The World Walkers: Athare: Aidan: Talking to Eithne

This entry is part 6 of 14 in the World Walkers: Athare collection
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When they were younger Aidan and Eithne had hated each other. They were half siblings, sharing a mother, so they’d had to spend some time together, but however short that time was it was still too long. Eventually it got to the point where they did actually avoid each other, until the end of Kalinia came. Losing their other siblings, and their fathers, and then their mother, had made them realise that the hatred they had for each other was totally pointless. Of course it hadn’t been until their respective fathers had passed on, fathers who had flamed the bad feelings between the two of them, because they’d both lost the woman – she had gone on, sensibly, to handfast a man that she loved, that she had five children with, who had accepted both Aidan and Eithne without even seeming to think about it, because they hadn’t cared anywhere near as much about bloodlines.

Aidan had chosen to live with his father’s family, even though he had much more Yellow magic, so that he wouldn’t have to deal with Eithne. Eithne chose to live with her father for the same reason, because they’d both been born in the same year. That was a strange occurrence, even for the fae, as normally mothers left more time between their handfastings, but their mother hadn’t had much choice. Her father had pushed her from handfasting to handfasting, attempting to make as many alliances as possible. Most of them hadn’t lasted much longer than the handfasting. Finally she told him she’d had enough. She was going to handfast someone he never would have accepted, because he was the same family, so there was no alliance, but she’d loved him since before her first handfasting.

Eithne sat, looking at Aidan, as though she was thinking about the same thing. Neither of them talked much about the choices they made in the past, because it was easier. They accepted they made been mistakes. Listening to their bigoted fathers had affected the relationship they might have had then, but time was long past. Yet Aidan found himself thinking about it more and more as they talked about the other choice they would have to make in the near future. It was entirely possible they would be a part of the creation of the worlds the Blue and Yellow families had been talking about for so long. Both of them were waiting for Bronwen to talk to them, as she was always going to know more about it than they were.

It helped that she had always been good friends with Riordan. Riordan was the man the Blue elder would look to as the possible leader of the whole thing, as Riordan had made a city before, because no one who hadn’t been interested in the experiment really understood how different it would be to make a world. The Blue elder hadn’t been the elder then, but she still hadn’t been interested. Although their main magic was the magic of non-sentient creation it was an ability that had been fading from their bloodline more and more, possibly because they weren’t using it, so there were very few Blues left with it to begin with, even before the deaths that had taken the majority of the creators. Unfortunately the Yellows had the same problem, but slightly more of their creators had survived. There was no guarantee that it would stay that way.

“Aid…” Eithne bit her lip. “It won’t be long until Bronwen comes to talk to us and I think we need to know what we’re doing in advance.”

“Why do we need to know?”

She sighed. “Emrys.”

“You really think…?”

“There is a chance I’m wrong, but I’ve spent enough time with people who can see the future to understand the look he had in his eyes. I would have realised before we got to Athare if I’d ever spent any time with him. He was always in the Blue library though, scribbling in that journal of his, and probably doing his best to write down everything, just in case something did happen to him.”

“From what Kaja said there is still a chance that something might.”

Kaja, their cousin, was a healer. She’d thought everything would be fine once they got to Athare, and for a lot of people it was, but the problem she found she was dealing with was people’s bodies being incapable of accepting the increased amount of magic without it causing some sort of medical issue. Often draining the magic away would help, if it was caught quickly enough. If it wasn’t there was a chance that the sufferer might end up lapsing into a coma and that was when the real damage would be caused. Everyone had been keeping a very close eye on their friends and family, just in case, but knowing that something might happen did put them in a much better position than they would have been if they didn’t know it might happen.

“I know.” Eithne bit her lip. “I’ve been keeping an eye on Emrys, because he’s seemed unwell for a little while, although I could be seeing things that aren’t there.”

“Eithne, you probably aren’t. You were the one who first noticed that there was something wrong with Mum, even before she really knew herself, and it was thanks to you that she had as long as she did.” Tears filled Eithne’s eyes. “I know. I miss her too, love.” Aidan sighed. “Sometimes, though, I am glad that she isn’t here, because I don’t think she would understand the choices we’re going to make.”

“You’ve already decided as well.”

“How could I say no? This is the chance of a lifetime and I am going to be a part of it, even though there are days when I hear Mum’s voice in my head asking if I’m certain, and sometimes I say no, I’m not, but this is the only logical option. We destroyed a world with our selfishness and I’m not going to let that happen again. Maybe some people will think that the choice we’re making now is more selfish, but I’m doing this, primarily, for Athare. I don’t want her to end up the same way Kalinia did.”

“Neither do I.” Eithne smiled, even though a tear had escaped and was making its way down her cheek. “I’ve been making a start on designing some races that I want to find homes for, but…” The smile faded and she was biting her lip again, looking unsure. “None of them are normal.”

“Like us, you mean?”

She nodded. “Yes, that’s what I mean, and I think I’m going to have real difficulty finding homes for them, even though I believe it’s important that we have diversity within the web that we will have to create.”

“Did you have the same conversation with Riordan that I did?”

“Probably, because he seemed to be trying to make certain that we were going to help no matter what his decision was, and I already knew that it didn’t bother me how many worlds we ended up creating. What matters is whether or not we manage to do what needs to be done. Right now what we desperately need to do is work out some way of saving Athare before we destroy it, but that means not listening to elders who don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Aidan nodded. They’d both overheard the same conversation, with the Yellow elder talking the the Blue elder about the creation of five worlds, and realised then neither of the elders knew what they were talking about. If there was any chance of saving Athare from their race they would need to create a web of worlds, so that they all shared magic, which meant a lot more than five. Five might be a starting point, but that was something the world creators would need to decide, while the race creators had to work out the best races to put on the worlds, as those races would be the saviours of the fae.

“What races have you been working on?”

“Most of them, so far, have been quadrupedal races. I’ve been taking inspiration from the animals, and some of the races, we left behind on Kalinia, because I want to do what I can to save them, even though no one could convince them to leave their home behind. I’m not surprised they felt the way they did, but I would love to recreate them.”

“I’ve found myself doing the same thing, although I think we might be better off focusing on bipedal races for some of the worlds. From what I heard the Blues who think they might world creators have been doing the same thing we have.”

“For the Blues it’s relatively simple, as there are so few of them. More of us survived.”

“You and I both know Bronwen’s going to want us and Mai working with her. We’re the three family members she actually trusts.”

“The Blues might not.”

“Riordan will, and as he’s the one most likely to be in charge.”

“Emrys might not.”

“I doubt that very much, because Emrys will trust Bronwen’s judgement when it comes to the race creators, as he doesn’t know us very well at all. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to get to know him during this process.”

“Maybe.” Eithne brushed her hand through her hair. “I’m just having all these doubts about the decisions that I’m making. Some nights I still dream of Father. He tells me that I’m making a huge mistake giving you a chance, that you’re never going to amount to anything more than being your father’s son, and that I would be better off walking away.” She blinked away more tears. “Losing Mum tore me apart, Aidan, but having you there made it hurt so much less than it would have done, even though I knew it meant we didn’t have much more time left. I remembered watching her lose the only man she’d ever loved, and so many of her children, with this sort of stoic pain, because she was so certain that Mab would never change her mind.”

“Oh, love.” Aidan moved so he was sitting next to Eithne and wrapped an arm around her. “Almost everything about this has been difficult, but the one thing I will never regret is it bringing us closer. I wish we hadn’t listened to our father’s before, although I understand why we both did, and I am so sorry that I didn’t get to know you years ago. Life would have been so much easier if I had someone there to support me when I was feeling at my lowest.”

Breathing deeply Eithne snuggled closer. “I know. I feel the same way, Aidan, and I do regret the choices that I made before, but at least we have time now when we can get to know each other. There is a chance we may never have had that. All we can do is be grateful that we’re lucky enough to have the time together as siblings rather than enemies.”

“Father was so determined that I wasn’t going to see you as a sister, probably because he was so angry with Mum, that he told me all sorts of lies.” Aidan sighed. “At least I assume they were lies. Maybe they were true. I’m not even certain that it matters one way or the other. We’re family. I have so little of that left now that I will keep hold of any that I have, even if you do happen to be the person he told me you were.”

“Aidan, you aren’t the person my father told me you were, so I very much doubt that I’m the person your father told me I was.” She reached out and squeezed his hand. “If I was I really don’t think we’d be sitting together now, because I never would have talked to you in the first place.”


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