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|Here we learn a little bit more about the Dialos, not a lot granted, but a little. Next bit on Garnor's story.||
When Garnor woke, he found himself in a vast chamber. There were only two colours visible in the room, silver and black, but they were so elegantly used in such intricate patterns that it seemed that they were more than adequate. To his right was an open window that spread in a soft curve across the wall. Silver curtains of a mist like material hung in front of it, blowing in the cool breeze. In front of him was a small desk and a set of shelves full of black leather-bound books gilded with silver. To his left was a large door that looked very heavy. It was closed so he could not see where it led to, but there was nothing barring the way out. He was lying in a large, canopied bed. To the immediate left was a small table with a little oil lamp as well as the belt he had been wearing when he came to this place. Startled he noticed he was no longer wearing his white clothes, but was dressed in a simple garment of black. He assumed all his clothes had been disposed of except his belt. Apparently whoever had taken care of him thought it to be of enough value to salvage. It was, after all, woven of pure silver and marked with the embossed crest of his people.
At the thought of his... life, his eyes widened. Did they know he was dead? What had happened to the group who had committed his murder? What of... what of his father? He tried to picture what his father would do when he heard the news, but found he couldn’t. He couldn’t recall the name of his father, of his home, of his people... he couldn’t remember their faces or dwellings. He couldn’t remember his own body. He was very alarmed discovering this and sought something to distract him, to keep him from panic. Looking around the room, his eyes focused on the canopy above him.
It was made of folds of black fabric with knots of silver feigning stars, but he saw that the canopy seemed only partially real, as if he could put his hand through it. Curious, he looked down at himself and found he was covered with a blanket of a similar fabric. He eased himself into a sitting position, grateful for the soft pillow behind him, and examined the blanket more closely. It was warm, but very thin and light. True to his assumption, his hand was immersed in its substance, but did not go all the way through. He had never seen anything like it.
“It’s woven of shadow.”
The voice made Garnor jump even though he recognized it to be Alranos’. Sure enough, he saw the man walking into the room. “Shadow?”
Alranos looked amused as he closed the door behind him. “Yes, shadow. You’re no longer in that world, Garnor, you’ll find there are some things that are different here. Many things that were impossible there are not only possible, but every day things here.”
“Like cloth woven of shadow.” Garnor said, fascinated.
“Yes, like cloth woven from shadow.” Alranos walked over to the bed and sat on its edge. He seemed less majestic in this light, and somewhat different. For one thing, the mounds of light absorbing dark that had been behind him were gone. He also had removed his veil and cloak, but still wore a black robe. Garnor could see his face now, well sculpted and pale like his hands. His eyes, however, remained in shadow. On purpose? Garnor couldn’t tell. “So, how are you feeling?” Alranos was saying. “You’ve been unconscious for four days.”
“Four days?” Garnor exclaimed, surprised.
Alranos nodded, “It takes some time to adjust to being dead, Garnor, especially in your case having lost so much blood.”
Garnor shook his head. “That’s longer than I expected. I feel a little weak, but otherwise fine. Thirsty.”
Alranos smiled. “Of course you are, hungry as well I’d guess.”
“Do you think you can walk?”
Garnor moved his legs under the blanket, testing them, and nodded.
“Good.” Alranos stood and walked to a wardrobe standing in the far right corner. He selected a long, loose robe similar to his own, and a pair of sandals. He began to reach for a belt, but stopped and gestured towards the belt on the table. “Do you want to wear that?”
Garnor looked carefully at his old belt and leaning over, took it in his hands. Stroking the smooth silver plait with his thumb he nodded. “Yes, yes I would.”
Alranos laid the garment on the bed. “Very well. I will be waiting outside.” he looked once more at Garnor and walked out of the room.
Garnor sighed heavily and after letting his hand sink once more into the shadow blanket pulled it aside and let his feet fall to the floor. He shivered. It was cold without the blanket and the floor was as ice. Hurriedly he shed the garments he was in and put on the robe Alranos had selected. It was light, yes, but like the blanket, very warm. As he buckled the silver belt around his waist he marveled at the intricate silver embroidery bordering the hem and his sleeves. The fabric was of the purest black he had seen, much deeper in hue than the finest black cloth he had seen. He slipped into the sandals and was immediately cushioned from the floor’s chill. He was still marveling at the dark of the fabric and at its embroidery as he opened the door.
“What is this fabric?” he asked Alranos who, true to his word, was waiting in the hall outside his door.
“Shadow, but dyed with the same essence night itself. It is nearly the finest material here.”
Garnor was amazed. What could be finer than this? It was so soft and light, yet so warm; but warm as it was he didn’t doubt that were the weather hotter, it would seem cool.
Alranos smiled again seeing Garnor so enthralled by something so ordinary and started down the long hall. “You’ll be seeing many new things here, Garnor, but there is time for a proper tour later. For now, I’m taking you to the kitchens where we can get you something sustaining.”
Garnor followed Alranos in silence, looking all around him with awe. He knew in his life he lived in a well to do house, but those scattered memories paled in comparison to this finery. Everywhere he looked was worked silver in patterns so intricate he felt he could look at them for eternity and still miss details from them. Tapestries with equally embroidered patterns lined the walls, spaced by pedestals holding figures sculpted of jet, obsidian, and silver. He could barely take it all in when they rounded a corner and came to a small courtyard.
He couldn’t move it was so beautiful.
The ceiling opened to an ebony sky with scatterings of silver stars in patterns he had never seen, but they were so elegantly spaced they caught his breath. He felt he could look at them for eternity, but curiosity nagged at him. He wanted to see the rest of the courtyard. When he could tear his eyes from the night sky, he noticed the gardens surrounding him. Flowers of such beauty that the most perfect rose seemed mangled, filled the air with a delicate scent. They were of all colours, but mostly blue and silver, and sprang up in well thought out patterns that guided his eyes to the center of the yard where the masterpiece of the garden was.
It was a fountain of shimmering water planned so perfectly that it made no sound. The water seemed to glide from the base of the fountain into a smooth arc and then meld back into the moonlit pool below. The water itself seemed to be made of molten silver light, its glass-like surface reflecting the moon perfectly and completely. The base was completely hidden by unblemished white lilies which whispered in the soft breeze created by the falling water. Lilies, he remembered lilies... in the field. It was so beautiful. He could do nothing but stand in awe.
“Do you like it?”
For a moment Garnor couldn’t answer Alranos’ query. Even after a few voiceless attempts he could only nod.
Alranos looked wistfully over the flowers and walked silently to the ring of lilies. He reached out with a pale hand and let it cradle one flawless blossom. “Good. It was made for you, you know.”
Garnor looked at him, slightly confused by this. “For me?” He whispered
Alranos continued to look at the flower. “Yes. When I chose you as my heir, I knew you would be an outcast in your life. I watched you for a long time, trying to discern what you cared for most. Trying to see what would lend you happiness here. You love the natural world- stars especially. And the field of flowers where you spent much of your childhood. Free.” his voice quivered, ever so slightly on the last word as if it contained something very dear to him, yet very painful at the same time.
“You made this for me?” Garnor was too shocked to question the tone in Alranos’s words.
“Yes, I did.”
There was silence then, neither speaking. Garnor lost in awe both in seeing this place and in the knowledge that it was his; Alranos relieved Garnor approved and remembering a time... long, long ago... and well lost to memory’s keeping. A time when he was free...
Briskly Alranos turned from the lilies. “We should move on. You can come here as often as you like, Garnor. It is yours. This wing of the palace is yours in fact. Feel free to explore and change it as you wish.” He started for the archway in the far corner. Upon noticing that Garnor was reluctant to move he called back. “You can come back soon. You just need something nourishing now.”
Slowly Garnor followed him through the archway and into a different section of the palace. It didn’t seem as fine as the first hall, but that could have been due to the fact that his memory still dwelled on the garden and its beauty. Still, it was impressive- richly decorated with silver moldings and trims set against an ebony background in the most intricate patterns. Despite the dark colours that surrounded him, Garnor found it to be surprisingly well lit and not dreary at all. Another thing impossible on earth but possible in this, the next world?
He didn’t notice the large, dark-stained wooden doors ahead until Alranos stopped in front of him to open them. “The kitchens are just down this hallway.” Alranos said gesturing him on. Lost in thought, Garnor continued.
After a light, but nourishing meal and many dips of cool water, Garnor felt a little stronger. “Thank you, Alranos.” he said cheerfully in the best mood he had been in since his childhood long ago.
Alranos nodded. “Can you find your way back to your room?” he said with a slight distance to his voice.
“I believe so. Why?” Garnor was slightly concerned at the absent mindedness in Alranos’ voice.
“I... I must be about my duties.” Alranos said removing the black chain, his anarla, from his neck and fingering it intently. “Your body still has a good deal of adjusting to do. You may not feel it, but it will be weak and need a lot of rest these first few weeks. It’s best if you do just that.” he stood and with the motion flipped the chain into its blade form. “Feel free to explore. If you get lost, just call and I, or one of the servants, will find you.” he smiled softly. “Knowing you, however, you’ll be able to find your way. I’ll return tomorrow evening. It may not seem it, but it is a few hours to dawn. You should rest now.” ...while you can he mentally added. He pulled his veil from his belt and nodding to Garnor, walked silently from the room.
Garnor sat at the table then for some time, wondering at the slight... the slight something in Alranos’ voice. He couldn’t quite identify what it was... but something had been playing in Alranos’ voice when he spoke of his work. Something... pained? He shook his head, stood from the table and found that Alranos’ words were true, he was feeling a little weak and wobbly. Carefully he filled a glass with water and returned to his room.
The bed seemed very welcoming. He was tired, more so than he had noticed. He felt like he had no energy. No life. Well, I am dead. he thought as he removed his shoes. Although he expected the ice of the floor, it still shocked him. Maybe dead... but not fully transformed. He quickly got off the floor by getting into bed and covered himself with the shadows.
He was instantly asleep, his mind immersed in a deep, oblivious black.
At dawn Alranos glided into the room and after regarding Garnor’s sleeping form for a moment, stepped back out and closed the door carefully. He stood just outside the door for several minutes, silent and lost in thought. Finally he turned towards the room once more. He leaned his forehead against the door and let his arms support him as well. He looks so peaceful just lying there. Heaven knows he deserves it, after living a life like his... his eyes grew dark Oh how I hate to ruin it... his one chance at peace and happiness... this “heaven”, this security, this gift... all to be traded for a bitter hell. Because of me. His voice was barely a whisper. “Forgive me, child. Forgive me.”
Death's Tears Parts 4 & 5
A Brook of Frozen Glass
Death's Tears Part 6