It’s early morning. The sun has just managed to take a cautious peek over the horizon, the chill in the air yet to be burned off. Edan Karm trudges down to the castle practice ground. He may not have slept much, judging by the puffiness around his eyes. Sleep deprived or not, this had become a morning routine over the last week. Get up early. Go to the practice grounds. Do something resembling practice. It was easier when there wasn’t anyone around sometimes.

He coughs slightly, clears his unexpectedly dry throat. The air is a lot less humid than it usually is this early in the morning. Surely the day is not going to be that arid. There’s a tedious thought.

He steps out of the corridor and on to the long walk over looking the grounds. And stops. He’s seen some bizarre sights before, but this one is possibly right up there. In the North Quarter, closest to the higher walls where the cool shadows linger longest in the dawn, Princess Sioned, half dressed (from what he understands, not unusual) looking slightly damp (sometimes unusual?), studying a quarto book lying open on a stand (frequently unusual). He surmises that it must be a combat manual of some kind as she makes a series of tentative, controlled, but awkwardly untenable movements with her sword arm as she reads.

And then there’s the bizarre….thing. The pulsating wall of gently sparkling liquid light that chases itself around in swirls and patterns behind her. Occasionally it runs up against the castle wall, and undulates back in on itself. It has no form, not solid form that he can see, or is it a multitude of solid forms that shift and mutate into other less solid forms….staring at it too long is giving him an eye ache. In both eyes. What is that?

She appears to finish studying the book and turns to the light and pattern play beside her. It starts to reach out towards her in swirls and undulations. If it were sentient, it might seem gleeful? A litter of puppies anticipating playtime…….he hopes it’s not sentient, that may be a little too terrifying. Larger (more solid?) forms begin to coalesce, still pursuing each other in eddies and swirls. Before long she’s standing in it’s midst, a sword in her hand that he hadn’t noticed before. Long and thin, simple lines and an aged bone grip. It reminds him of a Venway weapon, but lither? Was that even something a sword could be?

A susserrus, strangely liquid laughter, the wall takes on a form that his mind recognises, but hardly believes. The air becomes a touch dryer still, as Sioned kicks up into the accretion of water pulled together from early morning mist, dew and likely the numerous water troughs lining the Southern and Eastern Quarters of the grounds; possibly sources beyond….he wondered if the castle fountains were dry this morning.

And she moves. The untenable motions from earlier take on an elegance, a purpose.

Understanding comes to him. Rebman weapon forms. She’s attempting to study Rebman weapon forms. Surely it would be easier to just go down t…..oh. Of course. That’s something she can’t do. S’teeth, to never be able to go home again…..

He watches as an action becomes disjointed and then malformed as she tries to compensate as one would on land. She stops, floats in what seems to be mild frustration for a few seconds before drifting to the bottom as the water disperses in to increasingly smaller forms until once again it is only wall of wild shimmering particles, swirls and oscillations. Sioned steps once more up to the manuscript, huffs out a breath and begins her study again.

He feels like he’s intruding. He should go. He has almost turned to do so, when her voice calls out to him.

“You should practice, if you’re going to. Hagan’s always quite happy when you put more effort and thought in to your forms, and usually severely disappointed when you don’t.”

He gulps slightly. A severely disappointed Hagan? That sounds contraindicated. He looks back at her. At her face. Now that he knows that she knows he’s there, he’s acutely aware that she know’s he’s been watching her and she’s only half clothed. Which he shouldn’t be doing. What would Lara think….Lara…um..no….Sheriff! Sheriff Lara…..fully clothed..NO ONE IS HALF NAKED…..CLOTHED! GAH. No. One. Is. Half CLOTHED. S’teeth, how did that get in to his head?! She’s grinning at him…..S’TEETH! She can’t read minds can she!? Momentary panic.

“I’m joking, Edan.” Uncertain relief? “Unless you’re planning on pissing him off spectacularly, Hagan’s not going to bail you up for not practicing hard enough…….unless he think’s it’ll be amusing……or teach you something……you should probably practice, just in case.” She goes back to studying the quarto again, finding the offending movement and trying to correct it.

Overwhelming relief.

He considers the length of the long walk and the stairway down to the grounds. It ends quite close to where her highness is working.

“What is it, Edan?”

“ah…well, um…you’re half na..cloth….not…wearing..a lot.”

If he blushed again, she didn’t see it. She never took her eyes from the book. She did sigh, and mutter audibly “What is it with you Amberites and your obsession with clothing.”

Advertisements