Cracked Serenity

Characters: Alasdair, Evan, Lachlan
Origin: World of Egaea (WIP)
Advent Day: Day 14 (December 10th)
Rating: G
Word count: 1,917


Evan sighed happily as he climbed up into his favorite bower with his sketch pad and charcoal sticks. The birds were about today, the weather warm, mild, absolutely perfect for a sketching session amongst the branches and broad leaves of the tall tree. He sat, propping himself up against the two pillows he kept stowed away in the perch. It was always a joy to draw outside, and the island of Yve was unlike any other place he had visited in all his travels. Even in the storm season, Yve was brimming with life. The gods must have willed it so. It was their home, after all, invisible to most, protected by magic much older than what he could boast of as a Fire Elf. Evan couldn't think of any other place he would rather be.

He hummed to himself and sketched. Time seemed to wander away from him as he sketched the birds that tittered and chirped around him, and it was only when he heard his name shouted from the main house that he snapped out of his artistic trance.

"Evan! Evan, come down! I need your help!"

Evan frowned a little as he quickly packed up his drawing supplies. Alasdair rarely called for him. The lesser god could simply blink and appear up in the bower with him. Why call him down? Alasdair's voice was as calm as ever. If something was wrong, his lover wasn't letting on.

He climbed down from the bower, smiling a goodbye to the birds on his way down. "Alasdair? What's the matter? What do you need my help fo—" His voice cut off as abruptly as his steps, and he stared at Alasdair for a few seconds.

In Alasdair's arms was a cloak-wrapped Elf with dark hair and unnaturally pale skin. His eyes were a cloudy green, dulled by something Evan didn't understand. What he did understand was the coloring, and he frowned. He opened his mouth to speak, but Alasdair stopped him.

"Please, draw a warm bath. He needs heat, and quickly. I will undress him."

Evan shook his head. "Why do you have what looks to be a drunken, half-dead Wood Elf in your arms?"

Alasdair gave him a tight smile. The expression was strange on the beautiful face. "A bath, Evan. He needs a bath. Heat. Please. I cannot impress upon you how important it is in these moments to get him warm."

Evan couldn't help but blink a few times to clear the worst of the shock from his mind, but he nodded and murmured, "As you wish." He led the way into their home built in the branches and trunk of an ancient tree. The bathroom was one of the innermost rooms, and he quickly opened the taps, filling their tub with water. He concentrated his energy into the water, heating it with his magic. When he turned, Alasdair had completed his own task of stripping the Wood Elf, and he helped his lover lift the Elf into the tub, settling him as gently as possible in the hot water. He hissed in a breath. "Gods, he's frigid as the peaks of Jemydi at full winter! What's going on?"

Alasdair reached over to him and brushed a lock of his fiery hair back from his face. "There is no easy way to explain."

The touch warmed him, soothed something inside him, and he licked his lips. "Then speak plainly. You're good at that."

Alasdair smiled and gave a single nod. "He is your uncle."

Evan frowned. "I have no uncle who is a Wood Elf. I'm a Fire Elf. Fire and Wood don't mix, remember?"

"Regardless, this is Lachlan." Alasdair brushed his fingers through the matted sable hair, and the Elf in the tub moaned, shifted in the hot water. "He is the latest experiment from the House of Shadows. Our Lady Gaeda sought me out, told me to take him from them before they could do anything worse than what has been done."

Lachlan? That was Uncle Lachlan? The asshole who had utterly destroyed him as a child, that ruined and warped his own three children in the process, left behind a broken wife, and caused them to almost lose the House of Fire in the First Guild War? "Why the hell did you bring him here?" Evan demanded, fury and fear filling him at the sight of the body housing his uncle's spirit. "I told you I was glad he was dead! I was rid of him. So were Tiergan, Maelog, and Dilys!" Gods be praised, when Dilys heard of this, she would piss herself.

"He did much harm in life," Alasdair admitted, "but whether or not you would will it, the Shadow Elves brought him back. We are now given a choice. Do we let the madness of being in this new body drive him to a second death, or do we help him in the hopes that this new life makes up for his past mistakes?"

Evan clenched his jaw. Leave it to Alasdair to put things in just the right way. Choice? There was no choice for him, and Alasdair probably knew that all too well. He couldn't kill his own uncle in cold blood, even if the world would be better off without him. He sighed, unable to glare at Alasdair with any real fire. "I'm guessing you chose life."

"I always do," Alasdair said with a small smile.

Lachlan moaned in the tub, the sound rough and broken. Evan looked his uncle over, and the glare he couldn't focus on Alasdair was easily offered to Lachlan. "You do know his children will be hurt. It's all Lachlan knows to do. Hurt everyone around him. All those who love him, offer him love, seek his approval..." Approval that was never given. How long had he striven to be given even a shred of his uncle's pride? But, no. He was the bastard son of Lachlan's brother. A king's whore had conceived him, and though he grew up with the rights and privileges of the legitimate royalty, he himself had never been royalty. And Lachlan had never let him forget it.

The pain of those times, of his agonizing childhood and those desperate early years as adult, made Evan's chest ache. How he hated Lachlan. Hated him with such a passion.

"Hate is a terrible emotion," Alasdair murmured, his golden eyes shining like the sun. "And do not all deserve a chance to change? Death may have altered his perspective on life."

"Or it may have cemented it," Evan snapped.

Alasdair was silent for a minute, and that sort of silence never failed to unnerve Evan. Even if Alasdair was simply thinking, when Evan was arguing to the tune of silence, it made him feel foolish. Lachlan whimpered and mumbled, shifting restlessly in the tub. He couldn't make out any actual words. The Elf was cracked, completely mad, and damn him to the depths, it actually sparked the smallest flame of sympathy in him.

"I cannot care for him all by myself," Alasdair breathed.

"He will rage as soon as he's able."

"He will need the care of another Elf," Alasdair prompted.

Evan shook his head, gesturing wildly. "They took the most violent spirit floating in the Great Sea and shoved it into the most volatile, animalistic kind of Elf in existence!"

"All the more reason to place him with a lesser god and an Elf who knows all too well what he is capable of."

Evan crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm not going to win this argument, am I?"

"Not while that spark of sympathy remains in the depths of the spirit I love so much."

A flush stole over Evan's cheeks. Alasdair knew just what to say. "How long will the madness last?"

"I cannot say." Alasdair picked up the soap and began to clean Lachlan, even as Lachlan winces and made the most pathetic of sounds. "Gauwyn was mad for almost two years."

Evan sighed and removed his tunic, setting it aside, and joined Alasdair at the edge of the tub. He picked up the pitcher and tried to wet Lachlan's oily, filthy hair. "Why is he such a mess?" he asked, curiosity—for the moment—overriding any sense of self-preservation.

"The body they used was kept prisoner for months, and then murdered. I do not think they cared about his hygiene."

"King Terfel is going to be pissed the minute he finds out one of his Elves was murdered so Lachlan of the royal line of the House of Fire could live again." Evan added soap to Lachlan's hair, massaged his scalp. "And when Maelog learns of his father's return..."

"He will be angry, and then hopeful. I fear he will be grateful his lover is a skilled aura worker." Alasdair looked troubled by the thought, and to Evan, that really didn't bode well for his cousin.

"Of all the Elves to bring back from the dead," Evan muttered. "One thing is fucking certain. The world has become a better fucking place since King Lachlan was taken from it."

"It is that very fact I hope will get through to him." Alasdair paused in his cleaning to lean over and give Evan a kiss that managed to curl his toes in its simplicity.

Lachlan stirred, a little clarity filling his eyes, and Evan pulled back from the kiss, eyeing his uncle defiantly. "Uncle?"

Lachlan screamed and jerked away from them, splashing water all over the floor as he moved to the other side of the tub. He pulled at his wet hair, shivering violently while whimpering, his eyes squeezed shut. "The birds are chirping, chirping, and won't shut up! Deafening. The fog is deafening, and the sun chokes," he whimpered, curling in on himself.

Evan stared at Lachlan, at the shivering, pathetic Elf his proud uncle had been reduced to. Death would be a relief for him now, and something inside him hardened at that thought. Lachlan didn't deserve the easy way out. If that meant caring for him through this madness, then so be it. He turned to Alasdair as he tugged the ties of his trousers loose. "Pull down the blinds and make sure the bedroom is shaded from the sun. I suppose we'll have to keep an eye on him at all times."

Alasdair's eyes glimmered with warmth, even though his expression didn't change. "Then you'll accept Lachlan as your charge with me? You can forgive him?"

Evan let out a slow breath as he stepped into the tub. "I'll see him through the madness and give him the second chance at life. I never said I would forgive him."

He held Alasdair's gaze for a few seconds and was relieved when Alasdair simply nodded and offered him a small smile. "Thank you, love."

Evan managed to chuckle. "Don't thank me yet." He turned to the cowering Elf, letting out a long breath, and then inched closer, intent on drawing Lachlan into his arms. As Lachlan struggled, and the enormity of the task at hand sank in, Evan wondered if anything good could truly come of this assignment. His bastard of an uncle, in his care, and as cracked as any Elf brought back by the House of Shadows.

In that moment, simplicity evaporated out his life, and as Lachlan screamed again, Evan wondered if he'd end up just as crazy as his uncle when it was all said and done.

All works contained here are copyrighted to S.L. Armstrong. No reproduction or usage is permitted without written, express consent by the author.