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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The Bright Children, Chapter 4-1 “Lessons”

Chapter 4: Lessons   “Again. Faster.” Aphella wiped sweat from her brow and repeated the exercise. She took a deep breath and incanted in a whisper her mind’s words for color, one after the other, thought over word at the same time. The water in the blown glass vessels, arranged in a wide arc in front of her, leapt to a bright, living light. Green, yellow, blue (the hardest for Aphella to imagine and speak), orange, and finally red, the tall bowls created an intermingling warm white light on the walls and ceiling of the practice room. “Still slower than…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 3-5 “Meat and Bone”

“May I… is it alright if I pick it up?” Aphella said. “Of course. It is yours, after all,” Frey said. “What I mean is,” Aphella said. “Is it safe for me to handle it? Will I break it?” “I think you shall find it just as useful as it was two cycles ago.” Frey stepped away and picked up a metal cup, then took a long drink. Aphella, hesitantly at first, placed her hands on the spear. It felt cool to the touch, not at all like it had been filled with power or light. She picked it up,…

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The Bright Children, chapter 3-4 “Meat and Bone”

Aphella watched as her father,  no doubt feeling very enlightened from Master Hamon’s ancient stash of wine, strode purposefully up toward Tellana, the younger sister of Warka, though still old enough to be eld herself, and bowed low, grasping the woman’s hand. She gave a shoulder shaking laugh and followed Dolmar out to the center square. They danced, Dolmar looking much more nimble than his empty bottle of wine would suggest. Aphella’s eyes wandered to the center, where Ty danced with Maeven. He was smiling. So was she, though Aphella detected a trace of reservation, like the smile was held…

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The Bright Children, chapter 3-3 “Meat and Bone”

“Making friends with our stranger, eh?” Dolmar said. He shoved a large piece of meat into his mouth and chewed through a smile. “We were just-” Aphella began, before being interrupted by her father, talking through a full mouth. “I already talked to Hamon.” Frey cleared his throat. “That is well, but I Aphella and were actually negotiating terms of a trade, independent of that particular offer.” He took a long drought of wine. “Really,” Dolmar said, not really posing it as a question. “Indeed,” Frey went on. “Aphella offered me a rather lucrative bit of business information. Most useful,…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 3-2 “Meat and Bone”

“So,” Aphella said, breaking the silence, “what do you think of our town?” “Well,” Frey said, scratching his chin with the blunt end of his fork. “I suppose I appreciate it. Your architecture, the people, the way you talk, and of course your clothes all have an ancient quality to them. I haven’t been out this way in quite some time. It’s nice to see old tastes haven’t changed.” Aphella glared at him, but all he did was smile back. “I’ll have you know-” She began, before being cut off by a raised, gentle hand. “It is a compliment,” Frey…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 3-1, “Meat and Bone”

Chapter 3: Meat and Bone The world was full of beasts. Some walked on four legs, creatures of hoof and paw that were covered with skin or fur, like the snufflers that provided meat for the eating, bone for the crafting, as well as leather and fur for when the cold crept in. Other creatures walked on six, eight, or too many legs to be counted; small creatures of chitin that crept along the ground or hid in shallow water. These were snacks and little more, loved neither for their taste or texture.  There were also creatures with no legs…

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The Bright Children, Chapter 2-4 “Eld of the Light”

The stones over the long cook pit glowed a pale red, sending out radiant heat that tingled Aphella’s face as she sat nearby;  it vanquished the chill of the open square, but also threatened sweat on Aphella’s neck and arms. She watched her father and Talcho, another one of the town’s husbandmen and a butcher, as they walked from end to end of the twenty pace-long pit, laying down and turning over long cuts of meat gleaned from the dreadtusk upon grates of iron. Occasionally one of them would find a cool spot in the stones and breath more heat…

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