Inspired by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Fairy Tale Prompt: The Tree of Life.
Shadow-world is shades of greys and blacks. My hair is neither. No-one knew the word to describe it; but it unsettled those who saw it.
My twin brother’s life was foredoomed. Each generation sent young men off on a quest. Shadow-wizards possessed a totem treacherously stolen in the olden age. No young man ever returned. Their fate, and the powerful totem, colour, remained with the evil magicians.
To keep my secret from others, I live a life of isolation. Strange things, like myself, lodge here inside the ancients’ planetarium tower. I used a staircase of smooth ceremonial stones to reach a series of tiny windows carved out of the tower walls. I could see in a circle outwards. If I scrunched myself down just right, I could see the courtyard and gardens below.
One day, I carelessly knocked a stone to the floor. I covered my ears against the expected loud crash and shatter-echo. Instead, the stone thudded and broke open. I had never seen a book, so I had no name for it. I sat with it in my lap, tracing patterns of rounds and straights. A voice said: “First, you drop me on my head, now you are tickling me. That is no way to treat a book!” My education had begun.
I dismantled the staircase; each volume had it’s own voice and temperament. I learned calligraphy, philosophy, history, writing poetry, cooking, mathematics, flower arranging, and most importantly – spells and enchantments.
Unfortunately, the book of magic had the worst personality. It was grumpy, impatient, sarcastic, and slow to praise. “I hardly get to sleep anymore,” it would harrumph. “That is absolutely wrong, you silly empty-headed girl.” “Yawn, well, when are you going to transform that bowl into gold.”
Gold – gold was my hair. I understood the importance of the quest. Without colour, Shadow-worldians lived half-lives. Shadows made them forget the words of our ancestors. That was the power the shadow-wizards had: colour and knowledge. As long as they possessed it, we were lost without knowing why.
Mother came to tell me. D’t would leave for quest tomorrow. A small company, now trained in the arts of combat, was deemed ready. I will use the spell of dream-thought to whisper in my brother’s ear tonight. Then, I will hover by the windows until the suns become the colour of my hair.
© Phylor 2015