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Aria Wanderlust – Colourless Sunset
Almost before I knew it, yet another day had turned to sunlit evening.
Lost in the tattered pages of an ancient tome I had been studying, I hadn’t even noticed the passage of time as it crept, with the lightest of footfalls, through the day. It wasn’t until I heard the great bell atop the castle toll, its peals reverberating across the land, that my intense concentration was disturbed.
“This should be a good stopping point … I guess I’ll call it a day.”
Letting out a tiny sigh, I laid a finger on the leather-bound tome and whispered a short incantation in the tongue of my forebears. From nothingness, a stream of sparkling violet light issued forth, weaving around my fingers like the prettiest of silken ribbons.
Just like the ribbons Mother used to tie my hair with …
I squeezed my eyes shut, banishing the unbidden thoughts that had so suddenly invaded my mind.
No, this isn’t the time for pointless reminiscence.
Lifting my hand in a slow, almost casual arc, I let my fingers hover in mid-air for a second, focusing my mind on the violet light that writhed, in serpentine fashion, across my knuckles. Then, in one swift motion, my fingers slashed downwards, scything through the warm, pregnant air.
Heeding my command, the violet light leapt forth in a flash, curling itself around the spine of the tome. In mere seconds, the entire tome had been bound in an impervious matrix of violet – the perfect safeguard against those who were not worthy to peruse its contents.
I lowered my hand, and the iridescent light faded away into the ether from whence it came. With quiet reverence, I heft the tome off my reading desk – and almost collapsed to the floor from its sheer weight.
A slight frown creasing my brow, I gestured with my hand, and the tome was enveloped in a bubble of white light. With another jab of my finger, I sent it floating away, as if suspended by invisible string, before nestling in its rightful spot, among the innumerable other books and manuscripts that lined the walls of my chambers.
Almost immediately, I felt a wave of fatigue wash over me, an unwelcome reminder of the long hours that I had spent hunched over my reading desk. I leaned back in my chair and stretched, easing the kinks from my knotted muscles as best I could.
A mischievous zephyr found its way into my chambers, gently tugging at an errant strand of my hair. Riding astride the breeze was a light, refreshing scent evocative of sunset, more alluring than any earthly perfume. These twin sensations, mingling in the radiant warmth of the evening, embraced me; and, like a siren’s call, beckoned me towards the world that lay beyond the confines of my chambers.
Even though I was weary from the day’s exertions, I found my feet moving of their own accord, leading me towards the glass doors that sat flush against one side of my chambers. I felt my palms push against the panes of glass, still warm from the heat of the evening sunlight, and the doors gave way, parting before me to reveal a palatial garden overlooking the rest of Lyfa.
Neatly trimmed grass brushed against my bare feet as I drifted across the garden, towards the intricately decorated balustrade that lined its edges. From my vantage point atop the highest tower of the Celestial Eyrie, I had perhaps the most spectacular view of the sunset in the land. It was a sight that most Lyfii would not have a chance to behold, not if they lived to be a hundred years old. Yet it was a sight only all too familiar to me, who had lived in this impregnable eyrie built especially for my use, ever since I knew my first memory.
Resting my elbows on the parapet, I cupped my cheeks in my hands and gazed, wistfully, at the fair country of Lyfa, drinking in every nook and cranny of the land that was to one day become my domain, as though I were afflicted with a slow, burning thirst.
And yet, I gleaned not the slightest succour from my yearning.
“The sunset … it’s as beautiful as it always is.”
I willed myself to find, in my heart, a shred of admiration for the distant, towering spires tapering into the sunset, their tips encircled by thin wisps of white cloud. I willed myself to gasp, with wide-eyed wonderment, at the masterpieces of architecture that dotted the sprawling royal district, painstakingly erected by the finest masons Lyfa had to offer. I willed myself to unearth even the slightest beginnings of appreciation as my forlorn gaze scoured the sunlit uplands.
I willed myself, with all my heart, to believe in the words that escaped my lips.
But all my efforts were in vain. Where most would have fell into awestruck silence at the wondrous vista that lay before them, I felt only a dull, nameless ache, gnawing away at my heart.
Raising a finger, I traced the path of the heavenly orb as it made its imperceptible descent from the skies. Second after second ticked by, stretching into infinity, as the sun drifted towards the horizon, towards a night of peaceful slumber. Before long, all that remained of its presence was a soft, glowing semicircle of fading light, the colour of dying embers, streaked with purple-tinged clouds that presaged the coming of night.
As the sky shed its sunlit garments for a twilight-hued nightgown, so too did the playful zephyr take its belated leave, in the same impish manner with which it had greeted me. But as it bade me farewell, the zephyr took with it a part of me, in exchange for its fleeting company.
And so did an unspoken wish travel upon the wind, to a faraway land.