Untold Stories from the World of Myrrah: Niri’s Arrival in Solaire Part 1
She wanted to hate it. But the golden towers of glass reflected the sky and clouds where they rose to lofty heights above a city of translucent stone. The Temple of Solaire was a beautiful place beyond anything Niri imagined. And now it was her home. It would be perfect if only her family could be there with her.
“You dawdle,” Earth Priestess Broona said, pushing Nirine along from where she’d frozen in awe on the wharf having finally been freed from a dark room in the ship behind her.
Nirine stumbled forward, barely remembering to watch her path as her eyes slipped back to the sight before her. Gone were the nightmarish days spent crying and screaming in the room no better than a closet with a bed. She still could not bend her fingers due to the splinters and scratches received pounding on the locked door.
Gone too were the fears that she’d never been so far from home with or without her family. She’d traveled from her beloved island home of Tiero around the archipelago and across the sea, the very SEA!, to the vast island of Erowok. Even if she hadn’t seen any of it. Not a whiff of daylight had been granted her since Broona had claimed her at the solstice ceremony, and led Nirine away from her sobbing mother.
No, the sight of Solaire was enough to make her forget even that.
Eyes watering from unaccustomed daylight as much as lack of blinking so as not to miss anything around her, Nirine stumbled down the wharf with eyes on anything but her feet until the closest, and much more ordinary, waterside buildings hid the glittering towers behind them.
The streets were crowded with people and donkey driven carts, the mass of feet churning the dirt roadway to mud. Niri had destroyed her slippers on the ship and Broona hadn’t given her anything else to wear. The press of unknown people stomping by, as well as fears of bruised toes, shied Niri against Broona’s legs. Despite disliking the aloof Priestess, Niri would have taken the woman’s hand if hers could have grasped properly.
“You’ll trip me girl! Stand up straight,” Broona sent Niri sprawling into the mud with a shove. “Get up, come. I want to be done with you and return to my room.”
As she stood the sight of her solstice dress, the one her mother had made for her and carefully helped her put on days ago, sent overdue tears sliding down Niri’s cheeks. Her hands were coated as well, so she could not even try to wipe the skirt clean. She would only increase the filth.
“Oh good goddess, girl. Why are you crying now. Five minutes ago you couldn’t stop staring at your new home.”
Broona stood in the center of the road with hands on hips, ignoring the obstacle she made herself as carts and pedestrians veered around her.
“I… my mother.” Niri couldn’t keep her voice from waivering, though she managed to choke back the rising sobs. “She made this,” Niri whispered at last, holding out the muddied skirt.
Broona’s face softened a degree. She sighed. The ground beneath Niri vibrated, the feeling rising up through her legs as if her bones meant to dislodge. Niri’s ears filled with a whirring sound, until they popped and all sound faded. She stood staring at Broona who was surrounded in a brown haze. It disappeared with a blink.
Broona started to laugh. “That the first time you’ve seen power called?” Broona asked, pushing Niri ahead, though more gently this time.
“The first time I had it used on me,” Niri said breathlessly. She looked down at her dress now free of any muddy stain. Only a thread from a damaged hem, something Niri had done herself in her fit on the boat, marred the dress. “Thank you.”
Broona humphed, keeping a hand on Niri’s back as she guided her up the street. “Your training will really begin in Solaire. But there is no harm talking as we walk. Earth is the second greatest ability an Elemental can have. Your gift, water, is third.” Broona looked down at Niri with pride glinting in her eye.
“What is first?” Niri asked.
“You are curious… that can be good and bad. Fire,” Boona continued without explaining her first comment, “fire is the greatest ability. Which leaves what for the least?”
“Air. Why is that the least?”
“Because it is, child. It is one thing to be curious and another to question. Mind your teachers and do not irritate them.”
There was enough of a bite in Broona’s voice that Niri did not ask more. Instead Niri’s mind focused on something Broona had said and Niri had only just realized. She was a water Elemental. And she was here in Solaire to learn to control water. Niri made the walk through the port section of the town in a daze, guided by Broona’s hand.
The road wound out of the harbor’s lowland and up a hill until the tight houses of brick, stone, or thatch fell away to a narrow greenway. Beyond it sat the elegant stone buildings of the Temple of Solaire. Above them rose the lofty towers glinting in the afternoon sun.
Across the stretch of lawn and flowers, the Temple appeared bigger than the city of Tiero where Niri had grown up. And it held far more than buildings and businesses… and far less. There were garden after garden, some with fountains, others of stone. Some held windchimes, tall plants with fronds, and long streamers of fluttering cloth. And there were some whose every surface reflected light so brightly that it made Niri’s eyes water and head ache.
Here there were no shops or merchants. No one hocked food or clothes. Niri had no idea what the multitude of buildings held. Unless they were homes for the Priestesses and Priest of the Church of Four Orders. Everywhere people wearing robes of varying color walked between buildings and through the gardens.
“They are all Elementals,” Niri said in awe. She hadn’t known there were so many with the goddess’ gifts in Myrrah. “I am an Elemental,” Niri whispered breathless and tingling at the thought.
“You are the making of one,” Broona said, voice deep with amusement. “You have a long road ahead of you to be a Water Priestess, child.”
read Part 2 here