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|Inspired by an Evanescence song, this is one of my better pieces. Detailed beginning of Lir's story, and how even the jaded can sometimes believe.||
Lir slammed the paper down on the kitchen table next to her mug, nearly spilling the hot coffee. The bang echoed through the apartment, ricocheting off the mahogany furniture and making her Japanese screen quiver. Sy jumped up from his place on the deep blue cushion of one of the kitchen chairs, his tail fluffing out at the loud noise. Lir looked at him apologetically, and smoothed the sleek black fur on his back.
"Sorry, Sy-cat, didn’t mean to scare you; I just need to blow off some steam, I guess," She gathered the cat to her, cradling him against her as she slumped into the chair. "Men suck, baby-cat. Every time I get into a relationship, something seems to go wrong. And, as much as I hate to admit it, that’s not all their fault. Well, most of this is Will’s fault, though. I mean, I caught him cheating… But, I think something’s wrong with me, fuzzface. I just don’t know what’s happened to my heart,” Lir appeared as forlorn as a child for a moment, then looked down at the cat in her lap, green meeting gold. “I can't do this anymore, Sy. I'm so sick and tired of this. Why can't things be like they were when I was younger? I believed in fairytales and happy endings then. What happened to my happy ending?” Twenty-six and still searching for dreams shattered long ago, she thought desolately. Lir buried her face in Sy's fur, tears whispering down her cheeks. Sy purred softly, and bumped his head against her shoulder, trying to comfort her in his own way.
They made a pretty picture sitting there wrapped up in each other; the apartment reflected Lir’s personality, providing a stunning background to the portrait of grief. The cream-colored walls covered in Japanese scrolls and artistic prints in jewel blue and green lent a striking quality to the dark wood of the furniture, while the pale cerulean theme of the kitchen imparted a feeling of contemplation. Everything would have been picture perfect if it hadn’t been for the little signs of habitation: a dish left in the sink, a book on the table, a forgotten shirt draped over a chair.
Woman and cat stayed absorbed in each other until there was knock on the door. Lir sighed and set Sy back on the chair, then rose to answer the door. She opened it to find a UPS delivery guy holding a small package and a clipboard. He held the clipboard out to her as he smiled his cardboard smile, and she took it automatically, slightly puzzled since she hadn't been expecting a package. She looked down at the paper and noticed that the return address was from her father, then looked back up at the man in brown. “Please sign here, initial here and here,” he directed, pointing out the dotted lines. She signed quickly, whereupon the man handed her the package and walked back off down the hall. She took the package back into her apartment and set it down on the table near the paper and her mug. Sy looked at her curiously, and then leapt up onto the table to investigate the package.
She slowly opened it to reveal a letter inside, nestled among the packing peanuts. She took it out and started to read.
"My sweet Lir,
As I was packing everything for my move the other day, I came across an old friend of yours. I thought that you would like to have him back, so here he is. Call me when you get the chance. I'll be settling into my new place for the next couple of days, but you have my cell number. I love you, sweetheart.
Lir wondered what it was he could have found, and started digging through the packaging, while Sy made a nuisance of himself by getting in the way as much as possible. When her hand hit something smooth and cool and tantalizingly familiar, she had a tingle of strange premonition. She pulled the object out, standing it on the table.
The crystal unicorn stood eight inches tall, with his mane and tail crafted in silver. He sparkled in the light, a creature of mist and moonlight, magic and mystery. He stood in a defiant pose, head tossing as he pawed the air before him. This spectacular creation had been a gift from her favorite aunt on the evening before Lir’s eighth birthday. Lir remembered Aunt Michelle’s exact words when she handed her small niece the beautifully wrapped box.
“This is true magic, sweet Lir. Inside this box is someone who will never leave you. He is the essence of belief, and for as long as you love him, you will have wonder in your life. Credendo vides, beloved. Believing is seeing.”
Lir stroked down the unicorn’s slick back gently with one finger, her eyes misted with too many memories. She had named him Carus, the Latin word for beloved. She had loved him with all her heart, truly believing that loving him would make everything okay. Unfortunately, when she was sixteen her parents went through a bitter divorce and tore her apart in the process. Lir had cried herself to sleep too many nights to count, and had given up her childhood dreams of the world she saw when she closed her eyes. In one of her darker moments she had taken Carus up, intending to shatter the now-empty emblem, but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Even now, in her deepest heart, she still loved him.
It’s been a while, Beloved. The last time I saw you was seven years ago, when I moved out on my own. I left you behind because you were too much of a reminder of when I believed in everything. Lir laughed sadly at her thoughts, and shook her head. I learned long ago that life isn’t what I dreamt of, and I’m afraid that what’s left of my heart has grown cold and hard. I wish I could recapture what I had when I loved you. Lir traced the flowing mane one more time, and then left the unicorn on the table, the cat playing with the packing peanuts, and her maudlin thoughts with another shake of her head as she went to take a shower.
Ah, a really hot shower is just what I needed! Wash away everything, and let me pretend, just for a while, that everything is all right... The heat of the water with the contrast of cool tile against her skin was wonderful, and she gloried in it for a while before reaching for the shampoo. Lir sighed as she soaped up her hair, the scent of exotic flowers blossoming in the steam. The pixie cut Kit had talked her into was easy to take care of, but hard to get used to. She was still adjusting to having it this short, and missed her waist-length hair. The weight of it had been a comfort, the length allowing her to hide. She sighed again, and started to rinse, then stopped in dumb amazement. Her hair flowed over her hands down to her waist, a silken fall of darkness. Lir turned off the water and stepped out into the steam-filled bathroom, pulling her hair around to stare at it, uncomprehending. “My hair...” she whispered in disbelief, her eyes wide.
A yowl from Sy startled her from her shock. Bringing her head around swiftly she stared across the small room, but the steam swirled around her, making it hard to see. Lir toweled off quickly, twisted her hair up out of the way with a movement more habit than thought-driven, and then groped for her robe, pulling the blue silk on hastily. The material clung to her damp skin uncomfortably, but she wasn’t willing to take any more time to dry off properly. She stumbled to where the door should be, and felt for the cool handle awkwardly. Reaching it, she pulled the door open and burst out into her apartment. Her breath caught in her throat as she realized that she could see no better out in the open than she could in the bathroom.
What in the hell is going on here!? She thought franticly. She stood there for a moment with her hair dripping, trying to understand why her apartment was shrouded in mist. Movement on the floor caught her eye as Sy streaked towards her, launching himself into her arms. She clutched the cat to her, squinting into the haze that filled her home. She could just make out a glowing shape in the direction of the kitchen table. She shook her head, trying to clear it. Oh, come on. This can’t be happening! I am NOT seeing a glowing shape in my kitchen! This is ridiculous! Lir started to panic and hugged Sy so hard he let out a gurgled protest. Realizing that panicking would do nothing-well, nothing good-she eased the death-grip she had on the cat, and started to make her way cautiously to where that damn unnerving glow was.
Okay, now why am I moving towards the glow again?
Because it’s in my apartment and I don’t like having my space invaded.
But I don’t know what it is.
It could hurt me.
It doesn’t feel like that kind of glow.
…Okay, that was possibly the most idiotic thing I have ever thought in my life.
Too late to argue anyway, here we are.
Realizing that the entire argument with herself was now moot, Lir studied the light before her. It was coming from Carus on the kitchen table. Puzzled and disturbed, she moved closer, Sy slipping out of her arms and retreating to the other side of the room. She reached out a finger to touch the radiant figure, ignoring her rational side as it screamed bloody murder, and was suddenly blinded as the glow ignited into a dazzling blaze.
Shaking her head and rubbing at her face in reaction, Lir felt a change in the feel of the air around her. Opening unfocused eyes, she looked blearily around her. Her little apartment was gone, replaced by a strange landscape of rich blue skies and lush green forest. The thought that struck her as she stood there was rather inane, but, she thought, rather appropriate, considering.
The landscape around her was incredibly beautiful; the azure sky was dotted by soft-looking clouds of delicate white, the grass she stood upon was plush and deep, a luxuriant emerald green, and the air she breathed was scented with a fragrance that made roses pale in comparison. The forest around her looked as if it had come straight out of a fairytale, and everything was saturated with color and vibrancy. It was intoxicating. It was terrifying.
Oh, crap, oh, crap, oh, crap… Lir sank down to the ground, absently noting that her robe had turned into a dress somewhere along the way to this fantasy world. She stared at the scene in front of her, desperately wanting to believe that she was dreaming, but knowing that she wasn’t. A noise came from behind her, making her flinch and whirl her head around to gape at the vision standing there.
Pure, glorious, sheer, incandescent white.
Lir blinked, then caught her breath as she realized just what, or rather who, stood there. It was Carus, and he was alive. He stood over her with his head lowered to peer into her eyes, his molten silver mane falling around the pearly spire of his horn. Eight inches had translated into sixty-eight inches here, or seventeen hands. He was a powerfully built stallion and rather intimidating when standing over Lir’s petite five feet two inches. Lir ogled the horn that rose just above her head, then looked into his eyes, her own wide and distressed. His eyes swallowed her whole, drowning her in pools of starlight and kisses. A warm flush suffused her, bringing color to her cheeks and a strange shine to her eyes as she gazed into his. They were the color of moonlight, shadow, and dew, and they chased away her fear.
“Carus…” she breathed, hardly daring to speak. Her heart swelled with unnamable emotion; the wonder, terror, and panic all colliding, crashing together like powerful waves and threatening an imminent collapse if she didn’t get a hold of herself.
Carus whuffed softly, his sweet breath a feather touch upon the skin of her brow. He brushed his nose gently against her cheek, bending low to nuzzle her. He then straightened, and spoke into her mind. :Welcome, sweet Lir, to Iridian.:
She gazed up at him with an unsure expression, then rose to her feet, smoothing the fabric of the dress and examining it for the first time, trying to stabilize herself. The gown was a vivid royal blue with silver embroidery, and flowed over her hips to the ground in a tumble of silky material. The upper portion hugged her form, with the sleeves billowing out to fall just short of covering her hands completely. It was a beautiful work of art, and it suited her to perfection. She cocked her head at Carus, her eyes still slightly glazed with her feverish feelings, and indicated the dress with a trembling wave of her hand. “Couldn’t you have given me something more practical?”
Carus looked surprised, then snorted with laughter, the taste of it crisply refreshing in her mind, like biting into an autumn apple. He thought-spoke her again, his voice now layered with amusement, mild astonishment, and what could have been dismay. :Oh, my dearest Lir, you are truly unique! I welcome you to the land of your dreams and you ask me if I couldn’t have found you something more practical to wear? I thought to be wary lest you faint, and you concern yourself with clothing! I expected more of a reaction to all of this than that! How can you take this so calmly?:
Now it was Lir’s turn to snort. “Calmly? I am not taking it calmly, I am trying desperately to not have hysterics! Besides, it was a reasonable question. If I’m in the land of my dreams then I want to be able to move properly, and I can’t very well go traipsing around in this silly thing!” The last was almost a wail as she plunked back down onto the ground, the gown pooling around her poetically and snarling her feet in its folds. “See!? It’s ridiculous! I won’t be able to walk for long in this, I’ll keep tripping over the stupid thing! Don’t you have any pants that I could wear?” Lir’s voice wavered plaintively as she gave Carus an imploring glance, hanging on to this one detail with all the desperation of someone drowning. She knew very well that she was being childish, but in the face of things, she didn’t think anyone would blame her for a brief two-year old moment.
Carus touched her cheek with his velvety nose, and nudged her to get up again. His eyes softened with compassion; he knew now that she was coping as best she could. :Come, we shall find you more practical clothing, sweet one. I understand now that gowns are not conducive to adventuring in strange lands. There is a forester’s hut nearby that may have clothing more sensible. We shall go there.:
She gave him a quaking smile, took a shuddering breath, and then stood shakily, unwinding her feet from the fabric of the dress. Squaring her shoulders, she gathered up the trailing hem of the outlandish outfit and said, “All right, I’m ready to go. I’ll follow your lead, just so long as you lead me to better clothing,” She looked down at herself once more and grimaced. “And please, let’s go quickly,”
A snort of mirth was Carus’ only answer as he started towards the forest, leading her into its shadowed depths as she paced alongside him with one hand trustingly on his flank.
Somewhere in the recesses of a mysterious cavern, something awoke. Tendrils of thought and awareness came into being at the fleeting touch of familiarity, a strange surface shimmering into consciousness. Light began to shine from the face of an enigmatic, exquisite mirror, banishing the murk of the cavern. It could feel her, feel her arrival in this world, the one whom it had been longing for, the one who it belonged to. “I have dreamt of you…” the mirror whispered. “ I have dreamt of you in my silent slumber, within this cage of glass. Have you come to release me from my frozen prison? Have you finally come?” The murmuring echoes faded as the light subsided back into darkness, slipping back into sleep, but now there was a feeling of waiting stillness, as if what lay here only dozed rather than slept deeply as it had for so long.
|Beyond Redemption||Fields of Dawn|
|The Ballad of Auralee||Shattered|
|Of Violets and Moonbeams:2|