Experiments {Silv/Astarte}


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Posting Elemental
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Post Mon Dec 24, 2018 6:27 am

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

OOC| :lol: So much teenage awkwardness! Let's see where it goes. :evil:

BIC| I'd love to see it! AuraSidra gushed, and beamed happily at the invitation to see something that was clearly so important to her. I bet OakHeart would learn a lot from those Books.

OakHeart, for his part, stopped his restless shifting and went as still as a venus fly trap, every ounce of his focus drilling into Astarte. He looked at her, not as his young companion's friend or as an interesting new find, but as if he was seeing every atom of her existence.

She'd stopped being the friend of a friend at some point, stopped being a half grown cutie, and somewhere in the afternoon had become a bit more real to him. He'd seen her how many times before and hadn't truly recognized her at first; how many times had he overlooked her? She did nothing but try to help, offering even her own resources to share in those things she learned.

Well, then, she surely had no idea what she was in for now that she had caught his interest in truth.

That is a beautifully generous offer, he told her, and a soft smile touched him as she said it was the least she could do. The least, indeed; how deep her kindness must be, to see such openness as a minimal offer. It does sound as if it could help in my personal Lessons. Looking through so many viewpoints, studying strange aspects of magic I could never wied - yes, it would certainly challenge my own outlook, refine how I think about things.

He hadn't even considered his own gain; he had been charged as a teacher, not a student.

Wait, you have Lessons? Even still? AuraSidra asked, and her surprise was genuine. It felt as if he was shifting the earth beneath her again, setting her in quick sand once more; he was OakHeart, and he had finished his studies with Hybrid long ago. He had nothing left to learn. Right?

But of course, he told her, and his expression softened as he looked back to the young filly; he still saw her with the same fondness of a little sister. The warmth was still there, would never leave his gaze, his smile. It had simply been changed, been strengthened by pride and respect. He was proud of who she was growing into, but she would always be that tiny bundle of determination that had stood up to Caustic as soon as they met, the frail little thing that told almost everyone You're not the boss of me.

AuraSidra didn't see it; one rarely does when it's right in front of their noses. But she looked back at him with such awe at this revelation that it was equally clear she had thought him above such tiny things as learning. She admired him, even as she took her place as someone he would answer to.

Such small things traded in simple expressions, and both blind to them. This was the folly of being overly familiar with someone for as long as they had.

I will never be done learning new things, and as long as I learn I will have Lessons, reasons to shape how I think, the way I see something. I learned how to destroy even as I learned to create, he explained, and the sharp perk of her ears told him she was gaining a certain insight, a Lesson from his words, I learned to destroy in order to learn to create, to nurture. At the time it had seemed horrible and broken my heart.

He looked at Astarte as he finished, certain that she would understand; there was a gravity to his expression, and an invitation for kinship as he said It was how I learned what each plant needs to thrive. The desert blooms are my favorite example of that; so easily drowned if watered too often, and yet if granted water rarely they can drink deeply. Everyone thought the desert a dead thing, but he had been able to feel the life of the place, the tingling thrum through loose sand and searing sun. The flowers proved that. He loved them for it.

Looking back at AuraSidra he smiled at her slightly dazed expression, the surprising knowledge that such beneficial knowledge could come from something as bleak as killing off entire areas. That he was still finding such strange things to challenge his views, always would be. One of her absolutes had just been altered.

She didn't realize it, but it was the reason he had spent so long living inside a dead log. Destruction, death, they were not to be feared; the Lesson had shook him deeply, urged him to explore the beneficial aspects everywhere he could. It was only change, he discovered; the making way of the old for something new to flourish. It was as the spring storms were at home, tearing apart that which had weakened in order to nurture the strength of new growth.

The blossoms around Astarte would also die, if he left them here, and in that he found a distinction. He wouldn't leave the plants to wither away in the mild weather of the fields; that would have no purpose, but would instead be the creation of something for the sake of destruction. It would pose as the reverse of the balance he had found.

So he shifted them, using the small differences he knew of every plant, every flower, to change what he needed to in order to have river roses become toad lilies that would share the shade of his cherry tree. A small pond sprouted nearby, close enough that it would help maintain the proper level of moisture for the new plants, even as other blooms rippled into bluebonnets and violets. He thought that the cool blues and purples contrasted nicely against the russet coat on the young mare they surrounded; better than having her blend with them, disappear. She was far from invisible, as far as he was concerned.

It would be interesting to see how she grew.

AuraSidra shook her head absently and gave her friend a rather bemused expression as she said I never thought that magic studies could shape how someone thought. Maybe I could learn a few things from these Books of yours, as well, even if I am not a mage. The concepts, the views that the writers take for granted, they could be insightful, even as she held no use for the primary techniques they would offer. Those OakHeart could benefit from more than she could. It would do him the most good, perhaps, but it could still be interesting to see how these writings viewed the cosmos.
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Post Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:34 pm

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

((Let the awkward misinterpretation begin :lol: ))

Even through AuraSidra’s bright enthusiasm, Astarte felt the focus—sudden, heavy as the press of the desert sun. Her dayi has sometimes fixed her with something like it: Dayi Confetti’s glancing interest like a blow, Dayi Id’s regard like a held breath. That night she had brought together the blade, Sive had looked at her with the same sort of weight, the same stillness—one that seemed a touch unnatural on the young stallion. Could she have done something wrong, might she have mis-stepped, overstepped?

One way to know—so she looked to him, dared to meet a gaze head-on. Maybe this was a folly, something slipping off-kilter as she found a smile there on those well-made features, and the same kind words. She
could be useful, though. Among all these fumblings, at least there was that.

“Let me, um, call a path, then,” she murmured, turning to what she knew. Her entrance was tethered nearby, still, but she’d have to signal the change in passage—the recitation kindled in her mind on reflex, the spell so worn she needed no ritual, no speech. She felt a new warmth rush through her, and then her flameling was there, flickering expectantly before her nose. “Hello, Pyr. Light the way, will you? Two more, and dear to me.”

A small sputter that she read as acknowledgment, before it flitted off, circling once around her neck in a brief farewell.

She had not tuned out their conversation, though it felt—somewhat intimate, as the look that passed between them, the tenderness she needed no deep perception to see. An exchange that echoed the most intricately crafted workings, every part in harmony, the forces and intents all in balance. It occurred to her that jealousy might be felt here, loneliness—ever the outside looking in. But who was she to hold a candle to either of them, if that was how the Circle spun itself? Who was she to claim anything more than this? No, she belonged here, as they allowed. She belonged—

Only OakHeart was looking at her again, as if she was—well, something so much more than she was. A key to these vital Lessons, as if she could have such an effect. No. She was plain, small-gifted, graceless, and he—he spoke of deserts and she could almost see them, her childhood lessons unfolding at the simple beckon of his words. His voice.

Amma, teaching her to see the change of the land, life where there was none—the grace in survival, the balance of the whole. Avi, learning her the mercy of that arid heart as he’d learned it himself: the sweetness of water that had been sought and earned, the balm of the night’s frost after the scorching day, the returning of what was owed. That simple lesson, in their tongue: “I learned to destroy in order to learn to create…it had seemed horrible and broken my heart.” She was what they’d made of their pieces, born to their forge.

No. She would never dream to affect him as he did her. No more than the ocean might net the moon.

His words were not for her, really, either way—they were for AuraSidra, who turned to them as a flower to the sun. Astarte could add to that. “Drink deeply and settle firmly.” She nodded. “Even should they die, the sands remember their passing. A drought’s cycle, and they might even flourish again.”

Such precise balance—her home, her heart. And yet, even knowing the lesson in the marrow of her bones, she’d transgressed it. And even if it had been for love, it had cost them. It was still costing them, and she had been the fulcrum of it all. No matter what Sive said, no matter what Avi said. She had gone against the cycle. She wondered what that knowledge might do, should she bare it to them—to AuraSidra, whom she’d already harmed, to OakHeart, who even now rectified what he had wrought. She watched the land change for him, again, softening into what belonged, a rightness that echoed the clean workings of his power. No. She would fix what she had done, and then she would be—better, purer. She could come to them whole.

A warmth, by her ear; her flameling had returned. She flicked it lightly in greeting, and then stepped out from under the cover of the tree. She’d never used her flame for destruction, but one could never be quite so sure—it had become awfully attuned to her feelings, after all this time, and they never had figured out the how or why. Better to keep it close, and her will clear. “I find them fascinating, if nothing else, all the ways souls see the world…” Now clear, the flame flew high, drawing a path for them to follow. “Hopefully there is something of value. For both of you.” She shrugged, with a bit of a bashful smile. “Even if it’s just a way to pass the time.”
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Posting Elemental
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Post Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:54 am

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

They fell in to either side of her, the movement as natural as breathing; AuraSidra to her right, OakHeart to her left, and for a moment they were both silent.

AuraSidra's eyes turned inward as she contemplated their words, absorbed them. Settle firmly, Astarte had said, words that could only reference the roots; but were a Serian's roots her own, or were they made of those she surrounded herself with? No, they were her own, surely, else you risk calamity as Frolic had found, an identity that depended on others and shattered at their disappearance.

How, then, did one settle firmly within their own roots, firmly enough that even through drought and suffering they might endure to flourish again, some small vital piece of them remaining through it all?

Well, that was the Lesson, wasn't it. She would have to speak with the Lady Eternal over the matter, learn new ways to shape her mind to the problem. There would be many in depth discussions to come.

The puzzle was not tucked away and forgotten with the realization, merely left to turn itself over in the back of her mind, the tenacious curiosity that was as intrinsic to her as breathing refusing to completely leave it alone. Most of her focus, however, returned rather swiftly to her friend, and her ears perked once more as she regarded the tiny little flame she had seen around Astarte on those few small occasions.

Hello, Pyr, she called up to the flickering little spark of light, and smiled in earnest. Some magic breathed, lived in its own way, she knew this; talking to the little flame seemed completely normal to her. I have seen you a time or two, yet I never had the chance to say hello before. Thank you for being with my friend when I am unable to.

If the little spark was important to Astarte, it was important to AuraSidra as well.

OakHeart grinned slightly, a tiny portion of his mind considering the little filly's extreme openness; she was always so friendly, always welcoming. Such a kind heart would need protecting, lest it become too scarred.

The majority of him, however, watched the changes in the land, looked deep into how the various soil and magic influences shifted the individual nature of the plants, the taste the air held. He could touch these plants, but it would never be that they would ripple and breathe in response to his mindset; the difference was fascinating. At home the entire realm breathed and he moved in tandem with the great fluctuations that surged throughout the lands, and in Sionayra it flowed through his very blood, their unique haven that so many sprang from.

Here, he could touch them with his talent, but they would never be as a part of him. It was a small, but vital distinction.

To pass time with you in any manner is a blessing, Astarte, he told her, and snuffed at the bit of mane left loose near her withers, making AuraSidra giggle. The little puff was the slight tickling of small hair, the ruffle of someone's mane in absent affection, and the sign of affection warmed AuraSidra's heart into merriment.

And then they were upon the Tower, a structure quite unlike anything either of them had witnessed; such monuments didn't exist at home, and the ruins of the Fea weren't often found in Sionayra. Nature reigned in all her terrible glory, uncontested, intricately tied to the hearts and souls of all who shared in her bounty and rage.

This, however; this was made with intent, a mighty megalith of independence, some creaturing altering terrain and moving materials, an attempt to change certain aspects of their environment.

Oh, OakHeart breathed, and stopped dead for a moment to stare in awe, automatically reaching towards the structure for a hint of the life that churned through stone or fallen wood, the attempt that always lay beneath for all things to break down and be remade.

There was some, perhaps; weathering still tore at the outer structure of stone, time still marched throughout the weakening platforms of aged wood. It would take longer, but without interference even this would be broken down and remade by nature. Somehow, that was comforting to him. Even attempts to alter environments were only temporary, in the long run.

So this is a Tower, AuraSidra murmured with as much fascination as was plastered on OakHeart's face, and after taking it in for a moment she started straight for the great structure. OakHeart snorted again before smiling at Astarte; it was a good thing it was she who was showing them such discoveries, else AuraSidra's usual boldness might prove problematic. Again.

Shall we? he asked, and bowed for their host to lead the way, his ears swiveling in every direction as he tried to take it all in at once.
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Post Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:03 pm

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}


How well we fit together—she allowed herself that small, secret thought, tucked it into the sliding chambers of her heart. There was a rightness to this, a rightness she’d felt sing through her in-progress workings when she’d listened, really
listened to what they’d needed. A half-chord from completion, but maybe a touch more lovely in its expectation, its potential. And they were just walking together, really—that was all.

Still, the flameling heard her—flew higher, shone brighter. She couldn’t blame them, really; they’d been so long shut up inside. At AuraSidra’s gentle greeting, they “preened”: a warm pink to the edges of the flames, a softer curl to the flickering motion. They dipped down and fluttered briefly across the filly’s nose, before darting back to trace their path along the sky.

“They’ve been with me far too much, I think.” Astarte laughed, watching the spell climb and flash their passage through Sive’s wards. “Listening to all my rambling, playing lamplight—I’m glad they got the chance to breathe a bit now, see you again.”

How natural, they were becoming to her, that she barely registered OakHeart’s genteel courtesies. She could not, however, miss the warm, light press of his breath over her back.
Oh.

Pyr blazed up bright as lit magnesium, a sparkshot that sizzled through the wards quick as lightning, leaving their architecture glinting and visible for but a brief moment. The next found them hovering over the join of Astarte’s neck and spine, smoldering. She knew the flameling could never grow hot enough to harm her, nor any flesh, despite their appearance: the spell had been created to give warmth and light, a summon rather than an evocation. The heat that rushed through her own veins was probably more scalding.

“Stop that, you,” she muttered, hitching her shoulder just so to nudge the small ball of magic. She took solace in AuraSidra’s fond giggling—just a gesture of camaraderie, family, that sort of thing. No need to spin it out of proportion, whatever her physical reactions might be. She’d not encourage this troublesome body. “Sorry about this—they’re protective, it seems.”

For the first time, she did not add. But the flare did seem to trigger something, as suddenly the Tower was there, much sooner than she’d expected. She bit her lip at the familiar sight, welcome as it always was to her: the wide, deep lake, the singular white structure at its center. Hopefully she’d not damaged any of the wards or ways, or raised some unnecessary alarm.

Yet it seemed quiet, and just as she’d left it. The narrow, guard-less bridge remained above water, long, limestone slabs raised just above the placid surface. OakHeart’s sudden rush of breath reminded her of her own, just moments before—and she remembered that AuraSidra spoke of her own lands and those of her bonded as much different.
Book. Gate. Rules. Trouble. She’d not had the language for them when they’d first met; maybe their lands were freer than what she’d known. More akin to the desert of her birth, than what Sive borrowed here.

“A kind of tower, yes.” She could feel some small touch of Elemental magic wake and fly; OakHeart’s curiosity, probably finding a better answer than her words could manage. “Some realms name them Wizard’s Towers, but Sive makes no such claim. It’s just—a home, as best it can be.”

Sive had told her, lightly, of its creation: a task that those who studied as she did should undertake, a mark of some mastery. “Fitting, that mine’s should be so lacking.” She’d sighed a little, then, half-rueful and half-smiling.

It was, maybe, too delicate a thing—all white marble walls, thin glass, slender spires and open flourishes of stone, more fantasy than structure. But Astarte had always thought it pretty, warm. That much she’d told her Bond-to-be, that it was an inviting place. A place that would welcome a filly dashing straight into the heart of its wonder—as she’d once done before.

OakHeart was bowing to her, again, shaking her from her reverie. She felt her face heat, just so. Pyr sputtered, sulkily, and took off after AuraSidra. “Um, yes, let’s.” Astarte braved a small smile, letting herself set an easy pace—there could be no danger, here, at her home’s heart. Though, perhaps a touch of caution. “AuraSidra! The bridge stones can be a little slippery!”

There was no command in her voice, just an easy statement for her young friend to do with as she wished—she could easily fly the length of water, or swim if she felt the urge. Astarte preferred the footpath, wearing her familiar way. She chanced a quick sideways glance at the stallion beside her. “I take it that there are not many structures like this, where you are from?”

She was no master of conversation, but she ought to try. Anything, really, that she would not be tongue-tied around him forever. That would certainly probably not be the most auspicious of Circle beginnings.
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Post Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:06 pm

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}

Protective, hm? OakHeart asked, and reached over in an attempt to nudge her shoulder with his nose. He realized as he did that she was approximately his own size; he was small, even still, and suddenly realized he always would be. Too large to fly, too small to be impressive.

He dipped his head as the thought struck and ripped up a few mouthfuls of grass, automatically encouraging fresh growth to replace what he took even as he ate. A long drink ended in a snort as she called a gentle caution to their young compatriot, knowing what was to come.

She paused for a heartbeat, then smiled like a demon set to fresh prey. Two steps backwards and she lunged forward, skipping and sliding and whooping laughter that bounced back to her from the gleaming Tower ahead of her.

Somehow she managed to find and elaborate every small slick pocket, a result of a life of practice sliding around the ice. One little slip merged seamlessly into another, resulting in a chain of giggles as she zigged and zagged over the stones.

This place was the best. And she hadn't even gone inside yet!

OakHeart shook his head in mock exasperation, though his amusement cleared as Astarte asked after what his home was like. He turned a smile to her once again, though one that was utterly different from any of his previous expressions; it was open, almost vulnerable, and endearingly charming; a slight crookedness to his grin, a spark of warmth in his gaze, a happily unguarded tilt to his ears. There was no charm to this look, no stinger-sharp excitement over some new discovery; just him. Slightly goofy, all too present in what was now, even as that awareness spread wide in most cases.

Not now, though; now, that smile was all for Astarte. She was so easy to like, this half-grown mare, so sincere and caring, and curious enough to find new tricks for what she wanted to do.

No wonder everything she did made AuraSidra happy.

Nothing like this at all, he confirmed, and flicked his gaze back up to the strange construct that stood so very singularly in the midst of that lake. My home is in an open forest, where the sun flashes on bright flowers and gives depth to the moss I shape over my trees.

He looked at her again and flashed her a brilliant smile as he added I do not believe anything like this exists in all the realm, and yet it would have to be as fascinatingly unique as yourself to be proclaimed your sacred place.

Well duh, AuraSidra laughed, and spun in circles over a puddle until she stumbled sideways in dizziness. Everyone's special place is unique to them. Have you not seen the Bonded's den?

Try not to vomit, OakHeart answered mildly, and snatched up another mouthful of sweet grasses. He had seen it, of course, but not very many of their kind had wandered through those lands that strictly belonged to her; few ever needed to seek her out, but more than that there were fewer who honestly considered visiting her for simple friendship. Eternal had, as well as Caustic and Plasma, and Shiro of course. Shiro was the first one to break that unvoiced taboo; and the one to break it the most often. OakHeart had gone out of curiosity over the various terrain, at least at first; he had gone back simply from friendship.

You have never been to see her! AuraSidra cried, half in accusation and half in triumph. Have you seen your bond-to-be's special place? she asked Astarte, and slipped around in a circle again as she waited for them.

A special place isn't the same as a home, OakHeart interjected, and plucked a vibrant golden-orange Chrysanthemum as they walked. He held it out to Astarte, an offering to tuck it into the braid of her mane in thanks for tolerating them, as he said My home is the open woods, but the special place is the little grove with the moss and vines. Your home is bright winter, but your special place is where you can look at the distant sea.

AuraSidra stopped spinning and sliding as he spoke, turning a thoughtful gaze to the pair as she said Is this your special place, Astarte? If it is different than homes, I think it means more to see someone's special place; it would be like seeing their heart given shape.

The very idea that she might have brought them to see something really special made the little filly look at her friend with a new kind of awe. Maybe she hadn't appreciated her as much as she should have, to even consider that Astarte would show them her heartspace. It always took time, always involved some wandering before they found one another's most cherished places; FireFly's butterfly tree, Frolic's lily orchard, Sign's little cove with the vibrant fish and so many pretty shells. Was their wandering together through distant places enough to earn her the right to see something so special?

Next time you absolutely have to see my glowing ice, she decided, and her face lit in a smile as bright as the sun as she added even if this is not your special heartspace, I really want you to see mine.

After that you could see my mossy grove, OakHeart agreed, and flashed an entirely different sort of grin as he said I would love to share my time with you again. We still have the rest of today to enjoy and I'm already looking forward to seeing you again.

Maybe next time the little blue terror would be occupied elsewhere; the most Astarte had opened up so far was while AuraSidra was playing with slippery stones. Maybe that meant something; maybe she was more comfortable in private, or maybe it had simply taken that long. The only way to know was to experiment a little.
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Post Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:34 pm

Re: Experiments {Silv/Astarte}


A nudge at her shoulder, the soft hum of breath—and you can do this, Astarte, it’s just a touch for heaven’s sake, just some friendly banter. Take it in stride, like a normal filly would. A normal filly who’d bump back, just lightly, and echo that small, slight slyness in the stallion’s words.

“You’ll not gain their good side, teasing like that,” she stage-whispered. Sure enough, Pyr—though bereft of any suggestion of having eyes—hovered back into their orbit, flames on a watchful simmer. Astarte shook her head. “I’m touched, little one, but you need not be so guarded among friends.”

There was something sudden, though, about how OakHeart fell to feeding, something stuttered about the mouthfuls of grass, however courteous his manners in replenishing what had been taken. She didn’t
think it was because of her, necessarily, but maybe some stirred up thought in their brief stab at familiarity. Again, she was pressed with the want to help with—well, whatever stilled that curious, easy grace, though small or passing it might be. She would do the same for AuraSidra, after all. In a heartbeat.

Speaking of which.

The high, keening giggles snapped her to attention, and she felt the odd moment of panic as she saw the filly skid across the stones—but no, it was simply AuraSidra, ever in control, ever her own self, defying every expectation. Charming, that delight, and useful in distracting Pyr from their misplaced worries. The flameling zipped off—though Astarte doubted there was much they could do to dissuade the filly from her avant-garde exploration.

“Nothing like this at all.”

She turned back to that voice and—oh,
that expression was new, and yet so oddly familiar. The kind of easy, intimate warmth that she’d caught passing between the elders of her tribe, her family, souls dear and close in reach. She didn’t dare think that—no, you’re mixing your signals, again. Too long out of touch. Simply friendly. Simply kind. She would get used to such brightness, in time, and in the meantime learn to stop fluttering about like a dazed moth to a light.

“It must be lovely, I imagine, what you make there,” she tried—from what she’d seen in this brief afternoon, she couldn’t conceive his power forming anything less than sublime. “There are woodlands to the east, here, where Khala Rosegold and Dayi Cedar make their home. I’ve been there a few times, for the tomes in his care, but”—she lowered her eyes a touch bashfully—“I’m afraid I wasn’t paying much attention to the surroundings. The trees were quite tall, though, I remember that.”

A silly statement, really—of course trees were tall. But there was that brilliant smile again, and she was hopeless, hopelessly letting her mouth run off on an engine of its own. “Oh, no, it’s really more Sive’s place than mine, I just—well, I suppose it is sacred, in a way, but it’s really on no account of me. I’m just lucky to hang around.”

‘Special place’ AuraSidra said, as she had Books and Lessons, clear-toned despite her dizzying spins—Pyr bobbed along to her antics, leaving light trails spiraling through the air. Astarte thought on it a bit, keeping her pace slow so that OakHeart could replenish what he needed. Offhand, she knew a little of Elementals’ burdens, if only because Dayi Confetti was so keen on pushing his body to the limits of them—he didn’t eat near often as he should, and Sive worried.

“I don’t know that she has a special place.” At least none that she’d seen. A place where the heart is given shape? Sive’s lands shaped themselves, eventually, to those who walked it, helped along here and there by whatever the girl could give. To Dayi Cedar and Khala Rosegold, the forest; to Khala Eve, the wild gardens, and to amma, the lush oasis at its side; Dayi Signal in the canyons, Dayi Trite at the mountain falls. But she didn’t know if any of those places fit what AuraSidra had described—oh, but there was Sahar Lock’s statue garden. But she had not meant to learn of that, nor did she know if they all possessed such a construct. “I don’t know that I have one.”

A burst of orange caught at the corner of her eye, stirring her from her musing. What was he—? Oh, yes. She’d seen Dayi Avalir do this for Khala Eve, often enough. Dayi Brittle, too: “To earn your smile,” he’d said—back when all had been right. A Circle thing. Tentatively, she bowed her head to the gesture, trying to ease the hammering in her chest, keep the light measure in her voice. Like Khala Eve would do.

“I have a workshop, in the lower levels of the tower, by the store rooms.” Their easy pace had brought them to the open doors of the tower, the wide entrance hall—which seemed much vaster than the slender dimensions of the spire should allow. “I’d be happy to show you both, after the Library. It’s not very impressive, but it’s the closest place I have that’s mine, I suppose.”

She didn’t know if it could measure to what they’d offered—glowing ice, hidden groves—but she would gladly give what she had. A blush, at OakHeart’s flash of, well,
something, the vague promise in his words. “I feel—much the same. To see you, again, I mean.” Seriously? She fought the urge to duck her head, again. “This way, the Library’s usually on the third floor.”

There were no stairs, only a smooth, measured incline that wound up the walls in either direction. Pyr lifted off directly upwards, vanishing through the high eaves—off to Sive, perhaps, if she were still somewhere about. Astarte doubted she would mind visitors, if the easy, guardless entrance was any indication.
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