Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Pure Shores (Part 1)

{Blogger often hates me and refuses to publish posts in the order I want them. This particular piece has potential to be so long that the only way to make it manageable is to break it into parts, which will, unsurprisingly, read best in the correct order. This is also an appropriate time to acknowledge the debt of gratitude I owe to my muse and 'partner' in this piece. You know who you are, and all Oscar-winning speech moments and clichés aside, this piece is, in many ways, as much yours as it is mine.}

For days and nights now I have been restless, unable to settle. When I finally retire to bed, oftentimes not until the light of a new dawn is beginning to chase away the shadows of night, I toss and turn until exhaustion overwhelms me and sleep finally lends the caress of its soft fingers to my mind, soothing me, calming the racing thoughts, granting me sweet oblivion. But even in the nocturnal realms it seems I cannot find peace. Despite my efforts I cannot recollect coherent dreams, just fleeting images, sounds and feelings, I awake tangled in the sheets, pillows pushed aside, the bed rumpled and in disarray, my pale skin glowing, my hair tangled. My feet feel bruised, I have tried again and again to walk off these feelings, I have walked the streets of the City for hours, I have walked through the Woods, past the Spire onto the beach below. Even my beloved sea has failed to work its usual magic upon me. What is wrong? What has happened, why do I feel this way? I cannot stand this much longer. What has changed in the last few weeks, how do I return to the way I once was? Do I want to...

In my desperation for peace, I have given serious consideration to returning to the wastes of the North. There I would have no time for these feelings. The gossip in the City says that the war is all but over; the tyrant will soon be toppled from his frozen throne in the Citadel... I will have played no part in this, will not be able to expound to my children, to my grandchildren, Fates willing, about the glorious war and my part in it for every time I try to imagine leaving the City my heart wrenches - what use would I be anyway, when my heart and soul would remain here, my longing would be undiminished, I fear, even with such a great distance.

As another day draws to a close I tire of my usual seat by the fountain in the Bazaar. The falling water, once so soothing to my ears, now makes me wince; my senses have become more delicate recently, colours brighter, scents more intense, even the lightest and softest of robes weighs heavy upon my sensitive skin; the splash of the fountain now almost as loud as the roar of a waterfall. I walk across the Bazaar to Parnis' wagon. He is an unfailingly cheerful young man, easy to talk to, always smiling, and I hop up onto one of his storage crates and watch him work, his sales patter charming, his manner with all customers young and old, the same mix of courtesy and affection.

I feel something brush my skin fleetingly, not a physical touch, something ethereal, almost as if the dust motes around me have been stirred into action, they swirl around me, the briefest touch then gone. I cast my gaze around but nothing seems out of the ordinary. You are imagining things, just... settle down... I breathe slowly, turning my face to the light, feeling the warmth on my face and try to relax. As I inhale I feel it again, the same tantalising brush across my skin. This is magic... Not the magic wielded by my kin which is sharp and clear, not fel certainly, no taint to these sensations, but what then? I open my mouth and inhale gently, then I realise why this magic feels unfamiliar. It is the magic of the elements; the flicker of fire, the majesty of the crushing water, the boiling of the clouds before the thunderstorm breaks, the fertile goodness of the earth, the jungle. The jungle... troll magics? My eyes widen; now I know what I am looking for he is easy to see, standing out amongst the groomed perfection of my kin - how could I have not seen him until now? Thoughts crowd into my head as he looks up and catches my eye, he moves purposefully though the crowds and within a few strides he is standing before me. His closeness, his proximity to me, brings the scent of the sea to my nostrils, refreshing and clean. His hair almost totally white, encrusted with salt, pulled back from his face in small, casual braids. His skin is paler than many of his kind, presumably also bleached by the sun. Like me he is barefoot, though I suspect this is a way of life for him; who needs shoes on the beach, when the sand, hot to begin with, can be cooling underneath its fragile crust? A beachcomber then...but why here, so far from home? As he looks at me intently, his magic whispers across my skin for the third time, more intense now, undiluted by distance, a cooling breeze playing across my delicate flesh, but causing a spark inside me. I cast my eyes upwards - the Fates appear to have a new favourite toy... No, please not this. Not a troll, surely, can you not be merciful?

"'ey der, elfie," he says.

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