Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | September 11, 2012

The Glass City

In the morning, the domes of the glass city shone in glistening shades of pink, yellow, orange, like a field of ice flowers opening. Ivelle walked through the slowly-waking streets, hands clenched at her sides. No street urchins, no beggars. Not here. Agar saw to that.

The Stewards cast their votes seven days ago, on a morning like this one. eight white stones, one black. The black meant “no” and that was Ivelle’s. She represented the Dreamwalkers on the Stewardship, and if Agar had his way, he would destroy everything they’d built.

How did she know? He’d told her. He wanted that single black stone.

“What’s victory without a little dissent?” He said from the Hall of Judges to a crowd of thousands. “As High Steward, I will ensure that we are all one people, with one vision, and one goal – happiness and wealth for all! Where I find dark voices whispering in the night, I will bring them out into the light, for all to see and judge. No more closed doors, no more secret dreams.”

He turned to Ivelle then. “No more will the Dreamwalkers walk all over us. Power for all!”

He raised up Ivelle’s black stone. “This is no ordinary rock. It’s a cage for dreams. It took long hours of searching and experiments, frustration and dispair, and finally… triumph!”

He closed his eyes, held out the stone, and suddenly a flame leapt up, dancing from above his hand.

It’s a trick, Ivelle thought. He must have some concealed fuel, something other than that stone.

But it wasn’t a trick. And Agar couldn’t have done it alone.

Ivelle lifted her fist and knocked on the tall glass door. No answer. She knocked louder. “Fira! Open the door!”

A guard passed in the street. He stopped and gave Ivelle a long, hard look. She gave him a harder look back, making sure he noticed the swirls dancing in her eyes, and knew her for a Dreamwalker.

“Good day,” he said and hurried on.

If she’d been anyone else, Ivelle knew, he’d be hauling her to Judge’s Hall for vagrancy and noise disturbance. It wouldn’t be long before her skills would no longer protect her at all.

“Fira!” she shouted again, then pushed on the door. It opened. Not locked.

She found Fira sleeping beside a slim young guard with a scar over one eye. A new one since last time. The flavor of the week.

“Get out,” Ivelle shouted directly into his ear. He jerked awake, and left without a word, taking one of the blankets with him.

“Now tell me, Fira. How did you make that stone for Agar? And why?”

Fira scowled and pulled the remaining blankets into a swirling nest around her body. She had bruises on her elbows, and the swirls in her eyes danced with sparks of red.

“Why should I tell you?”

Ivelle closed her eyes and said a quick prayer to Ira for calm. “Because we were sisters once. Sworn to protect and provide for each other. Because I… care about you.”

“Cared. I know how you feel now. And I don’t have to tell you anything. Jace!” She yelled after the guard. “Make us some eggs for breakfast.” Fira reached under her pillow and pulled out a pink stone. “Instant fragrance, no trip to the Dreamworld necessary, works for years.”

She held up the stone, and a cloud of sweet, floral scent burst into the room, settling on their hair and arms.

“You’re not invited to breakfast,” Fira said, and walked out.

Ivelle watched her go, then picked up the pink stone she’d left behind. Did she really forget it? Or did she leave it on purpose?

Was Fira… afraid?

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