Marc - Column for 9/2

A stab at fiction..

Aaron turned up the walkway to his house. His long cloak pulled up tight to stop the last drops of rain. As he approached, the gate smoothly opened for him and shut as he passed. He stumbled up the steps to his small row house. The steps were stone and still slick from the earlier rain. The overhanging clouds blocked any light from the moon. Placing his palm on the doorknob, Aaron slowly mouthed something. A small blue glow outlined the door briefly and the door swung open. The inside was dimly lit. The entry hall was bare and led to two doorways, one to the study and one to the sitting room. Aaron tossed his cloak on one of the four cloak pegs to the left of the door and slumped onto the small wooden bench underneath the pegs.

Now, I just need to get out of these boots and head up to bed, Aaron thought as he leaned against the wall. I shouldn’t have agreed to that last round. Oh well, I guess you graduate only once. I’ll have to talk with father in the morning. No sense in putting it off any more. Besides, it’s not like I’m going to say no.

Aaron slowly pulled off one boot and then the second. The boots were soft leather and perfectly dry, despite the rain. Each boot was tossed underneath the bench. Aaron slowly stood and headed toward the stairs at the back of the house.

***

The sun rose early the next morning and Aaron did not notice it. It was well past breakfast by the time he started to wake. The pounding in his head was strong, and he went about his morning routine very carefully. He could not concentrate, so he was forced to wash up with cold water. A careful trip down the stairs to his basement laboratory helped with the throbbing. Aaron kept many useful herbs in his laboratory, the least of which was something to help with the after effects of too much wine.

Looking in his pantry, he found only bread and cheese from the party he had had the day before. Not being picky, he finished the bread and cheese and decided that was the most he could handle. After that, he grabbed his cloak and staff and headed out to track down his father.

The previous night’s rain had left water throughout the small garden in the front of Aaron’s house. The flowers were blooming, and he stopped to smell them. After a brief pause, he tossed his cloak over his shoulder and headed out. As Aaron approached, his gate opened outward and he stepped out onto the cobblestone path between his house and the road. The road was had carriages and horses moving back and forth, and Aaron took no notice of the traffic.

After Aaron had walked out of view, a woman walked out of the house directly across the street. She was dressed in loose fitting auburn robes that matched her shoulder length hair. As she walked through the road, the horses and wagons avoided her without seeming to even notice her. The gate started to shake as she approached. When she was within one step of the gate, it seemed the gate would burst from its hinges. She withdrew a small marble from a pouch and tossed it above the gate. The marble stopped in mid-air a foot above the gate and began to glow. The violent shaking of the gate slowed and finally stopped. As the woman stepped forward with her hand out, the gate opened and the marble dropped into her upraised hand. The gate closed after her.

***

“So. You ready to take over the family interests in the south?” Aaron knew his father would bring this up, but he had not thought it would be the first words out of his mouth.

Aaron had found his father in the back office at the Dragonwood Club, one of the businesses that his family kept in Elsford. The Dragonwood Club was a high class gambling house that catered to the wealthy and powerful. The well paid weave enforcers kept on staff ensured a fair game, and the attractive, barely clad waitresses made sure that everyone’s glass stayed full. Even at this early hour, the game floor had a surprisingly large number of patrons.

The back office was decorated with the Dragonwood family colors, red and green. The room was almost dominated by the large wooden desk. The most dominating thing was the man sitting behind the desk. Aaron’s father, Phillip Dragonwood, was one of the true men behind the throne, or more specifically thrones. He was a huge man, standing near seven foot tall. He spent most of his youth traveling and building the family’s merchant business. Now, the Dragonwood family had major business interests in all of the four kingdoms. Phillip was always looking to expand them, and he viewed his children as another asset to use in that expansion.

“Dad, I told you that I wanted to have some time to travel after school. After that, I’m happy to head south,” said Aaron.

“Aaron, travel is good, and I have thought of that. I have some business in Caliban that you can take care. You would get a journey to the Eastlands, which you have always talked about. After that you could take a rift rider to our estates in Silnat,” said Phillip.

“What would I have to do in Silnat?” asked Aaron.

“Silnat is a border town, as you know. We are building up our Explorer’s House there. I need someone to oversee the guild house and help make sure that the artifacts found are actually valuable.”

“What percentages are we talking?” asked Aaron.

The discussion lasted until after dinner.

***

The moon had barely started to show itself, when Aaron got home. He was still thinking about the discussion he had with his father as he walked up to his front door. After dropping his cloak and staff in the entry way, he decided to get in some reading before he went to bed. There was a book in his study that one of his djinns had brought him. As Aaron stepped into the study a voice interrupted his thinking.

“You never were that good at house protection stuff.”

Aaron nearly jumped, but managed to just skip a step. In one of the corner seats was a robed woman with auburn hair. She was comfortably rolling two marbles through the fingers in her right hand. The marbles rolled around the tips of her fingers, seemingly unbound by gravity. Aaron knew that those two marbles were an affectation, but he also knew that they were not something to be ignored. Their last parting had not gone that well.

“Eva… I didn’t realize that you were back in town,” Aaron said. He walked over to the chair opposite Eva. As he sat down, Aaron unobtrusively twisted a ring in his left hand. The chair was well cushioned, but he sat near the edge without touching the back. Eva was sitting with her feet curled underneath her. It looked like she had been sleeping in the chair, before Aaron came home.

“Still worried I mind keep good on my threat?” Eva said, pointing to his left hand. “My silly threats are behind us Aaron. I did a lot of thinking while I was away, and I think you’re right. You can’t change, and I can’t make you. I think I’ve realized that.” With a stretch, Eva added, “I just got back in town today. I was a bit surprised to find that you had changed the weaves around the house and had my clothes delivered to my apartment. I just wanted one last day of stolen time in your study, Aaron. Look nothing in up my sleeve.” Eva dropped the marbles in a pouch and opened both her hands. The sleeves of her robe fell back to reveal her pale arms.

“Sorry about that,” Aaron said. He then turned the ring on his left hand again. “I was just startled, and didn’t know what to expect. Besides, I thought we agreed to not see each other.”

“Yeah, I know we said that, but… but I had to see you again. I just... I just wanted to say good-bye, I guess.” Eva looked at Aaron briefly, and nodded her head slightly. She then looked around the study. “You know, you really do have one of the better libraries in town. I’m still not sure how you get all these books.”

“Here and there, I guess. I found a nice tome about the ancient Circles of Korl, if you’re interested,” Aaron said. He then stood and grabbed the top book from a stack of books by the doorway. “Silvia found it for me.” Aaron handed the tome to Eva and sat down.

“Thanks, but I have heard enough about the Korl for a lifetime. I guess I just wanted to sit here one last time. Now that you are leaving, I guess I’ll have to… How did you put it?” Eva said. “Right, ‘Eva, you need to start thinking about you, not us,’” she continued in an imitation of Aaron’s deeper voice. “I know I was a bitch, and I’m sorry about that.”

“Eva, look. I’m sorry things didn’t work out.”

Eva stood up and looked down at Aaron. Aaron got up and looked at Eva. Memories of school, and the time they had shared came to mind. She was tall, on par with him. That had been one of the things that he loved about her. There were many other things, but they were all over shadowed by things that could not be changed.

“I guess I knew that a week wouldn’t change anything,” said Eva. “I hope you enjoy your time down south. I hear the winds from the sea are very soothing.”

Eva then walked out of the study.

“I’ll see you around, Aaron.”

***

A booming knock woke Aaron. He had sulked around his house after Eva left, and he was in no mood for an early morning visitor. Especially one that had the temerity to visit before the sun rose. Grumbling, Aaron climbed out of his bed and grabbed a robe to fit over his nightclothes. The overhang of his porch prevented Aaron from catching a glimpse of who had knocked. Mumbling to himself, he pushed open his bedroom door and headed down the stairs.

“Who the hell is it?” Aaron said, as he opened the door. A tall man wearing banded leather armor stood outside. A large sword was sticking over his left shoulder. The man was chuckling.

“Is that anyway to greet an old friend?” the man said.

“Steven!” yelled Aaron. Aaron then grabbed Steven in a tight bear hug that was heartily returned. The two men patted each other on the back. Steven then held Aaron by the shoulders.

“I heard that you and Eva split. That is sad news. I think there is only one way to fix that,” said Steven.

“Steven, I am not going to go to the temple of the Night again, no matter how many times you mention it. I’m still not sure why I went in the first place,” said Aaron.

“You went the first time because Eva dumped and you couldn’t stop thinking about her. If I remember correctly, the Maiden’s Dance quickly chased Eva out of your mind.” Steven put an arm around Aaron and led him into the house.

Columns by Marc