Chapter 9: Crystal Tears

April 26, 2007

Not bad for 3 days work. 1200 words.

The oasis under the earth’s surface was calm. Only the sound of water falling from a dripstone slowly broke the silence, somewhere in the darkness. Surrounded by lily pads and ridges, the rimstone pool was unusually large for the cave. The pool itself glowed with an unnatural turquoise, although the water was often cool. A small carved statue of a woman clasping her hands in prayer with her eyes closed and head bowed knelt at the side of the pool, illuminated by the pool’s light. In the wall, a small ledge had been carved from the rock. On it were a few items; a large, shallow bowl, a small bucket, a scooper for the water from the pool, a scented candle, and tinder for the torch above the ledge. Smooth, cool steps had been carved out of the rock as well, to make it easier for visitors to access the pool.

The pool did not get too many visitors, many having forgotten its existence. Tonight though, its peace was broken by the sound of a woman’s footsteps walking slowly towards it. Her feet sounded loud in the empty cave. Approaching the pool, she knelt before the statue on the cool and smooth steps and bowed deeply in a gesture of utmost respect. Her movements were measured and graceful, much like the statue next to the pool. Getting to her feet, she went to the ledge and removed everything but the candle. She did not light the torch, but lit the candle instead. Once it was lit, the aroma filled the cave. Turning away from the candle, she put the scooper in the bowl and carried them to the water’s edge.

Fishing in her robe, she took out a soft cloth, which she left folded next to the bowl. Taking the scooper, she poured it first onto the statue, bathing it in the waters from the pool. She did this two more times, each time muttering a prayer under her breath. Then she took the cloth to wipe the excess water away. Her actions were lovingly kind, gentle as though she was bathing anew born.

When she had cleaned the statue, only then did she turn to the pool to resolve her own issues. Taking the scooper again, she took water from the pool and filled the shallow bowl. When she had done this three times, she put the scooper aside and turned to look deep into the bowl. Her reflection stared back at her. Large, blue-green eyes the same shade of the pool appeared dark, while her long black hair framed a face full of worry. A necklace hung from her neck; the pendant a rosebud carved from crystal. For a long time, it was her own reflection she saw, but slowly, the water’s surface began to change.She could feel her eyes beginning to close, and herself slipping into a trance.

~~~~~

She stood in a room filled with books. There were books everywhere; on the study desk, the shelves, the chairs, and even the bed where a young woman slept. She walked towards the young woman, passing through her bed and the books like a ghost. With ethereal hands, she reached out to pat the brunette sleeping on the bed. She could not touch her, but she hoped that the girl could feel her. The girl looked peaceful and cute in her sleep. There seemed to be a hint of a smile playing on her lips. The smile was infectious. She could not help but smile back at her, even though she knew that the girl was asleep and did not know she was there. The Dancing Key tended to have that effect on people.

She left the room through the door and walked straight into the room opposite. The room was spotless, compared to the warzone she had left behind. Books were neatly stacked in a small shelf, while papers were stacked neatly on the desk by the bed. The Singing Key was asleep on her bed, tucked in carefully by the Dancing Key and the Musician, their brother. Her blond hair fanned out behind her on the pillow, creating a fake halo around her head. From memory, the visitor recreated the faces of the Singing and Dancing Key; they had nearly the same facial structure, but the Dancing Key was more jovial than her sister, while the Singing Key had a quieter, more focused air about her. Her eyes were also blue, but they were sky blue and clear. She reached out and touched the blond’s cheeks gently. This one she would follow to hell, back and then to hell again.

Stepping back from the bed, she looked at the Singing Key’s wrist. There were two identical blue threads tied to it, each leading in different directions. One headed off to the room she had just left, so she picked up the other and followed it. It led to their brother, the Musician. The two threads around his wrist ran nearly the same way, so at first glance one would think that it was just a thick rope. The threads, which had started out as a very light blue, was now nearly black. The ties between the siblings went back a long time.

The Musician was asleep with a stack of reports on his chest, one hand behind his head, and a woman covered in blue flame sleeping with her head on his chest and a smile on her face. She did not touch the Musician, not knowing anything about him. What she knew about it was what she gleaned from the sisters and the ancient legends. He was rarely, if ever, mentioned. The old manuscripts spoke of a “Triune” belonging to the Creator, but they had rarely mentioned all of the parts needed. Of the Triune, considerable pages and literature had been dedicated to the sisters, but precious little about the Elemental Master. Unlike the other two, his parentage was devoid of any divine or demonic blood.

Despite that though, he looked the strongest of the three. His hands were rough and calloused, and not just from sword practice. His hands carried faint burn marks here and there, testament to his mastery. Black hair, darker than his sister’s deep brown, fell messily over his face. His lips were thin and his face was pale. His hands were adorned with a cascade of glass bracelets on one hand, and an intricately carved golden armlet on the other. She sighed. He was a Master of the Elements, just three steps down from becoming a Divinity. Judging from the female sprite sleeping on him though, she would say that he was already a Divinity but he refused to take the step to cement that fact.

“Better to be a mortal and protect the ones you love rather than look down from above helpelessly,” a voice burst into her thoughts.

She whirled around to see two young men, dressed in identical robes and floating above the floor. They had a mischievous look on their faces as they watched her. “Our Mistress always used to say that. Did you know that your mind’s an open book?” they grinned.

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