amberdrake: (who made up all the rules)
[personal profile] amberdrake
This takes place long after the point I'm taking him from for RP, but good to show that some things don't change.

     Blade hadn't needed to do all that much packing last night, but she had pretended that she did—and as soon as she was done, she blew out her candle and willed herself to sleep. The need for rest was real, and if she had not torn herself away from her overly-concerned parents, she would not have gotten any. They would have kept her up all night with questions, most of which she didn't have any answers to, since all of them were fairly philosophical rather than practical.
     She dressed quickly and quietly, and without relighting her candle. With any luck, only her mother would be awake; Winterhart, for some reason, seemed to be handling this better than her spouse. Don't people usually complain that their mothers never see them as grown up? she thought, as she pulled on a pair of light boots, then fastened the silver gryphon badge to the breast of her tunic.
     The Silvers had no regular uniform; Judeth thought it better that they wear the same clothing as those around them. Uniforms might remind people too much of the regular troops, and war, and even the most battle-hardened wanted to put warfare far behind them.
     Now—if I can just walk quietly enough, I might be able to get out of here without another discussion of my life-view.
     Her father Amberdrake was notorious for sleeping late—to be fair, it was usually because he'd been up late the night before, working—and she hoped by rising with the first light, she might avoid him at breakfast.
     But no. When she carried her two small packs out to leave beside the door, she saw that there were candles burning in the rest of the house. Amberdrake was already up.
     In fact, as soon as she turned toward the rear of the dwelling, she saw him; dressed, alert, and in the little nook at the back of the main room that they used for meals, waiting for her. But so was her mother, which might temper things a bit.
     She sighed, while her face was still in shadow and he couldn't see her expression. Breakfast with Amberdrake was always a bit strained at the best of times, and this was not going to be "the best" of times.
     He keeps remembering when he was the chief kestra'chern and it was his habit to find out about his fellows when they all drifted in for breakfast. He keeps trying to do the same thing with me.
     "Good morning, Father," she said, feeling terribly awkward, as she approached the tiny table. "You're not usually up so early."
     She wondered if Amberdrake's smile was strained; he was too good at keeping a serene mask for her to tell. However, it was obvious that he had taken special pains with his appearance. Silk tunic and trews, raw-silk coat, some of his Haighlei gift-jewelry, and Zhaneel's feather in his hair. You'd think he was having an audience with Shalaman.
     She regarded him objectively for a moment. He was still a strikingly handsome man. Despite the white streaks in his hair, her father scarcely looked his age in the low mage-light above the table, and the warm browns and ambers of his clothing disguised in part the fact that there were dark circles under his eyes.
     Caused by worrying, no doubt.
     "I didn't want to miss saying good-bye to you, Silverblade," he said, his voice quite calm and controlled. "If I slept until a decent hour, I knew that I would. You dawn risers are enough to make a normal person's eyes cross."
     She knew that her answering laugh was a bit strained, but there was no help for it. "And you night prowlers are enough to make people like me scream when we think of all the perfectly good daylight you waste sleeping!" She slid into the seat opposite him, and helped herself to fresh bread and preserves. He reached across the table and added thinly-sliced cold meat to the plate quite firmly. She didn't really want anything that substantial first thing in the morning, but she knew better than to say so. Why start an argument? That would be a poor way to leave her parents.
     What can it hurt to nibble a piece to please him? It can't, of course. Not that long ago, she would have protested; now she knew there was no point in doing so. She'd only hurt his feelings. He was only trying to help.
     And after today he won't be able to be so meddlingly helpful for six whole months! I should be pitying the people, gryphon and human and hertasi alike, who will wind up as my surrogates for his concern.
     She ate one slice of the meat, which was dry and tasted like a mouthful of salty old leather, and went back to her bread. Amberdrake pushed a cup of hot tea toward her, then made a move as if he was about to serve her a bowl of hot porridge from the pot waiting beside him.
     "Oh no!" she exclaimed. Not for anything would she eat porridge, not even for the sake of pleasing her father! "None of that! Not when I'm flying! I do not want to decorate the landscape underneath me!"
     Amberdrake flushed faintly and pulled his hand back. "Sorry. I forgot that you didn't inherit my impervious stomach."
     "No, she inherited my questionable one. Stop badgering the child, dear." Winterhart emerged at last from the rear of the dwelling, putting the last touches on her hair. Blade admired the way she moved with a twinge of envy. Winterhart managed to combine a subtle sensuality with absolute confidence and a no-nonsense competence that Blade despaired of emulating.
     Now if I looked like that.... Ah, well. Too bad I inherited Mother's interior instead of her exterior!
     Unlike her mate, Winterhart had not dressed for a special occasion, which much relieved Blade. Her costume of a long linen split skirt, tunic, and knee-length, many-pocketed vest, was similar to anything she would wear on any other day. The only concession she had made to Amberdrake's sartorial splendor was to harmonize with his browns and ambers with her own browns and creams.
     "I hope we won't be unwelcome, but we would like to see you and Tadrith leaving, Blade," Winterhart said, quite casually, as if they were only leaving for a few days, not six months. "We do know how to stay out from underfoot, after all. Yours is not the first expedition we've seen on its way."
     Now it was her turn to flush. "Well, of course I want you there to see us off! Of course you won't be in the way!" she replied, acutely embarrassed. "I would never think that!"
     The only trouble was, deep down inside, she had been thinking precisely that.
     She gulped down her cooling tea to cover her embarrassment and guilty conscience, as Amberdrake toyed with a piece of bread, reducing it to a pile of crumbs.
     He's trying to pretend that he isn't worried; trying to put on a brave face when I know he's feeling anything but brave. Why? Why is he so worried? If he's transparent enough for me to see through, he must be all of a knot inside.
     Finally Amberdrake looked up at her, slowly chewing on his lower lip. "I know I probably seem as if I am overreacting to this situation, ke'chara," he said quietly. "I shouldn't be so worked up over the simple fact that you and your partner are going off on a normal, peaceful assignment. I realize that I am being quite foolish about this, and I can't even pretend that I have some mysterious presentiment of doom. It's all due to old—well, I suppose you'd have to call them habits, habits of feeling, perhaps."
     Winterhart stood behind him and put her hands on his shoulders, gently massaging muscles that must have been terribly tense. Outside, seabirds cried, greeting the dawn and the winds that would carry them out to their fishing grounds.
     Amberdrake reached up and covered one of his mate's hands with his own. "I have two problems with this assignment, really, and neither of them is rational. The first is that it is you, my daughter, who is going off for six months to a place that is unsettlingly far away. And you'll be all alone there, except for a single gryphon. If it were someone else, I would see him or her off with a cheerful heart, and go about my business."
     "But it isn't," she stated.
     "No." He sighed, and patted Winterhart's hand. "Your mother is handling this better than I."
     "I have perfect confidence in Aubri and Judeth," Winterhart said serenely. "They wouldn't send anyone that far away who wasn't prepared for any contingency." Her tone turned just a little sharp as she looked down at him. "If you won't trust Blade, dearheart, at least trust them."
     "Intellectually, I do." Amberdrake protested. "It's just—it's just that it's hard to convince the emotions."
     He turned back to Blade, who was even more embarrassed at her parent's decision to bare his soul to her. She struggled not to show it. And underneath the embarrassment was exasperation.
     Can't he learn that I am grown now, and don't need him to come haul me out of difficulties? Can't he just let me go?
     "The other problem I have is very old, older than you, by far," he told her earnestly. "And it has absolutely nothing to do with your abilities; it's something I would still feel even if you were a warrior out of legend with magical weapons at your side. It doesn't matter to my heart that this is peace time, that you are simply going off to man a wilderness outpost. The point to my reaction is that you are going out. When—" momentary pain ghosted over his expressive features. "—when people used to go out, back in the days of the wars, they didn't always come back." She opened her mouth to protest; he forestalled her.
     "I know this is peacetime, I know you are not going forth to combat an enemy, I know that there is no enemy but storms and accident. But I still have the emotional reaction to seeing people going out on a quasi-military mission, and that fact that it is my daughter that is doing so only makes the reaction worse." He smiled thinly. "You cannot reason with an old emotional problem, I am afraid."
     She looked down at the polished wood of the tabletop, and made little patterns with her forefinger, tracing the grain of the wood. What on earth did he expect her to say? What could she say? That was years and years ago, before I was even born. Can't he have gotten over it by now? He's supposed to be the great magician of the emotions, so why can't he keep his own trained to heel? What could possibly go wrong with this assignment? We'll have a teleson with us, we'll be reporting in, and if there is a life-threatening emergency and they can't get help to us quickly, they'll take the risk and Gate us back!


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