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The Wounded: Discarded Dreams

Destorie N’Dak had been wounded before, many times in fact. He had, to his count, nearly died four times, and been somewhat close to the verge several more. His body bore the scars a soldier, and of a traitor. Yet, as he lay in the hospital bed of his corner room in the Rhaen t’Lai Medical Facility on the outskirts of the capitol, he could not remember a time during any of those previous injuries where he’d felt so helpless.


Though the maeneks assured him that he would begin to recover strength in his legs, simply to be patient, he found little solace in their words. It had been several weeks since he’d been brought out of what he’d been told had been a medically induced coma. Part of him wished to return to the dreamless sleep he’d lived in for the last months. He was unaccustomed to this life. Even when he’d been injured before on Talon, he had still be expected to return to duty as soon as he was well.


His days were now filled with endless sessions with maeneken, poking and prodding him, conducting treatment regimens on his legs. And then there were the unending sessions with the Kheinsa. He hated them, he really did. They were supposed to help au deal with the trauma and the stress that io had been through, yet he always finished their appointments somehow more angry and frustrated than he had started them.


“Tell me again,” they would say, “what is it about the voice au dream of that makes au think au knew the attacker?”


Elements. How did io describe that? And why would the response have changed since the last time he had been asked? Though that was hardly the most obnoxious question a Kheinsa had asked him lately.


“So, Destorie,” the Kheinsa with the long, black hair had said, sitting next to his biobed, “Have au thought about what au will do if au cannot recover? Have au considered au life outside of the Galae? I have found that many people in au position struggle to adapt to a new life, especially when they did not choose such a path.”


“Oh ie, ie,” Destorie muttered out loud as he thumbed through a book his sister had brought him. “I just have a list ready of ‘things to do when I get stabbed and have to leave the Galae.’”


Actually, on second thought, it might not be a bad list to have, given his luck. He frowned and made a note to work on that list so that he could rattle off a list of ideas the next time a pesky Kheinsa asked him that. He sighed and put down his book.


If there was a ‘benefit’ to this recovery, it was that he had gotten a chance to finally connect with his other sister and her children. Of the four children of his parents, she had been the only one to actually settle down and start her own family. She was very different from her siblings, in more than that way though. Quiet, reserved, and genial, she stood back from what she called their ‘petty squabbles.’ She eschewed a military career, choosing instead to serve as an advisor to a wealthy, but somewhat demure house.There, she had met her bondmate -- the son of the scion of the house. Together they had bore three children, two sons and one daughter.


In some ways, Destorie was envious of her. She had, seemingly, achieved her goals without compromising herself, without giving into her more baser emotions. He had not and now found himself paying for those unbridled ambitions. He sighed. Perhaps the other Kheinsa, the io who’d just left had been right. Perhaps he did spend entirely too much time dwelling on the past, on the things he could na longer change.


He took back up the book his sister had brought him on her last visit and examined it more closely. Was she, too, trying to tell him something? The book in question was na just any tabloid, in fact it was an actual paper and ink printing, bound in soft, blue leather with stylized gold imprint on the cover. It was a title he’d never read before, though he was familiar with the author -- granted what educated Rihannsu was na? It was an old tale, a serialization of the trials of a young man growing up aboard the far travel ships during the Sundering.


“I hoped you would like it,” he heard his sister’s voice call from the doorway. He smiled and laid the book down on his lap again.


“Jolan tru,” he said warmly, sitting up in his bed. “I had wondered if you au were coming today.”


Rasa t’Kealan returned a warm smile. Though she carried the striking, sharp looks of her father’s house, her manners and ways were of her mother’s. “Oh dear Shuj,” she said, calling him by the childhood name she had given him. “I have came to see you every day, why would today be any different?”


“Oh,” he said slyly, “I did na know if au would continue to waste au time coming to see the family cripple.”


Rasa cast a disapproving look at her elder brother, one not unlike the many their mother had given him over the years, he noted, and made her way to the lounger next to his bed. “Au are na cripple. In fact, the nurse tells me au walked on au own this morning.”


Destorie frowned. “I would na call it walking so much as stumbling.”


“Au are worse than my son,” she said referencing the youngest of her brood. “At least his excuse for whining is he’s teething.”


Definitely his mother’s daughter. “Besides,” she continued. “Au doctors have said that despite au rather foul, and what did the khensia call it -- gloomy? Ie, gloomy disposition, that they are very encouraged by au progress.”


“Ie, ie,” he said with a huff. “Soon I may be able to walk to the bathroom unaided!”

“Io of these days,” she said, the same disapproving look on her face. “Au will stop au wallowing and realize how fortunate au have been, and that as bad as au make it out to be, it could be worse.”


“Oh,” he said, “I know it can always be worse. In fact I usually think of how it can be worse, and then it usually gets worse than that.”


She rolled her eyes. “Elements, na wonder someone stabbed au.”


“Am I really that bad,” he said lowly.


Rasa lifted her brows. She na ever known her brother to take jests so seriously, but perhaps he had changed. Realizing that she had perhaps struck deeper than intended, she softened. “Na,” she said. “Au may have au faults, but au did na deserve this.”


Destorie smiled, despite himself. “Have we heard any word from Issaha?”


Happy to change the subject, she nodded. “We got a communique a few days ago,” she said. “It was dated a few weeks ago, but all was well. He could na say much, obviously, but he seemed well.”


“Mehnka,” Destorie said. “I worry about it him, being out there alone.”


Rasa smirked. Perhaps there was some of their mother in Destorie as well. “He will be fine. Au have mentored him well. It is time that he learn to stand on his own, and au know it.”


“Ie,” he said. “But the irony has na escaped me, that it was to be me on this dangerous mission, and him safely somewhere else, somewhere off Talon.”


“Funny how the elements have a way of working themselves out, despite our best intentions.”


Bitterly, Destorie looked at his sister. “What do au know that?”


Accustomed to his rather brusque ways, Rasa shrugged off any indignation and continued to speak in a soft, even tone. “I never planned to bond, to have a family -- to settle down and put my career second. Mother never did, so why should I?


“Yet,” she said. “I have learned that what we intend and what destiny intends for us are often very different. The elements have blessed me with three wonderful children, a loving bondmate, and a secure position in his father’s house as a chief advisor.”


Resigned, Destorie sighed and leaned back into the pillows. “I received a communique from Gharan Jaeoln.”

Taking out her knitting, Rasa lifted a brow. “Jaelon,” she said, placing the name mentally. “Oh, ie. The Enriov, ie? Hmm how do au know him?”


“We met last year,” Destorie said, “just before I was promoted to Enarrain. He had offered me a command of my own under him, but I had decided to stay with Talon.”


Sensing that her brother regretted that decision, she nodded. He needed to talk more than anything, and this was the most open he’d ever been. “And what did his communique impart?”


“He wished me well, of course. He said he was most pleased to learn that I was beginning my recovery.”


“How very thoughtful,” she said neutrally. “Au must have made quite the impression on him then.”


“Ie,” Destorie said. “He also wanted me to know that when I was feeling better, and able, to come see him. He would like to speak with me.”


“Hmm,” Rasa said, as her knitting needles clicked together. “Perhaps he wishes to offer au another command?”


Destorie frowned. He had considered and dismissed such hopes already and did not wish to further entertain such a notion. “I would be surprised,” he said. “Besides, it will be sometime, if ever, before I am capable of holding a command position again.”


Rasa laid her knitting down. For the first time, her voice gained an edge. “There au go again,” she said. “Discarding au dreams so easily. Elements, Sheuji, qu’ii au have ever wanted is to gain power and prestige if na for auself then for our House. Au have gone through so much already, yet au have endured. And h’nah, as au face yet another trial, au are willing to discard those ambitions so willingly? Do na forget that while au are also an N’Dak, au are also of house N’Kedre, and we find our true strength in adversity.”

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