Dear readers, tonight we listen in on a conversation between the protagonist and his friend. While trained to enforce the rules and maintain the peace in a society with little tolerance for magic-wielding elementals, an encounter with a young boy leads him to make hard choices — and bear the consequences.
“So, where are you from, really?”
Nia and I sat in the shade of a decaying building of unrecognizable historical function on a particularly hot midland afternoon, in a block of abandoned industrial warehouses haunted by the local youths.
Her cold silence was not unexpected and the distance between us, as we sat opposite each other on the stairs, might as well have spanned the continent.
“I’m from Tule myself,” I continued talking, filling in the stifling atmosphere. She kept her eyes forward and pretended that I didn’t exist. “It’s a small town up north by the sea. Not far enough to get much snow in winter, though it’s still cold and the rain never lets up.”
A small huff slipped her lips, telling me she knew exactly where the town was. And that she was listening. So I went on.
“We don’t get as many storms as the west-coast, but fogs develop in a flash in winter and hang around for days, sometimes weeks.” I didn’t know which I preferred less: the gloomy, damp Tule winters or the oppressively hot midland summers. “The summers are beautiful though. It’s warm and clear, and—”
Nia let out a loud, exaggerated groan. “Do you ever just stop talking?”
“I would, if you’d just answer the question.”
She eyed me as if I was lame, with that furrow in her brow and slightly disgusted look that never failed to make me feel inept.
I didn’t let it get to me.
“You could be from the north,” I continued. She had that hint of Elathrian with her coal black hair and the alien sharpness of her features. But there was something of the southern softness too, not to mention the warm tan. Where the steely grey eyes came from was anyone’s guess. “But you don’t strike me as having grown up in the northern crags.” Not just because the borders were closed and true Elathrians rare, but she had the southern farmer dialect down perfectly. Though hints of that high-class capital lingo slipped through whenever she wasn’t paying attention.
“I’d bet on Mithra.” She’d fit right in on the Capital streets with her mixed heritage.
She let out a small snort. Wrong guess then?
“And maybe I didn’t grow up in one place in particular,” she challenged. “Or I come from somewhere you wouldn’t usually think of.”
I didn’t take the bait. Following her line of reasoning always led in endless circles and never got to a straight answer.
“I’m free to come up with my own story then.”
She cocked a brow.
“You grew up on a farm, in the deep south.”
She snorted a laugh.
“Struggling farm probably, family agriculture isn’t as profitable as it used to be.”
She continued eyeing me with that semi-amused, semi-mocking twinkle in her eye.
“It probably got appropriated for the state farm project. You could have stayed, but knowing how much you love conforming, you probably ran. Ended up in the capital somehow, learned to steal—”Continue reading “Kaleo and Nia (of Rising Wind, by Mary Evans)”