Lunar Lullabies from a Silver Siren

Poems, short stories, and musings from the lady known as Silver.

Ex Umbra Teaser #5

Well, loves, thank you for coming along with me on this little ride. Unfortunately, this will be the final teaser until the work is completed, but if you liked what you read, please share it with others. Stay tuned for other works and details!

Eclipse followed Lycoris as far as the hallway, where the young woman took off running down the hallway as delicately as she could, managing to make the effort look rather graceful. A man and a woman entered from the opposite end, a pile of towels and other items between them, so Eclipse made her way to the other side, trying not to undo the saree as she moved. While tight, it wasn’t anywhere near as restricting as she thought it might be. Her hands, felt along the fabric, feeling how soft and smooth it was. Her arms, however, were very much exposed, and she wondered just how Lycoris was managing to keep so warm. She watched the man and woman enter, another four people carrying a fresh tub, water sloshing in it as they made their way down the hallway as well.

“It seems the pins aren’t all she forgot,” a deep voice behind her said, causing her to jump a little.

She turned around to find Lycoris practically on top of her, Aither standing behind her in a vibrant red outfit today. He was holding another bit of fabric, much smaller and a deep violet color. Lycoris quickly showed her how to open the bent bits of metal, a bright bead securing it in place as she placed one at her hip and another at her back.

“Now you don’t have to worry about it falling,” she smiled.

“Or keeping those arms cold,” Aither added as he spread the piece he was holding and walked forward to drape it over Eclipse’s shoulders. “That should keep off the cold until winter has set in.”

She looked up at him, something about his presence overwhelming her as she nodded, muttering thanks before looking at his Resma. They billowed out like a cloud around him, the red and green balancing beautifully with his choice of outfit for the day.

“Are all of you so concerned with how you appear?” she found herself asking, the words escaping before she even thought to hide them. Eclipse struggled not to fidget, which became easier when he smiled a little.

“Some more than others,” he answered, nodding at Lycoris, who took the gesture as a dismissal and waved goodbye before scampering back down the hall to where she and Padma had slept. “You, of all of us, should know that the Kageshi are no different in that regard. And you may speak freely with me. There is no need to hold anything back, I promise you.”

He extended a hand towards the doors leading outside and Eclipse started to walk with him.

“That may be so, but there is at least some meaning in the concern,” she replied, pausing when he opened the door so that she could pass through into the bright sun of early morning. “We color our hair and skin so that we might blend in better with the night and be less noticeable during the day.”

“Because? Why is that so important.”

“The Beasts, of course,” she stated, feeling as though she were explaining things to a child.

“Exactly,” he replied as they continued their stroll. He waved at a group that were cooking something in a patch of cleared land to the left, the children running up to obtain a pat on the head before returning where they came. “So, I ask you, if you did not fear the Beasts, how would the lives of the Kageshi be different?”

The question stopped her in her tracks as she really thought of the question and the implications. An easier question by far would be what would be the same. He stopped and turned to face her, a smile painting his face as she felt very keenly that she was the child having something explained to her.

“We are concerned with our appearances merely because we can be. Sometimes we choose to wear more vibrant colors. Do you remember what color I wore yesterday?”

She thought for a moment of their first brief meeting at almost this exactly spot.

“Tan, like buck skin.”

“What you will learn, dear one, is that our life is ruled by nothing other than our own choices, to a great degree. Sometimes those choices are poor, and we must pay the consequences. It may seem like a small difference, but you will see the way it affects how you live from this day forward, should you choose to go through the ceremony.”

“What is the ceremony, exactly?”

He turned back around, and Eclipse took a few steps forward to keep pace with him again.

“It will be your rebirth into this society, and as you probably suspected, when you cast a shade for the last time.”

Her eyes drifted down to stare at her shade where it stood on the ground, avoiding every other person it may have come in contact with, even to the point of keeping to the eastern side of her body to avoid where Aither was on her right.

“It is your decision, and I will not try to say anything to dissuade you or encourage your decision. We can hold it as early as this afternoon if you so choose. I just thought it would give you something to think about if we waited until after Padma’s reconfirmation. We must see if she really has repented and is willing to change after her time amongst the Kageshi.”

“She mentioned that a few times. Is there really a chance that she would be sent back?” Eclipse felt an anxiety creep up within her, knowing that if Padma was sent back, it was unlikely to go well. Especially if she ran into Dusk again.

“Yes,” he replied. “But I doubt such will be the case. Imani told me her Resma were quite insistent that she’d undergone a revelation. In large part due to you.”

“Me?” she asked, stopping. “But what did I do? I mean, there was a moment when she started going on about pride and feelings, but I never did anything.”

He smiled again, taking one her hands in his and pressing it firmly between them.

“Your mere presence is enough sometimes. Every person has an effect on those around them. Padma understands this, I am sure, and that is part of why she is so drawn to you, as is Imani. I’m quite curious about you myself.”

Before she could manage a blush, Aither let her hand go and continued walking. There was a lot of information to take into consideration. She didn’t feel like there was anything particularly special about herself, at least not in a particularly positive way. Her fingers drifted over her hand where he’d touched it as she started walking again.

“Is there anything you would like to know that may help you make your decision?” he asked, glancing over at her.

“Is there anyone I could talk to that was once Kageshi? Maybe interacting with someone who has lived as I have will give me a better idea of what I may lose and what I may gain.”

“Padma didn’t tell you? I was Kageshi-born.”

Eclipse stared at him, the amusement in his eyes probably the most irritatingly enchanting thing she had seen in a long time.

Ex Umbra Teaser #4

A soft squeeze of Eclipse’s hand elicited a smile that came almost naturally. She couldn’t help but find herself on the verge of giggling since Imani had started speaking. The older woman turned her head to Padma, the mood quickly shifting.

“While I have been concerned about how you were doing, you had better be ready to return. Otherwise you will simply be sent back out with the next group in a moon’s time.”

“You can check me now, you know,” Padma told her, irritation in her voice.

“But what would be the point when you would just need to be officially checked again after we arrived?”

Imani turned her head back towards Eclipse.

“I’m sorry, my dear. I’m sure none of this is making any sense right now, but it will in time. I knew that Padma was bringing a Kageshi with her, but I hadn’t expected one so lovely. I can’t wait to see what color your hair is when all of that dye is out. Unless you want to keep dying it, of course.”

“I…I’ve never thought about whether I wanted to or not,” Eclipse pondered. “It’s never really been a choice before.”

“Oh I know. I hated the dying as a child and refused to let anyone come near me with henna for years after I joined the Na’Kageshu. Some things are much easier as a child. You know just what you like and what you don’t, and who cares what anyone else thinks.”

Imani laughed softly as though recalling those very days. Unfortunately, there were no such pleasant memories to turn to, and Eclipse wasn’t quite sure what to expect as they neared the edge of the cliff, the churning roar of water making it almost impossible to speak. Her eyes found a small bridge, the floor of it formed of alabaster stones that led them across the river just before it fell. Thick twine rope line the sides, allowing for a stumbler to grab hold of them before falling into the water and over the edge. The sun finally fell, leaving them to walk in the lingering red and pink tones in the sky, enough to make out a small path that led either way beyond the bridge, the one to the right leading to a set of steps that seemed to descend down to wherever the water fell. Padma’s excitement couldn’t be contained anymore as she pulled Imani who pulled Eclipse onto the bridge to stand there and look over the edge.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Padma sighed, happiness reading from every part of her. “Home.”

Beautiful seemed a very inadequate word for what Eclipse saw, lights of yellow, red and blue glittering in the velvet darkness and throwing hints of shadows from the large structures that dotted the land below. She didn’t have to strain her eyes much to make out the vivid colors that decorated both buildings and inhabitants. Her steps stopped as she clung to the side of the bridge, hands clutching the rope almost on instinct as she leaned a little further, taking in the layout, burning the memory into her mind.

“You can probably see much better once we are actually down there, m’dear,” Imani said, giggling at her reaction. “Although I should warn you.”

“Warn me?” she asked, nervousness seeping into the pleasant feelings she’d been indulging in.

“No, no, nothing bad,” Imani quickly corrected her. “It has been some time, perhaps a moon or so, since we’ve had a Kageshi decide to join us. There may be a bit of a hoopla about your arrival.”

“Hoopla?” Eclipse repeated.

“A party!” Padma exclaimed. “Oh, they will love you. Positively love you!”

As Padma once more grabbed her hand and led her across the bridge so they could begin their descent into the vibrant valley surrounding the waterfall, Eclipse made it a point to ask Padma just exactly what this concept of “love” entailed.

Ex Umbra Teaser #3

The golden bazaar, held for the few hours on the eastern half of the meet circle where the light of the sun struck true before disappearing for the evening. The light allowed for people to examine the wares and ensure quality, the rest preparing for the evening meal while selling any preserved meets or furs they felt could be spared. They had eaten first, and Doe now sat in front of their dwelling, surrounded by a small garden of clay pots, cups, containers and plates. It had been decided that Padma should stay inside, so she, lying down on her mat, watching the people come and go through the thin slits in the wallmat before her. It could have been some sort of vacation, but she couldn’t bring herself to relax or even sleep. All she felt was a deep sense of growing bitterness at the fact that she was so useless here. Somehow, on the way to the meet, she had convinced herself that she would be as sweet and docile as she could, treating whoever she ended up with as gently as she would her own family. The only one she could even get close enough to treat at all was Doe, and because of that, Doe was the one usually serving her. There hadn’t been much Padma had tried to plan on when the decision was handed down to her, but none of it was going at all how she’d pictured. Her place amongst the Na’Kageshu had been of respect with welcome adoration. She’d been loved and cherished. Children with scrapes would come to see her, tears running down their face, scrambling to climb under her hands or Resma to get a scrape healed or a toothache cured. Adults and littlings alike would seek what knowledge she had to share. Even now, she was not sure where it all went wrong. What she did know was that her being wrong had placed her into this forsaken place.

She heard the rustle of the doormat and looked up, meeting Buck’s glare. When he simply stood there, looking at her, she finally sat up and gave him her full attention.

“Yes?” she asked, wondering if he might finally begin to open up to her.

“What can you do with these?”

He threw down an armful of furs on the ground, and while she wanted to get up to see them better, that would bring her entirely too close to him, so she examined them the best that she could from where she was, picking out the tawny shades of rabbits and the deep, rich tones of foxes.

“I could make a hat or some boots,” she said thoughtfully, remembering the clothing she used to wear and considering the limitations of the Kagein’s preference for leather. “Maybe fur collars to go around the neck to help keep the heat in. Perhaps a muffler for Doe.”

“Then they are yours to play with, as long as you make something useful. Winter is coming, and I’m not sure if we will be able to get to our cave before the frost appears.”

“Cave?” she asked.

For the first time, he looked genuinely intrigued.

“Where do you spend your winters at?” he asked. “With the snows, it is far too cold to stay outside.”

“We live in buildings, and with some fires, those keep us warm through the winter months. When we do go outside, we wear lots of furs and leathers, many of which we trade for with you.”

That bit of information must have been new as he grimaced slightly. She bit her lip before giving into the urge that had been pestering her since they had first spoken.

“Why do you hate me…hate us so?”

“My sister,” he said, voice low and gruff. “When I was ten years old, my sister and I got separated at a meet once, and the Na’Kageshu that brought the rest in chains approached her. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, so I went off to play with the other children. As the sun started to set, I went to look for her. I found her in the arms of that Na’Kageshu woman. She was passed out, and the woman looked at me and held out her hand, as though inviting me to come with her. Of course I shook my head no, so she simply turned around and left with my sister. I haven’t seen her since.

“She had wisps, just like the ones you have. Those white ones were wrapped around my sister when she left.”

“And you still trusted me,” she murmured, wondering at the desperation he must have felt.

“I had no choice,” he replied, and she heard his voice catch for a moment. “I know what the council would have done with her if no medic could be found to help her. But she is no child that you can confuse and smuggle out of the meet. I will be watching you because I trusted only that you could heal her. How can I trust you or any of your kind?”

Ex Umbra Teaser #2

Lifting the doormat that led into her private space, Eclipse unceremoniously dumped the wicker basket next to the other two, all seemingly identical. The only difference between the baskets would be the written invitations at the bottom, safely tucked beneath the cloaks. Lying down on her mat, Eclipse glared at them, almost able to tell who had sent them just from the scent of the conjuring. Her room was cool, the tightly woven wallmats keeping the worst of the heat out and allowing her to think in peace. There were only a few men in among the clan that would risk angering a lover in order to try their luck at getting her attention. The regular lovers of four of the more lusty men were either pregnant or nursing, which made them mostly unavailable. Only one of the men had such a reputation that he could have whatever woman he wanted. There was a reason, after all, that she was still untried in the acts of bed.

“One of many,” she muttered to herself, getting up long enough to put out the candles in the two stands in her room. There was still enough sunlight out that it streamed through the minute gaps in her mats, giving her enough light to see by. She would rather not waste the candles. That would be just one more thing to barter for at the next meet or amongst the other members of the clan. Just before Eclipse moved towards her mat once more, her shadow tugged her so violently in the direction of the baskets that she fell over, barely catching herself in time to save a trip to the clan medic.

“Stop it!” she hissed, the sound quiet but vehement as she struggled mentally against the flood of emotions and images that filled her. The one man she was almost certain had sent a lover’s cloak was quiet handsome. He was a favorite of many women in the clan, and had quite a reputation with the rest of the Kageshi women. Who better to induct her into those pleasurable arts…

Eclipse gasped deeply for air as she turned towards the corner of her room that she kept for her own individual works and her special commissions, making her way towards the space. It felt like she was wading in water, hunting for the precious materials of her trade. Finally, she reached the pad she sat at, collapsing down onto it with relief, knowing that the worst was over. She reached down into the pot of silt, feeling the slick, cool texture of the clay that was kept there. Handful after handful, she pulled them out, letting the moisture of the clay drip onto the wood slab where she did all her work. Her fingers stroked the clay into shape, making a small bottle for any number of liquids. Ring after small delicate ring, she formed the wide base of the bottle, working thinner as she reached the neck. Her fingers dipped into the silt water, her fingers smoothing out the inside as her mind started to wander to the designs she would put along the outside. Perhaps flowers.

As she worked the clay, she admitted that this was the true reason why she remained here, safe beside Storm and the occasional visitors they received. Eclipse knew that her shadow was only trying to help, to show her to true path to her heart’s desires. But she hated… loathed the feeling that she was not in complete control of herself. If she did choose a lover, she wanted to choose because she wanted to choose. Not because it was what others expected of her. Not because she was tired of her shadow nagging. Simply because she truly wanted it. Her struggles with her shadow were unnatural, at best. At worst, they would mean exile.

So, she stayed here, with Storm. The fewer people she was around, the less likely it was that she would go into one of her moods. The very last thing she wanted was to be brought before the Council again. A deep shudder rippled through her, and she had to force her hands not to tear apart the delicate creation at her fingertips. It was a rare moment she bothered thinking about it, but every day was a reminder of the scars that encounter had left. Her use name, the Silent Green-eyed Doe, was true in every sense. She would rather say something meaningful than nothing at all, and all of her meaningful comments early on in life had been met with harsh criticism. Life did not need to be more difficult for her than it already was. That burden was one that she knew she was not strong enough for.

Ex Umbra Teaser #1

Enjoy the teaser!

“This sort of failure is simply beyond the scale of what we have come to expect from you, Dusk.”

The Council Shade hovered around the raised mat where the once active body rested. Like every other Council Shade, it was tied to the body of a person who was deemed so in touch with his or her own inner desires and self that they had been elevated to this state – a perpetual sleep, with the shadow the only remaining interaction with those who had yet to reach such a state of enlightenment. There were seven such Council Shades, one to travel with each of the clans, and together these Shades made all of the critical decisions concerning the lives of the Kagein. It was the duty of the leader of each clan to care for the Shade traveling with them, and Dusk had hoped that this conversation would have waited at least until they had all recovered from the night hike.

“I always said that such an untried person as you were far too young to bear the responsibilities and burdens for a clan, even one as small as the Raccoon,” it continued, the Shade’s tone more of a deep drone, humming in the back of Dusk’s head than an audible voice. “But we decided to take a chance with you. You proved to have a great amount of skill and drive, despite your liability.”

“With all due respect, Council Shade, please do not bring that up,” Dusk said, his own voice growing quiet with an undertone of rage. “Last night’s affair was heavy enough of a weight on me without being reminded of my sister’s kidnapping.”

The Shade stopped where it was, creeping up against a wall, in order to slide back down, decreasing its size back down to something that approximated a normal shadow. It halted on the ground in front of him.

“True enough. However, you will be brought to answer for this loss before the full Council when we reconvene at the meet when the moon is at its fullest. I suggest you think long and hard about what you will say. You are not the only one with something to prove, Dusk, but there may well be others more capable at it than you have demonstrated. You are dismissed.”

Dusk managed to leave the covered area of the Council Shade’s resting place, waiting until his shadow was well out of communicating distance before balling up his fists and letting out the slightest growl. Three people. One was almost expected, especially considering some of the weaker members of the clan. But losing three completely unrelated people was a major blow to the clan, particularly when you added to that the loss of Forest Shade yesterday. One mother, two hunters and one child. The child was fairly inconsequential since the little ones were more a drain on the clan’s resources than anything. But losing Forest Shade… Well, the clan would have to compensate for that loss somehow. Another hunter would either pick up the slack or they would eat less meat as a whole. Those were the only two real options, and Dusk really did not care which it took to keep the clan stable and the Council Shade off his back. They had another three days until they made it to the meet. He simply could not afford to have anything else go wrong, no matter how slight.

Happy NaNoWriMo!

The writing frenzy is underway, and while I learn to type without my left pinky until this nail glue dries, I'll let you guys know what I've got planned for the moment. I will be sharing snippets of my novel (nothing too crucial, of course) every Wednesday this month just so you all don't feel so left out of the loop. So, stay tuned for the first sample tomorrow!

For those of you who are enjoying the insanity as well, best of luck, and feel free to add me as a buddy on the official NaNo site: Yin Silverblood

Not Alone