Celestial Descendants – Lengthy Short

Until I have more new content to post, I’ll be migrating pieces of writing and such that I would like to share. Feel free to check them out at your leisure if you’re so inclined. You’ll also be able to find them under the various dropdown links and pages if they get pushed out of sight. This was a oneshot / story I originally wrote as fanfiction but then polished and attempted to submit to a Glimmer Train contest. Nothing came of it, but I tried! haha I hope you enjoy. ^_^

For the record, these celestials / angels are more based off of the ones you see in Dungeons and Dragons / the Forgotten Realms, but minus the powers. The sword was inspired by the magical weapon(s) in the Sword Sworn books by Mercedes Lackey. It’s been so long since I’ve read them, but they were fantastic reads (imo). And the magical sword might not be in that particular story but I know one is there somewhere. I promise! haha

*Narration has been added!

Celestial Descendants

Synopsis: Trelewk is a grandfather who volunteered to watch his grandson for an evening while the boy’s parents have a night out. Fascinated by the tales he’s heard of Grandpa Lewk and his friends, he asks how his grandfather came to lose his wings. Aided in the telling by his good friends Chulyre, Ganik, and Khyune, Trelewk agrees to relay the story. (5,708 words)

Narration of Celestial Descendants – please forgive the mistakes and the lack of variety in voices. I’m still practicing and learning. haha

           “Grandpa Lewk.” The six-year-old boy sitting on Trelewk’s lap looked up and tugged on his shirt to get his attention, staring into the wizened face intently.

            Perched in front of the hearth in his living room, surrounded by a handful of his oldest friends, the old man smiled down at his grandson in bemusement. “Yes Saing?” He could tell the boy was beside himself with excitement and Trelewk could predict what question he wanted to ask. It was a rare moment when he was not under the watchful eye of his parents and they were always quick to quiet him when he tried to ask about certain… subjects.

            The brown-haired child opened his mouth quickly and asked in a timid whisper, “What happened to your wings, grandpa?” Awkwardly, he craned around to look over the older man’s shoulder, staring at the asymmetrical nubs that were all that remained of his once magnificent appendages.

            His grandson knew what they were supposed to look like, since there were painted portraits that showed Trelewk in his full glory around the house, but the story was one that was often avoided in polite company. Saing’s parents were especially worried of asking about the story. They were concerned it would upset Trelewk. And maybe be a bit much for Saing himself.

            He had no such reservations. When Saing’s parents wished for a night to themselves, Trelewk had happily volunteered to watch his grandson. He didn’t think they knew he would have a few of his friends over, but he doubted they’d begrudge him the company. After all, his wife had been dead for several years now and he often felt lonely without her soothing presence. While he was used to the pain of aching wounds, some were infinitely easier to alleviate than others. And really, he was well past the point of being bothered by such a familiar question.

            Trelewk hummed thoughtfully and turned his gaze to meet the eyes of those sitting nearby. Chulyre, Ganik, and Khyune had been his friends for as long as he could remember and while they all bore marks from that encounter, Trelewk’s loss was the most obvious in their winged society.

            “Your grandfather was being foolish,” Chulyre quipped, sticking his tongue out at his friend as he shook his head in fond remembrance. With ruby hair and proud, tan colored wings, he was impossible to forget, but like Trelewk, he bore old scars beneath his clothes. In fact, his right hand had been burned so badly, he had lost partial ability to use it, so he kept the defective limb covered at all times, hiding the imperfect flesh.

            Trelewk laughed and caressed the tiny, mottled wings on Saing’s back with gentle fingers, remembering the feel of feathers. “Now that is a tale to tell.”

            “A heroic one too,” Khyune nodded, offering an encouraging smile as he reached over to place his hand on his friend’s shoulder. He looked like a prince in their current company, blonde hair framing an otherwise flawless face and no obvious wounds to speak of, though most knew he hid such under his attire.

            Among their company, they were all pleased when Trelewk let his guard down at least a little bit. Though he had long since given up his position as leader of the Elder Houses, he maintained a strong face for the general populous, never mind he’d lost something most would have rather died than chosen to live without. The pain of losing his wings had never healed, and those closest to him knew as much, sharing in his loss. They were like brothers, closer than blood, and when one faltered, another was there to lift him up; such was the way it had always been between them.

            In his gruff voice, the burly Ganik barked a laugh and crossed his arms over his chest, dark brown wings shifting on his back as he peered at him with one steely orb around the fall of his wavy black hair. He’d let the strands grow out enough to hide the right side of his scarred face, obscuring the eye which had remained sealed when it healed over. “Lewk’s nothing if not dependable. Back in the day, gramps could fight too,” he admitted proudly, glancing at the sword that was mounted above the mantle.

            An ornate, shining claymore glimmered in the firelight, sparking iridescent colors where they flickered along the length of the blade. The plain hilt didn’t quite seem appropriate for the majesty of the weapon but they knew better. In the hands of its rightful wielder, no one could remove it from their grasp.

            “Invictus Bane-Slayer,” Chulyre murmured, walking down older memories with a far off look in his star-flecked, green eyes. They all had weapons then too, not that it had done them any good.

            “She has earned her rest,” Trelewk nodded sagely, looking down at his grandson with a pensive expression, gray-blue eyes squinting in the overhead lighting. “I only hope she never has need to be called upon again.” Saing’s hazel eyes were huge in his face when he looked around the circle of aging Alatucians, awe and wonderment written in his features.

            They were the stuff of bedtime stories for him and his cousins; the fifteen heads of the Elder Houses. Incredibly powerful warriors, they had settled the region and reclaimed it from the foul creatures that had taken it over, led by the fel monster Crimson Bane. Such was its power that it had threatened to overtake the island upon which they lived with the promise of the rest of the world after.

            “Listen well Saing and I will tell you the story of that day. Just don’t tell your parents,” Trelewk winked conspiratorially, earning amused chuckles from the other three.

            “Promise!” Saing grinned, holding up his pinky to seal his vow.

            Trelewk hooked their fingers together with cheerful solemnity and then took a breath as he leaned back. “Okay. Now where shall I begin?” he mused, thoughtfully scratching his chin.

            “The beginning is a good place to start,” Chulyre snorted, eyes twinkling.

            “Well then. Should I start with your capture?” Trelewk teased lightly, watching as Chulyre glared at him indignantly.

            “Ganik was first!” he defended himself, pointing at the largest among their group.

            The one-eyed man laughed again and smacked Chulyre’s finger away, “But only because I sought him out.”

            Khyune’s soft voice flowed around them when he knelt in front of Trelewk and Saing, interrupting the bickering duo who had been known to carry on extensively in the past. “Long before you were born, when the Fifteen Houses had just been founded by our fathers, our island was beset by a scourge that threatened to wipe us from existence. Crimson Bane, summoned from a vile realm by those who didn’t know what they had called, created hordes of soldiers from the creatures it warped to suit its purpose. Everything, from the smallest rodents to the largest mammals became its pawns, mere puppets to be thrown against the world. It saw our kind and vowed to destroy us for getting in the way.”

            Trelewk met Khyune’s caramel gaze and gave a grateful smile when he picked up where the other paused. “Because we are the descendants of celestials, it could not twist our bodies to become the forms it wanted. Our divine heritage protected us so Crimson Bane was determined to wipe us out. Including everything under our protection,” he added with one finger raised while he shook it at Saing’s nose pointedly.

            “For years, we fought the armies that Crimson amassed to throw against us, fighting at the threshold of our doorstep time and again,” Ganik picked up the narrative in his deep, confident voice. “Each foray was pushed back and more creatures were set free from its corrupted hold. We earned every patch of ground we fought to wrest from its control. And together, we were unstoppable,” he sighed, remembering the glorious days of combat and victory.

            “We were also foolish,” Chulyre added dryly with a disappointed twist of his mouth. “Because of our success, we thought we could not fail, that Crimson would give up its futile endeavor. We were quite wrong.” His flawless face fell to a sad expression and he looked at Saing earnestly. “Crimson Bane was no fool for all that it was evil. It watched and learned and plotted in the safety of its domain.”

            Trelewk placed a hand on Saing’s shoulder, forearm brushing against the soft feathers of his wing, and drew the boy’s attention up. “You see, Crimson began to notice that while we were successful, it was due in large part to the sons of the houses. Bestowed with blessed weapons, they gave courage and power to those who followed us. With our forces, we were nigh on invincible.”

            “But Crimson also saw that when we weren’t there, our people faltered; their strength diminished. So it plotted to take us all,” Khyune explained, miming his words animatedly and making Saing gasp when he closed his hands in front of the boy’s face with a loud clap.

            “Ganik was the first to be captured but only because I was fool enough to be caught alone,” Trelewk admitted, nodding at both Chulyre for the title of ‘fool’ and in apology to Ganik. “I was wounded by Crimson Bane when I thought myself untouchable. If ever you must patrol, always have another by your side,” he urged sincerely as he shook his finger at his grandson, blue-gray orbs searching the young face. “Never go alone.”

            “Grandpa Lewk escaped capture but he was trapped behind enemy lines, wounded and unable to get home,” Ganik gestured at the eldest among them with a shrug. “If he hadn’t been so careless, I wouldn’t have had to go try and save his ar- butt,” catching himself with a glance at Trelewk before he nodded emphatically at Saing, smiling when the boy agreed mutely.

            “Hey! Whose side are you on?” Trelewk chuckled, nudging his grandson in a teasing manner. Amusingly, Saing leaned closer to his grandfather and smiled up at him, shining hazel eyes the epitome of innocence.

            “Hah! He’s a charmer, that one,” Chulyre slapped his knee with his good hand and clapped slowly, the sound slightly muted for the glove. “Must take after his parents,” he teased with a sly glance at the older man.

            With a chuckle, it was Khyune’s turn to bring them back to the story and he gestured at Ganik again, “So our mightiest warrior left to rescue our leader and instead found himself captured. It was a grand battle, from what I’ve heard,” he grinned at Ganik who feinted a punch at him.

            “It was!” he defended himself with a snort, rolling his one eye, though his lips twitched with the beginnings of a smile.

            Khyune conceded with a nod and focused on Saing again. “One chink in our armor was all it took to begin unraveling what we had thought was perfect. Trelewk made it back but while he recovered in the heart of our territory, Crimson Bane continued its plotting. One by one, it ensnared us until it had all but one of the Fifteen sons.”

            “But why didn’t you just escape?” Saing asked breathlessly, looking between the men in open adoration.

            “We might have had the chance if Crimson hadn’t been as big as it was. I still say it was tall as a mountain,” Chulyre started, raising his hands up high above his head.

            “Not really,” Khyune denied with a shake of his head, flinching away from Chulyre who smacked him lightly on the arm.

            “Oh fine,” the redhead relented when Trelewk glared at him. “He was definitely as tall as Imenfal at least.” Saing gasped at the comparison and Chulyre grinned, leaning close to continue, “And it wore us in cages around its waist like so many decorations on a belt.” His lip curled up in a sneer at the memory of the treatment and he crossed his arms in dissatisfaction, looking away to further show his displeasure.

            “Indeed,” Trelewk sighed in quiet agreement, holding his peace. They all knew Chulyre was still exaggerating but none of them called him on it. Imenfal was the tallest tree on the island and when they were fighting Crimson, he had certainly seemed of a comparable size at the time. “I remember your parents took you up to the top of Imenfal not that long ago, right Saing?” he asked, looking down at the mesmerized boy with a smile.

            Mutely, he nodded his head with his mouth partially hanging open, unable to respond in any other manner for a moment. When the other three chuckled softly, he snapped his jaw shut with a click and swallowed in embarrassment, inching closer to Trelewk. “What happened next, grandpa?” he asked in a whisper, staring up at the fifteenth son.

            “I did what any of them would have done for me in turn,” he murmured in honest response, meeting the gazes of the three evenly. “With Invictus in hand,” he gestured towards the sword on the mantle, “I went to meet Crimson Bane.” Trelewk’s eyes gained a far awake look while he vividly recalled the battle of that day.

            Black wings beat the air powerfully, feathers fluttering at the swift passing of the wind streaming through them. The skies were empty of foes and with Invictus strapped to his back, Trelewk made good time, tearing towards Crimson Bane’s stronghold in the center of the enemy’s territory. The creature had no such structure to call its throne but claimed the heart of a dormant volcano as its domain.

            Alone, he went to meet the monster, climbing higher with each wing beat, leaving the masses of hordes behind on the lower levels of the island. With nothing but courage and his weapon, he only hoped that he could succeed and not leave what was left of their forces to fend for themselves. As he reached his destination, he saw that Crimson Bane was waiting for him, seated in a makeshift throne of piled rocks, a pale and perverted imitation of royalty.

            Trelewk glared at the massive creature with a fierce countenance before he floated down on the warm thermals that rose from the quiet rock bed of the volcano. Rivers of molten lava slept under the deceptively calm surface, filling the warrior with nervousness so that it was even harder to pretend he felt as confident as he made himself appear. The wounds he’d suffered weeks ago at Crimson’s hands hadn’t fully healed but he pulled Invictus from her scabbard and she hummed confidently in his grip, eager for the upcoming battle.

            Like a horrid suit of armor, Crimson had attached the cruel cages of his companions on its person layered in two rows of three and four on its chest and back. A fifteenth cage was resting beside the ‘throne’ and Trelewk ignored it entirely, well aware of who it was for. The bright red creature was as tall as a giant standing at least fifty feet in height, but far more menacing with spindly arms and legs ending in claws and talons as black as night. Its face was split by a massive maw that jutted out into an elongated snout, covered by short red fur that only served to throw the white eyes into stark contrast.

            “Release them, Crimson!” Trelewk cried across the distance between them, a seemingly insignificant speck on the floor in comparison to the monstrosity he faced. “Release them and I shall make your death swift.”

            Slowly, Crimson stood up from its resting place, cages jostling loudly as the long limbs unfolded, provoking complaints from the occupants within. It reached down to retrieve a piece of the throne and calmly tossed it at the Alatucian. “Catch.”

            Immediately, Trelewk stifled his words and launched himself into the air, flapping swiftly over the shattering stone that rolled through the space he had just occupied. He had but a moment to spare before the tired warning cries of his companions alerted him to another projectile soaring his way. As before, he dodged, rolling in the air to let it pass by, and then folded his wings, dropping towards the ground to gain momentum. With a loud crack, his wings snapped open just above the surface and he hurtled towards Crimson who continued to grin at him manically.

            “What do you hope to accomplish, puny man? Would you poke me with your toy?” it laughed, reaching down to swipe at him in the air, long arm appearing to move in slow motion.

            “Oh be silent,” Trelewk muttered, folding his wings to barrel roll out of reach. Snapping them open again, he angled upwards, flying parallel to Crimson’s leg and towards the first row of cages just inside the monster’s reach. He had no delusions about being able to match the creature now, but his main concern was his friends. Crimson Bane had not started out this large and Trelewk had a suspicious feeling it was drawing strength from them somehow.

            With an ear-splitting shriek, Invictus rang against the first cage, making the framework vibrate incessantly until the entire stone structure shattered into fragments, releasing a surprised but weakened Ganik. Crimson Bane roared in protest, swatting at the two reflexively as it stepped away, growling under its breath. Flying as fast as he could, Trelewk reversed his direction and struggled to reach Ganik, grabbing hold of the back of his shirt and dragging him along to provide a steadying hand that allowed them both to escape the attack.

            Crimson’s hand passed close enough that they felt the drag of wind pulling at them and Trelewk grimaced against the strain in his wings when he fought to keep them both upright. “Go!” he urged, shoving Ganik forward when he was sure that the other Alatucian had managed to gain control of his wings enough to glide to safety.

            A heavy footstep crashed behind the pair and Trelewk whirled around to find Crimson following close on his heels. “You’ll pay for that,” it growled, squatting down and reaching for him with both hands, the massive appendages closing in with frightening speed.

            Awkwardly, Trelewk flailed his arms and wings, Invictus humming with disapproval and challenge as he struggled to keep his composure. For just a second, the Alatucian saw the faces of those six remaining on its chest and he steeled himself for his next move. “Come on… come on,” he hissed quietly, adjusting the grip on his sword and flapping steadily to maintain his position while he waited.

            At the last second, he flapped upwards, grimacing at the strain in his wing joints when the hands clapped together mere feet beneath him, the resultant burst of displaced air shoving him upwards haphazardly. Again, Invictus sang true against the cages of Nyte and Rhen in quick succession, one from each row, before she trailed along the flesh of Crimson Bane tauntingly, etching thin lines into its chest and neck.

            “Up here!” Trelewk yelled in challenge, trying desperately to catch its attention so it would ignore the two Alatucians he’d just freed.

            In savage protest, Crimson Bane roared again, standing up so quickly Trelewk was unable to get out of the way in time. A shoulder hit him, jarring him sharply, but he rolled off with the passing wind and angled himself to bank inwards and towards the torso, aiming for the monster’s back. On his downward pass, Invictus shattered another two cages, releasing Shingin and Minku. He watched them fall, terrified Crimson would go after them or that they wouldn’t be able to recover in time. For the few seconds he spared them, he saw the two open their wings reluctantly, buffeted by the winds from the creature’s shifting but otherwise unharmed.

            “How dare you! Hold still thrice cursed creature,” Crimson shrieked, sounding more akin to a petulant child than a fearsome demon.

            To Trelewk’s eyes, it already looked slightly smaller, the vest of remaining cages hanging looser upon its torso. “It’s working,” he told himself, flapping in circles around the creature who swiped at him in a frenzied motion. He gave himself a few seconds to watch the five he’d freed and his inattention was almost his undoing.

            Invictus shrieked a warning before one of the hands nearly twice Trelewk’s size collided with him. The sword rang loudly, vibrating in his grip, angry and hot as she sank into the flesh of its palm. She bit deep and even when Crimson tried to shake them free, howling all the while, she refused to let go. Since Trelewk was holding the weapon, his grip was unbreakable keeping them attached, but while his resolve was unyielding, his body had no such protection. He was forced to pry Invictus free before he was shaken apart.

            “No, no, no!” Crimson yowled, stomping in place and clutching its wounded hand protectively as the ground trembled from its tirade.

            Shaken and feeling considerably drained already, Trelewk took several deep breaths, flapping as steadily as possible in place. “Not yet, Invictus,” he murmured softly, readjusting his grip on the sword hilt once more. “We must free the others.” Almost as if she agreed with him, Invictus hummed in response, growing that much brighter; even as his reserves flagged, she became stronger in his grasp.

            “Flying nuisance!” Crimson swiped at him again but Trelewk took refuge in the air, flapping tiredly out of reach above its head. “Fine!” it snarled, shaking its fist at him before snorting and focusing on the freed Alatucians again. “Here my flying pretties,” it crooned savagely, hopping after the five that struggled to hobble away. Unarmed and weakened by their prolonged captivity, none were in any condition to flee swiftly.

            “Crimson!” Trelewk challenged, diving out of the air with wings folded flat against his back as he struck another two cages on the way down, slicing clean through the cells. They split apart easily, releasing Horhyis and Mazair. The pair clung to each other in an effort to stabilize themselves, bracing against the sudden impact of Crimson’s thigh when it turned to follow Trelewk when he dragged Invictus along the demon’s leg.

            Crimson Bane ineffectively swatted after Trelewk, creating a crater in the ground behind the Alatucian when he banked just above the floor. He felt the heat of the rock caress his form when the resultant thermals pushed him back up into the air. But then Crimson raked its claws through the cracked ground, tossing rocks after him and pelting him with the scattered debris.

            Battered, Trelewk faltered in the air, back winging heavily to turn himself around just in time to meet another projectile. He raised the sword before him as a hasty shield and Invictus howled in protest once more. Unable to stop the momentum of the projectile, the force threw him back with a bone rattling jar. The boulder shattered, but it felt as if his arms might have too in the process. Trelewk tumbled backwards in an out-of-control, downward spiral that sent him crashing into the ground, his limbs and wings twisting painfully when he rolled.

            Crimson roared in victory and pelted after the grounded flyer. “Gotcha!” it snarled, reaching down to snatch up the Alatucian by his wing with two clawed fingers, piercing the appendage between them.

            “Argh!” Trelewk cried, abused muscles screaming in his shoulders. Ineffectively, he flapped his free wing, stopping when Crimson shook him roughly, tearing muscles further.

            “Not so tough anymore are you,” it jeered, grabbing the other wing and pulling teasingly, stretching the wings to their limit… and beyond. “Oops,” it laughed unapologetically when the right wing wrenched out of place with a sickening pop.

            With Trelewk’s scream of agony, Invictus pulsed to life, iridescent colors dancing along the blade. She practically shrieked in his hand, pointing straight at the creature’s chest with a spirited life of her own. It took nearly all his will, but Trelewk dragged his sword back and eased the tip over his shoulder, grimacing with his eyes shut tight when he severed the ruined wing in a spray of fine red mist. Reeling from the nauseating pain, he continued to swing his arm around, giving him enough momentum to fling the sword at Crimson’s chest, dragging him along with an uncanny surge of power. Claws ripped through his other wing when the sword’s will tore them free and lodged into the breast bone of their target.

            Crimson tried to swat its attacker against its chest but only succeeded in jostling the sword already impaled there, nestled amidst the cages on either side that kept Trelewk from being crushed. “No!” Crimson howled hopping and flailing in place in thwarted anger. Growling through massive fangs, it stopped briefly to get a better look at its enemy, glaring down at the Alatucian with palpable menace.

            In that moment, Trelewk yanked Invictus free and let himself drop, shattering the four remaining cages on Crimson’s front as he fell. Chulyre, Nagar, Khyune, and Yorin fell with him, flapping cramped wings erratically while they struggled to catch their rescuer, wincing away from Crimson’s roar when it grabbed its head and screamed. Before their eyes, the creature shrank in size again, still towering above them but now no more than four times their height. In contrast, the makeshift vest containing the rest of the caged Alatucians appeared large on Crimson’s diminishing form, hindering its mobility.

            Still tumbling, the four were able to right themselves and help guide Trelewk down to the ground, landing in a jumbled mess of limbs and wings. Stifling a cry of pain, Trelewk extricated himself from the pile, using Invictus as a temporary crutch while he stumbled towards Crimson. The group of four was quickly joined by the seven who were already freed and Ganik frantically flew toward Trelewk with pained eyes.

            “Stop it, Lewk!” Ganik yelled when he landed in front of his wounded friend, placing a restraining hand on the less injured shoulder.

            “I must free the others,” Trelewk breathed through clenched teeth. He met Ganik’s face squarely, refusing to flinch from the injury he had suffered. Blood caked the entirety of the right side of his face, his eye swollen shut and misshapen.

            “Watch out!” a collective cry warned while the Alatucians threw themselves to the side and away from the jumble of rocks that bounced towards them erratically.

            Trelewk yanked Ganik behind him with a pained growl and fell to his knees before him, holding Invictus with both hands in a warding gesture. Her luminescence flared brilliantly when he stabbed the point into the ground, bending his head towards her hilt in silent prayer. He could not avoid the danger but she could deflect it… he hoped.

            The boulder from the last of Crimson’s throne collided with Invictus, pressing against the blade and bending her slightly, her hum becoming more of a frenzied shriek. Just when he feared she might break, an enormous crack formed in the boulder itself and in the next instant, the entire thing exploded before them. As before, the explosion tossed Trelewk back with Invictus still attached to his hand. Shrapnel raked viciously through his remaining wing, ripping it to shreds.

            Those behind them were peppered with debris but the area immediately in front was decimated by the explosion. The smaller projectiles had been destroyed or deflected in the blast and Crimson fumed when it was foiled again. Utterly enraged, it roared, tearing at the remnants of its harness and ripping the last three cages off in its frenzy, dropping them to the ground like so much garbage. Even as it sprinted at them, it shrank even more, now only three times their size.

            “Help me,” Trelewk growled fiercely, reaching for the nearest companions at hand. “Invictus knows what she wants,” he hissed when Chulyre, holding his right arm to his chest and bleeding from wounds on his torso, struggled to assist him.

            Determinedly, Khyune shuffled close and braced his other side, golden hair matted red. “We’re with you,” he hissed through clenched teeth, blood soaking through his shirt.

            Trelewk’s hand trembled as he raised the glowing sword to point at the oncoming Crimson Bane. “One more go, Invictus,” he breathed, pulling his arm back and throwing his sword at the charging creature. It was a pathetic throw with hardly enough momentum to go more than a few feet at best, but Invictus’s power was inversely proportional to that of her wielder. With Trelewk as severely wounded as he was, barely able to stand on his own, she was a fount of power in response.

            Invictus spun end over end, fierce and determined, blazing brightly as she flew towards the monster. Crimson Bane saw its peril too late and ran headlong into the thrown blade, the weapon piercing its forehead to the hilt. The monster’s mouth fell open in a silent scream to the sky while it froze where it was, motionless for a moment until its body began to unravel in a stream of swirling dust. Invictus tumbled to the ground and with the last remnants of her power, a shockwave erupted from the blade, passing harmlessly over the Alatucians to shatter the four remaining cages, releasing Kyunor, Wendiss, and Odrane at last.

            “And then grandpa fainted,” Ganik chortled, slapping his knee in amusement.

            Trelewk just shook his head and looked down at Saing who still had that glimmer of hero worship in his eyes. “I earned that rest,” he told his grandson solemnly. “As you can tell though, Invictus did most of the work,” he admitted, staring at the shimmering blade above the mantel. He had not wielded her since that day but he could still feel her pull, wanting to be used once more.

            Khyune reached out a hand to pat Trelewk on the back, shaking his head. “She might have had the power, but you were the one with the strength to wield her. I could not have done what you did that day,” he stated earnestly, looking at the others and daring them to say they could have otherwise.

            “I could have,” Ganik laughed heartily, mostly in jest.

            Chulyre smacked him for it anyway. “Right… I still maintain you were the first to be captured. At least Lewk got away,” he defended vehemently, making a face at the larger man.

            “Because I made myself a decoy!” Ganik retorted, leaning forward to counter him.

            “So getting captured was part of your plan?” the redhead asked archly.

            “Yes!” one-eye snapped, followed immediately by, “No… Oh be silent!” Ganik grumbled at Chulyre’s smirking expression.

            Wide-eyed, Saing stared at Chulyre and Ganik, blinking twice exaggeratedly. At last he turned in Trelewk’s lap and looked up at the aged man. “Grandpa?”

            “Hmm?” Trelewk hummed, shaking his head and meeting his grandson’s gaze.

            “Do you miss your wings?” he asked with quiet solemnity.

            While he did his best to appear cheerful, it wasn’t hard to believe a mere boy could see the longing in his eyes; as painful as it was, the memory reminded him of a time when he could still fly. “Of course I do, dear one,” he smiled sadly, patting the boy’s soft head of brown hair. “But it was worth it,” he confided, smiling at the friends who would have died had he not succeeded, and the grandson who would have never come to be.

            “Grandpa?” Saing asked again, quietly this time.

            “Yes, Saing?” Trelewk leaned closer so he could hear better.

            “When I grow up, I’ll be your wings,” he nodded firmly, holding up his pinky to swear on it with surprising intensity.

            Trelewk regarded his grandson for a moment, a slow, proud smile on his face, and accepted the gesture for what it was. He locked pinkies with him and nodded. “I might have to hold you to that,” he murmured, pulling the little boy into his arms and hugging him close while he kissed the top of his head, tears brimming in his aged, blue-gray eyes. He saw the other three watching him with warm smiles and he nodded slightly back at them.

            Khyune reached out and nudged Chulyre lightly, jerking his blonde head to the side. The other agreed and Ganik shrugged his shoulders. “Alright Lewk. It’s getting late,” Khyune murmured softly when they finally pulled apart.

            “Aye. That it is,” Trelewk agreed, setting Saing on the ground again. “It’s about bedtime for you little one.”

            “But I’m not sleepy,” Saing denied, peering up at the much taller man now that he was standing.

            “But I am,” Trelewk winked conspiratorially. “Come on. Say good night to your other grandpas,” he chuckled, earning various reactions from the three; Chulyre in particular pretended offense at being called old.

            Saing obligingly gave hugs to all three of their visitors, giggling when Ganik tossed him up into the air and caught him adeptly. “Sorry,” he laughed with a glance at Trelewk, though his tone said otherwise. “It’s not playtime anymore little man,” he said as he placed a hand on Saing’s head and ruffled his hair affectionately.

            “We’ll see you again soon, Saing,” Chulyre grinned and blew him a kiss, to which the young boy dashed away, flailing.

            “Eww!” he ran with a giggle and hid behind Trelewk, to their combined amusement.

            “Night Saing!” Khyune grinned, waving energetically with one hand. “Take care of your grandpa, okay?”

            Saing peeked around Trelewk’s leg and nodded in agreement at Khyune before his grandpa reached down to pick him up. “Come on then. Off to bed with us,” he smiled, waving in farewell as the trio let themselves out. “I don’t think your parents would like either of us staying up this late.”

            “Nope,” Saing shook his head against Trelewk’s shoulder, yawning sleepily as he immediately started to relax.

            “I won’t tell if you won’t,” his grandpa murmured, pausing when he received no response. A glance down showed Saing asleep in his arms, his expression peaceful even as he clung to Trelewk’s shirt. Softly, he kissed the little boy’s head again and took a deep breath, continuing to his room. Yes. Even after the price he’d paid, it was worth it.

Featured image is from: https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Solar

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