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Fantasy LGBTQ+

       This was the third night in a row that I lay awake, staring at nothing in the complete darkness of my dorm. The room was filled with the deep, rhythmic breaths of my roommates. Although neither of them were necessarily obnoxious sleepers, the sounds of their sleep eventually became unbearable and I left, as quietly as I could, to go on a walk. I wrestled with my shirt as I walked down the long corridor outside my room, the gray stone of the floor chilling my bare feet as I tip-toed down the stairs that led to the first-floor hallway.

           The frigid night air ripped through my thin nightclothes, goosebumps rising along my arms and back. I walked down the steps that led to my dorm building and walked across the courtyard, wandering, no destination in mind. Soon, however, the icy wind grew even colder, stinging my skin and chilling my bones.

           Shivering, I brought my cupped hands to my mouth and sucked in a deep, frosty breath. As I exhaled, I muttered a few words; to the normal person they would not understand what I said, for the language I spoke to the night air was an ancient one, predating all known kingdoms and long-lived dynasties. The language I spoke was one laced with power, and when wielded with a strong mind, simple words could shape fate and conjure matter. The few, unintelligible words clung to my breath as it rolled across my hands, the air suddenly turning warm. The heat enveloped my hands and settled, slowly spreading down my arms and running across my back. Soon, I was as warm as I would be sitting in front of a roaring fire.

           The courtyard was lined with multiple tall dormitories, each filled with peacefully sleeping students. The center of the stone courtyard held a great marble fountain, its fountain head shaped like a massive serpent, mouth agape, reaching towards the sky. Normally crystal-clear water would bubble out of the serpent’s mouth, cascading down its body collecting in a huge basin formed by the snake’s tail. But this late in the year, the water would not flow and so instead the snake was stuck spitting out a spout of ice, the shimmering crystals falling around the coiled serpent sticking to its marble body like a second skin. 

           I stared at the beautiful fountain, entranced by the way the pale moonlight struck the ice, dancing along its edges. Eventually, I pulled myself away from the frozen serpent and continued my walk, meandering around the university for a while. The flat, gray stone of the campus illuminated by the light of the two moons large in the sky.

           Finally, I found myself atop the alchemy tower, the second tallest building in the university. The only tower taller was the astronomy tower, but it was closed for the winter due to construction going on in the observatory. I leaned against the rot iron railing that wrapped around the tower, looking out at the sprawling university campus below. There were a few students and staff out tonight, carrying flickering oil lamps or bright arcane torches. Their tiny lights roamed the stone streets and flickered behind drawn curtains and dust covered windows.

           The ghostly light cast from the twin moons soon faded behind dense, dark clouds. Not long after the light was gone, minute flakes of snow fell from the sky, tumbling to the ground. The aura of heat I had conjured earlier still enveloped me like a hug and as the frozen flakes drifted down around me, they quickly evaporated, leaving me warm and dry on this wet and frozen night.

           Several inches of fresh, fluffy snow had collected on top of all the buildings on campus by the time I heard the heavy latch of the wooden door behind me. I didn’t turn to see who was there because I already knew. Because every time I was out late, unable to sleep, I always came here, and so did she. The powdery snow crunched and cracked under her boots as she approached before, silently, resting her arms along the iron railing beside me.

           “Couldn’t sleep?” She asked after a while. I noticed a thin veil of warm air clung to her as well, melting the snow on the railing.

           “Yeah. You too?” I responded. Our usual back and forth.

           “Nope, I was sleeping just fine. But I knew you couldn’t.”

           “Sorry to keep you up.” I said, looking down.

           “You should be. This is the third day in a row Faelas, something is wrong. Please, tell me.” She reached over and grabbed my hand, meeting my gaze.

           “Sorry Veera, really. I just have this bad feeling. Like something terrible is going to happen.”

           “Oh. That again.”

           “Yeah”

           “I wasn’t anything last time. Maybe it’s nothing this time too.” Veera said hopefully.

           “Maybe” I responded. Doubt thick in my voice. “It was a dream this time. Alec was there. I don’t remember anything else that happened. Only that it was bad.”

           “Have you seen him recently?” Veera asked, looking at the snowy street thirteen stories down.

           “Yeah, just yesterday, he was completely fine. But it still feels like a rock in my stomach, I can’t shake the feeling.”

           “Well, we are both awake now and he should be coming here today, so we can check in again, ok?” It was less of a question and more of an offer.

           “I would love that sis, thank you.”

           So, we waited. Sitting in a puddle of melted snow atop the alchemy tower talking about nothing, joking about anything. Veera always does this, always trying to take my mind off things, she knows how dangerous letting me sit in my thoughts can be.

           Before we knew it, the sun had breached the horizon line, turning the white snow gold. Sluggishly, tired students dragged themselves out of their dorms or apartments and wandered in the general direction of their first class. Neither of us had any morning classes this semester, so we just sat atop the tower, watching them as they went past.

           I glanced over to see Veera was carefully folding a thick piece of red paper. As she creased a line, she muttered a few words. She tucked in a corner. Muttered a few more words. After a few more folds I saw what shape, it was taking, a perfect origami swan. As Veera cautiously made the final fold, the tiny paper bird fluttered its wings, its geometric head turning to look at the two of us.

           “I could never do that as well as you.” I huffed. “You make it look so easy.”

           “Well, I guess I am just better than you little bro.” Veera jeered. And just like that, the bird took flight and dove off the side of the tower. I followed it with my eyes as it plummeted towards the ground before pulling back at just the last moment. It then raced down the street before circling and slamming into the back of a student’s head.

           We both laughed as the student looked up at the sky. His short white and grey hair, previously perfect, was now a mess. His piercing eyes darted from roof to roof until he saw us. That made us laugh even harder, our feet dangling off the side of the tower. Alec shook his head and stomped into the alchemy tower. Minutes later the wooden latch on the door rustled and he appeared on the roof next to us.

           “What the hell. You know if you wanted to get my attention, you could just shout or something, or send a message I know you can do that.” He said, pointing a finger at me.

           “You are right babe.” I responded. “But that was much funnier.” I smiled.

           “Whatever. What’s up, obviously you want something.” I loved the way he got annoyed at small things like this, he was adorable when angry. Then I remembered the stone in my stomach and my face fell.

           “Alec, I had a dream the other night.” As I spoke, he quickly paled, the anger washing away. “You were in it, I know that, and it didn’t end well, I know that was well. But cannot remember anything else, and I have this terrible feeling in my stomach… I don’t know.”

           “Fae…” He said, keeling down in the snow. He put his arms around my shoulders. “Look. I am fine. I am always fine.”

           “I know. I actually hate that about you.” I quipped.

           “How long has this been going on.” He asked.

           “Three days.” Veera yawned. “Every night.”

           “Oh, that serious huh?” Alec said.

           “The other nights it was like an itch but now it is a weight, a heavy stone. I am worried for you babe.” I said, still holding his hands, his knees now soaked with water and snow.

           “Look.” Veera said, glancing towards Alec. “I don’t have classes today, if you want, I can tag along with you, just in case something dramatic happens.”

           “That would be nice.” Alec admitted. “He is starting to scare me.” He fake whispered to Veera.

           “I know, he likes scaring people. Come on.” She stood up. “Your first class is alchemy, right?”

           “Yeah, I was just headed there when you hit me with a bird.” Alec responded, angry all over again.

           They walked away, the heavy wooden door slamming shut, punctuating their leaving. I remained on the roof. Letting the winter wind blow through my brown hair. I wished my hair was more like Veera’s midnight black. I also took the time to hate her for calling me her little bro, I am only 4 minutes younger than her.

           Eventually I stood and climbed down the long spiral staircase that ran up the center of the tower. It was only when I passed by the second person giving me a strange look, did I remember that I was still in my night clothes. Mortified, I rushed back to my dorm where I found both of my roommates gone. I hurriedly pulled on some normal winter clothes and let go of my heat aura, the barrier of warm air dispersing as my concentration waned.

           Now clad in normal clothes I ran to my first class of the day, arcane conjuring II. The arcane conjuring classes were all held in the Conjuror’s Hall, all the way on the opposite side of campus. It took me nearly five minutes to make the trek, and as I burst through the doors to the lecture hall, I noticed that no one was there. Confused, I glanced around and found a note on the door saying that the class was cancelled.

           Out of breath and annoyed I stepped out of the hall into the biting winter air. That’s when I felt it, the rock turn to lead. I nearly collapsed to the ground, feeling as if a ton of actual lead had been dropped on me. My head spun and my feet betrayed me by trying to take a step but only slipping on ice. I crashed to the ground, my shoulder hitting the edge of a stone step beside me. Pain like a knife running through my brain, right down the middle, I could feel the pain stabbing through me underneath my skull.

           My vision began to waver and fade, thousands of tiny black dots appeared in my vision. Then I saw a man, clear as day. He had unkempt shoulder length brown hair. He had sharp features and a broken nose, but his eyes were what really stood out to me. It was like looking into a pool with layers of fractured ice behind them, they were wild and seemed to look everywhere but where they were looking.

           As the vision of the man faded, I slowly regained my consciousness. There were sounds of footsteps and crunching snow all around me. I heard distant shouting and saw someone kneeling over me. But despite it all I still felt like I was being crushed under a mountain of dread.

           The people rushed in as I sat up, hands pressed into my back. Too many voices rushed into my head. A man was holding a bundle of something green and was reach out towards me with it.

           “Stop.” I croaked. “Get security. Please.” No one moved. “Please someone tell security to get to the alchemy tower immediately.”

           “Why?” A young student asked as she continued to steady me.

           “Something terrible is about to happen to someone in room 23 in the alchemy tower.” I said, more consciousness returning to my voice. However, most people continued to ignore me, probably assuming I was a concussed fool.

           “Wait.” The young woman spoke up. “Are you a Fate Seer?” Bewilderment crossing her face.

           “Yeah, something like that.” I said, now fully recovered I stood up and tried to brush all the concerned people off me. I then withdrew a single glass lens from my pocket, not dissimilar to a magnifying glass lens. I spoke a few words, their power thick in my throat. The air warped and the lens cracked. Maintaining a clear image of Alec in my mind I spoke into the cracked glass.

           “Alec, listen to me. Something happened. I had a vision. I don’t know how long you have but he had long brown hair and icy blue eyes.” Hoping that the message reached him I shoved the glass into my pocket and sprinted down the road.

           It took me about five minutes to reach the alchemy tower. I skidded around a corner and barreled down the street that led up to the tall tower. As I ran, I noticed someone walking into the building. It was only a glimpse, but it was long enough for me to see his long brown hair and dirty trench coat.

           “Hey!” I shouted as loud as I could. “Stop, don’t go in there!” Several people turned to look as I pushed to run even faster towards the tower.

           I raced up the stone steps and slammed into the wide double doors. Inside, I couldn’t see the man anywhere, so I lunged for the staircase, taking 3 steps at a time. Please don’t be too late. Not like last time. I thought to myself, images of my mother flashing through my mind.

           It felt like an eternity before I finally reached the eighth floor, completely out of breath. Then I saw, down the hallway, Alec and Veera standing there in the middle of the hall. Upon seeing their bright faces, I felt that crushing weight lift, just slightly. They both rushed to me, steadying me as I clutched my knees, panting.

           “I don’t… know… where…he…is.” I said in between breaths.

           “We saw him.” Veera said, “He was headed down, he walked right past us.”

           “What?” I asked, my brow furrowing in confusion.

           Then the explosions came. One. Two. Three. Three massive explosions. One from below us, one above, and one just down the hall, where Veera and Alec had been standing. The whole tower shuddered and the ground beneath us shifted. Then everything stilled. The whole world seemed to hold its breath and it all became so silent it was deafening. . . then the tower started to crumble.

           First came the walls, the huge slabs of solid stone sliding off one another, toppling down all around us. Then came the stairs, the dark steel snapping and splintering under the pressure of the collapsing tower. The three of us lurched to the side, slamming against the stone walls.

           My shoulder that had hit the step earlier hit the wall again and this time I felt something snap, then a flood of white-hot pain cascaded through my body turning everything else numb, my vision going white. Veera reached across Alec and clutched my shoulder. Her green eyes fluttered shut and she began to mumble, speaking a complex incantation beneath her breath. It felt as though the pain was being drawn out of me like molasses through a straw. It ran down my arm up to my fingertips and then out, entering Veera.

           The tower was still crumbling all around us but now I had a moment to breathe, just before the wooden floor gave way beneath our feet. Suddenly we were in the air, tumbling 3 stories down, surrounded by crumbling stone and steel.

           I didn’t notice his incantation as we were falling but just before we hit the hardwood floor Alec raised his hand and the wood transformed, turning inside out, and rolling into itself, before turning into a huge sheet of green cloth. We all plummeted into the sheet of fabric, it enveloped us and cushioned our fall as we hit the floor below it.

           Veera and Alec swiftly pulled the cloth away from us, my shoulder was still hot with pain, my arm growing stiff. However, the tower was still crumbling around us, it was all happening too fast, I couldn’t take it all in fast enough to react before something else happened. Somewhere above us I heard screams and more tumbling rock. This tower was full of labs and classrooms, many of which were in session. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the number of deaths and injuries that would come out of this tragedy.

My mind snapped back to the present just as I hit the bottom floor of the tower, as I landed my head crashed against a slab of solid stone and everything went black.

           I woke up some time later in the infirmary. My, technically, older sister Veera on my left and my boyfriend Alec on my right, tears staining their faces.

January 08, 2022 04:52

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1 comment

Fable Tollefsen
16:22 Jan 20, 2022

The imagery paints a picture for the reader, using descriptive wording as the ink and the dialect as the canvas.

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