Oh yeah, and I haven't decided what to name my protagonist, so she's currently named Marisol, which is a name that kind of has a history in my social life in college. Hopefully I will think of another name eventually. So here's about 1/2 of a chapter, much later in the book than my last snippet, and in a chapter narrated by Ezra, the main male character, who is a manipulator of the elements, a Mage.
We walked through the gates of Langstroth just as the sun was sinking in the sky. The town was beautiful and tiny; small, square homes lined the few streets, and most homes had a small garden beside them, where crops were flourishing. Every few hundred feet, signs were posted stating various Trigona discipline statements, inspiring to the people of the town, no doubt. It was obviously a town of Warriors – everyone was lean and muscular, taller by many inches than Marisol but similar in their builds.
Every man I walked past had the same perfect posture, and the town was almost silent. Some young people were milling about the roads and the yards, most silent and slow, some tending to the crops in the yard. On almost every front stoop, a grown man sat, sitting cross-legged, eyes closed. As we walked past, their eyes opened, each pair of eyes then locking on our group. Some looked frightened, others concerned. None were friendly.
Strategically I suppose, Marisol let go of our hands and stepped quickly about three paces ahead of us. She held her posture rigid, and her steps became fluid, so that there was no motion up and down of her head as she walked – she moved only forward.
At the sight of Marisol, many of the men smiled, finally dropping their protective facades; some stood, watching carefully, and some even waved to her. When they waved, Marisol smiled gently back at them, turning her head left and right systematically to meet each set of eyes in greeting.
She was a sight to behold, really, and I felt very inadequate behind her, and most of all, very clumsy. Her walking was like a dance, like liquid water flowing. Her hands were perfectly by her sides, her hands still. Her boots were silent on the brick walkway, and her body was so still as it moved that her hair did not even rustle with her footfalls. Trevor and I made so much noise with our feet hitting the ground and our bags rustling it was almost embarrassing. I attempted to mimic Marisol’s silence, and found that with concentration, my footfalls at least were a bit softer, and I blended in better to this silent world.
We passed a discipline sign then, and Marisol stopped, bowing her head at the words. The sign read, “With training comes the will to attempt the unknown. With attempt comes perseverance. Persevere always, and you shall never fail to reach perfection.”
Marisol turned toward us, looking at the two of us in turn. “This is one of Ellington’s teachings. It is important, always, he says, to attempt, at the very least. Never be afraid to attempt each challenge, strive for excellence and try your hardest. With attempting comes the will to continue, to persevere, to strive for that perfection which we all must strive for. Sometimes he interchanged the word ‘Success’ for perfection,” she added. She was speaking in barely more than a whisper, and it was loud and echoing on these silent streets. “This will be what he is likely to tell us. Attempt the goal, no matter the cost, and perhaps, with perseverance, we may succeed.”
She turned away from us after this speech, and continued to walk. We passed the edge of the streets, and approached a building that looked very much like the houses we had passed earlier, only twice the size. A sign in front of the building read simply, “Academy,” and the symbols of the Trigona Arts – stylized hands drawn with bold curving lines – were drawn around the edge of the doors. A tiny sign on the edge of the doorframe read “Master Ellington, First degree, Highest Honors, Most Revered.” It was almost lost among the signs reading the other instructor’s names, but none of the other signs had the same status represented. He was obviously a humble man.
Marisol took a deep breath and it quavered, the only indication I had ever seen up until now of any nervousness. She was nervous to be home, I assumed. I laid a hand on her shoulder, and she surprised me by grabbing it with her hands, pressing the back of my fingers to her cheek. Then she let the hand go, and dropped her hands to her sides.
“Master Ellington?” She called in barely more than a whisper, opening the door.
We walked behind her. Other instructors stepped out of the closed doors along the long corridor, their hand reaching out and brushing Marisol in a strange greeting as we walked. She held her hands low to her sides, palms forward, and met these brushing hands with her own. They all bowed their heads to us, and it was humbling – their silence, and their apparent reverence for this tiny, radiant girl.
She approached a turn in the corridor slowly, her methodical steps faltering once as she walked, and then she quickly inhaled and reestablished her rigidity. “Master, it is Marisol. Are you here?” She said softly. “I bring two guests,” she said suddenly, as if this were vital. “Two guests accompany me, Master, those are the steps you hear. My party,” she said, so softly I could hardly hear the words.
Finally, a voice came from behind the farther door. “You know better than to bring guests and not to announce them right away,” said a friendly voice. “Are you trying to kill your old Master with fear?”
The door opened, and a tall, fragile old man walked forward. His eyes were completely white with blindness, but without that indicator one would never know by his steady steps and perfect balance that there was anything different about him at all. He was tall, lean, rigid, as he walked forward purposefully, and his hands fluttered as he approached.
Most noticeable was the air around him, which crackled and snapped in the same was as Marisol’s. Her aura had been quiet during this journey, but here in Master Ellington’s presence is sparkled and cracked like hot oil, and her face went from it’s usual steady expression into a huge smile of delight. Ellington reached her, his crackling aura blending with hers into a sound as loud as fireworks in my head, and his hand flew up to embrace her face. He leaned down, placing his forehead against hers intimately, and his eyes shut at the same time as hers did.
The crackling stopped with a deafening silence for an instant, and then restarted as their eyes opened again.
“My child, introduce your Master to your party,” he said, but he turned away from us, leading us quickly through the open door ahead and shutting it tightly, engaging several locks before settling. “Such a small party,” he murmured.
He simply stood in the center of the small parlor, and Marisol stood beside him. There were chairs, but they seemed formalities, for they did not seem awkward simply standing there – it seemed very natural.
Marisol stepped forward to him, taking his hands gently. He allowed her to lead him to us. She placed a hand on mine. “Ezra Collette. My primary party, and a Mage in class.”
“A mage?” Were the only words Ellington spoke, as he brushed his hard fingers over my hand once, then dropped his hand back into Marisol’s.
She laid her hand on Trevor’s saying, “Trevor Guar. A scientist, and our secondary party,” she said. Ellington looked up, as though meeting Trevor’s eyes.
“A scientist, a mage, and a Warrior?” He said simply. “My child, you have much to tell me,” he said softly, placing a hand again on Marisol’s face, his fingers brushing over her cheekbone gently.
It was little wonder Marisol touched us all without thought. Ellington’s hands fluttered over her face and hands and shoulders and back as though it were as commonplace as eye contact. It was clear that with his firm hands he studied her posture, her positioning, her breathing, and her emotions. His hands could likely see what my eyes could only begin to notice, I realized, and I wondered if Marisol’s hands, when she touched us, saw things the same way as her elder Master’s did. It was little wonder she was able to fight with her eyes closed – she had been taught by a Master who had no use for sight.
The vision of the two of them together made me feel as though I was interrupting a family function. It was clear that even in the few days they were apart, much was missed, and their brief reunion cracked the air around them with joy. It was fascinating to watch, and I was in awe of their easy relationship.
Ellington was a surprise. I expected a firm and silent Warrior, imposing and terrifying. While he was certainly built as a fighter, his mannerisms indicated his old age, and he was polite, kind, and more talkative than I expected.
Marisol sat on a large chair, meeting my eyes and indicating the space beside her. I sat willingly, allowing her buzzing aura to wash over me as I sat. Trevor filled a seat beside us, a small single chair, and his face was eager as he waited for Ellington to speak. Marisol told Ellington everything about our assignment without hesitation – the morning of that day, when we had been given numbers, our standing before the Apidictor, his words and orders, and even our feelings on the matter. She left nothing out, including the impending slaughter of innocents, and clearly trusted Ellington with every detail. I felt I could trust him, as well, but perhaps that was because of the acute similarities between him and Marisol, who I trusted completely.