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"The Emerald Archon" - Chapter 2.1 (1 Viewer)

monseratthefool

Senior Member
Any feedback of any sort is most appreciated! Hope you enjoy...and I'd be happy to send reviews in return.

2


The Sapphire House

Bartolo had been walking for more than an hour, which accelerated to double-time since the sun started going down behind the mountains. His appointment was at sundown, and he was only now reaching Tranton’s Bridge. There were at least fifteen minutes of walking before he would arrive at the east bank of the river.

He nervously chewed the skin inside of his lips, wishing that he had left the workshop a few minutes sooner. The workshop, where he was employed assembling wooden furniture for a carpenter named Galley, was located in the storehouse district of West Witscar. From his shop window he could survey all the activity of Pilomar Street; the well-dressed people funneling in and out of the concrete courthouse, or townsfolk patronizing the cobblers or blacksmiths.

Early this morning, he watched a courier walk briskly up Pilomar Street and drop an unusual parcel in the mailbox. Bartolo, taken by curiosity, retrieved the item to find that it was addressed to him. He unfolded the finely pressed paper and was tantalized, but slightly intimidated, by the elegant and graceful handwriting. The faint scent of lavender floated up from the unfolded letter.

“Dearest Bartolo,

Thank you for your message, and I would be delighted to welcome you for your first visit to the Sapphire. Please come on the evening of the full moon at dusk, and bring only yourself.

Take the road out of town towards Tranton’s Bridge, and travel until the road meets the east bank of the Calacelu River. There you’ll find the Sapphire and me waiting.

A few important matters that require your utmost attention. Eat nothing after midday. Empty your pockets and bring nothing with you that is not necessary. Before you ring the bell, keep with mindful singularity your reason for coming, and leave any impulse for dishonesty (and your shoes, kindly) at the door.

Finally, in response to your letter, keep in mind that it is only through your vulnerability that you can heal broken parts of yourself. I am delighted to lend my assistance to this process.

With love,

Sylani Angelese Sengal



-

Bartolo couldn’t recall a time he had ever felt so afraid and vulnerable. As the yellow roof of the Sapphire came into view, he tried to wipe the sweat from his face and wave fresh air through his shirt. His face was tense with anxiety as he finally arrived just at the last blush of sunlight.

What if she doesn’t like me, he thought. What if she thinks I’m a crazy old basket case? What if I leave humiliated?

Bartolo could see that the little house was indeed painted a rich sapphire blue, and seemed to be built at whimsical angles as if designed by fairy architects. As he approached, he noticed the smell of caliphon leaves drifting from the tiny chimney and spicing the air around the house.

The smell reminded him of his childhood home in the plains just outside of Witscar, and how his mother would use the oily leaves of the caliphon to start the evening fire. It made him feel a little better.

He thought of his mother’s humble, but hearty bowls of potato soup served with thick slices of fresh rosemary bread, and his stomach churned with the hunger of his half-day fast.

Putting the belly pains out of his mind, he walked to the handsome wooden door and frantically searched his brain for his reason for being here. Answers were elusive, and grasping seemed to make things more difficult.

He tried to focus. The fighting with his wife Alena was becoming worse and worse. His workshop no longer felt like a creative escape, but like a prison. In just this year alone, he had two chairs, a desk, and a bedframe returned to the workshop for being unsteady and creaky, and Galley was starting to lose his patience. His body was stiff and achy. His anxiety was a constant, disorienting jitter.

A vein in his neck throbbed demandingly, bullied along by a thumping, frightened heart.

Everything’s just a mess…I don’t know what to do…I need something, he thought.

The rope for the brass doorbell was in his hand.

I need to start over, or to be away, or something. I need to not be so pathetic. I need help. Please, please help me.

He pulled the rope, the bell rang sharply, and a faint clicking noise came from inside the house. All by itself, the door drifted open and let warm, yellow light spill into the emergent night.

-
The front room was small and comfortable, with a window facing the river and a half-size smoldering fireplace set into a bed of stones. The most striking thing about the room was the fanciful door leading further into the Sapphire.

The man admired the door’s stylish ball-tipped iron hinges, the rich luster of stained, lacquered totra wood, and colorful inlays of stained glass depicting the scene of an azure waterfall plunging into a golden chalice. Through the colored glass Bartolo could see shadows of movement on the other side, but fearing impoliteness, turned his gaze to the fireplace.

Nestled in the ash and stone near the fire was a teakettle being kept warm, with a small note hanging from its spout. Bartolo nudged the note open with his index finger, and saw Sylani’s breezy handwriting.

“Drink, please.”

He noticed a mug sitting alone the stone perimeter of the firepit, and poured himself a cup.

He leaned back into the cushions of his chair and took a small sip from the mug. The taste was herbal and slightly bitter, but was sweetened gently by some type of unfamiliar nectar.

He took another sip, and felt his body sink slightly deeper into the chair. He suddenly took notice of the handsome orange and brown rug underneath his feet. It was satisfyingly rough and fuzzy on his rough skin, and he rubbed down into it, snapping his toes and pushing his heels into the woven fur.

He took another sip of the tea, and noticed that his hunger was no longer an ache, but simply a delightful emptiness. His body felt unusually clean and taut, and he tensed and released his muscles in a moment of unusually visceral pleasure.

In this moment of increased sensory sensitivity, Bartolo had not noticed that his mind was being lured very deliberately into the front room of the Sapphire. The remnants of his mind left in the workshop, in his house with Alena, and scattered throughout his accumulated history were being slowly and carefully re-collected. As the tea seeped further into his body, his biological impulses were being drawn down and put to sleep, leaving him to marvel at the pure immediate genius of the rug on his feet.

-

Sylani, listening carefully to the breathing patterns of the man in the waiting room, detected the deep, full breathing of a person fully induced by the retrolian tea.

She finished lacing her modest, sky-blue Ceru gown and reached up to check that her hair was cinched tightly.

She floated quietly across the circular room on her bare feet, and slid open a tiny, hidden window leading to the backyard of the Sapphire.

Seated on a cushion, with his back pressed firmly against the wall, was Mokai. His thin, silver claymore was resting in its sheath across his folded knees. His face was smooth and peaceful, and he opened his eyes to look up towards the sound of the sliding window.

Sylani winked at him with a smile, and he nodded back in silence.

-
 

Ariel

WF Veterans
I have a sense of danger from Sylani. I haven't caught any grammatical errors and I don't have any nits. Overall I like the characterization--I could almost identify with Bartolo and his desperation. I like the voice of the piece--it definitely is consistant even though the two settings between the two chapters are very different.

One problem I'm having is I can't place a timeline--is this set in our own future with a fantasy twist?
 

monseratthefool

Senior Member
Hey again amsawtell,

Thanks so much for another review.

I'll admit that the boundaries of the universe and timeline are still becoming clear to me. Right now, it feels like an alternate Earth, maybe a distant future. That would be my best estimation right now.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
Hi MTF,
what a great read. No action, just thoughts and feelings, yet it carried me along. Good names. A nice amount of detail. There is nothing here for me to pick on.

Hope you had a good Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
Bazz
 

monseratthefool

Senior Member
Thanks so much Bazz, I very much appreciate your time and feedback! I'm very glad you enjoyed it. I'll be posting 2.2 soon if you are interested :)

Much respect,

M
 

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