rosiphelee: (Nimbus)
[personal profile] rosiphelee
Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four

And the second part. In which Nimbus proves an excellent fishmonger, the bombardment starts again, and we hear of the fates of the Saisorhi of Isola...

Title: Dandelion and Thistledown
Words: 4973
Warnings: Again, alcohol abuse, anguish



The next morning he woke her before dawn, exuberant with excitement. Aylili blinked over his shoulder at the violet dawn and buried her head in her arms, willing him to go away. He pulled her hair gently and said, “Arise, you stayabed!”

Considering the hour Aylili did not hesitate to slap his hand away and curl up tighter.

“I have thought of a way to discover your name, featherling!”

I already know what my name is, Aylili thought and wished she had a blanket to pull over her head.

“Isn’t it wonderful!”

He obviously wasn’t going to go away. Aylili cracked her eyes open and glared at him.

He grinned at her. “At last!”

She followed him sulkily along the roofs as the sun began to glow pink along the horizon. At last he came to a place where rainwater had pooled in a dip in the roofs. He pointed proudly.

Aylili glared at him and shrugged.

“You can write, can’t you?” he said impatiently.

She shook her head, feeling her shoulders stiffen with embarrassed fury.

“Ah.” His wings drooped. Then he brightened, his grin wide. “Grieve not, little one. I am the most excellent of teachers! Once you have learnt your letters, it will be an easy matter for you to write out your name.”

She crossed her arms, scowling. He had woken her at such an hour for this?

“Featherling,” he said coaxingly. “Ayliliara.”

She jumped, and tried to pretend it had been a shiver.

Nimbus stared at her, his gaze suddenly intent, and said again, “Ayliliara. It is often used as a name, in the wider worlds, but it is not an Isolan name. It was my goddaughter’s name, who would have been a few years older than you had she lived, and I have known a score of them back in Ashta. Is your name Ayliliara?”

She half-shrugged, but added a nod on the end of it.

“Not quite? Aylili, then?”

She couldn’t stop herself from gaping at him.

“Aylili,” he murmured. “I was right to call you featherling, then.”

Aylili stared at him suspiciously and raised her eyebrows in query.

“In the language of my people, the Saisorhi of the world we call Ashta, ayli means feather. Ayliliara simply means featherling. Extraordinary. Quite extraordinary to find a child here with such a name.”

Aylili blinked at him, trying to process names and places and that extraordinary, casual reference to another world. Nimbus ignored her, squinting up at the pale sky. “Great Light,” he said. “Do you realise the sun is barely up? Whatever did you wake me at this unnatural hour for, dear child?”


*



That afternoon, as he cooked, he had his next inspiration.

“Do you never tire of fish, dear girl?” he demanded as Aylili poked at the fire with a reed, hoping to speed her dinner along.

She shrugged, fascinated by the feathery glow of the ash.

“Think how many fish these birds could catch,” Nimbus continued.

Belatedly, Aylili realised she should be worried.

“Barter!” Nimbus announced.

She shook her head.

“Why not?”

She gaped at him, unable to conceive of gestures which could possibly express all the reasons why not.

“I’m waiting,” Nimbus said.

She touched her lips in mute fury. She hadn’t thought him capable of unfairness.

“Excellent,” Nimbus said cheerily. “We’ll start immediately.”

Aylili put her pipe behind her back and shook her head until her hair flew around her face.

“But Aylili,” he said coaxingly. “Aren’t you hungry?”

Aylili pointed at the still roasting fish.

“Potatoes,” Nimbus crooned. “Gleaming roast potatoes. Carrots. Beetroot. The
tenderest asparagus. Think of cake, Aylili, all crisp with sugar. Melon. Truffles.”

Aylili almost laughed but bit it back in time, covering her smile with her hand.

Nimbus caught the gesture and shrugged. “Perhaps not truffles. But fruit, Aylili. Fruit.”

She wavered. She managed to eat enough seaweed to keep her health but she could remember melon, sweet and soft on her tongue. She could remember women laughing, slender fingers offering her the fruit, resting her sticky cheek against a velvet-clad shoulder.

When she fought her way out of memory Nimbus was pulling the fish from the spits. She ate dutifully, watching the gulls wheel overhead. The sight provided her with an idea. She pointed at them and mimed weariness.

“We will not exhaust their numbers,” Nimbus said. “If a mere ten or twenty a day aid us we will prevail. The shamans of my people never hesitate to call upon their small cousins.” Then, gazing up at the flock, he murmured, “If only the warriors of Isola were as hardy as the birds,” and all his good cheer fell away.

Which was why Aylili agreed to his crazy plan.


*



The next major problem occurred the following morning when they went to sell the morning’s catch.

Nimbus stood in the alleyway and looked up at Aylili in frustration. She stayed on the low rooftop, refusing to look at him in more than darting glances.

“It is not far to jump.”

She shook her head.

“I can catch you.”

No, again.

“I could even fly you down.”

No, and she stepped away from the edge.

“You can’t spend the rest of your life on the roofs, Aylili.”

She nodded.

“Is that the problem?”

Aylili crossed her arms and looked at the sky.

“Aylili.”

The smoothest charm would not move her.

Nimbus put his hands on his hips and sighed. “I am going to sell our fish on Pearl Street. You may follow, or remain here, as you wish.” And he stalked off, the panniers they had scavenged swinging from his shoulders.

Aylili scuttled back up the roofs and began to creep towards Pearl Street. Nimbus was whistling so it was easy to keep pace with him without looking down. She wondered whether he was doing it on purpose.

He stopped in Pearl Street and she crouched on the roof above, wondering what he would do now.

Within moments she heard him bellow, “Fine fresh fish! Fruit of the sea! Fine haddock fresh from the sea! Get your fresh fish here!”

Aylili winced.

A few moments later he lowered his voice and she heard him purr, “Five potatoes, ma’am. A fine bargain. And a pleasure to do business with such a beautiful lady.”

Aylili pressed herself against the tiles and cringed.


*



That night, over dinner, Nimbus described every exchange to her in detail. Aylili ignored him as she scooped baked potato out of its skin and licked it off her fingers. He had been right; she had forgotten what food other than fish tasted like. At last she could eat no more and she sprawled across the roof, poking her bloated stomach gingerly.

Wispy clouds were blowing over the full moon and the stars faded in and out of sight. The fire was warm beside her, and Nimbus had traded two fish for wool blankets, which padded the hard roof beneath her. Aylili yawned and shuffled a little on her blanket. Nimbus’s voice was beginning to blur in her ears, a steady stream of syllables which no longer quite made sense.

She half-awoke when Nimbus tucked the other blanket over her. By the time she thought to protest he had curled up beneath his wings and there seemed no point in waking him. So she slept and dreamt once again of feathers.

The next day there was a queue waiting when Nimbus arrived on Pearl Street. The day after that he began taking advance orders. Aylili, revelling in the novelty of warmth and a full belly, gladly called the birds each morning, though she refused steadfastly to demand a greater catch. What they had to sell sufficed and she would not abuse the friendship of the birds any further.

On the fifth night the bombardment began again. The thunder of the guns woke Aylili and she lay awake for a few moments before she recognised the noise and settled back to sleep. A low moaning made her pause and she sat up, puzzled.

Across the dying fire Nimbus sat shaking. His arms were locked around his legs and his wings were quivering, every feather shivering. He was moaning, a low, eerie sound. As Aylili stared he began to rock back and forth and the moaning increased in volume.

Aylili reached across the fire and touched his arm.

He cried out and hurled himself into the air, screaming and beating his wings wildly, only just staying airborne. Aylili sprang to her feet and gestured wildly, hoping to calm him.

At last he returned to the roof. He perched silently on the very edge, his head bowed. Aylili approached cautiously.

“Sleep, child,” he said wearily. “I will offer you no harm.”

Aylili shook her head stubbornly and crouched beside him. He turned his head towards her and she saw his eyes were shadowed. He sighed and said, “I will not harm myself, featherling. The Light forbids. Now sleep, aye.”


*



In the morning he insisted on returning to Pearl Street, though he flinched with every distant boom. As he talked and flirted with his customers, Aylili sat on the roof above and wondered. She had dismissed his claims of heroism but he had obviously seen battle. Was he a deserter then? A coward? For once she was glad she could not ask any questions.

That night he did not try to sleep. Every time she woke he was gazing towards the red glow at the walls, grim and silent.

The next day his speech was beginning to slur but he maintained a grim good cheer with his customers. He did not speak to Aylili and she let him be. She understood silence.

On the third night she was woken by the sound of him taking off. She stumbled up and chased after him, following the shadow of his wings against the sky. He dipped down soon, just before he reached the palace. She scrambled towards him. When she arrived she could see his silhouette clearly against the sky. He had a bottle to his lips and she could see his throat move as he swallowed. Then he bent down to grab another bottle. He pulled the cork out with his teeth and drained it. It took him two tries to open the third and he missed his mouth the first time so it dribbled down his chin. Halfway down the bottle, he swayed.

Aylili moved.

She was in time to catch him as he began to slide down the roof. For a moment she slid with him, his weight dragging her down. She grabbed for the chimney with one arm and locked the other around his waist and they stopped. He was a dead weight and within minutes her arm began to go numb. She twisted so she could hook her legs around him instead and grabbed for her pipe.

She blew a shrill, sharp blast, hoping to rouse him enough to help himself.

He did not stir but the birds came, swirling out of the night.

They were shearwaters, narrow-winged and wild, and they landed on the roof around her smelling of salt and squid and the shadowed sea. Ten by ten they pressed against Nimbus until their bulk clamped him in place. Aylili blinked back panic and warily tried to ease the cramps from her arms. Nimbus did not fall so she sat amongst the warm birds and awaited the morning.

At dawn, he roused enough to crawl to safety, with much help from her, and the birds went ghosting away over the grey sea.

Late in the afternoon, he woke with a moan and retched in the gutter before passing out again. By nightfall, he was able to crack his eyes open and mutter, “Let me die now. Have mercy on this benighted soul. I am forsaken.”

Aylili dribbled water into his mouth and ignored his protests. She didn’t get much sleep that night for with every explosion Nimbus moaned again.

By morning he was bleary-eyed but walking and, despite her gestured protests, insisted on returning to Pearl Street. Sitting on the roof and listening to his customers cluck over him, Aylili rather thought she understood why.

That evening he took off again. This time she was ready and was racing after him as soon as he left the roof. She reached his stash only moments after him.

He was already lifting a bottle to his lips and she dived forwards to knock it out of his hands. The clear liquid glistened in the moonlight as it spilled down the tiles.

Nimbus snarled at her and reached round her for another bottle. She darted in first and hurled it away to smash against the next roof.

He glared at her and she glared back. She would not stand aside.

Thunder ripped the sky apart and she saw the flash of fire from the corner of her eye.

Nimbus shuddered and sank to his knees, his head bowed. After a moment she realised he was weeping, bitter, wrenching sobs. Uneasily she knelt beside him and offered him her hand. He grabbed it between his palms, squashing her fingers.

“They’re dead,” he whispered. “Everybody’s dead.”

Aylili squeezed his hand in useless sympathy, and he curled forwards, his wings brushing her wrists.

“Don’t make me go back,” he said. “I can’t go back.”

Then his words dissolved into sobs and he could speak no more.

Aylili knelt beside him and waited until his tears ran dry.


*



The year chilled towards midwinter and a thin scattering of wet snow fell onto the roofs of Isola. Aylili, well fed for the first time in years, did not mind the cold overmuch this year, though Nimbus complained bitterly. She found them an old attic to shelter in, its roof broken and open to the sky, and purloined a brazier to tuck under the curve of the roof.. With warmth at her back and her blankets around her she sat for hours to watch the fat flakes drift down. She did her best to ignore the smell of wet wings as Nimbus fussed about snow in his feathers.

The snow lasted over a week, tempting Aylili out to investigate the transmuted city. The cold, rough tiles were suddenly treacherous underfoot and there were times, on the edge of sleep, when she wondered if this was really one of the cities she knew: the almost forgotten Isola of her infancy, Isola the besieged or some new and unknown city where she had no place.

The snow melted and it began to rain. Aylili welcomed the rain; the Dark would not waste widowmaker’s fire on targets too damp to burn easily. Nimbus was still haunted by night-terrors but she was woken less often by his screams.

When the rain passed and they returned to running the roofs she found she had grown clumsy. She was jumping badly and stumbling across known obstacles. Worse than everything, Nimbus had obviously decided that she needed to learn to protect herself. She endured his lessons patiently enough. Somebody had to keep him out of trouble and no one else would bother.

She was less amused when he traded three of her fish for a longbow but no arrows. When she made her opinion clear he merely grinned and said, “Of course not, featherling. You’d only lose them.”

She shook her head at him and he said, more seriously, “You must learn something, child. I will not remain here forever and a broken fish knife will not save you from a true predator. If you must remain up here alone you must be able to guard yourself. What would you do, if the walls broke now?”

She had never thought of such a thing. These were her roofs; no one threatened her here. But Nimbus had come and others might follow, so she took the bow.

At first she could not draw it, but Nimbus made her practice over and over. In addition, he devised exercises to strengthen her narrow arms and shoulders, lifting tiles and pulling herself up the edges of chimneys. Every night she collapsed into sleep with her upper body aching and her legs scraped from where she had tripped during the day. By early spring she could draw the bow with ease but Nimbus would still not buy arrows.

He was happy to buy alcohol, though.

There were no more nights like the night she had summoned the birds, but he still drank when the bombardment intensified.

He was sleeping off such a night when Aylili realised that she no longer fit into her refuge between the four chimneys. Dismayed, she raced back to shake Nimbus awake.

It took him a while to wake up enough to make sense of her gestures. He stared up at her blearily and said, “Of course you’re growing, featherling. It’s only natural at your age.”

She didn’t want to grow. She was safe as she was.

He sighed and propped himself up on his elbows, his black curls tumbling off his forehead. “Aylili. You can’t help growing. I would be more concerned if you weren’t. You’re, what – nine? Ten?”

She was not a child. Outraged, she flashed her fingers at him – all ten and then four.

“What?” Nimbus growled sitting up.

She flashed her fingers again.

“Fourteen! You’re fourteen? Impossible! How old were you when the siege began?”

Seven.

He surged to his feet and grabbed her shoulders. “Fourteen! Damn this! Damn this whole rotting city! Damn the hunger of Isola! Damn the poverty of Isola! Damn the people of Isola! Damn you for leaving us here! Damn you for making us face this alone, you cold-hearted, self-righteous bastards!”

Aylili, shaking, unpeeled his fingers from her shoulders and wrapped her hands around his, noticing coldly that her fingers were almost as long as his.

Nimbus blinked at her and muttered, “Fourteen.”

She nodded warily.

He sighed and his shoulders dropped until his wings brushed the tiles. “I hate this bloody war,” he said softly. “Oh how I hate this bloody war.”

Aylili nodded gently.

He looked up, a glint of wildness in his dark eyes and leant forward. “Do you know why they’re trying to break us? Do you want to know the reason for this entire stinking war?”

She nodded, half-afraid, and then squeaked as he swept her up and into the sky. The wind rushed around them and Nimbus lifted his wings and let the wind throw them up, soaring above Isola. As the roofs rushed below them and the wind buffeted them, he whooped for joy and glided on the spring breeze, swift as sorrow. Aylili drank the fierce wind and gazed down on the city and for a moment she dared to dream that they were her wings that bore them; that she was free.

Then Nimbus roared a war-cry in her ear and dived towards the palace, down, down, down towards the jagged towers. Aylili tightened her grip around his neck and shrieked, half in terror, half in glee, as the roofs rushed up towards them.

They flashed past the burnt and broken turrets and down towards the charred roofs of the palace. Still the roofs glittered gold beneath the ashes, but the gleam was no longer the pride of the city of poets. Nimbus banked and swooped towards the centre of the palace. Aylili braced herself for his landing but he continued to dive, past the roofs and down into a great court at the centre of the palace. He landed gently and set her down before shaking his wings and stretching.

“Glorious,” he announced, his voice ringing around the courtyard. “A perfect descent.”

Aylili stared around, wide-eyed. The ground beneath their feet was paved in bright stone, patterns swirling out from where they stood. To her left a great arched window glittered red and green and blue, the stained glass bright in the morning light. Before them cedar doors, inlaid with gold, stood open to the breeze and she could just see shadowy hangings blowing in the halls within. She tugged nervously at Nimbus’ hand. They should not be here.

“Don’t fuss, child,” Nimbus said absently, gazing around the courtyard and smiling.

Aylili darted a look behind them, expecting guards to come pounding out of dark doorways.

“Quickly now,” Nimbus said. “I want to show you Gateway Hall.” He strode towards the cedar doors and Aylili stepped after him nervously. She stumbled as she put her foot down, expecting chill, sloping tiles and finding warm, flat cobbles. As she swayed the light reflecting from the window dazzled her, red and gold.

The breath caught in her throat and she thought in wild panic, Fire! Her heart fluttered faster and faster in her breast. There was no escape; she was on the ground with walls rising on all sides, trapping her, barring her in.

She made a noise in her throat and flung herself at the nearest wall, scrabbling for a foothold. She had to get back to the sky.

“Aylili?” Nimbus said, turning back towards her quizzically. “Aylili!”

She slid down the wall again and moaned before grabbing at the rough stone, not caring that her fingers were beginning to bleed.

“Aylili!” Someone was lifting her away from the wall and she screamed and kicked. The flames were rising. She had to break free. She had to reach the sky. She couldn’t watch again. The velvet and the silk, satin and samite blurring into golden flame. The shining feathers, the pale hair, the faltering music of the gavotte, the throaty roar of the fire.

Her feet left the ground and the air was full of black feathers, swirling around her.

“Aylili,” Nimbus said softly in her ear. “You are safe with me. Hush, Ayliliara. We are safe. Shush. I will protect you, featherling. See, there is nothing to fear.”

He unfurled his wings, though he still held her tightly. “See, we are in the palace. We are safe. No one is attacking us. See. We are safe here.”

Nowhere was safe. Only the sky was safe.

“Look,” Nimbus said gently. “What can you see? The chapel and the doors, see. Centuries old, those doors. Aramis II had them carved to celebrate the fall of Avaralle…”

The soft words calmed her though she paid their meaning no heed. Gradually, her breathing slowed and her heart ceased to jitter.

“Good girl,” Nimbus said. “Can you see that it’s safe now? Do you believe it’s safe, Aylili? Yes or no?”

She looked at the empty court, the coloured glass, the great doors and nodded feebly.

“Good. I’m going to put your feet back on the ground. If you’re frightened squeeze my arm and we’ll seek the sky once more. Do you understand?”

Again, a careful nod and he lowered her to the cobbles. She tensed but no flames came flickering along the walls. Nimbus waited patiently as she looked around, ready to flee. His wings shifted slightly as she took a cautious step forward but he did not step after her.

The cobbles seemed cooler now. There was no wind down here and her hair felt strangely heavy, sitting so limply on her neck. She turned in a slow circle, until she was facing Nimbus. She had left the roofs and now she didn’t know what to do.

She met his steady gaze for a moment and then looked away, still afraid that the flames might come whispering out of nowhere again. As she looked she saw a lurching figure emerge out of a shadowed doorway and gasped.

Nimbus spun, spreading his wings to shield her.

“Who passes?” he barked.

"Palace guard. State your business!"

Aylili ceased trying to see over the top of Nimbus' wings and tensed. They should not be here.

Nimbus drew himself up furiously. “I am Nimbus cor Evasta, in the service of the Light Eternal and the city of Isola. Do you dare challenge me?”

After a moment his wings folded back and he drew Aylili towards the doorway. The guard trailed them, unspeaking and watchful. One of his legs was gone from the knee and the wooden peg which replaced it clicked steadily against the ground as they entered the palace. Aylili hunched her shoulders and hesitated as they stepped into the shadowy corridor. She didn’t like the weight of the ceiling so close overhead. There was not enough air.

Nimbus squeezed her wrist gently and pulled her along the wide corridor. His wings were held high behind his back, well away from the candles mounted on the walls. Only every fifth sconce was filled and the light was dim and flickering.

“This is the Erian Wing,” Nimbus said, his voice seeming strangely muted indoors. “Oldest part of the palace. Very historic.”

Aylili stared at him and then flicked a glance at the guard behind them.

“Eri the Fourth was the first Alchemist King to use transmutation to impose basic language skills on pigeons,” Nimbus continued blithely. “Transformed communication across the continent. Made Isola’s first fortune. Shame they were so sickly. Influenza epidemic in the sixth century. Killed the whole species. Bad way for an empire to collapse.”

Behind her the guard let out a muffled snicker. She did not blame him. She had not anticipated a history lesson. It wasn’t as if she didn’t know about Mad Eri’s pigeons, like every other child in Isola.

Nimbus continued down the corridor but Aylili had ceased to listen. It was so strange to be inside. There was carpet beneath her feet, soft and sinking. It smelt wrong – stale and musty and heavy rather than the salty scent of the wind or the tang of fish and smoke. They came to a staircase, sweeping round and round beneath a dome of coloured glass.

“Tyrsian Stair,” Nimbus said, lifting his wings to propel himself up the stairs. “Built to celebrate the coming of the Light and the first ambassador to Isola. Do keep up.”

Aylili stopped.

“Aylili!”

She lifted her head and looked at the dome. There were patterns in the glass but she could not trace them. All she could see was the light, blue and gold and white, pouring over her. She had been here before.

“Aylili!” Nimbus was tapping his foot pointedly and she started up the stairs after him, shivering. Nimbus waited until she had almost caught up and then swept on, saying, “Just the Kings’ Gallery now and I’ll show you Gateway Hall.”

With every step the way seemed more familiar. She had run laughing through these corridors once, when they had been full of light and life. She remembered this balcony at the head of the stairs, that archway carved with ivy leaves, the little step halfway along this passageway.

“Kings’ Gallery!” Nimbus moved, waving her in front of him. “Every monarch has their portrait painted after their coronation to be placed in the gallery. Rhom the Great on your right – a copy, sadly. The original is long lost. Hyacin I there.” He paused. “Queen Aramis – reputed to be the most beautiful woman in history.”

The portrait was so faded and cracked that Aylili could barely see the outline of dark hair and blue eyes.

Nimbus sighed heavily and said, “All things come to dust in the end. Quick, quick.”

Aylili trailed after him, glancing at the faces. She had seen these pictures before and found herself anticipating them – the man in the red hat Nimbus said was Eri IV, the fat lady, the little boy she had always liked who she now learnt was Teovor II, who conquered Rastan.

At last they came to the last portrait and Nimbus paused. Before them the empty walls stretched onwards but he studied the portrait quietly. At last he said softly, “Yorim Toymaker. My poor king.”

Aylili remembered the little toys which had marched across the polished floor, soldiers saluting and drummers keeping a jerky beat.

“Seven years dead,” Nimbus said. “He died in the embassy of the Light, the night the Dark burnt it down. My king and all the others. Half the court were there and half the Saisorhi in Isola. It was Devon’s party. We all went to Devon’s parties. I would gone but I was in Rastan, watching for the coming of the Dark.” His voice grew steadily louder until he was shouting, “But they came secretly, in the dark of the night, and they burnt my people as they danced. They burnt Maria, the sister of my heart! They burnt Devon, who Maria loved more than her life, and they burnt the children. They burnt the children.” He dropped his head and whispered, “My people love to dance. We would never leave our children abed when there was dancing to be done. And now they are dead, every one.”

Aylili was shaking, shaking and shaking and shaking until her teeth rattled. Blindly, she reached out and clasped her hand around Nimbus’s arm. He felt hot to her touch.

“And they came still in stealth,” he continued, rocking back and forth. “They came to those of us who mourned and one by one they slew us. By poison, by spell, by seeming accident and by spite. And when the armies of the Dark came marching over the hills there were only three of us to fly over Isola. Bright-winged Astelas was brought down in the first week. Fideli lasted until the second year, but the Fire downed her. Quiet Fideli… Oh, how she screamed!”

He drew a shaky breath. “Now I am the only wings over Isola and the battle goes the worse for it.” Once more he looked upon the portrait of King Yorim, bald and smiling. Then he drew himself up and said, “Your fingers are icy, child. Come – it is warmer in the Hall.”

Date: 2008-03-08 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shanra.livejournal.com
violet dawn and buried her head in her arms, <- violet sky, maybe, to avoid the repetition of dawn?

I already know what my name is, Aylili thought and wished she had a blanket to pull over her head. <- *snickers at the last bit* Also love the thought. Silly goose, but Nimbus doesn't and that's rather the point of it. *likes muchly*

“Great Light,” he said. “Do you realise the sun is barely up? Whatever did you wake me at this unnatural hour for, dear child?” <- Silly Nimbus. I love the linguistic note in this. It's short, brief and tantalising and yet never infodumpy as language notes can easily be even if they're short. It fits here. That's such a wonderful thing. ^-^

The
tenderest <- *amused* Think that's a formatting thing gone wrong. I can't see if that's just because of HTMLification or because it's this way in your original file, though, so I'm pointing it out. ^-^

keep her health[y,] but she could remember melon

Which was why Aylili agreed to his crazy plan. <- Awwww. That is such a beautiful touch there. ^-^ Love the way it's just the one line and ends a scene. Wonderful way to do it.

Aylili pressed herself against the tiles and cringed. <- *patpat* Your own fault for not going with him. *very much amused* I do adore Nimbus. Scene stealer that he is. ^-~

Poor, poor shell-shocked Nimbus. *snugs*

She had dismissed his claims of heroism[,] but he had obviously seen battle

He did not stir[,] but the birds came, swirling out of the night. <- I love the way you don't go about explaining this and leave it up to the reader to try and piece together why the birds listen to her and help her. *shakes head in wonder* You are such a talented young woman...

the curve of the roof.. <- got a period too many there, methinks.

the bow with ease[,] but Nimbus

“Fourteen! You’re fourteen? Impossible! How old were you when the siege began?” <- Poor, poor Nimbus. *hugs* It's the name clicking into place, isn't it? At least the possibility of it. Poor dear.

the centre of the palace. <- lots of various repetitions going on in that paragraph. Might want to see if you can't rephrase a few sentences to reduce the overall repetition.

She tensed[,] but no flames <- Love the frantic feel of Aylili's fears and the resurgence of memories at them. *shakes head* War is such an awful thing. This is a very clear example of what it can do to people.

Behind her the guard let out a muffled snicker. <- *snickers along* Ah, but a history lesson from Nimbus she's never had before. In a way he reminds me a little of my old religion teacher. It's the deliberate theatricality of the personality. ^-^

It smelt wrong <- I'm curious about the history of 'to smell' now. It must have been irregular as a verb at some point, but the question is, is it still? (And being Dutch doesn't really help here since it just triggers images of things melting and iron forges. Which is a perfectly acceptable of use of 'smelt' in English comes from German 'smelten', but... Never mind me. I'm mostly just burbling about etymology because my mind's gone off on a tangent now. Isn't wrong, just different enough a spelling to notice and then I drifted... There you are, one random thing to learn for today. ^-~)

I would [have[ gone but I was in Rastan

You know... Rereading that final scene knowing Aylili's past and seeing the clues you've given the reader so far (without ever once giving one that screams 'this is truth' at you) makes one have goosebumps. Very, very powerful to hear the history of Nimbus and Aylili and the city in such a compact space comparatively and the overall length of the piece makes it seem that much more compact. It's got an incredible amount of impact.

*applauds, which is as feeble in carrying across her feelings as words* Astounding, me dear. Absolutely astounding.

Date: 2008-09-20 07:47 pm (UTC)
ext_109654: (Nimbus)
From: [identity profile] rosiphelee.livejournal.com
*nods* Good pick. Thanks.

Poor Aylili. She's not prepared for Nimbus in the mornings.

Oh, that language note. So many rewrites. *winces*

Thanks. That looks like over-eagerness with the enter key.

You can keep your health as well as keeping healthy.

She's developing a soft spot for the silly bird, bless her heart.

Nimbus is such an old ham. Poor Aylili is just being a normal teenager for once.

Given some of what I'd found out about Nimbus, Devon and Maria since I first wrote this, it really bothered me that he didn't recognise her. Having the age click there helped with that.

Nimbus obviously missed his calling *imagines him as a member of her own history department* Oh, help.

I use a lot of -t endings in the past tense, even when Words meeps at me for it. That's how I say them and it's an old-fashioned but usually valid spelling.

*hugs* Thank you. Sorry to be so rubbish at replying.

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February 2012

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