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AVFtS: Toward the Endlessly Setting Sun

Part of a series of archived posts in AVftS
Author: Emily
Date Posted: November 11, 2019
Forum Post: Linked!
Word Count: 1,005
Characters: Rizali Corvus, Cathal

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Rizali tried to appear nonchalant as he walked back toward his quarters. Depending on the strength of the tracking this time, he might not be able to sleep, let alone read the book; the ritual could take between one and seven hours depending on how strong it needed to be. But at the same time, he didn’t need to perform the ritual tonight… he could put it off a couple more days before it started to get dangerous. After all, he hadn’t even known about the ritual for a month the first time it was happening. Would it be better to read the book? He was an academic, he’d spent so many nights reading instead of sleeping, what was one more, even now?

For that matter, why not start right now? He flipped past the dedications to the first page of the actual text and began reading while walking. The tone and voice were distinct, but Rizali could already tell it would be dry reading. But probably not any more dry than textbooks on ancient enchanting techniques- so many “begats” in those tomes, even before you could get to the information on actual magical theory. The mage shook his head, then redoubled his efforts to read more, just in time for “Yup Rizzo! Wait would ya?

Rizali shut the book and held it close, then rose his head. He stopped moving so Cathal could catch up, then listened as the boy continued. “I have a letter here, I don’t know how my parents found where I am, but they did. I just got this from my da. They want me back in An Clár to fight a war for Corcaigh, just to scare Luimneach and impress the rest of Thomond and bloody Éire!? He can feck off, I have this gig here, I’m not bothered to fight a war for a county that I was only just fighting against a few years back. But I thought you might be interested. I have this map if you want to see it.

He nodded along, wondering if he sounded so highly energetic when he spoke on something he was excited about. When the boy was done, he took a breath. “Alright slow down, Cancun, what are you talking about and why would I want to- wait, you're from Éire?” That was an interesting development. Éire was a country quite far to the north of Ustendelle, separated by such distance that even in a large and multi-cultural city like Coxarif, one almost never, if ever, saw someone from there. He reached out and took the map, looking at it. Fascinating, a political overlay map for a country that wasn’t Ustendelle or his own. He continued, “I’ll take the map, but I can’t imagine why I should be invested in the political particulars of a country thousands of kilometres away from Ustendelle. Anyway, no, we're passing through Kingfisher as soon as I can get everyone together. Why would I want to put that off?”

To his credit, Cathal seemed upset. Angry, perhaps. His back up, he responded “Because there’s a bloody war going down right now. It’ll be anarchy, and there’ll be nothing left to return to after we cross this stupid forest.

Rizali calmly rolled the map and held it under one arm before looking up at Cathal. A dark glint appeared in his eye as he spoke, in a tone much less animated or playful than any he had used since coming to this village. "Kid, I think you've misunderstood this mission, I don't plan on returning to Ustendelle.” He couldn’t, in fact. He’d left The Inverted Spire on a mission, and if he failed in that mission, he wouldn’t be able to face the other mages anyway.

“If I'm correct, and I'm almost 'never wrong, the land beyond this forest is a better life for all of us. None of us have a place left on this side of the forest. And,” here came the biggest risk in the strategy he was laying out, “It sounds like you don't either."

Rizali began walking again, leaving Cathal behind. He steeled himself before saying over his shoulder, reintroducing the same playfulness to his tone that he’d carried when they’d spoken before, "or won't'', anyway. Think about it, Cathal."

“Suit yourself,” came the response, the fiery annoyance of the young. Rizali remembered being that age, with all the righteous outrage and injustice of older than you telling you what was what, feeling like you weren’t being taken seriously and that your ideas were falling on deaf ears just because of the years you had been alive. He’d tried to avoid coming across quite as condescendingly as his teachers had, back then. He’d tried that with decades of teaching young students, but it was difficult being on this side of that divide.

He hoped that Cathal would still be there when they were ready to leave. The boy was bright and energetic and more of a chatterbox than Kaegan or Lyndh. Rizali would need someone like that to pass the time while they spent however long it would take walking through the trees. It would be a much more exciting trip, the more people that came along. But for now he feared Cathal wouldn’t be able to hear those words. He was angry and had just left home, maybe for the first time, and still had those emotional ties to that place and to his family. Those connections were always raw immediately following the separation.

Rizali reached Eoin’s home, knocking before he let himself in. He was greeted warmly by the mayor’s wife before announcing he’d be retiring for the night. When offered some food, he graciously declined, saying he had a lot of work to catch up on and waving the book. Such lovely food and lovely gestures would just make him sleepy right now. He smiled as he entered the guest room: a lovely woman she was, all kindness and warmth. The world could use more of those.