Returning The Blades

Original Written Work
Characters: Rylerion, Rannon
Summary: Rion asks his uncle what he should do with the legendary blades that were taken from him after he attacked and killed an unarmed soldier at Akari’s supposed funeral.

“I have been told countless times how these blades are the epitome symbols of the truest virtues of Kayalana,” Rylerion said, lifting the pair of blades from their stand to hold them between them. “Marks of absolute dedication to duty, to honour. After what happened, do you still feel you deserve to bear them?”

It took Rannon uncharacteristically long to reply, and for all his stoicism there were lines of pain around his eyes when he finally forced himself to.

“No.”

He had to admit he had anticipated negotiation, the smooth but unwavering manipulation he had clashed with so many times before. The short, harsh reply took him somewhat aback, and he found himself wondering again if he would ever really understand this man.

“Very well,” he said, weighing the blades in his hands, the perfect balance of them clear to his hands even at this awkward angle. “So what should I do with them?”

“Keep them,” Rannon said without hesitation, the jarring pain in his voice carefully veiled but not gone. “They are fit blades for any king, Sati-rama, and you if anyone have earned the right to them.”

“I don’t use curved blades,” he reminded, angling them again, briefly tempted. “And it seems wrong to reduce them to simple ornamentation. Don’t you think?”

Rannon merely gave a shallow bow in acquiescence, silent, the unmistakable bitten-back hunger to reach out for the swords a painful, heavy weight in the air.

So ruthlessly impassive, it was easy to forget – too easy, perhaps – that the man was only human after all. “Only human,” Azani had reminded him the other day, with the courage to come relentlessly stare down her King, “And still very badly hurt.”

“So, what should I do with them?” he repeated softly, pushing. Out of need for regal judgment or personal curiosity, he wasn’t sure himself.

“Give them to Shanti Keelavata, then, Sati-rama,” Rannon wearily responded, the dutiful advisor asked for counsel. “Let them return to the Dashkarisna family. Or to Shantu Kamiyeh. The most renowned warrior of our time. He would surely carry them with the reverence they merit.”

He hadn’t anticipated that, either.

“You would rather I give them to your bitterest enemies than let them lie untouched?”

“Of course,” Rannon said, and for the first time there was bite to his tone. “The Dragon and Serpent are ancient, legend. They have known a hundred hands, we are but glimpses in their lifetime. They deserve better than to gather dust in the dark.”

He found himself looking down at the beautiful swords in his hands. The weight of them, a thousand years of honour and duty and alien traditions he could barely fathom, was suddenly almost too much to hold.

“That sentiment sounds like true honour to me,” he finally concluded. He looked up, meeting Rannon’s gaze, and deliberately held the weight of the swords out for him to take. Grey eyes widening in rare shock and something almost brittle, he slowly accepted them into his hands.

”This is the second time I have to return these blades. Try not to lose them again,” he said with some sharpness.

”Of course. Sati-rama.”

Another impeccable bow, and Rannon’s voice was steady, but the fingers clenching the blades were white-knuckled and cramped, drowning hands wrapping frantically around straws.

”He’s cracked and broken,” Azani had said, fierce concern in her voice. ”He’s coming undone. Give him something. Please.”

And she had said something else, as well, of anguished prayers for mercy in the dark of night, for a release forever denied. Rusty blotches on a dungeon wall. A broken finger he should have noticed.

”I want to ask something else of you,” he said, softly, hesitating. Uncertain in this.
Rannon looked up to meet his eyes again, fastening the blades to his belt in a gesture so unthinking and natural it seemed like the return of a body part that should never have been missing in the first place.

”Anything.”

”A favour, not an order. Asked not as your King, but family, a friend. Leave both of them sheathed.

One blade meant for enemies, already forsworn. The other…

“A thousand Serpent’s kisses will not bring that solace, only pain. I know. And even if it should, impossibly… In these trying times, for Kayalana to lose you, your support and guidance… It would be devastating. And it would break my heart,” he added, not meaning to, voice suddenly too raw.

His uncle held his eyes in silence for a long while, that pale, sharp gaze always so frustratingly unreadable. Then he shortly bowed his head, perhaps obeisance, perhaps concession.

”As you wish.”

Voice soft, not unmoved after all. He allowed himself to relax somewhat.

“Besides,” he said with forced levity, “Sheathed blades would make it easier yet for me to vanquish you next time we spar.”

Two quick blinks, a rare show of perplexity at the change of tone, then those grey eyes narrowed in what he had learned to know for amusement.

“I needn’t unsheathe my blades to defeat you in a duel, nephew. Though I would be loath to have you hack away at these scabbards, priceless works of art that they are.”

He allowed himself a sharp grin at that, such a concrete challenge much preferable to delicately navigating murky waters of hurting sentiment.

“Then I suppose I will have wooden practice blades brought out, so that we may merrily hack away to our hearts’ content.”

“Allow me a week to regain my dexterity, my King,” said Rannon, ice and fire and that wry barely-there amusement in his tone. “And I may teach you a thing or two of sparring yet.”

“I could grant you a dozen, and I would still beat you,” he clipped, earning himself a sharp glare. “But one will suffice for now. I look forward to seeing your outside the Council chamber, uncle. The meetings have been painfully dreary as of late.”

With a final bow of genuine deference, Rannon gave him a short nod and left.

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