Circle of Schon: Chapter One

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Her sister’s ramblings grew less sane each day. Fears of dragons and hidden conspiracies of foreign countries, with little fact to prove them true. Hours were spent in the silver, moon-crested chambers listening to unfounded paranoia and rumors. The day Aparam truly came under fire, no one would believe it was happening. Especially when looking into the eyes of their leader.

“Are you even listening to yourself,” Tokki asked, rolling her eyes. She adjusted the plate latch of her gauntlets and shook her head. “Our stay had just begun. My men have only just returned home.”

“I care little for your whining, Tokki. Unless you feel you could lead our people better?”

That look. Frigid green eyes starring under knitted brows. The lines from her corners spoke of sleepless nights and wailing. Walls could share their scars from nails clawing at the surface and furniture being thrown about in unprovoked fits. Windows sung of battered bodies, broken wills, and fear that ate flesh; stiff movements were the result of seizing muscles. Peaceful nights left the day her sister took power – perhaps long before then. Days of crying children and shouting old men, Tokki rolled her shoulder. She raised a hand, palm open, and tapped the thumb to her temple. “No. I shall rally the Moonhand then. We will march again in 2 phases.”

Tokki turned on her heels, the length of her red hair flicking her in the eyes. She pushed her fingers through the strands and rubbed the back of her shaved skull. It was getting longer than she wanted. At least she had hoped for time enough to clean up.

“A farewell,” Perdita shouted. She sat forward on her throne, hands gripping the arms.

“As the Matron so wishes.” Tokki swallowed her desire for sarcasm and snapped her feet together. Her fist hit her chest dead center. Her head lowered to her waist with a quick shout of breath. With a drawn breath, she paused a moment then exited passed the guards. Tokki forced a smile to each of them, shaking her head. They, too, wore the heavy bags under their eyes, leaning on their spears.

At the end of the hallway, through a double set of wood doors reinforced with tempered steel, the second door at the base of the spiral staircase was painted dark red and embellished with golden designs. They didn’t make sense, a bunch of random swirls and twisted arches, but it wasn’t the door that interested Tokki nor her sister’s obsession with outlandish flourishes. She lifted the latch and pressed in the door, an involuntary smile surfacing as her eyes settled upon the window. Long brown hair with pops of violet bouncy curls tied back into a mess of braids. Dyed leather straps and gemstone beads adorned the poofs. A short but full figure in a simple brown dress, framed by the abnormal green sky that spilled into the space.

“See anything of interest?” Tokki leaned on the doorway and crossed her arms. Outside the window was an almost perfectly neglected garden of natural overgrowth, fountains, and moss covered cliffside. In the distance, the faint murmurs of a waterfall filled this space with serenity. It was a safe haven, a calm space.

“Do you?” The soft voice that replied drowned out the grinding gears in the back of Tokki’s mind. “You have been quite busy lately. The moon is full again.”

“Perdita is demanding,” Tokki replied, taking a breath before crossing the threshold of the room. “As you are aware. We returned from the last imaginary escapade and she’s already demanding I leave again. Hamingja – if we find anything.”

Turning from the window, the round, pale skinned face was marred by a violet bruise, extending into a yellow mess of swollen flesh around the lower jaw. Blue lightning strikes of veins sprawled into tender red edges. Tokki jolted. Paranoia came with anger, with rage.

“Schon.”

“This?” Schon smiled. “A small mistake. My mouth got the better of me.”

Tokki took a deep breath, curled her fingers into her palm and cracked her knuckles. Her jaw ached as her teeth snapped atop of each other.

“Where are you heading?” Schon questioned. She tilted her head and took the fist in her hands.

With a second deep breath, Tokki cleared her throat. “Ewiftwin. The snake of an advisor swears a scaled man with yellow eyes was seen traveling there. Am I too keep chasing ghosts of a race long extinct? I should think so-”

Schon parted her lips and bit down on her cheek. Words she wanted to say were being driven back, deep within. It was a thing she did often, leaving Tokki curious.

“I have to return to town, round the heads and deliver our moving orders. Feel like an apple torten tonight with that book of yours?”

“Bring the torten and the wine, I’ll set the floor.”

Tokki caressed the bruised, her fingers being coddled by Schon’s. The cool sensation atop her sweaty, leather-gloved hands sent a chill down her back. The aching in her chest grew, a pounding heart agitated her wavering composure. Her body lurched, snapping it back in place. The first time was an inescapable mistake, without regrets, drowned in longing. Laying eyes on this compassionate and gentle woman, stealing a second glance to feed her own curiosity, Tokki had fallen. She coveted her sister’s pet – a slave woman from a dying country. Her thumb smoothed the wrinkles of skin being formed by the pressure of her hand around Schon’s face. Fighting her own body, she smiled and stepped away. Fist to her chest, firmly planted against her heart hard enough to disrupt the tingling, pounding sensations, Tokki lowered her head. She could feel the crestfallen gaze on her.

“I’ll return tonight, Schon.”

“Return safe, Tokki.”

 

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