Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Summer Cotillion

Today I'll break from my usual format and post a short short story, more like a prose poem, that I wrote as this month's submission to the Lusternia bardic contest. I think this one will make sense even to those unfamiliar with Lusternia.

Summer Cotillion

It was the peak of the high season, and at the grandest of the ballrooms, with gold chandeliers and gleaming green marble, the highest of high society was gathered, in their very finest gowns and suits. The ladies were resplendent in shimmering silks and satins, and everywhere you looked there was silver and pearl, gold and diamonds. Gentlemen, tall and stately, lined up in graceful arrangements as their elegant dances wove in and out from between the ladies like leaves cast in a spring zephyr. Arrayed in seemingly endless rows, the orchestra sat in their stately, crisply pressed crimson uniforms, their instruments in perfect synchrony as they wove subtle strains of grandiose harmony to punctuate the movements of the dancers, as much seeming to reflect as inspire it.

Yet my eyes scarcely drank in the first detail of this majestic display, for amongst the finery, she stood out like a rose in a field of daisies. Her hair shined under the light of a thousand lamps casting captured moonlight as if it had no purpose but to enhance the gloss on her silken tresses. Elegantly simple, her sweeping gown of satin and velvet rippled with her slightest movement like a thing alive, as if she had shrouded herself in the twilight sky. I crossed the ballroom floor of viridian marble to her and, silently, we danced, slow and stately, moving together as if we had been born under the same sun.

The music swelled as the moonlight waxed, Mother Moon straining to shine more brightly to better illumine the bright gleam in her eyes and the rosy blush on her cheeks. Around us, a gentle breeze carried other dancers to and fro as the tune took a more mischievious tone, but she and I were a world unto ourselves, caught up in each other. Starshine cast sparkles of light on her dress like seeds of light promising to bloom into moons and suns, if only she would smile upon them, but her smiles were only for me that night.

The band changed tempo to a slower dance, a gavotte highlighted with an austere arrangement of strings that carried through the summer night on every stray breeze. The air was full to bursting with starlight and Mother Moon's warmth, and the aroma of flowers and trees was carried between the dancers. There, between the trees and under the sky, we had no thoughts of the conflicts of the day, of battles or responsibilities, of guilds and gods. We were each completed by the other, and the rest of the world faded away as if no more than the memory of last winter's final storm, long since carried away by the burbling streams to the Inner Sea, there to join the dancing of kelpies and dolphins.

She pressed herself into my arms as the bard completed her song with a bow and a flourish, but there was always another song, for the music of life was as endless as our love, and soon we were laughing as we pranced together, giddy with the heady aromas of the forest around us and the intoxicating scent of each other's warmth and sweat and contentment. Her homespun skirts swirled around her as we twirled and cavorted, her laughter like the song of the forest around us.

At last, we fell into one another's arms, looking around at the summer night in the forest around us. Birds sang in the trees to themselves, to each other, to us, and their songs joined with the wind rustling the flowers and the trickling brook to create a harmony as grand as any orchestra. Her eyes were full of the light of Mother Moon and her cheeks rosy with summer's warmth, and above all, her smile shone with the light of love for me. For one night, we were each other's worlds. We did not need gowns, or ballrooms, or symphonies, or dancers strutting like peacocks. We had each other's smiles, the song of the forest around us, and the warmth of a Seren summer, and from that, we could create as many worlds of wonder and majesty as could be imagined. What more could anyone wish for?

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