Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 175,667,356 Issue: 359 | 12th day of Gathering, Y10
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Sunlight Sonata: Part One


by kittengriffin

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Part I – Rondo: Sunlight

It was an altogether normal day. No, that wasn’t true. It was too boring to be truly normal. Coru stared up at the sun-gilded leaves above him, their green beautiful against the blue of the sky. Nothing had happened yet, and the sun was making its way to the horizon. Invi hadn’t come by to taunt him, and Az had shut himself up in his caves, experimenting with something Coru was almost certain was explosive. And that left Coru trying to entertain himself as best he could.

     The thing was, it was the middle of summer, and nothing was going on. Even if something was going on, it would take all day to get to wherever that something was happening and back. That was the curse of living in the middle of nowhere. But he was the only one of them that had ever minded, for some reason or another. Sighing, the brown Kougra rolled onto his stomach, stretching his paws out in front of him.

     It wasn’t like he, Az, or Invi were going to kill everyone around them. They managed not to kill each other, after all. Well. Mostly, at least.

     Coru shook his head, remembering what had happened the last time all three of them had been at home together. Az had started talking about his experiments, Invi had started laughing at them, and he had ended up shouting at both of them and trying to kick Invi out of the house. It hadn’t worked, even when Az finally started helping. When Invi had finally left, it had been his own choice, and he’d flown off insulting them.

     Coru dug his claws into the ground, wondering why they put up with the Eyrie. Probably because they had helped him raise himself. If Invi hadn’t been blind, it was unlikely that they would have found him at all, let alone been allowed to touch him and give him food. Invi didn’t seem to remember how they had helped him, though. Or he thought it was a sign of weakness, and he would never allow himself to be weak.

     New sounds trickled through the forest, and Coru’s ears perked up, a smile crossing his face. It was the right time of year for the gypsies to be traveling through, and that sounded like them. The combination of singing, hooves, and jingling, jangling jewelry that formed the sounds of their caravan drew him towards them. They chose a different route through the forest each year, and each year, Coru tried to find them. He usually succeeded, too.

     Following the music through the woods was easy enough. There were few other sounds in the area, the gypsies having scared all of the wildlife away. The first glimpse Coru caught of the caravan was of the gaily dressed Gallions and Whinnies that pulled the wagons. The second was of the gypsies who rode those wagons, laughing and talking, seemingly without a care in the world. Catching sight of a pink Aisha, Coru smiled, running towards the wagon where she sat. “Megan!”

     The Aisha turned, smiling. “Hello, Corus. You found us again, I see.”

     “Of course!” Coru leapt up onto Megan’s wagon, settling himself beside her. He ignored Megan’s name for him. It had always irked him a little. Yes, his full name was Coruscatus, but he preferred being called Coru. “Want to stay by my place tonight?”

     “How could we not?” Megan asked, in jest. “You always cook such wonderful food.”

     Coru looked down. Last time the gypsies had been over, Az had cooked. That hadn’t turned out so well. “Yeah. Well. I’ll be sure that Az doesn’t get into the kitchen this time.”

     “Speaking of Az, is he around?”

     “He’s always around,” Coru said. “It’s just a matter of whether or not he’s home. But yes, he should be. He said he’d come back from the caves tonight.”

     “Good! He’s a wonderful dancer, and that’s always a gift.” Megan’s attention was on the ground in front of her wagon, and Coru didn’t have any reply for her. Neither of them mentioned Invi. Coru because he was a nuisance, and Megan because she hadn’t seen Invi in a few years. Silence fell over the wagon for a time as Megan drove to the front of the caravan. Coru let his mind wander, answering Megan’s questions about how to find his home as they were asked, but not paying very much attention to them.

     As they were nearing his home, Coru heard soft footsteps from behind him. Turning, he saw a Usul, her eyes and lips darkened to match her dark blue hair. “So,” she said, her voice soft and resonant. “You’re back. What about the blind one? Is he still here?”

     Coru nodded, turning back to the front of the wagon. The blind one. Invi. Coru had never figured out why he and Gindara got along so well. Perhaps it was because of how similar they were, but he doubted it. It didn’t seem right that two people with personalities like theirs would get along. It seemed more like they’d rub each other the wrong way.

     “Good. I’ll be seeing him, then.”

     Coru didn’t answer. If Gindara said she would see Invi, she would. He’d gotten used to her predictions, even when they seemed more like guesses than anything else. Invi would almost certainly be waiting for them when they reached his house. And, with his luck, so would Az.

     The soft sounds of footsteps going back into the wagon gave him some relief. He didn’t like Gindara at all. She was a mage, and the one who had taught Invi and Az how to control their powers. Coru hadn’t needed her teaching, and was grateful for that. He’d taught Az as best he could, but she had done a better job. She had more experience, of course, but even so, he held a grudge for that.

     The rest of the ride was in silence, on part of Megan’s wagon, at least. The shouts and songs from the other wagons drifted over, and Coru’s smile faded as he heard a snatch of one. “Shadows cry for darkness, darkness burns in light. Shadows come and pray for them, and then come and savage the light.” Invidere... he had sung that song for them, years ago.

     “We are the fire, we are the light.” Megan sang the haunting tune softly. “We are the lightning, and never in night.”

     He looked at her, trying to avoid her eyes, but failing. Megan watched him, her usually smiling face grave.

     “Corus, why did Invidere sing that song?”

     “He is darkness.” Coru shrugged, his gaze wandering back to the forest they passed through. “He is moonlight.” Oh, as far as that song of his was concerned, that was a contradiction, but it was true. Invi was darkness, blind and shadowed. And yet, he shone like moonlight when he wished.

     Megan sighed. Coru knew she’d be shaking her head at him. Every time he was with her, she found a way to ask him about Invi. And every year, he gave the same sort of answer. Neither of them spoke of it after that. Neither of them spoke of anything after that, really. They both fell back into their own worlds.

     In front of them, he could see the opening in the trees that was his clearing. Coru straightened, leaping off the wagon and running ahead. At the edge of the clearing, a black blur caught him. “You didn’t tell me the gypsies were coming!”

     “How could I? I only found out when I heard them.” Coru shoved against Az with his hind legs, pushing the Draik off of him. “Is Invi here?”

     Az nodded, pushing the goggles he wore onto his forehead as he stood. “That’s why I’m out here in all the dirt and gunk and stuff. He’s inside.”

     Coru resisted rolling his eyes as Az’s opinion of the forest. There was as much ‘dirt and gunk and stuff’ in Az’s lab as in the forest, last he’d checked. He loped over to his house, letting Az direct the gypsies. They usually liked him more than they did Coru, probably because Az had a flair for the dramatic. One that usually ended up exploding stuff. Coru shook his head, flinging open the door to his home.

     Inside, he saw nothing out of the ordinary. Just the rough wooden furniture, the woven grass mats, and the stone fireplace. Only when Invi spoke did he finally see the shadow Eyrie.

     “So. You brought the gypsies, Coruscatus?” Coru turned to face Invi, who strode out of the shadows as surely as if he had sight. Coru sighed. He even changed the furniture around after each time Invi visited, and yet the Eyrie never acted blind. It was infuriating. “I would have thought you knew better.”

     “What do I not know this time?” Coru snapped, his tail lashing back and forth. He knew his claws were digging into the wooden floor, but he couldn’t help it. Invi brought that sort of reaction.

     “The gypsies have been spreading things around,” Invi said, pacing in front of Coru. “And— Well, I suppose it won’t matter, soon enough.” He smiled at Coru. “Now, will you please move? I’d like to talk to them.”

     Coru stepped aside, feeling the chill breeze Invi made as he passed. He didn’t really want to go outside, not with Invi and Az both out there. Besides, he had sort of promised the gypsies he’d help them cook. Moving deeper into the house, Coru made his way to the kitchen. He’d find something for the gypsies in there.

     For a time, he lost himself in cooking, his only contact with the outside the music and laughter that drifted through the windows. And after a time, when Az came to ask him if he was ready, he had prepared a salad large enough for most of the gypsies to have at least a little of it. Carrying it, he followed Az back outside, letting the sounds wash over him as everyone talked and ate and laughed.

     Pulled into a dance, Coru gave up trying to act serious and let the gypsies whirl him into their world, one formed of nothing but sound and motion, until people began to trickle away for sleep. Things quieted, then, and Coru slipped away, collapsing onto his bed and falling into a deep, dreamless, sleep.

     * * *

     “Wake up.”

     “Huh?” Coru opened his eyes. In front of him were two light blue eyes, surrounded by a tawny face and blue hair. “What is it, Gindara?” he asked, coming to full alertness instantly.

     “I just wanted to give you a little gift,” the gypsy said, backing up. Coru could now see the darkness of his room, lit only by a lantern the gypsy held. It flickered, sending shadows darting around the room. “Take it and use it wisely,” the blue Usul said, tossing a small object towards him. It glittered in the light, but before Coru could get a good look at it, Gindara blew out the lantern.

     “Ta-ta!” he heard her say, the soft creak of his door closing behind her words. He was left in silent darkness, holding a small object in his hand. It felt like a brooch, or something of that sort. Coru shook his head, reaching out to set it on the table beside his bed. He’d deal with it in the morning.

     As the object left his hand, he could have sworn he saw it glow, illuminating the brown table and his brown fur. Coru blinked, trying to figure out whether or not that had been his imagination. In the end, he simply lay back down, repeating what he’d already decided. He’d deal with it tomorrow.

To be continued...

 
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