Things seem to be slowly returning to normal in the story. I already know things will be on the hop for the next installment, which I hope to have out later today.
Someone asked why I didn’t have my “Buy me a beer!” link for these. I mentioned this is an idea I’ve played with and posted before, and hanging out the tip jar for that just seemed crass.
Uncountable cycles passed. As the sky slowly grew brighter, he learned to work with his siblings. Georgie would, on rare occasions, take him high into the sky, high enough to see the curvature of the earth and let him see far into the heart of the land across the sea. But she never took him beyond the borders of their land; she would only do that alone.
Joey, still not one for conversation, improved Logres’s swimming to the point he could make it over to the Hebrides and Orkneys. Once, in a rare loquacious moment, Joey spoke of islands even further away, and the other continent far across the great sea to the west.
Logres had been surprised to learn that their younger cousins lived there.
How many of us are there?
We are instruments, Georgie had taught him. Even in all Europa had gifted to him, he could not come to understand what that meant.
He walked to where his tunic was spread over a small bush, drying in the wind and near-sun after his swim back from the northern islands. Orkneys, he corrected himself. Almost dry. He resigned himself to waiting a bit more –
A swish and a flash. His younger sister was there. He was surprised to feel her feet press onto his shoulders. That was new. He looked up.
She had both her arms and her wings nearly straight out from her body, all four limbs moving just slightly as she made constant corrections to maintain her balance. He did not understand the reason for her game but was pleased she did it so well. She carefully looked down into his eyes.
“Logres-brother,” she said. “You’re older. Chirp.”
“Am I?” He asked. She slowly raised her eyes to look out at the gray sea.
“Yes. It’s been many cycles since I’ve seen you without your tunic.” The tips of her wings quivered as she carefully moved to point both index fingers at herself. “We are all changing. We are getting older.”
“’Getting older’,” he echoed. He did not understand.
She slid off, landing just behind him. By the time he’d turned around, her wings were furled.
“Older. You’re taller, broader, hairier.” She systematically pointed at his head, shoulders, torso.
“I have these stupid bumps coming in,” she pointed at her chest, “increasing drag. I hate them, chirp!”
Logres paused. Every time he’d seen Europa, she had been just a little different. Taller, or, like his little sister, bumps.
“What does this mean?”
“Chirp.” She shrugged. It would appear she did not know, either. “Here.”
From the cord about her waist, she produced a… thing. Reflecting for a moment on Europa’s Gift, Logres knew it was paper; a scroll. He took it from Georgie. You are supposed to open them, he knew.
Unrolling it, the paper was as wide as his outstretched fingers and twice as long. Most of the surface was covered with dark squiggles and shapes.
“What is this?” He asked, his eyes moving from the paper to his sister.
“That one, beyond the wall, who you love, gave it to me.” There was an odd play of emotions across her face, her white eyes flashing and a twist to her blue lips. “As even I am no longer allowed over or on the Wall, her getting it to me was… a bother.”
She wagged her finger at him.
“A bother, Logres-brother!”
He knew what to say.
“Thank you very much, Georgie-sister.”
That seemed to mollify her. A little.
“Well? Read it! Chirp!”
He looked again at the paper.
Reading, he thought. The squiggles resolved themselves into letters and words.
“My Beloved Logres,” he spoke aloud. Why would he not? “I am pleased that those of both of our Homes were able to see past your inadvertent mistake and not unmake us all.”
Georgie made an odd sound halfway between her chirp and a snort.
“As it has always been my role to look, listen, and learn, I know, to some extent, how things have been hard for you. While we all must obey Orders, as you showed when you left your island to come to find me, there is always… unexpected flexibility!”
Logres looked up at his sister.
“What does that mean?”
No help there. Back to the letter.
“I am seeing things in the sky in which your beautiful younger sister flies – “
“ – as well as in the wilderness of mirrors that is my Home. I… I feel a change is coming, but I cannot know what.
“If you can, please write to me. I am sad and lonely without you. Your beloved, Europa.”
Staring at the paper, the pain in his chest was both worse and better. He did not understand.
“Are you going to reply to her, Logres-brother?”
“Hmmm? Oh, yes. It would seem I need…” the idea formed. “A pen.”
He and his sister looked at one another.
“Georgie-sister? What is a ‘pen’?”