Brotherhood

An impotent visionary seeks purpose through his family life. An experiment in summary fiction. The youth of a blood elf magister.

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3. Three

Allévansis, a military friend who has just been discharged for health reasons she never quite makes clear, proposes they find a flat together: herself, her brother Jethrion, and Baelmyrr. He surprises himself with how strongly he wants to go through with it.

 

He has been watching his family more intently of late, and now he simply wants freedom from the unease that spreads through him every evening as he heads home. He tells himself his father was always distant, his mother always hypercritical, but as he watches them with Daelythir he notes behaviours he only saw emerge after he did so poorly at school: a level of scorn that Daelythir, by comparison, has never earned. But his parents are probably a little tired and nothing more. They’ll cheer up when their first son finally stops sitting about and moves out.

 

He tells Daelythir first, late in the evening as they relax on Baelmyrr’s balcony, sharing a pipe of bloodthistle. ‘You want to leave me here alone?’ is Daelythir’s primary retort. He is not violent this time, although there is a flexing of the muscles across his shoulders, a desperate light to his eyes, that suggests it is a close thing.

 

Baelmyrr does leave him there alone. The flat has five rooms, three windows and low ceilings. There’s a crack in the wall that Allévansis stuffs with silk scarves and declares is art. The flat is a mess, it’s poorly placed, it smells strangely of birds, but Baelmyrr loves it. He loves coming home to dinner with his friends, eaten off plates balanced on their knees; he loves making short trips to the shop with someone to talk to; he loves the sense of three separate lives bound together in this shared spot. They stay up late playing cards or talking politics. Jethrion spends hours on a celebratory roast, and they spend hours lolling around the house feeling sick to their stomachs the day after.

 

He visits the family home frequently. Daelythir is initially aloof, but fails to keep it up. He meets Baelmyrr for lunch and for their usual walks, and tells him about a girl he’s met who’s holding down two part time jobs to pay for her training and about an injured dragonhawk he’s been involved in nurturing back to health. It sounds to Baelmyrr as though Daelythir is spending less and less time about the house, but this isn’t really a bad thing. He’s glad his younger brother seems to be forging a life on his own.

 

Baelmyrr has had the flat for five months when Daelythir shows up on his doorstep, late at night. He’s been locked out for lip. It happens again a few weeks later, and again a few weeks after that, for similarly minor discretions: he was five minutes late for dinner; he tore the knee out of his trousers; he missed a plate when washing up. And though Baelmyrr doesn’t mind the extra time to converse with his brother and involve him in household card tournaments and drinking games, he minds the hours and the reasons.

 

He goes to speak with his mother, and is instead greeted by his father. They pass pleasantries in the hallway, and Haelmyrr doesn’t invite him in.

 

‘I don’t mean to pass judgement on your method,’ says Baelmyrr, ‘but when you throw him out he comes to me. And of course I love him, I’m always happy to see him, but I would rather the visits were planned, not made late at night out of a necessity that isn’t, in fact, all that necessary.’

 

‘I’ll speak to him,’ is all their father says.

 

Daelythir shows up that same night, but he doesn’t knock, he doesn’t wait placidly at the doorstep. He hurtles through the flat, past the three housemates smoking in the living area, and disappears into Baelmyrr’s room, slamming the door behind him.

 

Baelmyrr finds him pacing like he’s caged, from desk to window, window to bed,  his hands fisting in his hair, tearing it out. He closes the door slowly behind him and takes a few steps toward his brother, holding out a hand in supplication.

 

‘What’s the matter?’

 

Daelythir turns sharply toward him as though he hadn’t noticed him enter, and winces and clutches at his side. Any fear for himself fades from Baelmyrr in that instant. He starts forward, and is shoved roughly back.

 

‘Lythir.’

 

‘Why did you go to him?’ His voice is a strangled growl; his hair falls forward in his face, but between the tangled strands his eyes are tearing. ‘Why couldn’t you just tell me I’m not wanted? I’m used to that! I could handle it!’

 

‘Daelythir, please, what happened?’

 

‘What do you care!’

 

Allévansis pokes her head around the door, chewing the end of her hand-rolled cigarette. ‘Hey ragey,’ she says. ‘Let’s make a night out of it.’

 

They go through parties and bars and spend an hour out in the open air, blowing smoke rings and singing.

 

‘When you think about it, this is fantastic,’ says Allévansis. ‘We’re a pair of sibling pairs, aren’t we? No better setup, if you ask me.’

 

Daelythir calms as his energy diffuses into walking, dancing and bellowing out lyrics to songs he’s only just learned. When they get back, he’s dog tired. Sprawled out on the bed, he finally allows Baelmyrr to peel back his shirt, and reveal the split, purpled skin up the side of his ribcage.

 

‘I’ve had worse,’ scoffs Baelmyrr’s baby brother.

 

Baelmyrr doesn’t sleep that night: sits in the wooden chair by his desk and writes out lines of figures, watches Daelythir sleeping soundly in this safe little room. His job at the jewellers won’t bring in enough.

 

The hour before dawn sees him in the kitchen, cutting thin slices from last night’s roast meat and putting together breakfast and lunch. He sets the food on the bedside table, ruffles his brother’s hair, and heads down into the streets before sunlight crests the towers.

 

He means to head straight for work, but walks a huge, aimless circle around the surrounding district first. His chest feels carved out and hollow. He yearns instinctually for the family home, and hisses fury at this reflex. What could he draw now from the embrace of father or mother but the memory of years of complacency, making excuses they never deserved? He cannot imagine, as he stalks over fractured flagstones, in the shadow of vast spires, that he will ever be able to speak to them again, and the ache in his chest only grows.

 

He begs from the jeweller a job for his brother, and Daelythir is to start the following day. From the paper he finds weekend employment in the back of a bar, and furthers their income writing articles when he can for the paper itself. Baelmyrr wards the door to the flat, and though his mother shows a few times in the first week, she knocks only once each time, waits a minute at the most, and retreats.

 

Eventually he becomes known as an unusual conjurer with an exceptional propensity for drawing people into extravagant purchases, though he is increasingly exhausted, and increasingly dependent on their nights on the town for release. There is a magisterial position that he charms his way into via the more sociable members on the board, and suddenly financial pressure wanes; he works only on commissions for the jeweller, and leaves the bar work altogether. Allévansis departs once again with the army after fighting her way to a clean bill of health; Jethrion and Baelmyrr sell the flat and split the proceeds, and suddenly, with Daelythir’s wage thrown in, Baelmyrr finds himself able to buy an apartment with full-sized windows and high ceilings.

 

From his new office, he writes to his parents. He doesn’t tell Daelythir he is doing it. His younger brother has yet to really settle. He enjoys the bars, he works well with the jeweller, he is increasingly confident, verging on brash, and yet he is still quick to perceive persecution, and his temper remains a black, violent thing lurking not so very far down.

 

Baelmyrr has faith in time where Daelythir is concerned, but has waited too long to contact his parents for himself. There is another story there, he is sure, and while it will not excuse anything that has been done to his brother, it might help Baelmyrr to piece together some understanding of the thing. And he needs that, quite desperately. He needs to glean some hint of how the very people who taught him to walk, speak, read, write and flourish could turn so sharply on their sweeter son.

 

The letter is sent, explaining and inquiring. He can’t find it within himself to be cruel; his tone stays largely friendly, though the core demand is clear: explain this to me, all of it.

 

But the Scourge come two weeks later, and he never gets his reply. He survives. Daelythir survives, and, when they finally regain access to the city and discover the extent of the destruction, is sneering and hateful enough about the deaths of Ollyria and Haelmyrr that Bael has to avoid him for a few days, holed up in his room on the grounds that his hunger for magic is making him ill.

 

Which it is. It is difficult to be a magister when magic is painful. He hasn’t the strength to be subversive at their meetings; his patrols of the damaged city become exhausting affairs; and he finds himself increasingly drawn to baser pleasures. Whatever will tear his focus away from the death and the ache where his magic is draining.

 

And there comes into all this a magistrix. Suffering as he suffers, no doubt, although she retains an air of competence and immeasurable poise. Not imperious, but decidedly professional in the way she presents herself. There is a relentlessness to her that suits the times, he feels. She goes for what she wants, and for now that seems to be the same arena into which he has strayed: that of arcane powder and nights torn from memory by drink after drink.

 

She is far older than the average late-night bar-goer, but the times have twisted the averages, skewed what is acceptable, and no-one seems to question her. She is certainly too old for Daelythir, who purports to love her – as though he knows what love truly means in this context, when he is barely an adult.

 

It is with callous disregard only partly explained by the substances in his bloodstream that Baelmyrr pursues her despite his brother’s request that he stay clear, although ‘pursue’ is a questionable word when Eyria always meets him halfway. Over several weeks, he spends blessed hours with the pain overwhelmed by her body arching beneath him, her hands in his hair, her mouth at his neck, and something cold swamps his heart when Daelythir waxes lyrical about the woman he says now he will marry, if he can.

 

She chooses to humour the boy, and Baelmyrr finds himself at a loss. How to respond? That deep-seated aversion to the idea is surely jealousy, he must be jealous when he has just lost his lover to his brother, and yet when he muses on the union he cannot see how it will work. Eyria is three hundred years Daelythir’s senior, and they’ve known each other less than a month. His own parents courted for decades – though his mind slips at the thought of them, and Baelmyrr goes over to procrastination.

 

Kael’thas has brought them a method through which to subdue their addiction, and as a magister Baelmyrr is one of those tasked with passing on his prince’s teachings. The methods are gruelling and volatile, but his distaste for them lessens with the ache in his head. For the first time in a long time he finds himself aligned with his magisterial brethren, as he hastens to help save their people, and finds convenient escape from consideration of his brother’s betrothal in the exhaustion of his work.

 

There is, indeed, unusual distance between them on the whole. He isn’t sure how to broach it, he isn’t sure if Daelythir has even noticed, so caught up in his romance with Eyria, and he suspects any conversation will lead right back to her. They still go out at night, along with Jethrion, who survived the Scourge with heavy scarring over his left side, and Allévansis, who has returned once again to join the new blood knights, and Baelmyrr contents himself with this. The wedding date is still a long way off. He will find something to say between now and then.

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