UNDERGROUND NIGHT

Scene 17  1560 4D

Derizan lay in a warm bunk, well-fed, and well-covered with blankets. This was the first night in weeks that he had found peace, safety, and comfort. Here in the subterranean maze of halls and chambers the Gellin Sintherou had burrowed out down in Fornonck, he relaxed his vigilance and got ready to sleep. In the bunk above him, Astina breathed slowly and steadily. Below him, his father snored softly now and then.

He turned onto his side. The image of lost Areesa’s frightened face haunted him. Ever since that moment when she broke and ran back, ran away from him, it seemed that he had fallen from grace, that somehow he could have turned her to him, corralled her children, drawn them along with the rest of his Arcus family. But she had raced off to find her husband, panicking, and he had lost her and her children. By now they were dead with all the others.

No comfort came. Grief and guilt and shame washed through him. He turned again. Would he come to another crisis and fail again like that, with his wife, his relatives with him now? A snore reminded him of his father Alumaras and his words as they boarded the relocation train, “Derizan. I am old now. You are the eldest son, a good man, and I turn to you now to lead the family. Lead us well, and I will follow you.” The words were ritual, standard among those in the Arcus family’s generational changes.

Denzari looks to me. So does Selech, when he isn’t overheated. Daryuz – he seems distracted sometimes, or maybe he’s just waiting for me to slip. Again. I should ask Astina about the men – my sister won’t tell me anything. If only Ezzar…

An ache came in his gut.

Ezzar. My beloved, fiery daughter, When her husband Boren and her baby were killed, she tore herself away from us, from her own parents. Nobody could reach her. Now she’s going to war as if she wants to die fighting, fighting everything. I’ve lost her too.

“Deri?” Astina, whispering. “Can’t you sleep?” Her face appeared above him in the dimness, looking down from her bunk. She reached an arm down to him.

He took her hand. “So much loss. And death. And Ezzar… what could I have done to…”

“It wasn’t yours to take on,” Astina said firmly, “any more than you could have saved that woman when we came up here.” Her voice wavered, and then firmed again.

“Areesa.” His gut clenched again.

“Here.” And Astina came down from her bunk to join him in his. “At least let’s share some love and get a little more warmth back in us. You won’t get any comfort from the past.”

They nestled together, soothed one another, and comfort came.

 

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Last Updated Friday, June 21 2024 @ 02:30 pm  11 Hits   
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