The Bright Children: Chapter 6-1 “Dark Paths”

A scraping, at a rhythmic cadence. Sparks, burning red-purple streaks into open eyes. A pause, and then a light, unfamiliar and chaotic. A groan. “Ah, you’ve come to. Good.” The pale outline of Frey’s face turned toward Aphella, lines looking strangely deep in the pale, orange light. “I feel I must apologize. I had little time to weave that spell, and so could not exclude you. I hope you will be able to forgive me.” Aphella rolled onto her side and pushed herself up, a tingling marking a sudden return of feeling to her extremities. She looked around, and saw…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 5-6 “Thief”

Zyteus opened his mouth to speak, but before he could form any words an expression flashed over his face. It was but a moment, but in it was a wry, almost sardonic smile. Zyteus closed his mouth and gave the room a loud, exasperated sigh. He looked harshly at Aphella, then nodded slightly. “So be it. We shall listen, and discard at our discretion.” Silence filled the room as Aphella met Zyteus’s gaze, then looked to the other elders, settling on stone-faced Sabon. She took breathed a warm light onto her now cold hands, then recounted what she had seen…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 5-5, “Thief”

Glancing and Shaenyll, Zyteus cleared his throat and spoke. “Here in Twillanya, our codes are simple. Do not kill; do not threaten to kill. Do not hurt; do not threaten to hurt. Do not steal or harm the property of another. These are the only real things that the council must adjudicate. Otherwise, we are but arbiters. However, there our code also states, as it has always stated, that the attempt at a crime is the same as the crime itself. We do not dole out punishments or rewards for the varied consequences of wickedness. All are the same. So…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 5-4, “Thief”

The Eld council sat in audience, behind the long stone table, more stern-faced and straight-backed than the last time Aphella had seen them assembled. Zyteus wore a perpetual frown, matched by Hamon and Shaenyll. The usually bright and cheerful Warka sat blank-faced. The thief, Azom, was on his knees in the center of the room, under unusually bright crystal lamps in a shade of pale green. His dim eyes were in shadows, and a long shaft of iron was holding the elbows of his shackled hands behind his back. Frey stood apart from him, leaning on the smooth white staff…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 5-3 “Thief”

After fitful sleep, Aphella came up the stairs from her chamber into the main floor of home to find the whole of it well lit, the crystal lamps growing bright and colorless. Her father reclined at the table across from Hamon, who caught her eye as she emerged from her darkened room. Aphella expected him to say something, either about the night before or his hints of apprenticeship. Instead he met her eyes calmly, smiled, then turned back to Dolmar. “That’s the problem with traders like that,” Dolmar said, sipping at a hot cup of moss tea. “If you’ve got…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 5-2, “Thief”

“No need to explain,” Shaenyll said, stepping out of the shadows. Frey seemed to give a start and an audible gasp, but Aphella thought in the front of her mind that his surprise seemed feigned; something about the man’s glance made her believe that he had seen both of them through the illusion without difficulty. “Lovely Shaenyll,” Frey said, and bowed, his voice stammering quavering. “I… don’t know how you arrived… but I of course must explain. You see-” “I was watching the entire time from behind a layer of confusion, as was Aphella,” Shaenyll said. Aphella felt the spell…

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The Bright Childrenn Chapter 5-1: Thief

Chapter 5: A Thief.   A pale red light in the spiral stairwell slowly grew, flickering as it approached. Aphella remained as still as a corpse. The clack of hard-soled boots on stone grew closer. She felt a bead of sweat burst on her forehead, then trickle down to the tip of her nose, where it itched angrily. She did not dare to wipe it off; the stairwell opened directly in front of her, and though she thought she trusted Shaenyll, the illusory weaving her teacher had supposedly put up could not be seen, and so trust failed and the…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 4-4, “Lessons”

Aphella lost her sense of space. Vertigo threatened to empty her stomach for her, and her true vision came roaring back. The room flickered into reality. Grey stone, colored vessels on bronze fittings, and the cool face of Shaenyll spun by, blurry and yet harsh in their clarity. She looked at stone that was familiar and yet strange. Shaenyll’s face filled her frame of sight. “Exhale. Breathe out, Aphella.” The teacher’s voice was soft, almost gentle, and yet there was an urgency behind it; a quaver that might have been anger or even fear. Aphella complied, and found herself unable…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 4-3, “Lessons”

Aphella followed Shaenyll up the spiraling stair. The light from Shaenyll’s focus lit closed walls on either side of them, causing the ancient stone to sparkle from a multitude of tiny crystals. The rounded flight ended in the middle of a wide stone floor of a circular room. Round portals framed with glass ringed the room, looking out into the darkness above and the dim lamps of the town below. Shaenyll flicked her wrist and a ring of clear crystal lamps leapt to light, illuminating the carefully woven carpet, the pattern of which was a large ever-growing spiral tessellation of…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 4-2, “Lessons”

Aphella, surprised to hear Shaenyll call her something other than “child,” followed the tall elder out of the practice room and up a flight of cut stone stairs. “Where are we going?” Aphella asked as they walked across an open courtyard. The lamps above were dimmed, and the street to their right was empty. “To the chronometer,” Shaenyll said. “There is something I wish you to see, and something else that I wish to find out for myself.” The clack of the their leather boots echoed off the stone buildings to each side of them as they reached the main…

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