Part 1 (Salar)
Subj: The wait is over.
Date: 9/26/00 9:23:59 AM Central Daylight Time
I hope you enjoy it...... It is yours, a gift from me to you. You may do what you wish with it, keep
it, show it to a few friends or show it to the world. The story is yours...
as you can guess by the title .
A Story for Salar
then the coarse sound of a sea bird as it wheeled its way across the form of the island, the great sweeping curves dulled by tide and time. After this show of elegance a flash of ungainly manoeuvring took place as it alighted upon the great stone platform at the centre of the island.
It stood uncertainly for a moment, ruffling its unruly but beautiful snow white feathers back into position, each one standing for a moment like an icicle from an arctic cave wall. It pushed them around with its sandy yellow beak until it seemed satisfied and set its ponderous bulk down upon the sun-warmed stone. The veins of white running through the surface of the stone seeming to lead from the bird like so many tiny strikes of lightning, caught in the moment.
This restful situation was disturbed but a moment later by a short pop. The bird instantly spun around awkwardly to look upon the empty air at the centre of the platform. This time it saw the spark jump into existence from the air out of nothingness and then disappear again as quickly as it had come. Another followed it, more quickly this time, and another and another, hundreds were now pouring into the air, a sea of gold flowing out of a patch of air just like champagne out of a newly opened bottle.
The bird took to the air squawking furiously at the amorphous mass that was beginning to ripple and waver before it. Diminutive vortices tracing lazy paths across its surface as it began to alter shape to stretch to almost six feet in height before the surprised observer now gazing warily at the thin column.
Soon features began to solidify out of the sculptured mass. An abrupt protuberance in the column took the form of an outstretched hand, golden sparks writhing over the fingers as they came into existence, the skin therein dry and wrinkled like some ancient hide preserved and hung over the fireplace to recount past glories.
The ring of flame signifying the boundary between his fully formed flesh and the continually steadying mass of tawny flame raced up his arm revealing the sweeping curves of his dark robes, their ashen darkness contrasting sharply with that which was bringing them back into corporeal existence. Sweeping across the expanse of his shoulders swathed in the shadowy cloth of his voluminous robes the symmetric crests met in the centre of his back with barely a ripple in the surface of the unnatural fluid. Now sweeping both up to his head and down over his torso the crackling morass of miracle accelerated downwards from his neck towards the ground, the flaxen flow seeming to run down his torso outlining the silver fastenings of his robes each one now shining brightly in the clear sunlight like diminutive stars. As the hills and hummocks, creases and chasms of his worn leather boots took shape the amorphous flame began to wane the dancing sparks sputtering and vanishing once more into oblivion.
Finally the long sinewy column of his neck arched out of the aperture at the top of his robes the pulse of life evident there immobile in it's journey through the vessels of his body as the living fire began to retreat over the features of his face. A thin pair of lips were drawn into a smile as the writhing ochre embers withdrew from them. Further definition came with the emergence of nose and eyes. The eyes were closed as if he were entering a room in which a great surprise had been laid, in this case so as to not spoil the surprise of the re-emergence into this new world. The sparks were now drawing frenzied shapes in the air which solidified more slowly into unruly strands of hair, dark as the bark of the most ancient oaks within the forests of his homeland.
soon he stood there fully formed as the last of the sparks wormed their way across his flesh and disappeared with a last exclamation to mark the event before allowing silence to wash back into the scene and over this man who once more drew breath.
He opened his eyes slowly to see the bird dipping low over the quicksilver waves to hoist an unsuspecting fish from its liquid home.
He smiled softly, to himself. He was pleased.
Well there it is. See you later today my friend, I hope.
I loved his story. I had great fun thinking about it all day. By evening I was working on a reply.
Soon I was ready to send back the next chapter.
Salar sighed happily, scrunching her toes in the sparkling sand. Its cool, damp grittiness tickled her toes as its many small crystals delighted her eyes. Everything she could see shone in the morning light. It was as though a great jewel had been worked in bit by bit into the very fabric of the Age. The very grass upon the dunes glowed with dewy emeralds of the dawn.
Yawning sleepily, Salar pulled herself upright by a nearby lightly glittering rock, taking in a slight, sharp edge in the breath of the sea. Crisp was the word for it. Like land and sea, the air’s soft contours seemed lightly edged with crystals, icy ones. The traveler shivered into her cape as she brushed off the minute, shining shards of silicates and carbons. It blew like fairy dust in the breeze. She watched it swirl and dance in the wind. It would have been worth coming here just for this beach alone. She slowly smiled ....thinking... that it was a pity she didn’t know any glass-makers. The tan cape suddenly twitched aside, cold air startling her out of her sleepy reverie. She moved into the full sunlight, and relaxed.
Ahhhh, it was warming up rapidly! GOOD!! If the day was as fair as it now seemed to promise, this would be a delightful jaunt indeed. Even if.... Oh how she hoped she would not be alone, even here. So many journeys had seemed destined to be so. Even among the kind D'nian folk she had lately met, her heart still longed for someone to share her wonder, her questions, and observations. Those she had met had little time to truly explain things, to just plain chat. She hoped he would be different. He had asked her to come here, after all. It was a hopeful sign.
She was amazed that she was so ready to trust this stranger, but so it was. She saw kindness written in the very lines that had encouraged her to follow from place to place, and saw signs of provision made for those he obviously hoped would come.
How astonished she had been to find his letter in D’ni! The letter had appeared suddenly on her desk in the house in which she camped, but it seemed so old. Was it to her alone? or to anyone who might come? When unrolled, the heavy parchment revealed in its flowing lines an invitation “You can find me in Ethlem, my friend. I look forward to meeting you. If I am not there, please feel free to enjoy my house. You would be most welcome company.” Sketched on it was a map that led her to a small common library, where another letter directed her his korvahkh hidden amongst more fictional books on the shelves.
She had left a note for Atrus, letting him know that she might have found another survivor. She sealed the copy of her invitation in it, and left it at his work desk. She wrote on it that it should be opened if she did not return. That was yesterday. She wondered if Atrus had read it? Would he follow? Could he? She had deliberately left each letter as she found it, using the notes she made from each as her guide. This was no guarantee he could find her, but at least it would improve the odds. He would be nervous about it certainly, as some of the older links were chancy indeed.
Her would-be host had not been in Ethlem when she arrived. Salar found fresh sheets upon the beds, fruit and honey-seed cakes in the pantry, and a letter placed prominently upon a large stone desk that directed her to an age where he planned to meet her upon the morrow, but no sign whatever of her host. No explanations were forthcoming either. She spent the day thoroughly exploring his home Age. It was a small island so it didn’t take long. The courtyard where she arrived was decorated with fish, the symbology of which utterly escaped her. They were silly looking things, but beautifully carved. He definitely had a whimsical side. She walked his protected balustrades, grateful for the railing that allowed her to safely appreciate the beauty of the stark cliffs from dizzying heights. His study was the most amazing place of all, for there she found a guild writer’s cloak and several models of impossible Ages, including a long crystalline shard. Were these really written? She could only imagine them as finished articles.
He was a thoughtful man, whoever he was, and a very likeable one, by his writings. A skillful oil of a handsome, brown-haired young gentleman had hung upon his study wall. She had gazed some little time into the blazing hazel-green eyes that faced her there.Was it him? It seemed likely that it was. How long ago was it done? She couldn’t tell. There was a timeless feeling to the whole place. Every time the great oak clock counted a portion of its twenty hour cycle, she was heartily astonished. The evidence of its continuence seemed the only connection to the realities she knew. Nothing seemed to happen here. That was what made it feel so D’nian, that sense that nothing had changed much in many years.
A flanking portrait over the stone fireplace had been sooted to the point of unreadibility. The dark-robed figure within it held a staff... Had the man been injured? She strained at the image in a futile effort extract more details. If she returned there tonight, she would clean it. By the time she had found it last night, she had been too weary.
The old stone dwelling where she had spent a warm, restful night had amazed her. He used two, actually three libraries. (for his sitting room had also been filled with papers and books, all piled round a elderly green velvet chair.) Salar could read but a fraction of its contents at present. She longed to change that, to tease the meanings from each text. How she yearned to enjoy the expressions of the rare and fine mind that had filled shelves,desks, and tables to overflowing!
She had spent the evening lost in his rehevkor, which was helpfully marked with English equivalents in the margins. She had sought to decipher the writing of this world. The letter on the desk had marked this Age as her next stop, and she had longed for a clues to reveal her final destination. Such words as she had been able to find reassurred here. She had realized there would be life here, but nothing could have prepared her for the beauty, the wonder that graced every step she had taken today. And despite her progress, she rapidly realized that truly throwing off the shackles of ignorance in that place meant learning more than a half-dozen tongues. Many of his Age notes were in English, a great help as she had known it from her youth. Some of his writings spoke of guild meetings, councils, and the history of a place called Discworld. Catherine would love that Age, she thought. It was so...odd! The most puzzling references spoke of a substance that existed there. He referred to it as Octarine. A long lecture spoke of the dangers of it reaching critical mass, and the sparks that marked such a state. She guessed it was some sort of naturally occurring battery acid. Truly, it sounded like a remarkable place. Was that where she was going? Sounded dangerous.
Besides these works she found some poetry in French and a few words of a Latin plainsong. Then the pathway of her understanding rapidly darkened. All she had been able to do was gaze dumbly at the oddest markings, these appeared to be actual runes.
Salar bent and marked the beach with her finger, tracing out a D’nian letter and then one of those runes from memory. Not bad. Only a hundred or so figures and she would have learned the alphabets. She chuckled to herself. At this rate she would be ready for her first primer in....oh...say a decade?! It was, of course, impractical to make any plans. The vagarities of the links and the fissure ruled her life. This was a delightful interlude, but unless her new friend was also interested in a lasting friendship, the tides of the Ages would soon sweep her away.
Speaking of tides, this one was rising. The first of many small wavelets washed over her toes. It was time to move to higher ground. She clambered up the rocks behind her and replaced her shoes.
Still no sign of him.
Wonder fought with worry in the mild lines of her face. From a hidden pocket of her cape, she brought out a battered green notebook. She reviewed her scrawls in it. Yes, according to her notes this should be the place. Where was he, this mysterious friend of many letters?
A large sea bird called loudly as it sailed over the shoreline. Salar looked up and traced its graceful flight out into the blues of sky and sea. Was it a sea gull or a crane? Its flowing white outline was difficult to quantify at this distance, even with her glasses. The bird’s motion carried her eyes across the sand bar.
There the sun’s bright reflection broke into innumerable brilliant facets that shifted constantly upon the surface of the blue-green deep. Moments turned to minutes as she lost her concentration in the glorious view.
Salar laughed at herself. Whoever he was, he wasn’t likely to appear on the waves! She should be looking inland most likely. Just because the descriptive book had brought her to the shore didn’t mean that all the links would lead here. She looked down and giggled slightly as she imagined the Writer arriving at high tide, his robes trailing in the seaweed and jellyfish that were even now reclaiming the beach. No, he would have secured a location beyond this point of land. She turned and followed a slender path up the rise of the dune.
The bird swooped and turned with her, sailing ahead to the center of the island which rose gently on all sides. She stopped for a second. Wait a minute. The top was leveled off! She watched the bird swoop in for a nose first landing, barely righting itself in time. Salar laughed at the native clown as it posed and preened and strutted upon the slab. She continued her ascent. Whatever answers to be found here would likely be near the only man-made object she had yet seen. The view from there should be excellent.
As her pathway went behind a small stand of trees she suddenly heard loud squawking. She froze for a second, uncertain. The bird flashed by her flying for all it was worth. She breathed again, so it had been startled not hurt. That could mean...
She scrambled up the hill and came again to a cleared area. Sure enough, a tall figure was appearing on the platform in a shower of gold sparks. Salar watched him finish materializing with wide-eyed astonishment. Such a link! How was that done? Then the flood of delight filled her as she realized, the waiting was over! He was here!
Her new friend stood quite still, apparently watching the deposed king of the mountain fish for his dinner once more. At one point he turned to follow its motion, and it was then she saw a slight smile light his face. She found him fascinating to watch. But... had he seen her.... even yet? She stood still for a time, watching him. He made no move. She tilted her head considering the matter.
At last she decided upon a course of action. She finished climbing up quietly behind him, put her hands to her mouth and shouted.
It is amazing how far a tall man can jump when he is truly startled.
heh heh heh