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Written by Broken_Toe in portal Fantasy

Castle Prose (Prose Universe challenge by SalingerTwain - continuation)

Chapter Two: Behind Closed Doors

Ancient Writing: The Whisperer’s Sonnets

Chapter IV:II

Shall I relinquish to thee, a winter’s storm?

Hell is cold in thy empty void.

The heart does long the peace of death,

Yet the brisk northern howl of — nothingness?

Darkness blinds the cruel crystalline eyes,

From hate will burn and frost immortalized.

Thou harsh winds cut more brutal than blade

Blood can’t drain, yet life remain?

The blizzard white in no way clean.

Will not wash the sin off thee

Thou curse of vengeance blocking heaven’s shine.

“Human rule has had its time!”

Will life endure — the spite of thee?

The call: “To Arms;” gives meaning to breathe.

***

In the dark shadows at the back of the small tavern, the two men whispered secrets hidden from those who might question intentions. The undersized bar where politics were often on the menu,— always tied to the emotions of strong opinion, and where policies were continually questioned,— seemed the perfect place to vent possible conspiracies. But here, talking the end of days was deemed the highest order of ‘nut job’ and relegated to only the bravest of souls willing to press agenda to gain followers.

The hour was late as the two men sat across from each other with tall steins full,— and only a small candle in-between to ease the darkness of the seemingly empty establishment.

SalingerTwain took a swig of his ale as he stared at the page from the very old leather bound book. “What the hell is this all about?”

“It’s prophecy dude,” Replied JamesMByers.

“Looks like a bunch of gibberish to me.”

“It’s talking about the Ice Queen and Domination.”

“Tell me more.” SalingerTwain leaned in with anticipation.

“She’s coming soon.”

…Twain stared back down at the page. “Humm…. I don’t see it. How are you getting that?…Ice Queen, Dominatrix, cumin:— so, it’s an erotic poem?”

“Nooo,”—James… winced running his parted fingers through his hair in frustration. “She’s not a Dominatrix. She’s determined to summon — ‘THE DARKNESS.’”

Salinger… looked out from the corner booth to the window at the front of the establishment,— nodding, “Looks like incantation achieved. What’s so bad about that? I have trouble sleeping during the day anyway.”

“Not the night, night you idiot: ‘THE DARKNESS.’”

“Ohhh, we’re talking a knight here. A dude called Darkness. What can one Knight do, even if he is a badass?”

…Byers sighed with disgust. “Not a person or Knight. It’s all about an encompassing evil.”

Salinger… studied the words.— “I only see darkness mentioned with eyes? How are you coming up with–— ‘THE DARKNESS?’”

“It’s right there in the prophecy, ‘Thou curse of vengeance blocking heaven’s shine.’”

…Twain‘s right eye arched high. “I think that’s open to interpretation.”

James… raised his hands above the table, palms up, moving them passionately. “Dude, the prophecy is in soliloquy from the heart…” closing his right fist to his chest. “…bending to the inevitable doom of destiny, or taking a stand —that is the essence of what gives life purpose.” His fist came down hard on the oak surface; “The Ice Queen’s rule will consume all.”

Salinger… took a swig of his ale, wiping the excess from his mouth with sleeve. “So why is her rule evil? What’s her political agenda?”

“She doesn’t have a political agenda.”

“So she wants to rule, but has no political agenda? That might not be a bad thing.”

…Byers shook his head in disbelief. “The domination’s not about ruling. It’s about bringing on ’The DARKNESS.’”

“So she wants everybody to get a good nights rest? That platform sounds pretty good to me.”

“Nooo,” …Byers moaned in frustration. ‘THE DARKNESS’ is a metaphor for unearthly evil.”

“Why? When I think of darkness, I think sleep.”

“I guess because bad things happen at night.”

“And bad things don’t happen in the daytime? Maybe she’s going to bring ‘The LIGHTNESS.’” …Twain placed his hands on his cheeks. “Ewwwww! I‘m scared.”

“Look,— we need to take a stand against the Ice Queen. She’s got over eight thousand followers and each seal of the 68 broken will bring death and destruction in their wake. She’s like a sand flea whose bite will mean the end of the world.”

“Oh, I see now, you’re an animal rights activist. I agree, hunting baby seals is really bad.”

“No, not seals,— seals as in locks to contain or hold in.”

“So, there’s 68 seals that have invaded the canals and she has to hunt them because they’re disrupting shipping?”

“Seals,— not mammals.”

“But I was taught seals were mammals. You probably don‘t believe in any leather goods either. Is that why your vote isn‘t… What’s the Ice Queen’s name again?”

“sandflea68.” …Byers mumbled under his breath.

“How do you get ‘Ice Queen‘— from sand flea? — sounds more like a beach-loving sun-worshiper.”

“I didn’t pick her name.“

“Well who did?”

“Probably her parents.”

“And they named their kid Sandflea? What were they thinking? Carrying a name around like that had to build character. She would have to have a strong constitution. Besides, I thought sand fleas were fictional?”

“Oh, she’s real alright. She’s a beautiful seductress, that weaves her spells to entice and enchant the wayward souls caught in her web of deceit.”

“First she’s a biting flea and now a spider, Which is it?”

“Dude, it’s just an expression.”

Salinger… smiled wide. “This all sounds like a lot of propaganda to me: a no nonsense ruling seductive sun-worshiper dominatrix, enchanting in her feminine wiles. And the whole package comes without a hidden political agenda? I’m sold. Loved the sales pitch. Where can I find her? Tell me, are you her agent or her campaign manager?”

James… shook his head. “I don’t believe this. The prophecy’s warning death, destruction, and you’re ready to jump from the battlement to the flagstones in her path, yelling, “Trample me, Trample ME!”

…Twain chuckled and turned away spying the beautiful view hanging over the bar-top, grabbing something from a shelf behind. “Hey bar wench, bring me and my friend here another round.”

“Dude, that’s rude.” James… whispered with a frown.

“Nonsense,— you need to lighten up. She works in a tavern for Christ’s sakes. They’re use to it.”

The waitress, InLoveWithWords slipped from her perch and turned to her last patrons of the night. “We’re closing up.” There was a strong look of distain in those fiery brown eyes.

Salinger… snapped his fingers. “Brew-ski,— chop, chop, don’t keep your customers waiting.”

…Byers, shook his head no,— “Dude?” and then to the waitress. “I’m just fine miss.”

InLove… looked over to the bartender, CreativeChaos, who slid a fresh stein …Words’ way with a wink.

As the bar-goddess approached the duo, James… inched away — to the back of his bench seat.

Salinger… sat smiling at the gorgeous view.

InLove…’s eyes burned cruel and emotionless as she dumped the ice cold ale over the annoying patron’s head and slammed the pewter mug down on the table, “We’re closed;” and stormed out leaving the front door open.

“You can see yourselves out,” CreativeChaos barked from behind the bar and turned out the oil lamp and then moved toward the upstairs lodging.

Salinger… stared at his friend, “Shit, I guess that was last call.” Then turned his head and watched …Chaos leave.

James… licked his fingers and doused the candle. Blackness encompassed the duo.

Everything went still.

“What’s with — “THE DARKNESS?——

James…?———James…?———Anybody? ”

Nothing but silence. 

“Dude, I’m cold. Now I could really use a hot shower. Can someone please light a lamp?”

Through the open door a chilly breeze sweeps across the floor carrying with it a few snowflakes. The frosty beer magnified the winter wind as Salinger… stood still staring at the open door. It appeared a huge storm was rolling in.

“Hum, I guess it’s time to blow this joint:— Bedtime‘s calling me.”

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Written by Broken_Toe in portal Fantasy
Castle Prose (Prose Universe challenge by SalingerTwain - continuation)
Chapter Two: Behind Closed Doors

Ancient Writing: The Whisperer’s Sonnets
Chapter IV:II

Shall I relinquish to thee, a winter’s storm?
Hell is cold in thy empty void.
The heart does long the peace of death,
Yet the brisk northern howl of — nothingness?
Darkness blinds the cruel crystalline eyes,
From hate will burn and frost immortalized.
Thou harsh winds cut more brutal than blade
Blood can’t drain, yet life remain?
The blizzard white in no way clean.
Will not wash the sin off thee
Thou curse of vengeance blocking heaven’s shine.
“Human rule has had its time!”
Will life endure — the spite of thee?
The call: “To Arms;” gives meaning to breathe.

***

In the dark shadows at the back of the small tavern, the two men whispered secrets hidden from those who might question intentions. The undersized bar where politics were often on the menu,— always tied to the emotions of strong opinion, and where policies were continually questioned,— seemed the perfect place to vent possible conspiracies. But here, talking the end of days was deemed the highest order of ‘nut job’ and relegated to only the bravest of souls willing to press agenda to gain followers.

The hour was late as the two men sat across from each other with tall steins full,— and only a small candle in-between to ease the darkness of the seemingly empty establishment.

SalingerTwain took a swig of his ale as he stared at the page from the very old leather bound book. “What the hell is this all about?”

“It’s prophecy dude,” Replied JamesMByers.

“Looks like a bunch of gibberish to me.”

“It’s talking about the Ice Queen and Domination.”

“Tell me more.” SalingerTwain leaned in with anticipation.

“She’s coming soon.”

…Twain stared back down at the page. “Humm…. I don’t see it. How are you getting that?…Ice Queen, Dominatrix, cumin:— so, it’s an erotic poem?”

“Nooo,”—James… winced running his parted fingers through his hair in frustration. “She’s not a Dominatrix. She’s determined to summon — ‘THE DARKNESS.’”

Salinger… looked out from the corner booth to the window at the front of the establishment,— nodding, “Looks like incantation achieved. What’s so bad about that? I have trouble sleeping during the day anyway.”

“Not the night, night you idiot: ‘THE DARKNESS.’”

“Ohhh, we’re talking a knight here. A dude called Darkness. What can one Knight do, even if he is a badass?”

…Byers sighed with disgust. “Not a person or Knight. It’s all about an encompassing evil.”

Salinger… studied the words.— “I only see darkness mentioned with eyes? How are you coming up with–— ‘THE DARKNESS?’”

“It’s right there in the prophecy, ‘Thou curse of vengeance blocking heaven’s shine.’”

…Twain‘s right eye arched high. “I think that’s open to interpretation.”

James… raised his hands above the table, palms up, moving them passionately. “Dude, the prophecy is in soliloquy from the heart…” closing his right fist to his chest. “…bending to the inevitable doom of destiny, or taking a stand —that is the essence of what gives life purpose.” His fist came down hard on the oak surface; “The Ice Queen’s rule will consume all.”

Salinger… took a swig of his ale, wiping the excess from his mouth with sleeve. “So why is her rule evil? What’s her political agenda?”

“She doesn’t have a political agenda.”

“So she wants to rule, but has no political agenda? That might not be a bad thing.”

…Byers shook his head in disbelief. “The domination’s not about ruling. It’s about bringing on ’The DARKNESS.’”

“So she wants everybody to get a good nights rest? That platform sounds pretty good to me.”

“Nooo,” …Byers moaned in frustration. ‘THE DARKNESS’ is a metaphor for unearthly evil.”

“Why? When I think of darkness, I think sleep.”

“I guess because bad things happen at night.”

“And bad things don’t happen in the daytime? Maybe she’s going to bring ‘The LIGHTNESS.’” …Twain placed his hands on his cheeks. “Ewwwww! I‘m scared.”

“Look,— we need to take a stand against the Ice Queen. She’s got over eight thousand followers and each seal of the 68 broken will bring death and destruction in their wake. She’s like a sand flea whose bite will mean the end of the world.”

“Oh, I see now, you’re an animal rights activist. I agree, hunting baby seals is really bad.”

“No, not seals,— seals as in locks to contain or hold in.”

“So, there’s 68 seals that have invaded the canals and she has to hunt them because they’re disrupting shipping?”

“Seals,— not mammals.”

“But I was taught seals were mammals. You probably don‘t believe in any leather goods either. Is that why your vote isn‘t… What’s the Ice Queen’s name again?”

“sandflea68.” …Byers mumbled under his breath.

“How do you get ‘Ice Queen‘— from sand flea? — sounds more like a beach-loving sun-worshiper.”

“I didn’t pick her name.“

“Well who did?”

“Probably her parents.”

“And they named their kid Sandflea? What were they thinking? Carrying a name around like that had to build character. She would have to have a strong constitution. Besides, I thought sand fleas were fictional?”

“Oh, she’s real alright. She’s a beautiful seductress, that weaves her spells to entice and enchant the wayward souls caught in her web of deceit.”

“First she’s a biting flea and now a spider, Which is it?”

“Dude, it’s just an expression.”

Salinger… smiled wide. “This all sounds like a lot of propaganda to me: a no nonsense ruling seductive sun-worshiper dominatrix, enchanting in her feminine wiles. And the whole package comes without a hidden political agenda? I’m sold. Loved the sales pitch. Where can I find her? Tell me, are you her agent or her campaign manager?”

James… shook his head. “I don’t believe this. The prophecy’s warning death, destruction, and you’re ready to jump from the battlement to the flagstones in her path, yelling, “Trample me, Trample ME!”

…Twain chuckled and turned away spying the beautiful view hanging over the bar-top, grabbing something from a shelf behind. “Hey bar wench, bring me and my friend here another round.”

“Dude, that’s rude.” James… whispered with a frown.

“Nonsense,— you need to lighten up. She works in a tavern for Christ’s sakes. They’re use to it.”

The waitress, InLoveWithWords slipped from her perch and turned to her last patrons of the night. “We’re closing up.” There was a strong look of distain in those fiery brown eyes.

Salinger… snapped his fingers. “Brew-ski,— chop, chop, don’t keep your customers waiting.”

…Byers, shook his head no,— “Dude?” and then to the waitress. “I’m just fine miss.”

InLove… looked over to the bartender, CreativeChaos, who slid a fresh stein …Words’ way with a wink.

As the bar-goddess approached the duo, James… inched away — to the back of his bench seat.

Salinger… sat smiling at the gorgeous view.

InLove…’s eyes burned cruel and emotionless as she dumped the ice cold ale over the annoying patron’s head and slammed the pewter mug down on the table, “We’re closed;” and stormed out leaving the front door open.

“You can see yourselves out,” CreativeChaos barked from behind the bar and turned out the oil lamp and then moved toward the upstairs lodging.

Salinger… stared at his friend, “Shit, I guess that was last call.” Then turned his head and watched …Chaos leave.

James… licked his fingers and doused the candle. Blackness encompassed the duo.

Everything went still.

“What’s with — “THE DARKNESS?——

James…?———James…?———Anybody? ”

Nothing but silence. 

“Dude, I’m cold. Now I could really use a hot shower. Can someone please light a lamp?”

Through the open door a chilly breeze sweeps across the floor carrying with it a few snowflakes. The frosty beer magnified the winter wind as Salinger… stood still staring at the open door. It appeared a huge storm was rolling in.

“Hum, I guess it’s time to blow this joint:— Bedtime‘s calling me.”
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Potion seller, I'm going into battle soon. And I want your strongest potions...
Written by RamonElCamino in portal Fantasy

I believe I have what you wish for. The strongest cocktail of liquid witchcraft I've ever encountered in all the realms of nine hells I wandered. And the Myriad of more I never learned the name of. Foreign faces of vodoo dolled up whores and scarred up little boys. Used as toys and test subject for spells and potion and more disgusting things better left unsaid. I do not relinquish it without some great pain in me. So a pretty penny it will cost any to see and test just a test just a drop. For it to work and for one to benefit from it. To its highest degree requires the user to believe wholly and truly not halfheartedly. It is as much up to the user as it is the potion itself. If you are weak you will be weak. If you are strong you will be the strongest. And if you still doubt me. It was gifted to me by none other then Drizzt Do' Urden by way of R.L. Salvatore

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Potion seller, I'm going into battle soon. And I want your strongest potions...
Written by RamonElCamino in portal Fantasy
I believe I have what you wish for. The strongest cocktail of liquid witchcraft I've ever encountered in all the realms of nine hells I wandered. And the Myriad of more I never learned the name of. Foreign faces of vodoo dolled up whores and scarred up little boys. Used as toys and test subject for spells and potion and more disgusting things better left unsaid. I do not relinquish it without some great pain in me. So a pretty penny it will cost any to see and test just a test just a drop. For it to work and for one to benefit from it. To its highest degree requires the user to believe wholly and truly not halfheartedly. It is as much up to the user as it is the potion itself. If you are weak you will be weak. If you are strong you will be the strongest. And if you still doubt me. It was gifted to me by none other then Drizzt Do' Urden by way of R.L. Salvatore
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Potion seller, I'm going into battle soon. And I want your strongest potions...
Written by Mnezz in portal Fantasy

Potions, charms and other things.

Come one, come all. If a potion is what you seek, then you're in the right place. I am the Ms. Poti, and do come in. Whatever it is that you seek....I'll whip it up in a jiffy. But be warned the one strongest one that you seek, you see comes at a cost. Not of money, gems or any previous stone(s).

Now time to make a really great potion~~~~

What does the brewing potions and spell book say to do. Let's see....

(Ms. Poti reads out loud as she follows all the book's instructions)

Add a dash of troll sweat....for extra -umph- in strength, and a slight pinch of fairy dust for quick speed & flight...hmmm.. what else...aha-a sprinkle of a chameleon's tail--you know for the ability to easily change to whatever surrounding you're in, this way you can blend into any environment and no one will be able to find you or better yet even spot where you are.

For the next part of this special formulae, I'll throw in the breath of the oldest, wisest knight to guide your mind to fight and know what's right. Another key ingredient is a small piece of garlic, a bit of vinegar and ginger. That's to scare of any creature of the night. And let's see, should I add this too? Okay, for a kick in your control of the natural elements:-wind, earth, fire and water; add a tear from the enchanted lake, a loud cry or laughter poured in from me-hahahaha, and a flame from my fire breathing lizard, lastly a tiny shiny pebble touched or held by a magical being.

Sometimes the instructions to the potion brewing can be way so specific. Now let me allow it to set for a short while. It's changing and mixing in.

( In a short moment there is a soft, gentle Poof! )

Ah, it's done!!

Here you go, you're on your way. Go win your battle. With this potion in your hand not even the mightiest, greatest warrior could stand a change even against me or you. Drink it in four drops several days before your battle.

Remember, a little goes a long way. Don't let anyone see you take the potion. That's a fair warning. Good luck to you warrior.

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Potion seller, I'm going into battle soon. And I want your strongest potions...
Written by Mnezz in portal Fantasy
Potions, charms and other things.
Come one, come all. If a potion is what you seek, then you're in the right place. I am the Ms. Poti, and do come in. Whatever it is that you seek....I'll whip it up in a jiffy. But be warned the one strongest one that you seek, you see comes at a cost. Not of money, gems or any previous stone(s).

Now time to make a really great potion~~~~

What does the brewing potions and spell book say to do. Let's see....

(Ms. Poti reads out loud as she follows all the book's instructions)

Add a dash of troll sweat....for extra -umph- in strength, and a slight pinch of fairy dust for quick speed & flight...hmmm.. what else...aha-a sprinkle of a chameleon's tail--you know for the ability to easily change to whatever surrounding you're in, this way you can blend into any environment and no one will be able to find you or better yet even spot where you are.

For the next part of this special formulae, I'll throw in the breath of the oldest, wisest knight to guide your mind to fight and know what's right. Another key ingredient is a small piece of garlic, a bit of vinegar and ginger. That's to scare of any creature of the night. And let's see, should I add this too? Okay, for a kick in your control of the natural elements:-wind, earth, fire and water; add a tear from the enchanted lake, a loud cry or laughter poured in from me-hahahaha, and a flame from my fire breathing lizard, lastly a tiny shiny pebble touched or held by a magical being.

Sometimes the instructions to the potion brewing can be way so specific. Now let me allow it to set for a short while. It's changing and mixing in.

( In a short moment there is a soft, gentle Poof! )

Ah, it's done!!

Here you go, you're on your way. Go win your battle. With this potion in your hand not even the mightiest, greatest warrior could stand a change even against me or you. Drink it in four drops several days before your battle.

Remember, a little goes a long way. Don't let anyone see you take the potion. That's a fair warning. Good luck to you warrior.
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You are on a drive somewhere. But before you reach your final destination, you encounter odd things along the way.
Written by ruffmiriam in portal Fantasy

Sudden Impact

I was on I-40 crossing the northern Arizona desert, on my way to the Barringer Meteor Crater. Thirty-seven miles east of Flagstaff, it was endless flat ground miles from nowhere, but it was still one of the area's great tourist attractions. It had even been a training spot for the Apollo astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s. I'd been there a couple of times before, but somehow it always drew me back. Something about our surviving an impact that left a half-mile-wide hole in the ground from a meteor strike revved up my adrenaline a bit.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon as I drove, drenching the sky in light pinks and oranges. I wanted to get an early start so there wouldn't be a crowd of tourists mobbing the viewing platform and chattering away into what would otherwise be glorious silence. I loved the sound of the silence as you stood perched on the crater's rim - no other sound could rival its utter perfection. As I drove, I marveled, too, at the profusion of napolitos that lined the highway. They charged about $2.50 per napolito, or cactus pear, in the grocery stores, while here they were growing wild, ripe and ready for picking - all you had to do was get out of your car. I made a note to myself to grab a bagful on my return trip.

I was about a mile from Exit 233, which would take me the remaining 11 miles to the site, when I saw a large vehicle blocking the road a half-mile or so in front of me. I couldn't make out the details since the sun was in my eyes, but it was probably a truck out of water in the desert (what a novelty - ha!) or maybe out of gas. I braked and pulled over onto the shoulder about 200 yards from it. No, it definitely wasn't a truck. It was large - larger than I had originally thought - but it was roundish, with a dome on top. I slid out of the car onto the pavement and carefully made my way toward it.

As I walked, a five-note tone suddenly started playing through my head, and I couldn't get it to stop. I knew it. I knew I knew it, but I just couldn't place it. Then suddenly it hit me - "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Oh, yeah, right, these were extraterrestrials that just happened to end up in the Arizona desert in front of me, probably on their way to the crater as well. Still, I stopped and considered the metallic object. It didn't look at all familiar except like what you saw in every UFO movie that had ever been made - round, domed, extraterrestrial. Man, I was losing it.

"Hello," I called out. "Anybody there? Do you need help?"

Two high-pitched whistles suddenly screeched at the upper limit of my hearing range, and I clapped my hands over my ears. When I looked up, I could see two squat figures waddling and rushing from behind the object to a door that had opened in its side. As they ran, they flung something quickly behind them. The door closed the moment they were inside, there was the whine of engines coming to life, and the craft lifted up from the ground, first gaining altitude, then scooting over to the west.

"No, you're not crazy," I told myself out loud, glad to hear comprehensible words coming out of my mouth. "No, there's no such thing as extraterrestials on Earth - you've just seen too many sci-fi movies."

Still, I was curious - what had the pair of whatever they were thrown behind them? What didn't they want to be caught with? I followed the extra-wide footprints from where the craft had been to where I had seen them toss it away. There were two smoldering objects lying in a shallow ditch. I got down on my hands and knees and looked at what seemed to be two cigarette butts. Then I smelled it. Not cigarettes - marijuana. And it all came together, the craft, the figures, the butts, the crater. Two teenagers out on a jaunt, probably in a jacked spaceship, high and looking at the Earther's cute little sites.

"Damn tourists," I muttered, stomping out the butts. "Don't you know pot and littering are illegal here? No, I guess not."

I walked back to my car and turned it around; I had had enough excitement for one day, I decided.

#destinationstory #UFOs #BarringerCrater #SF #prose

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You are on a drive somewhere. But before you reach your final destination, you encounter odd things along the way.
Written by ruffmiriam in portal Fantasy
Sudden Impact
I was on I-40 crossing the northern Arizona desert, on my way to the Barringer Meteor Crater. Thirty-seven miles east of Flagstaff, it was endless flat ground miles from nowhere, but it was still one of the area's great tourist attractions. It had even been a training spot for the Apollo astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s. I'd been there a couple of times before, but somehow it always drew me back. Something about our surviving an impact that left a half-mile-wide hole in the ground from a meteor strike revved up my adrenaline a bit.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon as I drove, drenching the sky in light pinks and oranges. I wanted to get an early start so there wouldn't be a crowd of tourists mobbing the viewing platform and chattering away into what would otherwise be glorious silence. I loved the sound of the silence as you stood perched on the crater's rim - no other sound could rival its utter perfection. As I drove, I marveled, too, at the profusion of napolitos that lined the highway. They charged about $2.50 per napolito, or cactus pear, in the grocery stores, while here they were growing wild, ripe and ready for picking - all you had to do was get out of your car. I made a note to myself to grab a bagful on my return trip.

I was about a mile from Exit 233, which would take me the remaining 11 miles to the site, when I saw a large vehicle blocking the road a half-mile or so in front of me. I couldn't make out the details since the sun was in my eyes, but it was probably a truck out of water in the desert (what a novelty - ha!) or maybe out of gas. I braked and pulled over onto the shoulder about 200 yards from it. No, it definitely wasn't a truck. It was large - larger than I had originally thought - but it was roundish, with a dome on top. I slid out of the car onto the pavement and carefully made my way toward it.

As I walked, a five-note tone suddenly started playing through my head, and I couldn't get it to stop. I knew it. I knew I knew it, but I just couldn't place it. Then suddenly it hit me - "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Oh, yeah, right, these were extraterrestrials that just happened to end up in the Arizona desert in front of me, probably on their way to the crater as well. Still, I stopped and considered the metallic object. It didn't look at all familiar except like what you saw in every UFO movie that had ever been made - round, domed, extraterrestrial. Man, I was losing it.

"Hello," I called out. "Anybody there? Do you need help?"

Two high-pitched whistles suddenly screeched at the upper limit of my hearing range, and I clapped my hands over my ears. When I looked up, I could see two squat figures waddling and rushing from behind the object to a door that had opened in its side. As they ran, they flung something quickly behind them. The door closed the moment they were inside, there was the whine of engines coming to life, and the craft lifted up from the ground, first gaining altitude, then scooting over to the west.

"No, you're not crazy," I told myself out loud, glad to hear comprehensible words coming out of my mouth. "No, there's no such thing as extraterrestials on Earth - you've just seen too many sci-fi movies."

Still, I was curious - what had the pair of whatever they were thrown behind them? What didn't they want to be caught with? I followed the extra-wide footprints from where the craft had been to where I had seen them toss it away. There were two smoldering objects lying in a shallow ditch. I got down on my hands and knees and looked at what seemed to be two cigarette butts. Then I smelled it. Not cigarettes - marijuana. And it all came together, the craft, the figures, the butts, the crater. Two teenagers out on a jaunt, probably in a jacked spaceship, high and looking at the Earther's cute little sites.

"Damn tourists," I muttered, stomping out the butts. "Don't you know pot and littering are illegal here? No, I guess not."

I walked back to my car and turned it around; I had had enough excitement for one day, I decided.

#destinationstory #UFOs #BarringerCrater #SF #prose

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Chapter 14 of The Culling of Casimir
Written by Harlequin in portal Fantasy

Chapter 14: Ivory & Bronze

    Time was caught like a dried leaf in a hailstorm, swept every which way with no discernible trajectory, consistent speed, or hope for reprieve from its chaotic tumbling. I caught glimpses through a drugged, slitted vision, of Sarkana’s hands over me, the shining edge of a scalpel, the bundles of her sleeves bunched just beneath her elbows, with stains of blood rounding her wrists like splattered, shining circlets. The intermittent glances between unconsciousness came with pinches of discomfort, stabs of pain that poked through the numbness, sometimes punctuated by shades of indigo coloring my eyelids. But in my stupor, I couldn’t alert her that the drug was wearing off, or even to consider her distorted expression of enrapture as I lapsed in and out of these visions like light being granted space between clouds in a storm’s frenzy.

    In one instance, I stirred to find that night had fallen. Sarkana was looking over a cracked tome with gnarled parchment and deep gauges of ink that stained symbols and words throughout the pages. When she turned round, the tips of her fingers discolored with faded blood, she was shocked to see me looking at her.

    I raised a sluggish hand to my eye, cognizant that the arrow’s weight was now missing from my head, and that gauze had replaced it. “Not yet,” she whispered and took my hand in hers, murmuring other words that quickly slipped away with the rest of the room.

    Memories intermingled with the nightmare that I’ve shown you before. Only, this reoccurrence was slightly altered. I sat up in frigid air, my right hand and left eye bandaged, on a stone slab whose edges were chipping, falling away to depths which breathed a foul, impenetrable blackness. With no windows, the chamber seemed little else than a prison. When I had turned my gaze in a full circle, I found that each of its four walls hosted three or four corpses, all of them strapped down by leather belts and bolts, into stone slots that loosely fit the contours of their bodies.

    Upon closer examination of their clothing, I recognized the thirteen corpses as the fallen bodies at the Crossroads, only their faces were covered by the same masks which appeared in my nightmare, each emotion distinct than the next. Despite the fear that I usually felt from seeing those masks, the same expressions I had run from since I was old enough to dream them up, I wanted to free the corpses, to let them plummet into the depths below. But when I outstretched my arm towards one of them, its eyes sprung open and revealed that shallow, milky stare of the dead. It sent me crawling backwards, until I was leaning over the edge of the slab. Soon, it crumbled from my weight, and sent me falling into the blackness beneath.

    Halted. I looked up to see a dark silhouette, of what appeared to be a boy just a few years younger than myself, but with eyes that penetrated with ageless wisdom. Large, leather wings spread from one end of the room to the next, sprouted from his back. His arm strained to haul me back onto the slab, and I wanted him to, as I sensed that he had other plans than for me to continue in this cycle of nightmares. There was a loud noise, a bang, like a steel pot slamming against the ground, that caught his attention. Once he looked away from me, I felt my fingers slip from his grasp, until I was plummeting through the vacancy beneath the chamber, with his eyes following me all the while.

    Through the darkness, the dial of my visions was turned again, diffusing recollections through ticking that slammed like the heavy beating of a heart in an epiphany. Once again, I was kneeling within arm’s reach from Lisence as the marauders repeated their atrocities, my arms held down by leaden weights. Although I couldn’t stand seeing her this way again, looking away was somehow more horrifying, so I watched, and grunted, and screamed while I strained. Eventually, I managed to pull myself free. I threw myself towards the marauders, pushing them aside. The wind carried their silhouettes away in clouds of soot. And when I bent to hold Lisence as she shook with her knees pressed against her naked chest, her skin reacted the same to my touch, that is, to swirl away in a sigh of dust.

    I woke up to the familiar smell of damp earth and the certainty that the dreams were over. I inhaled deeply, savoring the clarity of wakefulness, even if it came to me in the diluted form of a single, bleary eye, and the first, shaky breaths that came after the unconscious crying that had evidently left my face wet.

    “You’re all right,” Sarkana murmured, repeating it a few times. “You’re safe.”

    I opened my eyes. My nails were dug into her back, my face in her hair. The damp earth, I realized, was her smell. I unwrapped myself from her body, our skin stuck together like bandages from the cold sweat that covered me.

    “Forgive me,” I began, “it was just a nightmare.” My voice had been collecting dust. I cleared it away and wiped my face.

    “There’s no need to apologize. If anything, I should. The tincture didn’t appear to pull you into a deep enough sleep. Did you feel any pain?”

    The three Addoran suns rotated high above the sanctuary, the softer light from the smaller two—which were truly moons—mingled with the heaviest rays piercing through the billowing, mountainous clouds which nearly kissed the surface of the Ruined Sea. As I watched the water, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t dreaming anymore. My head felt like a dense glass bowl, but otherwise containing nothing. “Hardly. I won’t take any apologies,” I replied. “Maybe the elixir worked all too well; perhaps in the farthest depths of sleep I had discovered a place of endless dreams. I saw some things that will be difficult to forget.”

    Her lips were pressed together with a look of apologetic pity on her face. She pushed a cup of water into my hand and motioned for me to drink. “Dreams are our burden only so long as we are sleeping. It’s best to leave them there, if you can.”

I nodded and drank, unable to shake the image of that boy’s stare into my eyes as his hand kept me from falling. “The tincture lasted an entire day?”

    “Two days,” she corrected.

    “Two?” Despite the heaviness that seemed to pull my entire body into the bed, I longed to stand in the wind, to feel the sun’s kiss or even winter’s bite. But even just moving my legs seemed like an arduous task. “Why did it take so long?”

    “Using necromancy for healing is not the simplest of tasks. But I do hope the results are … satisfactory.” Sarkana lifted my right hand, the one that had been pierced through by the same arrow that killed Fahim. After she unraveled the bandages, I fixed my gaze on the new scar, which looked like the remnants of a burn wound, where flames had scalded the flesh in the shape of a star, but had long since healed into a pale-grey hue. I laughed, because the last time I had tried to move my fingers, they had only twitched. I curled them around Sarkana’s wrist. Her expression lit up as if I had just enjoyed a meal that she had meticulously cooked. “How does it feel?”

    “The way it always felt, as if nothing had ever happened.” I held the hand up to the light, expecting to see some mechanism working beneath the flesh. I massaged the scar, anticipating the pain, but felt none. “This is unbelievable,” I muttered, shaking my head.

    “Well, I am not certain that it’s possible to give you anymore proof,” she laughed.

    “My eye …” I began to unfurl the bandages around me head.

    “Oh no. No, no, no,” she stopped me and replaced the gauze. “I’m afraid that will take another day or two, at the very least.”

    Beneath the bandage, I could move whatever eye had replaced mine. Before I had drunken the tincture, the possibility seemed distant, perhaps because I didn't believe something like that was possible. But now that I felt it, the eye moving in place of mine, I could not help but feel nauseated. Still, Sarkana was eating up the satisfaction in my expression, even if she looked as if she could fall asleep that very moment. I didn’t want to disappoint her.

    “I am sure it is just as astonishing. I can feel it moving already.”

    She nodded quickly, her fingers wrung together. “Everything is in place, I would just prefer it if your body had more time to adjust.”

    “I’ll take the healer’s expert advice. But do you have my, ahh, my old part? I am curious.”

    “Oh … well. I thought it best if you didn’t see it. It was not so, how should I put this … familiar looking as you might think? Lacking any appropriate use for it, I had it mixed in with Zuma’s breakfast today.”

    My mouth hung open as I attempted to find the correct response, or rather, any response that would adequately articulate my feelings towards that decision. I had never expected that one of my eyes would be eaten by an imp, but if it had to happen, I suppose this was the least painful, and traumatizing. “Always thinking pragmatically, I see.”

    “As one should,” Sarkana replied. “Are you still tired? There is no shame in resting more. Your body has been through more than you can imagine.”

    “I am,” I admitted.

    “Hungry?”

    “That too,” I laughed.

    “I thought as much.” Sarkana left the room, returning with a plate of steaming biscuits and thickly sliced cheese. “Something I had prepared for myself, but was hoping you’d be willing to share with me. There’s no possibility of me eating it all.”

    After focusing all of my being on eating several of the biscuits and fistfuls of cheese, I finished another cup of water and looked at her with a touch of pity, as well as guilt. “Please don’t take this poorly, but you look exhausted. Don’t tell me you’ve been watching over me this entire time.”

    “You mean I am not my usual bewitching self?” she recoiled, gasping and pretending to be offended.

    “Relax. The deep, black rings under your eyes are charming. Have you not slept since the crossroads?”

    “Sleep is for the wounded and the unmotivated. I sleep only when there is no other choice,” she said, peeling a layer of the biscuit before slapping cheese on and putting it into her mouth. Despite her confidence, she sighed deeply and rubbed her eyes. The way she chewed, eating seemed to be a chore for her, rather than a pleasure. I could only imagine that was how she regarded sleep, as well, as just another errand for the body’s feeble mechanisms.

    One of the the most alluring demeanors is an indifference to one’s own health in place of another’s well being. It placates an irrefutable longing that everyone either nurtures or ignores, the desire to be loved and cared for. I couldn’t help but feel myself wanting to grow closer to her. I reached out for the hand she wasn’t using to feed herself and pulled it into both of mine.

    Upon feeling my fingers wrap around hers, her eyes went quickly from our hands to me. A stunned disbelief, a loneliness fulfilled with relief, wrapped in fatigue, settled into her face. It seemed to me, then, that any false pretense I was under of Sarkana’s dangerous side needed to be considered no more than one’s fear of darkness. Maybe she had sharpened fangs only because the world is talented at transforming the potential of the intelligent into the ruthlessness of a savage. Maybe I was a fool to treat her coldly after she’d shown me tenderness, after she’d boldly embraced me as a friend when death was her only trusted preservation.

    “Both of us should sleep. You’ve done more than enough for me.”

    “Only what I felt compelled to do,” she said modestly.

    “No. Nobody feels compelled to stay awake this long for the sake of a stranger, to pour their life and energy into them so that they might live comfortably again.”

    “I’d be wounded if you saw me as a stranger. I don’t think of you that way, Casimir.”

    “You know what I meant.”

    “Yes,” she said, not meeting my eyes.

    “Compassion is precious, to be cherished more than its less admirable sibling, love, whom one way or another, seems to always become convoluted. Because just like gods and stars, I am not certain that humans were ever meant to hold it, rather admire and revere the notion as any other unobtainable perfection. But compassion has no double faces or smoke or mirrors, compassion knows only itself.”

    “If you really believe it’s so pure, what makes you think I’d be capable of such a thing? Is it not much more easier to believe that I am only acting out of the latter?”

    “Are you trying to say that you love me, Sarkana?”

    She laughed but held my hand tighter. “No. I am saying that you are one of the only friends I’ve had in many years, and the only one I found worth keeping. So maybe I really am selfish. I couldn’t stand the thought of you dying, and worse yet, of you dying because of a wound that could have been mended far better than most would think.”

    “Well now that I’ve seen how useful you can be, I think I can entertain the idea of being your friend. So maybe both of us stand to gain something from this, after all.”

Perched on one of the branches of the tree extending from the kitchen, Felix was feeding on a shrew, the blood on his beak shining from the sunlight sprinkling itself through the other canopies circling the gardens.

    The gardens exuded an admirable dedication, just as rampant as the ivy that spread over every structure, almost elegantly forlorn in its display of isolated mastery, of countless hours sacrificed to the sanctuary’s beauty. Every time I looked at her creations, I seemed to have another conversation with her, as if she had whispered secrets to the plants who in turn divulged fragments with every glance. When she looked at her gardens, I wondered what she saw.

    “Maybe,” she replied with a tired smirk. “Maybe.”

    “You’ll finally catch some sleep, then?”

    “Oh shush. I’ve been caring for you for two days. Don’t spoil my self-righteousness by becoming my caretaker at the very end. Put your head back down. Don’t pretend as if you’re not already nodding off again.”

    And I didn’t. The biscuits had settled to a dull heat in my stomach, and the suspicions I’d felt had all but dissipated entirely, so much so that nothing seemed more satisfying, more self-indulgent, than to let myself pass once again into a deep, guarded sleep.

 

                                                                 ~ ~        

    After I had rested long enough that I couldn’t endure smelling my own sweat on the blankets, I thrust the covers off and jumped into my garments, which had been folded and left on a stool beside the bed. Only when I left the chamber did I realize that the air inside had gone stale, stifled by ointments, dried blood, and all of the odors that had been issuing from my unwashed body. A little disgusted with myself, I unlatched one of the windows and let the temperate air breathe through, unknowingly inviting the regent demon Felix back into the home, who decided that biting my ear for several minutes was my payment for worrying him.

    The air in the home was filled with the rich scent of solitude and routines perfected by repetition, of incense, freshly harvested herbs, and the cleaning solutions. At the bottom of the staircase, I found her asleep on one of the armchairs in the living room, her arm wrapped around the seer’s eye, and a strand of drool connecting from her mouth to the device.

    When I tried to pull the blanket higher up over her waist, she woke up and looked around as if she was horribly late for something.

    “What day is it?” She wiped the drool away, not bothering to pretend that I hadn’t seen it.

    “I reckon the one right after last. The world won’t stop turning because you finally got some rest,” I laughed.

    Once she saw the early morning light coming through the window, she seemed to relax. “I must’ve fallen asleep,” she said. “Gods.”

    “That is typically what most people do, every now and then. You should try it more often, you might actually be able to keep your eyes open throughout the day.”

    “Oh joy, your sarcasm has returned. That must mean you are healing well.” She stood up and lifted the bandage up just enough so she could prod and examine the skin around it. “Good. There’s no infection.”

    “And I am dying to see with it. Can’t I take it off?”

    “No,” she said firmly, “this may shock you, but replacing someone’s eyeball is a delicate process. Give it at least one more day. But no more words before caffek and nitskel, immediately. That nap felt as refreshing as pounding my skull with a sledgehammer.”

    “You said more words,” I pointed out.

    “And not another from you.”

    On the terrace beside her kitchen, we didn’t share cigarettes of nitskel, but each had our own, trading inhalations of smoke for sips of caffek, both of their invigorating, earthy flavors reviving us from the inside. Felix was perched on the guardrail next to us, so enthused to see me outside that he decided to present me with as many innards as he could find of all the smaller critters scampering around in Sarkana’s gardens.

    “The eye …” I began, “whose is it?”

    As soon as the cigarette risked burning her fingers, she dropped the nub into an empty flower pot and rolled another, decidedly abandoning any attempts to curb her addiction since I’d been wounded. “I realized after you’d fallen asleep that I should have asked you, as it is rather a personal decision. So I thought about it for as long as I worked on your hand, and by the end, I had decided to use Magister Fahim’s. I thought you’d like the idea of him living on, through you, in a more innocent way, in a way that necromancy or any other kind of magick can never imitate. He will, quite literally, see the world through you.”

    A white, pale iris, with a pupil that was more often unsettlingly small than it was large, like a perfect spot of ink on a bleached piece of parchment. That was how Fahim’s eyes looked. I struggled to imagine how it would appear sitting next to the bronze of my own. “You made the right decision. Thank you,” I replied. “Do you think it’s as simple as that, that by spreading someone’s ashes to the sea, or by burying them beneath a tree, that they live on through the materials they are cast into?”

    “No,” Sarkana laughed and shook her head, “burial rituals are for the living, Casimir. Metaphors are just the same, unfortunately. Spirits are like rabbits once they’ve left their bodies, damnably hard to catch once they’re scared, and once a spirit leaves its body, you can bet your week’s wages that it’s going to be scared. The tricky part of necromancy isn’t mending dead flesh, it’s capturing the essence of something. That’s why the Vyurken exist.”

    “The Vyurken, you mean, the demons whom Death uses to help carry off spirits into the Nether?”
 Sarkana nodded, knowing fully that this creature was, to many, just another children’s tale. She hid her knowing smile behind her mug.

    “I wouldn’t suppose there’s any use telling you that I am not someone who has any reason to believe in such things.”

    “No, I wouldn’t suppose so,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean you’re right.”

    “So you don’t think …”

    “What?”

    “You don’t think there is some essence of Fahim lingering in me?”

    But that only amused her further. “Unless it slipped by me unnoticed, I doubt it. The Vyurk that helped Fahim was rather quick, and rather thorough.”

    Briefly, I considered asking her what one of the Vyurken looked like, how they spoke, if they did at all. I remembered the boy in my nightmares, but felt childish proposing the idea that, somehow, I had shared a vision of the one that took Fahim’s spirit. “I see. And what about Fahim?”

    “What about him?” she replied, her tone hinting that she knew what was coming.

    “You knew him, didn’t you?”

    “So he did, didn’t he?” she murmured with a chuckle. Her eyebrows were raised while her fingers traced the handle on her mug, a look of distant surprise taking hold while she was swept into her thoughts.

    “Did what?”

    “You had no correspondence with Fahim after you left Foxfeather Castle? Nothing besides the ring you sent?”

    “That’s correct.”

    “Of course. So how else did he come to tip you off that he knew me? He must’ve said something, either right before then, or right as he died.” She shook her head in disbelief. “The bastard. What a waste.”

    “Waste?”

    “To spend your last moments speaking of another …”

    “Am I a fool for not heeding his final words? He seemed … wary of you.”

    “So they really were his final words?” she tilted her head back and laughed. “I’d say you already made your gamble, fool or not, you’ll just have to live with it.”

    “But why did you never mention that you knew him? You let me go on guessing.”

    “And I am quite sorry for that. There was a history there that, to be blunt, made me feel as inclined to save his life as I would feel inclined to nurture a wasp. Yet, I didn’t feel justified in denying your good intentions. I was willing to help, or willing to do nothing at all, depending on your decision.”

    Watching Sarkana lift her leg up to lean back in her chair, to sip her caffek, to smoke her nitskel and ponder all this over the morning light, only made the entire situation seem more ridiculous. I wondered if I had wasted a perfectly innocent fortnight of rest entertaining useless considerations of paranoia. In spite of the bond growing between us, I entertained the curiosity left behind from my reservations, and continued down the trail of Fahim’s warning.

    “How did you know him?”

    “Oh, I hardly knew him at all,” she said, waving away the notion with her hand. “Before the crossroads, I hadn’t the slightest clue how he’d aged. Fahim is, or I suppose was the son of an instructor at the Ardor Academy, the one I attended in my youth. Are you familiar with the name Fell Mecidias?”

    At the mention of her ‘youth,’ I remembered that I still didn’t know her age. And the more I looked at her, the more perplexed I became. Her attentive eyes, the dark colors of exertion beneath them, the faded rose tint to her lips and the pallid hues of her skin, always had me caught between admiration, affection, and confusion. “Only the second name.”

    She finished the last of her caffek, pinched the end of the cigarette out, and ran her tongue across another rolling sheet before stuffing it shut with more of the dried plant. With a murmur, she ignited the end of it with a small flame that spawned from her palm. She waved her hand rapidly until the flame spluttered. It made me feel ordinary, especially when I leaned over to light mine on a candle in the middle of the table. “Fell Mecidias was a brilliant mage, I’ll admit that much, even if I have enough reason to despise him. He was an instructor of destruction magick, particularly its use in combat. He fostered more than a few golden names that appeared in the recent Runeland wars.”

    “That explains how Fahim secured his position with the Foxfeathers.”

    “All Fell would’ve needed was to write a word of recommendation and have it sent to the right hands. But, knowing him, he would have popped the letter through the dining hall with a summoning portal.”

    “I think you enjoy this person more than you’re willing to admit, judging by that grin on your face.”

    “I have a tender spot for people who can cast magick the same way they steep their tea in the morning,” she admitted. “All the same …”

    “What does Fahim’s father have to do with all this?”

    “Right,” she sighed. “Well, you asked how Fahim knew me. The Mecidias family house was in my hometown. After my parent’s death, I was fostered partially by Fell’s wife, and even Fahim’s siblings, since his father all but lived in the Academy. But I never spoke much to Fahim. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. He was only a child by the time I was preparing myself for admittance into that institution. In fact, the person who wrote my recommendation letter was Fell’s wife, a woman called Lelayna.”

    “What was she like?”

    “Caring, honest, surprisingly loud and only a little too proud of her baking. She was like her husband—incredibly devoted to the arts of casting—but after four children,” Sarkana spread out her hands and shrugged her shoulders, “there simply wasn’t enough time in the day.”

    We laughed at that thought, but behind my quickly fading grin, I felt the guilt for Fahim’s death return. The realization struck me like the arrow that had punctured my hand, that there was nobody to notify his family of his demise. Nobody, of course, except for me. Already I felt the obligation tugging me towards another destination, another road, another responsibility asking for a journey with a conclusion to bind its beginning shut forever, sewing any unanswered questions within. Already I could see myself and my shadow cast upon the steps of their home, greeting Fahim’s mother the same way in which I had said farewell to her son, with my hand over her heart, sharing a moment too burdensome to speak of while we stared into each other’s eyes. Only, when she looked at me, she would see one of his staring back.

    Over the sanctuary, clouds thickened by storm unfurled heavy, black curtains of rain, which trailed and made rivulets down the translucent barrier that protected her home from the harshness of the Addorian winters.

    “But what gave you reason to despise his father?” I pursued.

    “Maybe ‘despise’ is a harsh word, especially after so much time has passed. After awhile, disdain can become a habit, but now that I truly think on it, I suppose it is more apt to phrase it as, ‘what would make Fahim despise me,’ or at least enough for him to warn you. It was his father. He was too much of a traditionalist, in my opinion. But despite our differences in the changing culture of magick and how it could be explored, I felt we needn’t discuss or even acknowledge the disparity in our opinions. I was, after all, only one of the many pupils in his classes. And I must admit, there was a strong connection between us, especially after all the letters his wife had written to him about me. I didn’t think our separate methods would tarnish the relationship.” 

    I did only what anyone should do when someone else is exploring the narrow, cavernous corridors of their past to drag out old memories. I folded my fingers together, met her eyes when she sought mine, and kept my lips shut while the recollections spilled from hers.

    “At the Ardor Academy, graduating scholars are expected to conduct an experiment which replicates the newest findings in their respective schools, if not something beyond what’s been discovered in the past five years or so. For the most part, students of alchemy present elixirs with stunning capabilities but absurdly expensive or unique ingredients. Destructive mages will typically combine spellwork with military designs to create weapons with impressive potential to slaughter by the hundreds. Healers will find loopholes through runes to store energy with the ability to heal freshly broken bones for soldiers. Onward and onward. You can see where the rest goes, can’t you?”

    Pretending to be capable of imagining what she was saying, I nodded quickly. But once more, I contemplated the difference between the life of a well-off practitioner and that of a commoner. While I had been familiarizing myself with the best way to outrun city guardsmen, as well as learning how to hold a blade from some less than undesirable individuals, Sarkana and her peers had been testing the limits of magickal theories and the principles which governed our world, prodding limitations to meddle with the intricacies of spells and runes and flesh and intellect. I almost felt bitter. Then again, someone had to lose an eye so someone else could learn to fix it, as the old saying goes.

    “And yet,” I realized aloud, “this still leaves a few questions unanswered.” From what I had seen of Sarkana’s practices, I felt I could guess the rest of the story. But of course, I settled deeper into my chair, rolled another cigarette, and continued to listen while looking out at the sky as it leeched color from the ground, turning everything into darkened shades of moss, bark, and stone, and the sea into a black mirror.

    “As all good stories should, before they are finished.”

    I raised my mug up in accord.

    “When it came time for me to present my final year’s experiment to the graduation panel, I first showed it to Professor Fell, as I had come to him for nearly all of my questions. I never found a question that he didn’t have an answer to, or at least a recommendation for which book to read in order to find it. Yet, when I showed him my experiment, which was the transmutation of life-force from a colony of beetles to a squirrel using a soulstone, he was unexpectedly disapproving, and enraged. I was surprised, even hurt. Anger was not an emotion that I thought he was capable of; it only told me how much he disdained necromancers. He told me it was too close to the same magick which created the Mancer’s Stone, the same style that would result in practices that had the potential to cause wars and promote pursuits of immortality. Shifting the life-force from two creatures of the same species was one thing, he said, but between two drastically different types … he wasn’t altogether thrilled at the immense possibilities.”

The mention of the stone twisted my stomach, bringing back images of Shamus grimacing through a thick sheen of blood spreading from his nose, as he described to me the dangers that the artifact were in. “Could it, though?”

    “Could it what?”

    “Cause wars.”

    “Psh. Ask the royals you once belonged to. Consult their military commanders. Discovery and intellect are a practitioner’s priorities; if their findings bring conflict to the world, it says nothing of their studies. It speaks only to the depressing nature of the world’s inability to handle progress. Would you stop the first man from discovering fire if you knew it would create a world with warfare, cutthroats and rapists?”

    “You’re talking to a knife juggler. I’d tell him to hurry. But I thought necromancy wasn’t frowned upon in the academies?”

    “That’s what most folks say,” she muttered with a shake of her head, “I am not sure who started that little lie, but in the academies, the only reason that necromancy isn’t frowned upon is because it’s not taught readily enough to encourage any students towards a career with it. You’d be looking for a bat in a mouse trap, unfortunately. There are few, if any, professors who teach higher necromatic castings, not just in Addoran, but all of Netherway. The truth is, most academies won’t touch the subject with a staff. They say they don’t mind it because, largely, they’re afraid of it.”

    “So Fahim …”

    “… had no true reason to be afraid of me, besides what his father might’ve shared with him. You see, although the experiment was controversial, it was something that hadn’t been attempted in many years, at least not by a student. Despite the school of magick I’d chosen to pursue, they were impressed. I was seeking a position at the Ardor as an instructor, and I wasn’t going to shy away from showing them my best work. As soon as I’d graduated, I pursued a career as a soulmancer, a practitioner of higher necromancy. Reluctantly, the academy agreed, but under the pretense that I teach nothing remotely related to soulstones, not even any runic symbols that could be contrived to aid in their creation. Soon after,” she said with a touch of pride, “I had become one of the youngest instructors at the Ardor Academy, with my own classes and students.”

    The cigarette between Sarkana’s fingers had long since gone out, the end as cold as the expression that quickly overtook her wistful gaze. I needn’t ask her to go on. I could already see that she had had too many years in which these stories had been locked in the most dangerous place for any hatred to linger: the heart. It’s in silence that our worst thoughts fester, as if they feed on the stifled air of unspoken bitterness.

    “I had been told to teach nothing beyond the basics of necromancy, nothing beyond simple reanimation and the manipulation of death’s energy, to produce little else than pithy lights and displays for a circus’ sideshow.” She scoffed. “But they never advised me against my own, private pursuits. Soon after my first two years with the academy, Professor Fell alerted the institution’s council of the experiments I conducted alone, of what he called their ‘danger and potency.’

    “I expected to be exalted, to be encouraged by one of the highest ranking institutions for any practitioner. In fact, when he threatened me to alter my attention to studies other than soulstones, I only laughed; I thought the council would be excited to review my findings.”

    “But instead?”

    “Tossed out. Thrust aside. Shunned. After they completed a thorough investigation of my study, they concluded that I was ‘unfit for the instruction of the young and pure-minded’. That I was a poor influence on the students, that my pursuits would bring only darkness to the world. They collected my journals, my texts, two years of data and recorded experiments, of illustrations and devices … and burnt them.” She’d since set down her cigarette and mug, her hands digging into the skin of her thighs. An angry tear slipped down her cheek. “The council sent letters to every academy in the realm, warning them against admitting me into their staff, and instructing them to destroy any of my published findings.” She spoke in a rushed voice, as if she was arguing her fate against the gods, trying to convince them of its unfairness. “In the higher circles, unfounded rumors and accusations spread until my name became all but outlawed. For a few years, I couldn’t so much as set foot in a chapel in any major city without being accosted by questions.

    “So I came here,” she said with a shrug, and flicked the tear away, "to pursue the life I wanted without the people I wished to share it with."

    “And sadly, to my great luck,” I added, reaching for her hand to squeeze it. To which she pulled on it, almost roughly, so that I was close enough to feel the shallow exhalations between her lips. When she looked at me, there was a frustrated expectation in her eyes, as if she deserved nothing less than what she was about to do after so much disappointment, which was pull my head closer, close enough that our lips were pressed against each other, parted just enough to taste the resentment lingering in the words that had just left her mouth. 

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Chapter 14 of The Culling of Casimir
Written by Harlequin in portal Fantasy
Chapter 14: Ivory & Bronze
    Time was caught like a dried leaf in a hailstorm, swept every which way with no discernible trajectory, consistent speed, or hope for reprieve from its chaotic tumbling. I caught glimpses through a drugged, slitted vision, of Sarkana’s hands over me, the shining edge of a scalpel, the bundles of her sleeves bunched just beneath her elbows, with stains of blood rounding her wrists like splattered, shining circlets. The intermittent glances between unconsciousness came with pinches of discomfort, stabs of pain that poked through the numbness, sometimes punctuated by shades of indigo coloring my eyelids. But in my stupor, I couldn’t alert her that the drug was wearing off, or even to consider her distorted expression of enrapture as I lapsed in and out of these visions like light being granted space between clouds in a storm’s frenzy.
    In one instance, I stirred to find that night had fallen. Sarkana was looking over a cracked tome with gnarled parchment and deep gauges of ink that stained symbols and words throughout the pages. When she turned round, the tips of her fingers discolored with faded blood, she was shocked to see me looking at her.
    I raised a sluggish hand to my eye, cognizant that the arrow’s weight was now missing from my head, and that gauze had replaced it. “Not yet,” she whispered and took my hand in hers, murmuring other words that quickly slipped away with the rest of the room.
    Memories intermingled with the nightmare that I’ve shown you before. Only, this reoccurrence was slightly altered. I sat up in frigid air, my right hand and left eye bandaged, on a stone slab whose edges were chipping, falling away to depths which breathed a foul, impenetrable blackness. With no windows, the chamber seemed little else than a prison. When I had turned my gaze in a full circle, I found that each of its four walls hosted three or four corpses, all of them strapped down by leather belts and bolts, into stone slots that loosely fit the contours of their bodies.
    Upon closer examination of their clothing, I recognized the thirteen corpses as the fallen bodies at the Crossroads, only their faces were covered by the same masks which appeared in my nightmare, each emotion distinct than the next. Despite the fear that I usually felt from seeing those masks, the same expressions I had run from since I was old enough to dream them up, I wanted to free the corpses, to let them plummet into the depths below. But when I outstretched my arm towards one of them, its eyes sprung open and revealed that shallow, milky stare of the dead. It sent me crawling backwards, until I was leaning over the edge of the slab. Soon, it crumbled from my weight, and sent me falling into the blackness beneath.
    Halted. I looked up to see a dark silhouette, of what appeared to be a boy just a few years younger than myself, but with eyes that penetrated with ageless wisdom. Large, leather wings spread from one end of the room to the next, sprouted from his back. His arm strained to haul me back onto the slab, and I wanted him to, as I sensed that he had other plans than for me to continue in this cycle of nightmares. There was a loud noise, a bang, like a steel pot slamming against the ground, that caught his attention. Once he looked away from me, I felt my fingers slip from his grasp, until I was plummeting through the vacancy beneath the chamber, with his eyes following me all the while.
    Through the darkness, the dial of my visions was turned again, diffusing recollections through ticking that slammed like the heavy beating of a heart in an epiphany. Once again, I was kneeling within arm’s reach from Lisence as the marauders repeated their atrocities, my arms held down by leaden weights. Although I couldn’t stand seeing her this way again, looking away was somehow more horrifying, so I watched, and grunted, and screamed while I strained. Eventually, I managed to pull myself free. I threw myself towards the marauders, pushing them aside. The wind carried their silhouettes away in clouds of soot. And when I bent to hold Lisence as she shook with her knees pressed against her naked chest, her skin reacted the same to my touch, that is, to swirl away in a sigh of dust.
    I woke up to the familiar smell of damp earth and the certainty that the dreams were over. I inhaled deeply, savoring the clarity of wakefulness, even if it came to me in the diluted form of a single, bleary eye, and the first, shaky breaths that came after the unconscious crying that had evidently left my face wet.
    “You’re all right,” Sarkana murmured, repeating it a few times. “You’re safe.”
    I opened my eyes. My nails were dug into her back, my face in her hair. The damp earth, I realized, was her smell. I unwrapped myself from her body, our skin stuck together like bandages from the cold sweat that covered me.
    “Forgive me,” I began, “it was just a nightmare.” My voice had been collecting dust. I cleared it away and wiped my face.
    “There’s no need to apologize. If anything, I should. The tincture didn’t appear to pull you into a deep enough sleep. Did you feel any pain?”
    The three Addoran suns rotated high above the sanctuary, the softer light from the smaller two—which were truly moons—mingled with the heaviest rays piercing through the billowing, mountainous clouds which nearly kissed the surface of the Ruined Sea. As I watched the water, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t dreaming anymore. My head felt like a dense glass bowl, but otherwise containing nothing. “Hardly. I won’t take any apologies,” I replied. “Maybe the elixir worked all too well; perhaps in the farthest depths of sleep I had discovered a place of endless dreams. I saw some things that will be difficult to forget.”
    Her lips were pressed together with a look of apologetic pity on her face. She pushed a cup of water into my hand and motioned for me to drink. “Dreams are our burden only so long as we are sleeping. It’s best to leave them there, if you can.”
I nodded and drank, unable to shake the image of that boy’s stare into my eyes as his hand kept me from falling. “The tincture lasted an entire day?”
    “Two days,” she corrected.
    “Two?” Despite the heaviness that seemed to pull my entire body into the bed, I longed to stand in the wind, to feel the sun’s kiss or even winter’s bite. But even just moving my legs seemed like an arduous task. “Why did it take so long?”
    “Using necromancy for healing is not the simplest of tasks. But I do hope the results are … satisfactory.” Sarkana lifted my right hand, the one that had been pierced through by the same arrow that killed Fahim. After she unraveled the bandages, I fixed my gaze on the new scar, which looked like the remnants of a burn wound, where flames had scalded the flesh in the shape of a star, but had long since healed into a pale-grey hue. I laughed, because the last time I had tried to move my fingers, they had only twitched. I curled them around Sarkana’s wrist. Her expression lit up as if I had just enjoyed a meal that she had meticulously cooked. “How does it feel?”
    “The way it always felt, as if nothing had ever happened.” I held the hand up to the light, expecting to see some mechanism working beneath the flesh. I massaged the scar, anticipating the pain, but felt none. “This is unbelievable,” I muttered, shaking my head.
    “Well, I am not certain that it’s possible to give you anymore proof,” she laughed.
    “My eye …” I began to unfurl the bandages around me head.
    “Oh no. No, no, no,” she stopped me and replaced the gauze. “I’m afraid that will take another day or two, at the very least.”
    Beneath the bandage, I could move whatever eye had replaced mine. Before I had drunken the tincture, the possibility seemed distant, perhaps because I didn't believe something like that was possible. But now that I felt it, the eye moving in place of mine, I could not help but feel nauseated. Still, Sarkana was eating up the satisfaction in my expression, even if she looked as if she could fall asleep that very moment. I didn’t want to disappoint her.
    “I am sure it is just as astonishing. I can feel it moving already.”
    She nodded quickly, her fingers wrung together. “Everything is in place, I would just prefer it if your body had more time to adjust.”
    “I’ll take the healer’s expert advice. But do you have my, ahh, my old part? I am curious.”
    “Oh … well. I thought it best if you didn’t see it. It was not so, how should I put this … familiar looking as you might think? Lacking any appropriate use for it, I had it mixed in with Zuma’s breakfast today.”
    My mouth hung open as I attempted to find the correct response, or rather, any response that would adequately articulate my feelings towards that decision. I had never expected that one of my eyes would be eaten by an imp, but if it had to happen, I suppose this was the least painful, and traumatizing. “Always thinking pragmatically, I see.”
    “As one should,” Sarkana replied. “Are you still tired? There is no shame in resting more. Your body has been through more than you can imagine.”
    “I am,” I admitted.
    “Hungry?”
    “That too,” I laughed.
    “I thought as much.” Sarkana left the room, returning with a plate of steaming biscuits and thickly sliced cheese. “Something I had prepared for myself, but was hoping you’d be willing to share with me. There’s no possibility of me eating it all.”
    After focusing all of my being on eating several of the biscuits and fistfuls of cheese, I finished another cup of water and looked at her with a touch of pity, as well as guilt. “Please don’t take this poorly, but you look exhausted. Don’t tell me you’ve been watching over me this entire time.”
    “You mean I am not my usual bewitching self?” she recoiled, gasping and pretending to be offended.
    “Relax. The deep, black rings under your eyes are charming. Have you not slept since the crossroads?”
    “Sleep is for the wounded and the unmotivated. I sleep only when there is no other choice,” she said, peeling a layer of the biscuit before slapping cheese on and putting it into her mouth. Despite her confidence, she sighed deeply and rubbed her eyes. The way she chewed, eating seemed to be a chore for her, rather than a pleasure. I could only imagine that was how she regarded sleep, as well, as just another errand for the body’s feeble mechanisms.
    One of the the most alluring demeanors is an indifference to one’s own health in place of another’s well being. It placates an irrefutable longing that everyone either nurtures or ignores, the desire to be loved and cared for. I couldn’t help but feel myself wanting to grow closer to her. I reached out for the hand she wasn’t using to feed herself and pulled it into both of mine.
    Upon feeling my fingers wrap around hers, her eyes went quickly from our hands to me. A stunned disbelief, a loneliness fulfilled with relief, wrapped in fatigue, settled into her face. It seemed to me, then, that any false pretense I was under of Sarkana’s dangerous side needed to be considered no more than one’s fear of darkness. Maybe she had sharpened fangs only because the world is talented at transforming the potential of the intelligent into the ruthlessness of a savage. Maybe I was a fool to treat her coldly after she’d shown me tenderness, after she’d boldly embraced me as a friend when death was her only trusted preservation.
    “Both of us should sleep. You’ve done more than enough for me.”
    “Only what I felt compelled to do,” she said modestly.
    “No. Nobody feels compelled to stay awake this long for the sake of a stranger, to pour their life and energy into them so that they might live comfortably again.”
    “I’d be wounded if you saw me as a stranger. I don’t think of you that way, Casimir.”
    “You know what I meant.”
    “Yes,” she said, not meeting my eyes.
    “Compassion is precious, to be cherished more than its less admirable sibling, love, whom one way or another, seems to always become convoluted. Because just like gods and stars, I am not certain that humans were ever meant to hold it, rather admire and revere the notion as any other unobtainable perfection. But compassion has no double faces or smoke or mirrors, compassion knows only itself.”
    “If you really believe it’s so pure, what makes you think I’d be capable of such a thing? Is it not much more easier to believe that I am only acting out of the latter?”
    “Are you trying to say that you love me, Sarkana?”
    She laughed but held my hand tighter. “No. I am saying that you are one of the only friends I’ve had in many years, and the only one I found worth keeping. So maybe I really am selfish. I couldn’t stand the thought of you dying, and worse yet, of you dying because of a wound that could have been mended far better than most would think.”
    “Well now that I’ve seen how useful you can be, I think I can entertain the idea of being your friend. So maybe both of us stand to gain something from this, after all.”
Perched on one of the branches of the tree extending from the kitchen, Felix was feeding on a shrew, the blood on his beak shining from the sunlight sprinkling itself through the other canopies circling the gardens.
    The gardens exuded an admirable dedication, just as rampant as the ivy that spread over every structure, almost elegantly forlorn in its display of isolated mastery, of countless hours sacrificed to the sanctuary’s beauty. Every time I looked at her creations, I seemed to have another conversation with her, as if she had whispered secrets to the plants who in turn divulged fragments with every glance. When she looked at her gardens, I wondered what she saw.
    “Maybe,” she replied with a tired smirk. “Maybe.”
    “You’ll finally catch some sleep, then?”
    “Oh shush. I’ve been caring for you for two days. Don’t spoil my self-righteousness by becoming my caretaker at the very end. Put your head back down. Don’t pretend as if you’re not already nodding off again.”
    And I didn’t. The biscuits had settled to a dull heat in my stomach, and the suspicions I’d felt had all but dissipated entirely, so much so that nothing seemed more satisfying, more self-indulgent, than to let myself pass once again into a deep, guarded sleep.
 
                                                                 ~ ~        

    After I had rested long enough that I couldn’t endure smelling my own sweat on the blankets, I thrust the covers off and jumped into my garments, which had been folded and left on a stool beside the bed. Only when I left the chamber did I realize that the air inside had gone stale, stifled by ointments, dried blood, and all of the odors that had been issuing from my unwashed body. A little disgusted with myself, I unlatched one of the windows and let the temperate air breathe through, unknowingly inviting the regent demon Felix back into the home, who decided that biting my ear for several minutes was my payment for worrying him.
    The air in the home was filled with the rich scent of solitude and routines perfected by repetition, of incense, freshly harvested herbs, and the cleaning solutions. At the bottom of the staircase, I found her asleep on one of the armchairs in the living room, her arm wrapped around the seer’s eye, and a strand of drool connecting from her mouth to the device.
    When I tried to pull the blanket higher up over her waist, she woke up and looked around as if she was horribly late for something.
    “What day is it?” She wiped the drool away, not bothering to pretend that I hadn’t seen it.
    “I reckon the one right after last. The world won’t stop turning because you finally got some rest,” I laughed.
    Once she saw the early morning light coming through the window, she seemed to relax. “I must’ve fallen asleep,” she said. “Gods.”
    “That is typically what most people do, every now and then. You should try it more often, you might actually be able to keep your eyes open throughout the day.”
    “Oh joy, your sarcasm has returned. That must mean you are healing well.” She stood up and lifted the bandage up just enough so she could prod and examine the skin around it. “Good. There’s no infection.”
    “And I am dying to see with it. Can’t I take it off?”
    “No,” she said firmly, “this may shock you, but replacing someone’s eyeball is a delicate process. Give it at least one more day. But no more words before caffek and nitskel, immediately. That nap felt as refreshing as pounding my skull with a sledgehammer.”
    “You said more words,” I pointed out.
    “And not another from you.”
    On the terrace beside her kitchen, we didn’t share cigarettes of nitskel, but each had our own, trading inhalations of smoke for sips of caffek, both of their invigorating, earthy flavors reviving us from the inside. Felix was perched on the guardrail next to us, so enthused to see me outside that he decided to present me with as many innards as he could find of all the smaller critters scampering around in Sarkana’s gardens.
    “The eye …” I began, “whose is it?”
    As soon as the cigarette risked burning her fingers, she dropped the nub into an empty flower pot and rolled another, decidedly abandoning any attempts to curb her addiction since I’d been wounded. “I realized after you’d fallen asleep that I should have asked you, as it is rather a personal decision. So I thought about it for as long as I worked on your hand, and by the end, I had decided to use Magister Fahim’s. I thought you’d like the idea of him living on, through you, in a more innocent way, in a way that necromancy or any other kind of magick can never imitate. He will, quite literally, see the world through you.”
    A white, pale iris, with a pupil that was more often unsettlingly small than it was large, like a perfect spot of ink on a bleached piece of parchment. That was how Fahim’s eyes looked. I struggled to imagine how it would appear sitting next to the bronze of my own. “You made the right decision. Thank you,” I replied. “Do you think it’s as simple as that, that by spreading someone’s ashes to the sea, or by burying them beneath a tree, that they live on through the materials they are cast into?”
    “No,” Sarkana laughed and shook her head, “burial rituals are for the living, Casimir. Metaphors are just the same, unfortunately. Spirits are like rabbits once they’ve left their bodies, damnably hard to catch once they’re scared, and once a spirit leaves its body, you can bet your week’s wages that it’s going to be scared. The tricky part of necromancy isn’t mending dead flesh, it’s capturing the essence of something. That’s why the Vyurken exist.”
    “The Vyurken, you mean, the demons whom Death uses to help carry off spirits into the Nether?”
 Sarkana nodded, knowing fully that this creature was, to many, just another children’s tale. She hid her knowing smile behind her mug.
    “I wouldn’t suppose there’s any use telling you that I am not someone who has any reason to believe in such things.”
    “No, I wouldn’t suppose so,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean you’re right.”
    “So you don’t think …”
    “What?”
    “You don’t think there is some essence of Fahim lingering in me?”
    But that only amused her further. “Unless it slipped by me unnoticed, I doubt it. The Vyurk that helped Fahim was rather quick, and rather thorough.”
    Briefly, I considered asking her what one of the Vyurken looked like, how they spoke, if they did at all. I remembered the boy in my nightmares, but felt childish proposing the idea that, somehow, I had shared a vision of the one that took Fahim’s spirit. “I see. And what about Fahim?”
    “What about him?” she replied, her tone hinting that she knew what was coming.
    “You knew him, didn’t you?”
    “So he did, didn’t he?” she murmured with a chuckle. Her eyebrows were raised while her fingers traced the handle on her mug, a look of distant surprise taking hold while she was swept into her thoughts.
    “Did what?”
    “You had no correspondence with Fahim after you left Foxfeather Castle? Nothing besides the ring you sent?”
    “That’s correct.”
    “Of course. So how else did he come to tip you off that he knew me? He must’ve said something, either right before then, or right as he died.” She shook her head in disbelief. “The bastard. What a waste.”
    “Waste?”
    “To spend your last moments speaking of another …”
    “Am I a fool for not heeding his final words? He seemed … wary of you.”
    “So they really were his final words?” she tilted her head back and laughed. “I’d say you already made your gamble, fool or not, you’ll just have to live with it.”
    “But why did you never mention that you knew him? You let me go on guessing.”
    “And I am quite sorry for that. There was a history there that, to be blunt, made me feel as inclined to save his life as I would feel inclined to nurture a wasp. Yet, I didn’t feel justified in denying your good intentions. I was willing to help, or willing to do nothing at all, depending on your decision.”
    Watching Sarkana lift her leg up to lean back in her chair, to sip her caffek, to smoke her nitskel and ponder all this over the morning light, only made the entire situation seem more ridiculous. I wondered if I had wasted a perfectly innocent fortnight of rest entertaining useless considerations of paranoia. In spite of the bond growing between us, I entertained the curiosity left behind from my reservations, and continued down the trail of Fahim’s warning.
    “How did you know him?”
    “Oh, I hardly knew him at all,” she said, waving away the notion with her hand. “Before the crossroads, I hadn’t the slightest clue how he’d aged. Fahim is, or I suppose was the son of an instructor at the Ardor Academy, the one I attended in my youth. Are you familiar with the name Fell Mecidias?”
    At the mention of her ‘youth,’ I remembered that I still didn’t know her age. And the more I looked at her, the more perplexed I became. Her attentive eyes, the dark colors of exertion beneath them, the faded rose tint to her lips and the pallid hues of her skin, always had me caught between admiration, affection, and confusion. “Only the second name.”
    She finished the last of her caffek, pinched the end of the cigarette out, and ran her tongue across another rolling sheet before stuffing it shut with more of the dried plant. With a murmur, she ignited the end of it with a small flame that spawned from her palm. She waved her hand rapidly until the flame spluttered. It made me feel ordinary, especially when I leaned over to light mine on a candle in the middle of the table. “Fell Mecidias was a brilliant mage, I’ll admit that much, even if I have enough reason to despise him. He was an instructor of destruction magick, particularly its use in combat. He fostered more than a few golden names that appeared in the recent Runeland wars.”
    “That explains how Fahim secured his position with the Foxfeathers.”
    “All Fell would’ve needed was to write a word of recommendation and have it sent to the right hands. But, knowing him, he would have popped the letter through the dining hall with a summoning portal.”
    “I think you enjoy this person more than you’re willing to admit, judging by that grin on your face.”
    “I have a tender spot for people who can cast magick the same way they steep their tea in the morning,” she admitted. “All the same …”
    “What does Fahim’s father have to do with all this?”
    “Right,” she sighed. “Well, you asked how Fahim knew me. The Mecidias family house was in my hometown. After my parent’s death, I was fostered partially by Fell’s wife, and even Fahim’s siblings, since his father all but lived in the Academy. But I never spoke much to Fahim. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. He was only a child by the time I was preparing myself for admittance into that institution. In fact, the person who wrote my recommendation letter was Fell’s wife, a woman called Lelayna.”
    “What was she like?”
    “Caring, honest, surprisingly loud and only a little too proud of her baking. She was like her husband—incredibly devoted to the arts of casting—but after four children,” Sarkana spread out her hands and shrugged her shoulders, “there simply wasn’t enough time in the day.”
    We laughed at that thought, but behind my quickly fading grin, I felt the guilt for Fahim’s death return. The realization struck me like the arrow that had punctured my hand, that there was nobody to notify his family of his demise. Nobody, of course, except for me. Already I felt the obligation tugging me towards another destination, another road, another responsibility asking for a journey with a conclusion to bind its beginning shut forever, sewing any unanswered questions within. Already I could see myself and my shadow cast upon the steps of their home, greeting Fahim’s mother the same way in which I had said farewell to her son, with my hand over her heart, sharing a moment too burdensome to speak of while we stared into each other’s eyes. Only, when she looked at me, she would see one of his staring back.
    Over the sanctuary, clouds thickened by storm unfurled heavy, black curtains of rain, which trailed and made rivulets down the translucent barrier that protected her home from the harshness of the Addorian winters.
    “But what gave you reason to despise his father?” I pursued.
    “Maybe ‘despise’ is a harsh word, especially after so much time has passed. After awhile, disdain can become a habit, but now that I truly think on it, I suppose it is more apt to phrase it as, ‘what would make Fahim despise me,’ or at least enough for him to warn you. It was his father. He was too much of a traditionalist, in my opinion. But despite our differences in the changing culture of magick and how it could be explored, I felt we needn’t discuss or even acknowledge the disparity in our opinions. I was, after all, only one of the many pupils in his classes. And I must admit, there was a strong connection between us, especially after all the letters his wife had written to him about me. I didn’t think our separate methods would tarnish the relationship.” 
    I did only what anyone should do when someone else is exploring the narrow, cavernous corridors of their past to drag out old memories. I folded my fingers together, met her eyes when she sought mine, and kept my lips shut while the recollections spilled from hers.
    “At the Ardor Academy, graduating scholars are expected to conduct an experiment which replicates the newest findings in their respective schools, if not something beyond what’s been discovered in the past five years or so. For the most part, students of alchemy present elixirs with stunning capabilities but absurdly expensive or unique ingredients. Destructive mages will typically combine spellwork with military designs to create weapons with impressive potential to slaughter by the hundreds. Healers will find loopholes through runes to store energy with the ability to heal freshly broken bones for soldiers. Onward and onward. You can see where the rest goes, can’t you?”
    Pretending to be capable of imagining what she was saying, I nodded quickly. But once more, I contemplated the difference between the life of a well-off practitioner and that of a commoner. While I had been familiarizing myself with the best way to outrun city guardsmen, as well as learning how to hold a blade from some less than undesirable individuals, Sarkana and her peers had been testing the limits of magickal theories and the principles which governed our world, prodding limitations to meddle with the intricacies of spells and runes and flesh and intellect. I almost felt bitter. Then again, someone had to lose an eye so someone else could learn to fix it, as the old saying goes.
    “And yet,” I realized aloud, “this still leaves a few questions unanswered.” From what I had seen of Sarkana’s practices, I felt I could guess the rest of the story. But of course, I settled deeper into my chair, rolled another cigarette, and continued to listen while looking out at the sky as it leeched color from the ground, turning everything into darkened shades of moss, bark, and stone, and the sea into a black mirror.
    “As all good stories should, before they are finished.”
    I raised my mug up in accord.
    “When it came time for me to present my final year’s experiment to the graduation panel, I first showed it to Professor Fell, as I had come to him for nearly all of my questions. I never found a question that he didn’t have an answer to, or at least a recommendation for which book to read in order to find it. Yet, when I showed him my experiment, which was the transmutation of life-force from a colony of beetles to a squirrel using a soulstone, he was unexpectedly disapproving, and enraged. I was surprised, even hurt. Anger was not an emotion that I thought he was capable of; it only told me how much he disdained necromancers. He told me it was too close to the same magick which created the Mancer’s Stone, the same style that would result in practices that had the potential to cause wars and promote pursuits of immortality. Shifting the life-force from two creatures of the same species was one thing, he said, but between two drastically different types … he wasn’t altogether thrilled at the immense possibilities.”
The mention of the stone twisted my stomach, bringing back images of Shamus grimacing through a thick sheen of blood spreading from his nose, as he described to me the dangers that the artifact were in. “Could it, though?”
    “Could it what?”
    “Cause wars.”
    “Psh. Ask the royals you once belonged to. Consult their military commanders. Discovery and intellect are a practitioner’s priorities; if their findings bring conflict to the world, it says nothing of their studies. It speaks only to the depressing nature of the world’s inability to handle progress. Would you stop the first man from discovering fire if you knew it would create a world with warfare, cutthroats and rapists?”
    “You’re talking to a knife juggler. I’d tell him to hurry. But I thought necromancy wasn’t frowned upon in the academies?”
    “That’s what most folks say,” she muttered with a shake of her head, “I am not sure who started that little lie, but in the academies, the only reason that necromancy isn’t frowned upon is because it’s not taught readily enough to encourage any students towards a career with it. You’d be looking for a bat in a mouse trap, unfortunately. There are few, if any, professors who teach higher necromatic castings, not just in Addoran, but all of Netherway. The truth is, most academies won’t touch the subject with a staff. They say they don’t mind it because, largely, they’re afraid of it.”
    “So Fahim …”
    “… had no true reason to be afraid of me, besides what his father might’ve shared with him. You see, although the experiment was controversial, it was something that hadn’t been attempted in many years, at least not by a student. Despite the school of magick I’d chosen to pursue, they were impressed. I was seeking a position at the Ardor as an instructor, and I wasn’t going to shy away from showing them my best work. As soon as I’d graduated, I pursued a career as a soulmancer, a practitioner of higher necromancy. Reluctantly, the academy agreed, but under the pretense that I teach nothing remotely related to soulstones, not even any runic symbols that could be contrived to aid in their creation. Soon after,” she said with a touch of pride, “I had become one of the youngest instructors at the Ardor Academy, with my own classes and students.”
    The cigarette between Sarkana’s fingers had long since gone out, the end as cold as the expression that quickly overtook her wistful gaze. I needn’t ask her to go on. I could already see that she had had too many years in which these stories had been locked in the most dangerous place for any hatred to linger: the heart. It’s in silence that our worst thoughts fester, as if they feed on the stifled air of unspoken bitterness.
    “I had been told to teach nothing beyond the basics of necromancy, nothing beyond simple reanimation and the manipulation of death’s energy, to produce little else than pithy lights and displays for a circus’ sideshow.” She scoffed. “But they never advised me against my own, private pursuits. Soon after my first two years with the academy, Professor Fell alerted the institution’s council of the experiments I conducted alone, of what he called their ‘danger and potency.’
    “I expected to be exalted, to be encouraged by one of the highest ranking institutions for any practitioner. In fact, when he threatened me to alter my attention to studies other than soulstones, I only laughed; I thought the council would be excited to review my findings.”
    “But instead?”
    “Tossed out. Thrust aside. Shunned. After they completed a thorough investigation of my study, they concluded that I was ‘unfit for the instruction of the young and pure-minded’. That I was a poor influence on the students, that my pursuits would bring only darkness to the world. They collected my journals, my texts, two years of data and recorded experiments, of illustrations and devices … and burnt them.” She’d since set down her cigarette and mug, her hands digging into the skin of her thighs. An angry tear slipped down her cheek. “The council sent letters to every academy in the realm, warning them against admitting me into their staff, and instructing them to destroy any of my published findings.” She spoke in a rushed voice, as if she was arguing her fate against the gods, trying to convince them of its unfairness. “In the higher circles, unfounded rumors and accusations spread until my name became all but outlawed. For a few years, I couldn’t so much as set foot in a chapel in any major city without being accosted by questions.
    “So I came here,” she said with a shrug, and flicked the tear away, "to pursue the life I wanted without the people I wished to share it with."
    “And sadly, to my great luck,” I added, reaching for her hand to squeeze it. To which she pulled on it, almost roughly, so that I was close enough to feel the shallow exhalations between her lips. When she looked at me, there was a frustrated expectation in her eyes, as if she deserved nothing less than what she was about to do after so much disappointment, which was pull my head closer, close enough that our lips were pressed against each other, parted just enough to taste the resentment lingering in the words that had just left her mouth. 
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A fairy moves in the night. She comes to tell you your destiny. What is your journey going to be? Do you travel somewhere with her? Explore the world of fantasy. Narrate what happens next. Any form of write can be used: poetry, story, prose, etc. Have fun!
Written by jaymeh_moon in portal Fantasy

Lost but Now Found

 I watch the blue illuminating lights go up as time passes. Every time the numbers change on the clock face I think about the events of the previous day. Almost twenty-four hours ago my manager called me into his office. I knew what was coming, a termination discussion for the “odd” things that have happened while I was out on the job. Whenever a client made me angry, or even said something that drove me nuts something strange happened; like a bottle falling from a shelf and crashing onto the floor, or the lights in the room flickering on and off.

I never knew it was my fault until Mr. Dorsey called for a private meeting. He began his long speech about how I was a smart girl, but didn’t seem to fit well with the company. As he went on the lights began to flicker. He then proceeded to tell me that clients were frightened of me and specifically asked to not have me. When he informed me that I was being “let go” all of a sudden the lights went completely dark throughout the whole office. A spark came from one of the fixtures in the room where my termination was taking place and flew onto a stack of papers. Smoke began to rise, soon followed by a burning flame ready to engulf everything in its wake.

I left the building, leaving my things behind. I wanted them to burn down with the office, just like how my anger was burning inside me. As everyone filed out of the building I heard a roaring flame from behind and turned to see the building being quickly engulfed by the small fire.

“It’s like some sort of magic... some sort of magic that you caused,” yelled Mr. Dorsey in my direction. I walked away from the fire engines and people yelling, not even considering what the manager said.

It wasn’t until now that I thought about his comment earlier. Through past experiences, and my anger problems, I have seen a pattern of strange instances happen. The extent of my anger showed in the severity of the strange event. Today was the best example, I was angry at being fired for things I cannot control. My anger escalated to its highest point, and the flames reflected how I felt.

The blue lights staring back at me showed three in the morning. I sighed and turned away from the clock. I closed my eyes tightly; wishing sleep would take me away.

Tink, Tink, Tink.

I sighed to myself; the extent of my exhaustion was causing me to hear things.

Tink, Tink, Tink.

This time the taps were louder. I sat up quickly and studied the dark room. Nothing was there, and the television showed a black screen. I fixed my blanket and turned to look at the clock again, three fifteen.

Tink, Tink, Tink.

This time the sound came with the same intensity as the previous one. It took me a second but it mirrored the sound one would make tapping on glass. I turned my head to look at the only window in the room. My eyes squinted as I saw a little human figure in the bottom right corner.

“My God,” I said to myself, “I really am going crazy.” I sat still looking at the figure that was now waving its hand for me to come closer. I thought it best to stay in my bed and fall asleep; but I shrugged off that thought and decided that if I was crazy I might as well go out with having a good story to tell people in the hospital. I let my feet hit the cold wooden floor and walked slowly to the window. As I approached I saw that the small person had light yellow tinted skin, like a daffodil. It was wearing a little hat that looked to be made of an acorn shell. Its dress was made out of leaves, with a small stem wrapped around its waist for a belt. Wings extended out of the figure’s back. They were clear, with a white light illuminating each wing.

I opened the window and the figure bowed, “Hello fire starter, my name is Aurora and I am here to guide you home.”

I looked into the small catlike eyes that stared back at mine. They were twinkling like the stars in the sky. Clearing my throat I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Her wings began to beat faster. They picked her up off of the windowsill and brought her into my home. I watched as sparkling dust fell from the wings onto the floor. She was coming closer to me, closer then I’d like to be, but for some reason I couldn’t move. She landed on my shoulder and crossed her tiny legs, “You know you are different from the other humans, and I am here to help with that.”

Without hesitation I replied, “How can you help? You are just a figment of my imagination.”

The small lady frowned, “I knew getting you to come home would be hard, but not this hard.” The wings brought her to hover in front of my face, when she was at eyelevel her squeaky voice began to explain, “You are not a human my dear, you only wear this form for protection. It has recently been brought to my attention as your watcher that you need help to control your emotions and powers. I am here now to take you home and to teach you the ways so that you might save us.” As she ended the explanation I could see her bright eyes turn dull, they now showed sorrow. Her high-pitched voice became monotone, “You are the last hope for the fairy world, we need your help princess.”

My mouth dropped, Princess? My mind was sure having fun going off the deep end, I couldn’t even write this in a book if I wanted to, my creativity was non existant. I began to shake my head, “No, this isn’t real. This is all just some game my mind is playing on me!”

The fairy now showed red in her eyes, anger. She placed her hands out in front of her and began to swirl them together. She spoke a language that I did not understand. As she chanted it sounded like an old song, every word stuck to a beat that she was playing in her head. Shimmering dust started to come towards me, I looked at my hands and noticed that my whole body was shining. When she stopped talking in her fairy language she nodded at her work with a smile. “Now,” she said, “you will believe me, we are going to the Violet Lands.”

With that my world went black and I felt myself hit the wooden floor with a thud.

My conscience awoke to the sound of voices. I kept eyes closed, not wanting the doctors to know I was awake. I knew where I was, in a hospital, about to be sealed off from the rest of the world. As I tried to act out my last moments of sobriety I listened closely to the doctor’s conversation.

“Hopefully she understands how important this is,” said a deep voice.

“I hope so too, she’s now in her true form, it should be easier.” The voice that spoke was high pitched and squeaky, just like the fairy from before.

“Well we must wait for her to wake up to fully explain,” the deep voice got closer. I sensed that someone was over me, looking down at my face. I kept my eyes closed, wishing they would go away and leave me alone.

“Emery, I think she is awake. The way she’s squinting her eyes is what she was doing earlier before I got her attention.”

Shit, I thought to myself, that bitch gave me away. I opened my eyes to see the fairy from earlier standing against the wall. She was now a normal size and I could see her face better. She was short and thin; her nose came out to a point right above her thin lips. Her eyes were still cat like but now their color had changed back to a liquid gold. Now I could see her hair, a dark pink shag that reached the bottom of pointed ears.

“I knew you weren’t sleeping,” she said. Her gaze broke away from me and went to the one she called Emery. I followed her eyes to look at the blue fairy that loomed over me. His skin was a cream colored blue and unlike Aurora he was muscular. He also wore clothes made out of leaves, and a jacket that seemed to be woven vines. The eyes that looked down at me were circular and purple. They did not sparkle like the other fairy’s, but they were highly captivating.

“Hello princess Luna,” Emery smiled, “I am very pleased to make your acquaintance.”

I sat up a bit faster then I should have and immediately felt dizzy, but this didn’t stop me from saying, “This isn’t real, you guys aren’t real.”

Aurora sighed and looked to the blue fairy, “See Em, I told you she was going to be stubborn.”

Emery moved back a couple steps. He did not have wings like the girl, in fact I couldn’t see any. His arms folded across his chest, “And why aren’t we real? You’re looking at us now, correct?”

Aurora was trying to conceal her laughter, but I could tell that this was all a big joke. “Fairies aren’t real. You are just something my mind made up to deal with all the bad shit that’s been happening. I’m going crazy.” With that Emery began to laugh. He doubled over and held his stomach.

After a minute of uncontrollable laughter he composed himself and spoke, “Yes, humans do not think we exist, but that is our doing. Human’s used to hunt and kill our kind, so we put the idea in their brain that we didn’t exist.” He walked over to a mirror and picked it up. “I don’t blame you for not knowing the truth, but you were concealed in a human’s body to be protected from the Rubies. A lost princess you are, but now you are found.” Now he was standing in front of me, the mirror against his chest. He grabbed my hand and put it around the wooden hilt of the handheld looking glass, “look for yourself.”

His grip released and I turned the reflective surface to my face. What I saw made me gasp. My skin went from a creamy white to a soft pink. Once brown eyes had turned into turquoise with a glimmer. My nose was still small and round and my cheeks remained full. I brought my hand up to my ears to feel the small points that now shot out of my long dark pink hair.

Now my hand was shaking, the mirror began to sway. I could now feel the nausea from before getting worse. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Before I knew it the mirror was crashing to the floor. I felt strong hands on my back and the deep voice asking me if I was okay. The hands lowered me gently onto the bed. I lay there taking deep breaths for a few minutes and then opened my eyes. Earlier I found it so difficult to sleep, but now my body craved it. Emery was looking back at me, concern showing in his eyes. Even if this was all my imagination, I guess I could have fun and play along with it.

“So what is this about being a lost princess,” I asked, waiting for my journey to begin.

Image credit link:

https://songesoleil.tumblr.com/image/132500046859

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A fairy moves in the night. She comes to tell you your destiny. What is your journey going to be? Do you travel somewhere with her? Explore the world of fantasy. Narrate what happens next. Any form of write can be used: poetry, story, prose, etc. Have fun!
Written by jaymeh_moon in portal Fantasy
Lost but Now Found
 I watch the blue illuminating lights go up as time passes. Every time the numbers change on the clock face I think about the events of the previous day. Almost twenty-four hours ago my manager called me into his office. I knew what was coming, a termination discussion for the “odd” things that have happened while I was out on the job. Whenever a client made me angry, or even said something that drove me nuts something strange happened; like a bottle falling from a shelf and crashing onto the floor, or the lights in the room flickering on and off.
I never knew it was my fault until Mr. Dorsey called for a private meeting. He began his long speech about how I was a smart girl, but didn’t seem to fit well with the company. As he went on the lights began to flicker. He then proceeded to tell me that clients were frightened of me and specifically asked to not have me. When he informed me that I was being “let go” all of a sudden the lights went completely dark throughout the whole office. A spark came from one of the fixtures in the room where my termination was taking place and flew onto a stack of papers. Smoke began to rise, soon followed by a burning flame ready to engulf everything in its wake.
I left the building, leaving my things behind. I wanted them to burn down with the office, just like how my anger was burning inside me. As everyone filed out of the building I heard a roaring flame from behind and turned to see the building being quickly engulfed by the small fire.
“It’s like some sort of magic... some sort of magic that you caused,” yelled Mr. Dorsey in my direction. I walked away from the fire engines and people yelling, not even considering what the manager said.
It wasn’t until now that I thought about his comment earlier. Through past experiences, and my anger problems, I have seen a pattern of strange instances happen. The extent of my anger showed in the severity of the strange event. Today was the best example, I was angry at being fired for things I cannot control. My anger escalated to its highest point, and the flames reflected how I felt.
The blue lights staring back at me showed three in the morning. I sighed and turned away from the clock. I closed my eyes tightly; wishing sleep would take me away.
Tink, Tink, Tink.
I sighed to myself; the extent of my exhaustion was causing me to hear things.
Tink, Tink, Tink.
This time the taps were louder. I sat up quickly and studied the dark room. Nothing was there, and the television showed a black screen. I fixed my blanket and turned to look at the clock again, three fifteen.
Tink, Tink, Tink.
This time the sound came with the same intensity as the previous one. It took me a second but it mirrored the sound one would make tapping on glass. I turned my head to look at the only window in the room. My eyes squinted as I saw a little human figure in the bottom right corner.
“My God,” I said to myself, “I really am going crazy.” I sat still looking at the figure that was now waving its hand for me to come closer. I thought it best to stay in my bed and fall asleep; but I shrugged off that thought and decided that if I was crazy I might as well go out with having a good story to tell people in the hospital. I let my feet hit the cold wooden floor and walked slowly to the window. As I approached I saw that the small person had light yellow tinted skin, like a daffodil. It was wearing a little hat that looked to be made of an acorn shell. Its dress was made out of leaves, with a small stem wrapped around its waist for a belt. Wings extended out of the figure’s back. They were clear, with a white light illuminating each wing.
I opened the window and the figure bowed, “Hello fire starter, my name is Aurora and I am here to guide you home.”
I looked into the small catlike eyes that stared back at mine. They were twinkling like the stars in the sky. Clearing my throat I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Her wings began to beat faster. They picked her up off of the windowsill and brought her into my home. I watched as sparkling dust fell from the wings onto the floor. She was coming closer to me, closer then I’d like to be, but for some reason I couldn’t move. She landed on my shoulder and crossed her tiny legs, “You know you are different from the other humans, and I am here to help with that.”
Without hesitation I replied, “How can you help? You are just a figment of my imagination.”
The small lady frowned, “I knew getting you to come home would be hard, but not this hard.” The wings brought her to hover in front of my face, when she was at eyelevel her squeaky voice began to explain, “You are not a human my dear, you only wear this form for protection. It has recently been brought to my attention as your watcher that you need help to control your emotions and powers. I am here now to take you home and to teach you the ways so that you might save us.” As she ended the explanation I could see her bright eyes turn dull, they now showed sorrow. Her high-pitched voice became monotone, “You are the last hope for the fairy world, we need your help princess.”
My mouth dropped, Princess? My mind was sure having fun going off the deep end, I couldn’t even write this in a book if I wanted to, my creativity was non existant. I began to shake my head, “No, this isn’t real. This is all just some game my mind is playing on me!”
The fairy now showed red in her eyes, anger. She placed her hands out in front of her and began to swirl them together. She spoke a language that I did not understand. As she chanted it sounded like an old song, every word stuck to a beat that she was playing in her head. Shimmering dust started to come towards me, I looked at my hands and noticed that my whole body was shining. When she stopped talking in her fairy language she nodded at her work with a smile. “Now,” she said, “you will believe me, we are going to the Violet Lands.”
With that my world went black and I felt myself hit the wooden floor with a thud.

My conscience awoke to the sound of voices. I kept eyes closed, not wanting the doctors to know I was awake. I knew where I was, in a hospital, about to be sealed off from the rest of the world. As I tried to act out my last moments of sobriety I listened closely to the doctor’s conversation.
“Hopefully she understands how important this is,” said a deep voice.
“I hope so too, she’s now in her true form, it should be easier.” The voice that spoke was high pitched and squeaky, just like the fairy from before.
“Well we must wait for her to wake up to fully explain,” the deep voice got closer. I sensed that someone was over me, looking down at my face. I kept my eyes closed, wishing they would go away and leave me alone.
“Emery, I think she is awake. The way she’s squinting her eyes is what she was doing earlier before I got her attention.”
Shit, I thought to myself, that bitch gave me away. I opened my eyes to see the fairy from earlier standing against the wall. She was now a normal size and I could see her face better. She was short and thin; her nose came out to a point right above her thin lips. Her eyes were still cat like but now their color had changed back to a liquid gold. Now I could see her hair, a dark pink shag that reached the bottom of pointed ears.
“I knew you weren’t sleeping,” she said. Her gaze broke away from me and went to the one she called Emery. I followed her eyes to look at the blue fairy that loomed over me. His skin was a cream colored blue and unlike Aurora he was muscular. He also wore clothes made out of leaves, and a jacket that seemed to be woven vines. The eyes that looked down at me were circular and purple. They did not sparkle like the other fairy’s, but they were highly captivating.
“Hello princess Luna,” Emery smiled, “I am very pleased to make your acquaintance.”
I sat up a bit faster then I should have and immediately felt dizzy, but this didn’t stop me from saying, “This isn’t real, you guys aren’t real.”
Aurora sighed and looked to the blue fairy, “See Em, I told you she was going to be stubborn.”
Emery moved back a couple steps. He did not have wings like the girl, in fact I couldn’t see any. His arms folded across his chest, “And why aren’t we real? You’re looking at us now, correct?”
Aurora was trying to conceal her laughter, but I could tell that this was all a big joke. “Fairies aren’t real. You are just something my mind made up to deal with all the bad shit that’s been happening. I’m going crazy.” With that Emery began to laugh. He doubled over and held his stomach.
After a minute of uncontrollable laughter he composed himself and spoke, “Yes, humans do not think we exist, but that is our doing. Human’s used to hunt and kill our kind, so we put the idea in their brain that we didn’t exist.” He walked over to a mirror and picked it up. “I don’t blame you for not knowing the truth, but you were concealed in a human’s body to be protected from the Rubies. A lost princess you are, but now you are found.” Now he was standing in front of me, the mirror against his chest. He grabbed my hand and put it around the wooden hilt of the handheld looking glass, “look for yourself.”
His grip released and I turned the reflective surface to my face. What I saw made me gasp. My skin went from a creamy white to a soft pink. Once brown eyes had turned into turquoise with a glimmer. My nose was still small and round and my cheeks remained full. I brought my hand up to my ears to feel the small points that now shot out of my long dark pink hair.
Now my hand was shaking, the mirror began to sway. I could now feel the nausea from before getting worse. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Before I knew it the mirror was crashing to the floor. I felt strong hands on my back and the deep voice asking me if I was okay. The hands lowered me gently onto the bed. I lay there taking deep breaths for a few minutes and then opened my eyes. Earlier I found it so difficult to sleep, but now my body craved it. Emery was looking back at me, concern showing in his eyes. Even if this was all my imagination, I guess I could have fun and play along with it.
“So what is this about being a lost princess,” I asked, waiting for my journey to begin.

Image credit link:
https://songesoleil.tumblr.com/image/132500046859

#fantasy  #scifi  #fairy 
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A fairy moves in the night. She comes to tell you your destiny. What is your journey going to be? Do you travel somewhere with her? Explore the world of fantasy. Narrate what happens next. Any form of write can be used: poetry, story, prose, etc. Have fun!
Written by ennord in portal Fantasy

She's Here

There are two very powerful fairies,

That exist in this world.

One is the Fairy of Light,

Who brings people their dreams,

By sprinkling them with her sleeping powder,

And giving them the chance,

To enjoy their fantasies.

The other is the Fairy of Darkness,

Who guides people to their destiny,

Making them come face to face,

With what is really meant to be.

On this particular night,

I do nothing out of the ordinary.

I eat my dinner,

Get ready for bed,

And soon I hit the lights,

Ready for a visit,

From the Fairy of Light.

Tonight though,

She doesn’t come.

Instead I am roused awake,

By a figure standing ominously over my bed,

Staring down at me with piercing grey eyes.

Eyes filled with the knowledge,

Of what is to be,

And what is not.

My body is shaking terribly,

As I know my time has come,

To face my reality,

My destiny.

A soft voice fills the room,

“Do not worry child,

I am only here to show where you were always meant to go.”

I gulp,

“But what if I can’t handle it? What if I fail?”

A tinkling laugh,

“Oh child, do not think of such things.

You will be fine, trust me.”

I take a deep breath,

Then ask the important question,

“Oh Fairy of Darkness,

What will my destiny be?”

“All you have to do is save the world from its impending doom, my child.”

And she had told me not to worry.

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A fairy moves in the night. She comes to tell you your destiny. What is your journey going to be? Do you travel somewhere with her? Explore the world of fantasy. Narrate what happens next. Any form of write can be used: poetry, story, prose, etc. Have fun!
Written by ennord in portal Fantasy
She's Here
There are two very powerful fairies,
That exist in this world.
One is the Fairy of Light,
Who brings people their dreams,
By sprinkling them with her sleeping powder,
And giving them the chance,
To enjoy their fantasies.
The other is the Fairy of Darkness,
Who guides people to their destiny,
Making them come face to face,
With what is really meant to be.
On this particular night,
I do nothing out of the ordinary.
I eat my dinner,
Get ready for bed,
And soon I hit the lights,
Ready for a visit,
From the Fairy of Light.
Tonight though,
She doesn’t come.
Instead I am roused awake,
By a figure standing ominously over my bed,
Staring down at me with piercing grey eyes.
Eyes filled with the knowledge,
Of what is to be,
And what is not.
My body is shaking terribly,
As I know my time has come,
To face my reality,
My destiny.
A soft voice fills the room,
“Do not worry child,
I am only here to show where you were always meant to go.”
I gulp,
“But what if I can’t handle it? What if I fail?”
A tinkling laugh,
“Oh child, do not think of such things.
You will be fine, trust me.”
I take a deep breath,
Then ask the important question,
“Oh Fairy of Darkness,
What will my destiny be?”
“All you have to do is save the world from its impending doom, my child.”
And she had told me not to worry.




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Craft a story about an old god (or some kind of divinity) in a contemporary environment. Put Thor in a college frat. Let Anubis run a morgue. Have Apollo start his own shoes company to rival Nike’s. The possibilities are endless, but make sure you show both mythological depth and wit!
Written by AJAY9979 in portal Fantasy

Sex Addicts Unite - Zeus's Story

"My name's Zeus-"

"Hi Zeus."

"And I'm a sex addict."

Pen clicks. "Tell us about your issues." 

"What can I say? I just like sex."

"You don't just like sex, Mr. Zeus."

"I prefer Gave You the Stars and Sky Zeus, but Mr. Zeus is the same thing."

Eye roll. "So, maybe we should talk about when you started."

"Well, fucked my sister and went from there."

Eyebrow raise. "Your sister?"

"You've met her. Hera? She comes on Tuesdays because she has Alcoholics Anonymous on Thursdays. Wait, was I not supposed to call her that out loud? You humans are so complicated."

Eye roll. "So, you slept with your sister? Why do you think that happened?"

"There was only six of us, and Hestia was a virgin and Demeter's crotch smelled like wheat. Was not going down there. And I'm not into gay shit. I mean, I kissed Poseidon once and had my first taste of what being with a woman on her period is like, am I right?"

Chuckles. Another eye roll. "So, your sister was convenient for you?"

"I guess. I mean, I eventually got Demeter pregnant too, but Hera's my one and only. Well, if you don't count the other 584 people I've been with."

"How is your dick still attached?"

Laughter. "If you have something to ask, Mr. Sheen, raise your hand."

"Shut up, ass wipe. I'll kick your scrawny ass."

"I'm a god, Mr. Sheen. If I start burning, I kill me and the bitch and come back cured."

"Hardcore."

"Mr. Nicholson!"

"What? It is hardcore!"

Another eye roll. "Anything you'd like to add?"

"Oh, I'm your dad, and me and your mother are banging again. Thanks for listening."

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Craft a story about an old god (or some kind of divinity) in a contemporary environment. Put Thor in a college frat. Let Anubis run a morgue. Have Apollo start his own shoes company to rival Nike’s. The possibilities are endless, but make sure you show both mythological depth and wit!
Written by AJAY9979 in portal Fantasy
Sex Addicts Unite - Zeus's Story
"My name's Zeus-"
"Hi Zeus."
"And I'm a sex addict."
Pen clicks. "Tell us about your issues." 
"What can I say? I just like sex."
"You don't just like sex, Mr. Zeus."
"I prefer Gave You the Stars and Sky Zeus, but Mr. Zeus is the same thing."
Eye roll. "So, maybe we should talk about when you started."
"Well, fucked my sister and went from there."
Eyebrow raise. "Your sister?"
"You've met her. Hera? She comes on Tuesdays because she has Alcoholics Anonymous on Thursdays. Wait, was I not supposed to call her that out loud? You humans are so complicated."
Eye roll. "So, you slept with your sister? Why do you think that happened?"
"There was only six of us, and Hestia was a virgin and Demeter's crotch smelled like wheat. Was not going down there. And I'm not into gay shit. I mean, I kissed Poseidon once and had my first taste of what being with a woman on her period is like, am I right?"
Chuckles. Another eye roll. "So, your sister was convenient for you?"
"I guess. I mean, I eventually got Demeter pregnant too, but Hera's my one and only. Well, if you don't count the other 584 people I've been with."
"How is your dick still attached?"
Laughter. "If you have something to ask, Mr. Sheen, raise your hand."
"Shut up, ass wipe. I'll kick your scrawny ass."
"I'm a god, Mr. Sheen. If I start burning, I kill me and the bitch and come back cured."
"Hardcore."
"Mr. Nicholson!"
"What? It is hardcore!"
Another eye roll. "Anything you'd like to add?"
"Oh, I'm your dad, and me and your mother are banging again. Thanks for listening."
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Craft a story about an old god (or some kind of divinity) in a contemporary environment. Put Thor in a college frat. Let Anubis run a morgue. Have Apollo start his own shoes company to rival Nike’s. The possibilities are endless, but make sure you show both mythological depth and wit!
Written by DellaMetcalf in portal Fantasy

Women

Poseidon reclines on the pearl couch beneath the sea. "I just don't get it." he says.

Turtle wipes the fungus from his spectacles and says, "Tell me more Poseidon. Relax." The tortoise takes notes on his sandstone.

"They used to swim among us. They hadn't reached the shore yet." Poseidon's eyes misted. His voice trembled. "They started trying to call the shots.. my own daughter!." Blue mist left his eyes. "The next thing I knew they were on land. The cocky bunch were banning together."

"What do you mean by banning together?" the Turtle asked.

"They sprouted legs and demanded an impending dominion of me, and my underworld! They began to return to the ocean as I'd hoped for. But..."

"But what?"

"They truly left the ocean. I was hopeful when they returned. But then..dear Zeus."

"Tell me, Poseidon."

"They wore less clothing. I can't..I can't.. They stayed in the shallows at first."

The Tortoise paused. "I've seen the women. That's what they call them now."

Poseidon's face was grimaced. "They're using the shape of my staff to roast pork meat at bonfires!" His eyes ejected more blue squid-like juice.

"You know life moves forward. Muscle has been replaced with brains and fun loving."

"It's gotten worse. They're wearing less clothing in my domain! They've gone beyond my waters to 'break the glass' reaching for the skies! I.. I.. oh!" Poseidon reaches for minnows to suck his nose out.

"We'll talk again next week Poseidon. Until then, don't be a conch. I mean Take two conch salads and call me in the morning."

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Craft a story about an old god (or some kind of divinity) in a contemporary environment. Put Thor in a college frat. Let Anubis run a morgue. Have Apollo start his own shoes company to rival Nike’s. The possibilities are endless, but make sure you show both mythological depth and wit!
Written by DellaMetcalf in portal Fantasy
Women
Poseidon reclines on the pearl couch beneath the sea. "I just don't get it." he says.
Turtle wipes the fungus from his spectacles and says, "Tell me more Poseidon. Relax." The tortoise takes notes on his sandstone.
"They used to swim among us. They hadn't reached the shore yet." Poseidon's eyes misted. His voice trembled. "They started trying to call the shots.. my own daughter!." Blue mist left his eyes. "The next thing I knew they were on land. The cocky bunch were banning together."
"What do you mean by banning together?" the Turtle asked.
"They sprouted legs and demanded an impending dominion of me, and my underworld! They began to return to the ocean as I'd hoped for. But..."
"But what?"
"They truly left the ocean. I was hopeful when they returned. But then..dear Zeus."
"Tell me, Poseidon."
"They wore less clothing. I can't..I can't.. They stayed in the shallows at first."
The Tortoise paused. "I've seen the women. That's what they call them now."
Poseidon's face was grimaced. "They're using the shape of my staff to roast pork meat at bonfires!" His eyes ejected more blue squid-like juice.
"You know life moves forward. Muscle has been replaced with brains and fun loving."
"It's gotten worse. They're wearing less clothing in my domain! They've gone beyond my waters to 'break the glass' reaching for the skies! I.. I.. oh!" Poseidon reaches for minnows to suck his nose out.
"We'll talk again next week Poseidon. Until then, don't be a conch. I mean Take two conch salads and call me in the morning."



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The first story ever
Written by AndyBetz in portal Fantasy

The Great Debate

Archaeologists, Historians, and Theologians, sifting through partial remains of a few of the earliest writings debate the origins of the first written story.  The final candidates for consideration include the following:

The first poem, "Fleas - Adam Had'em"

The oldest pictograph, "A stegosaurus, triceratops, and an ankylosaurus walk into a bar"

The oldest (carbon-dated) scroll, "Once upon that new thing the kids today call time, back in my day we couldn't afford such luxuries, we had to walk barefoot, uphill, both ways to something or other, and we liked it . . ." 

And they lived happily ever after. 

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The first story ever
Written by AndyBetz in portal Fantasy
The Great Debate
Archaeologists, Historians, and Theologians, sifting through partial remains of a few of the earliest writings debate the origins of the first written story.  The final candidates for consideration include the following:

The first poem, "Fleas - Adam Had'em"
The oldest pictograph, "A stegosaurus, triceratops, and an ankylosaurus walk into a bar"
The oldest (carbon-dated) scroll, "Once upon that new thing the kids today call time, back in my day we couldn't afford such luxuries, we had to walk barefoot, uphill, both ways to something or other, and we liked it . . ." 

And they lived happily ever after. 


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