Saturday, July 29, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 18

"See!" said Etain spreading her hands wide.  "Isn't exactly as I said?"

Lulea squinted--the Bell was like everything on the sun exceedingly shiny.  "Yes.  Great and golden and... bell-shaped," she muttered.  "What's it for?"

Etain stared at her, baffled. "What?"

"Why do you have a massive golden bell here?" asked Lulea.  "I assume it's got some purpose, besides... you know... existing?"

Etain's stare shifted to blank puzzlement.  "I have no idea, and have never asked."  She turned to the Bell. "I mean, why would I?  It's just... great!  This is the neatest thing on the sun! We all love it!  We come here and stare at it, for hours on end!"

Lulea nodded.  "You Salamanders have very dull lives."

"Only on the sun," said Etain, glancing on the doorway.  "Now come on, let's move.  Some more people have come in."

"What you're not going to give me time to... take this in," snapped Lulea.

"No, because that plan I mentioned of avoiding Hyperion involves avoiding people in general..." said Etain, as she rushed the Sylph out of the chamber.  "He can get real upset when people do that.  Unpleasantly so."  A loud ringing started behind them.  "Hmm.  So THAT'S what it's for!"

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 17

Lulea came to with a sudden feeling of warmth surrounding her.  Her eyes opened unsteadily, and then shut again--wherever she happened to be right now gleamed in a way that hurt them.  Eventually she managed to get them open again.  She was in a place of rolling golden hills, and shining red lakes, a place that sizzled and snapped.  "Oh, you're up!" came a familiar voice that seemed... slightly deeper then she remembered.  "That's good!  Welcome to the sun!"

The Sylph turned to see Etain standing nearby.  At least, she assumed it was Etain--the Salamander she remembered was tiny but this one was far larger than Lulea.  Still the face was the same... "Are you... Etain's sister?" she asked--that seemed like a probable answer.

"Oh no! It's me!" said Etain cheerily.  "Here on the sun, we don't have to worry about food, so we can let ourselves be as big as we want!"  The Salamander gave a cheerful nod.  "It's so much more pleasant than being tiny!" 

Lulea nodded.  "Ahh.  Well..."

"So do you want to see something around here?" asked Etain companionably.  "I mean, you're the first Sylph to visit here, so I'm sure you'll find plenty of things interesting!  We could visit the Great Golden Bell!  Or the Eye of Wisdom!"

Lulea fidgeted uncomfortably--this place felt wrong to her.  "That...  Don't you have a message for Lord... Whathisname?"

"Hyperion," said Etain.  "And yes, but it can wait.  Because it's bad news, and I don't think he would react well to it.  He'd probably make me go back to the World again, and I really don't want that."

Lulea simply stared for a moment.  "So... a Great Golden Bell?"

"Yes.  It's very great.  And also golden," stated Etain.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 16

Polychrome glanced around the field.  "She was... just here!  And then she vanished!"  The Chief Sylph stomped her foot on the ground.  "Oooh, this is so infuriating!  Things should stay where they are when I want them to stay there!"  She glanced at her retinue.

The three Sylphs quickly nodded in agreement.  "Especially traitors," said Ushas.

"Indeed," said Polychrome.  "Very good Ushas.  A significant improvement from you."

"I aspire for your approval, Shining One!" said Ushas with a bow.

"As well you should," noted Polychrome with a nod.  She folded her arms.  "This is most grave.  Having stolen the mirror--why, Lulea has committed a crime against what was ordained by the Maker..."

"Of course, there is the question of what you are going to do about the loss of an important item given to you by the Great Maker," muttered Iris.

Polychrome's head snapped toward the smaller Sylph.  "What was that?"

"I was merely speculating how best to serve the Maker," said Iris, glancing away.

Polychrome narrowed her eyes.  "How admirable," she said.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 15

The image shone in the mirror, like a vast thread of gold waving in the wind, reaching into the heavens, seemingly for miles.  "So that's it?" whispered Lulea.

"The Golden Road," said Etain, her voice full of awe.

"Hmmm, don't know about that name," said Lulea.  "Oh, it's golden all right, but not much of a road."  The Salamander looked at Lulea in what appeared to be irritation to the Syph's eyes.  "Well I mean--why not the Golden Rope?"  Etain continued to stare.   "But then, who am I to judge?"  She placed the Salamander on the ground. "Anyway, here we are."

The Salamander made a slight bow, and tottered over to the Golden Road.  She grasped it in a tiny claw, a thick strand of it shimmering into view even without the mirror's aid.  She turned to regard Lulea for a moment.  "Thank you.  You were very kind."

"Oh, it was no problem," said Lulea, as the Salamander turned back and began to glide up the Golden Road.  Lulea smiled brightly, turned, and saw Polychrome flying towards her, accompanied by several rather angry looking Sylphs.  Lulea gulped then rushed towards the Golden Road and grasped it with both hands.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 14

"I am now absolutely certain this is a bad idea!" said Etain, as she and Lulea sped through the air, the Salamander clinging to the Sylph's back for dear life.

"Hey, you wanted to find the Golden Road!" said Lulea eyes flickering between the mirror and what was in front of her.  "This is how we'll do it!  And then, I'll return the mirror, and everything will be fine!"

"We've been gone for hours!" said Etain.  "They'll have noticed it's gone!"

"That's for me to worry about!" shouted Lulea.  "You'll be safe home!  Toasty and warm!"

"Except you don't seem to be finding the Golden Road!" snapped Etain.

"I am working on it!" replied Lulea.  "I really though the mirror would be easier to use!  Maybe..."   She began to shake it fervently.

The Salamander blinked.  "You really have no idea how to use it?"

"Oh, I have an idea," said Lulea.  "It's just... vague.  And completely untested."

Etain was silent for a moment, and then let out a scream.  "Flying feathered thing!" she shouted.

"I told you the last five times, they're birds!" said Lulea as she dodged it.

"Yes, yes, I'm certain it will sink in eventually," muttered Etain, tightening her grip on Lulea's back.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 13

Polychrome strode into the throne room, yawning, several retainers trailing behind her.  "I tell you, these duties are driving me to distraction!" She sighed.  "I almost wish I had not been chosen to be Chief Sylph..."

"Really?" said one.  "Because I..."

"Almost Iris," said Polychrome.  "However, as irritating as it is for me, no other Sylph is up to the job."  She turned and snorted.  "Why look at you!  Listless and witless, the lot of you!  What would you do without my direction?"  There was an awkward silence. Polychrome stared at them, glaring. "I asked a question.  Why aren't you answering?"

One of the Sylphs coughed.  "We thought it was rhetorical, Shining One..."

"See, that's exactly what I'm talking about, Ushas!" snapped Polychrome.  "These weird failures on your part!  Why any of you people imagine you could manage to guard the mirror, for example..." she noted turning to the cupboard.    She stared at it a moment.  "Iris, am I imagining things or is the cupboard open?"

"It most certainly is, Shining One," agreed Iris quietly.

"And the mirror is gone?" asked Polychrome.

"I would assume so," noted Ushas.  "I mean--I've never seen it, because you've never shown it to me, or... any of us, so far as I know..."

"I wasn't talking to you," hissed Polychrome.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 12

"Are you sure this is wise?" whispered Etain.

"Of course it is," said Lulea as she clambered uneasily on the wall.  "The Maker left us the mirror to help us fix problems, and that is exactly what I am doing."  She gave a sudden yelp as she nearly lost her grip on a buttress.

"Can't you just fly?" asked the Salamander.

"Not here!" hissed the Sylph.  "Anyway, stop distracting me.  I need to focus."

"Well, it just--what you said sounds rather self-serving..." muttered Etain.

"Oh, who's the one doing secret work for its boss involving said-boss' sibling?" murmured Etain.

"Hey, I'm a her!" said Etain.  "Same as you!"

Lulea blinked.  "I'm sorry, but I had a hard time telling..."

"You Sylphs are so mean," muttered the Salamander.  "Are you going to tell me all Salamanders look alike next?"

"Well, you are all kind of little and orange," noted Lulea as she reached the cabinet and cracked it open.

"And you people are all kind of big and... sort of bluish," snapped Etain.  She turned to stare at the mirror.  After a moment, her mouth opened wide. "It's so... shiny..."

"It certainly is," whispered Lulea.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 11

Polychrome stared at the large statue of ice before her, pacing about it.  "Hmmm.  I would say.. this doesn't quite capture my... spirit," she declared at last.  She turned to the nervous Sylphs shifting about nearby.  "Wouldn't you agree?"

"Oh, yes, yes, yes, my Lady," answered one.  "It was a total error on our parts!  A total failure!  I told everyone we were going on a wrong path!"  She pointed at another.  "It was Ariel's fault!  All of it!  Completely and utterly his!"

Ariel seemed about to protest when the door to the Great Hall suddenly snapped open.   Lulea stood there, her face grave. "Shining One, I require the use of your Mirror as regards Eta... the Salamander problem.  Could I...?"

"No," stated Polychrome abruptly. 

Lulea gulped and looked about awkwardly.  "Oh."

"Now, as you are interrupting an important discussion," said Polychrome, "I suggest you leave immediately, before I become upset."  Lulea bowed swiftly and ducked out.  Polychrome gave a nod, and then turned to Ariel.  "Now then, as for you... the lower levels do require some cleaning..."

Ariel whimpered.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 10

Lulea sat with the little Salamander, whose name she'd learned at last was Etain, on the roof of the Silver Tower, their eyes on the sun.  Etain merrily munched on its straw, a contented smile on its face.  "So... that's where you're from?" said the Sylph half hoping to be told there was a mistake.

Etain nodded.  "It's very nice there.  Lord Hyperion keeps everything very bright, the way it should be!  And warm!  Toasty warm!  And, oh, we can walk about free, not like Vulcan's place."

Lulea blinked at that.  "Vulcan?  Who's that?"

Etain seemed to be aware that it had made an error.  "Lord Hyperion's brother.  We don't talk about him."  It looked away.

"But you have visited him?" asked Lulea.

"Only for a little while," muttered Etain.  "He was mean.  And when I wanted to use the Golden Road to return home, I couldn't find it again!"  The little Salamander gulped as the Sylph loomed over it.

"Go on," said Lulea.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 9

Polychrome paced around the Great Hall of the Silver Tower.  "This is... bothersome," she declared aloud, despite the room being empty except for herself.  The truth was that Polychrome was quite used to having people about her and thus tended to act as if they were there even when they weren't.  "This Salamander shouldn't be here!  The Great Maker made it a nice home, and it should be there... doing whatever it is Salamanders do!"  She stomped her feet.  "Oooh.  I tell you, when the Maker made me Chief of the Sylphs, I assumed things would be more pleasant."

The Sylph looked around the room, then glanced at a large cabinet at the end of the hall.  She bit her lip.  "Perhaps... Perhaps I should contact the Maker.  She did say that we could do so in emergencies..."  She shook her head.  "No.  No!  The mirror is for dire need!  Not... annoying little Salamanders being annoying."  The Chief Sylph gave a fervent nod.  "I mustn't fail in my grand task!  It would disappoint the Maker!"

She turned to see Lulea standing there, holding a great mass of something that looked suspiciously like grass.  Polychrome stared at her balefully. "What are you doing here?  And... what is that in your hands?"

"It's... straw," said Lulea.  "I... I really don't know what coal is, and..."  The lower-ranking Sylph gulped then rushed out of the Great Hall.  Polychrome grumbled to herself as she left, wondering if perhaps there was some other place far away she could send Lulea to.  Taking care of her fellows was one of her duties as Chief Sylph, after all.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 8

Lulea tread lightly through the halls of the Silver Tower, the whimpering Salamander still in her arms.  "Now then," she whispered, "if you keep being quiet like this I'll..."  The Sylph blinked.  She really hadn't thought ahead to what she would do.  "Give you something you like to eat," she declared at last.  "Assuming you Salamanders like to eat."

"A bit of coal is nice," said the Salamander.  "Or... straw, if you don't have it."

Lulea paused.  "You can talk!"

The Salamander nodded.  "Well, yes.  I... I've understood what you've said so far, haven't I?"  The creature shivered.  "Please miss, I am so very cold.  Everything is so strange here, strange and dark and... chilly."

"Well, I suppose I can give you some blankets," said Lulea, as she continued to her room.

"What's a blanket?" asked the Salamander suspiciously.

"It's a..."  She sighed.  "I'll show you.  Easier to trying to figure out the words, I suppose."

"You're much nicer than the other one!" said the Salamander.  "Even if she is shinier!"  A patronizing smile came to the little creature's face.  "But then, I guess that's not something you can change, is it?"

Lulea considered that for a moment.  "Thank you for the... kind thought," she said at last.  "I guess."

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 7

"Most unreasonable," snapped Polychrome, as she reentered the Silver Tower.  "And uncouth!"  She turned to regard her aides.  "I tell you that little creature is the most... disgusting little thing I have yet to deal with!"  She stomped her foot.  "All that moaning!  As if it isn't the little thing's own fault it's here!"

Lulea entered with the Salamander nestling in her arms.  The creature still wept and screamed.  "We don't know that," she whispered.

Polychrome whipped around and glared at her subordinate.  "What was that?  Did I hear you disagree with your superior?  Did I?"

"Ummm, I was just... it..." began Lulea nervously, as the salamander yelled louder.

"Exactly what I thought," declared Polychrome with a lordly smirk.  "Because of this insubordination, I leave figuring out what to do about this thing to you."

"But... but... I came to you for help..." whimpered Lulea.

"Yes," replied Polychrome as she stomped away.  "That was your first mistake."

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 6

Polychrome glanced around the grove with an expression of distaste.  "So, this is the Great Continent."  She clicked her tongue.  "I have to say it's not quite as grand as I would have thought."  She looked at her Sylph retainers apologetically.  "Not that I would dare criticize the work of our Great Maker, blessed beyond all others, but..."  She shrugged.  "Well, this is one of the less pleasant parts of it.  To my taste at least."   She turned to Lulea and smiled.  "Now then, my dear, where is this Salamander of yours...."

 Lulea walked towards the tree and glanced inside, seeing the Salamander still within, weeping quietly now.  "Here it  is," she said to her superior.  "I think it's tired."

Polychrome forced a grin on her face as she regarded the little being.  "Hello there," said the Grand Sylph.  "Little thing."  The Salamander looked up at her, clearly puzzled.  "You should not be here.  You do know that, correct?"

The Salamander blinked and then began to bawl.

"Most unreasonable," muttered Polychrome, frowning to herself.