sideways: [o] I am a tree (►city life has crumbled)
[personal profile] sideways
Title: The Winding Path
Rating: G
Series: Bungie's Destiny (Shin Malphur, Jaren's Ghost)
Wordcount: 1186
Summary: In their pulling together of Dredgen Yor's history, the Shadows passed through Palamon. Shin notices.

In the thick, heavy cover of the trees, the circle of broken canopy stands out like a loud noise in an empty room.

Shin halts beneath the gash of blue through green, bright unfiltered sunlight narrowing his eyes as he gazes upwards. The forcing was violent: large branches hang snapped, and smaller ones have fallen in a rain to be caught in clumpings below. Storm damage, at a glance, but no storm hovers in place to carve a passage to the ground.

A flicker of movement and an internal tug; Shin rubs at one ear distractedly as he turns to see his Ghost unfold, a sharp glow in the shadows.

“No signatures in range,” she says after a moment. Another beat, and then, “Nothing on the roster either.”

“Officially,” he says, and she concedes the point with a blink, drawing back together.

Fallen would not be so delicate; Hive would have no need. There is nothing in these mountains anymore, no prey left for either side. No reason to come here but one.

“Shin?” the Ghost says.

He keeps moving.

He always comes to Palamon on foot – from the south, as was ever easiest done. Only in memory do the boundaries and pathways still exist; the dense forest that had been their shelter, as strong as City walls in its own subtle way, has crept in slow and silent to reclaim its people. A small comfort, then. A little more of one as the years go by.

He does not chase the intruding trail, but increasingly it finds him. It takes skill to navigate the undergrowth without signposting the passage, and that it takes Shin a few minutes of silent walking to realise there were two figures tells him that one of them, at least, knew how to tread carefully. They disappear entirely for a time, just long enough to make him wonder, but then they have the sense to use the river as a guide and after that he scarce needs the faded imprint of eager toes dug deep in soft mud to know they’ll still be with him when he crests the final ridge.

A trio of rabbits startle for cover as he steps into the court, and against all common sense it winds him tighter, keeps his fingertips brushing close against the iron weight at his hip. The Ghost circles wide, confirmation of their solitude in the confidence of her motion and lack of concern for the shadows between the trees. It should be reassurance, but that the people are gone does not likewise clear their presence, and he has come into a familiar, private room to find foreign handprints smeared against the glass.

His Ghost halts, turns back towards him. Again that tugging, a secondary awareness layering over his own and colouring it with concern, and in this moment he finds he can’t stand the sensation.

“Not now,” he manages, words tight and low in his throat.

She twitches, once, and is gone without protest, rippling the air between them like the tail-flick of a fish darting for deeper waters. It’s distance enough for him to draw breath that actually fills his lungs, to flex just a little of the crooked stiffness from his fingers. Distance enough to mark his own boundaries.

The air is thick and damp with summer, seeding sweat under his armour. Days like this, they’d fling doors and windows wide, keep a close eye for spoiling meat, watch the loggers shake the wet off like wolves after a half-hour’s work. The world was softer, greener, slower. Had the shadow come in such a summer—

Hollow-hearted thoughts. He knows better.

He doesn’t make the usual rounds; it would be disrespect to try it, as loud and unsettled as his head is, the faintest taste of smoke and smoulder on every inhale. Their tradition calls for peace, not distraction, and these are not the memories he wants to bring them.

Instead, Shin hunts. Prowls the Palamon of now, not then, from one corner to the next. Here, the remnants of a campfire, at least a week old; it was stacked well and doused thoroughly, and he judges that the doing of the careful walker. There, there, and there, undergrowth pulled back around the foundations of the buildings that had been rooted in stone; maybe a clumsy showing of respect in the minimal removal, maybe a simple matter of efficiency. They find the remnants of a water pump; they scrape moss from rock to find scar of scorching still lingering underneath; they wander through and around and over the grave of his home.

His own feet take him back to the side street that is no longer, and the echo of a soot-streaked boy trying to make sense of an empty smile. He wonders, distantly, if they found this too.

Shin seats himself on a raised rock towards the eastward side; a moment later, his Ghost joins him. There is no need for apologies: this is how they are as a pair, as they have been since she first twined their Light together and Shin clapped hands hard over his ears to feel a stirring in his head to match the fire in his chest.

“Did Jaren ever give them coordinates?” he asks her. “Did you?”

“Not in so many words,” the Ghost says, and for just a moment the absurdity of a laugh threatens. “But he communicated with the Tower at times, and when information is transferred between Ghosts-”

“There are records, then.”

“Inevitably. You’ve left records of your own.”

Written with as careful attention given to omissions as inclusions. A history, he’d called it, but perhaps fable would have been more honest. At least he’d never claimed they were any words but his own. “Then it would seem someone has been digging with a will.” His fingers tighten; he forces them loose again and nods his head towards the spread of the town. “And has yet to stop.”

“Digging in search of what?” his Ghost murmurs.

Those who seek Shin can find him, sooner or later. He has met what friends Jaren had decades ago; outlived one or two, as seems to be his talent. And there is nothing in these mountains anymore.

“Bones,” he says, half without meaning, and his Ghost flicks him a look. He flicks one back, nettled. “You’re asking a question you already know the answer to. Thought I’d outgrown that game.”

“Suspicions aren’t answers,” she says primly.

Hard to argue with the truth. Not stubborn enough to try it, today.

“Not looking to hang a sin on anyone who hasn’t earned it,” he says instead.

She spins, then, a rotation that swings her out ahead of him, eyes to eye. Gives an answer of her own when she says, “So. What will you do?”

If it’s old footsteps they’re following, Shin walked them first. He remembers the pathways still.

“I think,” he says, and braces a hand against his knee to rise – to the trail, to the stalk, to the duty ever landing at his feet, raw and ruthless. “It’s time we headed north.”


sideways: [o] manmade bird perched on girl's finger (Default)

August 2017

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