December 11, 2015 at 3:53 pm #1678
Caris blushes and lowers her eyes in embarrassment. “Apologies, Lay Yu.. I must confess that I am out of sorts these past few days…” Caris looks up at her trying to keep the giddy smile from her face, but succeeds miserably. “I’m afraid it’s quite obvious that I’m overwhelmingly taken by your brother, isn’t it?”
Caris does another turn in the dance, carefully measuring Lay Yu’s reaction, while trying to not make things awkward. “I hope you don’t disapprove, do you?”December 11, 2015 at 4:10 pm #1679
“My approval process is already well underway”
She smiles as she speaks over the music.
“You are beautiful, brave, blessed, and you came to the aid of my people in a time of need, and you’re a good dancer too….I can’t find fault in you Caris” She is silent for a moment.
“You have my approval.
…but keeping it depends on how you treat him. He is taken with you aswell. I do not know if you seek a fling or a match of hearts…truthfully, my brother could use either, but either way, do not lead him on. You’ve made him all awkward and drunk on this smile of yours…do not be cruel to him, and do not lie to me, and we will be the best of friends”December 11, 2015 at 5:09 pm #1680
Caris takes note of what she said. She hugs Lay Yu warmly and says “My sweet sister, it’s against my nature to be cruel or to lie, to anyone let alone the people I care about” and she pauses a moment and looks Lay Yu directly in the eye, “Your brother and I had an experience… unlike no other. Something passed between us on a spiritual level and I now feel this incredible bond with him. I’m drawn to him in the most profound way. This feeling.. it’s so hard to explain, but I can’t help but think there is so much more to the story between him and I. Now that I know he feels the same, I will speak with him.” Caris smiles broadly and kisses her on the cheek “and thank you for the approval!”December 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm #1681
“Lady” You feel a presence behind you, like a wave of heat through your body just as you hear the voice of Daidoji. He is closer now than you realized, a step behind you among all the dancing revelers.
Lay Yu Whirls you away and around so that you can see him over her shoulder, and turns her own head back his way.
“Which one of us are you addressing Handsome sir?” and she playfully kicks at his high black boots with her velvet slippers as she dances, whipping her head back to you with a mischievous grin, she spins the two of you another time with the precision of an expert dancer, so that your back is facing the Lord of Shen Ling again.
“He’s blushing, I’m trying to save him some face” , she whispers in your ear
“…we have names brother, or are we two beautiful maids only worthy of “Lady”, and she imitates his deep, measured voice with a playful grin, looking over your shoulder at him. You can feel him just a foot behind you and he finally laughs at his sisters jabs, exasperated.
“That’s all I wanted brother, loosen up! You have lorded these past weeks as much as a man might lord, time to just be a man at a dance! Miss Ambrodel, I believe this man is trying to ask you to a dance, will you accept?”December 11, 2015 at 9:34 pm #1682
Caris breathlessly looks once more at Lay Yu as she taunts her brother, she turns and finds herself face to face with Daidoji once again. The surrounding festivities fall away as she takes him in.. this man… what is it about him that has her in this state?? This is’t like her… calm, stoic Caris (yes, she had a moment with the Pine brothers… but for the most part.. she’s been pretty chaste) This man.. he’s different.. yet kindred. She feels he is as much a part of her as she is feeling for this land.
“Hello Sir…. have you come to ask me for a dance?”December 12, 2015 at 7:49 am #1684
“I’d be delighted” Caris looks deep into his kind eyes, she feels lost in them. The vibration and energy between them is like an Alex Gray painting. Caris smiles, “your sister is most lovely, I really enjoyed her company. I can tell she cares for you very much.”December 12, 2015 at 8:33 am #1685
He smiles and puts his hands on your waist as the dance calls for.
Just before he does so, he lets the clay cup in his hands slip and shatter on the ground.
His touch is light but firm. Your hands go up, one upon his, and the other arm laid upon his arm with your hand on his shoulder. You feel held within a perfect frame.
You close your eyes for a long moment as you realize there is nothing words can do, and you get lost in the music. You’re feet seem to carry you through the motions on their own, and his hands become the center of your universe.
Among the pulsing, haunting, beautiful music you hear another cup break somewhere with the high yet muted sound of cracking clay, it’s a dull yet metallic sound. The clay of the cups is made hard yet brittle, and you can feel fragments under your slippered feet as you dance. They don’t cut, merely crack and crumble as you hear another cup drop. Then a chorus of dull clangs and muted cracks can be heard, as dozens break their cups in the course of a few seconds. Slowly your eyes open at the sound as if slowly waking from a dream, and you realize the entire gathering has stopped and circled around you, their jaws dropped in awe as yours has so many times in the past days. Eyes wide, and many teared up with happiness, smiles stuck on faces, and all you can see have dropped their cups, all at the sight of your dance. The two of you have stopped the party…turned all heads.
“Come back to me my lady, just close your eyes” Daidoji whispers, his eyes are closed, but he speaks as if he already knows what you are seeing. You are surprised at how easy it is to listen to him, at how easy it is to be the center of attention when he is there with you. You embrace the moment and let yourself resume the dance, this time adding a little flourish to the moves, so subtle and composed yet hinted with attitude, and you feel yourself blush a little at yourself as you do so and the crowd explodes with cheers and cries of “Caris!!” that erupt through the music. You get lost again in the moment for who knows how long, drifting in a glow.
The music picks up and suddenly you are aware of others dancing around you again. A burning hand touches your cheek and you know to open your eyes. Daidoji is looking right into them and you melt a bit.
“Now that the others are with us we’d better keep our eyes open to see where we’re going” he smiles as he returns the other hand back to your hip, and both hands become just a little tighter, and it makes you swoon just a little, as the pace picks up and Daidoji flawlessly leads you through the steps, encouraging you with his smiles. There are smiles all around you, as you dance the night away.December 12, 2015 at 9:09 am #1686
A few nights later….
Resplendent in her magnificent backless evening gown, smiling and exuberant in the aftermath of another fine evening of feasting and dancing with the Lord of Shin Ling, and her friends. Caris closes the door to her rooms behind her and sweeps through the darkened rooms, her long thick hair billowing out behind her, its russet tones darker still in the shadowed rooms. Not even stopping to put up a light she headed straight for the balcony to open the fusty room to the late night air and the lovely moon.
Throwing open the double doors she strides out onto the balcony, a goddess in green and gold, overlooking the breathtaking view of the glorious city scape. The fresh night air gently cooling her wine, dance and adoration flushed skin. The city is bejeweled in lanterns a sea of colors, with bright fire flies swirling here and there as if in competition with the lanterns but all paling before the majesty of the divine moon. The great homes, pagodas and dojos of the city glittering in the night lights. The brisk night air bringing the welcoming scents of jasmine and cherry blossom, cedar and pine. The sights and sounds of the magical evening giving rise to a feeling of wonder and impossibility within her, spirits soaring.
“Quite a night, Lady Ambrodel.” Grey whispers from the darkness behind her, causing Caris to jump and whirl around. To find Grey gliding towards her from within her rooms, in his austere grey Benedictine style robes, his silver hair pulled back over his pointed ears but otherwise unbound, even to Caris’ hawk like vision he appears as nothing more than a faint ghost until he crosses the threshold onto the balcony and into the silvery moonlight.
Grey glides up to the railing beside her, ignoring her obvious agitation,
“Such an exquisite view. Then again, for a city as semi secluded and as rich in history as this, we should expect nothing less. I have similar view in mind for the future of Fan Lu. I wish my home safety and prosperity and, I know that without a doubt, it will be so with my presence there, where I can make the difference to my people.”
In his soft voice, the genuine determination and resolution of his vision coming through to Caris clearly, somewhat easing her agitation she turns to lean against the rail beside Grey.
“We are like those stars, my dear,” He says pointing up at the bright stars overhead. “We live our lives in one bright spot at a time, traveling through the unknown darkness from the next and the next and so on and so forth. Only seeing the patterns when we stop to look back. There is your constellation” He whispers pointing off to the eastern sky, “The celestial archer. Look at all those bright spots that make up the wondrous pattern. From one to another and on until the pattern has been completed.” Grey lets his voice fade and silence reigns for a moment.
Grey turns away leaning his back against the railing and looking into the darkness of Caris’ rooms behind them. Special rooms in the palace, a gift from The Lord of Shin Ling, ostensibly rooms befitting her glorious stature and rank but more likely than not just to have her closer to him.
“And then what? Blindly into the unknown again to trek from bright spot to bright spot again forming a new pattern? Or do we eventually become content with a specific pattern and our places within it. You for example. The golden lady of Shen Ling Reborn, the victorious heroin and vanquisher of Grimeye.” He continues on voice low and steady.
“She who returned the unicorn to the land. High Priestess of Elhonna, probably the greatest Holy Woman in these southlands. She whose story grows daily. This land is such a balanced combination of elven and human, a land where your own faith is on par with that of the indigenous gods and spirits. A land where Elhonna has been accepted by the faiths and peoples of Yun Shan. Probably because she did not come as a usurper full of righteous fury and crusader mentality, she came gently and sought not to dominate the local religions but to blend with them to become part of something greater. I can tell you know that there is no other place in Yun Shan like this, probably even in the whole of our world.” Grey says, the awe and respect for Shen Ling evident, as they both turn back to the remarkable view of Shen Ling. Grey placing one remarkably warm hand low upon Caris’ back.
“Sometimes the Gods, the Spirits, Destiny, Fate whatever you wish to call it, shows us the pattern and its end. A unique kindness I think. Sometimes we see it for ourselves.” He pauses here for a moment overcome for a moment by the weight of what he is sharing, “In my travels I have witnessed once or twice a place where I could have stopped. I could have hung up my hat and been happy, content even, instead I chose to forge on. I now look back at those times and am left to wonder “what If?” Grey finishes slowly turning away placing his hands back into the sleeves of his somber robes leaving Caris to ponder his quiet words.
Lost in the myriad of thoughts suddenly evoked by her strange friend and just before her keen hearing registered the sound of the doors to her suite closing she heard Grey quiet clearly
“ …and the Lord of Shen Ling is an awfully handsome fellow.”
The obvious humor and goodwill managed to resonate the distance before the door closed.
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