Original Tales by The Repressions
The Effervescent Pool
by Barbara Dragon
The effervescent pool near the lake provided refreshment for all of the tribes at the Grand Outdoor Ball. Shydocks flitted about the pool, wisps of wings catching firelight here, moonlight there. A violet sky cast blue on the trees surrounding the clearing, and green upon the shivered shimmer of the pool. It was a time of deep color, and of peace.
If there were any magic to be found tonight, the arc of it was thus; Five times they would dance, each a duo from different tribes, all of the ages and all of the ways. It would be their choosing.
Illander and Feyna wished to dance with one another. They were not young, not quite yet old, only somewhere dancing the middle call of thirty-three and one hundred.
Illander was of the Tribe of Doors. It was his lot to open worlds to others, although he found it more pleasant to meander in solitude, finding the doors and dipping in for his own experience. He was expected to be a guide, but in his truth he was not certain, and explored the worlds meant for others, testing their feel and length like jackets, finding quick pleasures or aggravation best given up, but always relieved that he had visited. At times he felt he might find a place within one fantastic or peaceful, and twice or once he was nearly certain, but decided it best to leave since there were more doors to be found.
Feyna was of the Tribe of Trees. She preferred cool dark light below and loved that she must climb high to feel the sun. It made the pleasure that much higher that she should need to strive for it. As her years wore on, her fears grew; the climb made her cry, though the muscles stayed strong. Her rises to sun were especially rewarding for it. Most others of the tribe looked a sideways look at her, worrying that her eyes grew too large and her smile too wide on those days. Feyna fresh from the sun was too excitable.
Hundreds were gathered near the pool, taking in drink and sweet vines wrapped in cotton bread, while dozens danced on, a revel they needed to feel far greater than thirst.
Illander noticed Feyna for she was neither dancing nor eating, but looking into the middle deep of the pool. Feyna noticed Illander as he circled the dancers with a sly search, munching carelessly on sweet vines and sipping nectar. While there were no revelers near either, the shydocks seemed to hover nearer both of them.
The ether bells chimed in a thousand beat, and merry lights lit…. Illander drew nearer to Feyna, and she to him, and on and on. She gave a smile, he gave a small bow. The look that passed between them never ended. Neither knew who held the first hand to the dance, only that they did… to the center, the edge, within the lines and circles of dancers they waltzed in their way, and spoke in earnest and easy understanding of caves and mountains and doors and trees.
They parted ways long after sunrise, as the ties to the tribes were a pull too hard. Retreating to their homes, their minds were each lit with new edges, their limbs seeming duller somehow without the other. Feyna carved a walking staff for him and braided it with leaves. Illander planned worlds to show her that were wild with light and required no climbing.
The next season brought another Grand Outdoor Ball. Fear crept within them until their eyes met, at the same place at the pool. They were rude to their tribesmen that night, taking hands and dancing in a rush and running into the wood to couple. They smiled again, they parted ways into even later morning.
The edges grew sharper. Joys were sometimes greater, sometimes clouded. The sun seemed further away and the worlds needed more visits than before.
Another season, another ball… She was waiting by the pool, indifferent to the ether bells and shydocks, fear rising that this time he would not attend, or perhaps dance with another, so long had it been. When he appeared, it was the very other side of what she thought, he ran to her with a lush embrace and joy. She leapt, and their passion that night was unmatched. They spoke of life beyond the ball, and talked of a plan to leave their tribes. Each was to bring their case to their tribe, and sew and plan for the journey, directly after the next ball.
That next season wore a weight of torpor and torment. In times of solitude the plan seemed less certain, the work too bearing, and uncertainty hummed by their hearts like shydocks near lighted waters.
Illander arrived first, thrilled but bothered and unprepared. He had not spoken to his tribe beyond his most inner circle, and had only a scant bag of rations and clothing. He was not certain if he could find doors to open outside of his homeland, and knew that this, his best skill, was not something to be carried outside of himself.
Feyna had wild bright eyes that had known no rest. She had spent the season in contemplative tasks and arduous talks with her inner circle and the sagest of her tribe. They offered only tales of hardship, question upon question and warnings that she should never find her way back. Was she not the most easily frightened away from the cool dark light of trees? She thrust toward the pool anyway, satchels of everything on her back.
They found one another, and ease overtook them with kisses. There was a wild peace within each that only seemed to see light when the other was near. Illander made to take her satchels, and Feyna was surprised. She still thought they would dance, the ball was the ball and they might never see it again. Illander swept the scene, and saw none of his inner circle or Sages. He smiled and took her hand. One dance, glorious and terrifying, and back to the pool to collect their things and they made their way into the wood. This season they would not wait for sunrise.
They journeyed and rested, rested and journeyed, and slept in low hangings of trees that Feyna knew would provide, loving and fearing and never knowing their destination. After a time Illander sensed a door in between two tallest trees, though it was slight. Holding Feyna’s hand tightly, he whispered his words and then let them go, and the door appeared and opened. The lovers embraced!
However, this world beyond this door was puzzling, as it only seemed to be more forest of the same shade and glade, near identical to where they had been traveling. They set in anyway, finding no difference and no fellow travelers. Another door opened to guide them outward, and on their journey went.
After a season they found a little town, and let a cottage with yellow walls. They made merry and they made friends, though they rarely felt the peace of home.
At dusk Feyna would walk to the forest, holding and feeling the trees, and at times of impulse she would climb in the dark. She did not fall, but how she faltered.
At daybreak Illander would walk to the forest, and sometimes through the country beyond the town, searching for doors. Three times he found them, and they opened with success, but each seemed to be a bit more of the world just next to it.
Five seasons had passed since they had left the last Grand Outdoor Ball, and Feyna and Illander struggled to keep their joy. They each felt a pull, but not toward anything certain, and each kept quiet so as not to worry the other.
One night Feyna stayed too late in the trees, and thought she would simply keep staying to feel the sun. There was a cool low light, enough to see the shadow branches, and on she climbed, fearfully gleeful. She broke from the branches just as the sun rose, and it flew at her skin, hot and demanding and too bright. Her eyes wept, naturally but without any explanation words could say.
That same night Illander thought he might set out early to find some doors. On he wandered, feeling a pull toward a tall tree in the center of the forest. He had not sensed a door so strongly since he had left his tribe. His hands thrummed for opening, and he knew exactly where to speak the words at the base of this tree. There was something strong here, and he was gleefully afraid.
He spoke his words, and a gleam came from within the tree. Here was a new world, with different colors to the sky and earth, and creatures he had never seen. He had been loathe to admit that until now, he thought his tribe had cursed him from ever finding new worlds again, and relief wrenched him. He called Feyna’s name without thinking.
Feyna, weeping eyes closed at the top of the tree, heard her name, and said Illander’s name as her own breath. She kissed the tree top and waved it to the sun, and down she climbed, sliding at the end when she realized that Illander was there, standing before the tree with a suddenly strange glow.
She landed next to him, wondered at his world he had discovered, and took his hand. He kissed her tears, then her lips, and without words they walked through the door.
A film of twilight seemed to pass through them, and suddenly neither could feel the other’s hand.
Illander was in a forest world of green sky and blue trees and violet water, and within each tree and rock there seemed to be a door.
Feyna was in a forest world of deep blue sky and green trees and violet water, and sunlight beaming aside birdsong.
They called to one another to no avail. They each wept, they each laughed. They sometimes wondered what became of their little cottage with yellow walls.
Seasons passed, and Feyna traveled and made friends with many tree dwellers, and all had heard tales of the Tribe of Trees. She was most welcome, and within each forest she found paths and clues that might lead her back to the trees she knew as brothers. She always climbed at sunrise now, hoping to see or sense a door that might keep time with the sun. One day she climbed to the sun, and knew where she was. Within the next season, she was in the arms of her inner circle, and all of the tribe wished to hear her tales.
Seasons passed, and Illander opened door after door, reveling in new delights and learning new tales, always checking at the tallest of trees. As he met others, they were amazed by his ability to open doors, and when a misunderstood soul came to him, he knew what to do. He had become both explorer and guide, and helped many find their place.
Seasons did what they would, and passed on and on. Feyna taught the youngest of the tribe how to climb, and how to climb along with fear. She could venture out into the lands of other tribes or even worlds that some might find by doors. She could always find her way home by climbing and seeing now, and when she pleased, which was often, she returned to her tribe.
Each season, Feyna’s inner circle would ask again and again why she would not attend the Grand Outdoor Ball. She could only tell them that she had been four times before, and the fifth would be only when she felt the call. One morning in the warm season, alone at the top of a quite tall tree, she felt a whisper against her cheek. It was a shydock. Never known to fly so high or in daylight. It circled her face, flitted its wings, and dipped down. Within a twelve hour, Feyna donned a dress of green sky and blue trees.
Illander had the fit of himself, fed and free. He could open doors anywhere, and return in a trice. He could walk through three and back into the first, so great his skill grew. He rarely thought of looking for his tribe, thinking that surely one day that door would appear if it were meant.
One evening he felt he needed no doors, only a walk through the forest. His mind wandered over caves and mountains and memories, and doors were opening around him with the ease of cats. He walked through and through, and only came from his reverie when he felt a whisper and a flit at his cheek. He started, and laughed, and followed it.
The sky was violet. They stood and marveled at the other for a moment, at the effervescent pool, and decided to dance for the fifth time.