RTYY 168 – A Hard Wall to Conquer
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“Are your accommodations uncomfortable in any way?” FeiWan1Literally fei (raging / furious) + wan (fire) decided to ask just to make conversation. “Is anything disturbing your rest? If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to inform me. I’ll make sure to provide whatever you find lacking, so that you’re able to enjoy a good night’s rest.”

“Our accommodations are more than suitably comfortable. Thank you for asking.”

“Then, would you like me to call a Henniner2Literally hen (heal / medicine) + nin (person / human) + er (male form), making a male healer. A female would be a Henninar. to check on your health?” FeiWan asked before he could even think about what he was saying. “Maybe the long trip did take a toll on your health after all.”

CalRimRan3Literally cal (bright) + rim (cold) + ran (moon) silently shook his head, his white hair softly brushing against his face and neck.

“That won’t be necessary. I will be fine in the morning.”

He did look paler than normal, FeiWan concluded on closer inspection. Had CalWan4Literally cal (bright) + wan (fire) really … He gritted his teeth.

“Was the CalWan disrespectful to you in any way?” he demanded, his voice sounding a bit more fierce than he’d like, and those gray eyes stared coldly at him again, making him realize that he’d just asked a very silly question.

“El’Gin5Literally el (supreme) + gin (gold). Name given to the male children of the Emperor. Could be translated into prince in the common language. Wen CalWan was nothing but polite and attentive towards our needs. Exactly what one would expect from someone widely acclaimed as the perfect host,” CalRimRan replied, his voice completely emotionless but, even so, FeiWan couldn't help feeling slightly irked at the sound of those words of praise.

“I hear that his younger sister was also present?”

CalRimRan nodded all so slightly.

“El’Lin6Literally el (supreme) + lin (silver). Name given to the female children of the Emperor. Could be translated into princess in the common language. Wen NimRen7Literally nim (gentle) + ren (river) truly lives up to her reputation of being the fairest and most delicate of the Imperial ladies.”

An ironic smile that FeiWan couldn’t contain stretched his lips.

“I’m sure you’re aware that the El’Dur8Literally el (supreme) + dur (ruler). Name given to the Emperor offered her hand in marriage to your Council of Elders, should we fail to safely retrieve you from your captors.”

CalNimRan nodded again.

“We’re aware.”

“Now that you’ve seen her, wouldn’t she have been a wonderful acquisition to your Clan?” FeiWan brazenly asked, and CalRimRan stared coldly at him for a moment, his gray eyes as hard as stones, before he delicately lowered his gaze.

“We were most honored by Wen’s El’Dur’s offer. But unfortunately we would never have been able to accept such a barbaric act, like forcing a young woman into marriage for political reasons. Not to mention that we never find our mates outside our own people,” he declared and FeiWan pondered on those words for a while.

Of course he was more than happy to hear that there was no way the CalDai9Literally cal (bright) + dai (light). Unlike the Empires, the Dragon Clan has no royalty. They have a Leader. CalDai is a personal title (not inherited), and it refers to the youngest son of the Leader, reason why ZaiWin and the others sometimes refer to him as a prince (which he is not). was interested in marrying NimRen, or in marrying her off to another member of his Clan. Better yet, it was actually a relief to know that it had never even occurred to him to establish some kind of marriage alliance with the Won Clan. And it was true that he had never seen any foreigners, besides himself, during his stay in the Heavenly Mountains. Everyone there had had white hair and gray eyes. But, on the other hand, it wasn’t as if there were a lot of them. Maybe five-hundred? Six-hundred? If they only married within their Clan, wouldn’t they end up marrying into their own bloodline? Like cousins and such?

Marriage within one’s bloodline was something that was carefully taken into consideration within the Imperial family. Because all El’Dur would choose their wives, be it their El’Dai10Literally el (supreme) + dai (light). Name given to the Empress, Dailar11Literally dai (light) + lar (lady). Could be translated as Queen. or even their numerous Janwan12Literally jan (flower) + wan (fire). Could be translated as Concubine., amongst the women of the other noble, ruling Clans. And all ruling Clans would inevitably have some Imperial blood flowing through their veins. Like his mother, for example. Hen13Literally hen (heal). Where Hen is the name of the Clan, also the name of a Province. KimLay14Literally Kim (perfume / scent) + Lay (seed).’s great-great-mother had been a Janwan as well, KimLay’s Imperial heritage clearly visible in her green eyes. That was obviously the reason why she had been chosen in the first place.

All the women the El’Dur married had some Imperial blood flowing through her veins, But they couldn’t have too much. If they were too closely related to the El’Dur their children would be powerful, yes, but dangerously unbalanced.

In the past, obsessed with maintaining the Imperial bloodline as pure as possible, since Tien’Elhar15Literally tien (Heaven) + el (supreme) + har (girl child). The Heavenly Beings also known as Celestials in the common language. seemed to be attracted to the Imperial lineage, they had tried marring brothers to sisters. The result had been the birth of crazed El’Gin and El’Lin, who would end up becoming raving mad, killing and destroying everything and everyone that crossed their path. Was the Demon Clan immune to such a thing?

Blinking, FeiWan forced himself to focus on more important matters.

Now that the CalWan-matter has been settled, he needed to see if he could extract some more information regarding Nox16Literally nox (night). Where Nox is the name of the Clan, also the name of a Province. ZaiWin17Literally zai (blade) + win (chaos). and the mysterious child from him. And yet, the moment FeiWan set his eyes on him, he couldn’t help noticing how the gentle breeze made his soft-looking hair brush against the pale and elegant column of his neck. He was truly weirdly beautiful for a man. And he couldn’t help wonder. If CalWan's plan hadn't been marrying NimRen off hadn’t been, had he really had some other … ideas … regarding the CalDai?

There he was again!, he reprimanded himself. Allowing his mind to wander towards matters that were none of his concern. He had to focus! Focus on what was really important!

“You never told me. How exactly did our men manage to rescue your people,” FeiWan pointed out. Of course he hadn’t told him. He hadn’t told him much of anything!

“It’s our belief that the brave man who led us all the way here already presented a detailed report of the whole event,” CalRimRan declared without so much as looking back at him.

“Sure. But we all know that reports aren’t always accurate descriptions of what has really happened. They’re mostly focused on military aspects, after all.”

“And what is there more to say?”

“Well, for starters I would really like to know your opinion about the man that actually led the army that rescued you. You told me you met with him, right?”

CalRimRan nodded once.

“The Lun Calzai18Literally lun (black) plus cal (bright) + zai (blade), or Blade of Light. It can be translated in common language as Black General, one of the military leaders of the Empire. Each Province has it’s own Calzai. To distinguish them they were given different colors. The Lun Calzai refers to Nox ZaiWin from Nox. is an honorable man, truly competent and proficient in military knowledge and strategy. Obviously experienced in leading such campaigns.”

FeiWan gritted his teeth. He didn’t know what frustrated him more, if hearing someone else praise that bastard, or if being faced with the undeniable fact that, once more, he wasn’t getting anywhere.

“And yet, this time, he managed to lose more than one-hundred men!” FeiWan purposely pointed out and CalRimRan took a soft deep breath.

“Sometimes, things just won’t go according to plan. We feel terribly sorry for the loss of such irreplaceable lives.”

“How come? You were mere prisoners. There’s no reason to feel responsible for such a thing!” FeiWan vehemently declared, to which CalRimRan didn’t even twitch. “Oh. Unless you’re referring to the fact that the child who caused that horrible disaster is one of your people,” he inserted, watching him closely, waiting for some kind of reaction, even if subtle. “I too, read the official reports. Such a dreadful thing. But, as I understand, the circumstances themselves led to that horrible accident. Children are easily scared, after all. And I imagine that being left alone, in the middle of such violent battlefield, must have been very scary indeed. So, if you’re feeling responsible for what happened, please don’t.”

“You misinterpret my words. We never feel responsible for other people’s actions. People, no matter their age, must be responsible for their own actions,” CalRimRan recited and FeiWan smiled bitterly at the memory of the many times the Elders of the Demon Clan had repeated those same words as justification for his many, many punishments, during his stay in the Heavenly Mountains.

“When we say we feel sorry, we feel sorry for the senseless loss of lives that could have been easily prevented if they hadn’t tortured that child to the brink of death.”

“And yet, you allowed him to stay with the Lun Calzai. Were you afraid we would punish him for what happened?” FeiWan asked and CalRimRan finally raised his gaze to look at him, his expression cold and indifferent, his eyes hard and distant.

“He is a child of our Clan. As such we would never allow outsiders to punish him. If punishment is deserved, we will hand it out ourselves,” he declared so dryly that FeiWan couldn’t help swallow, in an attempt to get rid of the constricting sensation that had surrounded his throat at what had obviously been a very clear warning.

“If he is a child of your Clan, and you weren’t afraid we might punish him, then why isn’t he amongst your people?” he still pushed it, but those eyes didn’t even waver.

“We did ask him to come with us. But, like you, he too chose to leave and follow his own path.”

“And you simply accepted that? Isn’t he just a child?”

“No more than you were. Personal choices, as long as they don’t place the rest of the Clan in danger, must be respected at all times.”

Another damned rule, FeiWan sighed inwardly.

“And you’re not the least bit worried. Allowing one of your people to follow that man.”

“Like I said, the Lun Calzai is an honorable man.”

FeiWan sighed deeply.

“Are you sure that sticking to this story of yours is a good idea? What if we do manage to capture the Lun Calzai and he is brought here, together with that child of yours?” he dared ask and, for the first time since the begin of their conversation, CalRimRan actually moved, slowly straightening his back and sitting with both his feet on the ground, looking even harder to approach.

“Should we take that question as some sort of threat?” he asked and FeiWan’s eyes widened in shock, to what followed a visceral fear at the thought of what his mother would do to him if she were to learn that he’d openly offended the important CalDai.

“Hardly! And if it sounded like that, I do apologize. I was merely trying to express my concern for you and your people.”

“If that’s the case, we are thankful for your concern. Everything I told the honorable El’Dur is the honest truth. The child in question did cause the death of many men, friends and foes alike. He is undoubtedly a member of our Clan. And he freely chose to stay behind, so it is our belief that he is presently in the company of the Lun Calzai. Where, exactly, we cannot say,” he declared in a firm voice and stood up in a single flowing movement. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have other matters to attend,” he added, taking both hands to his forehead and softly bowed his head.

FeiWan blinked, jumping from the table. Had he managed to finally piss him off? Wait! Was their encounter over just like that? Was he being dismissed like some common servant? Had he no say in any of that at all? No matter how amusing or interesting the idea that he had finally managed to irk the stone-faced CalDai might be, he couldn’t just leave him stranded there like that!, he decided. But before he could reach the answer to any of his own inner questions, CalRimRan was already crossing the small gazebo, obviously preparing to leave him standing there.

Suddenly deeply annoyed, FeiWan frowned, and was about to tell him that he still wasn’t done with their meeting when the CalDai paused right next to him.

“Instead of worrying about other people, you would do better to worry about your own Household. If you don’t, once you realize what is happening, it will be too late,” he practically whispered, his voice a low, soft murmur, a whiff of sweet, flowery scent reaching FeiWan’s nose, and then he was on the move again, without so much as sparing him a glance.

FeiWan blinked and then frowned, spinning on his heels, ready to demand he explained what he meant. But CalRimRan was already too far away for him to command him to stop without raising his voice. Which would inevitably result in some unwanted attention. His mother would kill him, if rumors that he had been shouting in public reached her ears.

Watching him walk towards the White Pavillion, his white hair shimmering under the daylight, his footsteps so light that it almost looked as if his feet didn’t touch the ground, FeiWan forced himself to take a deep breath and expel the anger that had made his blood boil. That stone-faced man! Was he trying to rile him up or was he being serious? And if he was being serious, what had he meant by that whispered warning?

Ahahah! 🤣 Poor FeiWan was just abandoned. I bet his huge pride is in shambles 😉

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