PART III: PEARL (Pearl Version)
by The Mana Priestess
"What wonderful blue eyes you have, Ernest. They are quite,
I wish you would always look at me this way, especially when
other people are around."
-- Gwendolyn, The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)
Chapter 5A: Burning Blue: Emotions
The sky turned a deep azure that spring
afternoon, and the weather remained warm, the air perfectly motionless, the heat
absorbing voices and sounds. An occasional flash of silent lightening, tearing
across the sky in pale, jagged spears, warned of the approaching storm.
Sure enough, the weather altered quite quickly
afterwards, and the hot, musty atmosphere was freshened by a steady, light
drizzle that washed across the warm skies of evening. The pale yellow moon hung
across the velvet blue, and the effect of the warm, sharp colors of the moon and
skies was striking, resembling a theatrical décor that reduced everything below,
the slowly-moving cobalt ocean and the little town sleeping besides it, into
playthings assembled against the splendid view of the scenery.
The little seaside inn sleeping upon the dark red
rocks had been closed early against the storm, and the guard stood on his
nightly watch against intruders. The orange light that illuminated the hall on
the first level of the inn streamed faintly from under the main doors, and the
figure of the guard appeared like a dark shadow against it.
Inside the hall, a woman clad in a plain blue cotton
dress leant against the innkeeper’s counter. A thick yellow rope of hair, tied
with a pale green ribbon, swung down her back. She held a glass of drink in her
hand, which, from its dark red color, appeared to be an alcoholic beverage, and
she sipped from it occasionally. She was more occupied, however, in the flow of
the conversation she maintained with the innkeeper.
A man with a dark-haired young woman leaning on his
arm emerged from within the adjoining coffee-room, and passed the two by the
counter. He greeted the woman in blue, and congratulated her on her night’s
The woman thanked him without much
interest and continued her conversation with the innkeeper. The man, not taking
the hint, addressed her with another remark. It was apparent that, despite the
wishes of his dark-haired companion, who regarded the blond woman with a peevish
expression on her pretty little face, he was determined to engage the attractive
dancer in blue in a flirtatious banter.
had recognized his intention from the beginning, and it became to clear to her
that this man required a broader hint to do away with himself, which she did
The man seemed disconcerted,
though keeping a determined hold on his assumed smile. It was apparent that he
had thought that dancer an easy prey to extravagant flattery, and had yet to
experience the taste of her ironic tongue. But his young companion tugged on his
"Come on, let’s go," she said with her petulant
little voice. "I’m tired."
He obeyed, and the dancer
continued her conversation with the innkeeper as if the brief interlude had
never occurred. He regarded her with an amused eye.
"I tend to think that you are too hard on your
admirers, Revanshe," he remarked, instead of replying to the subject of their
conversation. "Most of them don’t mean harm, you know."
Revanshe shrugged, sipping her drink. "I like to
play games on my own terms," she said coolly. "I can’t abide it when men think
they can coerce me into submitting to theirs."
"Including a verbal byplays?" remarked the
innkeeper. "I must admit, I’ve never seen you lose a verbal exchange."
She seemed unconcerned. "This means that I’m playing
them right," she answered.
He gave a laugh in reply.
"As I was saying."
The door opened now, and the face
of the apologetic young guard peeped in. "I'm sorry, Sir," he said, addressing
the innkeeper. "I know that the policy is that the door closes after ten to
uninvited guests, but there is a man here who insists on—"
Before he could finish, another person pushed
through. It was a young man, whose green cloak was patched with dark areas where
the light rain soaked it through. He pushed the hood of his cloak back,
revealing a serious face with regular, clear-cut features, and ran a hand over
his wet hair. Another figure followed him silently, like a white shadow; a tall
woman, clad in a cream-colored cloak.
for coming in unexpectedly," the young man said curtly, without much ado. "I've
been traveling all day and I'm afraid I had no time to make proper arrangements
or send a proper notice."
The innkeeper and Revanshe
had been staring at him as he spoke; but the dancer recognized him as soon as he
revealed his face.
"Elazul," she said, laying the
glass of wine on the counter-top and gesturing with her hand for him to
approach. "What brings you here, and at this hour?"
Elazul spied her now. "Revanshe," he said quickly.
"Is Sapphire awake?"
"Softly, softly," admonished
the dancer. "He is always such an earnest one. Come here. Sit down first. Invite
your friend as well." She nodded her head towards the innkeeper, signaling that
Elazul was all right. The innkeeper raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. He
trusted Revanshe implicitly.
Revanshe rang a bell
and ordered hot drinks to be brought to the coffee-room. Elazul walked after
Revanshe, signaling the woman behind him to follow suit. They seated themselves
at one of the small tables in the darkly-shadowed little hall. The heavy
curtains that fringed the coffee room’s large glass windows looked down towards
the ocean, that flowed silently below with unremitting darkness.
"I apologize for coming in so abruptly," he
repeated, as he pulled a chair close to the table and indicated to his companion
to be seated. "Is Sapphire in her room? I don't wish to wake her up if she's
asleep, and I'm afraid that we'll need some arrangements. I can pay for a room,
if you have one. If not—"
"That's all right,"
Revanshe interrupted. "We'll find you some lodging. Now, what is this about?"
Elazul didn't reply for a moment; he meditated upon
something, and to Revanshe it seemed as if he had not attended her question.
Then he said suddenly, in what seemed an abrupt change of subject:
"That guard of yours isn't very good. If I came
through that easily, he would never be able to prevent truly dangerous
characters from penetrating this inn."
"Is this what
you came for all this way?" Revanshe inquired, with a lift of her eyebrow. "To
criticize our safety measures?"
The maid came in,
carrying a tray with hot drinks. Elazul said curtly, "I am concerned." He took
the tea-cup offered by the maid, setting it down on the table without looking at
it. "Concerned for Sapphire's safety, Revanshe."
Revanshe uttered an elaborate sigh. She crossed her hands over her heart. "The
ardent lover rushing in from the storm, his hair plastered with rain, eager to
ascertain his lady's safety!" she intoned. "How utterly romantic, Elazul!"
Elazul could perceive that her treatment of him had
not altered much since the previous time they had met. "You already know that
Sapphire is like a sister to me, Revanshe," he answered with admirable patience.
"And I've heard some things... well, it doesn't matter. At any rate, I will talk
Revanshe eyed him. "Like a sister,
huh?" she echoed. Her gaze shifted to Pearl, who was sitting silently besides
Elazul and staring at her tea, as if she couldn't quite comprehend what she
ought to do with it. Pearl’s profile appeared very white in the dim room, and
her glorious hair tumbled down her back, shining a lustrous gold. "I can see the
reason," she remarked.
Elazul followed her eye, and
his countenance altered a little. "Pearl? No, she's… she's also like a sister to
me," he finished, a little lamely.
an eyebrow. "Indeed. Can I be your sister too?"
afraid that after the way you've been speaking to me it wouldn't be really
proper to call you my sister," answered Elazul. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I
will go ask for that room."
He rose from his seat
and, gesturing to Pearl to follow him, he went into the guest-hall, leaving
behind him a very dissatisfied dancer.
walked to the guest-hall and returned to the counter. "Did you give that young
man a room?" she asked the innkeeper.
nodded. "I recognize him now. Sapphire's young man," he said.
"Her friend," Revanshe corrected. "Or, apparently,
an adopted brother of sorts." She took her drink in one hand again, swiveling
the glass gently in an absent manner. She recognized that she had just been
defeated in a verbal exchange, and the feeling was rather displeasing.
"Not proper to call me his sister after the way I've
been speaking to him," she said to herself, echoing Elazul's words. "That was
a... a CUTE reply. I-do-NOT-like-cute-replies. Especially from men so much
younger than I am."
A warm day, enwrapped by bright skies and a
glowing sea, greeted Elazul the next morning as he walked from the harbor to the
town a little after dawn. Despite the early hour the tiny seaside hamlet was
awake and alive with scents and sounds. He walked in the narrow streets of white
stones, between the little red houses, enjoying the fresh breeze gliding towards
him from the direction of the sea. The delicious odors of newly-baked bread
wafting on its currents caused him to pause in his tracks and purchase some
breakfast. He then continued his survey of the town, and despite a weariness
that lingered from his two days’ journey he felt invigorated by the warm
morning, that smelled of the approaching summer.
was eventually found by Sapphire around eight o'clock. She received the story
from Revanshe as soon as she awoke and went down to the town to find him. He
spied the slender form enveloped by the cloud of long, rippling hair from a
distance, and immediately knew it was her. She made a gesture of greeting in
acknowledgment and came towards him. After exchanging words of welcome, Sapphire
smiled at Elazul, peering upwards into his face. "Revanshe told me you're here,"
"I guessed as much," he answered. "Did she
say anything else?" He smiled slightly now. "Something about an extravagantly
romantic entry, perhaps?"
"I don't know," replied
Sapphire, looking a little bemused. "I wasn't attending. I left to find you at
He seemed amused; and Sapphire, though she
wondered why he came so suddenly, was glad to find him in such a good mood, and
smiled at him again. Elazul then expressed a desire to go down to the docks, to
which Sapphire complied at once, and they made their exit to the harbor.
When they reached the wooden docks extending towards
the waters, Elazul stood for a few moments, contemplating the bright, fresh
vision of the ocean. Sapphire stood silently besides him, herself absorbed in
the beautiful view. Elazul, finally turning around, laid his fingers on
"Come, Sapphire," he said. "Let’s
sit on the dock."
She obeyed, as was her wont, and
soon they were seated side-by-side, their legs dangling down from the wooden
floorboards, the ocean flowing beneath them in soft blue currents.
Sapphire looked up into Elazul’s face. "Elazul," she
said, "Revanshe told me that you came with Lady Pearl."
She hesitated, and Elazul scanned her expression. He
met an inquiring gaze, and understood that she was expecting an explanation.
He looked down at his hands, pressing his fingers
together, deliberating over how he should tell her about what happened. He
decided that the best method would be a direct explanation. "Listen, Sapphire,"
he said. "Something important came up, and this is why I came so suddenly. A few
days ago I was at the town bar, and I heard some news that greatly disquieted
He looked up and finished, rather quickly,
"Alex is alive."
Sapphire eyes widened. After a
moment, she said, "But that's... that's wonderful! Did you... did you meet him,
Elazul? Or did you merely hear about him?"
Elazul corrected. "Alex is Alexandra, you see."
news apparently took her completely unaware; for the first time since Elazul met
her, he saw Sapphire genuinely astonished. "Oh!" she said. Looking at her,
Elazul knew that she was milling over in her mind almost a year of complex
events in the Jumi city, so notorious that even she could not but know about
them. "Oh," she repeated, after a prolonged silence. "I... I see."
"But, Elazul," she added almost immediately, "You
must have been happy to hear about it."
He smiled at
her plain, rather naive way of stating this. "Yes, I was. Also since if Alex is
alive, Florina must be safe too. But that’s not all."
She looked down. "Yes. You also said that it
disquieted you. Why… why did it?"
Elazul looked up,
watching the glowing morning. His smile vanished, the almost carefree expression
had had displayed before was displaced by his usual, serious demeanor.
"I think that I always had a kind of a secret hope
to hear this," he said at last, speaking softly. "The strangeness of Alex's body
never being found, and of Florina vanishing prepared me for this, somehow. So,
you see, the shock wasn't quite as great as it would have been otherwise. I
don't even care to know how Florina managed to escape, how Alex managed to
survive. Right now I'm simply happy to know that they're alive. But..."
"With Alex, unfortunately, there is always a 'but',"
he finished, with an edge of a tight smile. "Things are never plain and simple
with such one as Alex."
Sapphire, who did not know
much about Alexandra, lowered her eyes after discerning Elazul’s change of mood.
She sensed that Elazul had been undergoing a mental struggle since the news, and
did not wish to add to it; so she said nothing. Elazul’s eyes rested on the
burnished horizon without seeming to perceive it. He shook his head.
"I don’t understand," he said, speaking quietly. "I
don’t understand why Alex would not look for me, if she was alive. It gives me a
troubling feeling, almost as if she’s trying to hide something from me. What is
it, Alex?" he asked, speaking to himself. "What are you planning now, that I
should not know of? Ought I try and find out, despite your reluctance to reveal
yourself… or because of it?"
He briefly recollected himself. "I'm
sorry, Sapphire," he said quickly. "Things have been happening all at once, and
I've been feeling a little distracted by it all."
"I can imagine," she replied quietly.
related Alexandra's history to Sapphire concisely, to allow her a greater
understanding of the situation. He finished his recital with an explanation of
his presence in the harbor, his sudden arrival.
see, Sapphire, the rumors about Sandra and her alleged search for Jumi jewels
has created a dangerous situation. I begun to ask around the town the last few
days, gathering as much information as I could. The rumors about Jumi jewels had
fueled the human greed for Jumi cores anew. The bandits had woken, crawled out
of their lairs, and they slither about, sniffing, questing, thirsting for these
valuable treasures. The situation is much more dangerous than it was a few
months ago, when you and Emeralda and Snow embarked on your voyage."
"So, you are saying..." said Sapphire faintly. She
did not complete her sentence.
"Yes," he answered
briefly, guessing her unuttered question. "You have two choices, Sapphire.
Either you come back with us to town, or we stay here with you. I can't let you
stay alone anymore."
There was a pause. Elazul
examined Sapphire's downturned face. She said nothing, her finger tracing shapes
on the boards aimlessly.
"Staying?" he asked.
She nodded, a shortish motion with her head.
"Then this is what we'll do," he said quietly.
Sapphire made no answer. Her head remained lowered.
Then she said in a low voice: "Thank you."
did not attend her; he seemed to meditate upon something again, a dark, troubled
look stealing into his eyes. "I am only puzzled as to what I should do about
Snow and Emeralda," he said shortly. "They are not safe in the university by
themselves. But if I know anything about Emeralda, she will refuse to obey me,
and Snow will follow whatever she decides. I'll go to check on them, just to
ensure that they're all right. I understand that you correspond with them
regularly, so I assumed that you'll notify me if anything happened. But now that
I know that the situation has changed I am no longer at a liberty to make any
"And if they refuse to leave," he
added as an afterthought, "perhaps you should enroll in the university,
Sapphire, and we'll all live there."
He examined her
expression. He rather thought that she'll refuse this suggestion as well; to his
surprise she suddenly looked up with one of her rare, genuine smiles.
"After all the effort you put into taking care of
us, I think I can take that step," she said. "It will be nice to be with Snow
and Emeralda again, after all this time. If necessary, Elazul, I'll do so. But,
Elazul, what about your house in town, and your work?"
He seemed amused at this practical inquiry from
Sapphire. "I was thinking of becoming a guard at this inn," he replied. "I'll
close the house in the town and notify my employer. Don't worry about all that.
What's important is making sure that you're all safe."
Sapphire gazed at Elazul silently. He returned her
look with a slightly raised eyebrow. "What is it?" he asked.
"It's... it's nothing," she answered. But then she
suddenly said, "No, it's... it's because you take so much pains over me,
She took his hand in the same sincere,
heartfelt gesture that she did once when she tried to comfort him about the
condition in the city. "Nobody ever took so much pains over me before. Only
Emeralda, but with her it was... different. But with you, it's more like... I
truly feel that you are like a brother to me, Elazul. I never felt that I had a
real family after my m-mother d-died." She articulated the words with
difficulty. Then, rapidly, she finished: "I'm glad that I met you."
Elazul was moved by her gratitude, and yet it caused
him a sudden pain. Was she really always this lonely? He realized that she was
not like him, lonely out of choice, and that instead that she felt her
Sapphire continued in
softly-spoken tones. "It's so much more important to me than just having a
knight. Indeed, I prefer it to having you as a knight, like the council wished.
I much more wish for that permanent kind of bond of a family… because if someone
fell in love with me, he may always change his mind and leave me one day. But
not someone like you, a brother… the family bond will always exist, will never
vanish. It is the permanent kind of bond that keeps you happy and alive."
Elazul was moved by this stricture, a view of the
world and ties between people that was both realistic, pessimistic, and
idealizing, naïve. And he reflected, funny how things turned out in a way that
Diana did not anticipate, and yet much more than she ever wished them to be. I
became equally as important to Sapphire as I would have been had she fell in
love with me, or I with her; because I filled the void that she lacked, and
before she could love someone she needed that emptiness filled; and in that way,
as in many, she was still too much of a child.
divert her thoughts, he voiced his own, smiling at her and saying: "I think that
we ought to give thanks to the council. Without knowing it, they had done a good
thing, even though our acquaintance had not turned out the way they had hoped."
Sapphire perceived the amusing side of this as well,
and she smiled as well. "Yes, I suppose so. But," lapsing again into her earnest
mood, "You and Revanshe are my family now, Elazul... yes, and even the Lady
Pearl. But especially you."
Elazul sensed those
flowing, intangible bonds, warming him, yet also weighing him down, filling him
with unease. He suddenly realized, with disquiet, that he was not used to being
this important to anyone, at least not since his mother died.
Except, he thought, to Alexandra, but she was
independent, did not need me, allowed me to keep my own independence despite her
attachment to me.
And also, said another voice, to
Pearl, who was not like Alexandra, but more like Sapphire, and yet different,
This thought he pushed away hastily, to the
dark corner of his mind, refusing to dwell on it, because it made him feel as
troubled as he had felt with Sapphire’s words, or perhaps more.
He said, quietly, "I think it's unfortunate that you
refused to get acquainted with Florina, Sapphire. She would have been the
perfect person to adopt you."
She gazed down again,
contemplating the sea beneath, yet also listening, and responded quietly: "When
we meet Alex and Florina again, I wish to get acquainted with Florina. Maybe
it’ll be easier for all of us, to be together."
responded with a rather weary tone. "Of this I must somehow convince Emeralda."
She sensed the weariness in his tones, and looked up
quickly, watching his expression covertly. For a moment she said nothing, then
she suddenly said, "Elazul, you are—"
towards her, sensing her altered tone, his gaze inquiring. She looked down
"You are... waiting for the Jumi, aren't
you?" she asked, haltingly. "To come and take us all home."
He was surprised at this penetrating remark, but
admitted the truth at once.
"I suppose so, yes.
There seem to be so many of you to take care of, Sapphire. I'm not quite sure
I'm up to it, and I'm afraid of what might happen if I fail."
He watched the bright azure waves, the sparkle of
water in the sun, but he could not longer feel as easy as he did an hour ago,
when he waded through the freshness of the morning, feeling warmed and revived.
"I suppose," he said slowly, "that I'm thinking that
perhaps Alexandra could help me. Or I hope that she will."
But what I'm most afraid of, he reflected privately,
is that she wouldn't. He returned to the former subject, to turn his thoughts
away from this recurrent, troublesome reflection.
"But it’s Florina that I particularly wish you to
know," he repeated. "She was like my older sister, and I suppose that it’s only
appropriate that she will yours as well, Sapphire." With a sudden smile, he
added, "Revanshe was right. I seem to be collecting sisters nowadays."
Sapphire nodded. "She said something like it to me
Elazul shrugged. "I always got along
better with women than with men," he said. "I just like their company better. I
suppose that after living all my life with my father, learning to be nothing but
the ideal soldier, I came to loath this ideal I had to strive to, came to loath
what men considered important. So I stayed away from them. I did not feel that I
needed to strive for their approval; I automatically earned their respect
because I excelled at what they most admired and honored." He spoke this with an
indifferent voice, an almost contemptuous one. "But because of my father, I felt
I've had enough of their company."
"And… what about
Alex?" asked Sapphire. "Did you know she was not a man? Is that why you
"At first I thought she was a boy,"
answered Elazul. "I wasn’t very interested in her until I realized that she was
a woman, several weeks into our acquaintance. I was curious, I suppose, because
she was… a very unusual person, to say the least. Before I realized it, I
acquired the first real friend that I ever had. And I discovered how easy it was
to talk to women… at least, to women like her, because some might say that she
acted a lot like a man. I suppose that she was enough of both a man and a woman
to strike the right balance in speaking to me."
paused, seeming to contemplate this. "And still, Alex… wasn’t the type of person
that is easy to get along with. It wasn’t until Florina that I realized that I
like women’s company, as friends. Between them I felt... strangely comfortable.
I guess that Florina balanced Alexandra’s shortcomings."
"Or maybe," Elazul added, after further thought, "I
feel comfortable with women because they don't demand much of me, unlike men."
He shrugged. "In some ways, they are more ready to accept me as I am."
He looked towards Sapphire with a somewhat
self-conscious smile. "For obvious reasons, some of which you doubtlessly heard
She understood his meaning and flushed
faintly, looking guilty. "I... yes, I did. All that... gossip. I... I don't like
gossip," she said suddenly, and it was the first time Elazul heard her speak
about anything with something like censure. "It's just that Amethyst and
Marina... they have nothing in common except their love of talking about other
people, and that's what they mostly did when we were all together. So, I, I
heard about you, and about..." She paused, and turned almost red.
Elazul raised an eyebrow. "About me and who? Alex?
Black Pearl? Amber?"
She looked into his eyes. "Were
you really in love with Black Pearl, Elazul?"
looked down. With Sapphire he was comfortable, felt nothing of the embarrassment
that he felt in front of others when speaking of this subject. Perhaps it's
because she doesn't censure me for it, he thought to himself, doesn't probe me
with that cynical, world-weary gaze of Diana and her like.
"I don't know," he answered. "I suppose, Sapphire,
that I was greatly taken with Black Pearl, because... she had... something in
her. She was strong, and unyielding, and did not give her love easily. I doubt
she ever gave her love to anyone..."
He halted. "I
suppose that I wanted that love," he finally said, admitting the truth that he
had known for a long time." I wanted to be loved by someone as completely, as
strongly, as entirely as I knew that the Lady Pearl could love, if she only let
herself love anyone. This is what I wanted from her, and was, at the same time,
angry at the knowledge that I could not attain it, and ashamed of those feelings
because they made me so dependent on her only... and they made me angry with
her, perhaps even unreasonably angry. And at the same time, I could not forgo
that wish that she so strongly inspired in me. I suppose that I had no one to
blame for it but myself."
"Some say that wishes
sometimes come true, and never as you wished them to," said a new voice behind
them. Elazul recognized Revanshe's ironic tones at once, but he turned and gazed
at her without a sign of perturbation. "I suppose so," he answered.
Revanshe stepped between Elazul and Sapphire. "Here,
child, make me some room," she said briskly. "Move a little to the side— a
little more— but not too much, mind you, or you'll fall into the water. There,
Elazul, a trifle amused, said: "You
treat her as if she was a little girl. She's of age, you know."
"Indeed?" asked Revanshe dryly. "And what age, might
I ask, is 'of age'?"
She turned her critical eye
towards Sapphire. "When I first asked this girl how old she was, I thought I
heard her say something like 'thirty', but then she suddenly changed her mind
and told me that she was eighteen. I always wondered about that little slip of
Elazul stole a glance at Sapphire, and
saw that her cheeks flushed, and that she looked a little frightened. Calmly, he
answered, "Sapphire will never lie, of course."
"Indeed?" asked Revanshe, with a lift of her
eyebrow. "And how old, then, might YOU be?"
as old as you are, Revanshe," answered Elazul. "And, therefore, you should treat
me with more respect."
"And I suppose," inquired
Revanshe, "that your beautiful Pearl is a hundred years old?"
"More like a thousand, I think," answered Elazul.
"I'm not quite sure of the exact count, however."
wish I would be as good-looking as you are now, when I am your age," she
"Revanshe," Elazul said with half a smile,
"I am twenty-three years old."
"My point stands,"
she answered. "Now, what was that talk you gave Sapphire about being loved? Big
Sister is here for you, to listen to your tale of woe." She placed her fingers
on Elazul's shoulder and gave it a not-quite-sisterly squeeze.
"Sorry," answered Elazul, very steadily. "I already
told you, Revanshe, that you can't be my sister." He placed his hand on hers and
removed it from his shoulder. "For obvious reasons."
"Refusing me?" she asked.
"In every way you can conceive," he answered. "I'm
afraid that you are destined to break your heart over me, Revanshe."
Revanshe gave one of her disdainful sniffles and
rose to her feet without replying.
said. "Can you swim?"
He wasn’t quite sure what she
was up to, and regarded her with a lift of his eyebrow. She folded her arms.
Elazul gave up. "Yes," he answered.
"How about you?" Revanshe asked, turning to
Sapphire, assured by Elazul’s aid,
evidently recovered from her confusion. "I cannot," she answered. "I, I never
"That's good," Revanshe remarked.
Elazul had been gazing at Sapphire as she made her
answer, and he did not notice that Revanshe stepped to the side, so she was
standing right behind him; and, as upon her last remark, she leant forward and
placed her hands on his shoulders.
behind him. "What—" he begun; but before he could complete his sentence,
Revanshe gave him a sturdy push. Taken off-guard, he lost his balance and fell
from the dock and into the water.
Revanshe called out, "if Sapphire can’t swim it means that she can't fish you
Elazul emerged to the surface of the
water, spitting and splattering; he floundered a bit and then clung to the foot
of the dock. Flinging his wet hair out of his eyes, he looked up at Revanshe
with a half-incensed, half-amused smile. She stood with folded arms and eyed him
"I think I'm changing my mind about
you," she remarked. "Floundering in the water like that, you remind me of a
fish. And I really, really hate fish."
And upon this
statement she turned on her heels and walked back towards the inn.
Sapphire's face appeared over the edge of the dock,
her eyes worried. "Are you all right, Elazul?" she called.
Elazul clung to the foot of the dock ruefully.
"I'm beginning to think," he remarked, "that going
out there and facing the hunters is just as dangerous for me as staying here."
Pearl stood and watched the blue evening through
the window. She did not quite understand why Elazul took her to the sea again,
but she did not care. All she cared about is that Elazul did not leave her
behind when he went. She did not want Elazul to leave her. The very notion
filled her with fear, and made her feel strangely unlike herself, filled with
dark, alien, simmering emotions.
her quietly; a girl that Pearl felt to be vaguely familiar but could not place
in her mind at that moment. The girl said, with a soft voice, "Lady Pearl, we
have dinner ready. Do come."
Pearl turned towards
the girl slowly. "Where is Elazul?" she asked.
downstairs," answered the girl. "He’s asking you to come down, Pearl."
Pearl stared at the girl for a moment. "Is it you
we’ll be staying with?" she asked. "Elazul told me that we’ll be coming to stay
The girl nodded. "Yes, Lady Pearl.
I’m the person you’ll be staying with."
Pearl. "I… I do not recall you."
The girl hesitated,
seeming unsure of herself before Pearl’s gaze. Then she answered, haltingly,
"Lady Pearl, I’ve known Elazul from a long time ago. Elazul is… he’s like my
brother. I care about him very much, and I know that you do, too. I almost feel
like you are my family, because he’s like my family… please, Lady Pearl. I know
that somewhere, somehow, you can recall me." She approached Pearl and took her
Pearl looked absently at their laced hands.
She withdrew hers slowly, listlessly, and turned towards the window again.
"Elazul can’t leave me," she said to the dark vision
of the ocean. "Not for anyone."
"I understand," said
the girl. "He won’t, Lady Pearl. I promise you that I care about Elazul greatly.
But he will not leave you. He is taking care of us both. If something happens to
Elazul," she said, very softly now, speaking more to herself, "I… I don’t know
what I shall do. If anyone ever hurts him…" she pressed her hands together. "I
care about him very much, Lady Pearl."
and gave the girl a blank expression.
ever hurts Elazul..." she said,
"...If anybody ever
Comment: Talk about wishes coming true! (This remark was brought to you
by The Author is Blatantly Advertising Her Theme ™ foundation)
I couldn't resist inserting the Oscar Wilde quote, especially since Elazul
has that 'stunning blue eyes' cliche going for him. The actual quote that
inspired the title is ‘A Hero’s dream burning blue/ the people sleep forever’
from "The Wanderer of Time" of Final Fantasy: Pray (to which I
incidentally listened as I revised this chapter.) I’ve also listened to FFIV:
Celtic Moon, in a desperate quest to find inspiration for better prose for
this chapter. Incidentally, both CDs are the best arranged versions of game
music I’ve ever heard.
I’ve been having a major writer's block for this chapter. It’s a
'conversation chapter', dry and kind of tedious, and I hate those, maybe because
they remind me how much I neglected to explain while lingering over descriptions
of glowing seas and summer meadows and chirping birds and all that flowery
nothingness that I so love to slow this story with.
I'm actually pleased with the way the prose in Part III turned out. I thought
that it would continue the trend of slowly worsening prose (typical of long
fanfiction stories, as I know from my own experience.) However, I guess I got
inspired for it, and its prose is actually superior to Part II's (in all
chapters except this one.)
And innkeepress, bartenders and so on are really helpful in this story,