Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden Secrets

Yesterday was a living Hell just as I predicted it would be. We kachinas got no sleep Friday night, and the Fire Lord made us dance for him almost constantly Saturday. If we weren't dancing, he gave us some other thankless task to do. We were so tired that we made many mistakes in everything we did, and he punished us for that as well. I am still sore today.

I was afraid that the Fire Lord might make us stay awake last night, too, but he didn't. I still had trouble sleeping, though. I was too tired to sleep. That's one of teh most miserable feelings in Jeolotoe, let me tell you.

Today was a much better day; a good day even! The Fire Lord was engaged in some matter about a misbehaving peasant for much of the afternoon, so we kachinas were free from duty for most of the day.

We went to see Torchess (we know her because her father sells wine to the Fire Lord) and spent a while with her, helping her with her chores and listening to her stories about which sparker is after her now. Torchess is a beautiful sparktress and well old enough to marry now (she's twenty), so there are sparkers calling on her constantly. Some of the poor fools are really good for a laugh. When she isn't telling us about the love-struck sillies prancing after her, Torchess tells us about the sort of sparker she wants to marry: someone handsome and clever with a sense of adventure. The way she describes her dream husband, I'd think she was sweet on Coal, who's three years her junior. Firefly shares this suspicion, and we had a good laugh about it today.

Then things got crazier!

While Comet and Sparkle and Flicker were off talking to some other younger sparkresses in the Palace, Firefly and Flare and I decided we'd practice our dancing in the courtyard. I love doing that. Usually some Palace slaves and a few villagers will come and watch us. I love to preform, and it's even better when some of them toss us a few coins.

This time, however, we didn't make it to the courtyard. We were distracted when we spotted Coal slipping into the garden behind in the Palace. Well, I saw him. He was so quiet and fast that by the time I got Firefly and Flare's attention, he was gone. They didn't believe me that I'd seen him, but they agreed to go with me and follow him into the garden to see what he was up to

There's a certain thrill that comes with spying on a spy.

All of us expected to get caught almost immediately--we're rarely able to sneak up on Coal with any success--but we weren't. He was so preoccupied that we followed him all the way to the garden's center without him even being aware of our presence.

He sat on the stone bench and just waited for a while. We crouched in the bushes a couple of yards behind him and waited. We were all thinking the same thing: Coal must be unusually deep in thought not to have noticed us by now. We weren't making any noise at all, but somehow Coal is generally able to sense others' presence . Maybe that's part of being a spy.

After less than a quarter shadowmark of waiting, our patience was rewarded. A pretty blonde sparktress trotted up!

I don't know when's the last time I've been so shocked. Was Coal seeing someone??

"Hello," he said, standing up. The blonde giggled. She appeared to be a typical love-struck maid. That sort are always after Coal. Sometimes he'll go after them, too, almost just for fun. The blonde ran the last few steps seperating her and made a fist with each hand, pressing the fireshields in her fingertips to the fireball glands in her palms. (This is the symbol of ultimate trust between fire fairies. Doing that shuts down both our fireball glands and our fireshields, making us incapable of both attack and defense.)

My jaw dropped. This sparktress seemed awfully smitten, almost as bad as the peasant girl who'd chased Coal for a month last summer.

"Hello, Coal." Her voice was sort of...sparkly.

Firefly jabbed me in the ribs. I looked over at her. Her eyes were huge, and so were Flare's. Both of them were on the verge of bursting into laughter. I glared at them. If they revealed ourselves, I would NOT be pleased. And neither would Coal.

It was too late to hiss a warning, though. Coal finally came back to himself and whirled around. We weren't exactly hidden very well, especially not for spy eyes. Coal's eyes glowed red for a moment before he remembered to control them and nudge them back to blue.

"What are you doing here?" His voice was moderately even, but his eyes were giving us his angriest look. He was making sure the giggly sparktress couldn't see his face, though. She would probably have run in terror. Firefly and Flare and I would have, had we not grown used to that look over the years.

"Watching," I answered warily as I stood up.

"We had no idea that you were...I mean if we had known..." Firefly was having a hard time explaining. She isn't really very good under pressure.

"Who's that?" Only Flare had the courage to ask outright. Her eyes glinted as she pointed to the blonde.

"Glow," said the blonde, her eyes wide. "My name is Glow. Why were you spying on us?"

"Yes, you little minions," Coal began, glowering. "Why?"

I flicked my long brown hair over my shoulder.

"Curiosity," I said, looking down at Glow. I would have tried to look down at Coal, but, well, he's much taller than I am. I glanced at Coal. "You don't usually spend much time in the garden. We figured something might be...amiss."

"I'm sure you did," Coal said sarcastically. "Well. Nothing's 'amiss'. You can leave now."

So we did.

But what a funny piece of information, isn't it? Coal seeing a sparktress! This could be wonderful blackmail if he chooses to keep his relationship a secret. Of course, it probably won't last very long. I'm sure that whenever Coal get serious about someone, he won't try to hide her in the garden.

I must go now. Blaze just stuck his head in and said the Fire Lord wants us to come and take his mind off his troubles. I shall write again tomorrow if I can. Thank you for reading!


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