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Someday
by Becky
November 1998

Set five years before the beginning of 'Silver Cords'....

...It was his family crest pin, the one he'd had to sell years ago...
...it was the only thing of value that he'd had...
~'Silver Cords'~


The dark-haired boy, no more than 14 years of age, stood stiffly at the edge of the small bordertown marketplace, half hiding in the shadows. Swallowing hard, one hand clutching at the strap of his little shoulder bag, he started to move forward, then hesitated again, not knowing what to do. People passed him, never noticing him as they talked and argued over prices and wares. A few children dashed by, stirring up the dust of the hard, dirt-packed pathway. Women congregated in groups in front of various booths, baskets over their arms. The heady aroma of warm, freshly baked bread wafted through the air, heading straight to the boy who watched from the shadows, dark eyes wide.

His stomach gnawed at him again, announcing its emptiness with great displeasure. He scowled and rubbed his middle with his free hand. No work, no food. That's how it goes, Blaen. Didn't you know that? You never should've told them who you were. Never! Rik has eyes everywhere. He pursed his lips bitterly. Just two nights ago, he'd accidentally overheard his most recent employers planning to get word to Rik to let the slaver know that they had Blaen the dironan and would gladly sell him. He'd barely taken the time to grab his cloak and small bag. Unfortunately, he hadn't been paid yet and didn't stop to grab much more than a loaf of bread and a canteen of water.

Two days later, he'd run out of food and used his last coin the previous afternoon for a hunk of barely edible cheese. Now he needed either a job or a handout. Or he could sell something. He frowned, snorting softly. Like I actually have anything to sell. Enough already. Maybe someone could use some help moving stuff around or something. Anything to earn a little bit of food or coin.

Taking a breath and straightening his small frame, Blaen stepped out into the marketplace, pausing a moment to bolster himself against the noise and presence of so many people which battered at him from all sides. Even though he was only a first-level dironan, he had always been sensitive to the emotions of others. He could remember as a very young child crying in response to his siblings' little hurts and how his mother would comfort him... Jerking to a stop, he clenched his fists tightly, shoving back the pain that memories of his dead family evoked in him. Have to be strong. I'm alone now and that's how it is.

Someone bumped into him from behind, brushing by him with barely an apology. His eyes flew open and he stumbled a few steps forward, regaining his balance. Skittering to the edge of the pathway, he moved both hands to hold onto the bag strap, eyes darting around him, looking for the best place to start job hunting. The morning's moving on and you're not getting any less hungry by hiding in the shadows, Blaen. You can do this.

Six booths and an indeterminate time later, he was still jobless and more hungry than he had been when he'd arrived. One look at him and most of the bordertown residents knew he was from much further into Gurodel. His accent hadn't helped any. Most bordertowners, especially those who lived on the Shionanian-Gurodellan border didn't trust those who lived inside the bandit-ridden country. It didn't matter if he was only a half-starved, too skinny 14-year-old boy with dark blue eyes too big for his face and dust covering most of his clothes.

Slumping down to sit cross-legged against a tree at the far edge of the marketplace pathway, Blaen rested his chin in one hand, staring dejectedly at the booths. Now what? His stomach rumbled painfully, and he pulled out his canteen to take a quick swallow of water just to give his innards something else to think about for a few seconds.

"You need coin, boy?"

Jerking up to feet in a quick motion, Blaen spun around to stare at the large man approaching him from behind. He backed up a few feet, holding one hand out in front of him. He couldn't fight very well, but he wasn't about to be attacked and taken without a fight.

The other man, stocky, a leather vest across his barrel chest, held up both hands. "Whoa, whoa, easy there, boy. I'm not gonna hurt you."

Blaen lowered his hand cautiously, gripping the bag strap again. "Oh."

The man stopped and crossed his arms. "So, do you need coin?"

He bobbed his head once. "Yes, sir, I do. For food mostly. I can work for it."

"Sorry. I don't have any jobs, kid." Blaen's shoulders slumped and he started to turn away. The man continued. "But I will buy that fancy piece of jewelry from you."

Blaen stopped and raised one hand to touch the pin on his tunic collar, nearly hidden underneath the top edges of the cloak. "My pin? I can't sell it. It's my family crest."

The man snorted. "Kid, you're starving. A lot of good a family crest will do you if you're dead from hunger."

Blaen didn't say anything, just lowered his head to stare at the pin, his fingers tracing the edges.

"Whatever. You want to die. Fine by me. I offered." He walked away, heading toward a large booth that displayed jewelry of various types and styles.

Blaen watched him go for long moments, chewing on his lower lip.

It's the last thing I have from my family.

But he's right. What good will it do you if you're starving.

I need it. It's part of who I am.

You'll live without it. You can't live without food.

They wouldn't understand.

Yes, they would. They would want you to live.

With slightly shaking hands, he carefully pulled the pin from his collar and stared at it, running his fingers over the stylized Three Dolphins, feeling the crack at the top of one where he'd dropped it on a rock one day years ago. The ghlia, polished deep burgundy, shone at him, sparkling in the muted sunlight. He curled his fingers around the pin, then looked toward the jewelry merchant's booth, calling out in a tremulous voice, "Sir...?"

Sometime later, Blaen hopped up onto the back of a wagon heading further into Shionan, toward Ashanaran. Having told the merchant that he was a guide, already registered in Gurodel, he'd then asked about where he should go for schooling and good fighting training. The merchant had eyed him for a long time, then directed him toward Ashanaran, saying only there would be teachers who could teach him much there.

He patted the money purse hidden under his clothes again. Full of silver coins again, he felt much better. Ghlia was strictly a Gurodellan metal and very valuable, especially to those outside of Gurodel, prized for its soft burgundy glow. The wagon moved and he gripped the railing more tightly, watching the small bordertown disappear into the distance as the caravan rattled down the trail toward Ashanaran.

Someday, maybe, someday I'll come back. Maybe I can find the pin. Buy it back.

Adjusting his cloak around him, he leaned back against the side of the wagon, eyes closed.

Someday.

****************************
Five and a half years later ....
****************************

Tayaerra ceremony long since over, Blaen lay on his back, heavy blankets pulled up almost to his neck as he stared up at the sky, one hand at his collar. Under the blankets, he ran his fingers over the nick at the top of one dolphin again. He didn't want to stop touching it, afraid he'd reach for it and find it had all been a dream. True, it was only a piece of jewelry, but it also connected him to his family. He could hardly believing that Jydan had managed to find his pin -- and bought it! I'd always hoped that maybe someday I'd find it, but...

With a smile, he remembered using those words five years before when he'd watched that small bordertown disappear into the distance. Someday. Someday he would get his pin back. Someday he'd reclaim the one thing that represented his long-dead family.

Rolling to his side, the young man curled one arm under his head and stared across the low-burning fire to the sleeping man -- now his soul brother, his tayaerra, his new family -- on the other side. Someday. The other hand still clutching his pin, Blaen smiled again, eyes closing in sleep, unable and unwilling to fight its pull any longer.

Someday has finally come.

- The End -


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