Sara Chatain belongs to Gwenn of the @2BlueWizards
Fatine the Lyllaen belongs to @DuskyAsianRose
Sara took a pencil in her right hand, she drew a circle then an oval then several lines and connected everything with more lines. And eventually, a bird took flight out of sketch on the canvas. She was sketching, yes, and a raven-like creature on her window lattice was her model. Her avian friend no doubt. He followed her from her apartment to this 'god knows where' place, he hadn't abandoned her, or so as Sara thought. The creature tilted his head, his eyes of pale grey, more akin to those of a man’s than a bird’s, followed her movements. Sara felt safe around him.
She carefully mixed red, yellow and blue, her strokes captured the heavy iridescence that dusk cast upon his midnight-blue plumage. This could go on forever, she and the bird, and the endless strokes. No but it cannot be, nothing last forever. A rattle of the door knot shattered everything.
Sara frowned in frustration as the avian creature took flight. She turned her head to the door and cast a half scorn, it was her half mute bodyguard and the mistress of the house. The man helped himself with his usual corner against the wall, in the cloak of heavy shadow. Still his midnight blue hair and grey eyes were visible, and Sara cannot help but find resemblance between him and her avian friend, his hair to its feathers, and his eyes to its. No, Sara slapped herself out of it, she was just finding comfort, searching something she is comfortable within something she isn't. A bird cannot turn into a man, or the other way around, can he? Then again, things here are beyond common sense, Sara did not know what to believe any more.
"Madame Chatain." Spoke the house mistress after she bite her lips. Sara heed her no attention, she waited Fatine to come to the window, the last glow of the setting sun set her flamey hair aflame, her dark skin shimmered like melted chocolate. Sara met her gaze, her champagne yellow eyes and for the first time, she saw hesitation in them. Fatine wet her lips with her tongue, this action only had no suggestive undertone, but whatever Lyllaens do, they flavour them with sensuality. Fatine opened then closed her mouth but nothing came out. "She wishes to speak with you." It was Ishuul who b.roke the silence. Fatine's b.rows knotted over her wary eyes but she commented nothing, instead she cast Sara an inquiry glance. "The Queen finally musters her courage to face a powerless prisoner?" Sara was taken aback by her sarcasm. Ishuul glared a disapproval but Fatine hindered an arm and shook her head.
"That, Madame, I cannot argue with." Oh that voice, that voice Sara had not much interest in hearing again. She went on with painting. The bird had gone, sure, but she remembered its form. Sara dipped the b.rush in lime grey, then thinned the colour with water and carefully aimed a stroke at the sketch eye. Her visitor watched for a moment then joined the artist by taking up another b.rush, scooping the paint and dotted a inky black at where Sara had just applied the grey. The dot black against the grey, like a single black bird on the iron sky before the snow. Sara frowned in disapproval, but she paid no mind, the stroke was light, thin and easily modifiable. Sara covered it with grey. As Sara had applied the base colour, another stroke fell beside hers, this time darker and more defied, as the black bird had drawn closer. Sara's annoyance grew, but again, she said nothing. The same repeated again and again, to the point the black is no longer modifiable.
Now what? She's telling me she can do whatever she wants?
Sara glared at Alinna: "What do you want?"
"Do you understand?"
"Understand?" Sara felt something bellowed in her core. Something clogged underneath her good nature. Like a bottle of champagne, after been violently shaken, bubbled under its plug, waiting to rapture at the lightest nudge. And now it had been initiated.
"What do you want me to understand? What sense should I make of these? Why suddenly people are trying to kill me? Why my life is suddenly valued by a price? Why I suddenly have to flee my home and hide in this, this...hole? Why you and your people could just come here and talk to me in riddles, and do what you want like nothing and play me like a fool? What will you have me do? To bow down and kiss your sandals, to thank you for your grace, my Queen? Now if you will excuse me, I wish to finish my painting."
After all that had been said, Sara felt dizzy and unreal, as if she had woken up from a dream, as if a demon had left her body and what she had said was not of herself but the demon who had possessed her. Sara turned away from her visitors, so their reaction is beyond her observation. But she did hear a heavy tut of disapproval, from her dead-faced body guard no doubt, and a much milder sign, it was her current landlady.
"Do you feel better now?" The princess asked, calmly.
Sara did not answer, her tongue was knotted from confusion...she panted a little, the sudden explosion dislodged something, the emotions she tried to hold back, the thoughts unspoken. Thoughts and feelings are meant to be expressed, so she did, and it took a great weight out of her.
"There are many ways of communication, words is only the elementary among them. We Lylthians do not relay on words to pass through what we have in mind. But words are fundamental as they are primary, let us talk as men do, shall we?"
"Do all of your kind speak in riddles? What you spoke makes no sense to me. What do you want?" Sara was frustrated, she turned round and darted a glare. She was sick of it, all these riddle talks, can’t we just cut to business?
The princess stood motionless for a while, nothing can be made out of her composure, it was not Sara’s expertise anyway.
"Very well, you do have to forgive me. " The princess bowed her head slightly, and extended her hand to Sara. "Could I have the honour of having a cup of tea with you?"
"A cup of tea? Is that so?" Sara heard a bitter laugh composed by her throat.
"What if I say no."
"It is your choice, I cannot force it upon you. I thought you might want some fresh air."
To be completely honest, Sara did not strongly against the idea, she did not have much choice either. She had stayed long enough in her room, she seldom left it after her last adventure back to her old apartment. Sara indeed wanted fresh air, so she nodded.
Sara thought she should have get used to it, but confusion and disorientation still seized her when they suddenly materialized in the middle of an antique shop, in front of an old mirror in display to be specific. The shop owner payed them no mind, nor did them he.
In no time they were on a street of human world, Sara lifted her gaze skyward and was met by a grey, so much similar to the grey she put on the eyes of her Avian Friend. The air was stagnated and humid, a black bird hovered low. Sara pulled tight her jumper, yes they had both changed. She now wore an ash jumper, violet tartan skirt and a pair of leather boots. And her hostess, Sara still doesn’t know how to make of the black-haired Lylthian, wore her signature navy and black, a slightly droopy over coat, so much remind Sara of the ladies’ cloak she wore during the 19th century. But she just had the power to wear it fashionably fitting among the humans, but still grip hold a sense of other world.
Sara lifted her gaze again to her surrounding, they were in England, Sara will not mistake the humidity and the lack of sunlight, but where, she was not sure. The two ladies walked around a corner, and Sara thought they again passed into a fairyland. An entire wall, painted in the yellow of sunlight, b.roke the monotone of grey b.ricks and limestone. A little door, shaped into an arch, framed by vine crafted out of iron wire, was opened in the middle of this wall. On each side of the door, was two windows, arranged symmetrically and shaped similar to the door, arched on top and framed by the same vine decoration. Mounting over the door was a wooded board that read 'Ginger Cafe'.
Alinna pushed open the blue wooden door, they were immediately greeted by an old man, in his 60s Sara would reckon, average height. He had a kind face, red in colour, and droopy like orange peel.
"Lin! It's been a while, how's going?" The man exhaled in joy, and precede to give her a hug from his counter.
"Good evening Bob, everything’s fine, yourself?" Alinna instinctively staggered back, but she quickly returned a smile and enclosed one arm around his shoulder. Sara could clearly notice Alinna went stiff for a moment.
"Good, good! Now what can I get you ladies?" The old man Alinna called Bob showed them to a quiet corner. They sat face to face, one on the sofa bench ran along the wall, the other on a cozy chair. He looked at Alinna, in turn Alinna's eyes danced to Sara.
"I would suggest, even-though it is not the right season, Bob’s turmeric latte. After all, it is this place’s name sake." Sensing Sara’s dilemma, Alinna made a suggestion.
"Oh, I will have one of that." And Sara saw no reason for a different opinion, in fact it is her habit to try signature dishes of every places she visited.
"And you, Lin? Soy latte?"
"No, black tea, make it strong, with a pinch of milk, thank you Bob."
The drinks had been served, Sara enclosed her hand around the white cup. It was warm.
"So?" Sara b.roke the silence.
"Nice place, is it not? Local cafe for local people." Alinna poured a spoonful of milk into her tea and let the two liquid mix in a swirl.
"See the lady over there, the one in pink bohemian dress?" Alinna pointed over Sara’s left shoulder, to a woman sitting in the opposite corner. "That’s Miss Floren, the crazy cat lady of the block. And the lovely chubby man, Mr Barnabus," Alinna jolted her chin to Sara’s right, a seat by window. "He insists two sugar in his tea despite the warning of his diabetes educator."
So this is just a 'friendly' night out in cafe? Sara thought she will never knew what’s real any more.
"Do you...know these people?" Sara asked.
"I was born here." Alinna stared thoughtfully into her cup.
"You were born?" Sara chocked on her drink, but silly her, everyone was born.
"Surprise is it not? Monsters also have mothers."
"No, that’s not what I mean..." Sara turned red for a b.rief moment. It was indeed not her intention but subconsciously, can she say no for certain? In her heart Sara never associated Alinna with...human things.
"As monsters were born, monsters also lived lives, did small things. People are made up of small things. After all, it is the small things that change us. Big things only make us what we really are."
Sara looked into the Lylthian's amber eyes, they were obscure. Sara did not understand any of her intention, she could only listen.
"Three stories I wish to share with you, three little things that happened in my life. The first happened in the 13th perhaps 14th year of my human life. Yes do not look at me like that, I was born a human, just like you. My father took me on a trip to a museum. It was s private one, ran by one or couple of amateur scholars of history. The location was very obscure. My father of course knew the extract address, I did not. My father, trying to ‘build up my strength’ as he recounted, left me alone on the side of the road to find this museum. I was...terrified. All I could do at that moment was cry. I cried and cried, a woman walked past me and did nothing. Finally, my father came over, I thought, this is over, he came to help me. I was wrong, far from it. My father scorned me for being shy and useless, I could well enough ask people. Little by little I held back my tears, I knew no one was going to help me, and if I don’t do something, this will last. Eventually, I mustered my courage and asked a passerby, he showed me the way. I took nothing back from the day trip, nor from the museum, but one lesson, you are alone in this world, and no one will do it for you, if you don’t get things done yourself."
When was she born? Sara's confusion raised sky-high? She is ancient, right? Even Marcellus confirmed they last met 300 years ago, so how was she talking about...modern things? It makes no sense!
Alinna sipped from her cup and continued her recount. "The second story happened at the second year of my university study. I was working in a nursing home. I had a senior worker as my partner. We were assigned of our tasks at the beginning of the day. Even though our workload do get written on a board in our office, as you know this is a nursing home and elderly people sometimes can get quite demanding and distracting. One day after I nearly forget giving medication to a resident, I speak to the senior worker about wanting to design a timetable, or checklist. My partner, also the supervisor said go for it. So I did, and we tried and it worked fine. The next day our Manager called us for a staff meeting, and announced in excitement that my supervisor had developed a checklist, which is of course, my work. Being young I tried to talk to my Manager about the matter, but she didn’t care at all. She said the checklist is meant to help us as a whole and I shouldn’t be selfish about it. Besides, it is much more convincing for other staff that the tool was developed by a senior worker. After that, I quit that job and also understand if you want to be heard, you must first have a voice."
"The third story happened further down my study years. I volunteered at a hospital, in an Oncology ward. There I antiquated one patient. She was ill, but by the Dark Mother she is..." Alinna paused a little, "She was the person I’d use beamish. You wouldn’t believe her age from her sheer appearance, and she laughed as she had never laughed. A firefighter she was, she told me wherever she went, she was greeted with much warmth." Alinna chuckled, Sara was confused at first but realised it was a pun. "One day, I remembered, I was very upset. She saw me, and said, what’s the sulky face? I told her I had failed an assignment, I was working on the re-submission, and felt like a total failure. Come on, she said, skip the sulk, no big deal, it’s an essay, not the end of the world! Tell you what, you let me write one of your topic I can’t spell half of those big words properly. I’d give your tutor a cookie because he get you a second chance. Today’s Wednesday, and it’s ‘second meal on the house’ day for the Old Man John’s fish market, here, on me, two nice crispy fish’n’chips. You know there are always these people who can put a smile on your face? Who reach out and give you a lift when you most need it. Who can show you a whole different perspective of things that you yourself would never see? Who give you support even your family would not offer? Things depend on how you see it. She lived and fought on her cancer, so can we, just different stories, situations."
There was silence, Sara draw a long b.reath, she tried to take a sip from her drink but found it had already gone cold.
"How...was she, that fire fighter? " Sara asked.
"She died." Alinna said plainly.
"I'm...I'm sorry." Sara did feel sorry for her. Life has not offered Alinna the best memories.
She...she was telling...her life story? That black-haired Lylthian, whom Sara had reckoned more akin to a statue of war goddess of some distant temple than to a living being, lived. It felt so strange to hear words like father, manager or volunteer from Alinna. Sara thought the Lylthian was ancient, and they lived in total different worlds, and the otherworldly princess will never be able to understand life, her life, because they don’t have lives. But she was wrong, Alinna had a life and it had seemingly been taken from her as she had taken it from Sara.
"So what happened?" And Sara meant it, she wanted to know, and may be able to understand her own situation. What force had taken Alinna from her life? What is the purpose of this?
Alinna did not answer, instead she stared at Sara, and Sara felt her gaze passed through her into a great void, and upon this void Sara saw visions, images, shattered and obscure. Stars, figures, a hooded woman, and Alinna was looking into a mirror, there were two of them, Alinna and her reflection. No, there were two, they were different, but they were the same being. What does it all mean? It was all for a blink of an eye, the void came in the form of black wave, a ponderous wall. The darkness was closing in, it was boundless, shapeless, but it is solid, and its mere presence does not suffer the living b.reath. It was burning, it was freezing, and it was true, and it hurts.
Sara shrieked in pain, her very existence was shaking. The darkness, the pain, it was tremendous, and cannot be described by mortal words. What was it?
‘What you have asked for.’ Sara heard the princess’s voice in her mind. ‘There are things you cannot handle Sara Chatain, things that are kept from you for your own good. White can be covered by grey, and in turn black, but black cannot go back to white.’
"And that is why you keep me a prisoner?"
‘Sara Chatain, you do not even see your own wake. You clam to be my prisoner, yet there are no chains to bind you, no shackles to hold you. You eat and drink with me from the same table, is that how you call a prisoner?.’
"You hold me against my will, you send a guard at my door, and call me not a prisoner?" Sara protested in tears, her voice raised.
"Ishuul is sent for your protection, not restriction. And I see you no difficulty bypassing him." She continued. "You had a chance, you could well leave after you returned to your apartment. Why did you come back?"
Sara could have argued she acted on her instinct, and she was not good at refusing people. Then she realised, acting on instinct, so her instinct was returning to Grey Moth? People do grow a sense of reliance, even if it is a prison.
"Do you wish to go?" Asked the princess.
"What...what do you mean?"
"Do you wish?"
"More than any thing."
"Then you are free to go."
"Is this some kind of game?"
"Sara Chatain, know the people and their intention. If you think I am the one who wish to play games, go by your judgement, make your decision and face the consequence."
So there is no need to say more, Sara stood up and ran as fast as she can, knocking down chair on her way out. She felt like a butterfly and her hostess a spider queen sitting in the middle of her dark web. Sara does not know the meaning of any of these, she felt lost and manipulated and in her gut she knew this is some kind of trap? She can’ t just let her go, how could she? But god damn she wishes to go, far way from everything. She can’t go back to her old apartment? Fine, she’ll find a new one, she’ll even leave Paris, she’ll find a new city, go to the north, she’ll start a new life, as she always does, as long as she is far away, far away from everything! This is not her world, no matter what Alinna says, they cannot be trusted, they are using her.
"See how far will you go, Zalhrati." It doesn’t matter, she doesn’t care, as long as it is away, far far away.