I totally can't remember Jayke's last name atm. So I'm giving him a new one, I guess. lol. .__.;;
Title: Outlander (Chapter One)
Fandom: Heralds of Valdemar
Characters: Companion Rift, Renn Patrick & Companion Gwydion, Herald Loki Singer & Companion Cria, Herald Sorret Gail & Companion Divya, Herald Jayke Wesker & Companion Docelli
Disclaimer: Valdemar & concepts belong to Mercedes Lackey. Original characters & this fic belong to it's author.
Summary: Every Companion waits for their Calling, for the day of their Choice; it's what they live for. But Rift's will be different, and along with some comrades he will travel farther than any Companion has gone On Search before.
Chapter One: Decisions, Assignments
As expected, the Council went into an absolute tizzy over Rift's Calling as soon as Gwydion's Herald, Renn, explained the situation to them.
It was one thing for a Companion to Choose within Valdemar, another for one to Choose from the outlying countries—and something completely different for Rift to insist that his Chosen came from a land so far away that it didn't even exist on any known map. The politics involved in hieing off to an entirely unknown country to whisk away one of their citizens without so much as a by-your-leave would be—and already were—complicated to say the least.
It was the sort of scenario that could all too easily end up in war.
It was also the sort of scenario that Rift could honestly say he didn't care about in the least—not right then anyway. All he did care about was the insistent pulling in the back of his mind, the strange feeling that prodded him to get a move on, damnit even as he waited for the Council to calm down and Gwydion to come back to him with recommendations on how to proceed from there.
Unable to stand still for more than a handful of breaths, Rift paced the length of the Fence in front of the Companion's Stables. Roxie had long ago been relieved of her duties, replaced by another stable hand, but he hadn't been bothered to take note of who it was that took her place.
:You're wearing a groove into the ground.:
Rift paused, then snorted and levelled a glowering look sideways at his sister. For her part, Tia simply stared right back for a long moment. Then she flicked one ear nonchalantly and pointedly turned her gaze to the ground at Rift's hooves. A few feet away, another Companion, Arjuna, pretended to graze, though his attention was pretty clearly focused on the conversation that was about to begin before him.
Juna and Tia were lifebonded—a rarity among Companions—and thus spent most of their time together. They even shared Chosen: Tia's, a boy called Nio, and Juna's, a young girl named Vesta. The four of them were a cohesive, closely-knit unit, with no secrets and no barriers—physical or mental—between them.
:I am not wearing a groove.: Rift informed Tia in a grumpy tone, short seconds before heaving a sigh and lowering his head, ears flattening sideways. :I just—I have to go, and the Council is lollygagging around like there's all the time in the damned world!:
:You know why, Rift.: Tia didn't agree or disagree, just continued the conversation in a matter-of-fact tone. :This whole thing could be a debacle. It's a real mess.:
:It's not a mess, it's my Choice, and—:
:I know, stupid.: She scoffed lightly, crystal eyes rolling skyward. :I have Nio, remember? And Juna has Ves. We've both been through the Call. It's important for every one of us.:
Rift knew that, of course. And it wasn't as if he was getting emergency vibes from the feeling in his head, but urgency was twisting at him anyway—because he knew how far he had to go, how long his journey would be, and the longer it took for him to get started the longer it would take for him to reach his destination and his Chosen.
Dejected, he leaned his head down farther to lip at a patch of grass under his nose.
:Wow. Real mature, brother-mine.:
:Oh, go away, Tia.:
As if that tactic had ever worked in the past.
By the time everything settled down and a course of action was decided, nearly three days had passed.
The bickering and yammering of the council had gone on too long and was finally ended when Herald Renn simply shut them out of the decision. The rest of the debating and discussion had been between Renn and the Queen herself, along with Gwydion and the Queen's Companion, Sonya.
In the end it was decided that, despite the possible consequences, they had no right to deny Rift his Choice.
It was also decided, on the other hand, that they needed to take precautions of some kind—that they couldn't let Rift just waltz into an unidentified, foreign country and steal away one of their younglings without someone there to explain why.
Then, after much debate over who would be the best selection, three other Companions were brought into the loop—Divya, Cria and Docelli—because their Chosen Heralds, it was deemed, would be the best choices to send as Valdemar's ambassadors on Rift's journey.
:We should be going too.:
:You know we can't.:
A welling of frustration from Gwydion made Renn sigh. He could understand where the Grove Born was coming from, of course, and normally he would have agreed—but wherever Rift was going was simply too far away from Valdemar, and the Monarch's Own Herald was needed there. The journey Rift and the others were setting out on wasn't just some prance to Sensholding and back again, after all.
:But we're supposed to be the ambassadors, the ones who deal with the politics.:
:Yes, I know. But we're needed in Haven. And Sorret is just as skilled with diplomacy as you and I are.:
:It's true. In fact, she's probably better at politics than I am. I wasn't raised with the ins and outs of it and she was.:
This time it was Gwydion's turn to sigh. Renn smiled a little at that.
:Anyway, we'll be keeping in touch with them, right?:
:Yes. Docelli has particularly strong Thoughtsensing and Projecting, even for a Companion. I should be able to keep in contact with him, despite the distance they will be travelling.:
:Then we have little to worry about. So stop fretting like a mother hen, Lady Gwydion.:
The sputter that resonated down the Bond between them was enough to make even Renn burst into sporfles of laughter, much to the amusement of both the Queen and her Companion.
Spring was Sorret's favourite time of the year. Winter was too cold and the landscape was dead—and summer was too hot, everything half-wilted in the heat and humidity. Autumn was pleasant, but it tended to rain a lot in Haven during the fall—something that she wasn't used to. Where she had grown up, it had rained during the spring and been dry in autumn. Why it seemed reversed in and around the capital, she would never understand.
In any case, spring was lovely, warm enough without being too hot, and came with all the sunshine she could have ever asked for. The perfect weather for finding a nook in one of the courtyards and curling up with one of her favourite books.
—or, at least, it would have been perfect, if ten seconds after she cracked the cover, Divya hadn't interrupted with a gentle mental prod.
Sorret blinked in surprise. Divya was always very good about letting her have her reading time, and almost never bothered her when she was settling down with a novel.
:Divya?: She couldn't help the vaguely concerned overtone to her words; :what's wrong?:
:Nothing is necessarily wrong, Sorret.: Came Divya's reply. :But we do need to talk.:
She shut her book and set it aside. :Okay then. Let's talk.:
An assignment like this was a big deal. A huge deal, even.
Jayke fiddled with the saddle packs, stuffing a tunic into one with an excited energy that was clearly tinged with nervousness. Docelli, who was lurking in the back of his mind, echoed the same feelings back at him.
The farthest that either of them had ever been was the outskirts of Sunhame in Karse—where Jayke had grown up, and where Docelli had found him when he had been just thirteen years old. It seemed longer ago than it really was nowadays, after so many years living and training in Valdemar.
He hadn't left Valdemar since being Chosen—not even to visit his family. This wasn't by his own choice, of course, but because his parents had disowned him the day that Docelli had come for him. To them, he was a traitor, siding with the demon horse, bewitched by its' unnatural blue eyes.
It had hurt, at first, but the truth of it was that he hadn't been surprised—and he wouldn't have given up Docelli, no matter what they might have said or done, no matter what curses and names they might have spat in his direction.
All of this didn't mean that he didn't miss them, though. He would miss them for the rest of his life.
Jeez. I was just thinking about this assignment, and the next thing I know I'm going over my family problems.
Shaking his head, Jayke went back to his packing.
:Just don't weigh me down like a pack-mule.: Docelli commented wryly. :That's what the chirras are for.: Then a pause as he considered before adding; :and Cria. Cria can be a pack-mule too—ow! Cria! That hurt!:
Jayke had to chuckle at that, but he was too distracted to really reply to Docelli's yelped last words. Instead he continued filling the saddle packs: clothing, a rain cloak, bars of lye soap (wrapped in deer hide to keep them from getting all over everything else), a set of small daggers, care items for both Docelli and the chirras, and, of course, his wallet pouch.
They had all been given coins beyond their regular stipend, gold, silver and copper—hopefully enough to keep them in food and supplies as long as they needed them. But Jayke was sure they would need to barter and work for some of their things, particularly as they got farther and farther away from Valdemar.
"Copper for your thoughts."
Jayke looked toward the door at the familiar voice. "Hey, Loki."
Loki had been his friend for a long time. She was a little less than a year younger than him, and they had gone through all of their Heraldic training together from day one. And as close as they were, the relationship was mirrored in their Companions. Docelli and Cria got along like siblings, right down to their squabbles.
The short of it was that the four of them were family.
"Almost ready to go? I'm done with my stuff."
"Almost." Jayke replied, then swatted at Loki when she stepped into the room and flopped onto his bed, disturbing his continued packing.
Done with one of the bags, he flipped the set around to get at the other side. Tucking his rain clock in, he then turned around to the set of shelves that stood beside his desk—they were filled with bottles and containers of various substances that most people would never be able to recognize.
"You're bringing your kit?" For some reason, Loki seemed surprised.
"Of course. Why wouldn't I?" He was already packing his herbs and medicines into the bag along with his rain cloak. "And anyway, even if I didn't want to bring them, Doc would insist. You know how he is."
Docelli was very interested in medicine. On top of that he had a perfect memory when it came to healing plants and potions. Jayke thought that that would probably be very helpful along their journey—as would his own Healer's Gift, minor as it was.
:Any Gift, no matter how small, could be the difference between life and death one day, Chosen.:
:I know, oh Wise One.:
:Many thanks for the affirmation of what I already knew.: Docelli chuckled, then; :don't forget the aloe.:
Jayke shook his head, made a point of checking to make sure he'd remembered the bottle of aloe extract, then closed the packs. Hefting them up over one shoulder, he tilted his head toward the door.
"C'mon, Loki. Time to get a move on."
If it weren't for Mindspeech, Rift's exclamation would have echoed across the stable yard and into the Field beyond. A few feet away, Tia's ears flattened back and she shot him a Look, then sighed, the sound long-suffering. Next to Rift, Gwydion gave a sideways glance, one ear flicking.
A few yards away, Herald Sorret was helping Divya into his tack—and Cria and Docelli were waiting for their Heralds to arrive to do the same. Meanwhile, two stable hands were also readying a pair of chirras, piling the pack animals high with bags and supplies.
Another stable hand—the infamous Roxie from a few days before—was standing around with Rift's tack in hand, looking rather lost for what to do, as it was obvious that said Companion was currently not thinking about getting outfitted at all.
"Um, Rift… sir?"
Given how antsy he had been over the previous days, Rift certainly didn't seem in any hurry now. Gwydion rolled his eyes skyward before angling his body and bumping sideways into the other stallion.
:Go get ready, already. Honestly.:
Startled by the jostle, Rift blinked a few times, then looked toward Roxie. :Right. Saddle and everything.:
Even though it would be who-knew-how-long before he met his Chosen face-to-face, he had to get dressed up in his best—though he would be leaving the bells behind, forgoing his formal tack for his regular saddle and hackamore. He would also be carrying saddle bags with a few extra provisions and supplies.
:Hurry your rear, brother-mine.: Tia's Voice teased—and this time, knowing that he was about to leave On Search, uninterrupted and unrestrained, Rift didn't mind the good-natured teasing quite so much. :Good luck.: She added, as if in an afterthought.
Rift had been turning to head toward Roxie, who was looking relieved that he was finally paying attention to her, but stopped for a moment to look toward his sister.
:Thanks, Tia.: He sent the feeling of a hug toward her. The next comment was a little more serious, though; :we're going to need it.: