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Friday, June 20, 2008

A Little Solstice Gift

Summer solstice greetings! It is a beautiful day here in northern Colorado - mild, a gentle breeze, and the glorious smell of much-needed rain after a small shower this afternoon. I am not one to venerate the seasons' changes - only revel in the seasons themselves. But in honor of some who do mark the changes, albeit they are beings of my own creation, I'm offering you a scene I wrote when I was trying to get a handle on a very particular form of magic in Flesh and Spirit. Timewise, the scene would precede the opening of Flesh and Spirit by a day or two. There may be slight discrepancies with the final history/magic.

WARNING: this scene could be considered a very mild spoiler for Flesh and Spirit or Breath and Bone. Some would also rate it PG13.




His name glided through the moon shade like a hunting owl to settle in gentle urgency on Kol's bare shoulder. Rare to hear it spoken by any voice but his own in this long parched season of disaffection. Since those who ruled in Aeginea had silenced his sister Clyste, he had walked and danced and celebrated his waking seasons alone. Only in the Canon, at seasons’ change, did he dance with the others.

No matter the rare occasion; he could not attend the call. The grove suffered, and his kiran was yet steps shy of its completion. His sinistre leg held firm in the center of the grove, knee bent, thigh muscle warming quickly with the strain. He swept the same-side arm low, gathering the scents of shy violet and foxglove and hairy-stemmed campion, resistant in its deadness, and grasping the sounds of clicking beetles and the dry stalks rustling in the night breeze. He stretched his opposed arm skyward and let the rill of moonlight travel the arc of his length, caressing arm and hip, thigh, and extended leg, all the way to his toe that touched the unhealthy earth beneath the grass.

Refine the position - the hand’s curve, the toe’s point - lower the sinistre knee yet again, until the thigh heats like midsummer’s sun. He shifted and stretched, deeper, farther, as if his old vayar, Rafael, yet lived, goading him beyond his limits. Now, a full breath. Pause and hold. A perfection of stillness to settle the spirit.

Reaching deep for strength honed over seasons of practice, he drew in his limbs, sharp and sudden as a frighted doe bursts through the brake. Whipping out the dexter leg, he spun on his set foot, opening heart and mind and flesh to the ebbed life of the grove.

Oak and ash, wax-leaved hawthorn…as his own thoughts he knew them. Coaxing their faint music to life, he flexed his dexter leg to spin again, and again, and thrice ten more before leaping into the air, legs full extended fore and behind, in the exaltation of the grove. His will and his straining limbs…the movements…whatever perfection and grace he could bring to the kiran…drew the songs from trees and grass and moonlight and wove them together into a single pattern that infused the grove with life and power. He dropped softly onto his toes, coiled tight, knees bent, his arms raised in sinuous unity above his head.

“Sweetly done.” Moth perched in an oak split down its bole, her long, lean shadow reaching across the grass almost to his feet. She swung one leg idly, the snake sigils that wound from hip to ankle lacing her shadow with streaks of sapphire. "Thy kirani are the most exquisite of anyone’s, Kol. Could we but breed a thousand of thee to dance such patterns, we might repair the Canon and reclaim our rightful territories before the moon grows old.”

He dipped one knee, stretching the other leg behind to make a straight line with his inclined back, and swept hands from head to earth in a quiet allavĂ© to relinquish his bond to the grove. Moth’s interruption, so close upon the end of the kiran, annoyed him. He preferred to relinquish slowly, allowing the last energies of the dance steps to pass from his body into the kiran-hai - tonight, the grove - so that no energies would be wasted. His purpose was not to savor the lingering pleasure for himself, but to quicken the kiran-hai so that it might be sooner reconnected to the Canon, the living pattern of the world.

“What brings thee here, Sentinel? Not to discuss my kiran postures or this sad little grove.” He released his position and sat cross-legged on the grass, pleased to feel the faint beat of life beneath his groin. Before he’d begun the dance at sunset, this patch of earth and trees had existed season upon season without pulse or vigor. Surely no guardian had danced here for longer than his own lifetime.

Moth stretched her dexter leg up the tree, exposing herself to him, knowing he would be aroused from the kiran, the more so with its abrupt ending. She fluttered her lashes. “I would discuss postures with thee, Kol, in any season.”

Her body was indeed lovely and smelled of woodrush and willow and ripe female. But she had never seemed to grasp that he found her cold, biting manner unpleasing and her narrow thinking ungenerous. “Why hast thou come, Moth?”

“The watchwards at Clyste’s well have wakened.”

“Breached? By whom? Tell me it was not some blighted human!” Though Clyste’s indefinable spirit yet lived radiantly in the fields and forest nourished by her well, the mind and will that had shaped her singular being had long since lost cohesion. Any quickening of the barriers that confined her to her resting place must signal an intrusion and no act of hers. A breach could mean her death.

“Not a breach, graceful one. The disturbance was but a certain…awareness…roused in Clyste’s sianou lands, as if she stirred in her dreams. Hardly anything at all. But you made me promise to tell thee of the smallest change.” Moth traced one finger along the fine-drawn vine that encircled the swell of her breast. “I hoped for thy gratitude.”

Kol considered possibilities. Such awareness as Moth described signified nothing with regard to Clyste’s fate. That had been sealed many seasons ago with bindings of myrtle, hyssop, and hatred, and could not be reversed. But anything that sparked his sister’s lingering essence enough to trigger the watchwards was worth investigating. He had promised both his lost sister and his dead foster brother to mind the lands watered by the Well, as they had believed the place a nexus for the world’s change.

“Didst thou report this to the archon, Sentinel?”

Even in the dark he felt her smile. “Tuari would forbid you to act on it. So…not yet.”

The lie tainted the air like fen gas. Moth did not understand subtlety.

“Report the incident as thou wilt.” He phrased his speech as carefully as he designed a kiran. “It was a likely a bull elk’s bugling or a wolf’s howl that caused the quickening thread. My sister dearly loved autumn song. But I can chase lost dreams no longer. With so few of us left here in the hills, I’ve too much work undone to hare after rumors, even for Clyste’s sake. And I’ve had too little time for pleasure out here so long alone…”

He joined Moth by the tree, reached up, and twined his fingers in hers that yet teased at her breast. Then he pulled her down to the living grass and in explosive fury yielded her the unspent energies that by right and need belonged to the grove.

Only after she had sauntered into the night, smug in her small victory and most certainly bearing a report of his long-awaited submission straight to those who ruled in Aeginea, did Kol set out for the Well. He held little hope for the world’s change. But no treacherous human would sully the waning seasons of Clyste’s gentle life, and no dull-sighted archon such as Tuari would prevent him seeing to it.

A relaxing and joyous solstice to all!


Anonymous said...

Ah, Carol. What a lovely treat! Thank you for sharing. :)


Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know anything about "Flesh and Spirit" or "Breath and Bone"... I've never happened to come across them (such a shame!), but I really enjoy this one.

A happy solstice to you too. It was nice to read about woodlands. Here in Northen Italy is scandalously hot today! :-(


Anonymous said...

Thank you...honestly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I just finished reading Breath and Bone for the fourth time today (and I have only ever reread one other book and that was within a span of five years), and as always found myself wanting more. So I was over the moon when I saw this.

You made my day!

carolwriter said...

You are all very welcome. I loved this little snip - it taught me so much about the Danae and about Kol. (I already knew about Moth.) I had forgotten about it. I might have a couple of others I can dredge up some time.

And chibi_dragon, fourth time? I am humbled! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I loved this further glimpse into Kol--thanks so much for posting this, Carol. As always, I am impressed by how beautifully you convey the sense of magic and how real the worlds you create seem. I felt as though I could see the dance...thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ah! Then I`ll deffinately have to keep checking back here!

Maybe I would be able to get it out of my system if I could convince a friend to read them--everybody is so busy with school I guess that its hard for them to remember to read for fun every once in a while.

Sketchy said...

Oooh thanks! Although, you know this just makes it harder to wait for the book!

Not that in any way I'd like you to infer that you should stop posting treats like this...just to clarify. lol