selenias: (Sheena)
[personal profile] selenias
Title: The Color of Spring
Fandom: Tales of Zestiria
Characters/pairing: Mikleo/Sorey, Maotelus
Rating: K
Word Count: 2136~

Part One / ? - post-epilogue.

Maotelus kept to himself. Mikleo didn’t try to hide his presence or the anxiety of his footsteps, simply letting himself through the garden gate. Outside, Eumacia regarded him coolly, her gaze fixated on something across the garden, a gold-blue blur -- ironic, Hyland had changed it’s court colors fifty years ago when the royal family elected to pass their rule to another. It was important, Lailah whispered, that humans learn to live like this. To have option and choices, there is no greater joy. And Sorey wore the blue-gold well, at least. His hair hung in a low ponytail that spread half over his shoulder whenever he turned to laugh. Mikleo’s heart took off, and he realized how perhaps the lord seraphim lacked any real divinity, their presence felt formal, distant, like age had caught them a very long time ago.

It smelled like rosemary by the front gate. Buttercups bloomed along the mossy rocks where the spring sprouted from the hill, running west toward the river that filled Ladylake and flooded the lower quarters every spring.

Eumacia took her gaze from the garden and let it linger on him; Mikleo waved sarcastically, feeling irritated that this exchange never moved them on friendly grounds.

“Leave your staff here and show me your pockets.”

“Why? So you can pick your teeth with it?” He brought it forward with the slow spread of his fingers anyway, and there was nothing she could say or do -- he complied, and she didn’t have to like him. He didn’t like her -- most days.

“Lord Mikleo, you know the routine.”

“You’re right, I do. As you can see, I’m very dangerous.” From his pocket he shook his bag of chocolate drops, and her smile, however damnably hard it was to bring out, slowly emerged. She leaned back against the ivy wall. Where he wore the cool colors well, she wore the reds and golds of the earth, and her hair curled thin and spindly around her ears, like the pine needles that fell every fall in prickly bunches.

“Are--”

“Yes, this bag is for you, before you ask. You’d hound me otherwise.”

“True,” she smirked. “I can see how you gain the trust of others so easily.”

If it were easy, he thought to himself, Sorey would walk out with me, and none of you would say a word.

He didn’t ask before he moved on. As soon as he passed through the entrance of the shrine, the smell of rosemary followed. For all that he hated this temple, there was no denying that Sorey’s presence filled it. Before Sorey had woken up, there was stirrings of movement from the north, that one of the four lords was returning.

Edna informed him over dinner, brushing the length of his hair until the wide-tooth comb stopped tugging. Her hands were heavily calloused from the labor of recarving her brother’s shrine. Teenage humans abolished it without understanding the consequences. Like most things, change happened around them.

You should be careful. I don’t think she’ll be as sweet on you as I am.

And yes, it was true, wasn’t it.

Mikleo pressed his hand to his mouth when he entered the garden. Maotelus stood behind Sorey, at his left, filling in the space they didn’t see him fit enough to handle. Or at least, that’s what it felt like. Just a precaution until he’s settled. It was supposed to be reassuring for Sorey, a gentle reintroduction to the world before he went out to greet it. Mikleo saw now who needed it most perhaps wasn’t anyone who stayed here.

Sorey sensed him though -- he spun around in his seat, pen in hand. He’d made enough of a mess that Maotelus was cleaning up the ink when Mikleo met him a quarter of the way and Sorey pulled him into a tight hug, arms around his shoulders. He smelled warm and slightly sweaty. Mikleo’s arms hooked around his waist and it was good to stand there with everyone looking onward and seeing that he was the person Sorey loved most.

Sorey squeezed his fingers once they pulled back. When Mikleo handed him the bag of treats, he smiled slowly. “I’ll put these inside so they don’t melt, I’ll be right back.” Mikleo watched him go, then pulled out a chair at the table, where Maotelus was carefully dabbing up the ink on the glass, smearing it instead.

“Here,” Mikleo offered. A small bit of water and it came up easily.

Slowly, Maotelus looked at him. “You have no idea,” he began, “how awkward it was listening to you go on and on during our slumber. You lack a filter.”

Mikleo inclined his head and watched the paper curl in the breeze. The teasing he’d long since learned to ignore. And Maotelus was no child, but his youthfulness was almost angelic. The only hints of age were the laugh lines around his eyes, and the silver streaking through his pale gold tied-up hair.

“When can Sorey leave?”

He sighed. The end of the table was swept clean with the long sleeve of his tunic. “Soon. He’s picking up on things fast.”

“How nice. I would have liked to have shown him instead.”

“I know you would have. I know that’s what you’ve come here for, too. Soon. I can tell you that he remembers more than most. There are some particulars I’ve left out -- subjects I thought you might share more insight into than myself.”

Mikleo wiped the nibs clean mechanically, cotten strings catching on the sharp ends. He narrowed his eyes at the flimsy metal. “These... educational passages are obviously tailored by you. Do you think he wouldn’t be able to handle the reality?”

“Not at all. To be perfectly honest... it’s not really for Sorey’s sake at all. It’s yours I’m worried about.”

Mikleo stilled with his inspection and glared under a fringe of blue. “Forgive my frankness, but I definitely don’t buy that.”

Maotelus smiled. He looked like a teenage human with the crooked grin and short cape hanging modestly over his back. But his age pressed on Mikleo like an anvil. “It’s alright. You have your years behind you to have reason for so much doubt. But you also have a longer future, perhaps a second one, to contemplate how it will turn out. Forgive my meddling.”

Mikleo pulled out a chair. He’d stopped caring if he were rude when those of the lord seraphim decided it was relevant. “Yes. I’ve traveled a lot. Enough traveling for plenty of thinking of -- of an aftermath.”

“You want to be his guardian.”

“Yes.” Mikleo breathed out, slowly. It had always felt like it would come down to this, that however the world shook them out, they’d have equal footing. Sorey had no opportunity to finish his human life, and on this contintent, there existed only one other seraph in the world quite like Sorey, who’d been refashioned into a Seraph like the lords -- like Maotelus.

Maotelus didn’t sit like him -- he washed the table and picked out the small red fruits that were dotted with ink and tossed them in the bush behind him. He’d only visited often enough to see Sorey -- to see that he was tended to properly, that Maotelus wasn’t taking him on some back adventure without him knowing, or miscommunicating -- or, or whatever. Bending him over a basin in the back yard -- there were plenty of benches about, and Sorey could be gullible.

(Maotelus gave him a strange, amused look. “Do you really think I’d bend him over a basin?”

Mikleo curled his fingers and stuck his nose in the air. “Plenty of people would.”)

“I don’t have that ability anymore.”

“What.”

“The last seraphim I gave the purification powers to was my handmaiden, Lady Lailah. It’s been fourteen centuries since then. Surely you can imagine what the times were like that enabled me to perform such a feat.” Maotelus sighed. “Well, it doesn’t matter. I am no longer the guardian of this land. This topic would have come up eventually. It’s not me the humans put their faith in -- you too, for that matter.”

Mikleo shivered, then frowned. “Wait, you mean to say...”

“Yes. Sorey’s inherited it all. This continent is his. I lack the strength to do so.”

“So you would let a newly born seraph do it? That’s--that’s not what Sorey went to sleep for. He can’t -- he can’t protect a whole continent, he just woke up--”

“I know,” Maotelus looked sad. “ We always assume the roles we never set out for. And the same for you. You want to be his source of strength, you’ll need to find Amenoch.”

“Amenoch,” Mikleo repeatedly slowly. “There have been no signs of him for... well, for as long as you yourself have been absent.”

“Water and water are kindred spirits. I suspect you wouldn’t find him anywhere in Glenwood, but the world is a very large place across the ocean. You’ve only seen little of it.” He was trying to be kind.

For once, Mikleo saw the smile in his light green eyes. But it didn’t chase away the flower of doubt blooming within him.

.

Mikleo returned the next morning. No one greeted him at the gate so he hesitated before he let himself in, shoes assuming the same path through the narrow green brush and up the stone layed path. The water wheel was spinning in the same rocky momentum as it had done for the last three hundred years; he’d only seen the humans change the frame once, a beam eaten through only by time. It spat water down the river and it wound around clusters of lilies, small white flowers that flocked around and almost hid the soggiest grounds from sight.

Once he crossed through the garden gate, he spotted Sorey carving an apple on a bench. The dark chestnut of his hair looked brighter in the sun, and nearly black at the back of his neck. He wondered if it would carry the smell of the soaps here, if he’d smell like an apocatheray until they left this place.

Leaving was all he thought about. Sorey was only just waking up.

“Hey,” Mikleo called. He stopped in front of him.

Sorey looked up, smile forming. His hands were nestled in his lap. “Hey. I’m ready to go.”

“What, they’re actually going to let you this time? No guard, no send-off?”

“Maybe next time? But yeah. He said we have to find Amenoch, but he didn’t give me the details.”

“I see.” Mikleo sat down beside him. “Well, I should probably inform you before we leave then. Sorey, I want to protect you. I want to, uh, be your lord.”

Sorey laughed into his knees. “Ah, my mind’s a little blurry on the mechanics. Will that even work without a human third party?”

“I considered it. I believe it will. The pact between the pact bearer and the creator aren’t, well, too far-fetched from each other. They work in sync, and then the human is the other half of the coin. Sorey -- it would keep you safe. Not that the world is especially dangerous in this current state, but. At the very least, I’ll be a shield until you find a vessel.”

Sorey looked down at his hands. “Are you worried? You sound worried. Maotelus hasn’t told me much, really. They said light seraphim fall out of bounds of the four elements. We’re enigmas.”

“You always worry me.” Sorey paused, then smiled nervously.

“I would never mean to do it intentionally. At least, only if I desperately required your attention.”

“I know -- all the more reason you should let me keep you. I wouldn’t lead you anywhere not worth the venture. Maybe the occassional angry boar in the woods, but only if you’d help me catch it.”

Sorey picked up Mikleo’s hand where it had lain still and silent, and spread his palm over his knee, holding it there. Warmth flooded it. Mikleo wondered if he remembered what that feeling even inspired, and if -- it meant anything to him now, looking off into the gentle patches of sunlight that looped through the garden. It broke on the ground like little shimmering pieces of fruit. “Alright. As long as this goes both ways.”

“Yeah,” Mikleo said, tense as a cord. He convinced his heart to be at ease and slow. “It goes both ways.”

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