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“What is this place?” Nym asked, looking around her feeling confused and lost.
She was sitting high atop a rocky ledge of what appeared to be an active volcano. From this distance she could safely overlook a once grand but now devastated city. Twisted spires of obsidian rose into a ginger colored sky. Acrid smoke bloomed from a smoldering plane that cracked and flowed liquid and cooling lava and igneous rock. In the distance she could hear the sounds of the world crashing and crumbling.
“These are the Ruins of Lys, Darling.” Marcel said, tapping his pipe matter of factly on the ground. He sat with his legs crossed, which gave him a jaunty and playful appearance though his face was lined with worry and thought. The sadness behind his eyes was palatable as he looked over the fallen landscape.
“You’re…” Nym stammered. He was older than his photos with a shock of gray it each temple that suited him well. His body was angular and thin, but finely muscled and cat like.
“Yes, Darling.” He said with a grin, “I know who I am. The more important question would be, who are you?”
She watched him search his pockets repeatedly before finding a folded tobacco pouch then, reconsidering, he gave her a sheepish look. He sighed and started to return it without filling his pipe sadly, but she interrupted.
“It’s okay. I rather like the smell of pipe smoke,” she offered.
A grin stretched across his face and she noticed the way his blue eyes sparkled in the fire light. He began packing the pipe with a sort of child like glee and she immediately liked him.
She turned again to the Ruins in wonder and with a terrible sense of awe, “What happened here?”
“It is an old tale, my dear. One we will not have time for just now.” He gave her a sincere smile before applying a flame to his pipe, drawing in and savoring the taste. “Simple pleasures,” he said “are easily overlooked when plenty and sorely missed when not.”
In the distance a large tower crumbled, pillars of smoke rising from the falling rubble and into the burning sky. A smell of tar -and something else, something foul and unfamiliar, drifting on the hot wind which filled with ash.
“I’d have thought it would be easier, but your mechanation was damaged in the fall,” he looked up at her sadly, “My fault really.”
“My mechanation?” she asked.
He patted her hand kindly and then hit by realization, exclaimed, “Oh! But you have found my journals! Clever darling girl! Wonderful! Simply wonderful, You!” He was radiant with pride and openly impressed -and he relit his pipe.
Nym felt a strange sense delight as he praised her, she didn’t quite understand it but his words made her feel instantly bigger and more confident- but after a moment’s consideration she added, “I did have help.”
He looked up at her and raised an eyebrow before exhaling, “Ah, yes.” Marcel thought on this for an anxious moment, “Amos. Good lad. He’s had a time, you know, but young men will stretch their legs – but there is good in him yet, perhaps even greatness.”
His approval made her smile and blush.
Above them a dark moon rose, a black orb sliding over the fiery sky. “We’ve little time, Darling Girl,” Marcel tapped his pipe again on the ledge sadly, his tone becoming very serious, “There is great danger to everyone, understand you must remember when you wake. You’ve been reading my journals, and they will help you…The Being that did this,” he looked out over the Ruins of Lys, “is banging upon the door of our world, and all will perish if he breaks through. Remember my words – you must go to Perryn. He will ask you the question.” He looked directly into her eyes, urgency pulsing in the pools of azure blue, “You must answer him five hundred and fifty five times.”
Nym was confused. How could she answer him so many times?
The golden light of evening was filling their small room at the Mists. Amos was still holding her and his scent was like the sea. For a moment she lost the memory of the dream too enraptured in their embrace, but the dream pushed itself forward into her mind. She remembered Marcel and his memory filled her with a sadness and a longing for him to return; she wished to ask him so many questions. She remembered the place he called Lys and saw it’s devastation and the smell of burning coal and Marcel’s pipe filled the room, her eyes blinked back tears of some unknown loss. So many feelings she didn’t understand. She snuggled into Amos’ sleeping arms taking comfort from the strange dream, content to stay there forever until her eyes connected with the clock on the wall, it’s hands pointing exactly to the time 5:55pm.
Sadly she pulled herself away from him gently, and silently and began to dress and prepare for her journey.
“Amos?” she woke him gently, “Amos, I need to go. It may sound crazy but, ” Amos made his way to his feet, he was shaky and slow but determined as he searched for his shirt.
“Amos, you’re still hurting! ” Nym argued with his preparation.
“You’re not going alone, Peach.” He winced as he pulled his arm through his shirt and she moved to help him, “Whatever happens, I am with you,” and he took her hands into his own and smiled into her eyes.
She remembered Marcel’s words, ‘there is good in him, ‘ and as she watched Amos overcome his every struggle she had no room to ever doubt him again. She also realized that any awkwardness between them was gone, and they moved and behaved openly and naturally now. His kiss the night before, their closeness through the night, seemed to give them both a confidence in being together and she felt taller and more powerful and more capable next to him.
She secured her satchel and made a check that she had not forgotten anything. She doubted that they would ever return to The Mists. She checked herself in the glass, straightening her hat -her dragonfly cog giving a confident whir of it’s wings from it’s perch.
“So,” He smiled at her through the glass, “where are we going, beautiful?” Nym turned and put her arms around Amos gently, and he smiled and kissed her cheek.
“To see Mayor Perryn, ” she said, “I need to answer his question.”