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02 May 2013 @ 09:31 am
FIC: Honeymoon - 2/3  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: Honeymoon
Part: 2/3
Rating: PG
Configuration: /
Warnings: /
Word Count: 10.000
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index
Characters: Colin/Yaden, Ivan, Myriam, Darren, Beverly, Saint Cornelius
Summary: Colin's and Yaden's honeymoon leads them to Malicorn, the planet of beautiful beaches, fascinating locals and of course, bacon...
Feedback: Yes, please! Constructive criticism welcome!





"Sir Colin?"

Colin looked up from the magazine he was reading, blinking at the young Youh'Kai who was standing in front of him. He was wearing a keikogi, the traditional white training outfit of the Belligra, looking quite striking with his pale blue skin and artfully braided, long blue hair. His ivory bone ridges were heavily scarred despite his apparent age, and he bore himself with calm confidence.

"Yes?" Colin asked. "Is everything okay? Has something happened at the training?"

"Your family is fine," the Youh'Kai replied with a mildly amused smile. "I am Father K'gosi."

So this was the priest of Ynagra that Saint Cornelius had been talking about. He looked so very different from what Colin had expected that he hadn't even considered him to be the man he was waiting for.

"I am sorry, I just didn't expect someone so young..." Colin said, smiling apologetically. "Here, please, have a seat."

The Youh'Kai sat down at Colin's table and took a moment to observe the people milling up and down the Rasher, the beachfront promenade of Malena. They were meeting at the 'Burning Beetle', a large and surprisingly popular bar and restaurant serving traditional Youh'Kai food with a Malino twist - mostly by adding bacon, naturally.

"I am older than I look," K'gosi explained, quite obviously used to Colin's reaction. "And priesthood among the Youh'Kai has very little to do with training, but with devotion."

Colin hesitated a moment, insecure about what to say. He wasn't even sure what he was trying to get out of this conversation.

"Father Cornelius told my she listens to you, doesn't she?" K'gosi asked.

"I don't know," Colin replied. "I mean, everyone tells me so, but I haven't heard of her until two days ago. I am not even a very religious person."

"Not?" K'gosi sounded doubtful. "You humans often confuse 'being faithful' with 'believing in the church'."

"It's not the same?" Colin felt exposed, and a little angry at being so at a loss with the whole thing. "I am sorry, Father, but I am a baker. I know things about yeast that will put almost anyone else to sleep instantly. I know nothing about gods."

Luckily, right then the cute waitress appeared, distracting at least a little from how edgy he was. With a bright smile, she handed Father K'gosi his menu and set down a plate of salad and grilled beetles in front of Colin. After a short look, K'gosi ordered something else from the grill, extra hot, and insisted he could stand the proper spicing, not the usual version for fa'lang.

Smiling, he turned back at Colin, his teeth pearly white and disconcertingly pointy.

"Forget the church," he said, clearly aware that his words were treading dangerously close to heresy. "This is between you and Ynagra, and no one else." Seeing that Colin relaxed at least a little, he continued explaining. "The Young God of the human church and our Elder Gods are different, not only culturally, but also 'technically'. Yours is more abstract, while ours are, essentially, people."

Colin took a bite of his salad, but only after carefully striping the small legs off his meat with his fork as he had seen other patrons do. It was surprisingly tasty, exotic and grounded him sufficiently to face this lecture in alien theology.

"The Elder Gods generally don't care for formality. They are about resonance, similarity, and strength of will and purpose."

Still chewing, Colin tried to understand how this was supposed to make sense out of what had happened aboard the Pebble. "So you say, if I act like one of your gods, they notice?"

K'gosi weighed his head, hesitating for a heartbeat before he answered. "When you FEEL like one of them, they listen. Each of our gods has certain characteristics, aspects of life that they embody perfectly. The closer one comes to embody that concept, the closer you become to your god, to the point that they will help you out in a tight spot."

"This sounds as if she would have helped anyone in that situation? I mean, you seem so very relaxed about me being a human. Shouldn't your gods help your people?"

This time, K'gosi laughed, heartily and without a trace of condescension. "We are so far below the gods, I think we're pretty much the same kind of speck of dirt to them. You being a human might sit pretty hard with some Youh'Kai, naturally. But I don't think it will matter in the end. Because - if Ynagra thinks you are worthy of her aid, it means you and I share the same values. We offer a place of safety and nurture to our loved ones, and fight unconditionally to protect them. I already know that I can trust your word almost more than my own, and under that light, our ancestry becomes pretty much irrelevant."

"How can you be so sure it was your goddess who intervened?"

"Because you confirmed you were one of us with the very first words you said to me," K'gosi replied with another laugh. "I could have come for any reason, but the first thing you asked was 'Is my family all right?'"

Feeling slightly embarrassed, Colin nodded. It was weird and scary, all this talk about gods and faith and miracles. But it also offered him contact to people who shared his feelings. Looking across the table at K'gosi, he realized that he would trust him, too. They would both unthinkingly put their families' lives before their own, and their greatest fear was failing in their duty. It was an oddly reassuring feeling that he wasn't alone with his convictions, and flattering that it came with a title of respect and recognition.

"So... What do I have to do now?" Colin asked.

"There is nothing you 'have to do'," K'gosi replied, his face splitting in a wide, toothy grin as he saw his lunch approaching. "She believes in you, it's as easy as that." Cleaning their table in front of him, he made space for his plate, and took off the shirt of his training outfit. His skin was the colour of blueberry ice-cream all over, scarred and marked in countless ways, sinewy muscle moving underneath. "I really think you may want to learn more about her, and more about her followers. It'll show you how to come closer to her, and get a feeling for situations she will help you in."

"You mean - I could learn to trigger her miracles?" Colin asked, incredulously.

"Sure," K'gosi replied. "You can't force the hand of a god any more than you can change the way yeast grows, can you? But you can create circumstances where yeast will do exactly what you need."

A bit taken aback at this very apt image, Colin watched in silence as two waiters brought some kind of hard-shelled, round creature the size of a football on a bed of burning coals to their table, setting the whole thing down in front of K'gosi. The creature's back had been split open, and inside some sort of red sauce was bubbling. It smelled good, almost hypnotically spicy, but also so hot it made Colin's eyes water from across the table. With feral appetite, K'gosi broke the creature further apart with his hands, some of the sauce running into the coals and turning into biting smoke. Chuckling softly, he tore off some of the shell, and bit into the flesh clinging to its inside with visible relish.

"Oh damn, this is good," he said after a moment of blissed-out chewing. "They breed there own beetles here in the caves of the Sovarian hills, did you know that? The only way of getting better ones is a pilgrimage to Far'Gesh."

"I think I am appropriately impressed," Colin replied, equally fascinated and scared by this display of Youh'Kai manners that for a change were not tuned down to conform with human expectations. His own salad seemed positively timid in comparison.

"You really should talk to her, I think," K'gosi suggested while digging inside his food with some sort of long, two-pronged fork. "It might make things less confusing for you."

"Goodness, no!" it burst out of Colin instantly. "How is that supposed to calm me? What if she answers?"

K'gosi grinned through the smoke of his dish, his face smeared with sauce and very predatory. "Talk to her. When you work for your family and feel close to her, just talk to her. If she answers, all the better." Again, he weighed his head, his grin even widening a notch. "You will see, there is nothing for you or your family to fear. Everyone else... they'd better watch out."

---

Even at one o'clock in the night, the Rasher was crawling with people. Not as many as during the day, but still. It was fascinating so see throngs of revelers exiting one pub only to enter another a few buildings further down the street. Families sitting in the restaurants, talking and laughing loudly over the remains of their long-eaten dinners, little children asleep on their laps. Lovers walking down Malena's beachfront promenade, hand in hand, silently enjoying each other in the balmy air of a Malino summer night, with cool air coming in from the sea and the ever-present smell of frying bacon from the other side.

One of those couples were Yaden and Colin, taking a walk from their hotel towards the St. Cornelius Cathedral. Myriam and Ivan had fallen asleep, both a bit exhausted with the activities of the day and filled with way too much food. Colin had warned them not to eat too many of those piggy-sandwiches from the hotel's bar, but it had been a lost battle from the very beginning.

So, when their suite had fallen silent and the heat of the day gave way to a nice breeze, Yaden had asked his husband out for a walk. It was a beautiful summer night, now that the place was a little less rowdy, a little less crass and crowded. Everywhere, locals were putting up decorations for the bacon harvest that would start tomorrow, festooning the houses with endless garlands of red-and-white striped paper, with Malicorn flags and bundles of blissfully grinning little plastic piglets. Others were setting up barbecue stands in front of their houses, with chairs and tables lining the roads as if the whole area had turned into one big family gathering. The feeling of anticipation and hospitality was almost tangible, something Yaden was very sure Colin would be enjoying tremendously.

But when he looked over to his husband, he found Colin looking rather melancholic, sad, even.

"What's wrong, dear?" he asked, surprised and concerned at the same time.

Colin blinked at him, having been completely lost in his thoughts, and then gave him a happy-sad smile and an apologetic shrug. "Sorry, love. It's just... I am so happy to have a family, and to be here with you. I just wish my other family could have been here with us, too."

His 'other family', his blood relatives from Leichnam, were either dead or had moved away with no luck in finding them, Yaden knew. He had personally called in a few favours with the intelligence staff of the Phoenix Knight Tower to find Colin's aunt Madeline and her son Michael. But they seemed to have been swallowed by the earth when they moved away from Schimmelbach shortly after Yaden had taken Colin with him to P2. Colin had grown up with his aunt after his mother had died in a zombie outbreak when he was sixteen. That she couldn't be with them at their wedding had been the only flaw of the day, but of course it would haunt Colin not to know how an important part of his family was doing right now.

"We will find them, one day," Yaden reassured him. "People have the weird tendency never to disappear for good, you know?."

"I am beginning to believe that," his husband replied with a smile. "Weird things tend to happen around Phoenix Knights, don't they?"

Instead of a reply, Yaden just gave him a shrug and a guilty smile.

"Madeline would have loved this," Colin went on, gesturing at the preparations for the bacon harvest. "I think she hated the rain and the dour people on Leichnam even more than my mother."

A screaming group of kids suddenly ran past them, all wielding inflatable toy hammers and whacking each other in some complicated game of catch that seemed to be mostly about shouting and running. Following them with his eyes, Colin asked: "How many kids would you want?"

"Huh?" Yaden had never really thought about this, but his feelings were pretty clear. "I don't know. Many, I'd say."

"Good." Colin replied simply, snuggling closer to his husband. "Right answer."

For a while, both of them walked down the Rasher in comfortable silence, smiling and nodding politely at the folks who recognized and greeted them.

"I talked to that priest, today," Colin said suddenly. "You know, that Youh'Kai priest Saint Cornelius was talking about."

"And?"

"He seems convinced I am a priest of Ynagra, can you believe it?" Giving as slightly exasperated sigh, Colin added: "He says with a little practise, I could learn how to work miracles."

In Yaden's eyes, those were great news, but he could also understand why his husband sounded so apprehensive. Colin had been a baker, a craftsman with all his heart. He had been happy with being the town's baker in Hagermarsch, a respected and stable part of the local community. As much as he loved Yaden, being ripped out of that had been a harsh shock for him, and it had taken him a long time to understand that that particular part of his life was over for good. Colin had barely settled into his new role as leader of their little family, their household. Being connected to some kind of alien deity definitely was forcing him to rearrange his world once again.

"I am sorry, but to me, that sounds like a good thing," Yaden replied, trying to sound as reassuring as he could.

"Oh, it IS a good thing," Colin replied, his voice a little edgy. "It means I just MIGHT learn how to be not completely useless when it comes to fighting. That I have at least a chance of keeping you alive despite the job you have. That I can join you on some of your missions and not just sit at home, wondering if you are still alive or not." With a sigh from the depths of his heart, he added: "It just scares the shit out of me."

Having to sit at home, helplessly waiting for news, was a problem Yaden could understand only too well. But hearing Colin complaining about being scared was so absurd he couldn't help but give a mean chuckle.

"What's so funny?" Colin snapped, his dark eyes sparkling with indignation.

"Dear, maybe you think you are afraid," Yaden replied, still grinning. "But you are a lot less afraid than that N'bosoti you kicked off the Pebble. Of course there IS a lot of scary shit out there, but never forget that they are much more afraid of you."

"They'd better be," Colin mumbled, realizing that indeed, this particular memory was a pretty good one. He really liked the thought of monsters being afraid of him. And if he had to become the follower of some alien goddess to protect his family this effectively, it would be a small price to pay.

"The things we do for love..." he muttered, shaking his head. "I'll need more training."


 
 
 
talomor on May 2nd, 2013 12:50 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't a certain gardener-come-duke who also happens to be N'kara know best how Colin feels, baker/slave-come-noble and chosen of a goddess that he is?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on May 2nd, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
*applauds gleefully*

YES!

Only that the N'kara has no clue about Colin's 'problem', and even if - knowing how Colin feels, he knows he'd be the last person Colin wants to see on his doorstep. I mean, the religious leader of the Youh'Kai and Duke of Malicorn? He'll wait until Colin comes knocking, and then he'll serve a tea and tell him everything will be alright.

You'll see, Colin will sort out things soon enough. Like, next chapter soon. ^^

Thanks for commenting, and thanks a million times for seeing the various possible connections we are laying out!
talomor on May 2nd, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
Well, someone gave me this fancy title, Legatus h. c. of Temple Verata, that I've been trying to live up to...
Also, trying to find those kind of connections is half the fun for me in reading or even watching a TV series
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on May 2nd, 2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
Well, you're in for a treat then. ^^ We have enough stories out now that basically with every chapter, we're closing some gaps. Okay, we admittedly open about as many new questions as we answer, but then that's the whole point, isn't it?

See you around, Legatus.
idolme922idolme922 on May 3rd, 2013 04:14 am (UTC)
I'm enjoying this very much still. I'm far too exhausted tonight to attempt an intelligent response, so forgive me, and good night!!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on May 3rd, 2013 10:16 am (UTC)
Well, thank you then for dropping me a line, anyway, and thanks for enjoying this little piece! Have a good night!
issuesgrrrlissuesgrrrl on May 4th, 2013 05:35 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I can't wait to see what happens when Ynagra takes Colin's call... and why do I get the feeling the Goddess has had a hand in what happened to Aunt Madeline (Is she the hidden genius behind the Grinny Pig?). o.0

Now at Malicorn Mart! Grinny Pig Snack Sliders, the little piggy sandwiches with the big bold taste you love! Just two minutes from microwave to mealtime or any time you want to dig in to the Pig! Choose from pulled pork or ham steak style in seven dee-licious flavours, including ginger-garlic teriyaki and traditional Youh'Kai spice blend!

Bacon grease your cares away
and have yourself
a Grinny Pig Day!
GRINNY PIG!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on May 4th, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC)
*stares*

Are you sure you're not an undercover agent with the Malicorn Tourism Board? No, no don't answer that!

Whatever you are, I bow to your superior porc shilling skills.

*soo impressed*

PS: Notice how I didn't say a word about Madeline?
issuesgrrrlissuesgrrrl on May 4th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
Muchas gracias although in my defense you came up with the Pig in the first place, hee!

I will cop to a marketing degree and a fondness for clever ads... but with as strong an identity as Malicorn and Malinos in general have, well, cheeze louise, the things write themselves really!

I'm perfectly willing to not notice your lack of Auntie if you tell me Lechinam shrimp are analogous to the lobsters and snails... because shrimp parmigiana is Nature's Perfect Food (sorry piggles!).

Mmmmm, shrimp...
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on May 5th, 2013 10:10 am (UTC)
Strong identities we can come up by the dozen, but smooth slogans like those not that easy for us. I hope we are allowed to use those lines in our stories, one way or another, yes?

Absolutely agree about the shrimp. But I don't think that anyone on Leichnam cares about anything that small - I mean, if you can have lobsters the size of a buffalo, do you really want something THAT fiddly? Admittedly, you might want something that can't cut you in half with its pincers, but that's what snails are for, aren't they?
BerthaBlueberthablue on May 15th, 2013 09:37 am (UTC)
What a surprise it must be for Colin! Thinking he's just some humble baker and homemaker - oh, and a priest!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on May 16th, 2013 09:38 am (UTC)
Hehe, yes, especially as he really thought he had nothing in common with those half-feral aliens... ^^ Well, he'll learn differently soon enough.