Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ice pt. 5

Want to start at the beginning? - Ice, Part 1

Wilham made his way lightly over uneven stones and debris. The further they went, the worse the condition of the hallways.

“Why did you come up here?” Domani finally asked.

“To see what was here.”

“Father is going to be mad.”

Wilham blushed a little. He seemed genuinely affected each time their father scolded him for disobedience, yet it never seemed to act as a deterrent when new chances for adventure presented themselves.

“So don’t tell him, please.”

He pulled her down a corridor so dark that both missed their footing and almost fell on unseen stones.

“Wilham,” she pulled at his arm as she almost went down on her knees, “please, tell me where you are taking me, or I’m going back.”

“No!” he stopped and turned to her, “Don’t. You have to come see it. I’ve never seen something like this.” In the dark she could just make out his round eyes, wide and excited.

“What is it?”

“Some kind of throne or something, but it’s warm, and it feels strange.”

Her brow creased in worry, “Maybe we should leave it alone.”

“No. It’s just throne, I think, it’s not dangerous, it’s just different. Please, come see.”

“But then we go back down,” she held his hand firmly.

“Yes, ok.”

He was off again down a hallway, tugging on her arm. A few moments later he ducked under the rotted wood of a wide door, and vanished into a room. She sighed, following after, pulling her hood over her head so her curly hair didn’t catch on the jagged edges of the wood.

Inside the room there was a confused moment as her eyes tried to adjust to the light. It seemed there was something glowing, illuminating the space around it. She blinked, rubbing her eyes, and looked at a large, ornate chair, clearly visible in the dark. Another moment as her eyes grew accustomed to the strange light, and it was obvious that it wasn’t glowly, exactly. It cast no light against the floor or the other objects near it. Instead it seemed simply to stand out against the dark.

“Wilham?” she said in a whisper, then more loudly, “Wilham, where are you?”

He slipped his hand around her arm and leaned against her.

“Isn’t it beautiful?”

It appeared to be carved out of wood. The base was wide tangle of roots, thin and spindly by the ground, growing thicker as they traveled up to the seat. Even in the dark they could make out the grain of the wood, smooth and clean. The seat was flanked by thick branches for armrests. The back stretched up close to the ceiling, branches blossoming out in every direction, some drooping down, some reaching out. A few twisted around each other as though they were grasping at something together.

“Is it ... glowing?”

“I think so,” Wilham answered, “it is craft?”

“I don’t know how else you could made wood glow like that in the dark.”

“Touch it, it’s warm, and it feels,” he let go of her hand, “you should just touch it.”

She stepped forward, her eyes tracing the lines that created the roots. If she watched them too long they seemed to move slightly, slowly shifting place. She blinked away the illusion and reached out to touch one of the branches that made the arm rests.

Even with Wilham’s warning, the warmth startled her. It felt hot as flesh, and she almost expected to feel a pulse beneath the surface. Her brother came up beside her, putting his hand on the other arm rest.

“It has to be craft. Right?”

Her hand tingled, not unpleasantly. A few seconds later her whole arm felt some how more alert. She had an urge to do something with it, to sew, to write, to play a string game with her fingers, weaving twine around in new patterns.

She pulled her hand away, feeling almost light headed.

“Wilham! What is this?”

“I don’t know,” he smiled.

“I think we have to tell father.”

Again her brother blushed, his hand slipping from the wood, “Do we have to?” before she could answer he grabbed her arm again. “If it’s craft can you look at it, in that way, the way Mildon taught you?”

“I’m not supposed to do that without Mildon here to help,” she left out how she’d already violated that rule.

“Just for a second, then maybe we’ll know more about it.”

The tingle in her arm seemed to slowly fade, but not before it slipped up her shoulder and to her spin where it made her shiver.

She thought about the hole in the wall, and how close she’d come to it. But there was no hole here, and Wilham there to watch her.

“Just for one second,” she loosed Wilham grip and took a few deep breaths.

She cast the throne one more look before she allowed the room around her to unfocus, her senses disengaging. The Soundless seemed to fill in around her, bright stillness slipping in to replace the dark of the room. For a few moments she was alone, the steady thump with nothing to disturb it.

Again a nervous flutter passed through her, but soon dissipated, and she spread out her awareness to take in those things that shared this space with her. She directed her thoughts toward the throne, and found a slow, steady thrum. Skimming the surface of the object, her awareness felt the same strange charge her body had. Here in the Soundless it penetrated her more, seeping directly into her consciousness, causing her small thump to beat fast and heavy.

Something tugged at her, compelling the thump to beat in time with it. The thrum dominated her, and the more the charge filled her, the more detail she could make out in its note. There was something like a breath, heaving in and out, and something that felt to her like a mind. The only time she’d experienced it before was when she’d tried to talk to another crafter through the Soundless.

The bottom seemed to come out under her, and she dropped into a spiraling fall, each moment taking her further inside the thrum. Part of her mind reached out for the exit, the path back to the physical world, but she rejected it, wishing to see how much farther the thrum would carry her.

An image of something bright and warm appeared in her mind. Now the thrum seemed even more like another crafter to her, the image filling her like a thought given to her by Mildon during one of their trainings. There was a feeling tied to the image, a longing.

Inky black tendrils wrapped around her, encompassing the her small thump and separating it from the thrum of the throne. Recognition was instant, Milton, her tutor, had entered the Soundless with her. She sent out one small plee to be allowed to explore more, but it was rejected, and he guided her through the path back to the physical world.

Her first thought upon reorienting herself to the dark room was just how angry her tutor would be that she’d violated his instruction.

The throne was before her, looking somehow even brighter after she’d viewed it through the Soundless. The long, twisting branches seemed to be inviting her back to speak with it again.

“The Lord wanted to know where his children had gotten to,” Milton’s flat tone sounded behind her.

“We were just looking around,” she said reflexively, turning to him.

In the dim of the room she could just make out the ridge of Mildon’s brow over his dark eyes, and the lines that pulled his face into a scowl. His arms were crossed sternly over his chest, his feet apart in his familiar wide stance.

As moments passed and he said nothing, only looking at her, she sighed heavily and fidgeted with her fingers.

“We just wanted to see what was up here, do you know what this is?” she pointed to the throne.

Ignoring her question, he stared down at her,“Closed off floor. Wandering around the Soundless,” though she could not see it clearly, she imagined his fingers drumming against his arm in his typical way, “One day in this new place and you’ve already forgotten your obligations.”

“It’s not her fault,” Wilham was across the room, standing between two objects, both hidden by sheets, “she was looking for me.” Wilham’s voice was quiet, trailing off at the end.

“Hmph,” Mildon did not answer him, but stepped forward to look at the throne, “One problem after another in this place.”

His posture relaxed slightly, and Domani recognized it as a sign he’d slipped part of his mind into the Soundless. More experienced than she, he could dedicate only part of his mind there, while the rest of his awareness stayed in the physical world.

“How long were you looking at this thing?”

“I’m not sure,” she answered, pushing her hands down to her sides to stop herself from wringing them.

“A while,” Wilham answered, “I thought about trying to wake her up.” He stepped forward, coming to Domani’s side to grab her hand.

“It didn’t feel very long,” she said.

“I’m sure it didn’t. There’s a lot to see in this thing. You could lose many hours trying to find it all,” his posture grew more rigid, and he turned to them, “It’s for your father to decide what punishment is fit for going where you’re not allowed, but Domani, you should have known better than this. You could have been hurt.”

“I -” she squeezed Wilham’s hand and avoided Mildon’s eyes, even though she could not fully see them in the dark, “I’m sorry.” Offering excuses rarely worked with Mildon.

“Yes, well, I thought we’d start your sessions back up when things were more settled, but it seems you need a more watchful eye over you. We’ll resume tomorrow.”

Domani sighed, “Alright.”

“You couldn’t have stumbled on something worse. As if the Lord didn’t have enough to deal with.”

“You know what it is?” she asked.

“Aye. That’s Matron Wood, cut out of a sacred grove and carved into some idiot’s chair.”

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