ostro_goth: (Gotland in winter)
Teja son of Tagila ([personal profile] ostro_goth) wrote2012-02-11 12:31 am

OOM: A Last Visit

There is doom afoot in his afterlife; and speaking of it to some friends, and some passing strangers, Teja has decided that, if he has to go down with the place, he has one last wish he will fulfill himself, taking time for himself, away from his duties to his new friends and the word-let they inhabit, to go and see those dearest to him, in the past.

It is a night with a nearly full moon when Teja rises from the snowy flank of his burial mount, the two cards he was given still in his hand, and makes his quiet way down to the farmstead, the soundless snow glittering in the moonlight more beautiful than all the jewels of Byzantium.

He slips into the house where the families are gathered by the hearth-fire, over their meal; used to their former king appearing among them now, they simply make room at the table for him, and he spends the time, mostly, feeding bread-crusts to the little twin girls, Myrtia and Valeria, who love to test their little teeth on them. They admire the cards and Hilde declares the king on the picture looks much like Teja; but then, he puts them away in his belt-pouch. When the table is cleared, they all settle by the fire, children and grown-ups and Isis the cat, for music and tales, and talk of things future and past. At first, the children are cheerful and alert, and Teja will sing with them, songs from the future that he learned in his afterlife, cheerful children's songs boasting of future deeds, and present fun, and the joys of sunlight, animal friends, and food. Later, when they are tired, it is time for ballads that he will sing in antiphon with Adalgoth, songs of the past, of the south-lands, of the long wanderings of the Goths and their sister tribes. Even later, there is long talk of the next summer, and the next decades, and of how the Goths may grow and thrive in Gotland; and while Teja will not directly meddle with history-book sooth-saying, he does mention names like Sweden and Uppsala and Dublin and Iceland, to show his people the direction of their far-away future. Then, his friends ask for songs once more; and Teja sings his dirge to them, he sings of the 'Stairway To Heaven', and the song of the Mighty Friends.

It must be near morning already, and the fire has burned down; little Hilde is dozing in Teja's lap, and Isis the cat is fast asleep around his shoulders, when Wachis tips forward with an alarmed snore, and rubs his eyes. "I shall go now," Teja says, handing the man his little daughter while Gotho, stretching surreptitiously, plucks Isis off the king's shoulder. When Teja slips from the door, though, after a last look at the women putting their sleeping children to bed properly, he finds that footsteps are following him in the snow, and a strong hand touches his shoulder, keeping him back.

"Something ails you this evening," Adalgoth says, softly. "That gentle wistfulness of tonight I remember from our last days on Mount Vesuvius. What is that is afoot, for you, my king?" That last is not a title now -- it is almost an endearment.

"You are wise in watching my ways, my Adalgoth," Teja says. "Indeed, there is doom descending upon my afterlife, and I, as a dead man, would not be able to get out to a world if the place does indeed end, for I would fade to nothing within days, with no place to return to. Once more, I might be called upon to fight to the last. If it comes to the direst, I might send you some of mine that are alive and would otherwise be trapped -- you have met Sameth or Carlotta, and you would be good to William also, or any other that I might push through my door if the worst comes to the worst."

Adalgoth's hand is still heavy on his shoulder. "And when were you going to tell me that?"

"I was not," Teja says. "I was trusting on your honour and hospitality to take them in, and the nature of the multiverse that always seeks the easiest and most tenable position for any object, to take them home to their worlds at last."

He takes Adalgoths's hand, squeezes it, and lets go. "I was glad to be myself again with all of you, for a while," he says, "to share your peace and happiness, to know and love your children. It was better than anything else that I have known, dead or alive."

Better than having lovers. Better than fighting in strange places, better than Japanese swords or the lovely songs of the future.

He turns to leave, but finds his shoulder caught by Adalgoth again. "Do not walk away, just like that," he says, his voice full of feeling.

"Then walk with me to the barrow-hill," Teja says. "And we know nothing -- it might all come to naught, and I might return with spring, and gifts, and Demeter, and pots for the children to plant early herbs and flowers."

Adalgoth lets go of him and follows, for some paces, among the quiet lesser buildings of the farmstead, his steps crunching in the snow. But then, his hand grips Teja's shoulder again, and when he turns around, Adalgoth pushes him against the wall of the farm's forge, stepping close to take his beloved king in his arms. "The world is ending for you," he murmurs against Teja's hair, "again, for you; and there is this thing you would not take the last time. We spoke of it, and I know why; and when you came back to us, I can see why you would not take it, either, but ever be in the sunshine and the open with us, and not have secrets with me from all others. But if this is the end, I will not let you go without offering again, and letting you have it. There is this thing people do when the world ends -- realise their hearts' deepest desires, for there is no future any more when those might or might not come true. I will let you have that which you desire; I will not let you go without having at least once that which I always secretly desired!"

His callused hand has strayed inside the hem at the neck of Teja's cloak and tunic, caressing the bare skin of his neck and shoulder. Now, it stops, fingers cradling the sinewy roundness of Teja's shoulder. "If you do indeed wish for it as I do believe..." he says, hesitant and gentle.

"This thing people do when the world ends, is it?" Teja says, with a little smile, tilting his head at Adalgoth. There is trepidation in the gentle blue eyes, and the moonlight makes his plain brown curls shimmer like silver-coated bronze. "Yes, I do wish for it. This thing people do when the world ends -- we may do it, and you may commit it to the darkness of your memory if I do not return. It will not be a secret that parts us from those around us." His arms slide under Adalgoth's cloak; he pulls the man's solid frame close, and kisses him with a passion that has only ever simmered between them, never fully expressed before. "If that is what you wish, prepare to be amazed, surprised, baffled and shocked; for if we are to do this thing people do when the world ends, I shall for once not hold back.

Adalgoth kisses him back with equal fervour.


When Adalgoth wakes, half-wrapped in his cloak on their lair of sacking and soft hay in the forge, he is alone in the darkness of the embers that remain of the forge-fire, his body tingling with remembered pleasures and touches, and his soul with remembered surprises and yes, lovely shocks. As if for a proof that he has not imagined all of this, Teja has left the two little images by his side: - the dark king that would live and die for his people, and the man with the swords, once more stealing softly out of their lives.

[[OOC: Warning for doom and gloom and faint mention of sexual things.]]