Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Storyteller's Heart

Today's story is another from the Forty Isles, and follows the guardians of the Grand Duke and Duchess who are the heirs to the throne of the Forty Isles. The Guardian of the Grand Duchess is Isolde merc Gwion.  

The day had ended on a sour note - made worse only by the unquenchable stench of pickling cabbage. Two travelers sat under the shade of a lone tree and watched people passing. The strawberry-blonde woman had her legs pulled up close to her chest. She wore the simplest of clothes - a pair of trousers, boots and a sleeveless tunic. She rose, her long legs stretching upward as she reached her arms above her head to bend, giving the impression of an orchid bending in a breeze.
The man, dark-haired and skinned, remained seated, though he glanced up to follow the line of her movement. "Some would compare you to a tree when you do that."
"Bows are made from trees, so I think the comparison is appropriate."
"Most people don't think of bows when they see you."
"More to their folly, isn't it?" She stretched her arms out behind her back and bent forward. "Why are we here again, anyway? Surely it wasn't because you loved their pickled cabbage, was it?"
"If you know what's good for you, you won't continue that thought, Isolde."
Isolde smirked and looked up. "What just what are you going to do, Bleddyn?" She lowered her arms and straightened up.
Bleddyn ignored the taunt, and looked back down onto the town below them. "I'll consider it."
Isolde merc Gwion, granddaughter of a former head of the Gwion Tapestry Guild, shielded her eyes from the setting sun. "You think they're down there?"
"There are four sentries at the very least."
"Is that all?"
"You make that sound as though it would be of little consequence for you to waltz in there."
"And you sound as if you don't believe me."
"I don't."
Isolde smirked. "Aren't you ever going to come out and ask me? Surely the dogs of the king want to know all the secrets of the Gwion."
"We know most of them."
"You think you do."
"We do; we've been around for almost a thousand years. That's plenty long enough."
Isolde reached down to pet Bleddyn's scruffy black hair. "And we've been keeping secrets for twice that age, little doggy."
"You don't look that old."
"I'm older than you are."
"By two hours."
"Oh ho! You know that much about me?"
Bleddyn shoved aside Isolde's hand and pointed to the town. "They're looking for trouble. Can't you sense that with all your Gwion abilities?"
Lifting a finger towards the town, Isolde traced a symbol on the wind and blew it towards the town. The sounds of the people talking grew louder as the nearly invisible symbol reached the buildings. With a shift of her finger, the symbol followed the same course until it stopped beside a building.
"We're going to have to do something," a male growled.
"Anything's better than this life we've been giving," a woman agreed. Her voice was lilting, like that of a beautiful song one remembered from a faint memory.
"That would be the fae," Bleddyn said.
"I know what the fae sounds like."
"Don't know what the other one is."
Isolde snorted. "Dae."
"They don't exist anymore."
"There's a whole kingdom of them on the Isle of Pencaer. I thought the Graeme would know that, but that's not who we need to destroy."
"You make it sound so simple."
"It is. We're the guardians of the Grand Duke and Duchess. Of course it's that simple."
The fact that the Grand Duke and Duchess were the heirs to the High King and Queen of the Forty Isles made their position strong, but not as strong as that of the Captains of the King and Queen. Those positions, their immediate officers, were held by two wizened individuals who had served the royal family for over thirty years each.
The current assignment was meant to build the camaraderie of Isolde and Bleddyn who would work as the captains upon the ascent of their current wards. The couple were hiding nearby to celebrate their first-year anniversary.
Isolde twisted her hand around and brought the symbol back. "We know they're in that room. What else would you like to know?"
"The best way inside without being seen."
"Says that man who's sitting on a hill outside the city obviously watching them."
"What the?! I thought you put wards around us."
Isolde slapped her thigh and bent over laughing. "Oh, ho! I love your face!" She pointed to her own and mirrored his expression.
"Are you certain you're not a dog?"
"I'm not the one who turns into a big fuzzy wolf." She took a deep breath and released it. "I'll go down and take a look to double check on everything."
"It would be better if I went," Bleddyn argued, beginning to rise.
"Nope. In this case, it will be me. I can hide behind the wings."
Bleddyn stared at her. "Wings? They exist?"
Isolde wrapped herself up into a shape of a raven. "Of course they do," she answered before flying off to the building she had marked.
Their mission had been simple enough - find a female fae, known for her bright citron hair, and capture her. She was a known criminal bent on world domination. Why, as one of the fae, she hadn't simply sent waves crashing, rocks tumbling or any other number of things happening remained to be unknown. She was a known criminal, and that was enough.
It was the growling voice which had spoken first that concerned Isolde. Each race, each kingdom had their own sound. Humans of Caergwlân, her home kingdom among the Forty Isles did not sound like humans on Eguzki, the desert kingdom. No one sounded like those from the Mageless Isle. The fae had their odd musical quality; the dae, few as they were, had a similar sound though darker. One was airy, the other earthy. One was fire, and the other water. Even if a dae and fae sounded similar, upon meeting they would take opposites.
Perhaps it was in their blood to oppose one another?
The dae was not a dae, though. No. Worse, or better depending how one looked at it. With extensive families such as the Gwion, it wasn't uncommon for someone born to not know of Gwion ancestry - the Heritage Gwion as they were known. Those like Isolde who were born to the Gwion were known as Blood Gwion.
The Graeme family, like Bleddyn, had a similar groups. The Graemes inherited a family name so Bleddyn was Bleddyn Graeme, unlike the Gwion who remained children, merc for daughter, ap for son. For some, though, they did not know about their heritage, and transforming into a wolf came easily, especially for the young.
The shaggy red dog sitting at the table had spoken. It wasn't one of the Wolves of Abernath who were part of the Talking Animals, but something else. The only other thing would be the Graeme. Based upon his size and general demeanor, his age would have been somewhere in the early teens -thirteen at the eldest.
How did someone lose a Graeme?
The fae female sat with her back against the wall watching the group. There were other fae, no dae, though; humans, a dwarf and a smattering of talking animals. Oh, and there was a centaur and a minotaur. Of course they would show up.
All totaled, it would be too much for the two of them to handle on their own even using storyteller magic.
"She's in there," Isolde said, upon her return to Bleddyn. "I think you should take her back to Graeme as soon as you can get close enough; I'll look for information and records."
"I'm going to cause a ruckus going in."
"You'll be fine. I'll cloak the place in darkness and you can sneak in that way."
"Storyteller magic?"
Isolde snorted. "As if I would use storyteller magic. You do realize it's powerful magic which has been banned in this kingdom."
"I didn't think rules stopped the Gwion."
"Normally, they don't, but this isn't the time for storyteller magic. Simple word magic will suffice."
"You used it for the raven."
"Did I?" Isolde sprinted away before Bleddyn could answer. She returned to her spot, this time hiding under her cloak. As one of the Gwion, she would protected from any attack. She could walk through fire when she was fully clothed in her magic, but today, she was the diversion.
With darkness enveloped, Isolde left Bleddyn to his task and entered farther into the building. There was always someplace they kept important information. Chances were that the dog guarded the room.
Two guarded the room - one of dwarves sat with the dog until an unholy scream ripped through the building - that of the fae being dragged away to Graeme Isle. The dwarf sprinted away with an order for the dog to remain.
Isolde appeared and stepped forward.
The dog snarled. "Stay away."
"What do they call you?"
"I'm warning you."
"Have you always been a wolf?"
His eyes shifted. "How did you know?"
"I know a man who can become a wolf when he wants too." She touched her ear. "He has the same mark here that you do." It was known as the Mark of the Graeme. In wolf form, one ear remained pointed and wolf-like, while the other, though remaining upright, was rounded and notched. All Graeme had it from birth.
"I'm human?"
"As I am."
"You were a raven earlier."
"Was I?"
"It's the same smell."
Isolde narrowed her gaze and took a step forward. "How could you smell anything?"
The dog transformed into a boy about eleven. "My nose is extra-smart," he explained. "Only bad people can turn into animals."
"Are you bad?"
The question threw him for a moment. He shifted his weight and looked past Isolde. "Are you a fae?"
"Do I look fae?"
He shook his head. "You don't look safe, though."
"I'm not." Isolde eased to the door. "May I go inside? There might be something in there to stop the fire."
"There isn't a fire."
"Isn't there?"
The alarm shrilled.
The boy jumped and glanced down the hallways to either side. "We should put the fire out. Maelinicence said there's important stuff here."
Maelinicence - the fae.
"And ...?"
"We should protect the things inside." He opened the door and grabbed a bag to start stuffing things in it. "Grab those two bags as well." He pointed to bags on the side. "We'll take them to her."
Isolde did as instructed and followed the boy outside. "They should be here," he said once outside, up by the tree where Isolde and Bleddyn had rested.
The bell had been in his ear only. They remained fighting ... If not dead, by now. That was storyteller magic's power. To make anyone see, hear, smell whatever the story demanded. It was what made people fear the Gwion. In her sphere, she controlled the story.
The boy clenched and unclenched his fist. "You're one of them, aren't you?"
"One of whom?"
"Those storytellers. The Gwion."
"I am."
He stepped away, scrambling towards the tree. "You're going to kill me, aren't you? Maelinicence said the Gwion are evil." He narrowed his eyes. "You tricked me."
"Not entirely. I only aided your story."
He looked around them. "Now I die?"
"Nope." Isolde picked up the bag he had dropped. "Now we fly."
The boy snorted. "You can't fly?"
"Course I can."
"No you can't. Well, not with me and those bags."
"You want a bet?"
"Sure."
"Very well. If I can fly both of us and the bags, you'll have to promise to live with my friend for a year without complaint or trouble."
"Deal."
Isolde opened up the flat bag she had on her back, and dropped the three large bags inside.
The boy stared at her. "How did you do that?"
"Magic." Straightening, Isolde eyed the boy a moment. "You're going to need a name."
"Don't have one."
"Then I shall call you Flancuan."
"Why?"
"In one of the ancient tongues, it means Red Wolf."
"Like me."
"Indeed. Flancuan was a great warrior who helped people." Isolde wrapped her arms around the boy and sprouted wings on her back to fly.
"We're flying," Flancuan gasped.
"We are."
"How. Are you fae?"
"No; I learned this trick from them, though." Beautiful wings, light and airy, nearly invisible in the light, but now glowing in dusk carried them away from the town towards the place where the royal couple hid.
"You are a storyteller."
"I am."
"You're evil."
"We can be," Isolde admitted. "Storytellers are the most dangerous breed in the world. We give life to your dreams. Words will always be the most powerful things in the world, Flancuan."
"Flancuan," he whispered, snuggling closer to Isolde. "I like its sound."
"Go to sleep then. Your nightmare is over."
"It wasn't so bad. They fed me and clothed me."
Isolde turned towards the mountains. Maelinicence was on Graeme awaiting her trial. Would one year suffice for Bleddyn to show Flancuan about the ways of the Graeme? He had so much potential, this child for good or evil.
Just like a storyteller.



Saturday, July 16, 2016

Torn Shamrocks

A couple weeks ago, I gave you a story from Azure's world. This week, it's Orfhlait's world. At the end of Shamrocks of Stone, Orfhlait and Naoisi are caught up in some trouble. Here, you see more of what they are involved with afterward. 

The ocean was endless. Wave upon wave from whence they came, I never knew. They came from the West, maybe God's own country somewhere in the horizon. They lifted the ship and lowered it, sending us forever forward.
We were allowed only a few moments on deck each day, but many of the slaves remained below, unable to move. The stench was horrendous, but there was nothing to be done for those who were seasick. For the others ... Well, the angels must sing over them now.
Naoisi peered over the railing. We had somehow managed to charm the sailors into allowing us to remain longer on deck. It was worthwhile, but the endless watery world was boring. Naoisi had taken to creating stories about the clouds, sea life and barnacles.
"They're attacking the evil queen," Naoisi informed me.
"Why is she evil?"
"Because she doesn't like the princess witch."
"Witch?"
"She cannot be an ordinary princess, Orfhlait. She's been hidden away for many years, but now she has been set free and sails to her new home."
It was best, I felt, to ignore the obvious problems for the moment, and allow Naoisi is illusion. Maybe it would help him. While on board ship, we were safe, relatively speaking. Land could be seen on a clear day, but we never sailed very close to it. For the most part, I simply remained conscious of the land's changing undulations. We were somewhere off the coast of France. We spent two nights there before setting sail around the edge of Spain and into the Mediterranean Sea. We had swung up north again close to France during the last storm. 
"Quiet!" The First Mate always barked. He spoke English, but nothing else. The boatswain spoke French, and the two of them told us what we needed to know. Today, however, they looked morbid. "You are all going to die," the First Mate announced.
"We will sell you as slaves," the boatswain said.
I blinked once.
"What did they say?" Naoisi asked.
I waved my hand to silence him, and waited.
Why would the English be killed?
More importantly, why were the French being saved?
Naoisi started to go towards the other English, but I held him back, and we walked to the French side. I grabbed two of the English and Irish women who had befriended us.
"What is your name?" The boatswain sneered.
"Orfhlait."
"French?"
"Oui."
"From?"
"Bordeaux."
He looked at Naoisi. "Ton garçon?"
"Yes, he is my son."
The boatswain narrowed his eyes. "What they say about the French must be true." He stepped to the English woman. "Name?"
"Adelaide."
"From?"
"Bordeaux."
"We didn't pick you up in France."
"We were in Eire on a mission of mercy," I explained.
The boatswain snorted, and moved to the Irish woman from Limerick.
I leaned forward. "She cannot hear you at all, but she is from Paris. Another sister."
He moved farther down.
"What was that about?"
"The one who speaks French said we were going to be sold, but the one who spoke in English said we were going to die. I'd rather be a slave than dead."
"Me too," Adelaide answered.
We stopped within sight of land - one of which I had no desire to enter. It looked dangerous, uninhabitable and downright inhospitable. I longed for my Irish shores, but I had no means of returning.
The English members were lowered into four boats to be carried to another ship a distance from shore, but still between us and land.
It took everyone two trips to carry all the English to the second ship. Meanwhile, we remained below, waiting. Naoisi had fallen asleep on my lap, but the others remained alert. The men talked in low murmurs while some of the women sang. Most had, by the time we began to sail again, fallen asleep. I eased Naoisi off my lap and crept to the ladder leading up to the decks. I could hear some of the sailors talking, but their voices were distant.
Up on deck, I went towards the spot where I knew one sailor remained working alone. He was related to the captain and ship's owner, he had explained, but he was a slave trained as a doctor. "Why are you here?" he whispered.
"Because I couldn't sleep," I answered. Our common language was French. "Where are we?"
He looked at the horizon. "Near Rome, I think."
"And the English?"
He shrugged. "Most likely dead. Most were men, save for the four of you." He cocked his head towards me. "You saved those two women, why?"
"They didn't need to die so soon."
"A slave might feel otherwise."
It was my turn to shrug. "I always felt living is always more important. I have considered ending my worthless existence, but my brother would remind me that even in my terrible conditions, there was hope somewhere."
"Your brother must have been a priest."
"Soldier." I leaned against a nearby barrel. "Then they live for only so long before they die?"
"On those ships, yes. The women would have been raped quite brutally, I'd imagine."
"And without proper care would have died." I shook my head. "Slavery or death - that's are only choice now, isn't it." I closed my eyes and sighed. What sort of possibilities awaited for Naoisi and me in this new land?


Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Force Breaker

Within the worlds of the Glass Eyes, I sometimes explore the worlds within the glass eyes. The following story takes place in one of the worlds. In fact, it takes place in the world where Tsiuri's Uncle Wy has. It's a stand alone story which gives you an introduction to the world. The story opens an interesting world, but I don't know much beyond the current situation. Sometimes stories are like that - you have an opening, but that's it. What happens, where does the story go and other questions remain annoyingly unanswered. 

Everyone is born with a power - a word is tattooed onto their body, and it is their power. Some are able to use water however they wish, others can manipulate fire or earth. At birth, we are registered with the government with our name, word and subsequent ability.
I was born with the gift everyone fears - the force breaker.
On my second day of school for my second year of high school, government officials arrived to round up those with water abilities. They were needed to divert a series of floods a group of terrorists had started. All water and earth elementals were needed, and the day before school started, the earth elementals had been taken.
In my school, only ten water elementals existed.
They returned the following week, tired, but proud of what they had done.
On the twentieth day of school, the government officials came looking for the air elementals as a major storm was coming towards the coast, and they wanted them to mute some of the dangerous winds.
Once again, a week later, the students - there were only five - returned, happy, but exhausted. The most common in my school were the metal and earth elementals. If the government needed both earth and metal elementals, our school would close for lack of students.
The government never needs me. I have perfect attendance, and I’m the top in my class. I have nothing else to do besides study.
Force elementals - of which I am - are extremely rare. I’m one of ten in the entire world, nearly ten billion people at last account. I am, therefore, one in a billion.
All that changed, however, one day in early spring when the government officials came looking for one person, and one person only.
“Su-Jin?” One of my friends - well, one of only two friends since most people feared me - cornered me in the girls’ bathroom between fourth and fifth period. The fact that this friend was male made the situation even more unusual. The other girls - there were three - scurried out of the room giggling.
“What are you doing here, Malcolm?”
“There are government officials looking for you.”
I looked past his shoulder. “Why?”
“Don’t know, but I don’t think they’re the good kind.”
I snorted. “And just how many kinds are there?” It was supposed to be a joke, but Malcolm knew more about government types than I ever would.
“The good kind, the odd kind, the normal kind, the bad kind and the creepy kind," he answered, ticking them off on his fingers.
“Are they normal or odd?”
He shook his head slowly from one side to the other. He lifted an arm and pointed it behind me. “Go through the window and escape.”
“To where?”
“Home. Get your stuff and meet me at the campsite. I’ll bring Karlie with me.”
Karlie happened to be his twin sister, and my other friend. We had grown up next to each other, our houses sharing the back property line. They had never been scared of me which always seemed strange. Karlie was a metal elemental whereas Malcolm was an earth elemental.
Outside, I skirted around the narrow cement ledge which had been ornamental, but now served a practical purpose. I never understood why people were scared of force elementals. After all, we had no special abilities whatsoever. I couldn’t bring the earth up to help me escape, or establish a barrier around me to protect myself. Really, in the great scheme of things, we were an evolutionary hiccup not unlike an eyeball on a toad's butt.
Once on the earth, I started running. The fastest way to the woods was straight across the soccer field, past the bleachers and into the high grass. I had to get to the woods where the trees disrupted every one's senses. Why, I never knew, but I did know no one entered them, and I also knew that once inside the woods, only my elemental abilities worked properly.
Malcolm believed some sort of nuclear sludge must lie beneath the forest floor.
Unfortunately for Malcolm, I suspected I wouldn't be able to go home, but I had to chance it nonetheless. The woods inched close to my house. Not quite surrounding it, but close enough for quick escapes. I had escaped from people beforehand due to the forest, and had long suspected the reason my parents bought the house was due to the woods.
A yellow sheet hung on the back clothesline. It was Mom's symbol for me to remain away for like on a traffic light, yellow meant caution. Slung over a high branch was a backpack with two changes of clothes, food, map and a few other necessities. At my position in the tree, I could look into Malcolm and Karlie's back lawn and see that their mother was also drying yellow sheets.
"What are they looking for?" A weak voice whispered.
"Me, of course," I answered my younger brother, Je-Wu. He was a water elemental, like our father.
"What do you want me to do?"
"Send messages."
I descended the tree and returned to the depths of the forest to wait until the twins arrived. Our camp was actually a sizable tree house built in the center of the forest. We had started building it when we were ten, and now, five years later, it had enlarged. 
Night had descended before the twins arrived, bringing their bags with them. "What happened?" I inquired once they had reached our platform and drawn up the ladder.
Karlie shrugged. "No one knows, but the other force breakers have also gone into hiding."
"Except for you know who."
Old Man MacPhearson was the oldest known force breaker. He was a legend among the elementals after having defeated one of the greatest villains in history some seventy odd years ago. He'd been twenty when it happened.
"Suppose he's on his front porch relaxing, eh?" I joked.
The twins smirked and agreed.
I had met him when I was seven. My parents insisted I meet each of the other force breakers to learn from them. I was the youngest of the ten.
"Your pendant is glowing," Karlie said, picking up the item in question.
The pendant was a gift from my grandfather who had been a force breaker until his death. He said that there was always a force breaker for a billion people. When one died, another would be born. I had been his replacement, but he gave me all the necessary information including the necklace which had nine shards connected to the other force breakers.
I touched the brightest of the shards and Old Man MacPhearson's voice could be heard. "Ah, there you are, my dear. How are you this bright morning?"
"It's night."
"It is? Ah, so it is. Are you safe enough?"
"Safe enough."
"Good, good. There's a new man in charge of the agency," he said without warning. "He doesn't like us and wants us all dead."
The agency was the international government group who kept eyes on the elementals.
"Can they?"
"Remains to be seen, though if they get us all together, they might succeed. We're special, the ten of us like diamonds in a mine." His light dimmed for a moment, suggesting that he had left one room and entered another. He lived near a mountain which acted like my forest.
"What do you need me to do?"
"That's my girl. Nothing much at the moment, but I do need you to be ready for anything that might break. Are you?"
"Always."
"Good. Stay safe."
I touched the shard again, and silenced my mentor.
"What do you think he has in mind?" Malcolm inquired.
I shook my head. "Whatever the case, we're going to be wanted from here on out, so we better sleep."
We remained in the forest for the next year, gathering the food we could find, taking what was provided by our families. The yellow sheets remained, and my brother became our sole contact, but we used the time to train. By the time the year had ended, the twins could use their elements even within the forest. I didn't know if that made them strong or just brazen, but whatever Old Man MacPhearson had in mind for us, we were ready.
"It could just mean we sit here and wait until he stops fiddling his thumbs," Malcolm complained one night after an especially hard day of training.
Karlie and I agreed, but didn't say anything.
My pendant glowed again that night. I placed my thumb over the entire group of shards, and was able to hear the other nine force breakers. "Everyone here?" MacPhearson asked.
"Here," we answered.
"Good. Now for the good news - we've survived. The bad news - we learned why the agency doesn't want us to survive. They're planning a revolt against the world governments, and we're the only ones who can prevent them."
MacPhearson's voice lowered. "I must know one thing - are you willing to help to stop them? We're the only hope the world might have from that maniac."
Without hesitation, we answered, "Always."




Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Serialization

Over the course of the past few weeks, as I've been writing the short stories, I've introduced a couple of different worlds. I'm glad you have enjoyed reading them.

Beginning in August, I'm going to start self-publishing some of the stories I've been writing through Smashwords and Amazon Kindle. The first series deals with Mederei and the Gwion (from the Forty Isles). However, I want to write more, and the question I have for this week is which series would you enjoy?

The options are as below:
                     
 The Forty Isles
·         Building My Empire
·                                ·        The King’s Ransom
The Glass Eyes
·         When Time Forgets
·         The Eye of the Dragon
·         The Long Way Home
Korean History
·         Forbidden Knowledge

To vote, comment below. Remember that When Time Forgets and The Long Way Home are under the Glass Eyes, but also focus on Korean history, specifically, the time period of the Japanese Occupation (1910-1945).




Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Eye of the Dragon

In the same world that the time traveler lived (When Time Forgets), are a group of people known as the Eyes. These people all have a glass eye which lends them power. Most of the glass eyes have powers similar to various mythological and actual animals. Below is the story of how one young girl receives her eye. Tsiuri is the main character in a fuller length book, but this chapter no longer fits. 

At the age of seven, everything in Tisuri's world had been perfect. Every morning she climbed onto the big yellow school to take her to school where she would learn how to add and subtract; spell words like Halloween and balloon; play with her friends and learn about firefighters, police officers and teachers who helped everyone around them.
After coming home, Mama would have a two-hand chocolate chip cookie and a glass of orange juice waiting for her. At the age of five, Tsiuri learned she was lactose intolerant which meant she couldn't digest milk like normal people. Mama never used milk-chocolate chips in her cookies, but cut up pieces of real chocolate and dumped them into the cookie dough.
Once, Mama even allowed Tsiuri to bake the cookies, but all that had ended just over three weeks ago when they were coming home from a trip to the mountains.
Now, she sat in a big hospital bed looking at her hands and feet. Her eye ached, but the doctor said it was phantom pains.
The patch over her left eye meant she had a hole in her head - literally now. Daddy always said she needed a hole in her head, but he was sleeping and would never ever wake up. At least, that was what one of the nurses had said. One of the other students said Daddy and Mama had died.
Leaning back in her bed, Tsiuri used her right eye to look above her. Everything was off slightly now. She had a hard time judging distances, and felt like she needed to relearn everything she already knew.
She felt stupid and dumb because unlike some of the other children, she had both arms and legs, and looked normal, except for the patch on her eye ... or where her eye should be.
Outside her hospital room, the doctors and nurses spoke in quiet tones with words larger than she understood. If words had weight because of their length then the words the doctors and nurses used must weigh a couple tons.
"Hiya!" Meredith, Tsiuri's best friend, bounced into the room. "Feeling better?"
"Kinda. My eye hurts."
"Mom says that happens when people lose something. She said a friend of her's lost a leg when they were in college, but at the weirdest times, the friend's leg would start itching." Meredith dropped into the chair and started scratching her own missing leg. "The worst part is the mosquito bites."
Tsiuri giggled.
Meredith had been coming to visit for the past week. They weren't friends before coming to the hospital, but after the accident, Meredith, who had been the hospital as well, became her friend. Meredith was funny and brave; nothing like Tsiuri.
"I heard your aunt and uncle are coming," Meredith said. "What are they like?"
Tsiuri shrugged. She didn't see her mother's sister and brother-in-law all that often since they traveled around the world a lot. They were astrophysicists who worked for a company called Astrophil. Mama said it sounded funny, because of the poetry, but it suited Aunt Mina and Uncle Wy.
"I like it when they visit because they always bring cool things, but I don't know what it'll be like to live with them."
Meredith sat on the edge of her chair. "Yeah," she agreed. "that's rough. They travel a lot, right? You'll be able to see new places, right? That'll be fun."
"I hope so."
"Where do they live?"
"In Maryland, north of Washington D.C." She moved her feet one way then the other in unison. "I think they have an old farm or something."
"Do they have horses?"
Tsiuri giggled. "No; they barely have an acre of land. I think all they have is the farmhouse, but it's pretty. It has blue stones and white trim." She rolled over onto her side to pull out the scrapbook beside her bed. "See? Here it is."
"Wow," Meredith whispered. "They must be rich."
"I don't know; they aren't there often. They don't have any kids."
"What about your dad's family?"
Tsiuri shrugged. "I have a few cousins, but they live up near Niagara Falls or back in Indonesia, so I don't see them."
"Rotten luck. Still, I'd rather have that farmhouse than a bevy of cousins nearby."
"Why?"
"Cousins are great and all that, but with a place like that it doesn't matter if your cousins are rotten. You can find cool friends."
"You're strange."
"I am a girl on a mission. Make certain you write me, all right? I'm not about to lose my best friend forever when she moves half-way across the country. Not me. When we go to college, I'll go where you go."
Tsiuri squinted her eye. "What if we don't want to go to college?"
"I'm going to college. I have too; Mama went; Daddy went, all four of their parents went. My uncles went and my cousins are there now. It's expected. Didn't anyone in your family go to college?"
"I don't know. Uncle Wy and Aunt Mina did. I think Mama must have gone. I don't know about Daddy, though."
Meredith bounced off the chair and onto the bed. "We'll go to college, and have the coolest time ever. All right?"
Tsiuri grinned. "All right. What do you want to do when you grow up?"
Meredith shrugged. "Don't know. I know what I don't want to do - I don't want to be a teacher or a doctor. I want to do something cool, but something that doesn't require me running much." She giggled. "I could be a cop, then when the bad guys try to shoot me in the leg, I can take off the fake leg and beat them on the head."
Tisuri giggled, and the two girls fell over laughing.
"See," Meredith said, poking Tsiuri's shoulder. "You can laugh."
The accident that had claimed her parents, had also taken Tsiuri's laughter until now. It had taken three weeks, but her laughter had found her again, and never had it felt so good to laugh.
"That's what I like to hear," Uncle Wy said, entering with a large stuffed dragon. He set the dragon at the foot of Tsiuri's bed then came to Tsiuri to give her a hug and a kiss on the top of her head. "My favorite pirate is looking better than when I saw you two weeks ago."
Behind him, Aunt Mina entered with an orange suitcase. "How are you feeling, Tsiuri?"
"Better, Aunt Mina."
"Good. I thought I saw my parents wandering around."
"They were here earlier, but Daddy's brother stopped by, and ..."
Uncle Wy held up his hands. " 'Nough said. I would run away too if your daddy's brother stopped by."
"He's got four of them."
"Any one of them. Your daddy was a good man; I'm not so certain about the others." He looked around. "Hiya, Merry Dithy. How are you?"
"Fine," Meredith giggled. "Have you come to take Tsiuri to your farmhouse?"
"We have. The room's all set up, and we're raring to go. You going to come visit when everything's settled in?"
"May I?"
"Why not?"
Meredith said good-bye, excused herself and went to find her mother.
Uncle Wy grinned at Tsiuri. "I hope you didn't tell her we had a farm."
"I didn't."
"Good, because we don't. It went into space, and hasn't returned yet."
Tsiuri giggled. Uncle Wy was always saying things like that. Most people thought he was foolish, but he had shown Tsiuri his secret - he had a fake eye. He popped it out once to show Tsiuri when she asked about it. He had a beautiful brown glass eye, and a pale blue natural eye. He always said he had German Shepherd eyes, but Tisuri never understood why while she saw a friend's dog that had a brown eye and a blue eye.
His fake eye was the brown one, and he said it looked like a dog's eye. "From it, I have the ability to do great things," he had assured Tsiuri. "I can fly and heal people."
The back of his great eye was where the secret lay - the front looked like a normal eye, but the back was black, though it looked not so much black as much as it did clear and only the universe hid within a glass shell.
"It's a very special eye," Uncle Wy had said. "I protect people with this eye."
"How?" Tsiuri had whispered. "Are there people inside of there?"
"Yes, but they are very small compared to us, though if we went in there, we would probably look odd to them."
"Why?"
"Well, I think they have two pairs of arms."
Even now, a year later an almost eight-years-old, Tsiuri didn't quite know if Uncle Wy joked about the galaxy in his eye, but she suspected she would discover something very soon. After all, it had played around in her mind ever since she woke up last week - if Uncle Wy had a fake eye, why couldn't she have a fake eye?
"I want an eye like your eye, Uncle Wy," she announced.
"Do you now?" Uncle Wy asked, his voice slipping into the Irish accent of his youth. "And what would you do with a galaxy in your head?"
Tsiuri smiled. "Protect people."
"Aren't you rather young to protect people?"
She squinted her eye, considering. "Well. I'll be eight in three weeks. I may not be as strong as you or Aunt Mina are, but I can at least protect the ones in the eye."
At the foot of the bed, Aunt Mina sniffed. "We were hoping you'd say that, Tsiuri," she whispered.
"Why?"
"We just lost a dear friend of ours, and she left her eye. The thing is, this particular eye can only survive if it's in someone. It's a very special eye, with special abilities. It's called the Eye of the Imoogi, a type of dragon." She opened the box she had in her hand, revealing a beautiful orb of midnight blue black. Inside the blackness, a spiral galaxy spun around with shades of green and gold, but the eye itself was purple.
"Dragons have green eyes, Aunt Mina."
"Not in this case. The purple is the color of wisdom, spirituality and creativity - all appropriate for a dragon who likes the color purple. Besides, why can't dragons have purple eyes?"
"But this eye is blue." Tsiuri motioned to her eye. "Am I going to look like Uncle Wy?"
"You can, or we can get a contact for you to color your eye."
"I want it, the eye, I mean."
"All right," Uncle Wy said, rising. "I'll go find the doctor."