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MrJims
April 25th, 2006, 12:09 PM
Hi folks, new to sffworld. Hope you enjoy this, it converted poorly.



Prolog

“The water will be done in a moment” the little girl said. Though there was only one other person in the room, the words felt like they were for no one in particular. Kalinda continued swinging her legs back and forth from her lofty spot on one of the kitchen chairs that were all too big for little girls. Swish swish went the sound of here little toes as they barely rubbed the earthen floor in perfect time.
Kassandra snorted as she reached for cups and the jar of honey with the conservative movements of the elderly. The kitchen was oval in shape and cozy in size. The walls consisted of mud and clay, rising to the height of an average man before merging with the grassy domed roof. Brownish gray splotches on the roof and walls denoted the age of the structure.”The water, and all things for that matter, will have its time in time.”
Kalinda’s face turned red as she giggled and shoved her hands into her face. “You should write more rhymes Kassandra, it suits you” came the voice from beneath tiny hands. When the hands came down, they revealed a serious face, without any childish expression. Suddenly the little girl squirmed out f her chair as a voice rang out, “The water’s done!”
Shrill whistling of steam punctuated the voice from behind the door into the family room of the home. Another door, made of gnarled branches bound tightly together by twine and packed with mud stood on the opposite side of the room leading outside. Both doors were identical except for the lock on the outside door. A golden pin stuck out from the door and rested in a similarly golden catch on the wall, these were in turn tied together by a silver thread. Loosely resting on the lock, the thread appeared flimsy and ready to fall with the slightest encouragement, but neither the thread nor the door ever moved.
Kalinda crossed the kitchen, stomping her five-year-old feet with great exaggeration, hands and face raised imploringly toward the heavens.”The water’s time has come, so has the voice of NOW ordained!” boomed the little voice in its attempt to sound both impressive and frightening. Kassandra began to smile but made a clucking sound instead, “don’t tease, O’ goddess of the many clouded paths.” The whistling steam died off as Kassandra, iron tongs in hand, removed the singing lid from the boiling pot. Putting the lid and tongs back on their proper pegs on the shelf she was unaware of the tongue stuck out in her direction. Kalinda knew she would be unobserved, for this was always a special moment for the old women. Steam billowed from the large pot above the fire pit, rolling over the spit upon which the black cast iron pot sat and flowing up over the shelves and pegboard. The shelves and board were finely carved oak with a spot for everything and a beautiful series of flowers and vines along the inlay. When the steam slid across the shelves it would roll and tumble against the carvings as it continued its unstoppable journey up. As Kassandra moved the hot water from the pot into a pitcher with a wooden ladle and sealed the pot the steam abruptly stopped. Moisture droplets coalesced on the shelves and slowly slid down tracing over the carved flowers and vines like the caress of the last light rays of sunset. The effect left the shelves looking like a garden right after a gentle rain and always held Kassandra briefly in its power.
Shaking her head, Kassandra spoke “Grab the tea leaves, please, and get the door.”
Obediently, Kalinda fetched the leaves and lead the slightly hunched women to the door. Just as Kassandra was about to pass the end of the shelves she stopped, set down her tray, and rubbed one of the carved flowers with her thumb. Kalinda glanced back as Kassandra picked up the tray and noticed one of the flowers was now purple with yellow at its center. Pausing, the young girl gazed at the altered flower and put one finger of her free hand to her lips thoughtfully. “Purple and yellow” she mused, “why do those colors stir my thoughts?”
“Don’t be obnoxious, it bodes ill for the future” as curt as the response was, Kassandra had a slight smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.
Kalinda’s expression changed to one of mock astonishment. “The dashing Gilad, those were his colors if I do recall. Oh, you romantic old vixen you” she then proceeded to wag her finger at the old women in a motherly fashion while shaking her head.
Kassandra opened her mouth to respond, but was cut off, “How can you two take so long in a kitchen so small?!”
The old women closed her mouth and rolled her eyes, looking at Kalinda she smiled as the little girl smiled and opened the door.
Soft white and cream colors massaged both their eyes as the door opened unto a massive room. Entering the room their gazes were drawn to the roof, which stretched thirty feet into the air and displayed a masterful fresco depicting human struggle. Kalinda sighed, “The colors are soothing, but I loathe Tanchuian architecture, why create a room so large and fill it with nothing?”
Kalinda closed the door behind them, appraised the dark metal side of the kitchen door with its three metal bars running across it and began to cross the room.”This was a poor job,” Kassandra said, waving her hand to encompass the five sculptures which were the only things in the center of the room. “ A Tanchu master could make you weep with five simple rocks and a table.”
The old woman led the younger toward the right side of the room where a fireplace was carved directly into the soft white wall. Beside it stood a tall standing mirror encased in bronze and surrounding
them both were a great assortment of pillows. All the colors and shades imaginable were contained within the pile, as well as a beautiful young woman.”If I knew tea would take so long I would have asked for food as well.” Kaya said with an impish grin.
Kassandra set the tray down in front of the young women and groaned her way to a comfortable position on the pillows.”If you were so impatient, you should have made a smaller room” the old women muttered as she finished moving pillows to her satisfaction.
“You like the room though, don’t you?”
“The room is lovely Kaya” soothed Kalinda as she knelt beside the tray and placed three tea leaves in each cup. Next she filled the cups from the pitcher, placed one in front of both women and then sat down on the opposite side of Kaya.
“I’m so excited” squealed Kaya in delight, “I’ve been tingling for days, there must be so much to see.”
“Then have at it girl.” Kassandra said with a laugh, Kaya’s excitement was becoming
contagious.
Kaya crawled out from the pillows and pushed the tray off to the side. Standing up the young women faced the bronze mirror and shook out her arms. “Ready” she said.
“Ready” came the reply.
Kaya nodded and began to clap, the beat was constant and very quiet. Slowly the volume increased and was joined by two more sets of clapping hands. The bronze frame of the mirror started to pulse with a faint amber glow in time with the beat. The young women began to spin in a circle as the beat grew louder and the mirror brighter. Then she chanted:
“Spin, spin, O’ fate and chance,
show me please, the greatest dance.
Show me please, the falling rocks,
Show me their actions, give me their talk.”
By the end of the chant the mirror was glowing a solid yellow. Kaya dizzily fell into the pillows and joined her sisters in watching the mirror’s clouded surface begin to move. The mists within the glass slowly parted to reveal a lazy river, on both sides of the wide waterway were lush grass lands. The view moved swiftly up stream showing rolling hills and occasional rock clusters. A fork in the river moved off into the distance as a forest appeared on the horizon. The forest zoomed toward the mirror’s surface until the sister’s were looking down upon it, from above the trees formed a large circle with a body of water in the center, then both forest and lakes were gone from view. As the river bent north in its course the mirror’s vision continued over the hills and valley’s. Roads and smaller paths crossed under the mirror’s eye, some held small groups of travelers, but most were empty.
The view of the land began to widen as a great city moved toward the spectators. The sister’s sipped their tea as the mirror’s eye hovered briefly over the city. “Attilus, I haven’t been there in ages” said Kaya.
“It hasn’t been their ages, it’s only three hundred years old, now be quiet.” Kassandra replied sternly as she gazed at the city.
Attilus was eight sided with thirty foot outer walls that were eight feet thick, at the center stood a majestic palace surrounded by three circular walls of the same dimensions. North of these walls, large houses stood grandly upon well-tended lawns while to the south the buildings were concentrated into two areas. Another wall, again thirty feet tall, enclosed everything in a large square. The squares only gate was in the south wall and led into a huge park. Paths wove there way south, through gardens and over ponds and sometimes off into little hidden nooks and corners. A great market square lay south of the park, booths were laid out in rows with the occasional gap which led to new rows of goods and services. From above it looked very much like a maze unless you followed the main path out of the park which cut the great market cleanly in two and led into a spacious courtyard which separated the marked from the main outer gate. On both sides of the park and market, medium size houses sprawled from the southern courtyard to the midpoint of the square interior wall. On both sides the houses gave way to workshops, metal and wood to the east, fabrics and textiles to the west. The workshops continued north until just beyond the interior wall, warehouses crammed up against one another from that point up until the north east and west gates where they abruptly stopped. Due north of the interior wall homes emerged once more, but this time they were very modest and run down in many cases. These homes ran straight from the north interior wall to the north gate of the exterior wall, known as peasants pass.
The mirror closed in on the poor section of Attilus, down onto a small marketplace near the interior wall, and then further down until it stopped ten feet above a vendor serving a glass of clear liquid to a mountain of a man.
“Rory “Pudge” Gray” Kaya said.
“The hammer of despair” replied Kassandra
“The rock to which lesser men cling” intoned Kalinda.