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.


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