Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chapter 80: Kvornan Receives An Affirmation

Sat December 5, 2074 11:24 pm: 88 Wilkins Ave.-- Camden, Pleasantview

Kvornan rubbed his nose with the heel of his hand and waited. Each stroke of the dial tone increased his anxiety. Two rings. Leaving a message would not be the safest practice. Four. This was the last call that the Mindelsohns' landline would ever make. Their service was scheduled to be cut at precisely midnight. Kvornan began to pace the kitchen slowly. Six rings.

"I'm sorry! I'd only just stepped out." Tara sounded somewhat breathless, as though she had been running. Little time had passed since he last heard her voice-- a few measly weeks-- but even the language that she spoke seemed to belong to separate era. Thoughts of her sly grin and warm violet eyes were part and partial to a time labeled before in Kvornan's memory. He cleared his throat.

"Are you alone?" He regretted the necessity of asking. It was not the most personal of hellos.

"Yes, of course. How is everything?" Kvornan let go of the phone, holding it between his ear and his shoulder. He might have started his monologue with the occupation of Ermengarde's psyche or the discovery of that peculiar Jack creature or Elise in all of her resilience. He might have even told her about Imina, over the phone and at a distance, like a coward. But some unknowable force within him wanted to keep the conversation as expedient as it was sterile.

"It's a bit complicated. I'll explain when I get home," he said.

"Which will be when?" Kvornan sat down on edge of the kitchen counter.

"Two weeks. Less, maybe. I just thought I'd call to check in. Am I cleared for arrival?"

"Your home is always here for you. And the children?" He rubbed his jawline, momentarily losing himself in the thought of her nude body, the curvature of her back as it faced him, their legs entwined. No matter how many times he told himself that she understood just what she was committing to, it still felt so unjust.

"I'm bringing the children with me. I miss you, Tara." She clicked her tongue at him.

"You don't mean that but I appreciate the gesture," she said.

"Honestly." He dropped down from the counter and took the phone in hand. He did miss her, but not as profoundly as she deserved.

"Shall I see you soon, then?" Kvornan nodded as though she were standing right in front of him.

"Yes, soon." Silence. Kvornan was holding his breath. He didn't know what he was waiting for her to say.

"God go with you, then." There was a soft click and the line went dead. Kvornan stood for a moment with the receiver still up to his ear. The electric hum of the refrigerator cut into the static night air. Hers had been too empty of a goodbye in their language, one that simply affirmed the separation of their paths and promised nothing of the future. Kvornan pressed the power button on the receiver and watched the condensation collect on the corners of the window panes.

February 1, 1987 9:34 am: Ethelden Palace-- Amhurst, Veronaville (Eighty-Seven Years earlier)

"Keep still, horrible boy." Jennail tilted his chin upwards. Her fingertips were soft and cool against his skin. Painting was one of the many mundane activities that Kvornan now held sacred by virtue of Jennail's involvement. She had more dexterity in her hands than what her magic could accomplish, making the chore a time-consuming one. Kvornan had grown to cherish it as an opportunity to feel her touch, to steal glances at her while she concentrated on his eyes, to be reprimanded for fidgeting. Sometimes he even requested that she paint his face at home, in Pleasantview, where he would only have to wash afterwards. But this morning, Kvornan was too distracted by the circumstance of their visit to enjoy the process of getting ready.

"Agni Hummel, Magus to the Sheut. I may never get over this, Nai." Kvornan tried to shake his head in disbelief but his wife struck him under the chin with the side of her brush.

"Can't you just be happy for him?" Kvornan frowned, somewhat affronted.

"I am happy! I'm just shocked, is all. Ag used to get himself into more trouble than any of us." Jennail blended the pigment beneath his right eye with her thumb.

"Only because his honesty made it difficult for him to hide his mischief. Close your eyes." Kvornan screwed his eyes shut and Jennail giggled. "Not so tight, stupid." Kvornan relaxed.

"He's only nineteen. Who gets inducted at nineteen?" Jennail held his hair away from his face and worked above his brow line.

"You're beginning to sound jealous," she said. Kvornan fiddled with cuffs of his sleeves.

"Maybe I am a little," he admitted. Jennail stopped painting. Kvornan realized too late what he had implied. His eyelids fluttered open.


"Do you ever wish that we had never done it? That you could have finished out your studies and I had married some banker like everyone expected us to?" Kvornan stood. He removed the brush and palette from her hands, tossing them haphazardly onto the bed. Jennail was watching him with a heaviness that he never knew that she possessed.

How long had she been harboring this secret worry? And how could she? Kvornan wrapped his arms around her, kissing the bare tip of her nose. He ran his palms down her tightly corseted back. What more, what else could he have wanted from life than this woman? Than their son? Kvornan shook his head.

"This is the best and only dream that I have ever had for myself." It was an assertion of truth that tensed his shoulders like an oath. Jennail pulled him towards her by the back of his neck. He was hers to command, always.


  1. Er... I don't know what Photobucket did to the color in that last image because I sure didn't adjust it. Sorry about that.

  2. Hmm... I must admit that this part confuses me somewhat:

    Thoughts of her sly grin and warm violet eyes were part and partial to a time labeled before in Kvornan's memory.

    I'm sure this was touched on in the story, but... what is the event that sits between "before" and "after", again? Ermengarde's encounter with Orion? God, my memory sucks.

    Interesting to see the contrast between his relationships with Tara and Jennail. I just hope he and Tara aren't starting to burn out the way the other romance did. Maybe things will improve when they actually see each other again? I hope they will, anyway.

    And I see nothing wrong with the pictures :)

  3. Ach! Before his entire trip to Pleasantview. No probs though-- I know it has been precisely 1 million years since I posted anything.

    Kvornan has received a lot of weird news between when he left back in November and now:

    Stay beside the Ib or you're getting replaced. He still doesn't know who said this or why. It is exactly counter to a previous command from Sammael. Naturally, Kvornan was going to do what he wanted anyway and he wanted to be with Elise. (Although, he had been toying with the idea of doing as he was originally told.)

    Jack's entire existence was a minor shock to the system.

    Then of course, there was Ermengarde, which was scary. Not only was he afraid for Ermengarde for her own sake, but he was so determined that Elise would not go through what happened to him by losing everyone she loved at once that he put his own existence on the line and entered a potentially collapsing psyche.

    And let's not forget that he also ran into an old chum. Kiernan was supposed to be well dead.

    He killed a man to keep himself from doing the same to Imina out of hunger when he returned to Ethelden. He does think about this and it will be coming up soon. The last time he killed anyone, it was accidental and pre-Alexei.

    Also, he has been grappling with the issue of how to deal with Elise since she seems to be able to get into his head and extract any information she feels like.

    Things may very well get better for Tara and Kvornan when Kvornan gets back. Tara feels like he's cutting her out of the loop, which has to hurt a little bit in an "I thought you trusted me" kind of a way. This is the first time that he has bothered to contact her and he only did it to tell her exactly nothing. Meanwhile, she is also dealing with things on the Veronaville end. That fae-attacking vampire still hasn't been identified or caught. Also, there is currently no Magus to the Ren and WTF is a Jack Dalton?

    hehe Thanks, Van! That last image came out redder than the rest. Photobucket is having a laugh.