Thursday, August 31, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 32

"Why do they keep following us?" groaned Lulea as she and Etain rushed through the woods.

"That's their job! said the Salamander.  "I mean, wouldn't the guards you Sylphs have do the same thing?"

"We don't have guards," snapped Lulea.  "If Polychrome ever needs someone chased, she just asks one of us to do it."

"Hmm, that explains a lot," said Etain.  "Like why we're here with the mirror right now.  You Sylphs really don't plan well, do you?"

Lulea thought about arguing this, but seeing as her choices had resulted in her running through these glowing woods with Etain for company, she didn't feel confident that she could make a good one. 

"Lady Etain!" came a shout from one of the guards.  "Just turn yourself in!  Please!"

Lulea paused briefly.  "They... really seem kind of reasonable."

"All a lie," snapped Etain.

"Your brother just wants to talk to you," said the guard. 

"You have a brother?" asked Lulea.

"Salamanders can have brothers," said Etain. 

"He just worried that Vulcan's turned you against him," continued the guard.  "If you'd just show him that this wasn't the case he'd calm down.  You know that Lord Hyperion has a stressful job..."

Lulea blinked.  "Wait, Lord Hyperion is your brother?"

"Maybe the guard's talking in a metaphorical sense," suggested Etain raising one sizzling eyebrow.

"But he isn't is he?" said Lulea.

Etain glanced abashedly at the ground.  "Not, really no," she muttered.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 31

The Silver Palace hung in the air, a glittering jewel that shone with a pale light all its own.  The Sylphs who lived there all agreed it was a wonder--a marvel built for them by the Maker, to delight and cherish.  There was no place in all creation they liked more. It was a place where Sylphs could go after performing their duties to Creation and rest.

Thus they were quite shocked when the waters of the world began to shake and massive waves swat at it. 

This was startling.  Startling and new.  And as such it required an explanation.  As the waters of Creation did not do this on their own, it meant something was making them.  The obvious answer was the Undines, but most Sylphs couldn't see why they would.

The ones that did see why did nothing to shatter the former group's ignorance.  What both groups of Sylphs knew was that this changed everything.

And not in a good way.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 30

Lulea panted as she climbed the tree, which like everything else on the sun was golden, shining and much too hot.  "No," she said at length, "I have no idea what that was about?"

Etain looked down, disappointed.  "But it happened because of things you did!  You should know what it meant!"

"That would be preferable," muttered Lulea.  "But I don't."   She glared at the Salamander, while trying to maintain her unsteady perch on the branch she was presently resting on.  "I don't know a lot about this situation.  You keep promising to explain things, and then shutting up whenever you get enough time."

"Well, yes," said Etain.  "That's because I don't want you to know things!"

Lulea shut her eyes, and leaned her head back against the tree.  She could almost imagine it was comfortable, in these conditions.  "You actually tell me that."

"Well, you've clearly figured it out!" chirped Etain.  "And it's much better then telling you how Hyperion and Vulcan fought, and so when the Maker needed a job done on the world, Vulcan went there, only now he won't come back, and Hyperion is getting worried."  The Salamander gave a satisfied nod.

Lulea cracked an eye open."Well, I have to say you're full of surprises."

"Mmm-hmm," declared Etain.  "I'm like a stinging thing nest that way!"

Lulea couldn't argue with that.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 29

Etain and Lulea shuddered on the ground, as a great pillar of light rose from the mirror. "Wow, I think I was wrong!" said Etain cheerfully.  "You should wish badness on the mirror more often!  It makes it do interesting things!"

"Shut up, Etain," said the Sylph quietly.

"Right, right," answered the Salamander.  "Still--think it's a good point to make!"

"That's not..." began Lulea, only to freeze as a great black spot emerged from the center of the pillar.  It shifted strangely, only to reveal a bright spot in its center.  As she stared at it, Lulea realized it was a great eye.  And she realized that not only was she staring at it, but that it was staring at her.  She shuddered to herself.

And then it was gone--the pillar of light, the strange eye--all vanished at once.

"Well, that was interesting!" said Etain.  She pointed towards the horizon.  "Oooh!  More guards!"  The Salamander jumped up.  "Let's start running again!  Hmmm?"

"I... I should get the mirror," said Lulea, rising unsteadily to her feet.

"Yes, you do..." said Etain, already running away.

Lulea grumbled to herself, and picked up the mirror.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 28

Iris shivered as she moved through the halls of the Palace of Pearl.  Sylphs did not enjoy moving through water, though they could do it in a pinch.  She felt so uncomfortable.  Still, it was better than going underground, which is why she was trying to take Amphitrite's mirror and not Roquat's. 

She grimaced as she hit a dead end.  Did the damned Undines not understand how to make a palace?  The Palace of Pearl didn't resemble the Silver Palace at all!    Iris nodded to herself.  Just another sign of how Undines weren't as clever as Sylphs.  She'd get the mirror soon, return to Polychrome, and possibly, just possibly, no longer have the Chief Sylph hate her. 

That was very important because Polychrome was powerful, and could have a Sylph she didn't like do things like clean out the basement of the Silver Palace. Which was a very  unpleasant thing to do.

It was as she thought on how unpleasant that was that the Undine guards caught her.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 27

"And that is why, oh, great and powerful mirror, you should help us," finished Lulea.  She gave a polite cough and waited fitfully.  After several moments, she gave a frustrated groan.  "Is it doing anything?"

"It just blinked at me!" said Etain.

"That's because you just blinked," noted the Sylph.

"Ooooh, right."  Etain nodded.  "Well then no."

Lulea glared at the mirror.  "Damn it!"

"Ooooh,  now it looks really angry!" said Etain.

"I am sick of this thing," snapped Lulea.  "I need the Maker's help to get out of this mess, and if the mirror can't give it than... badness to it!"

Etain gasped.  "Oh, not badness!  That's not good!"  She wagged a finger at Lulea.  "You mustn't wish it on the mirror."

"And what's it going to do?" seethed Lulea.  "More of what it's done for the last few hours?  Absolutely nothing?"

Suddenly, the mirror began to glow.

"Ooooh," said Etain.  "It looks like your question is going to be answered."

"It was rhetorical," whispered Lulea.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 26

Polychrome paced fitfully around the throne room.  "There must be something we can do!" she stated.

"Well, I'm certain that if you begged the Maker for..." said Iris.

"By 'we', I mean 'you'," answered Polychrome flatly.

"Don't the other Chiefs have their own mirrors," noted Ushas.

Polychrome's eyes widen.  "They do!"  She frowned.  "But they are all so difficult to deal with.  And we can't go to the Salamanders.  They're all on the sun."

Ushas smiled.  "Ahh but they are not the only Chief you could go to."

Polychrome snapped her fingers.  "Of course!  The Undines and the Gnomes!  I'm sure one of them could be persuaded to... assist in this matter."  She bit her lip.  "But, no, no, Amphitrite hates me.  And Roquat is such a sneaky little thing..."

"Then perhaps you simply shouldn't ask," whispered Ushas. 

Polychrome considered that for a while.  "Yes, yes," she said at last.  "A simple... arrangement.  After all, they don't need it, the way I do."  She turned to Iris.  "You go get a mirror from one of them."

"Why me?" said Iris.

"Because I say so," replied Polychrome.

Iris stared at the chief sylph beseechingly.  "But I think this is a terrible idea!"

Polychrome stared at her balefully.  "What part of 'because I say so' don't you understand?" she stated.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 25

The pair stared into the mirror.  "So... how did it work last time?" said Etain at last.

"I looked in it, and showed me the Road," answered Lulea.  "Eventually."

Etain considered things.  "Hmmm, that sounds unduly complicated," she said at last.  "Maybe if we hit with a rock."

Lulea glanced at the Salamander.  "This is a precious treasure granted to the Chief Sylph by the Maker Herself."

"Okay, okay," muttered Etain.  "We lightly tap it with a rock."

Lulea merely stared at her.

"We tap a rock with it," said Etain.  Lulea still did not reply.  "We lean it against a rock."

"Why does a rock have to be involved with this?" snapped Lulea.

"They just solve things!" said Etain.  "You wouldn't believe how many things you can handle by bringing rocks into the equation.  It boggles the mind!"

Lulea stared at her flatly.  "Give me an example.  Just one."

Etain grinned.  "Easy.  This other Salamander was bothering me.  So I..."

"Stop it right there," said Lulea raising her hand.

"Ahh, but it's a neat story!" said Etain. 

"Nope," said Lulea.  "I've gotten the gist of it."

"There's barely any blood in it!" offered Etain eagerly.

"Still no," said Lulea flatly.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 24

"And here we are!" declared Etain grandly as she stepped out into the light.  "Outside again!"

Lulea winced in the bright glare.  "Excellent," she muttered through clenched teeth.

"Yeah, it is pretty great," agreed Etain. 

"So what's the plan now?" asked Lulea, trying to hide in the shade of a tree--difficult because trees on the sun didn't give off shade but glowed with a sparkling light.

"We run and hide some more!" answered Etain. 

Lulea stared at the Salamander.  "That's it?"

"I know!" said Etain grinning ear to ear.  "It's simple--but elegant.  It's perfect."

"Well, I'll give you... simple," muttered Lulea.  "I just wish you had something... more detailed."

"Give me a break!" said Etain with a shrug.  "It's not like I've got that mirror of yours to help get me out of this situation!"

Lulea blinked.  "Ahh, yes.  That."  She drew the mirror out of her shift.

"You still have it?" said Etain.  "And you haven't tried to use it?"

"I barely know how!" snapped Lulea.

"Yes... but... you were in a prison," said Etain.  "You had a better chance to try than when you were in the air with the... thingys."

"Birds," noted Lulea.  "They were birds."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Whither Goes the WInd--Part 23

"Have to say I'm impressed," noted Etain as the pair wended their way through the tunnel.  "Most Salamanders just lose it in there.  All dark and cold."  She shuddered.

"Yes," said Lulea.  "I have nerves of steel, under it all."

"Oh, I can tell," agreed Etain.  "I'm glad to have gained you as an ally.  It's the only hope I have in this terrible situation I'm in."

"Is there any chance I could get some details on this situation?" asked Lulea.

"What situation?" asked Etain cheerily.

Lulea froze for a moment.  "You just... mentioned one..."

"Did I?" asked Etain.

"Yes," snapped Lulea.

"Oh," replied the Salamander with a nod.  "If you say so, I must have.  I get distracted easily and forget things."

Lulea gulped as she realized that not only was her existence in this being's hands, but that she had no way to be sure if Etain was lying or not.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 22

The oubliette had quickly proven at least partially a pleasant surprise to Lulea's mind.  It was a small, cool, darkened chamber, apparently one of the only places on the sun that didn't glow with unbearable light and give off an unpleasant heat.  The Sylph was enjoying it, and taking the time to enjoy as much of a nap as she could.

As her thoughts were routinely haunted by the thought that she was likely going to be taken from the place soon it wasn't much of one, but in these circumstances every little thing counted, to Lulea's mind.  And so she tried to wear down this fretful wakefulness by count numbers forwards, and sometimes backwards, despite the rather poor performance of this plan.

"Are you counting?" said a familiar voice.  "Because noonteenth is not a number."

"Etain!" declared Lulea brightly.  "I thought you'd abandoned me!"

"I did," answered the Salamander.  "But then I felt guilty about it.  You did help me after all."

Lulea smiled at that.  "Why yes, I most certainly..."

"Even if you did try to betray me to the guards back in the woods," stated Etain cheerfully.

"Ahh, yes," muttered Lulea, glancing away.  "Sorry about that..."

"Oh,  you can't help it!" said Etain.  "You Sylphs are so funny looking, I'm not surprised at anything you do."  She turned away.  "Now come on!  I happen to know a secret way out of here from the last time I was here!"

As Lulea followed the Salamander, still trying to figure out the exact extent of the insult Etain had previously uttered, it occurred to her that Etain had once again let drop some rather disturbing information, when it was considered.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 21

Lulea glanced around the throne room.  It was arguably the brightest, most golden section of the sun she'd been in yet.  Which was saying something, as the sun was proving to be so very bright and golden that she would happily live in a dark spot with no gold at all for the rest of her days.

And as a Sylph, she'd been given to understand that in most circumstances, the rest of her days would be a long, long time.

As she managed to focus her eyes on the throne before her, she saw that it had an occupant, a tall male Salamander who seemed to gleam almost as much as the room.  It didn't take her much effort to guess who he was.  "So," said Lord Hyperion, "this is Lady Etain's little... ally, hmm?"

Lulea's escort all fidgeted at this.  "So far as we can tell," stated one.

Hyperion leaned forward.  "Well, then, Sylph, answer me--are you in the employ of my brother?  And has Etain betrayed me to serve him?"

Lulea gulped.  "Ummm... I have no idea about any of this, and am badly out of my depth."  She managed a hopeful smile.  "How's that for an answer?"

"Take her to the oubliette!" declared Hyperion.

"Yeah, that's what I thought," said Lulea, glancing at the horribly bright floor.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 20

Lulea trudged along, arms bound behind her back, Salamanders flanking her.  She glanced side to side trying to get some lay of the land. It was hopeless, however--the sun was simply so... different from what she was used to that trying to figure out where she might be was impossible.  She let out a cough.

"So... where are you taking me?" she asked.

"Prisoners don't talk," said a Salamander.

"Orders of Lord Hyperion!" noted another.

"So--you're taking me to Lord Hyperion?" she asked.

One of the Salamanders let out a disgruntled sigh.  "You really don't take hints, do you, thingy?"

"I think it's a Sylph!" said the second Salamander who'd spoken. 

"Well, it shouldn't be here!" noted another.  "And what was it doing with Lady Etain?  That was damned suspicious to my mind?"

"We really shouldn't be talking like this," noted the first Salamander.  "Might give it ideas."

As the group continued again in silence, Lulea had to admit she was not reassured by what she'd heard in the least.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Whither Goes the Wind--Part 19

The steady peal of the bell rang out on the plains of the Sun as Etain and Lulea raced away.  "Well, it sure is loud," said the Salamander.  "It really makes you admire Lord Hyperion's skills as a planner, eh?  I mean, I would never have thought to prepare for a potential rebellion right off the get go, but he did!"

Lulea grimaced.  "You know, I preferred it when you were miserable!"

"Well, duh! You were in your Sylph home!" said Etain.  "Every thing was happy for you there!  Just like everything is happy for me here!"

"We're running from your own leader's people!" snapped Lulea, stopping to pause near an outcropping.

Etain shrugged.  "I meant aside from that.  This is where we're supposed to be, no matter what Vulcan says!  We feel better here!"

"You keep mentioning Vulcan," said Lulea.  "I'm starting to think he's pretty damn important."

"To us," answered Etain.  "Not to you.  And we should get moving again, I think..." 

"I still need to catch my breath," muttered Lulea.  "Which is a new experience for me let me..."  The sound of tramping feet interrupted her.  A group of Salamanders rushed into view, and leveled their spears at her.  Lulea panicked.  "No, no, you want..." she began, gesturing to where Etain had been.  The young Salamander was gone.  Lulea wilted and fell to the ground in exhaustion and despair.  "Of course," she muttered. 

As the guards approached, she realized that the ground here was uncomfortably warm.