, or righteousness, only with cold.

His track up from Viltaria was easier to follow down to the misty gray cluster of roofs below, as alike as a cluster of mushrooms, the wildly bright walls all hidden, buried under snow.  It reminded him vaguely of honeycomb in a way and was comforting.

He slogged down on his snowshoes, past the avalanche baffles, protecting the city below. It was time to see if he could convince the Milari Warmaster… The Surdeniliarch, to teach him the sword; time to find out if his father gifted him with his skill as well as his looks. Kyrus carried proof of his parentage in his face and build, though his eyes were more green than blue, from his mother.

He was dark as any noble Lainz, like chocolate next to the pale Milari. Was their skin so cream pale because of the cold? He scrubbed mittens under the scarf across his cheeks, made them burn and wondered if his father had been this cold all his time here.

The Milari high city was a cluster around a town square, their holy fountain in the middle shrouded and buried in snow.  The houses were similar in size, the streets were all narrow, dug out snow canyons or tunnels, with doors in them. From the moment he’d set foot across the new border he’d seen the difference, even on the plains, though the Milari plains houses had more windows than the mountain ones. 

These were all single dwellings even though they were often connected one to another with protected walkways between the roofs; tunnels if snow got deep enough. It was hard to see where one started and another ended. 
He’d kept looking for hovels, or loggia, the great palaces of Lainz, and had seen neither. No one in this country seemed to build loggia -- It was all related to their odd ideas that all men were equal. It made finding anyone more difficult, he’d found, at least for a Lainz used to easily seeing anyone’s status in their clothing or home.

Once he reached the snow-packed streets he had to ask four separate people for directions to the Surdeniliarch’s office. The first sent him to the odd building that looked like a cluster of peaks where their Unity sat, and found only a single small room with a clerk open, who told him that the Unity was not sitting now and that he should try Ilax’s house, toward the west side of the city.  First name basis with their equivalent of a Hive Lord?

A house? Like all the rest? Did they not even honor one of their princes? Why would they not even honor their War Master, the man who had literally saved them? The man who had taken the role of Head of State when the war broke out and then just gave it up again afterward, when the Unity sat to re-elect their peacetime Konsiliarch.  Kyrus had been trying to understand that the whole way into the country. Dark, he’d been struggling to understand the Milari since he’d learned to read.

The clerk told him how to get there but the directions were complicated and he tried to ask a third person on the street but was spat upon before the man turned his back. It was a reaction he’d had a lot of but still didn’t have to like. The war had been ten years ago. War-bird eat you, Kyrus thought, but said nothing.

It hadn’t been his war. First of all, the Immutable of Lainz would never have asked someone of his lowly birth to fight for his country, at least in any way other than as an Ass of Lainz, the untrained foot soldiers. It had made him laugh when he found out that the Lainz word for draft beast was the Milar word for backside. Not for nothing were the lower class soldiers called the Asses. The death rate among them was ferocious and any chance of advancement through merit nonexistent. But then he would never end up buried on a strange mountainside.

He shrugged the disrespectful thought away. He wanted to be a trained warrior more than anything else in this world. It was the way out of a shameful life, and held some hope of honor. He wiped the blot of spittle off his sleeve with a mitt-full of snow.


  1. I had completely forgotten about this, but I'm glad I refreshed my memory. It's going to be good!

  2. Why thank you, I'm hoping to meet your expectations!

  3. I like the changes you are making here. Hope you get to totally new posts very soon though.

  4. Why yes, Amy! I am. I hope you'll like them.

  5. It's very interesting so far. I like it.

  6. I am having a hard time getting into the first few paragraphs. Is this is in the same world? Not knowing how old the character at the time that he's thinking this is is not helping me connect.

    I had to look up loggia to make sure it wasn't another foreign thing I was skimming. he where the Milari are then? Ah right, for a moment I got disoriented with all the other places that are being mentioned, but not mentioned.

    Too many associations with the old stories for me still! But I do vaguely remember reading some of this before. <=(

    1. Dear GV

      Sorry you're having a hard time with it. New book. New world. New characters. Nothing to do with Fifth Mil. Sorry. All mine.

      Hope things warm up for you soon.

  7. I need to to thank you for this good read!! I absolutely loved every little
    bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to
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