I shook my head. "I don't actually know. It depends... Like the other non-human groups, they have their own allegiances and alliances."
"They are all problematic then."
"We are all problematic," I spread my hands in defeat. "Even the drake clans are not united and prone to a lot of infighting, because - you guess it - power."
"I see," Filipe nodded. "The duende is like that too."
"We are all the same at the end."
"How about these records about the dark elves? What have they got to do with Father or our clan?"
Our clan. I stiffened and fought the urge to yell at him. Yet Filipe was also Father's son and had a claim to the clan's name. He was a fucking unknown and I felt a growing affection for him. My brother. My half-brother.
"The gaps are telling," I said firmly. "We don't know. Father didn't say."
An unexpected pang of pain shot through me. Tears brimmed behind my eyelids. Father's death was still fresh. What would he say now? What would he do?
"In fact, he has never talked about a lot of things. Open up the other boxes. Perhaps we will find more information about the missing years."
Filipe nodded, yawning as he did so, and picked up a penknife. Box number three smelled like old newspapers, its seams covered with a thick layer of black duct tape.
"It's late," I said. "Go and rest. We can clear the boxes tomorrow."
The monsoon rains came the next day, with flooding of the front porch and the house staff frantically closing the windows. The house was old and shuddered with the force of the rainfall. The roof creaked alarmingly. When I was younger, it sounded like the end of the world. Even now, the thunder and lightning still made me to jump.
Mat rushed about, trying to keep the water from seeping through the delicate floorboards. His beloved garden was soaked through. He shrugged though. At least, he told me with a laugh, we could predict weather patterns.
I stood watching the rain. The air was cool, the smell of the earth rich and filled with promise. I had always loved the land after rain. Work back in the office was done, with Gluttony and Famine managing most of the logistics.
Filipe was opening the fourth box. Box number three yielded nothing, only receipts and bills from the 1990s.
"Have you considered going back to the Philippines?" I asked him. Papers were strewn everywhere around him, like a growing sunburst. He sat in the middle, the laptop on the floor, staring closely at a pink receipt. He glanced at me then, and put the receipt away.
"I am never going back. We Salazars have no more say and klout in duende politics. With mother now in her retreat..." His voice had an edge, as if he teetered on the brink of a breakdown. "I wanted to fight for more say... but the elders told me to leave, because the aswang convinced them I was bad luck."
The wooden windows chose this moment to slam close, making all of us jump. Somewhere roof tiles spilled from the top, crashing with a sharp sound. I heard Mat swearing.
"I am sorry," I said and shut up, because I did not know what else to say. He was as lost as I was.
Filipe grimaced and went back to his receipts. "It's now in the past, bro. No more." He glared at me. "Do you want me to leave?"
"No," I said quickly. "Well, not for now. I just want you to figure out what to do in the future. We both need to. I have to get... Father's estate back on track. You..."
"... need to get a place of my own, and get the hell out of here."
"No need to get defensive."
"As if I will rest on my inheritance and not work for the rest of my life..."
"Then get a job."
We stared at each other and burst out laughing at the absurdity.
"Look, back to serious stuff... I lied. I do have a job, kind of. I write copy as a freelancer and I do have useful clients." A shrug and a disarming grin. "I have PR status here, so I would only visit Manila twice a year. Family still sends me money..."
"Well, whatever works for you."
I didn't dwell on the matter for the night. Instead I helped Filipe sort out the stacks of receipts and ledgers. No more mentions of Icelandic phrases and Dökkálfar.
In the dream, I stood in the middle of somewhere... a field of some sort, backed up by soaring mountains. In my hands I held Clarity. It gleamed in the sunlight.
A woman, her body woven with brown roots and vines, smiled. She beckoned at me, urging me to approach her. When I did, she said only four words in English.
"I will see you."
YOU ARE READING
Halcyon DaysScience Fiction
Gabriel Sutherland must not lose precious time. He has to destroy the Dark Claws, quell the dissent in his own clan, and work with his half-brother who may or may not be his only ally in this drake vs drake war. Who are the Dökkálfar and what do th...