Hey guys, so this is that snippet I promised you a few weeks ago of the fantasy story I’ve been working on…It’s centered around a Mystic named Martine who just so happens to be a Eunuch, as well. In this scene, Martine is roused from sleep by a vision of impending doom. I’ve never written anything like this before…so, hopefully it isn’t completely atrocious…but if it is…lie to me, anyway and tell me how amazing it is…no, j/k…give it to me straight!
Black clouds of sulfur darkened the horizon. I could smell the stench of destruction. Bright flames swirled amidst the grey shambles of Arcadia’s Royal Palace. I find myself running. I can hear my own footfalls slapping the dry, ashen ground as the frigid pearls of sweat rain down my body. Behind me, there are men giving chase. Men in elaborate suits of armor, glinting gold and crimson under the torched city’s light. I know this, though I only see them in my mind’s-eye. I know what I’m running from. What am I running to?
Just then I spot Calliope, my childhood friend and the resident court jester. Her bright garments, now blackened by coal. She is in disarray.
“Calliope! What’s going on? We have to get out of here!” I shout.
“Martine. Look up and you can see.”
“What? See what?” I ask as I tilt my head toward the sky.
The black clouds break at that very moment, giving way to a ray of sun and a torrential downpour.
“The flames…of magic.”
“Magic? Are you saying one of the mages did this, surely they weren’t powerful enough to?”
Calliope stood silent.
“Was it those men…they caused this?”
Still no response.
“Did I? I couldn’t have,” I murmur incredulously.
“Whenever there’s a sun shower, it means a fox has married.”
“Calliope, what are you saying? Why can’t you answer me?!”
Then the light seized me and it was over.
This was the third time I’d had this dream, and each time it made even less sense. I’d told Calliope, who’d of course thought it was the result of over-work and recommended I take a vacation. Recreation was her panacea and in her eyes, there was nothing it couldn’t fix. Morgana, my other friend and Court Herbalist brewed a tea for my nerves and gave me some bitter herbs to chew daily. They hadn’t been working.
I couldn’t help but re-visit my dreams, not only because I was the Chief Court Mage and took dreams very seriously as a matter of habit, but because this dream did what no other had…it chilled me to the bone. I felt this was a vision, a premonition. I’d had them before, owing to my nature as a Eunuch. We were a culture of mystics, prone to seeing beyond the veil of ordinary existence. I was no different, however, I kept telling myself that this dream wasn’t, couldn’t be. Though I suspected in my heart that it was.
What caused the fire? I had the ability, which had taken years of dedicated training to perfect, to supplicate the elements, bend them to my will, speak to the spirits, the raw essences of the very fibers that comprised our world. I could beseech the Spirit of Earth for a good harvest, or the Spirit of Rain to send a downpour, and indeed, would whenever our crops grew dry. In this way, my presence at the Royal Court of the Arcadian Empire became a necessity to our people. As a rule and a show of respect, I usually stood aside and let nature take its course, but whenever the energy became unbalanced as it was prone to do, I’d intercede and marvelous things would happen. There was pride in what I did, but also a deep reverence for the true power behind the mystic…the Spirits themselves.
Those men in my dream. They were…invaders. Nothing of them looked familiar, it was all foreign and menacing. If that type of fire broke out, well, I suppose they could have set fire to the kingdom, but our magical barriers and protective measures would surely have proven mightier than any invader. Then again, how could I know what they were capable of? Perhaps there did exist, beyond the wall we lived behind, a kingdom of stronger means than ours. But that was why the wall existed in the first place, to keep us hidden from the outside world…that world where magic could not thrive, where fantasy went to die. Long ago, we’d all been part of that Golden Age, but our cousins…they let their baser feelings take hold of them…that’s what was passed down throughout the generations, anyway.
If what transpired in my dream were any indication of times to come, then it would seem that the tales were all true. But that fire…what I asked Calliope still weighed in my mind. Why did I feel that I was responsible for it? For the very fall of my home? Did something go wrong? Did my powers betray me? Did the Spirits fail me for once? This type of senseless anxiety was getting me nowhere. I suppose the only thing I could do, was wait for the next night.
A bald man with a mustache sweats buckets under the hot blaze of Summer. His straw hat and Guayabera shirt facing a losing battle against the orange sky. A sky on fire.
A middle-aged woman stands nearby fanning herself, her teased-out cascade of dark waves tumbling onto bare shoulders marred by the occasional liver spot. The personal pocket of air she struggles to maintain with that cheap sandalwood fan is her only means of triumphing against the heavy haze of the day. Her mustard-colored halter top, a remnant of disco days long-gone, clashes with her sun-tainted skin.
Under the thatched roof of this tiki bar in the middle of nowhere…no, in the middle of somewhere, somewhere very real, strangers gather and drink and wait.
A large woman in a brightly colored, bush-like bathing cap and a navy blue bathing suit with white polka dots sips a Mai Tai that’s more fruit than fluid. Atop her plump face rests a pair of rhinestone-studded, tinted cat eye sunglasses. She lets out a muffled belch before addressing her fellow bar mates.
“I sure do wish there were a pool in these parts. Such a nice day for a dip in the pool, don’t ya think? Name’s Laura Lee, by the way. Laura Lee Fitzgerald.”
The woman spoke with a thick, guttural voice in a decidedly Midwestern accent. Upon seeing that none of the other denizens of the bar was acknowledging her, she resumed drinking her Mai Tai, through lips painted redder than a fire engine.
“A Bloody Mary, please,” said the halter-top with the fan.
“Coming up,” answered the androgynous bartender dressed in a full tuxedo with a short, fringed bob cut as blunt as their conversation.
Within seconds, a blood-red drink slides down the counter and the halter top looks longingly through the liquid at days she knew full well she would never see again.
“My hair used to be red like that. It was red…but bright! So bright. Just like this…drink,” she said as she continued to beat her fan against the stale air.
“Everything changes,” said the man in the Guayabera shirt in a thick Spanish accent.
“Boy, ain’t that the truth!” exclaimed the large woman in the bathing suit, henceforth known as Laura Lee Fitzgerald.
And again, they ignored her.
She sipped noisily, now that she’d reached the bottom of her drink. Disappointed, she pulled her lips from a straw whose tip was stained a sloppy scarlet.
Through the searing air, a pool of green-blue came into view. Laura Lee Fitzgerald brightened up at once and abandoned the remnants of her last drink there on the table.
“I knew there had to be a pool, I’m goin’ swimmin’!”
The woman ran through the thatched door, cutting her way through palm trees and bushes that seemed more rubbery than shrubbery.
Back in the bar, the halter-top who used to be a redhead, but no longer was, drank her Bloody Mary and looked out the door at the green hell that surrounded them. She hated the outdoors.
“Hey, she didn’t pay…that woman!” she commented as she fanned.
“She’ll pay,” the bartender said confidently, without looking up from the counter.
Outside, Laura Lee Fitzgerald dipped a chubby toe into the lily-pad laden, cyan waters. They were crisp, cool and chlorinated. Her kind of scene. It was a tad murky though, what with all the plant life, but still something was better than nothing.
“Nice and cool. Well…only one thing to do. Cannonball!”
The large woman pinched her greasy nose with a set of pudgy little fingers that seemed almost sausage-like. Then she launched herself like a great navy blue, polka-dotted rocket, ripping through the air in a moment of sheer rapture before hitting the seemingly bottomless depths below.
From the bar they saw it, the gigantic green maw gaping wide open and then clamping shut on a pair of bloody, flailing, fat legs.
It’s teeth were big enough to spot from miles away and vines dripped from it like an external nervous system. Satisfied, it sank back down beneath the lily-pads and poolside reeds.
The halter top downed her Bloody Mary in one fell gulp.
The man in the Guayabera lit a cigar…as Cuban as he was…he could remember.
The bartender mopped up the counter with a dirty rag, that seeped a rust-red liquid with every squeeze.
“So…what’s your poison?” in the same indifferent tone as before.
The Cuban laughed a dark cacophony as rich and loaded as the coffee he used to drink.