Stolen Children, Mirrored Webs
« on: January 09, 2021, 09:51:55 AM »

Winter had drawn itself close around the islands. It had been raining for nearly a month straight. Nothing was left dry. Salome felt like she was made of water. Swollen with it beneath her skin. She had seen the steam off Thure herself on Winsol. On the balcony with Isidore at her back, arms keeping her flush to his chest, they had watched together.

The long stream of lava still flowed from the Temple, winding its way down the mountain to the sea. The rain beat it black, but did not stop the flow. Steam rose constantly, cloaking the island in fog and the sound of boiling water. A great snake, hissing its displeasure. "How does she not stop it?" Ome had questioned, turning her cheek against his shoulder.

Just for Winsol she had stayed. Just for Winsol she had spent the night in her marriage bed. Just for Winsol, beneath her husband, over her husband. Reminded what it was like to be loved by a man. Doors open to the rain, sheets left in mountains at the end of the bed, clothing discarded from stairway to bedside.

Now was not Winsol. Salome put the memories away, arm linked through Isidore's as they surveyed his slaves. Stolen. Bought. He did not tell her how he had acquired them, and she did not ask. Strong men, beautiful women. But today, mostly children. All nearing the age for their Birthright. Some Isidore favored more than others, and for those chosen few, Ome would weave a web.

"Three." She promised him, hair bouncing against his shoulder as she looked up, knowing he would not allow her to tax her Jewels. Wanting to give him more. But she was still finding her balance in this new place with her husband. Successful in her own right. Longer apart from him than together. And yet. She wanted this place at his side. It felt right. She hated him so. But loved him all the more.

A quite room for her to weave in. Child sat across from her. Babies were easier. Quieter, stiller. How she craved one. But children had personality, it made it easier to grasp the strands of their potential and find the resonance in the Darkness. The girl would be lucky to find Opal. A promising Warlord boy who would begin at Summer-sky. And last. Isidore was so sure they would share a caste.

And Salome was sure they would share a Jewel. At her Offering she found his Birthright. And the farther she went, the deeper she delved, the tighter the strands of her web drew. Solemn blue eyes watched her. Bitter blue eyes searched for her. Salome felt it. Something, or someone, weaving along the same webs she traveled. Sweat prickled between her shoulder blades and rolled down her spine.

She could not truly reach the Red. But Salome could understand it. Could see it. Could follow the path his Green would take to fruition. At the end she was exhausted. Swallowing the gasping breath that choked her. She smiled at the boy and waved him away. Standing she turned haunted eyes and halting breaths to Isidore. How well he filled the doorway. "You were right." She told him, shaking fingers twisting her hair. "A warlord prince surely, and a Red." But that wasn't what disturbed her. Knocking the web from the table, Salome burned the threads away with craft.

"Someone was looking back at me, when I wove." Terror made the words thick on her tongue. Salome couldn't understand it. No one else should have been in her weaving. Just her and the boys potential. "Someone was looking." She shuddered.