Norwescon 39, 2016

(Rough Release 6)

[[ From The Enfolding Abyss: Prologue ]]

It was stubborn determination that taught her how to throw.  Throwing wasn’t a skill she’d especially cared to acquire.  A swing, however…

She wanted a swing.  And she was told, by her father, that she must learn how to hang it herself.  Soleil knew where she wanted it.  Probably the most difficult tree in the whole court, for its picturesque qualities.  The branch called her and said, swing from me.

She actually looked at physics diagrams, and laid out five means before her, all frustrating.  Frustrating because she kept missing.  Close enough was not the right spot.  She watched people throw, eyes narrowed.  They made it look easy.  She continued to hurl her means at the beckoning branch, wondering if this was taking too long.

Then, an eye opened – a special, suddenly bright point in space.  The moment she saw it, her muscles spasmed, and the line sailed straight through.  She stood there shocked, just watching the line laying in the right spot.  She would do it a second time.

(Rough Release 5)

[[ From The Enfolding Abyss: Prologue ]]

The Royal Court of Alisandre Capital was as old as it gets and as new as they could make it, byzantine to youth who had never been given a guided tour.  To Draig’s memory, the Princess had never been lost, though he’d often kept her company through encouragement, a personal sense of duty, and sheer curiosity.  No one ever stopped them, and he understood without being told that no one was to stop her.  Besides, why would he?  She couldn’t get them into trouble bigger than he was.

This time they had found a seam, where well-kept ancient building met gleaming expansion.  Soleil peered through a waist-height opening.  “There are stairs.”  She boosted herself to hang through it.  “Small, not grand.”  The Princess wiggled over the lip and stood up again to face him from the other side, a little taller.  “They go up,” she said as she disappeared, beckoning him with a gesture.

They went around a bend in the stair, losing the new wall behind them.  At the top ahead was an opening of similar size and height, blocked with a piece of fitted and barred wood.  Fists at her waist, she inspected it.  “You can reach that, can’t you?”

Draig raised his arms to grip the wooden bar.  “I can get a good hold.”

Looking from him to the barricade, her smile grew slowly.  “Will you help me open it?”  Catching her smile, he nodded.  She held up the barricade while he removed the bar, and together they cajoled the piece of wood from its dusty seat.

They squinted their eyes against the sudden breeze that blew across their faces.  The Princess peeked out.  “It’s a walkway.”  She boosted herself over like last time.  Draig felt his heart pounding.  Soleil’s head poked above the ledge; she was sitting.  “It’s high down this side.”  Her dark hair picked up in the wind.  He made to follow her out, but she said, “You’d better not.”  All he could see from his view was part of her and a section of stone.

“I’m just going to…”  With a hand inside the opening, she stood.  The breeze couldn’t be that strong, could it?  She was standing differently, eyes blinking, face serious.  And then she just climbed back in.  They left things the way they’d found them.

(Rough Release 4)

[[ from The Enfolding Abyss: Prologue ]]

Sometimes she called the race, other times he did.  She knew the hallways turns a little better, so he had the feeling when she called an unexpected snap, it would be a good one.

Straightaways were always fair, and fun since their races weren’t necessarily clean, including shoving, windmilling, and weird stepping.  Sometimes his six-year advantage was no advantage at all, her light feet seeming not to touch the ground, gaining over his awkwardly growing stride.  A straight hallway meant they could see when there was no traffic ahead.  It was like puppies crossing the kitchen floor, puppies that got faster and faster.

(Rough Release 3)

[[ From The Enfolding Abyss: Prologue ]]

She could bundle cords now – find separate streams and tie them together, touching along their lengths to create a new trunk.  Once it was properly bound, the previously separate cords proceeded differently.  The conversations illuminated.  It was this capability, neatly introduced to her, that allowed her greatest degree of self-agency aboard their ship.

That it was all living, that people felt this as they breathed, embodying it in their lives, took her breath away.

How long have they been Vedani?  Where did they come from?