Saturday, December 26, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Thanks, SAge, for saying that in the comment. Do try telling that to the others. *looks grim* They seem completely irritated with my skill. Just because I dance better than they do does not mean I'm trying to make them look inferior. Even if they are.
Alright, I'll admit that last sentence might have been out of line. But one can put up with this sort of thing for only so long. Flicker has started ignoring me, and Sparkle is constantly trying to show me up. She can't, and she usually ends up looking foolish trying. Her loss.
Flare is always making snide remarks about me. Everything that comes out of her mouth is designed to bring me down. She disguises the spite by saying she's joking, but everyone knows she isn't. At first it just surprised me, then it hurt me, now it's just getting old. At the very least she needs some NEW insults. She's resulted to recycling .
Firefly is most irritating of all. She turns everything into a lesson on pride. She thinks she's being incredibly clever and subtle, but it's ridiculous. We'll walk into a room with a beautiful tapestry and she'll say things like, "Hmm, I bet this thread in the middle thinks it's better than the ones on the edges."
I like to irritate her back by missing her point: "Well, threads can't really think..."
Or make my own point: "But I guess if threads could think, the middle thread would probably think itself better. Seeing how it's in the middle, the center of the entire design, the focal point of the entire room, the most beautiful thread in the whole piece. I guess it has a right to think itself better."
Even Coal seems glad I'm getting a hard time. He inserts his own mocking comments whenever possible, and readily laughs at Flare's insults. What a traitor.
Comet is the only one who understands. She doesn't seem to think it's such a crime to be a better dancer.
If this is some stupid ploy to bring me down and make me realize my "faults", it won't work. I can swear that to you. If I'm anything at all, it's stubborn.
Now, I understand that I come across as very arrogant. I understand that. But why can't anyone under stand me? IT'S NOT ARROGANCE IF IT'S TRUE! I am a better dancer! I am better than the others! No, that doesn't give me a license to brag, but it doesn't mean I have to pretend to be on their skill level!
Thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I see we have a new follower. Welcome, Cowgirls.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I saw Coal in the hallway. He asked how I was doing, but I completely ignored him. He's so smug about this whole thing. It's like he feels as though he's got some sort of control over me. I hate it and I hate him right now. Not for turning me in, just the way he's acting about it...Maybe that doesn't make any sense.
Anyway, I'm able to post now, so you should be hearing from me again soon. Thanks for your thoughts over the past few weeks.
P.S. Gee, Flare (I just read the last post). Thanks for the heartfelt sympathies. I'm really not as bad as she makes me out to be. I don't brag THAT much and, really, is it such a crime to be the best kachina?
Monday, November 30, 2009
This is Flare, Ember's twin sparktressling. Firefly would be posting, but...Well, may I tell you a short story?
Ember is a very good kachina. I'm sure she's bragged about it before on here. She's really quite arrogant about it, you know. (Sorry, Em, just being honest.) She is talented, though. The Fire Lord always watches her more than any of us. So lately, he's been missing her. You can tell he doesn't get as much entertainment out of us. Today he snapped. Flicker accidentally hit Sparkle in the eye, and Sparkle fell into me, and I tripped and brought Firefly down. The Fire Lord was unbelievably angry and shouted that Ember wouldn't have fallen. He stood up and started throwing fireballs at Firefly. She's the oldest and supposed to be the lead kachina (although Ember's quite bossy so it's really more like her), so whenever we do something wrong she gets blamed. I felt terrible and tried to help her, but Comet and Sparkle told me not to move. The Fire Lord was going to beat Firefly anyway, it would make no sense to get beaten myself. I didn't want to listen to them, but I was very upset and afraid and so I did.
Firefly is in a pretty bad way and she's upset with Ember, seeing how this is all sort of her fault. If she had just followed the rules she wouldn't be lying in bed with a raw back. And if she weren't such a bossy peacock all the time, it'd be easier to feel sorry for her.
I do feel sorry for her though. She's in a lot of pain and I do love her. I feel worse for Firefly though. This wasn't Firefly's fault and she's still being blamed.
The worst part is that now we don't have a lead kachina. Firefly counts beats and decides what routine we'll do. I guess, being the oldest of us four left, it'll be me now, but I've never been confident about all this. I hate our costumes, they make me feel...exposed. I'm not comfortably with the whole thing. I don't know what we'll do.
Keep Ember and Firefly in your thoughts.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Don't be upset, Ember is not dead, but she can't post because of the pain.
She'd like me to tell you that the Fire Lord had her flogged with fire ropes. She'd also like me to tell you that she is quite lucky. The Fire Lord would have killed her without a doubt if he had heard the entire story. Coal did not tell him everything. He merely reported seeing Ember leaving her room, not that she overheard anything from the spies.
I just want to say how upsetting this entire situation is. Ember is in more pain than I've ever seen her in. She is not even speaking, just tears running down her cheeks sometimes. The Fire Lord did not even send any sort of medicine to ward off infection. I know this is justice, Ember disobeyed the rules, but it's very difficult to watch. I hope to the Fire Lord she recovers swiftly.
Friday, November 20, 2009
The strangers are gone; the Fire Lord has announced that everyone is free to move about the Palace again.
Which means Coal has had his chance to report me.
I've never been so afraid in my whole life. What was I thinking?? How could I have been so foolish as to disobey the Fire Lord? And get caught, too! Of all the stupid things to do, spying on the spies must be at the top of the list.
My eyes are bright green and I'm breaking out into a cold sweat.
Will the Fire Lord kill me? Or only have me flogged? Or branded! I've heard of him doing that. There used to be a page sparker around who had all sorts of brand scars on his back, marking his shame. He was a complete rebel for who-knows-why and he was executed two springs ago.
Surely the Fire Lord won't kill me! I've never done anything like this before! But his temper has been so short of late, and with the talk of rebellion last month or so, I'm sure he's more likely to kill than ever.
But under all this fear there are other feelings. Feelings not timid at all. There are feelings of determination and still curiosity. If the Fire Lord does not have me executed, will I try this again?
I can't say. The fear of death is too close now. But I'm still somehow curious, so painfully curious. Coal knows so much, and I know so little. It's too unfair to be borne! I want to know things! I hate being blinded!
Who knows what's to come. Not me.
I do not know of any gods to pray to, but if you do, please pray for me.
And pray also that those words never come back to the Fire Lord. To pray to or worship anything but him would lead to death without question.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Readers, the Fire Lord could kill me for this. And unfortunately I mean that quite literally. Slaves have been killed for less around here.
The only thing standing between me and certain death is my skill as a kachina. I am quite serious. All of Jeolotoe knows how much pride the Fire Lord takes in his kachinas. We are the finest in the world. Furier has always been home to the finest kachinas in the world. I am particularly fine. Out of the six of us, I'm the best.
Maybe I'm being prideful. Maybe I'm just being realistic.
Either way, I honestly cannot imagine what will become of me. None of us kachinas are saying much. An hour ago a frightened deaf and mute sparktress brought in some bread. Firefly keeps giving me terrified glances. Flare won't look at me at all. Flicker just stares constantly. Sparkle's eyes dart from face to face. Comet stares out the window.
We are all afraid. Afraid for me.
What am I to do?
Monday, November 16, 2009
I may never do it again.
We awoke the sound of the alarm gong, loud and clear.
You know those certain sounds that make your skin crawl, your stomach jump, and something at the back of your mind just flinch? The warning gong is one of those sounds. It means one of three things:
1. The Palace is under attack.
2. Someone inside the Palace has been arrested.
3. The Fire Lord wants to see everyone front and center.
There are different patterns for different emergencies. After flying awake in a mild panic, my first response was deadly quiet, listening for the gong sequence...
The Fire Lord was summoning all Palace slaves.
If you don't know this already, when the Fire Lord calls you to do something, you do it before he's even finished his command. Of course, this command was a bit harder to fulfill on the part of us kachinas; we not only have to react quickly with the rest of the slaves, we're expected to look good while we do.
I've never dressed and combed my hair that quickly. I opted to omit the makeup, which still takes us five minutes at least, even with years of practice. (For all you who are interested in what our daily makeup looks like, click HERE and HERE. Of course, it's more elaborate for special occasions: HERE and HERE.)
After throwing on some clothes, we ran down the hall and into the dining hall. Most of the other slaves were already there. So was the Fire Lord. He so rarely comes into the slave areas; everyone's eyes were green (except the spies', of course).
I won't bore you with the details; in short, the Fire Lord forbade anyone from leaving their quarters until further notice. No one dared to ask how we were to eat, though I'm sure we were all wondering. The Fire Lord didn't even make an exception for spies. That surprised everyone, especially the spies. Their usually unreadable faces held hints of irritations and suspicion.
The Fire Lord dismissed us, and we all hurried back to our rooms.
"Do you think this has anything to do with the strangers?" Sparkle asked, the moment we were back in the kachina keep.
"Of course it does!" I cried impatiently, sitting on the bed. I glanced at myself in the mirror and made a face. I hate how I look without makeup. I've worn it everyday for so long I feel naked without it. I got up and began applying eyeliners and paint.
Firefly rolled her eyes. "Ember, we aren't going to see anyone for goodness-knows-how-long. Your pretty face will be quite wasted."
"Yes, we won't be seeing Coal," Flare said, her voice taunting. I snarled at her and went back to tracing my eyes.
"How are we supposed to get food?" Sparkle grumbled. "I'm already hungry."
"You don't suppose there's any danger, do you?" Flicker asked nervously.
"I expect there's some," Firefly answered, eying my makeup with a frown. "Ember, really, you're using up valuable paint."
I ignored her. I suddenly realized why I was putting on makeup.
I was going out, of course.
I did not intend to follow the Fire Lord's command for once in my life. I was curious, too curious to bear, and I was not going to miss whatever excitement was out there.
"I bet the strangers are..." Sparkle murmured. She didn't really have an answer, we all knew that. She thinks out loud a good deal. We've all learned to ignore her. If she wants us to acknowledge her, she has no problem screaming so in our ears.
"Long-lost relatives," Flare suggested, a gleam in her eye. "The Fire Lord has family!"
We all stared at her with incredulous expressions.
"Really, Flare, everyone knows what happened to the Fire Lord's family," I said with disgust. Flare frowned and shrugged.
"I was only speculating," she insisted. "Where's your sense of fun?"
I smiled inwardly. Oh, I planned to have some fun.
Before long, I finished applying my daily makeup and eyed the window causally. Our room is on the ground floor. The Palace is only one floor except the dungeons below and a tower on either end of the building. The curtains fluttered in the light breeze. (We have shutters, but we only use them in the rain.)
"I have to...um...you know what I mean," I said awkwardly, looking at the window pointedly. Firefly saw through that right away.
"What are you talking about, Ember? We've been here all of a quarter shadowmark," she said. I shrugged.
"My body doesn't tell time," I retorted simply, walking over to the window. "I'll only be a minute."
"Ember!" cried Flare, her eyes gleaming. "What if someone sees you?" She giggled. "What if Coal sees you?"
For a moment, my eyes actually flashed to green.
Oh, really, Ember, I scolded myself. You know very well you aren't really planning to "relieve yourself". I shrugged. "I'll have to risk it."
I leaped easily over the sill (it comes to about my waist) and dropped the yard or so to the ground.
"What if you get caught?" I heard Flicker hiss. Without replying, I took off at a dead run. I didn't know where I was going exactly, but I ended up under the spies' window.
I'm not sure how long I expected that to last. Definitely not as long as it did...
Asher: "I don't know why the Fire Lord's restricted us as well. We already know everything that's happening anyway."
Blaze: *snort* "Keep your mouth shut, Asher. You only know what we want you to."
Coal: (sharply) "Hi! Are we all spies together or aren't we? Leave him be, Blaze, we're all disappointed."
Blaze: (bitter) "You leave me be."
Asher: "Do you suppose this has got anything to do with--"
Coal: "Asher, you've got to start connecting the dots for yourself."
Asher: "Well, do you??"
Blaze and Coal: (sharp) "YES."
Blaze: "Stop fidgeting, Asher, by the Fire Lord, you've got to learn to hide your feelings. In a real situation you'd be discovered faster than a kachina in a barnyard!"
Coal: "Can you really blame him? Waiting on the outside is awfully difficult."
Blaze: "I don't mean to speak unchecked, but I believe this may have something to do with..."
Coal: "The Pale One."
The Pale One??
Blaze: "You know?"
Coal: "I presume."
Coal: "What isn't?"
Blaze: "So those sparkers and man must be...after all this time..."
Coal: "...they found what they were looking for."
Blaze: "So I presume."
Coal: "Are we to stay here?"
Blaze: "Is that question in honest?"
Asher: "What are you talking about??"
Coal: *snickers* "I say--"
He stopped. My blood ran cold.
I heard the sound of a small spark popping. I swallowed. The spies sometimes use some sort of spark-code to communicate when words will not do.
A few spark-pops answered. I pressed myself against the outside wall. I would have run, but living around Coal had taught me one thing: when in doubt, stay still.
My heart pounded. My eyes pulsed bright green. My palms chilled.
Suddenly I was aware of the shadow moving across my head. Swallowing hard, I could take the suspense no longer. I looked up into Coal's face, staring at me from the window. Anger would have been easier to take; the perfect stoniness was worse. He disappeared for a moment and then jumped the windowsill, landing lightly right in front of me. Blaze was right behind him. I tried to stare back at them with the same coldness they mastered, but I knew my eyes were still green.
Coal spoke, "What. The devil. Are. You. Doing here."
Just like that, I felt foolish.
"There are too many questions and not enough answers of late. I wanted to fix that."
"By directly defying the Fire Lord," Coal finished. I shuddered. Yes, that was obvious. And now Coal would turn me in. Of course he would. It was his duty.
"Well, what were you plotting to do?" I snapped. Coal's face was unreadable.
"I don't know what you mean."
My lip curled. "Of course you don't. The injustice of this entire situation. You will report me to the Fire Lord for doing precisely what you were intending to do. Of course, if I were to attempt to turn you in, the Fire Lord wouldn't believe me."
A hint of humor crept into Coal's eyes. "Yes. Now forget everything you heard about our sweethearts and go back to your room. I'll tell the Fire Lord about your little misdemeanor when all this is over."
"Sweethearts!" I scoffed. "Unless one of your sparktressfriends' name is 'the Pale One' I--"
Me and my big mouth. Coal's eyebrow shot up as he heard exactly what he was fishing for. He nodded slowly.
"So that's where you came in." Even with all his spy training, a hint of anger tinted his tone. "We'll be sure to mention that to our Lord as well. I'm sure he'll have some way of making certain you don't forget your place next time. Go."
I swallowed my pride as much as I could and ran.
What a truly horrible day this has been. I had to tell the other kachinas what happened, but I kept the information about "the Pale One" to myself. I'm not completely suicidal, you know.
I do not even want to think about what will happen when Coal tells the Fire Lord about all this. Coal is wonderful, but unfailingly loyal to the Fire Lord in every way. When he is in spy mode, there is little I fear more.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I'm so surprised! There are three sparkers and a man here, and none of us slaves know why.
In the middle of dinner, a page ran into the dining hall and said the Fire Lord wanted us (kachinas). This wasn't particularly unexpected; the Fire Lord had been calling for us at odd hours lately.
So, we went in to entertain him.
He was extremely difficult to please. Every routine we began, he snapped that he had just seen that one. More than a few fire strands were wielded. Comet and I have welts to prove it.
We entertained the Fire Lord for a couple of hours at least. In the middle of a routine, the throne room doors flew open. They slammed against the wall with an earsplitting sound. I know I jumped a foot. My eyes flashed briefly to a frightened green.
Four figures strode quickly up the aisle. My eyes widened. I looked at Firefly and Flare. What in Jeolotoe...? No one comes into the Fire Lord's throne room uninvited.
Three of the figures were obviously fire fairies. Their wings were absolutely huge and all the same shades of red and oranges. The patterns were all quite different, as were their faces. Still, I think they must be related.
The fourth figure was tall and blonde and human.
The Fire Lord seemed surprised to see them, but not alarmed. The strangers came and stood side by side, a few feet before the steps to the throne. They did not bow. They did not speak.
Suddenly the Fire Lord remembered us kachinas.
"Kachinas! Leave us at once."
Bowing hastily, we ran out of the room.
Once in the hall, we broke into a flurry of whispers.
"What in Jeolotoe just happened?"
"Who were they??"
"How could they just intrude that way? Don't they have any manners?"
"Did you see the size of their wings?"
"What's a piece of human like him doing with three sparkers?"
"I think the brunette fire fairy was awfully good-looking, don't you?"
*clears throat* The last comment was from me...
So many more questions! Even than before! I'm sorry for posting twice in a day, but this just had to be written down. I absolutely have to get to the bottom of this...
I know this was probably a very disorganized post, so if you have any questions I'll try to answer them. Also, any suggestions on not getting caught as I try to figure things out?
Coal and Blaze have been back for a few weeks now. They're so different. Whatever is amiss in the Palace is making them act strangely. Coal is back, but it's almost like he's still not here. He doesn't look at us kachinas, talk to us, even smile at us anymore. And there's some new sparktress slave who's after him. I don't know what happened to him in Brightwood, but he's different and horrible. I haven't even attempted to ask him what's going on. I'm sure he wouldn't tell me, if he even answered me at all.
I got upset at a little kachina-in-training last week. She was being unbearably defiant and telling me I was dancing wrong.
Yes, she said that to me. After four hours of her rubbing on my nerves, her accusing me of dancing wrong was the last straw. I ended up yelling at her and making her stay after training to do extra conditioning. No one much cared (except her, of course), but now we're apparently mortal enemies. The little seven-year-old is making my life miserable. She talks constantly during training, refuses to do steps right, and her form is so terrible even Coal could see it! If she ever wants to get anywhere as a kachina, she had better improve awfully quickly. I'm not sure she knows what happens to unless kachinas...I'm not even sure I know...
Tensions, tensions, tensions. I'm curious, but also cowardly. I never thought of myself as being cowardly before, but the idea of actually sneaking around the Palace spying makes my stomach knot. I've no idea what would happen to me if I were caught. I'm sure I don't want to find out...
I'm such a miserable, impatient coward. As usual, any and every comment is welcome.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Coal and Blaze not back yet, but they should be back within the week. Hooray! I haven't gotten used to his not being around. I miss him.
There is a growing sense of discontent in the Palace. Everyone can feel it, no one can pin-point why or when it started. Executions of peasants are coming at an absolutely alarming rate. Every couple of weeks someone is executed. The spies are poking into everything, in the Palace as well as the village. I've completely given up on keeping a journal, this blog is all I have now. Nothing is secret, nothing is safe.
I can't figure it out. I haven't heard any talk against the Fire Lord lately any more than I have before. Everyone respects and fears him as always. There doesn't seem to be a reason for all the sneaking around and knotting stomachs.
I must assume then that the Fire Lord is doing a remarkable job of keeping the issue secret. Something must be wrong. Unease, executions, and unexplain arrests don't just happen, there's a reason. What's going on?
I know it isn't my business.
I know I should pry into the Fire Lord's affairs.
I know these things are best left to spies and soldiers.
I know good sparktresses don't meddle in things like this.
I know I've been raised better than this.
But I'm curious. Maybe that's a bad thing, maybe it's a good thing, maybe it's just a thing. But I'm going to get to the bottom of all this ridiculous strife if it kills me.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Today, we worked on simple adagio routines, and one allegro. One poor sparktress (Scarlet) could not get her feet to land correctly in her fouette turns, and Blazette couldn't even do a proper pas de chat.
I don't know why I've been asked to help teach the younger ones, I'm certainly no more patient than the other. Actually, I'm sure I'm less patient. Firefly ought to be stuck teaching the brats, not me!
I grumbled about this to Firefly, and she huffily pointed out the I actually like being a kachina.
This is true.
I do like being a kachina. If I didn't dance, I don't know what I'd do. Dancing is the best thing that ever happened to me. Well, I suppose it's the only thing that's ever happened to me. I don't remember life before coming to the Palace hardly at all, and I've been told I started kachina training within a week of my arriving here (along with Flare and Firefly, my sparktresslings [sisters]). I suppose the Fire Lord saw a potential dancer in me and set me to learning the ropes right away.
Kachina training was hard from the beginning. Awake a 5am, begin training at 6am. Two hours of intense cardiovascular exercise (building endurance), and hour of stretching and flexibilty, two hours of toning and strength-building exercises, an hour of learning terms, break for the noon meal. Then two hours of education on fire streamers and how to get the colors and temperatures right. An hour of technique and general form, and the ten-hour day ended with a final hour of cardiovascular exercise.
Needless to say, by age seven, four years later, I could:
1. Do 1000 hundred sit-ups in a row without cramping
2. Do a 300 push-ups before I broke a sweat
3. Run around the entire Palace fifty times before I was even winded
4. Tell you how hot a fire strand needed to be for its coloring to be bluish-green
5. Walk across the training room on my hands
6. Do backflips, forward flips, dive rolls, and back hand-springs
7. Tell you precisely what an assemble croise derriere was
All of the above things were on the kachina examination I had to pass before age 8.
And I still love dancing.
Yes, I guess Firefly's right. Perhaps I am the best one for the trainer assistant job.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Is it too much to expect him to send a letter to the poor kachinas stuck in the Palace with nothing to do except dance for the Fire Lord who is always ungrateful and in a bad mood?
Did I just say that?
The Fire Lord isn't really ungrateful or in a bad mood, he's just under tremendous pressures lately. I'm guessing. No one will tell the poor ignorant kachinas anything. We're just here to dance and look good and keep quiet and out of the way.
*looks horrified again*
Not that I don't love being a kachina. I really, truly, honestly do. Dancing is the most wonderful thing in the world. It fills me with adrenaline, joy and helps me think deeper thoughts. Moving with the music is like feeling my heart beat. The feeling when I preform a difficult move is like no other. I love being a kachina. I do. I DO.
I just don't like dancing for the Fire Lord.
No, I do. I love the Fire Lord. I guess. I don't know. He just hasn't been very lovable lately. Maybe I would understand if someone would tell us things, but no one tells us anything around here. I hate being uninformed. At least Coal would tell us the general idea of what was going on.
I miss him so much. So much. It's the first thing I realize when I wake up in the morning, the last thing I think about at night. We haven't seen him since the middle of August. That's three weeks! You can't possibly understand how awful it is without him. It's terrible.
And NO, I am NOT in love with him. I am not.
I know this post wasn't anything new, but I felt like I ought to say something.
If you read this, do you have any advice? How can I stop missing Coal so much? How can I get to accept the fact that we're just kachinas for the Fire Lord and no one tells us anything?
(I don't think I will ever accept that, actually. Never. I don't think I even want to try. We're fire fairies, too, even though we're just slave kachinas! We have just as much right to speak up as anyone! Don't we? Do we?)
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I didn't have much to say until a couple of days ago, but now I think I can think up enough for a post.
Well, it's beginning to cool off a bit in Furier. I've been spending a lot more time outside; the weather does feel nice, although I still prefer summertime, and I hate to see it leave.
Unfortunately, aside from the weather, things have not been going well in the Palace at all. The Fire Lord is so on edge of late that no one dares distrurb him for anything.
The sickness that was sweeping through Furier has not gotten worse, but it hasn't gotten better either. Flicker and Firefly got it last week, so now I'm the only one who hasn't gotten it. Hopefully it'll stay that way.
*moan* I'm sorry, but this is going to be a long, complaining post, I think.
Back to the Fire Lord being on edge. I think it's still because of the rebel peasants, but that was weeks ago! The Fire Lord has never seemed this upset about peasants before. And he took care of the resistance, right? So what is there to worry about? I haven't heard anything more about peasants wanting to rebel, so he ought to just relax. No one would dare oppose him, not seriously. It would be pure suicide! And he's not that bad, really. Strict, yes, but a ruler of such a great city MUST be strict. Mustn't they?
Blaze and Coal are still in Brightwood. Reports from them come every few days. As far as I can tell from snatches of conversations and gossip, the woodland elves in Brightwood are living and acting just as they always have been. They're supposed to be very small, rosy and cheerful and not like to make trouble. I haven't actually met one before, though, so I can't tell you first hand.
I do miss Coal. And Blaze, too, although I'm not sure I've completely forgiven him for reading my diary. I hope he hasn't told Coal that I used to think I was in love with him...Anyway, not having Coal around really is just terrible. The other kachinas don't seem to understand me when I say I miss him. I miss him coming around to talk to us; I miss being able to ask him questions about what's going on, or what something means; I miss knowing that as long as he's around, nothing will get past him (he knows everything about everyone. I don't see how it's possible); I miss him chasing us off when we try to spy on him; I miss everything about him!
And I am NOT in love with him! Don't even think that!
We also have a bunch of new kachinas. *rolls eyes* Like they can ever hope to replace us! We're getting better all the time, and that's not even possible. They are terrible! They can barely do a straddle leap, and they can't even make firestrands the right way. Who in the world put them into kachina training? They will never be as good as us.
So, over all, my life is not going well. The summer is ending, the Fire Lord is in a terrible mood, Coal is gone, I just keep waiting to get sick, and we have a bunch of new little kachinas-in-training. Things can't get worse, they have to get better.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I apologize for not posting recently, but Palace life has just been one catastrophe after another.
1. Comet got very sick (she's doing alright now).
2. Three more peasants (two humans, one fire fairy) were executed.
3. The Fire Lord got sick.
4. Star Dancer got sick.
5. Flare got sick.
6. A stable sparker asked Flicker if she would court him (we had to say no on her behalf because she was speechless).
7. I got beaten twice in one day, first by the Fire Lord, then by Flame. I might have deserved Flame hurling fireballs at me, though. I did tell his sparktress-friend some things best left unsaid...*grins mischeivously*
8. Coal and Blaze got deported to Brightwood to spy for a while.
9. Life without Coal is horrible.
10. Asher got sick.
Some sort of plague is breaking lose in Furier. It's not deadly, just makes its victim bedridden for a couple of days. So far Flicker, Firefly and I are the only sparktresses in the Palace that haven't contracted it.
Having Coal gone is worse than we all thought it would be. I miss him just coming by and joking with us, and I especially missed him when Flame was chasing me through the halls of the Palace...
So, over all, life is not doing me any favors. Everyone is either in a bad mood or getting sick.
Thanks for reading, hope your lives are going better than mine.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Sparkle has been too energetic and irritating, Flicker has been spineless and irritating, Comet has been basically invisible, Flare has been getting louder and louder, Firefly has been fine, and I've been restless and paranoid about being the perfect kachina. Basically, things have been perfectly normal.
The Fire Lord told us he fears we've been growing slack in our kachina practices and he wants to see improvement within the week. Never mind that we're the best kachinas out there (as far as we know), he wants better. How can we get better than the best? We're all in perfect shape and look it, too, except Sparkle, who always looks like she could be thinner. Just the other day we took a run around the Palace and through the village. We didn't tire out but once and that was because we were so thirsty. The weather has been unbearably hot lately.
I just don't know what the Fire Lord wants. He's been so irritable lately it doesn't seem like anything will please him! We tried making our style a little different, more like the Julese, but he didn't like that. We tried having new costumes with different colors made, he didn't like that. We tried adding a singer to the music, he didn't like that. We tried adding some new moves, he didn't like that either. He doesn't like anything, yet he insists on "better"! What *is* better? Please, share your ideas!!
Monday, August 3, 2009
The Fire Lord usually celebrates Coal's sparkanniversary for both reasons. Coal is so ridiculously charismatic that everyone likes him, and he's almost always uncovering something secret for the Fire Lord.
On the other hand, the Fire Lord has been in a funny mood ever since the execution a week or so ago. No one knows why he had the peasant executed except for a few important slaves. The Fire Lord has been edgy and distracted this week. He beat Flicker yesterday, and Flare the day before. I'm more frightened of him than ever. I don't know what I'll do to set him off.
Back on the lighter note, if you have any suggestions of ways to celebrate Coal's special day on the 14th, let me know!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
On the other hand, this is the one place I can put my thoughts that only the kachinas can read. Coal can't read this, Flame can't read this, Star Dancer can't read this, the Fire Lord can't read this. It's nice to have somewhere private.
Especially after what happened yesterday.
What happened yesterday, you ask? (Well, you didn't ask because you didn't read this, but I'll just pretend someone does.)
Blaze found my journal, and read it.
I'm so upset! That sneaky, coniving, no-good, nosey, SPY! (He actually is a spy.) He had no right to do that! There was no reason for him to! I hadn't been disrespecting the Fire Lord or plotting against him. Blaze had no right or reason to do what he did.
Of course he wouldn't be punished for it even if I went to the Fire Lord and told him. Blaze is a spy, which basically gives him free reign of everyone's everything (excepting the Fire Lord, of course).
All my secret thoughts (on everything from costumes to marriage), wishes, hopes, dreams, childhood crushes (including one on Coal), and bits of stories and poems I've written. He read it all! I can't even imagine why he would do that! Blaze isn't as good a friend to us kachinas as Coal is, but he's still our close friend and fellow Palace-dweller. What could his motives possibly be?
I found out when I caught him putting the journal back. I was shocked for two reasons.
Reason One: the Palace spies almost never get caught red-handed (unless they want to for some reason).
Reason Two: the obvious, he was holding my journal.
By look on his face when I cried out and flew for the journal made it clear that Blaze had not wanted to get caught.
"What are you doing?" I cried, lunging for the journal. I was surprised that I actually caught it, and snatched it from Blaze's fingers. I hugged the little scroll against my chest. "How could you? Did you read it?" Blaze blinked, then regained his composure.
"Of course I read it," he said indifferently. "It's my job to know what goes on in the Palace of Furier."
I scowled fiercely, my eyes glowing red. "That does not include prying into my personal affairs, Blaze! You had no right to do this!!" Blaze crossed his arms.
"I did have a right, kachina," he said, calling me by my occupation, something I hate. It's condescending the way he and the other sparkers say it when they're upset. "I have a right to look into anything I feel necessary. You know that."
"This was most certainly not necessary!" I shouted, stamping my foot. "What did you read? Tell me what you read this instant!" Blaze raised his eyebrows.
"I must tell you nothing," he said. "But since you asked so nicely, I'll tell you that I read it all. Every word, every inch."
Hot, angry tears filled my red eyes. I shouted all the insults I could think of, one after the other. Blaze actually seemed shocked at how angry I was, and it's hard to shock a spy. He just kind of shrugged and left the kachina keep. I slammed the door behind him and cried tears of pure rage for a while.
Maybe this doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but it was to me. My journal was my one sanctuary, my one private place.
I told Coal what had happened later yesterday, and he actually sided with me. He can be so wonderful like that. He went and scolded Blaze something awful about behaving with integrity and a few other things that I never thought I'd hear Coal say in my defense.
That made me feel a lot better, because something about having Coal on one's side makes the whole world brighter.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Weather: Furier is hot almost all the time. During the winter months, it gets to be a trifle chilly, chilly enough to wear long sleeves and shoes, but that's as cold as it gets. Rain doesn't happen terrible often, either, which is one reason why most fire fairies live here. You see, fire fairies can't be exposed to untreated water.
Culture: Furierite culture mostly centers around the Fire Lord. Everyone respects and fears him. More so the Palace inhabitants than just the peasants. The Fire Lord doesn't venture out into the city very much, so many peasants have never even seen him up close.
Furierite culture has a lot to do with dancing. Everyone dances. It's a big thing. Of course, only Palace kachinas are trained in the art, but everyone knows the traditional Furierite dancing.
I've been told that Furierite culture greatly resembles that of Persia.
Inhabitants: Primarily fire fairies, but there are plenty of humans living in Furier, too. I believe we have a couple of woodland elf families as well.
Government: I've been through this before. The Fire Lord is lord over everything.
Main export: Treated water. Our smokers ship it to all the cities that fire fairies live in.
Main import: Fish. Furier is land-locked.
If you have any questions, or if I was unclear about anything, let me know. I do love questions. *smiles*
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I haven't the slightest idea how many creatures inhabit Jeolotoe. I honestly don't. But I can tell you of all the different races living here.
1. Fire fairies, of course! I don't know how familiar you are with us as a race, so let me tell you just a bit about us.
**Appearance: We are not tiny as many foolish pictures and stories say. We're just as big as any human; our shapes and sizes vary as much as anyone's. A fully grown fire fairy has wings that are a bit over four feet tall. I'm finished growing, so I'll use myself to explain things. My wings extend about a foot or so above my head, and go down to somewhere around my knees. My wings are red and orange in a swirled pattern.
A Furierite fire fairy's skin is peach colored, but rosier than a human's. All fire fairies have naturally rosy skin. The fire fairies living up near Brightwood have paler skin, but it's still rosy. The fire fairies living in and around Jules have darker, cinnamon-colored skin, but their cheeks still have a pink tint to them.
Our eyes are the feature that seem to fascinate humans the most. A fire fairy's eyes are like a mood ring. When we are happy or calm, our eyes are blue. When we are afraid, unhappy, or worried, our eyes are green. If we are angry or frustrated, our eyes turn red. If we are sick, our eyes turn clear.
Oh, and I almost forgot! We can't fly. I know, strange, isn't it? I don't know why. Our wings just aren't strong and sturdy enough to keep us up.
**Government: We are ruled by the Fire Lord. The title Lord is passed down through families. Most Lords have a royal family, but the Fire Lord has not married yet, and he has no immediate plans to change that. The Fire Lord makes all the rules and everyone in Furier and Brightwood is expected to follow them. If you don't, you are punished. The Fire Lord has guards that live in the Palace of Furier, outside of it, behind it in the Slave's Village, and in the city, all watching and acting like the police would on Earth.
**Religion: None. We worship only the Fire Lord, and *everyone* worships him.
2. Humans: You know about humans, you *are* human. *smiles* Humans in Jeolotoe are much the same as humans on Earth. I'll describe each group of humans when I talk about the different towns, cities, and kingdoms in Jeolotoe.
3. Woodland elves:
**Appearance: Woodland elves arae all very short, rosy-cheeked, freckle-faced, and typically redheaded. They are also inclined to be fat. They do love their food. Woodland elves are famous for their cooking and feasting.
**Government: The woodland elves live in a forest called Brightwood, which the Fire Lord rules, so their government is basically the same as ours. However, Brightwood is a little ways away from Furier, so their culture is quite different. Woodland elves are very peacful, though, so even though they could probably disobey the Fire Lord plenty and no one would ever find out, they don't.
**Religion: They're supposed to worship the Fire Lord, I guess, but they don't seem to do it much. They don't really seem to worship anyone or anything, except maybe nature itself. I've heard that they have all sorts of tributes to nature. They have a celebration for almost everything: Spring, summer, mid-summer, fall, end-fall, winter, the first snow, and probably more.
3. Faire elves: Fair elves are supposed to be the fairest race of all. Unfortunately, they left Jeolotoe a long time ago and no one has seen them since. They were supposed to be very tall, very beautiful, and very graceful. They could supposedly use magic and had unparalelled reflexes.
4. Merpeople: This is going to take longer than I thought, talking about all the races in Jeolotoe. I'm going to be brief from now on.
**Appearance: Beautiful, lovely voice. Their coloring is different depending on where they live.
**Government: Who knows? It's all underwater! The merpeople are rarely seen (I've never met anyone who's seen one) and they don't care a thing about us, so we don't care much about them. Especially us Furierites. Furier is completely land-locked.
**Religion: The same as for Government. We haven't any idea what the merpeople worship.
5. Dragons: Wise, old, huge, terrifying. Rarely seen, rarely told about. They keep to themselves mostly. We don't even know where they live. Somewhere far west, I suppose.
6. Dwarves: *sighs* Short, stocky, grumpy, bearded, mountain-dwelling.
**Government: They have a king, and some sort of commitee that decide the rules.
**Religion: The dwarves believe they were born out of the stone, and when they die, they will return to stone. They don't worship any god.
7. Pixies: The nasty little mini-things are nearly exstinct, thank the Fire Lord. Any that remain live in Brightwood. They're nasty little things that reek havoc and mischief on all around them. They're cute and their pixie dust can cure just about anything, but they bite something dreadful.
I guess that's about all the races. Some other time I'll tell about all the cities in Jeolotoe (there are eight in the mainland).
Monday, July 13, 2009
This looks remarkably like Sparkle, who's twelve.
The Fire Lord is lord over everything. If he makes a law, you follow it. If he doesn't like your outfit, you change it. If he thinks you eat to much, go on a diet. That's the surest way to live to be an old sparktress (or sparker). At freshly fifteen, I think I'm going quite well. *smiles*
Next we have any royal family. The current Fire Lord is not married and doesn't have any sparklets. (At least none he's claimed. I have a sneaking suspicion that he has a few.) He has some distant relations, though that live in the area near the Palace, but outside the wall. They don't have an political standing, but they're rich and not taxed as heavily as the commoners are (which makes no sense to me).
The highest authority would be the military leaders. I really don't know much about this. The rankings of the military personal are beyond me. The Fire Lord's army isn't anything enormous, but no one has been foolish enough to attack. Yet.
Next we have the spies. The Fire Lord is quite proud of his spies, almost as proud as he is of his kachinas. *grins* The Fire Lord's pride in his spies is mostly because of Coal. Coal really is an exceptional spy. He's clever and sneaky and everyone likes him and he's the most amazing liar. He can trick you into saying something, charm you into giving something away, sneak into your house and find out what he needs to know, or just sneak up behind you and put a knife to your throat. He can do it all.
The guards are next. Actually, the guards probably tie with the spies in official rank. Flame is the head guard, and he's quite good. He knows the Palace and the Palace schedule like the back of his own hand, and he has the intimidation thing down to a science.
Kachinas are probably next. We have absolutely no royal standing whatsoever, but we're treated better than any of the other slaves or servants. The Fire Lord is proud of us and likes to show us off. We're quite good at what we do, but a lof people dislike us. That's mostly due the label put on kachinas. We're apparently supposed to be selfish and spoiled and sleezy. Well, we aren't. Especially not sleezy. Can we help it if we're talented and everyone else isn't?
Next we have the Fire Lord's personal slaves. They're treated fine, just not as highly praised as we kachinas.
Then come the cooks and kitchen staff. We Furierites do love a good feast.
Here are were the peasants, commoners, and household slaves/servants are put. They have no royal or political standing whatsoever and are treated like nothing.
Lastly, the outlaws, prisoners, and rebels. All are eventually executed, so their low standing doesn't stick around much anyway.
I guess this is the time to explain executions to you. Executions in Furier are conducted by burning at the stake. It's both extremely painful and extremely sad to us fire fairies to be killed by the element that we are so close to. Since our bodies are somewhat resistant to fire, it is a long death. Humans die quicker by burning than we do.
Rebels are perhaps killed in the worst ways. I can't really go into detail about that because I've never seen a rebel execution, but I hear they're something horrible. Coal's told us all about them, but who knows how much of it is true.
That's all for now, I guess! Thanks for reading!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I'm not really sure where to begin, though. And I'm not sure if Andrew wants something more like history, or more like...military standings. I'll have to ask him.
For now, I guess I'll do a little of both. Maybe sometime I can elaborate.
As long as I can remember very well, I've lived here at the Palace. I had a home before this, of course, but after my parents died, Firefly and Flare and I were taken to live here, along with many other sparklets whose parents had died at the same time. I'm honestly not clear what happened there. No one talks about it, and every time we ask, we're shushed. It's one of those topics that you learn young not to mention.
I was always meant to be a kachina, ever since I was brought here when I was four years old. The Fire Lord saw potential in me along with about fifty other sparktresses that had been brought to the Palace with us. We were all put into kachina training, which was something like a extreme fitness hell. As old toddlers, we did of sit-ups and push-ups and endurance exercises and flexibility exercises and all kinds of other things. Little by little, the class of kachinas-in-training were weeded out.
By age six, if you couldn't pass the kachina test, you were taken out of the class and put...I don't know what happened to the ones that weren't good enough. All I know is that Firefly and Flare and I (and most of our friends) always made the cuts.
By age seven, I could do five hundred sit-ups without cramping up, do a hundred push-ups before I broke a sweat, and run around the entire Palace fifty times before I got tired. I was the perfect kachina in training. By this time, there were only about twenty sparktresses left in the kachina class. I, followed closely by Flare, was the best kachina in class.
At age seven also, we began learning some basic routines. Now, don't be fooled by the word "basic". It doesn't mean "not challenging", it just means "short". There were plenty of high kicks and splits and things to do in the routines.
Up until this point, I've only covered the "human" aspects of kachina training. Now I'm going to go over some fire fairy bits.
Kachinas not only dance with their bodies, but with fire. Let me tell you that creating the ideal fire streamer is no easy task. It has to be just the right width, length, and color. (The color is determined by how hot the flame is. To be able to make an ideal flame, which is blue and red, I had to practice for weeks.)
In case you were wondering, we fire fairies can create fireballs, fire strands, fire streamers, sparks, etc. with our hands. We just loosely cup our hand, and make a fireball. Fire streamers are made the same way. We position our fingers right and using muscles that I can't explain to a human, we shoot out a length of fire. Fire strands and ropes are the same, except a true master can shoot them from his fingertips as well as palms.
It's difficult to shoot fire from one's fingertips because that's where the fireshields are located. We can put up a shield with our fingertips. We just hold up our hands, fingertips toward the enemy or approaching fireball, and shoot out a blue, force-field-like shield that can block the ball. It can also be used to put out a fire or to cool a burn.
Ah, here I am, getting all side-tracked. I was supposed to be talking about Furierite history, but I ended up talking about kachina training. I was supposed to be talking about kachina training, and I ended up talking about how to create fire. I guess that's what you would call a rant. *smiles* I'm no good at posting. Thanks for reading (even though I know you didn't).
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I'm quite angry at myself for not posting more than I did. Jules was the most fantastic city (besides my own). Well, alright, I guess I can't really say that since it's the only city besides Furier that I've visited.
Now that it's been a few days, I can't remember all the delicious details of the visit. What I do remember:
The food was delicious! The spices were odd, though; sweeter and not as hot as Furierite food. There was more fruit, too, and lots of ice.
The clothes the Julese wore was just amazing. Everyone dresses like a kachina there! Here's a picture of one of the dresses the Empress wore. This is my favorite: http://www.dancingrahana.com/images/products/detail/costume68.jpg Even though the Julese colors are blue and white, it's apparently customary for the royal family to wear the colors of their guests' city. It's a hospitality thing.
Princess Sadira was a darling. She was adorable and quite pretty for a nine year old and she learned kachina dancing remarkably quickly. You could tell she was just going crazy inside to learn. The Emperor never caught us showing the princess how to dance, which was a remarkable stroke of luck, especially considering what bad luck I usually have.
Oh, here's another thing I remeber well: the Emperor and his family went to the Julese temple on Saturday to worship their gods (remember, those seven I told you about?). We weren't required to go, but I wanted to. Unfortunately, to go I would have had to get persmission from the Fire Lord, Firefly didn't think that would be a good idea. I happened to agree with her. Still, I wish I could have seen the inside of the temple. The outside was so beautiful, so big and blue and white and intricate.
I think being a guest is more exhausting than being at home! Having to be unfailingly polite all the time, having to use Julese words for things, trying not to break any strange rules or customs, entertaining until the wee hours, and then still getting up at five. I'm so tired! And these past six days traveling through the desert have been anything but rejuvenating. I think the Fire Lord is tired, too, so I don't think he'll call us in to entertain him tonight. The second I'm finished with this post, I'm going straight to bed and having a glorious six-hour sleep.
However tired I might be, I'll never regret going to Jules. I'll remember it always and treasure it in my heart. Thanks for reading (if anyone even is...)! Goodbye!
P.S. I'll be fifteen tomorrow!! I had actually forgotten my own birthanniversary until Flare reminded me just a moment ago. It's her birthanniversary, too, you know. We're twins. We're going to be fifteen! I wonder if it will feel any different. Probably not. Fourteen didn't feel any different.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Besides the first two days, nothing extremely big has happened. It's the little things that have made this journey so memorable. Sparkle and Flare and I have been "teaching" Princess Sadira to dance like a kachina, and so far the Emperor hasn't found out.
We'll be leaving for home tomorrow, and although I'm glad I came to Jules, I'll still be glad to get home. As frightening as the Fire Lord is, the Emperor can be quite terrifying himself.
I got Princess Sadira to tell me some about the Julese culture, too. She's really a pleasant person to be talk to, especially for someone who's royal. She told me all about what different colors and patterns of fabric symbolized, which colors peasants were allowed to wear, the different castes, how different crimes were punished, and about the Julese gods and goddesses.
I really must go into detail about that last one. You probably aren't very interested about the other things the princess told me (although I might post about them later, just for documentation), but I for one found the Julese religion very interesting.
We Furieites don't believe in worsphiping anything or anyone but the current Fire Lord, but the Julese worship the same seven deities all the time! Isn't that a strange concept? Maybe it's just me.
The Julese believe in seven gods and goddesses. Three goddesses, three gods, and then the God of all Gods.
The God of all Gods is named Zanthor. He's supposed to be extremely powerful and fierce and pretty quick to deal out judgments, which is why it's good that he married Kaela, the goddess of love, beauty and charm. She's supposedly really good at pacifying him and keeping from destroying the whole world whenever someone forgets to sacrifice to him or something.
My personal favorite goddess was Siralla, goddess of wisdom. Of course, it's a goddess and not a god. Everyone knows sparktresses (and girls) have more sense than sparkers (and boys). *smirks* Anyway, Siralla isn't as beautiful and charming as the petite, blonde Kaela, but she always knows exactly what to do or say. I envy her that quality (at least, I would if she were real to envy).
Princess Sadira said her favorite deity was Siralla, also, but her second favorite was the god Darq, god of weather. Princess Sadira loves storms and thunder and lightning, so she prays to Darq often. I, being a fire fairy, cannot understand anyone loving rain, but I guess I can understand loving thunder and lightning. It's so powerful, you know? Darq is supposed to be wild and unpredictable with hair like thunder clouds and eyes like a raging waters. Princess Sadira said he's supposed to be quite handsome.
Tylindia is the goddess of health. She didn't sound very interesting. Princess Sadira said she's sometimes very white and clean looking, and sometimes a terrible black and yellow. It depends on whether she's doling out health or disease.
My favorite god is Takar, god of war. He's fearless, angry and clever with strategies. I don't know why, but he's my favorite.
There's only one left, Zanthor (God of God's)'s son: Zoran, god of riches and power. Everyone prays to him. The rich people want to stay rich by pleasing the god, and the poor people want to get rich by pleasing the god.
To me, having all those gods and goddesses to worry about would just be troublesome and irritating. Princess Sadira says it's nice to know there's a higher power watching over you, but I think having to follow the rules of seven different deities along with the Fire Lord's would be too much.
Well, that's all I have time for today. Thanks for reading (if you did...)! Goodbye!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Most of the windows in the Palace of Furier are floor-to-ceiling and they have glass in them. The windows in the Julese Palace (that I had seen anyway) were all shaped like arches, and they were open, no glass. They were large, but they didn't go all the way from the ceiling to the floor. They started just below my shoulders (I'm fairly tall), and then arched up a good ten feet.
"Wow," I said, gazing out the window. "Look, the sun is rising." The red-golden rays soaked the Palace in a sunny glow. The window looked out to a piece of the courtyard garden, so we got to see the sun on all the flowers and sparkle in the fountains, too.
At home, all our windows face south, so wer never really get to see either the sunrise from there.
After a few minutes of taking in the beautfy, Firefly decided to be practical and said,
"Alright, we should be getting dressed now. You know we have to look perfect for the Emperor."
"And the Empress," Sparkle protested. "It's not all about the men, you know."
"You mean it shouldn't be," Firefly corrected indignantly. "Because it is whether it's right or not."
"What should we wear?" Flicker asked, frowning. "Our kachina costumes or our clothes?" Firefly frowned.
"I don't know," she admitted. "Why don't we put on some good clothes, and then see if we need to change. As long as we look like true kachinas, I don't think it matters what we wear."
"I think you're wrong about that," I put in. "But I still agree about what to wear."
We all got dressed in outfits that looked something like this: http://www.chowskates.com/images/a3ba_12.jpg with our tights, of course.
Then, we waited. Especially when one is a guest, it is proper not to do anything until called.
Shortly, someone came and led us to the dining room for the servants and slaves. The food was much like it is in Furier, only not quite as spicy and there was more fruit.
As we were finishing our breakfast, a well-dressed servant woman scurried up to us and whispered,
"If you would come with me, the Princess Sadira would like to see you." Of course, our first thought was, "What have we done wrong already?", but then the servant went on:
"And dress in your dancing clothes. She wants to see you dance."
That was odd, but not bad. We all wondered why she didn't just get her own kachinas to entertain her. Perhaps she was tired of their routines.
We hurried back to our room and changed into our costumes, and then the servant led us out into the coutyard.
"She's over there," she said, pointing. The princess was sitting on the edge of a fountain on the far side of the garden. I smiled. She couldn't have been more than eight years old. She was dressed strangly, though. Not like a princess. More like...a kachina.
The servant left us and we went over to the princess. She was dressed like a kachina, but not a Furierite one, a Julese one. The difference in style was obvious. (The skirts of Julese kachinas are much longer and more flowing.)
"Good morning, your majesty," Firefly spoke for us all as we curtsied, Furierite style.
"Good morning," the princess responded politely. She seemed kind, but almost nervous. She did not smile.
"We were told you wanted to see us dance," I said. Princess Sadira shook her head.
"That's not quite true," she said, looking over her shoulder. She leaned in toward us. "I want to learn how to dance."
We kachinas exchanged nervous glances. Apparently, teaching the princess to dance like a kachina was an unapproved activity, hence her anxiety. We would surely get into trouble if we did. But would the princess be angry if we refused?
"Why don't you ask one of your own kachinas to teach you, your majesty?" I asked, curious. The princess sighed and trailed her finger through the fountain water.
"They won't," she said sadly. "The tivas* here have been specifically told not to teach me. But you have not. You have not been forbidden to teach me."
"Why do you want to learn so badly, majesty?" Sparkle asked. The princess smiled, her eyes lit up.
"Because the way tivas dance is beautiful!" she cried. "Traditional Julese dancing is just dancing, but dancing like tivas is something else. It's like singing with your body."
Right then and there, I was willing to teach the little princess. She felt about dancing the same way I did. It wasn't just dancing; it was art.
"I will teach you, Princess," I said quickly. The other kachinas glared at me.
"Ember," Firefly snapped. "What are you thinking? If the Emperor were to find out, it could compromise this entire diplomatic visit."
"Firefly is right," Flare said. I was surprised; she usually sides with me in these things.
"It's like the princess said," I began. "We haven't been told not to teach her. If the Emperor finds out, we can just say we didn't know we weren't supposed to."
"But then the princess would get in trouble," Firefly pointed out. "That's hardly fair."
"No, what's hardly fair is depriving someone of what they're passionate about," I retorted. "I know I love dancing more than the rest of you, so it's possible that you just don't understand. If the princess loves dancing like I do, keeping it from her now won't make a difference. She'll just find some other way later on, and perhaps not the best way."
"Well, at least we won't be involved," Firefly said hotly. "I know you won't think about the rest of our skins, but think about the princess's. If her father were to find out she learned kachina dancing behind his back, he would surely be very angry with her! And who knows what would become of us! The Emperor would probably have us punished, but even if he didn't, the Fire Lord most certainly would. No, you teach the princess if you want to, but I, for one, will NOT." She curtsied to the princess and hurried out of the courtyard. Flicker and Comet followed.
I turned to watch them, frowning.
"Wait!" I called desperately. As much as I they irritate me, it always feels wrong to do things without all of us. Firefly didn't wait, though. She kept going. Flicker and Comet waited. I went on. "What if we just dance for the princess? Do the same routine over and over. Sooner or later, she'll pick it up. Maybe we can just tell her a few tips. She'll never actually have to dance. If anyone comes by or sees us, they'll just see us entertaining the princess like good guest kachinas should." I looked back at the princess. "Does that sound alright?" She nodded eagerly.
"Yes, thank you," she said. "It's more than my own tivas would ever do for me. Thank you!" I smiled. I really liked the princess. She was kind to us. The Fire Lord would never dream of thanking a slave.
I looked back at Comet and Flicker. Flicker was shaking her head. She turned and ran after Firefly. Comet came back, though. Flare and Sparkle agreed as well.
For amateur kachinas, dancing in perfect unison while keeping the same tempo without music would be next to impossible, but we, of course, are no amateurs. We entertained the princess for a couple of shadowmarks before someone came to fetch us. We were wanted in the throne room. It was time to entertain the Emperor.
The only problem was, Firefly and Flicker were still not with us, so we had to go back to our room to get them.
They weren't there.
We began to panic. It wouldn't do to keep the Emperor waiting while we searched, but several of best our routines required all six of us. Not to mention the fact that if Firefly and Flicker didn't dance, the Fire Lord would be extremely displeased.
We were beginning to get truly worried when Firefly and Flicker waltzed into the room.
"Where have you been?!" I cried angrily, marching over. "It's time for us to entertain the Emperor, and if he's angry at being kept waiting, it'll be all your fault!" I grabbed Firefly's hand and Flare grabbed Flicker and we raced through the halls to the throne room.
But we couldn't find it.
The Palace was so huge, and with all the complicated designs on the walls, it was impossible to tell one hallway from another. Where were all the servants and slaves, anyway? We kept hoping we would run into someone who could point us in the right direction, but no one was to be seen.
Then it occured to us: they were all in the throne room, waiting for us.
This was horrible. Punctuality is so important for guests, and even more imporant for slaves! The Fire Lord has a low tolerance for tardiness, so I doubted the harsh Emperor of Jules would be any different.
By the time we finally found the throne room doors, Flicker was crying, Firefly and I were nearly screaming at each other, Flare had gone completely silent, Sparkle was muttering to herself, and Comet kept repeating, "Just stay calm, we have to stay calm."
The sight of the huge double doors of a throne room was beautiful to us.
"For mercy's sake, Flicker!" I snapped, shaking the little blonde sparktress. "Stop crying and pull yourself together! If you go into the throne room looking like a sobbing beggar, they'll be hell to pay."
"As if there won't already be hell to pay," Firefly snapped. "We must be half a shadowmark late at the earliest!"
The guards standing at the throne room doors were ignoring us while we tried to gain composure.
"Alright, listen to me," I hissed angrily. "We're already in trouble. Now, it's possible that we can salvage this catastrophe if we put our best foot forward and behave like the brilliant kachinas we are. We are going to walk into this throne room with apologetic yet confident expressions. We are going to position ourselves in the center of the room. We are going to hear the music and surrender all control to our love dancing. We are going to shock and awe the people of Jules like no kachina has ever done before. By the time we're finished with our performance, our tardiness will be long forgotten and the Emperor will tell the Fire Lord that he has the best kachinas Jeolotoe has ever seen. Alright? Good. Let's go. Guards, if you would open the doors, please..."
It didn't go quite like that.
It went even better.
The Emperor did not even notice our being late because his daughter was even later. Yes, the Princess Sadira was not yet present, and that's who everyone was thinking about. Well, everyone except the Fire Lord. He most certainly did notice our tardiness and by the look he threw at us, he intended to teach us a lesson after our performance.
I know this isn't a very important detail, but I have a picture of the Empress Nala I'd like to show you: http://z.about.com/d/hinduism/1/0/2/V/1.jpg Isn't she lovely?
Princess Sadira arrived a quarter shadowmark after we did, and then the Julese kachinas (tivas) were called into the center of the room.
The way this sort of thing works, I'm told is this: when a royal family or person is a guest and has brought his kachinas with him, there is an air of competition about the room. In this case, the Emperor wanted to show the Fire Lord how great his city was by showing him that his tivas were beyond compare. The Fire Lord wanted to do the same. It's quite odd to me that the grandeur of a city is measured by its dancers.
The tivas took their places in the center of the room and waited for the music. They all looked nervous. Flute music suddenly floated into the air, and the tivas prepared to begin. On the next one count, they timidly flew into action. The flute music trilled around them. The tivas' movements were fluid and graceful but in a weak way. It wasn’t like they were controlling their movements, it was like they didn’t have the energy to move any different. Something about the way they danced was almost desperate.
They performed maybe five routines before the Emperor dismissed them with a wave of his hand. They bowed, Julese style, and went to their place agasint the wall. Apparently that was the same in every city.
The Emperor looked proud of what his tivas had just done, but it was all we kachinas could do to keep from grinning. We could out dance them in our sleep.
The Emperor motioned for us to come to the center of the room, and we did. Firefly whispered that we would perform routine nineteen, and we took out beginning poses.
There's nothing quite like the tingling sensation I get when I'm about to perform for someone new. Standing in the center of the fresh, blue and golden throne room, I felt like I could do anything.
The eerie music began. Firefly breathed,
“Five, six, seven, eight.” We suddenly snapped into action, all at precisely the same moment. Our movements were sharp and exact. We twisted and twirled effortlessly, making the art of dance look almost easy, smiling all the while. The dance was alluring instead of disappointing.
The crowd actually gasped as we danced our hearts out. They were shocked at our skill. I caught the Fire Lord's eye once. He actually looked proud of us. I've never felt so good in my entire life. In my whole life as a kachina, I don't think I've ever once felt like I had pleased my Lord.
When we finished, we stopped abruptly, whirled to face the Emperor, and executed a dramatic Furierite curtsy--in perfect unison, of course. We had done well. The Emperor seemed shocked, slightly dismayed, and yet thrilled at our performance. He told us we were excellent, and we were all dismissed.
The Fire Lord was so pleased that he never punished us for being late. The rest of the day passed uneventfully, but well. I was really enjoying my stay in Jules.
Sorry for the long post! If you got this far, I'm impressed, and thank you. *smiles*
Friday, June 26, 2009
Oh. My. Goodness.
Frozen fire! this is a beautiful and exciting city!
I have a picture to show you, but I can't seem to format it correctly. I'll have to paint pictures for you with words instead. It'll be impossible to convey the beauty and elegance and exoticness, though.
The colors of my city of Furier are gold and red, but Jules is a blue city. It's blue with lots of marble, yet it retains the exotic feel.
Let me go back to the beginning of our arrival. I'm warning you, this may be a long post, but I simply must capture this experience.
When we reached the edges of the city at around sunset, it didn't seem like the people were even close to going to bed. All throughout the wide, dirt streets, people were dancing with bright-colored streamers. I thought there must be a celebration going on, but when we drew nearer, someone cried out,
"Hail! The Lord of Fire!"
The dancing and music was for us! What a way to be welcomed. It was fantastic. Paper lanterns and streamers hung from everywhere and thousands of flute notes floated through the air.
The Fire Lord responded politely with a brief thank-you speech with a few compliments thrown in, and we were on our way again. The Fire Lord had us kachinas walk in the front of his little procession. I think he was actually proud of us. He knew we were every bit as good as the Julese street dancers.
My first impression (other than the welcoming festival) was how straight everyone's posture was. I know that's an odd thing to notice, but everyone in Jules, even the children, seemed to carry themselves with an air of grace and poise and total confidence.
The people also all looked exactly as I had been told: long, silky-straight black hair and black, almond shaped eyes. Their skin was also very pale, especially in contrast to we fire fairies' tan-and-rose complexion. Everyone was quite beautiful, even the commoners, but perhaps it's just that they were different from any people I had ever seen. The humans in Furier all have brown or blonde hair with brown (sometimes blue) eyes and white, though tanned, skin. Nothing as extreme as black hair with skin like moonlight.
It took us several more shadowmarks to reach the Julese Palace. When we saw it, my eyes grew large and my mouth fell open. It was just as great as the Palace of Furier, but instead of all gold, this palace was made of marble with a bright blue roof and gold curling designs decorating the columns and huge windows. It was the most intricate thing I have ever seen. The Palace of Furier is fairly simple with large, bold architechture. The Julese Palace was just so much more detailed, and in the gathering dusk, it looked cold and almost haunting.
When we neared the Palace, several men blew a high, clear note on a strange instrument and the great, white, arched doors of the Palace swung open. Out rode a dozen great, white horses and six white elephants, all painted with Julese designs. I was shocked to see animals coming out of a palace, but when I looked through the doors, I could see grass inside. There was a huge courtyard inside, big enough to put a small settlement.
In the middle of the group of white elephants and horses, on the biggest elephant of all, sitting in an extravagant litter, rode the Emperor Nero and Empress Nala of Jules. They were dressed in classic Julese attire: he wore a light, sheer blue shirt and baggy, white pants with pointed shoes. On his head sat an impressive silver crown with blue and green jewels sitting in it. His arms were spread wide in a welcoming gesture to us, and he smiled as though he'd been waiting his whole life to meet us. His jet black hair matched his eyes, which were outlined in black to make them stand out even more. His tattoos were visible through his shirt, and I could see that he had plenty of them.
The Empress wore a small blue top with silver tassels and thread designs. Her sleeves matched the billowy, sheer blue style of her husband's shirt. Her skirt was also blue, and dripped with all sorts of jewels. On her head was the delicate silver crown of Jules with a sapphire drop resting gracefully on her forehead. Multiple gold and silver bangles adorned her arms, and she had four anklets on each foot.
They both sat cross-legged.
I didn't notice her at first, but after a moment, I spotted another figure on a smaller elephant riding behind the Emperor and Empress. It was the young Princess Sadira.
"Welcome, Lord of Fire!" Emperor Nero called. "We are honored with your visit."
He and the Fire Lord exchanged customary formalitites and pleasantries, and then we were ceremoniously led into the courtyard, which was almost more impressive than the outside of the Palace. The gardens were bursting with colorful flowers and the fountains were breathtaking. I could almost feel the Fire Lord planning to add some splendor to his own Palace.
Several times, I leaned over to say something to Flare or Firefly, but then remembered; we had been strictly forbidden to speak in the presence of the Emperor and Empress. For all their hearty welcoming and smiles, the Julese were said to be a harsh people.
"Please, we know you are very tired from your journey," the Emperor said as soon as we were all in the throne room and he was sitting on his throne. "It would be unhospitable of us to try and entertain you further tonight. I will have somone escourt you to the guest wing immediately."
This was odd to me, for whenever a guest comes to Furier, everyone stays up at least half the night performing and eating and drinking and singing. I suppose we Furierites are just an eager sort of culture.
By this time, I was really very sleepy and not taking in much more. The long walk to the guest wing of the Palace is a bit blurry. I do remember everything being white marble with blue veins, and there being a lot of details and lots of silver. The Palace was truly huge as well. It sprawled over a great area, unlike the Palace of Furier, which is really rather small as palaces go.
The room we kachinas were led to was large with two big beds. It wasn't a fancy room by any reckoning, but it was better than what we had at home. The blankets were light and airy, and the pillows were oddly rounded. There were so many great, arched windows around the room that it felt almost like sleeping outside.
Firefly, Flare and I claimed one of the big beds, and Sparkle, Comet and Flicker slept in the other. Comet and Flicker were soon asleep, but the other four of us stayed awake for some time, marveling at all the grandeur around us. It had been an interesting day for sure, but we knew the next few days would be even more full of surprises.
We were right. Some completely unexpected things have happened the last three days, some good, some bad. Right now, though, I'm exhausted and I don't think I can write any more tonight. I'll try to write tomorrow, though, and tell you everything.