Dreaming of Athare could never have truly prepared Emrys for what it would be like to step onto another world. He was one of the first, as he was one of the creators, so he got to see it before the first building was place, and that was something he would always be grateful for. Even though he knew he should stay near the door his first urge was to start exploring, to see the world they’d would change so much in the future. Fortunately there was already enough people there to stop him from going anywhere, because he would show them how much he knew about Athare, which would lead to questions he wouldn’t know how to answer without lying. Lying wasn’t an option, not if he wanted Riordan and Bronwen to trust him in the future. All he really needed to do was wait until there were too many people there for anyone to notice him slipping off.
Riordan followed Emrys, the last of the Blues to make the journey. The door couldn’t be held for too long, but it could be held for long enough to give them some time to make a start on the first of the buildings, because the plan was for them to have somewhere for the fae to live when they arrived. As Emrys looked around he realised that the group he was with were probably the people who would be creating the Web. It was already obvious how things were going to work – Aubrie had gathered a little group around her, who would probably follow her lead, Oscar was by himself, and the rest of them were with Riordan. Emrys was like Oscar. Both of them were a little on the outskirts of the family, due to the decisions that their parents had made.
Oscar, though, had siblings who had always cared about him. Emrys looked at Sibeal, who returned it with one of her own, which was much more contemplative than he expected it to be, and hoped that they’d be able to make a new start on Athare. She was his only remaining sibling on the Blue side of his family. The Gold side he tried not to think about too much, although he had received regular letters from his mother until she died, because they’d never wanted him and never would. Fortunately his father had always cared about him. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if the man had hated him for being a reminder of a relationship that had been torn apart by two warring families, but he’d always been kind, considerate, and tried to make certain that all of Emrys’ siblings gave him a chance.
That didn’t work. All of his siblings had listened to their mothers, which was to be expected, in the same way his cousins, and anyone he might have come to think of as a friend, had. He was an outsider, nothing more. Riordan had always been civil, though, as had Bronwen. Both of them had spent a lot of time sharing the library with Emrys, and he’d come to think of them as possible friends. Sighing, he brushed a hand through his hair, wanting it all to be over, so he could find somewhere to be alone, rather than spending his time with people he knew didn’t like him. Maybe they would in the future, but that didn’t make it any easier right at that moment.
“Mab said she wants one big building as close to the door as possible,” Riordan said, as though he’d heard Emrys’ thoughts. “That one we’re probably going to need to work on together. It’s going to be the home for the elders and their families, while the rest of the fae make do with tents for now, until a decision’s made as to what we do next. Once that’s done we need to work on a place for Mab and her family, because I think she could do with having her own space, before moving onto the tents.” Riordan bit his lip. “According the current count we’re looking at around thirteen hundred fae travelling to this world, around a hundred for every family, and we’re going to need to think about where we place each of the families, because the last thing we need is them getting into arguments about nothing.” Everyone nodded, even Emrys. Riordan was right. Fortunately Riordan was also the sort of person who planned ahead. “I have a map I think should work here, so if you could have a look at it and tell me what you think I’d be very grateful.”
Piaras was the one to pass around the copies. Emrys smiled in thanks, not expecting to get one in reply, and it was a nice surprise when he did. It was Piaras, though. As Riordan seemed to have made the choice to give Emrys a chance it was likely he would have talked to his favourite cousin about doing the same thing. There was even a chance he’d done the same with Aubrie, but Emrys doubted it. Riordan loved Aubrie, no one doubted that, but they were half siblings and she had been raised very differently to him, so they were very different people. Riordan was open-minded and friendly, while Aubrie had been taught well by her mother how a good Blue should behave. Unfortunately that included ignoring anyone who might be a little different to the average Blue.
Emrys shook his head and looked down at the map. He didn’t really know enough about how the families saw each other to really be of any help, because that wasn’t something his father had ever seemed to want him to learn, but he was glad to see that the Golds were on the other side of the clearing to the Blues. At least he wouldn’t have to deal with them until he was ready. If he ever was ready, that it, but he doubted that very much. They’d dumped him on his father, so the Golds wouldn’t be tarnished any more than they already were. Having such a relationship had already meant his mother would have difficulty finding a good husband and they were doing everything they could to mitigate the damage that the baby had caused.
A baby that Emrys was certain his mother had cared about as much as his father. She wouldn’t have written to him if she hadn’t. It was thanks to those letters he knew all about the other side of his family. He knew about his half siblings, children she hadn’t wanted but had in an attempt to fix things that could never be fixed. Her parents would never truly accept her back into the family. If she hadn’t been so useful, because she was their only daughter, they’d have walked away from her, but that didn’t mean she would have been able to marry the man she loved unless he chose to leave his family behind. Emrys was certain his father would have. Unfortunately it didn’t matter, as she made the decision to do what needed to be done in the hope that her family would forgive her.
Some days he hated her for making that choice, even though he did, once he was older, understand why she had made it. If she hadn’t… the story his father told him made him more certain than he had been before that he would never think of the Gold side as family. Maybe they were technically, but the options they’d given a woman who’d made mistakes because she was in love made him hate them. Breathing deeply, trying to calm himself, he told him to stop thinking so much about it, because it was over. There was nothing anyone could do to change what had happened, not any more, and he was just going to have to deal with that as best he could, no matter how hard it was. He needed to focus on what was coming.
Mab’s little house was as far away from the elders’ building as possible. That would be where she’d live with her family, so she could think without having to worry about having someone knocking on her door, and Emrys noticed that Riordan had drawn a warding around it. Once he noticed that he also noticed the note at the bottom of the paper, which was unusual. Emrys glanced over at Riordan, who was talking to Piaras and didn’t seem to realised that someone else was looking at him, before turning his attention back to the paper.
Father told me that you have some skills with warding. The wards are only on this map, because I want you to be the only other person to know that Mab’s cottage is warded. She has three children who will be living with her – two sons and a daughter – as well as her current husband, who I think she’s much closer to than she lets on. I have told her about my plans, so she should be arriving with the next group of people, to be able to give you the things you need to make the wards that will protect her, although the only reason she gave in is her children. She doesn’t want them hurt because of the mistakes she made on Kalinia.
Very few people knew about Emrys other abilities, but it wasn’t entirely a surprise that Riordan’s father did. Before the Gold mistake Riordan’s father had been close friends with Emrys’ father, and it seemed they’d stayed that way, which explained why Riordan was willing to give Emrys a secret task. Piaras probably had some idea as well, because he would have known there was a map specifically for Emrys. Riordan had said that no one else knew, though, and Emrys believed him. Fortunately Riordan wasn’t the sort of person to lie. He also knew that he was giving Emrys a job that he would have to complete alone. It was a relief to know that he wasn’t going to have to work with anyone, because he really wasn’t ready for that yet.
No one else seemed to be feeling any adverse effects from stepping onto Athare. Emrys did his best to shake off the discomfort he was feeling, because a slight tingling in his legs wasn’t going to stop him from doing what needed to be done, although he knew that meant he didn’t have as long as he would like. He looked over at Riordan again, before realising that any conversation they needed to have was going to have to wait. The first thing to focus on was making sure than the fae had shelter. Once they had that Emrys could go off somewhere, follow Athare’s instructions to remove the excess magic from his body, and keep going until the decision was finally made.
The Web would be made. He didn’t doubt that for a minute. What he did doubt was that his knowledge would be accepted by anyone other that Riordan. How could he explain to the creators that he’d dreamt of Athare long before they travelled to their new world? Would they accept it when he told them that Athare was sentient? It was actually a surprise that Athare hadn’t started talking to him yet, although she could be giving him time to adjust. As he found himself looking around a clearing he knew would become a bustling market he could understand why. Athare was uninhabited and that was something he had never seen before. She’d taken him to a number of different Webs, but they had all been inhabited.
“If that’s everything,” Riordan said, making Emrys jump, “then I think we should get started. We have a lot to do before the rest of the fae arrive, you all know what your jobs are, and if you have any questions I’ll make certain that I’m around somewhere to answer them.” Emrys felt Riordan’s eyes on him for a moment. “Good luck, everyone.”
***The World Walkers: Athare: Garth: A New World >>>