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[Prince of Tennis] Et Cetera: Ripples - 02. Fuji & Tezuka

Posted on 2013.04.18 at 04:18
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A Prince of Tennis fanfiction. Fantasy AU, drama/romance. Rated R (M) overall. Multiple pairings. 50,000+ words total. Originally written 11/20/2004 - 7/18/2006, with ongoing revisions.

This part belongs to one of the backstory sub-arc, Ripples, and takes place 10 years before the events in the main story.

Et Cetera: Ripples by Shiraume


02. Fuji & Tezuka


"How unusual for you, to drop by without prior notice," Fuji said as he poured tea for his guest. "Visiting Morgiana?"

"No," Tezuka answered curtly, skipping the pleasantries in favor of business at hand. "I assume you know about the war between Ketys and Brinwold?"

"For the control of Pyris? Yes."

"I understand your priority is Moltania, but this is important. Can you go to Pyris?" Tezuka asked, not bothering with the expected courtesies. He never had the patience for the Cetera custom of phrasing requests in a ceremoniously roundabout way. Besides, with Fuji, direct approach worked better. Unless Fuji was in a mood to be difficult, in which case all bets were off anyway.

Fuji waved a hand absently. "I have no formal contract with Moltania, or any other city. And Moltania is not under a threat of war." Fuji paused for a moment, wondering whether he should ask for more information. If asked, Tezuka would be truthful about anything he felt Fuji should know. "Is there a reason why you're asking? I received no summons from the Council."

"The Council decided not to intervene," Tezuka said flatly. "Kingdom of Ketys is an important ally to Cetera."

"And currently accounts for one-fifth of Heda's yearly revenue," Fuji observed, mild voice belying the biting truth of his observation. Noting the faint crease between Tezuka's brows, Fuji let it go, and waited for Tezuka to continue.

"A formal legation from Cetera now would make the situation even more uncomfortable, since neither Ketys nor Brinwold is willing to be the first to end the stalemate. Meanwhile, the destruction at Pyris is spreading to the nearby villages. As you know, Pyris had a contract with a Cetera Mage, but -- "

"'Had'?" Fuji cut him.

"The Council formally pronounced the Mage deceased. His Book returned to Aeterna yesterday," Tezuka answered. Fuji's calm expression betrayed nothing, but Tezuka thought he felt something coiling inside Fuji, like a snake getting ready to strike.

"So you're sending me to take his place?" Fuji asked neutrally, and Tezuka shook his head.

"No, I'm asking you to go to Pyris and do what you can to contain further damage. Until Pyris successfully forms a contract with another Mage, there is no one to help the city or the neighboring villages."

Fuji was silent for a long time. Finally, Fuji turned to look at him directly, meeting his eyes. "Does this represent the wishes of the Council?"

"No," Tezuka answered simply.

"I see," Fuji's voice was level. After a moment, Fuji's expression relaxed into his usual smile. "I'll leave for Pyris first thing tomorrow. Are you planning to stay for a few days?"

Tezuka shook his head. "I'm returning to Heda after this."

Fuji nodded. "I'll do my best, then."

"Thank you," Tezuka said quietly.

"Don't mention it," Fuji replied, pouring more tea into his own cup. "How are things in Heda?"

"The usual," Tezuka said tersely, and Fuji did not press. Fuji knew Tezuka must have staunchly opposed the Council's decision to abandon Pyris to her fate just so Cetera could stay on good terms with both Ketys and Brinwold. Instead, Fuji gave him a smile, one warmer and gentler than usual.

"Would you like to stay for dinner?"

"Will you be cooking?" Tezuka asked with an almost imperceptible raise of an eyebrow.

"Do you want to help?" Fuji countered, smile widening a notch. "Or are you implying there is something objectionable about my cooking?" Fuji needled, watching the hints of tension seep away from Tezuka's shoulders.

"I implied nothing of the sort," Tezuka replied with a straight face, and Fuji hid a laugh. Tezuka always needled back, just more subtly. Tezuka and Yanagi both understood and played the game just as well as he did, even if Tezuka pretended he didn't play. It was nice to have people like them as friends. His days were certainly more entertaining.

The two of them prepared dinner together, and Fuji managed to persuade Tezuka to stay for a little longer before returning to Heda. When Tezuka took his leave, Fuji noted with a certain amount of pride that Tezuka definitely looked less edgy than when he first arrived, though most people would not have noted the change. It pleased him to know he could affect Tezuka that way. Of course, he also knew quite well how to prod and tease Tezuka to distraction, but he could do that any time. And tomorrow...

Tomorrow was another day.

Fin




( More Cetera-verse notes. ) Morgiana is a Wind-Dragon, and has been Tezuka's friend since his childhood. Oishi, a long-time friend of Fuji's, lives in the City of Moltania, which is why Fuji likes keeping an eye on it.

Mage is a formal title, granted to Cetera who completed training under an accredited mentor and passed certification examination. Mages can apply for the honorary title of Archmage, but only top 5 to 10 percent ever attain it. Each Cetera child starts as Novice-Mage and passes through Apprentice-Mage level before he can attempt the Mage certification. Each level is differentiated by the color of the trim on the robe: gold for Archmage, silver for Mage, burgundy for Apprentice-Mage, and purple for Novice-Mage. Standard Cetera business attire is a full-length black robe with embroidered trim. Cetera priests (who tend the temples) wear simple white tunics.

The Book is a magical item particular to Cetera Mages. It emerges from Lake Aeterna in Heda when a Cetera is born, accompanies him throughout life, and returns to Aeterna when he dies. It's one of the ways for Cetera to keep track of their numbers. Each Book is unique, but can take any form when inactive. When awakened, the Book takes the shape of a sizable hardcover tome, but its true size and design differ widely from one Cetera to another. It is not exactly a sentient being, but can keep records of the spells a Mage performs using the Book, and acts as sort of a personal Magical encyclopedia.

Crossposted at http://shiraume-fic.dreamwidth.org/26195.html.

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