"Silence Under the Sea"

by Elay

(From my notes)
[[Some time passes. Couple months, probably, enough
>> time for the AU Titans to recruit Jess and Toni.....
>> At some point Garth decides, takes a leave of absence
>> from the Titans, and goes searching... isn’t easy to
>> universe-jump, maybe he finds something -- old
>> spell-scroll in the Idylists’ library?? one time
>> thing—and crosses over.

Landsmen believe there is silence under the sea.

Garth always found this amusing, for he knew that the undersea is far from silent, even as deep as he was currently swimming. Faint echoes from dolphins and whalesong drifted down to him even as the gentle sounds of plants flickering in slow currents and the little scraping noises left behind by fish moving against rock and sand chittered around him. Noise was good, for it gave him something else to concentrate on than his destination and his reasons for going there.

Home. Most people consider going back to the place of one's ancestry 'home', but Garth had never considered Shayeris to be home of any sort. How could he? Despite what they believed were good intentions; ones designed to help protect not only their future, but the future of the entire undersea, they had deliberately spread lies about people born with his unique eye coloring. Lies that ultimately led to his being abandoned on Mercy Reef to die in infancy. Lies that led to being further deceived about his parentage when he first discovered the small community, nestled deep within the Hidden Valley. Lies that cost him any chance for nurturing by a mother whom he had been led to believe had been dead for decades and still cost him any real chance to have a loving relationship with her when he learned she was not.

None of that truly mattered to Garth anymore, especially not now, even as he approached Shayeris' territorial markers. He would find what he needed there, of that he was certain. And when he was done, once he had the knowledge to do what he had to do, he would use that knowledge to return to the one true home he had ever known.

Tula's embrace.

Garth kept his approach high as he skimmed over the kingdom. The Shayerans, still secretive by nature despite knowing that secrecy and their desire for total isolation had destroyed the kingdom at Slizzath's command, tended to remain close to the ocean floor. There was little chance that Garth would be greeted by anyone at the higher levels, and that suited him just fine. He wanted to get into the palace, find what he needed and get out as quickly as possible.

Very little of the original palace remained after Slizzath's attacks. The Shayerans salvaged what they could and simply rebuilt around what survived, using the original designs. The new palace was virtually identical to the old one. Knowing that, Garth quietly slipped into one of the open terraces of the palaces' uppermost spire and decended down towards the main floor.

Very few guards or retainers moved through the palace. Total pacifism demanded that displays of force not be used. This was one time Garth didn't mind overmuch about it.

Finally, he let his feet touch down on the rich marble floor in front of a pair of massive, ornately carved doors. He reached for the gold handles and entered the one room few Shayerans had ever been and never would be. The Monarch's Sanctum. The room where every Shayeran monarch born, Garth's own father, the late King Thar included, had come to learn and use the magiks that were part of both their education and their birthright. The room where Garth himself, had his life been different, would have learned of his own magegift gradually, gently, at his father's side.

Studying the room, its cylindrical design reaching up many meters above him, every bit of wall space taken up by shelves upon shelves of scrolls, Garth allowed a moment's luxury of appreciating the beauty of the room. From the murals depicting events in Shayeran history, to the pure white support columns etched with envocations and prayers, to the marble and tiled floor whose design led the eye to the room's center podium, where monarchs through the centuries applied their magic, the elements of design were carefully planned to not only be conducive to magework but to invoke a sense of serenity and peace.

Even as anxious and agitated as he was, Garth couldn't help but let his soul be soothed by it...but only for a moment. He had a task. He wanted it done.

He swam up slowly, searching the scrolls' outside etchings carefully. From his last time here, he had learned that the scrolls were grouped according to they type of spell they contained. So intent was he on his search, he did not notice when someone else entered the sanctum.

"Hello." A woman's voice, warm, containing surprise.

Startled, Garth looked down to the sanctum floor and saw the one person he was hoping to avoid on his journey. "Moth---Berra. I wasn't expecting you here."

"Obviously," she replied with a wry tone. "I would have expected a greeting otherwise." Instead of swimming up to join him as he expected, Berra, the Idylyst's Queen, crossed to the heavily padded kneeler next to the center podium and sat down.

Garth turned back to his searching. "Why are you in the Sanctum? I wouldn't think that you'd come here."

"Because this is where your father died?" Berra looked thoughtful for a moment, thoughtful and wistful. "Garth, I come here almost every day...and it's not because Thar died here, but because this is where he truly did his living." Berra took note that her son never looked back down at her again, but she continued anyway. This was the first time she had been able to speak her heart to her estranged child, and although he wasn't looking at her, she hoped that he would listen.

"This room meant everything to your father. Before he and I were wed, he spent all his waking hours -- and some of his sleeping ones here. After he took me as his Queen, he spent a few less hours here. I would often join him, just to watch him as he studied and used his magegifts. I was mesmerized by his hands. He had the most beautiful hands....they were so strong....and gentle. His fingers were long and slender and I loved to sit in this room and watch his hands as he worked spells. His gesturing was almost like watching dancing.

"Sometimes, he would glance over at me and smile as he worked. I don't know how much he really needed to use gestures to work the spells. I think he gestured even when he really didn't need to, just because he knew I loved to watch his hands." Berra allowed herself a small smile in memory.

"Is there a point to your drifting down memory lane, Berra?" Garth asked.

Berra sighed. She wanted to know this shining young man who both son and stranger and she wanted him to know her. "It's just....well, you have the same hands. And seeing you is like seeing him. That's all."

"I'm pleased you have *your* memories of him, Berra." Garth pulled several scrolls out of their resting places and it was only then that he finally looked down upon the woman who had borne him. "That was your good fortune, not mine."

And with that, scrolls tucked firmly under his arm, Garth quickly shot back down and out the Sanctum doors, never even giving his mother a backwards glance.

He never saw Berra, Queen of Shayeris, bury her face in her hands as she cried.