Author Topic: Ripples  (Read 110 times)

Adriel

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Ripples
« on: January 02, 2018, 09:28:00 PM »
It was on a night like this that Adriel loved the city of Ilysia the most. There was no moon to chase the edges of shadows away and with just the blanket of stars above everything felt extra quiet and still. There were hours yet before it would be ruined by the break of dawn and the activity of day. For now it felt like he had the whole city to himself. It gave him the freedom to go where he wasn't supposed to be unseen.

He ghosted down the cobbled street barefoot, flitting from shadow to shadow until he passed through the elegant wrought iron arch that lead into the Gardens. Where the city was pure white with hardly any color, this place was an explosion of color. The streets behind were cold, sterile, lifeless. Here life thrived.

After a pause just under the arch to peek over his shoulder he trotted into the maze of green. There were loose stones below, round and smooth, that suggested a path to follow. He knew from past excursions that was a trick. Staying on the path would just take him right back to the entrance after a long winding loop. Straying there was a risk of getting lost. Then caught once the Gardeners woke up.

There was a particular stretch of rose bushes that he knew was the first turn yet he hesitated once he reached them. This would be his fiftieth attempt and hopefully wouldn't be his fiftieth fail. He didn't fear the punishment of getting caught again, it never deterred him in the past, but the frustration of getting it wrong so many times! He was certain he had been close the last time, then the stupid sun had to come up.

He took a deep breath and stepped off the stone path. It was no use to look back and try to find it again, because the moment his first step hit the grass he knew it would be gone. No going back now! Each step was a little faster than the last as he wound his way through what he knew was the right path. By the time he reached the statue of the three satyrs he was a little out of breath and he took a moment to lean against the shortest cavorting spirit to rest.

The last dozen runs he had gone to the right. He was certain he had exhausted the routes that way. Going to the left there were fewer splits and he was fairly certain he had explored them all as well. But his gut told him he was still on the right path, up until reaching the fork. He let out a heavy sigh and straightened. That was when he saw it.

A little flicker of light leaking through the leaves of the bushes behind the statue. He blinked and rubbed his eyes. No, it wasn't a trick! Gleefully he stepped forward to carefully brush the branches back and he almost flinched at the sudden spill of bright light. Bright, at least, in comparison to the darkness in the maze.

It took him more effort than he'd like to admit to get through the tangle of plant matter and at the last step he managed to trip and tumble to the stone patio on the other side. It was after he got himself up and brushed off that he noticed that there was actually a gate just to the left of where he had bulled his way through. He tried to imagine where the latch would be for his next trip through then he turned to regard what he had spent hundreds of hours doing chores in punishment to find.

Adriel

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Re: Ripples
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2018, 09:57:17 PM »
The World Mirror sat at the center of the courtyard at the very center of the Gardens. For the uninitiated it looked like a wide, low stone pool filled to the absolute brim with water. It was so full it looked like a single drop more would make it spill its boundaries. It was the only feature in the courtyard surrounding by eternally blooming roses of a thousand different colors.

Adriel didn't approach the pool at first. He paced the very perimeter of the courtyard and kept it in the corner of his eye while he perused the roses. Maybe he wouldn't even go over this time. Maybe he'd just appreciate that he'd found it.

Maybe just a quick peek...

He glanced at the nearest roses and plucked one at random. He didn't notice that where it had been a new bud was already forming.

With the blossom in hand he slowly approached the Mirror. It reflected the night sky back up at him with a soft luminescence that filled the courtyard. Here there were no deep shadows. At its rim he leaned over and he knew what he would see.

Nothing. He should have seen himself in the reflective surface, but it was just the inky black above spattered with stars. He settled himself on the stone edge and for a long time just stared at the surface.

Time for another deep breath in, this time to steel his nerves as he pulled a single petal from the blossom he'd picked. It was a pale greyish blue edged in a darker green. This was it. He had been here before, with a guide of course, and he knew what was to come. His hand hovered over the edge of the pool and released.

The petal floated serenely and painstakingly slowly until it kissed the edge of the water. The surface rippled like he had smacked his whole hand against it, but the water didn't spill. He leaned forward as the ripples smoothed back out to show something very different than the night sky.

Where was it? Ilysia didn't have mountains like that! So tall and covered in white. Was that snow? The image coasted slowly high above the scenery of another world somewhere far across the universe. He greedily tried to take in every last detail he could of this place so foreign and alien. So different from what he knew. When he thought he had seen it all he plucked another petal to drop and the scene changed.

Again and again he pulled petals to change what the Mirror showed. He could hardly believe all of the different sights this world had to offer! Mountains and oceans and cities and farmlands and deserts and...! His favorites were the cities with their impossibly towering buildings that looked like they must be able to scrape the clouds. These he would gently touch the surface of the mirror and pinch his fingers together so that the view descended from high above so he could see the beings that dwelt in these places.

Time blurred for him. Hours must have passed, but he wanted to see just one more scene. One more petal. Until he had found himself drawn into a particular scene. Drawn to watch a pair of beings. How odd, he thought, that they might look so similar to himself. He followed them as they walked and talked, though he couldn't hear them. Watched them laugh and smile and hold hands. Then they reached a dwelling and it seemed they were saying their goodbyes. He twisted at the heavy signet ring on his right hand while he sat raptly focused.

The pair leaned in and he was certain they were going to kiss. He leaned closer... until a noise slammed him back into the reality of Ilysia. Voices. Heavy boots crunching on stone. He was out of time.

He was up in an instant and running faster than he ever had before. In his haste to escape he hadn't noticed that his ring had slipped free and fallen into the pool.

Adriel

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Re: Ripples
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 05:53:51 PM »
"Next time, Malla, you simple must come with me!"

The pair had hidden themselves away in an out of the way alcove where they could be sure to talk without worrying about prying ears. They were as much a contrast of each other as they were mirrors. Standing barefoot they would be of equal height, their slender builds the same, the features of their faces as if forged from the same mold. There their sameness ended. It wasn't the fact that Adriel was male and Malla female. It wasn't that he kept his hair cut to his shoulders where it fell in wild curls and she kept hers past her waist, the weight of the long locks taming them into waves. He broad shouldered with a tapered waist, she with soft feminine curves.

Adriel could hardly sit still. His energy was bright and vivacious, barely contained within his skin. The very air crackled around him. His brown eyes lit with a fire from within. There was a brashness about him, a rough edge despite his polished appearance. He paced the length of the alcove, all ten steps that ended in a smooth pivot to cross back. He gestured wildly with his hands as he spoke. Any that dared encroach on his wingspan were in danger of getting backhanded with the unrestrained motion.

Malla on the other hand was the picture of patience. She regarded her brother with a cool, half-hooded gaze with her eyes ticking up to follow his restlessness, but kept her head bowed over the work in her hands. While he told tall tales she busied herself with embroidery. Dainty golden birds soaring within the hoop. She hadn't tried to interrupt as he wove his story of stealing through the Gardens. In fact, she waited until silence had settled between them for a full two minutes before she chose to speak.

"Adriel, you should not go back yourself." Her tone held a strong note of disapproval. "You are only an Adept. It is not allowed." He replied with a blustery sigh and his face contorting into childish disgust.

"It's a stupid rule." He threw his hands up dramatically and spun around to face his sister. "I should have been elevated ages ago. It's completely unfair."

In and out went Malla's needle. The next bird in the series was slowing forming in glittering gold upon a pure white canvas. "Maybe if you spent time studying instead of snooping around where you don't belong you would finally be able to pass the test."

He winced at the reminder, then quickly recovered to puff out his chest in arrogance. "That test is ridiculous. It's designed to make you fail." He jerked his thumb towards his chest. "They are just mad I figured out how to pass."

"You're cheating." Malla's eyes narrowed and her needle paused. "Must I remind you that our fates our tied together until we reach master level? You're not the only one that would like to move on."

His sigh was as soft as the expression he adopted. "You know you couldn't live without me." A smile bloomed on his lips, crooked and endearing. She could only hold out so long before she was shaking her head with a tiny smile threatening to form.

"Come with me next time," he pleaded now that he had wormed his way in. Hands clasped and lower lip jutted into the perfect pleaded pout. It was the wrong move. Malla's eyes hardened an instant later.

"No." She stabbed the fabric she was working on with the needle, weaving it from the back without pushing it all the way through to secure it. She settled the hoop into the basket at her side which she picked up as she rose. "You better be at lessons later." Her eyes dropped to her brothers hands. "And don't forget your ring this time. You can't practice without it."

"Fine, fine..." He agreed with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I'll go find it."

Adriel

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Re: Ripples
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2018, 05:57:30 PM »
Malla stormed through the residence?s hallway. While she and Adriel were the only Younglings left on Ilysia the long hallways full of empty rooms highlighted the island?s past. There was a time when that building bustled with life and laughter. Now they were only two.

Being that they were only two her twin?s absence from lessons was keenly noted.

?Adriel, you scoundrel!? Her voice was raised so there could be no way he hadn?t heard her. The lazy loaf was probably still in bed despite the late hour. Soon the suns in the sky would cross paths to mark noontime. Which was entirely too late to still be abed.
She stopped short of crossing the threshold when she spied the state of the living quarters beyond. Each had its own small sitting room with a couch, a desk, and a small nook for private meals. Adriel was certainly an imp, but he was a tidy imp.

It was like a tornado had torn through the space, with cushions dug out of the couch, papers strewn about, and just about every piece of furniture up ended. The force that had gusted through this space had been brutish, sparing not even the mirror on the wall from its fervor.

Picking her way carefully through the detritus and wincing at the crunch of glass underfoot, Malla took it all in with an expression of horror. ?Adriel??

The soft call barely carried. Through the open doorway she could see a figure halt its rummaging and turn. She let out a sigh of release and shifted her thumb from the face of her delicate signet ring when she recognized the wild spray of curls.
Her lips formed around a new question just as she passed into her brother?s bedroom which was as right a state as the antechamber had been. Those words died in her throat unspoken.

?It?s gone.?

Adriel?s face reflected the tremble of panic in his voice. Two simple words that caused an icy fist to close around Malla?s heart. ?Are you sure??

She wrung her hands together while Adriel was windmilling in the middle of the room with his arms spread wide. His eyes were wide, too. ?There isn?t anywhere else to look!?

Malla jumped at the explosive, angry tone. They?d had their share of spats from nascence on, but he?d never yelled at her like that. She shrank back from the heat of his rage and his expression immediately softened.

?Malla, I?m sorry,? he said, muffled from the press of his hands against his face. His heart pounded in his chest, beating against his rib cage and thundering behind his eyes. He felt like he couldn?t catch his breath. ?I don?t know what to do.?