"Come to us, Siadhan's Son. We've been waiting for this moment." The words echoed like honey within his mind. Sweet, with the longing that he had always had, wanting to hear these words. Bitter with the fact that he knew why they were spoken.
The first meeting came all too clearly to his mind. The blatant rejection that he could place no significant meaning to until recently. As a kid, he knew nothing, but with years under his belt, he had the understanding needed. They had rejected him outright, his family, his ancestors, and the people who were supposed to love him.
"Come, Siadhan's Son, come. It is time."
They even refused to use his birth given name. They refused to acknowledge him as who he was, rather they chose to refer to him as the one who came before. They did not care for him, for who he was, for the heart that beat within his chest and the feelings that were within. They did not care for his decisions, only for what his father did before him. Damned by his father's actions, and having no other choice that he knew of, he followed the summons.
The forest was not too far off, perhaps a few minutes with the speed of being on a horse, but he would not subject his mount to whatever would come. Instead, he dismounted, placing a hand on the neck of the horse, giving a few moments of silence. Then came the time to move on.
On foot, he made his way to the path that lead into the forest. Step by step brought him closer, nearer to the fate that awaited him. The predetermined justice would be dealt out without looking at the facts, the evidence for him. The justice that was decided the moment he was born, instead of waiting to see what actions he might or might not take as a man. What a justice it was, given by supposedly the most just within all the lands. Shaking his head to clear it of any and all such thoughts, he let his feet carry him forward.
Slowly, with each step taken, the forest came to loom above him, the ancient trees silent, for no wind dared blow this day. No birds dared to chirp, no predators dared to chase after their life long prey. All was silent as he stepped up to the edge of the forest at last, bringing him to the homeland of half of his tree of life, half of the blood within him.
It brought him to the doorstep of the home of the gods, and it was not a warm welcome.
"Why do you summon me here?" He called out to them, the ones who dared not show their faces, not until he was fully within their realm.
"Come Siadhan's son. You've kept us waiting long enough. It is time for your judgement."
"Why? Why should I take one step more? You don't even know who I am. You don't even care who I am. You judge that you do not know, because you fear me. You judge me because of my father, you judge me because you wish to harm him, and yet you cause the harm of innocents, those who you are sworn to protect. Why? For petty revenge." He had been calm up until the point of walking up to the forest, and until they had spoken last. With each word he answered with, his anger rose, his anger at the injustice of this entire situation.
And in answer the entire world came alive. As if the forest were a single life with a single mind, the trees wavered this way and that, almost like a wind was blowing through them. But there was no wind to be felt, and the noise that resulted carried none of the peaceful sounds of air flowing freely through the branches. Instead, the sound was that of anger, hurt pride, and so much more.
"Are you sure you want to do this, Raif?"
There was only one of the divine, as they liked to be called, that had ever referred to him by his birth given name, by the name given to him by his mother before she faded on to the next life. Raif, turning his head, looked to Kaard, who suddenly stood by his side.
"Do I have any other choice?" muttered Raif as he shook his head slightly, the black hair in a multitude of braids swinging slightly with the motion.
"There is always a choice. Choose to forget about them, not to carry on this grudge. Choose to leave this land, go east, past their boundaries. Leave this behind. Choose life, not this foolishness. For to go forward would surely mean your death."
"They would not kill me, they'd not dare. Even within their own land, they cannot. To spill my blood within their realm would mean the destruction of all of them."
"Death comes in many forms, they need not spill your blood to end your existence."
"And I need not tarry while they threaten me, for do not forget my own blood, my own ancestry. Not only do I have their blood within me, but that of the Maelstrom as well. I need to only give myself over to it while in their realm, and they are over."
"Damnation. That is what you risk. To be forever within the Void, lost forever, one more soul given over. You'd empower the enemy just to see this vendetta over."
"And they'd see an innocent dead. Is there a difference?"
"I thought there was," came the soft reply, and then the form of Kaard at Raif's side was gone, without the usual effects that such an exit would have, especially with that particular god.
Shaking his head, Raif stepped forth, and the world he left behind was no more.
The path he had followed, the horse he had left behind, the area without trees ceased to be. He was in what appeared to be the heart of the forest, though he had taken only a single step. Such was the true gateway to the gods, for they would find their target when they wanted, not when they were wanted.
::November 28, 2002 10:16 AM