Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chapter 92: Kvornan Sees The Invisible Axle

Fri, December 11, 2074 11:44 am-- Camden Municipal School; Camden, Pleasantview

Kvornan's cell phone was buzzing when he exited the school. To accept the call after spending ten minutes in the men's room throwing cold water on his face was to run the risk of someone hearing the stress in his voice. He would answer only if it was Elise phoning from a janitor’s closet for no reason again, and then he thought that he would spill everything. He would start from the beginning with the man on the dredger ship who was kind enough to share his lunch and who could find something to laugh about on the worst of days. He would continue his story down the road to Veronaville, where he chose not to say goodbye. He would talk about Millhaven in autumn, Emilia’s pies, barroom brawls, the Garrisonian Tribunal, rock and roll, and Antoine’s drunken poetry. He would talk about teaching Alexei his language by way of taping notes to every object in the house. He would talk about nights spent lying on the lawn, renaming the stars. He would explain why he and Alec slept heads to tails on Wednesdays, why mashed peas are not so good for sculpting, why winter is the only time to swim.

He would even say things to Elise that only Alexei knew, moments both terrifying and beautiful that had been theirs alone. Then he would confess to why he was always the first one to drop his gaze in a staring match, confess that the life he gave to Alexei had belonged to Alexei all along, and finish by warning Elise against the ruin that attachment can bring.

Kvornan wedged his fingers into his pocket and gripped the phone by its sides. It was pathetic to be upset at that moment but being too cowardly to answer the phone only compounded his embarrassment. The incoming call was listed as "Data Unavailable", which only ever meant "Addison London". It was the first time that Kvornan could remember being relieved at that blinking blue "Data Unavailable". Kvornan dragged his feet toward the swing set at the edge of the lawn and sat down with the phone still vibrating in his fist. The frigid air was beginning to make his nose run. He ruffled his hair and sniffed back, wishing he had a cigarette.


"You got a minute?" A red leaf landed on Kvornan’s lap. He brushed it away.

"What do you need?"

"It's about the new Magus." That was a newsflash. Kvornan pressed the receiver closer to his ear with his shoulder.

"Did someone die?"

"No, no one died. Rodin Chi'en got the sack after you left." Addison sounded annoyed, as though Kvornan should have been keeping better tabs on the palace. Kvornan snorted derisively. He had not spared a thought for Rodin Chi'en in weeks. "I took the liberty of suggesting a candidate for the position." Kvornan trekked backwards on the tips of his toes, gaining momentum.

"And the Magi took a suggestion from you seriously?"

"You know me. I work with subtly and finesse." Kvornan pushed off. Finding it too difficult to swing with just one hand, he focused the magical force around him to propel the swing forward.

"Hm. What's that thing the kids are saying these days? 'TMI'?"

"Funny you should mention kids. The Magi are inducting Jack Dalton as an Ovate on the solstice."

"'The Kid'?"

"The very same. So my question for you is, 'What would you say to having a man on the inside?'" In truth, Kvornan was not sure how he felt about that. He slowed down the swing.

"Can we trust him?"

"He's like my own blood. And you're welcome, by the way."

"You're a genius, Addison."

"It's what I do." Addison hung up the phone. The swing came to a stop. Kvornan pushed the antenna back down into his cell phone and watched the frozen leaves tumble by.

May 14, 2052 4:17 pm-- the 200 block of W. Larimer Ave; Tolsbury, Pleasantview

"Cheaters never prosper, Vincent Randall!" Kvornan's sandals were barely touching the ground. He was using his energy to disrupt the way that gravity acted on his body in motion, just enough to stay ahead of Alexei. He sprinted backwards to face his opposition and cupped a hand over his ear.

"What's that? I can't hear you. You're too far behind!" Alexei dove at him. Kvornan jumped out of reach, about five feet back."You know, if I wanted to, I could be at the movie theater by now," he said.

"Over here, Cory!" A little girl's voice cut the air. For an instant too quick to measure, everything stopped. Cory. The name brought Kvornan's past crashing down. He turned towards the source of the sound.

Two children were racing around the playground. The boy called Cory ducked behind a ladder beam. Behind him, Kvornan could hear Alexei's feet scuffing the pavement.

"Bang! Bang!" Cory spun beyond the range of the girl's imaginary bullets.

"Nah, nah-na boo-boo!" He taunted the girl with a raspberry. She loaded her weapon once more.

The children circled, guns drawn, going round and round some great invisible axle.

"Bang!" Cory ducked but did not return fire. Kvornan felt Alexei touch his back. Kvornan shot him a glance to let him know that he was still in the moment. This small courtesy was part of a vast language of gestures that had developed between them over the last couple of years. The 'Are you okay?' pat. The 'I'm still with you.' stare. Alexei moved his hand to Kvornan's waist.

"I am going to ask you something, but I don't want you to lash out at me or withdraw." Kvornan smiled weakly.

"I can't make any promises," he murmured.

"What happened to your son?" Wind hissed through the grass. Kvornan's mouth was dry. He swallowed against it.

"What kind of a question is that?"

"Well, you and I are close. This is something that affects you deeply, and you never talk about it."

"I had a little boy with pale hair like yours, and he was burned alive. What more is there to tell?"

"You're not alone anymore, you know." He did know. Cory tunneled up the sliding board to safety.

"Fricorith had a spiritual deformity of sorts. It allowed for the transfer of foreign entities into his body, into his life force. It's a pretty common defect and for most people, it never becomes a problem. They go through their lives not knowing that they have it. I have it, in fact. It's congenital. But some people, for whatever reason, are targeted by these foreign entities, usually daemon energies. The results are often diagnosed as schizophrenia. And Fricorith... Sometimes I would catch him passing by and I could look in his eyes and see that wasn't my son. Someone else was operating him like a piece of machinery. I can't tell you how terrifying that was. We tried everything. The Magi performed rites and held vigils. The attacks only got worse. That was when my father-in-law started studying the plant life in Arbormoor, particularly the distilled variety."

"He thought that he could find a cure?"

"He thought that he could treat it like the flu. 'Down the hatch, young milksop! Easy does it!' Jon was a quack. It was little use, anyway. He made some extraordinary discoveries in his research but a cure for his grandson wasn't one of them. Fricorith sank deeper into himself. He went catatonic for days. The Magi told us that this was a very dangerous sign and that the structure of his energy could collapse in that state. Fricorith would cease to exist. We gave up hope. Then one day, while Jennail, Nylissit and I were away from the house, my mother-in-law locked my son in Jon's laboratory. She set a fire and made it look like an accident. Then she ran away."

"My god." Kvornan rubbed the underside of his right wrist, over the scar tissue that he had acquired before he turned. He remembered what it was like holding his arm above a stove burner and imagining Fricorith's last moments. It should have been him.

Alexei was watching him, concerned. Kvornan buried his hands beneath his arms. Alexei placed his chin on Kvornan's shoulder, pressing his nose against Kvornan's cheek.

"In her mind, she was protecting Fricorith from oblivion by ensuring that he died fully conscious. She didn't know that my brother-in-law and a maid were trapped inside. We think my niece climbed through a window to save Fricorith. Halfway across town, Jon was shot to death by a Townie woman all in the same day. We told the press that the fire was an accident because that was what we genuinely believed. Jon's murder got the rumor mills turning. Soon it leaked that Jon had been a nerdy old philanderer with fifty lovers, all Townie women, and a score of illegitimate children. Everyone assumed that he had been killed by a jealous lover and that Jennicor set the fire in the lab to punish him for his dalliances." Alexei turned his head, laying his brow against Kvornan's neck.

"So he wasn't killed by a jealous lover?" Kvornan shook his head.

"He was killed by a lover but not for jealousy. He was responsible for the disappearance of their son, Addison Wolosenko. But that's a story for another day." Kvornan looked down at Alexei's arms circling his waist. The sun made the translucent hairs on Alexei's forearm shimmer. He stroked Alexei's arm with the backs of his fingers.

"Bang!" The little girl's voice broke through the stillness. "Lie down, Cory! You're dead."


  1. When writing this, it occurred to me that the 14 years Kvornan spent with the Garrisons sort of made up for the childhood that he missed out on leading up to when Fricorith was conceived. From the time Kvornan was old enough to spell, his life was all ritual and study. I am certain that he was aware of the void that growing up in the temple created for him personally, including that loss of childhood but also not knowing where he came from. He didn’t know his birth parents or what it meant to be a Townsman in Pleasantview (or anywhere else for that matter). He managed to get some of that back during this period in his life, right down to his name. I don’t think that observation escaped Kvornan. He may even think of it as evidence that someone up there is on his side.

    I wasn’t terribly confident about this chapter before hitting “publish” but it contained some pertinent information that had to be gotten across, so I couldn’t just ditch it. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

  2. Pertinent information indeed. Hearing that story from Kvornan himself was important, as well as the insight into his relationship with Alexei.

    I'm guessing Addison Wolosenko would be too old to be the same person as Addison London (well, unless Addison London is secretly a vampire or something like that, but I doubt it).

    Hmm. I never noticed before Kvornan's one line triggered the thought, but Alexei and Fricorith do seem to be of the same physical type. So, I wonder if Kvornan's relationship with Alexei wasn't so much sexual/sensual as it was very strongly paternal/fraternal? Then again, that's one relationship that was probably a little bit of everything.

  3. Van:

    Exactly. I needed all of the info out in the open moving forward. That and more.

    Addison Wolosenko would be too old to be London, 'tis true. In fact, Addison Wolosenko is quite dead. You can find him here on the family tree. Also-- *points at the first two paragraphs of this chapter* More blatant evidence to come.

    I don't think that the power dynamic ever reached a father/son place with these two. For one, their ages are pretty close (for vampires). They were pretty chummy/brotherly for a long while before it became the love that dare not speak its name. And of course, things got messy from there.