A Game of Lives
~Pre-dawn light-Intermission of Memories-plastic lawn chair ruminations-Tour guides and followers-girl in the shadows-the making of a home.~
In the morning, as soon as the sun began to warm the sky with pre-dawn light, I slid out of my bed and got dressed. I had work...and I had a decision to make. The necklace was light against my neck, but still strangely odd. And when I moved, it seemed to remind me it was there, always brushing up against the skin and making me self conscious.
His words kept running in my mind. He wants me there. With him. The facts didn't escape me, but whatever little voice that kept me out of trouble was conspicuously absent. Or, rather, not absent, but very faint and thin, and I had to strain to hear it.
I had never gone wrong with my voice before. So, why did finding it and listening to it seem to be so damn hard?
Lucien paused from the book once more, remembering. It would be about this time...yes...
Matthew the raven fluttered into the library, on a beautiful dawn wind, sweet and cool, yet so gentle it didn't even ruffle the pages of the open books on the table.
"Hey Lucien." he croaked in his rough and thick voice.
"Lovely day ain't it?" he said, turning his head to look outside.
"Mm, I suppose so."
"It's because of his new girlfriend isn't it?" he remarked, as if looking for conformation.
"New girlfriend? I wouldn't know the current state of our Lord's love life, nor is it any of my business." he said, a pointed glance to the window. It was a particularly beautiful day, but that proved nothing.
"That's what everyone's saying anyhow. Mervin's upset. He thinks it means bad things are going to happen."
Lucien grunted non-committedly.
Matthew continued. "He says that these kind of things don't last."
"Mervin says many things." He pondered. If it were true, then it was also probable that bad times would happen, as soon as the newest woman upset him. The best thing you could hope for, in these cases, he had experienced, was that he would get tired of her, and eventually they would amicably part.
"I think that it might be true, he's been in an odd mood lately. You know, not brooding and dark." But, he remembered, feeling a strange sense of disquiet at the idea. The Dreaming had never been the same after Lord Morpheus had returned, and Lucien noticed that the Lord himself had changed. Maybe he was just apprehensive because of that?
The day passed ever so slowly, and I was no where nearer an answer than I had been before. Give up this job, at this huge library? He has a bigger one...
Leave your new apartment? He'll have nicer rooms for you...
And what about my other job? The one that keeps me looking young, and alive? The deals I made, with my coven, when I was but a child?
I didn't have an answer for any of it, but I was getting closer. The more I looked around me as I went about the day, the less I cared. I felt free, and oddly excited, like the feeling one gets before you board a plane, on a big vacation.
Finally, I left work, and didn't look back. I've walked out on enough jobs in my lifetime, what was one more? I fingered the necklace all the way home, and entered the building.
"Hey there, Larissa." Helen called from her lawn chair. I nodded. "Why don't you stay here and talk for a bit?"
"I...suppose." I said, rubbing the crystal. She eyed the necklace with a cocked eyebrow, and smiled.
"That from your friend?"
She smiled. "That's sweet. Wanna tell me where you are going so fast every night? Going to call him?"
'In a manner of speaking', I thought. "Sorta."
I paused, she nodded. "Listen, " I started, and decided to tell at least one person. Besides, someone would have to take care of this apartment. "he...invited me to his home, to live."
"Oh, how wonderful." her eyes were glittering. "You gonna take him up on the offer?"
I nodded. "But, he wants me to move in tonight."
"Tonight?" she said, surprised. I nodded again.
"I was wondering, if you could, you know, watch my things?"
"In case it doesn't work out?"
"Of course I will." she promised, and I could see she meant it. I smiled and rubbed my neck. On reflection, if you had seen me then, I probably looked nothing like I do now, or like what I did before. There was an aura of contentment, and excitement, that was so tangible that even the mortals were picking up on it.
"Oh, I do hope it works out. But remember, just in case it doesn't, your apartment here will always be open."
I nodded my agreement, and we parted ways after some formalities, and then I was in my room. I threw some favorite garments and other items in my pack, which I slung on my shoulder. Then, I clutched the jewel calmly, and wished for Morpheus to appear.
And he did, in a showy entrance with smoke that faded around him, and a cape with fine golden embroidery stitched into it twirled around him. Far finer clothing than the slightly dreary t-shirt and jeans he had been wearing in my presence.
"Lady Larissa of the Thessalinians," he said, in a slight bow.
I smiled. "I decided to take you up on that offer."
He smiled back...and the breath poured out of me, like I had been expecting him to be upset or something.
"Are you prepared to leave?" he inquired.
"I am." I said and shouldered the pack again.
"Very well." he said, and we gradually faded out from my room to the top of a medieval looking set of stairs. Above the stairs was a large doorway, and above that, and to the sides, were three monsters. A large scarlet wyrm, a rather imposing gryphon, and a hippogriff of the purest white.
"My lord?" inquired the wyrm.
"Very well. This is the Lady Larissa. You are to permit her free entrance into the castle at anytime."
"As you wish, sire." said the hippogryph, not exactly pleased.
We entered through the large doors, and walked through the halls. He would stop every few moments and point out things that he thought I might find interesting. And, as we walked, the denizens of the Dreaming would walk by, and try to act like everything was normal. I could feel the white hot stares, however, as soon as Morpheus would turn his back, or continue on. I could hear the whispers, like the hot breath of their voices was brushing on my neck.
And I wasn't particularly embarrassed to be there, or upset to hear them whisper. I rather wished they would leave me alone, wait till I was at least out of site. Of course, the person passing by us would eventually slink down a hallway, or use some other means of leaving, and we'd be alone again, until someone or rather, something, passed us again. It felt like the whole of the Dreaming had come out to see us, and after catching a glimpse, would run off to tell someone else, who would then come out to see for themselves.
I tried to pay attention to the rooms instead; each was exactly as would expect a room of the castle of dreams to be; big and magnificent. Some were were gilt and paintings, some were tropical rain forests in bloom, some were indescribable to even me.
Finally, we came to a very large one. It must have been three stories high. The sunlight streamed in through large stained glass windows, each of which showed a different picture. Had I time, I would have sat down and tried to figure the stories, but my gaze was torn away from the walls to the staircase and the second level.
"This is the throne room." he said, a little grandiously, as if I wasn't already feeling the power that was spelled into the room.
I nodded, and looked around, at each window. He walked on through the long room, and I followed, coming to the end. It had two doors, one on either side.
"The rooms in the castle shift constantly," and I nodded at this, he'd said that before, "but these two are always attached to the throne room. That one," he indicated the left, "is my gallery. The other is my suite."
I felt uncomfortable all of the sudden. That was all very well and good, but I felt uneasy about the prospect of entering his room. And, I didn't like what he was implying, if anything.
"Where am I staying?"
He looked blank for a just a few moments, a look that made me pang.
"I...I have not set about creating them yet." Good answer.
"Let's go do that then." I said. He nodded, and opened his mouth to say something further, when a felt another presence in the room. He too seemed to notice, and turned his head to regard the staircase
"Come out from there." he commanded. I turned around to see whom it was. A small girl stepped out from behind the stairs, and nodded bashfully.
"Lord Shaper." she seemed to say, so softly I almost didn't catch it.
"What were you doing behind there?" he said, folding his arms, and lifting his head. She almost shrunk visibly, and if possible, her voice fell another octave. I found myself lacking any feelings of upset, because, after a day of being stared at, she marked me as something different. She had another reason for staying behind than to look at the new lady of Morpheus.
"I...I was cleaning, and..." she trailed off softly. He continued to glare, and she looked so embarrassed and afraid, it wasn't funny. Not afraid for her life, however, it was a different kind of fear, the fear that her master wouldn't be pleased with her. I needed to say something, make this torture stop for her sake.
"It's ok. You probably didn't want to interrupt the conversation to excuse yourself, did you?" I said, in the most gentle voice I had. Behind me, I could sense his frame shift, which I remember finding peculiar, until I placed the fact that the area echoed his own emotions.
"Ye..yeah. Please don't be very angry with me, sir." He made no motion to concede the point.
"Ahem." I helped.
"Very well. We shall be on our way." he said, and I felt my grip on this room begin to fade, then it stopped. "Nuala? Come with us." She nodded meekly, and we all went from one place to another. This new place was solid white, like a blank sheet, and there were different doors, each leading to a different room, I assumed. As I watched, a large window, with one of those seats underneath appeared. Different furniture followed, with me adding comments as to where the different thing would go. A bed, a dresser, wallpaper, it all appeared according to his whimsy, and my desires.
The small and drab girl, Nuala, hung off to the side until it was done. It was almost a funny scene, me and him, discussing the color of the sheets, (when I say discussing, I really mean him creating them, me not liking the pattern and him changing them to suit that,) and the girl hanging behind us, both absorbing what was happening, and still looking sorry for herself.
"It has grown late," Morpheus announced, and nodded towards the window, where the sun had been gone for some time, and I had almost outdone my voice with talking to him.
"It has." I say. "I think I'll retire now." And he nodded, and turned to leave, then stopped. "Nuala."
The little fairy had been so patient, sitting there the whole time, not uttering a word. "Yes?" she asked.
"You shall stay here now, and be Lady Larissa's helper."
She looked slightly bothered, but covered it up quickly to my eye. "Of course, Lord Shaper." she said.
"Good, then I shall bid the two of you adieu for now," he said, and vanished from my eye. As soon as he was gone, Nuala and I sighed together.
"Now what?" I asked her as soon as we had both released our held breaths.
"I imagine we'll both go sleep. You in your bed, and I'll go to my room." And that's what we did.
Onwards to Chapter Four