As penance for earlier slash, I put up… Ahahaha. Apologies to ranchelle. I… said I would write romance trash. I have. I am also evil. I apologise to everyone who reads this for subjecting them to my writing. I should know better.
I want to dedicate this to ranchelle, without whom this would never have been written. I regret that I could not do better.
Eleris comes to her senses in the forests of winter.
All around her the woods are silent as snow drifts from skies of grey.
She ventures forth from under the branches of a wayward pine, and makes her way through the forest.
She knows these woods.
She walked them as a child in the forests of the light. These are the farthest reaches of the Deepwood Forest, before the trees change to the birch and ash of Yavimaya. She stands at the boundaries of the forests, but always, always within Dominaria.
She passes a tree whose branches, weighted with snow, bend close to the frost-covered ground. And it is then that her eyes catch sight of a flash of color within its branches – a white paler than the snow around.
She holds herself still and waits.
Time falls as softly as the snow from the heavens.
When she has ascertained that her movement that caused that particular perception, and not independent movement of the object in question, she ducks under the branches, dislodging snow in the process.
The tree is low, and where its trunk begins to part into branches, a child lies unmoving.
He is young, perhaps eight or so, but no older than ten. Golden hair falls like sunlight over and eyes she somehow knows are silver.
Too many dreams have proven this true.
Who are you? She asks of this sleeping boy, not daring to speak lest those so-often accusing eyes awaken.
And why do you haunt my dreams?
This boy at the heart of a sleeping world, a mystery waiting to awake.
To rouse him, she reaches forward -
And instead of his eyes, his shirt flutters, and a songbird the color of the dawn bursts from his collar and flies to freedom, winging its way through the silent white forest, to the splendor of the morning.
Eleris’ eyes follow the flight of the songbird through the still woods.
And the boy sleeps on, in the wonder of that dreaming world.
In the next extract, I rip off a term from Anne Rice. Oops.
Sorry was a word that was on Eleris’ lips all too often these days. How else to explain why fires burst into the uncontrollable blazes once she entered a room? How else to explain candles burning themselves down to nothing within an instant in her presence? How else to excuse the countless nights the Motherhouse’s chambermaids had been summoned into her quarters to remove a scorched bedsheet, a charred carpet, a rug that had been reduced to ashes?
A dream. It is only a dream.
If anything so real could be called a dream, it was.
Still, the fact remained, though Eleris Amneth, as she dazedly extricated herself from a sheath of ash and cinders, that she had scorched her sheets again. For what was the third time this month.
Housekeeping will not like this one mezzit, she thought ruefully, as her sense awoke with her senses.
Best get it over with, she thought, crossing her tiny room to the door.
After the requisite squawking-over, Eleris made her way to the kitchen. A light always burned there, for those of the Motherhouse who had call to visit its sanctuary in the deep hours of the night. Or morning, as the case was. Streaks of gray in the East told of the coming of the dawn, and Eleris paused for a heartbeat at the windows, to gaze at the streets below. Mercadia had yet to arise from its dream of night, and the streets, at this hour, were still.
Her hands shook as she measured out a spoonful of the herb mix that was reputed to be an excellent cure for headaches and hangovers.
What am I trying to stop? She wondered, as she poured steaming water over the herbs, watching as they dissolved.
Curling her cold fingers around the heat of the mug, she moved to a chair before the fire, seating herself with her back to the flames and her eye on the door.
The earliest riser in the Motherhouse burst in several minutes later.
“Had a good night, Eleris?” he sung, before he caught sight of her. “Obviously not,” he answered himself, when he had rectified that lack.
“Burnt the bedsheets. Again. As ‘Rian will probably tell you. By breakfast, she will undoubtedly have informed the rest of the Motherhouse.”
Next, I rip off Magic: The Gathering, Carol Berg's "Song of the Beast", as well as make evil references to Ratal. I also rip off Verdi.
“Explain how the dark elves and the kai are connected?” demanded Eleris. Her glare could have scorched the parchment on which the essay question she'd been assigned was written.
“I can answer that question,” crowed Eldis, his dark eyes alight with mischief. “But are you willing to pay the price?”
Eleris’ eyes narrowed. “I daresay this will prove to be another of your tricks, but as I am short of solutions, I have no choice but to venture it.” With a long-suffering sigh, she turned to him. “What is it?”
He smiled archly. “Extend both your hands in my direction.”
“I mislike this already,” said Eleris, even as she did as she was told.
In a heartbeat, Eldis had Eleris’ hands tightly bound together with several of his ever-present ropes.
“I fail to see the meaning of this jest,” muttered Eleris, as the rest of the initiates burst into laughter.
“How do you feel?” asked Eldis. Yet his eyes were serious.
“Annoyed,” said Eleris, succinctly.
Eldis shook his head. “I fear that my ropes will soon go the way of your sheets if this continues any longer. So I shall answer you.” He spoke an incantation, and the ropes fell to the floor.
“The answer is control, Eleris.”
Eleris’ brows knitted. “The dark elves and the kai… Control?”
“They miss a vital link in that chain. It is the k’ai c’et. Those of Yavimaya who yet live will carry this knowledge scribed in their blood.” Eldis’ ordinarily laughing eyes were dark. “And in the blood of their dragons.”
Understanding flared in Eleris’ mind. “Their dragons,” she echoed.
For every Dominarian who survived those days of fire knew of the tragedy that bound the dragons to the fate of Dominaria for as long as that once-great land was stilled. When the Fate of the Nations had conquered those lands, they had used the magic of the land against itself. Deepwood, one of the earliest lands invaded, had been overthrown through sheer force. Battalions of soldiers had cascaded upon its forests, leaving death in their wake. Yavimaya, the home of the dragons and of those whose hearts soared with them, had been destroyed by a crazed Llhanowarean Dreamwalker - one the invaders had driven insane - who had, in his madness, run wild through the minds of their leaders, leading the great men and women of Yavimaya to turn upon their own people. And the Yavimayan dragons had been seized by the triumphant invaders and used to torch all that was once green in Dominaria.
A circle of perfect destruction.
And worse, all those in Dominaria who possessed that connection with the land had been afflicted as their lands had died. All those who heard the voices of the forests, those to whom the leaves and the land spoke – Most had been unable to withstand the torment that the destruction of their lands had visited upon their minds.
Eleris had seen it with her own eyes. Those majestic creatures swooping down upon the forests of Dominaria and reducing them to ashes. The Forests of the Light had gone up in one final conflagration, and Dominaria had been lost for ever.
So beautiful and so lost...
But my land is beautiful no longer.
And it is lost forever.
And Eleris had survived because she was dead to the Dominarian magic. The land had never spoken to her – or perhaps she had been unable to hear it. Yet, it fit. She had never heard the forest sing to her. She was deaf to its cries of anguish.
She saw the forests burn.
But she could not feel them die.
Eleris Amneth was violently and uncontrollably sick.
His laughter was light in her ears, though it rang hollow. “And if any of our compatriots were to come upon us, they would see the unmistakable signs of a romance that does not exist.”
“Shall I show you the full extent of my amorous inclinations by being sick in your lap?” demanded the firestarter, if weakly.
“Alin above, if you’re like this, even when coming out of the jenica haze, no wonder she had you drugged.”
“Get your hair out of my face,” snapped the girl, irritably. The boat lurched with an ocean swell, and the annoyance became edged with nausea.
“Ayva above,” the girl muttered, and dragged herself to the side of the coracle, where she was unceremoniously sick over the side of the boat.
When her misery had subsided, the slender man uncorked a bottle from his pouch. “Drink this,” he said, offering it to her.
She turned and regarded the bottle with great suspicion before resting her head in her hands. “I can’t trust it any more than I can trust you,” she said, curling up at the bottom of the boat.
“Will you stop indulging in this senseless self-misery?” demanded the man. “The existential anguish of the young is as annoying as it is self-indulgent. Gods forbid I was like this as a child.”
“Say that when you’ve lost your dinner over the side of a boat in the middle of this godforsaken –”
“Enough!” snapped the man. “You waste time we do not have. From now on, I trust you will keep yourself from ingesting any more jenica. If you have yet to solve this particular mystery – It’s being fed to every single initiate that dines at the Motherhouse.” He cast her a scathing look that went unnoticed. “To counter its sedative effects, partake of the ileria muffins before you dine. They will neutralize the effects of the poison, and will act as a purgative in the event that you consume too much of either herb.”
“Yes, Master,” muttered the girl, uncurling enough to look at him. An opportune wave made her reconsider her decision. Swiftly, she concluded that it would be far better to gaze at the ocean over the side of the boat.
However, the decision over whether or not to be sick again was entirely out of her hands. Involuntarily, her stomach decided in favor of that issue.
Her companion spared her his gaze, but not his words.
“If I’d known Dominarians were so easily distressed by the ocean, I’d never have embarked on this particular assignment,” he said, sitting back.
Painfully, Eleris turned to face him. She drew her knees up to her chest and locked her arms around them. “If I knew that dreams could be so dangerously made real, I would not have stepped on this boat,” she retorted.
“At last you make sense,” he muttered, and moved to sit in the centre of the boat. Taking hold of the oars, he positioned the coracle so that he would remain upwind.
“Doubtless you have discerned that your dreams –”
“Dominarians are not alone in dramatizing, I see.”
“Fine,” he bit off. “Under the influence of jenica, Mother used you to – You wouldn’t understand this. Suffice to say that I am now bound by the same k’ai c’ets that bind the Dominarian dragons. And that you were instrumental, though hardly conscious, as we use that term.”
“Hence all those dreams of blood and bedsheets,” said Eleris. “Oh, and that knife. Thank you very much, but I thought I’d had enough lessons on symbolism.”
“This is no time for your appalling attempts at levity,” rebuked the man. “It is too much to presume that you even understand how this was done. So I will explain it. Under the influence of jenica, and highly susceptible to Mother’s suggestions, you stole into my quarters while Mother’s… associates… held me in a drugged daze, and you cut exceedingly clumsy gashes in my wrists and left the k’ai c’ets in the wounds you made. One in each wrist. And now –” here shadows came to life in his eyes, “Mother knows each and every one of my movements. She knows where I am at all times, through these cursed stones in me. Also. With these – ” he turned his wrists to her, “She can transmit all manner of pain – thankfully, purely physical – to me.”
His eyes met her unwilling ones. “And this is thanks to you, young Eleris.” He regarded her speculatively. “It is unsurprising that Mother selected you for this particularly onerous task.” He paused to let his words sink in. “Firestarters do seem to require an uncommonly high level of energy. Hence your singleminded enthusiasm when it comes to consuming food.” He shook his head. “The perils of gluttony –”
“Which caused me to partake of a considerable amount of jenica,” observed Eleris. “Thereby making me more susceptible to suggestion than any of the initiates at the Motherhouse.” She looked as if she were about to be sick again.
Serian clapped his hands, twice. “Very good,” he said, voice devoid of praise. “And, Eleris, if you are to be ill again, I suggest you first remove yourself from this –”
“Enough,” she said. “What is it you want from me?”
He arched a brow at her. “Your assistance in undoing all you have done for me.”
“Now?” she asked.
His eyes narrowed. “Naturally, no,” he said. “It would be unwise to trust the owner of an unsettled stomach. And,” he continued, eyes betraying his fear, “Mother would know. The last time, you took half the night and the better half of the morning. I will need both the k’ai c’ets removed simultaneously. And it must be done in the Motherhouse itself.”
“Do you plan on Phyrexian surgery? I daresay some might notice if I went about with double the usual number of arms –”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” he snapped. “It just means that both you and I will need to remove these accursed stones together!”
“How can you be certain Mother doesn’t already know of this? Might not these stones communicate this exchange in its entirety?”
He shook his head vehemently. “If that was the case, I would already be dead. You would not believe the level of pain which these stones are capable of inflicting. May I be damned if I don’t pity those dragons now!”
Yet his eyes spoke of an anguish so deep that the annoyance in his voice was childish by comparison.
Eleris remained silent until he deigned to speak again.
“Already I feel those accursed stones trying to assume dominion over my mind. It becomes increasingly harder to sustain independent thought.” For a moment, he seemed lost in his thoughts. Then a caustic remark proved appearances wrong. “Not unlike your everyday experience, I assume.”
Eleris allowed the insult to pass.
Seeming to gather his strength, he resumed detailing his plan. “Mother has yet to follow me into my dreams. So that is where we will begin rehearsing this particularly bloody act.” He winced at the promise of pain.
“Somehow you think my research on the k’ai c’et will help you?”
He appraised her silently, before remarking, with some surprise, “You didn’t think your essay assignment was given by sheer chance, did you?”
“It would clearly be unwise to believe so any longer,” she retorted.
“As I thought,” he said, casting his eyes to the heavens. “Stupidity is a disease no drug can cure.”
It was a little more of a struggle to remain silent this time, but Eleris triumphed.
“Aside from your fiery personality, you are singularly untalented in magic. In fact, your lack of sensitivity to even the most basic of enchantments is outstanding. Unable to sense the slightest shadow of the future, incapable, even, of psychic self-defense – and therefore, the most open, in dreams.” He fell silent.
“Also, immune from suspicion,” Eleris whispered. “Who would choose such an obviously incompetent initiate for an undertaking as vast as this one?”
Serian smiled for the first time since Eleris had set her eyes on him.
Thereafter, he spoke no longer, and Eleris’ mind was too preoccupied to pose any further questions. Shortly after the end of their conversation, Serian resumed control of the oars, and paddled swiftly back to rejoin the flotilla of initiates.
He did, however, vary the traditional leave-taking of the initiates. When Eleris expressed the customary sentiment of meeting again, his eyes met hers.
“In your dreams,” he said, not bothering to conceal his complete lack of enthusiasm.
Yes, procrastinate I did, again. Now for the lightning-fast recap.
Thursday, 7th August, 2003
Met ranchelle for tea at City Hall. Was deeply traumatized by the destruction of several artworks I desired to save. Must save more of them from joining what aingeal_isilme calls The Great Scrap Heap in the Sky. Did manage to save some of them. Yay! *glomps ranchelle*
Also, ranchelle knows some of the most gorgeous comics ever to be published. I adore them. I must also let anyasy see them.
Friday, 8th August, 2003
Met an UCL senior and Sparrow for lunch at Raffles Place. Fledgling (That word makes me think of Anne Rice’s vampires) lawyers (Is anyone going to make blood-sucker jokes?) can expect days that have them home at past 1am in the morning.
Then went to Marks and Spencer with Sparrow. Bought dolphin- and star-shaped pasta. *huge grin* And more pesto. Am beginning to suspect that I will not rest until I find the pesto that Dome serves with its bread.
Watched How To Deal with my brother. He watched for the girl. I watched for the plot. Trent Ford (Mandy Moore’s requisite Teen Movie Love Interest) is extremely cute. Oh, and also:
JEDI MIND TRICK!
*whoops* Trent Ford’s character is a Star Wars fan. The requisite Couple Gets Together In a Montage of Shots That Save Time featured the happy couple at a “Star Wars All Night” Movie Marathon. You get one shot of all the titles, from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi. *smiles*
Here I would like to say that “Attack of the Clones” is one of the worst movie titles I have ever heard of. And Star Wars, too. >< That title makes it sound like a cheap B-grade movie.
Saturday, 9th August, 2003
*wild cheering* Hobbit Gathering!
*glomps aingeal_isilme, la_muerta and c_dreamcatcher*
It was wonderful to see everyone again! *thrilled*
Finally, finally, finally, c_dreamcatcher wanted to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, much to our glee. Made toasted marshmallows (literally. I put them in the toaster.) Watched Shingo Mama and was deeply traumatized. Also, thanks to my Professor, saw Alan Rickman on “The View”. Am now inspired to watch Die Hard simply to see Alan Rickman Being Evil, and Being Very Cool.
Had a great deal of
Also, it was National Day. We had pizza for dinner and watched Moulin Rouge instead of watching the Parade. A first for me. Did not feel unpatriotic.
aingeal_isilme and c_dreamcatcher had to leave, but la_muerta stayed, and we watched Truly Madly Deeply. *adores my Professor and Alan Rickman* And she was right. You can ignore that moustache. Alan Rickman is still gorgeous. And I loved the way he sung “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”. It was wonderful watching that movie with the Biggest AR Fan I Know. ^_^ She knows so much about the movie – how it was made, who was in it, what else they did, what the songs are in the movie and what they mean, who wrote that lovely poem Alan Rickman speaks in Spanish – beautiful. “My feet will want to walk to where you are, but I will go on living.”
*hugs my Professor* I hope that sore throat is better? I don’t want you to go the way of Jamie!
Sunday, 10th August, 2003
Met a friend for lunch at Dhoby Gaut MRT station. Discovered that one can laugh so hard as to dislodge the back of the seat at Plaza Singapura’s Mos Burger. Naturally I discovered the existence of that fact. Slight sense of shame later dispelled by a fellow patron doing the same thing minus the laughter. I will now blame the seats.
Walked to the National Library from Plaza Singapura. Discovered that the sole Theodore Roethke book we have is in the Reference Section, and also that it is either missing, or I am very bad at looking for it. Brushed up on Machiavelli, though. And went off to borrow Jedi Quest. Anakin and Obi-Wan. And Analog. In my science-fiction days, I adored Analog and Asimov. I still do. ^_^
Oh, and anyasy, you were right. Alan Dean Foster isn’t bad.
Walked to City Hall after that. ^_^ Checked out MPH – which I think may be the last surviving branch of that bookstore. Pity. I loved the one at Stamford Road.