tangyabominy: (Default)
[personal profile] tangyabominy
Just a little ficbit that I dreamt up yesterday. I was pondering wedding dresses, and the fact that, while I think love is a wonderful thing to celebrate, there are a lot of weddings that happen for fairly trivial reasons or aren't felt particularly powerfully by the people who have them, and it's a shame that they're basically one of the only formal ceremonies we have in our lives; and was wondering what, in a society of my own devising, could be some good and universally memorable reasons to get all dressed up.



The costumier cinched the folds of black satin around his flank, the sharp and sudden tugs on the material irritating scales that had already been abraded by the tape measure. He sucked in a breath, and tried to stand patiently still; but the manhandling and the gruff attitude of the tailor had been his only companions for hours, and he was more than beginning to get bored. With the constant snag of the measure against sensitive underscales, and the periodic shock of one too many "misplaced" pins, he couldn't even drift away in his head, to the images of the shimmering constellations on which he longed to focus - and to which he would soon be pledged.

At great length, the tailor declared him done, retreating with a mutter and the reams of fabric and permitting the Crystalier Magister attendance in his place. His body relaxed, as much from the refreshing new presence as from permission to stand at ease. The Magister was a kindly woman, advanced in years and petite in frame, whose sparkling amber eyes always reminded him of the crystals that were her calling. The room felt like it had space to breathe in it, now that it was just him and her, her barely seventeen feet of length hardly crowding the space.

"...Is he always so rough?" he asked the Magister in a low voice, his thumb indicating the direction in which the tailor had left the chamber.

The Magister ran the pads of her fingers over the crystals in her tray, hooking out a citrine chunk with a long, painted claw and pressing it to his shoulder. "His son isn't going to make Mage this year." He felt a disappointment as she removed the stone, having scrutinised it for colour and resonance: its presence had been soothing against his scales. "He was a promising student, so it's something of a shame. Apparently his grades just weren't good enough." She fished for another specimen in the tray. He'd never seen the rainbow of pure, bright stones up close before, some clasped on chains or bound in wire, others glittering merely by their own faceted virtue. It was the stuff of children's dreams, the sort of feeling evoked when you rummaged through your grandmother's old magical supplies, felt your hands close around tools and knick-knacks that throbbed with dormant power and beauty. "It's a difficult path to walk. I'm sure you must be only too aware of that," she said, with a knowing smile.

"Oh. I see. Or I think I do, anyway. I guess he's probably a bit upset." What he didn't understand was why anyone would take that frustration out on a student. All people bore their personal pains: but one did not multiply those pains by sending them out to the world.

She seemed to sense his confusion. "Well, I can't imagine dealing with all the new graduates at a time like this is a whole lot of fun for him. You're probably one of the last people he wants to see right now, reminding him of how his family failed where you did not." Her hands reached up to shackle a chain around his throat: long and golden, bearing a topaz centrepiece that settled warmly in the centre of his chest. Its glittering seemed to time itself to his dual heartbeat, and he felt the earlier stresses of the day melt away into the ground. "There. That's perfect."

But now he was more confused than ever. "But if you felt so badly towards someone, wouldn't you pray to have the feeling released? How could someone go around all the time carrying such burdens towards other people?"

"Ahhh, you have been on the Path too long," she chuckled, cutting off his protestations. "You are all the same. You forget what it was like for you, before you started living as an apprentice to the stars. --Ahh, the way those horns curl, you look as grand as Aries Himself."

"I don't forget, exactly," he said softly, his brow wrinkling a little. "I just don't understand how, any more."


----


Though the tailor may have been burdened by his frustrations of the moment, he had not skimped on his work. The robes fit him to a tee, the voluminous folds of fabric barely feeling like a weight as he stepped out into the Celestial Hall.

The dome of the Hall had been opened for the ceremony, exposing the mortal dragons below to the unchanging stars of Aries, in all His majesty. As was reverent - but most importantly, as felt fitting in his heart - he raised his head to the sky above, taking in the grandness of the heavenly bodies of God. One of the two Great Dragons of the World Before, the shaggy, fur-clad Aries of the polar realms, winked down at him, from His lofty position in the skies.

If he had lived in the tropics, it would have been Capricorn, the water-wyrm of the warmer climes, that he looked to now. But he was of Northern stock, and of the lands governed by the Furred and Horned One: and as a student wise for his years, he had no regrets of this. He knew that the Great Dragon wound Himself through everything he did, felt His presence now not only through his studies, as even the youngest did, but in the most mundane of acts. He was fit to be Mage, of the junior tier, and as such had begin to let go of the artificial separation between himself and the Dragon of the stars.

He had still flinched, at the Magister's comparison of him to the heavenly figure. Such things still seemed a little blasphemous, to his mind: for how could he, still so lowly, be said at this stage to resemble such an ancient wonder? That might be his lot in several hundred years, if he studied well. But for now, he was barely out of childhood, a mere stripling whose light could be extinguished at any time. He would have to achieve much more before he could hope to aspire to the eternity promised by the stars.

But perhaps that wasn't the way to think. Pessimism clouded the heart, and thus the judgment: his senses were even beginning to blur, he was sure, as he squinted up at the stars. No longer did the holy constellation seem to form the pattern it once had. He lowered his head, blinking to clear his eyes. This was not the state to be in at such an important ceremony! He should have focused more....

As his head fell, from all around him went up a whooshing roar: a rumbling gasp of shock, rippling through the crowd like a breeze through a stand of pines, shaking every one in turn. He felt his wings cringe at his back: had his act been so far out of line? But as he opened his eyes, he saw that the heads of all the other dragons were focused on the sky. The hollow cry came next, reaching his heart before it reached his ears, dulling his mind to the sound:

"The stars are going out!"


Author's note: if I were to continue this, it might get pretty interesting. I'm not sure whether I want to or not: the revelations that I would intend to follow from this setup would really need to span a novel, but I'm really not sure that I have the plot-pacing sk1llz necessary for this endeavour. Knowing the ending invariably makes me want to rush to it.
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