Lightlined — Part 3

Hi, Everyone-who-reads-this,

Finally, the THIRD PART is here! I am tardy, a lot, I know, but I hope it would be worth it. I’ve translated a piece of what I planned and realized it works on its own. Also, you get the read sooner this way. I hope you enjoy it.

Don’t forget to like, comment and share!

And, as always, happy reading!

Sincerely,
Mary Matshine

P.S. Make sure to read first two parts before this one. 😉


 

moon

By Bill Williams on Unsplash.

 

3.

The morning was brighter than previous ones. Dante was sure he could see more nooks and crannies of his cell.
He heard Gargon’s swift steps in front of the thick door, then, the locks rattled, as always. Dante was patiently waiting to hear that last screech of a metal hinge leaving its groove for another higher and probably cleaner one. Soon, Gargon came in.

„It’s been two days.“

„You must be hungry,“ said Gargon and handed him a plate full of monochromatic food.

Dante ate it in a few moist breaths.

Gargon sat by his side the entire time. Watching.

„How do I become like you?“ Dante said after putting the plate on the rough stone floor. He was careful not to make that awful sound of metal hitting masonry. It bothered him even more than the shriek the wood gave away while trying to keep its metal lover close.

„A zverhano? Interesting. Are you sure?“

„It gives me the best chance to escape. Right?“

„Sure. Although, it does have the worst consequences…“

„Consequences? Like when Raksas attacked the Eastern Lands, lost, and now he can’t maintain proper allegiance amongst his men and the people?“

„I like how you summed that up. You could make a good teacher one day, or, a writer even!“ Gargon smiled. A sound came out. It was a half-laugh half a sound of a turtle mating. High-pitched and short.

„What you’ve described, however true — those are indeed consequences for Raksas’s actions — it doesn’t fit into this particular context. Remember, now, consequences are different for every single person, and, they also depend on the situation. But, when it comes to Magika, this differs in a sense that the consequences themselves are the same, but how a person reacts to them is not. You may enjoy being hungry all the time, or, snapping bones may be a sound that comforts you; I know demons who like that…“

Gargon looked at his friend carefully, coldly, as if trying to discern how impactful his little speech was.

Dante’s eyebrows raised. His lips pursed a bit which caused his jaw to clench. But what Gargon couldn’t see, and what Dante was certain his friend could clearly hear, was his quick, uncertain heartbeat.

„That sounds scary.“

„Well, the books don’t mention that, now, do they? Each creation has a consequence. For example, if you are an earth one you tend to be hungry quite often. Food can satisfy you to a certain degree, but, to you, nothing can do it like faeces.“

Dante frowned, his nose pulling back.

„Sounds awful. But, I don’t think it tastes much worse than what I eat every day… Go on. What else?“

„It’s stinky being an earth one. And when you are a water one, you are often thirsty, and thirst is best quenched by…“

„Pee?“ said Dante.

„Actually, no. Only fresh spring water, not the one they themselves purify for townsfolk.“

„What about fire ones?“

„Well, the good thing is, fire can’t harm you, but, you are unbearably hot most of the time. Fire ones, hence, tend to be exhibitionists.“

Dante grinned. Imagining naked bodies always made him feel like grinning, it was weird, but he liked it.

„But,“ Gargon continued unaware of his friend’s quirky state. „No one suffers like a zverhano. The consequence is double fold. Primarily, you are completely aware that your body is changing. Each bone in your body brakes and then heals, the skin stretches and shrinks, you grow feathers, or more hair, depends; and, oh, your head! I remember my first time. I was sure Death was coming in the form of a spell gone wrong, which is often the worst of forms Death can present herself. Alas, I survived. Still remember that pain, though. Judging from your expression, you don’t want me to speak more of this. I won’t.“

Dante’s eyes were like two bulges ready to jump out of their socket and live a life of their own. His forehead was sprinkled with tiny beads of sweat. He wiped them off quickly once Gargon paused and Dante became aware of the wetness.

„Second thing is the good part of becoming what I am. Choosing an animal, and doing it not out of like or love but out of usefulness, is the most important thing when it comes to this creation. When I transform I can fly, and I can see in the infrared spectrum — you remember what that is?“

Dante was thinking for a while. He knew what it was, but he wanted to recall the entire lesson. Of course, that was too much to expect so he was satisfied to remember the person who discovered infrared, how he did it and what it meant for Magika. This included a guy named Bill, few filters and the sunlight.

After Dante said what Gargon wished to hear, he asked him what could he do if he decided to become a cantrip.

„Ah, yes. My pretty cousin. Those birds are very rare in the wild. But, I could manage to get a hold of one…“

„We need it?“

„Yes. And, also“ said Gargon grabbing one of the books and waving it as much as its weight allowed „someone should write new books!“

Dante giggled softly.

„Why do we need the actual animal?“

„Well, you must eat it, of course.“

Dante’s eyes were, once more, thinking about a vacation and a better life out there, in the big world. The eyebrows joined them, squirming and closing down.

„It’s not that bad, for you. Imagine the poor people who wish to become a dog or a horse!“

„What else do I have to do?“

„There is a whole ritual once you’ve created yourself. I won’t bore you with the details. Think about this, practice. I’ll be here tomorrow or the day after to see what you’ve decided.“

Taking the empty plate off the floor, Gargon left.

Dante was unsure. It was one thing to kill a butterfly, but eating a helpless creature that is alive!… He wasn’t sure he’d be able to do that.

Although, he needs to do it only once, and then, well, he could forget about it.

 

My thanks!

Status

 

hint

A hint.

 


Hi, Everyone-who-reads-this,

I just wanted to take a moment and give my deepest thank-you’s to all of you who are there for my posts, who wait patiently (we all know how inconsistent with publishing posts I can be) and who still take the time to read and like, even sometimes comment.

So, once more, THANKS!

I’ve got a big surprise for you!

To show my gratitude I will offer all of my current and future followers a signed online copy of… wait for it…!

Don’t forget to like, comment and share  (oh, why not, you can like this one FYI — as if you haven’t done that on previous ones 😀 )

And, as always, happy reading!

Sincerely,
Mary Matshine

I’m Good. How are You?

Status

Hello, Everyone-who-reads-this,

So, I’ve been busy, but, It’s also Easter where I live. Today! Yay! I just wanted to share that with you. 🙂

It’s a huge holiday and that is why I’m missing. But I’ll be back soon, with good, quality content.

Don’t forget to like, comment, and share (my other works, this is just an FYI).

And, as always, happy reading!

Sincerely,
Mary Matshine

Lightlined — Part 2

 

Hi Everyone-who-reads-this,

Two weeks ago I’ve published the first part of a novel I am writing. I present to you the second part, as I’ve promised.

Don’t forget to like, comment and share.

Cheers, and enjoy the read!

Sincerely,
Mary Matshine

Part 1
Part 3


bill-williams-14376-unsplash

By Bill Williams on Unsplash.



2.

From time to time his friend makes him uncomfortable in such a way that he wishes to get away from him, to throw him out. He believed it was due to the abundance of lonesomeness. Gargon would especially disturb him when he drifted away during brief evening lectures — introductions to a new field. He would talk about economy, about the order of the world since the truce with the Eastern Realm, about the distribution of power, although Dante didn’t quite understand the meaning of power, only being able to link it to the feeling he had as a child when he would be commended for his knowledge or effort; at some point, as if he heard something, Gargon would stop, prick his ears up, turn his head in a swift, sudden fashion, then get up and without even saying a thing leave the cell, returning in the morning. Luckily, that didn’t happen very often, but, this morning, it did, just as he was lecturing Dante about the changes in the economy.

Even before his capture, Dante understood the economy not only of Vakor, but of the entire continent of Umbra. He simplified it like this — that which you find belongs to no one, and at the same time to everyone; that which you make by either a physical or an intellectual endeavour belongs to the creator himself and he is free to ask for reimbursement, but it has to be of the same rank.

For example, if someone is working as a fruit and vegetable salesman, and he himself produced them, he must for a kilo of, let’s say, tomatoes, accept only an adequate (usually same) amount of another alimentary produce; same goes for those who sell fish, cattle or spices.

On the other hand, if a product or a service is created by intellectual means then that is the only kind he can ask in return. This way everyone has both a garden or a field and a workshop or a library. Properties and houses are provided by Raksas and The Council on Vakor, in accordance with the current needs, and by King-Priests on Lihtas Timura (although, on this eastern part of the continent of Umbra there may exist some changes to the law that the Western Realm hasn’t sanctioned yet). When a person is ready to expand the family he or she can ask for the increment or, in case that is not possible, a different property or a house. This way there is constantly present a persistent fluctuation of goods, assets, and people.

As he understood, before Gargon drifted away, The Eastern Realm was again trying to lift the prohibition on exchanging goods from different categories. The last time, about ten years ago, Raksas erupted and was extinguished in a short and unnecessary war that still has repercussions. That is why, this time, Eastern Realm acted carefully, you could even say in a wiser way, and under a disguise of a plea. King-Priests requested the reduction of export or investment in production because they don’t have enough goods to settle the needs of people. Gargon is hoping they won’t succeed, because “they do not need to expand, we are the ones who rule, even though they seem to think differently”.

That is when Gargon stopped talking and listened. Dante couldn’t keep silent anymore, he isn’t little anymore, almost in his second decade. Although he is not yet out of the first period of development, Gargon is not out of the second so he can’t protest much, especially now that Dante knows the hierarchy of the society and the development periods of a being.

“What is happening? Do you hear something?” Dante tried to sound relaxed, but upon hearing his voice which seemed higher than usual the courage began to dissipate.

Gargon rapidly turned his head in Dante’s direction and his eyes, still on the other side of his head, slowly rolled back. The young man took a deep breath, controlling himself and trying to keep his arm where they were.

“Everything is fine,” Gargon responded in his usual deep and calming voice.

“You were talking and drifted away… I thought…” Dante tried to smile but his bottom lip betrayed him and trembled.

“I shall bring you a book tonight. About you and me. It is time you knew.”

“Gargon… I didn’t… Please…”

“Don’t start. Enough is enough. Perhaps you can’t yet learn, but you can understand and read about it.” He stood up and started towards the door.

“But, I really…” Dante’s voice broke. Gargon left.

After exercising, Dante was on the bed recalling the day Soliph praised him. The last thing he remembered was a red bowtie on the floor and mother’s worried look. He closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.

***

The butterfly was like any other — wings wide as an open book, gray as ash, fickle as a moment’s thought. Even so, in It, Dante saw a spark. He noticed small, flickering dots on Its body. Yes, that is his protection, and yes, maybe a gleam influenced his perception, but he was transfixed with that glittering afflux in the midst of darkness.

“Dante, Dante, lii-ii-kes butterflies!” his friends chanted, mocking him.

They were sitting on a cliff wet from rain, on top of a bare, earthy hill. The sun was shining painfully, letting its laden beams through heavy white clouds that were hanging low. Behind them rose Mount Mirtis. Dante snuck out of the castle so he could go through initiation. That wasn’t something the grownups knew about or would approve, but everyone who finished SOBS had to do it. Dante wasn’t happy about it. Philys, a boy with mischievous blue eyes and feathery, almost white, hair, handed him a stone. It was a true weapon, sharpened as an arrow’s head, ready to make a simple stick deadly. The butterfly shook. Dante clenched his jaw and swallowed his spit that tasted like a copper coin. What they expected of him was cruel and futile. He could hear heavy and broken breaths. His friends were talking to him but he didn’t understand them, their words muffled by that breathing. It was surprising to him that the butterfly could breathe so loudly. He lifted the stone and without hesitation lowered it between the wings of that magnificent creature. The breathing didn’t stop but the background noises returned and, while watching how dark, sticky blood spread around the rock, creating rivers and a small pool, he could hear joyous voices, laughter and from time to time feel someone pat his shoulder. Not long after that, he returned to the castle. There he was met with the news of a horrific accident and that they tried everything but they couldn’t save her and her last words were meant for him but the one she told them to wasn’t here at the moment and he needs to be patient and not cry because that isn’t suitable for a little prince and other nonsense on which he didn’t pay much attention.

That memory jerked him out of daydreaming.

Soon Garon came carrying two thick books bound in dark red leather. Before he gave them to Dante, he sat beside him and asked about his childhood and what it meant to be a demon. Dante frowned. He never wanted to be a demon. His hands began to sweat, his fingers became numb. He wished for Gargon to leave and never talk about it. But, that didn’t happen. Gargon was tenacious. Dante said he remembered, but that he could choose to be someone else… something else. Gargon laughed.

“My dear boy, you are what you are. Come to your senses and read these books. You will receive the third part soon.” Gargon got up, patted his shoulder thoughtfully and left.

And Dante listened. Not because of what Gargon said but because he realized this could help in his escape. Nevertheless, for a while, he just stared at the books, as if what was inside of them could jump out at any moment and attack him.

He was afraid and acted against his will. Because he remembered quite well what the message from his mother was: “You are not what you are. Take a shadow and it shall be revealed.” The first part he understood and up until now, he suppressed the fact that he was, as Gargon is, a demon. The second part, however, made no sense.

Gargon is a zverhano — dark mage of the First Order, appropriated for metamorphosis.

Dante was reading a theoretic book, more precisely the second tome under a simple title “Fields of Occult and its classes categorized in Magika duomon”. The first tome is a general introduction to Occult Magika duomon. The third one he is yet to receive.

“Fields of Occult” contain everything about demon magic and its division according to election. A demon can choose one animal he wishes to make himself into. Besides the physical aspect, he will gain its abilities, and so, as a coal bird, Gargon can see in the dark, including the infrared spectrum. One would assume the demons were coldblooded, and in any other sense they are, but it is a fact that their temperature is seven degrees Celsius higher than that of a humanlike.

While reading the first tome Dante began to train. He doesn’t know if he has the capabilities of becoming a mage of the First Order, but before all of that, he must learn how to create himself into a magical one. And that is not easy.

Even though he has mystic abilities, they are hidden. Creation means just what the word implies but on a spiritual level. Every demon and humanlike can choose one field of Magika. There are three — field of metamorphosis, of fighting (when you create yourself into a warrior), and field of abilities. The last one has many subfields: healer, earth-one, water-one and so on. Naturally, this differs from a mage that is a water-one, earth-one, or fire-one by election. For instance, an earth-one created by abilities can’t make water, he can only manipulate it or a substance that contains it. A mage who is a water-one by election can develop his capabilities so far that he is able to actually generate water, or another element, depending on election.

Dante wants to be an earth-one. It would feel good to help others in gardening, and to do it for himself, as well. He wouldn’t mind becoming a zverhano, either. He could be a bird. Not coal bird, but something else. Perhaps a cantrip. That is a special kind of coal bird, but indigo in color and with one white dot in the middle of its forehead. Those birds can fly for a very long time and are bigger than coal birds. Their wingspan can reach up to two meters. That way he could escape easily. He should tell that to Gargon when he returns during lunchtime.

He brought him some kind of meat and a little bit of bread. Dante ate it quickly.

Gargon left him with the third tome titled “Advanced knowledge in all fields of Magika duomon”. He studied for a long time, but many things were unclear to him. For example, if a mage created himself into a fire-one, he can never become a water-one, yet he could be partly an earth-one; but, if he chose to be an earth-one, he can’t be a fire-one, only partly water-one. Or, if he chose metamorphosis, he can’t use any of the elements. He would only receive the abilities of the animal into which he creates himself. That is not so bad. For instance, cantrip is speedy and stout, it can see in the dark, and doesn’t need sleep because it gains its energy from the moonlight. Dante liked the idea of becoming a bird more and more.

He was training until nightfall, but Gargon failed to show up. That happens sometimes, either he is too busy or Raksas is bothering him.

Lightlined — Part 1

 

Hi Everyone-who-reads-this,

In the next couple of months, I will be posting my novel called, you guessed it, ‘Lightlined’. It is still unfinished, which is one of the reasons I am making it public — I need the incentive to finish it. Also, I would like to hear your thoughts on it, especially on the language, since English is not my native tongue, and I love to learn. So feel free to comment and share this, also don’t forget to like. Thanks for reading and see you in two weeks with the second part.

Sincerely,
Mary Matshine

Part 2
Part 3

bill-williams-14376-unsplash

By Bill Williams on Unsplash.


1.

Minerals aren’t flammable. At least not like ordinary wax candles. But, if you use a bit of magic even a diamond can burn. Dante chose quartz because it burns bright. Besides, he needs a little bit of magic in his life. He also liked the names of things Gargon told him about — crystals, minerals, diamonds, gemstones. Shortly after, he gave him a book on mineralogy. They are used mostly for magic and mending, occasionally as a form of light, so not everybody needs them. Dante tried to memorize as much mineral names as he could and to attach them to the correct form and traits. He asked for more, but Gargon explained that they are hard to exchange; mages don’t like to share them, especially shamans; he could ask menders, but they are very secluded and anxious, and he is afraid he will hurt one if provoked.

He placed the candle in a hole between two stone blocks about twenty centimetres under the ceiling. And so, he could read anywhere in his dungeon, not just uncomfortably sitting, leaning against the cell wall above which is a small opening, catching, in weird angles, a small beam of late morning sunlight.

In a letter he got after he read the book on minerals, the author talked about life, death, but most of all of the time. He said that thanks to a candle he managed to calculate how long he spent reading. Dante can’t even do that. He asked Gargon to bring him a timekeeper, but Gargon said that he didn’t need it. He was born before they started keeping time. He doesn’t believe in it and is completely against that idea.

Dante doesn’t mind, and he doesn’t care much at all. He just wanted to see the device. That is the reason he wanted to read the letter in the first place so he could learn about a person who thought about it first. The author noticed that for work, followed by lunch, he needed one candle. Soon he realized that he needs about four candles for the whole day. In his letter, he doesn’t write so much about his idea as he writes about his feelings. Comparing the passage of time with how he feels at any given moment, he concluded that there is no need for a device that will keep time. The reason is this — no matter how much it melted, he sometimes felt time pass slower, and sometimes faster. He ponders, further, does that, then, make the candle burn at a different speed? Dante isn’t concerned with that, because to him, the answer is obvious, and also, because he is bothered with something much more important: is the keeping of time even necessary, considering the subjective experience?

Dante doesn’t have a time measuring device. He differentiates day from night only by a faint light coming from the window. If he wanted to know which part of the day it is, he would have to look through the window, which is something he really did not like to do, especially during the day — the rock on the other side sent his thoughts through a labyrinth.

It would start with one minuscule, illogical assumption: “What if out there is another dungeon?” And it never ended there. The mere fact that he could even think about it would cause a flood in his mind.

Perhaps there’s nothing out there. But no, he remembers; also, there is Gargon, that good, thoughtful man, really, short and funny-looking, with his greasy, stuck hair, which he always fixed so badly on top of his forehead that one lock jumped while he moved, even though it was full of grease… Funny little man, and his gentle eyes; yes, that one time he saw something else, the skin crumpled above his eyebrows, but why, what did Dante do, he doesn’t want to disappoint him, he tries, and studies, and controls these thoughts, but it is difficult and he can’t stop from time to time and what if Gargon is only a marionette in his father’s hands, so he jumps and dances on threads, like that wooden doll in blue pants and red shirt with which he played as a child, and which, he recalls, in a moment of weakness, he pulled and stretched with his frail hands, trying to free it of those tyrant bonds; but it didn’t break, no, it clapped and dully rattled, while the wooden parts collided, and he, helpless, could only cry.

That is when his eyes would water, hot tears would fall down, wetting his thick, curly beard, and he wouldn’t cease, just out of habit bite his inner cheek; he would bother himself with those thoughts until he falls into a whirlpool that originated from one spot and flowed into a picture of the dungeon in the middle of that same dungeon, only bigger, and that one was in the center of another, wider one, and so there were more and more dungeons until he jerked out of sheer inability to imagine that microcosm without an exit. Then, he would wipe his eyes, and dry his beard with an edge of the blanket, and shake his head, the way his friend advised, he would shake his arms and legs and start to do sit-ups, push-ups or any other exercise that could drive away those useless thoughts.

The only time he can know for sure if it is late night or late morning is when Gargon visits him because he always comes when changing of the guard occurs.

Even so, Dante can still feel what the author wrote about, that subjective passage of time. In a certain way, he does measures that passage, because he knows how long it takes for him to read a couple of pages. Often the reading is slower if the theme is dull, on the other hand, if the text is interesting he himself is bustling, and everything seems hasty and elusive. Nonetheless, first impressions pass. That is why he likes to go back to what interested him the most and read it anew so as to create that slow property of time flow which is needed for a deeper understanding of important information and ideas. And that exact quality of time is what the author wrote an entire treatise about; that work is on Timura. Gargon once told him that if he wanted to read it that is where he should go. His plan is to go there if he manages to escape.

He could picture himself over there in that unknown land. He imagined, incarnated numerous sentences from various books he read about Timura’s colourful meadows, animals and who knows what; perhaps they didn’t even look like what he thought, incapable to shape better something he only saw on pictures and read about. When he closed his eyes, took a more comfortable position, he could see himself there, on the outskirts of Timura’s capital, Dion. He would sit behind his house, on the riverside of Edna, fishing and listening to the gurgling of shiny, marigold droplets of light. And so, Dante was lulled to sleep.

* * *

He was awakened because of the heat in the dungeon. The clothes bothered him, so he removed them. Under faint sunlight, a silhouette of his long narrow body could be seen. Thin beams fell on his chest which moved in the rhythm of breathing, revealing occasionally his pale skin, stretched across the muscles and ribs, splashed with dark hairs. He began — as he did every morning — to work out.

Later, Gargon came by and brought him breakfast. He had something else to give. A new book. That made him happy.

“They renovated the library. I had to wait.”

Dante only nodded.

“How are you?” his friend asked.

“Not bad,” said Dante, plainly. He took a plate filled with a brownish concoction on top of which lay a thin piece of bread.

„Have a nice meal, then. See you later.“

When he ate, Dante started reading the book. It was a play about a prisoner, much like himself, whose father, after hearing a prophecy which affected him badly, locked him in a secluded tower. Very nice, Gargon, he thought. But, he read the book twice and realized that that Digismond is nothing like him. Besides, what does that Larka even mean with ‘Everything is a dream’? Dante understood very well how all of that fits in the book’s reality, but in his own it made no sense.

He agreed with another writer, an ancient philosopher, to be exact, named Ariplat. His life mainly consisted of meditations and thought about unusual phenomena, for instance, a yet unexplained universe, the secret of The Giants and the structure of Zeal itself, the core of this planet. Very last paragraph of a chapter called ‘On life and how to live it’ is still very clear in his mind:

“And all I have said up until now may be wrong. Because, I am a person for myself, my thoughts are my own, my actions depend on them and are ruled by them. I write to awake those thoughts and discern which are worthy and as such by which is reasonable to act. Only those I keep and spread further with words. And so, I become a person I am, and perhaps enable others to do so as well, to create by themselves their own worthy and genuine thoughts.”

* *

Lately, he daydreams more and more of a heavy, balmy air, the smell of milk and vine which surrounded him while he was a child, of birds’ chirp coming from treetops in the yard, the touch of his mother’s hand. Those memories, although hazy and more an outline of a warm feeling, cause in him an unpleasant tingling, which at the same time makes him smile.

From time to time a picture comes forth from the cavern of his childhood, and even though he mostly dismisses them, one, in particular, kept coming back. He closed his eyes to see it better.

He was nine at the time. Already he was a third-degree pupil, mastering basic linguistics, algebra, zoology, biology and botany. His teacher Soliph — whose thick brows he remembered clearly, and so what he saw now was a murky mass of a human and two fat, grey brows that jumped on a faceless head — especially commended him on an honourable final gathering of pupils from SOBS, aka School of Basics.

In uncomfortable suit pants — that were too tight and that he had to wear because the seamstress said so, he, out of spite, before the ceremony began, removed from his neck and decisively threw on the floor a large bowtie, which, despite his height, nearly reached his bellybutton — he barely smiled and took a step towards the audience disturbing one of many rows of pupils on a platform of a spacious amphitheater, at the bottom of East Tower, where they always had lectures. Among the spectators, at the front, beside an empty seat, was his mother. Her thin lips distorted into a smile, eyes large and wet; she was holding in her hands, so tightly that her knuckles turned white, her son’s scarlet bowtie. Looking at her, Dante held in tears. With his lips pressed together hard, he bit into his inner cheek, as his mother advised. After that, it was easier to enjoy the morning. Especially when his buddies congratulated him and praised him, and girls shyly smiled in his presence.

He was glad he allowed himself to venture into this memory. Feeling that there is more to it, he relaxed, letting the reminiscences he never knew he had take him over.

Mother’s smile followed him all the way to his room, hopping and changing while she excitedly talked about something. She was boring him, talking about preparations for the big celebration in the Castle planned for that night, so he told her that he didn’t want to wear those new pants because they were too tight and ugly. She stopped, took a breath and calmly said that she already let the seamstress go for the day, that there are no other pants because they just got those, and that he will have to be patient at least for a time being, because ‘you know how your father is, we don’t want to worry him’, and that is when her voice broke. He winced, he didn’t mean to frighten her, to hurt her — he remembers now — he told her, not knowing why that she needn’t tell father anything, she can just go to the Tailor’s place and exchange his new pants for another, more comfortable ones. He had taken them off already and offered them to his mother, who looked at him gently, waited a second and then took the pants and promised to summon the carriage immediately after lunch, and told him not to worry, everything will be according to plan, because it is a custom and it is expected of him to enjoy such an important day.

 

Not even noticing how or when, Dante was lying on his side, crumpled, frowning and sweating. He had to tell Gargon to bring him a cooling device, someone must have thought of it, and if not, he himself will, because he can’t go on like this any longer! He punched the bed with his open fist so hard that a cloud of dust flew with glistered in a thin clear beam of sunlight.

Dante realized he was tired. With his thoughts stirred like those ants he forced out of the anthill, his hands all numb and tingling, he fell asleep.

* * *

When he opened his eyes, he saw filthy walls and hefty wooden doors.

The air is moist. It smells of humour and mildew. In the distance one can hear voices of the guards and prisoners suppressed by the stone; if he pricks up his ears he can sense waves splashing onto the rocky mountainsides; he can imagine white, foamy tongues of the ocean voraciously licking dry, dusty stone. If he touches the walls of his dungeon he feels closer to those waves. He wished they took him far, far away…

They may have taken his freedom, but they will never take his will to live. He will not let them. He will strive as long as there are thoughts in his mind, up until his body turns into the dust, washed away by the white tongues of the ocean.