It was pointed out to me that there is a severe lack of Velune content! Which we must rectify immediately!
Relasti tip-toed through the hall of the abbey, knowing full well that something was about to happen and trying not to let the dread show on their face. “Velune? Are you here?”
A snicker bounced around the stone walls, echoing. Relasti gritted their teeth. The worst part was the anticipation. “C’mon out, okay?”
“I’m in here.” Velune’s voice was tiny and merry, laughing at them. It was coming from the door to the workshop, which was slightly ajar.
Relasti examined the door carefully for tripwires, even taking the time to try a Detect Magic spell. Velune couldn’t do magic yet, as far as Relasti knew, but maybe they’d picked up something new. But Relasti detected no magic, so they took a deep breath and opened the door.
And were immediately doused with water.
Velune giggled madly as Relasti sputtered. “You little sneak!”
“You shoulda seen your face!” Velune crowed.
Relasti sighed and looked up. There was an oilcloth hanging from the door. Looked like Velune had rigged it up between the door and the frame. It was better than a bucket, anyway, that was dangerous. “All right. You got me.”
“I got you!” Velune declared, grinning. They were so cute, dangit, those huge eyes and huge pointed ears and their tiny compactness from their dwarf heritage. They’d been here for seventeen years now, but best Relasti could figure they were the human equivalent of about nine.
Relasti, on the other hand, was also seventeen, but they were human, and it was getting harder and harder to move from best friends to babysitter with the person they’d grown up with.
“I was going to ask if you wanted to go to the library, but that doesn’t seem like your speed today,” Relasti said, trying to keep their tone measured.
“No I’ll go!” Velune took off their outer robe and offered it to Relasti to dry off. “I just thought it’d be funny.”
“It was a little funny,” Relasti admitted, accepting the robe to pat their face with. “C’mon, let’s go.”
Relasti wondered, watching Velune pace, if they were witnessing an academic paper being born or a just another rant. Velune always had good ideas, but their delivery occasionally wandered into “deranged.” It had been going on for nearly twenty minutes. Oh, yep, they were coming around to the point now.
“I mean, how do we claim to know so much about necromancy if we refuse to study and learn from practitioners?” they finished.
Relasti was jealous, not for the first time, that Velune got to be full of youthful energy for three times as long as they did. Maybe longer. It was hard to keep track. They were both forty now, and still friends, but it was a strange friendship to Relasti, being so close with someone who acted the same age as their son.
“Once again, you’re not thinking this all the way through,” Relasti said. “It’s the philosophical implications of defying death that are the problem. Magic is a tool, but philosophy is a behavioral indicator, and if you believe in something strongly enough—”
“But we don’t know their philosophy, only the taboo of their tools,” Velune insisted.
A little knock sounded at the door. Relasti looked up. “Come in.”
“Mom?” It was their son, Tirrus, poking his head into the room. “Oh, hi, Velune.”
“Hi Tirrus,” Velune said, holding out a hand to Relasti. “Can you convince your mom that I’m right, actually?”
“You think I can convince them of anything?” Tirrus said, grinning.
Relasti laughed. “It’s true. What do you need, Tirrus?”
“Time for supper,” he said.
Relasti looked out the window. “Already?”
“I knew you’d forgotten, you two can talk and talk,” Tirrus chuckled. “C’mon.”
“We’d better hurry before he eats everything,” Velune said, holding out a hand to help Relasti out of their seat.
“Speak for yourself, I’ve seen you hungry,” Relasti laughed, accepting the hand up.
Tirrus bounced his daughter on his hip, pacing along the walk outside the Abbey. “I really wish you’d go to sleep, Phael.”
Phael babbled at length, self-importantly.
“Really?” Tirrus said. “You think so?”
She’d been going through a phase lately where she’d wake up with screaming nightmares and refused to go back to sleep. It concerned him, but unfortunately there wasn’t anyone in the Abbey or the local area who could tell him what was wrong. Not for the first time, Tirrus wished Velune was here. Velune knew about all sorts of macabre things, they’d know what to do. Or at least they’d be glad to take charge of Phael once in a while so Tirrus could sleep.
But Velune was gone, had been for months now. Phael wouldn’t even recognize them, she’d been so small when they left, only just born.
Velune was sixty-five now, and Tirrus had known them his whole life. They always seemed eternally like a fun older sibling to him, but now Tirrus was recognizing something Mom had warned him about—he was catching up to them. He’d be older than them soon.
Tirrus brushed a thin little wisp of hair behind Phael’s pointed ears. At least Phael would have more time with Velune, he thought.
The dawn was starting to turn the sky gray. Phael had to be settling down now, right? Tirrus yawned.
And froze. Something was coming out of the woods—two figures, both short, but walking with purpose up the hill toward the abbey.
Was that…no, it couldn’t be…
Halfway up the hill, the taller of the two figures grasped the other by the hand. “Thank you, Tode,” the figure said in Velune’s voice.
“I hope we shall meet again,” the one called Tode said, and turned away, back to the woods.
Velune watched him leaving for a moment, and then turned to the abbey with a sigh.
“Velune?” Tirrus called.
They looked up, startled, and their pace slowed. They gave a halfhearted wave.
Tirrus trotted down the hill to greet them. “Velune, how was…” he trailed off. Velune was dirty, just covered in dirt. “What happened?”
Velune grimaced. “It’s…difficult to explain, I…oh my goodness, this can’t be Phael.”
Tirrus smiled. “Phael, do you want to wave to Velune?”
Phael flapped her little hand shyly.
“Oh, Phael, you’ve gotten so big,” Velune crooned.
“Come inside, old friend,” Tirrus said, throwing an arm around their shoulder. “Welcome home.”
“You wanted to speak to me, Abbess Phael?” Velune poked their head in Phael’s door.
Phael smiled. “Yes, close the door please. And you don’t have to call me Abbess, you know, you changed my diapers.”
“Well, there’s propriety to consider,” Velune said, pushing the door closed and lowering themself carefully onto one of the chairs in front of the desk. “What can I do for you?”
“Are your knees bothering you again?” Phael asked.
“My knees are always bothering me,” Velune said, shrugging. “I’m rather old these days.”
“You and me both,” Phael joked, and the two of them chuckled. “I was thinking about what you told me the other day.”
“You might have to be more specific, we do talk every day.”
“About feeling aimless, reflecting back on things.” Phael leaned back in her chair and steepled her fingers. “Feeling your age, as it were.”
Velune nodded slowly. “I only think…well, I was so determined to do something great with my life. And then I was just determined not to make any more missteps with the rest of the life Pelor had given me…have I squandered it, in my fear?”
“The way Pelor has blessed you with seeing the truth of matters,” Phael asked. “How often do you use that?”
“I’d be surprised if it comes in handy more than once a decade,” Velune said, a little bleakly.
Phael nodded to herself. How to bring this up in a way that didn’t sound ridiculous? “You know, I believe I’m about to be older than you.”
“I have half a century on you at least, young lady,” Velune scoffed, teasing her.
Phael smiled. “Yes, yes. But that’s not what I meant.”
“What do you mean, then?”
“Something Daddy told me. And Grandma too.” Phael folded her hands and rested them on her stomach. “You’re not like an elf or a dwarf, or even a half-elf like me. You exist on such a different time scale than they did, or like I do.”
Velune frowned a little. “This is something they told you?”
“Yes, they both told me, more than once, that there’d come a day when I suddenly felt as if I was older than you.”
“And…that day has come?” Velune said carefully.
“I think it has,” Phael murmured.
Velune’s face fell. “You know, it’s a terrible thing, outliving all your friends. When Relasti died—heavens, when Tirrus died, I…” They swallowed. “It was hard to bear. I don’t know what I would do if I lost you.”
“We all lose people,” Phael said. “Pelor’s light stops shining at the end of each day.”
“Well, it doesn’t mean I have to like it,” Velune sniffed, and Phael couldn’t help but laugh.
“Fair enough. That wasn’t the point though, I wasn’t trying to remind you of my mortality.”
“What was the point?” Velune asked.
“The point was…you have so much time left, Velune, no matter how old you might feel.” Phael reached out and offered her hand to them. “You haven’t squandered anything.”
Slowly and deliberately, Velune took her hand in theirs and squeezed. “Well then, what shall I do?”
“I think I’ll give you holy orders,” Phael said casually.
Velune dropped her hand abruptly. “What? At my age?”
“Yes,” Phael said merrily.
“And you think I can accept them?”
“I think it’s the only way you’ll feel whole,” Phael said, standing. “So. Friar Velune, worshiper of Pelor, priest of the great sun’s god, I charge you with this: go into the world and bring light to the darkness. Go where Pelor charges you, find purpose, serve the world, and do good.”
Velune looked terrified. “But what if—”
“What if what, you join another cult?” Phael said lightly. “I find that unlikely.”
Velune scowled at them. “You know what I mean.”
“Grandma said you used to have a sense of humor, whatever happened to it?” Phael wondered.
“I learned to start taking things seriously,” Velune said, a little taken aback. “Not taking things seriously was what caused me to make such foolish choices.”
“There’s a balance to strike here, Velune. Now, do you accept the holy orders or not?”
Velune sank back in their chair. “I can’t very well refuse holy orders, can I?”
“I think you could.” Phael watched them carefully. “If anyone could, it’s you.”
Velune was quiet for a while.
Finally, they muttered, “It might be fun.”
Phael smiled. “You think so?”
They sat up straight again, rubbing their chin thoughtfully. “You may be right. Perhaps it’s just what I need.”
“That’s the spirit.” Phael stood up. “Can you start off tomorrow?”
“I’ve half a mind to start off today,” Velune said, springing to their feet in such a way that would belie their bad knees. “But no, no, you’re right. I’ll start off for the capitol tomorrow.”
“Do try not to get into too much trouble,” Phael told them.
Velune smiled, their eyes dancing with mischief, in a way that Phael imagined they had as a child. “Who, me?”