LitFest Stories from Dawn’s Promise

Turning a Tale
by FidgetsWidgets

An empty bottle in one paw, Fidget did a facepaw with the other.

“How was I supposed to know it was an ingredient for the little blue implet when I hadn’t even stumbled on him yet?”

Looking at the empty bottle ruefully, she now had to go back and find it all over again.

“Pfffft!”

Then she smacked the bottle into the backside of a Unicorn with a purple horn dancing in the middle of the path in Dawn’s Promise.

Picture by FidgetsWidgets

Ducking the hooves took a bit of doing.

But ever intrepid, the Dinkie waggled sunshine at the Unicorn and offered some of her most precious treasure … gummi worms.

It took an awful lot of gummi worms to mollify the huge (to her) ‘corn. But, finally, her gummi worm pouch seriously deleted of a major portion of it’s bulk, Fidget dipped her sunhat to the ‘corn and moved on …

… through all the noise and the light and magick ?
crackling everywhere!

Picture by FidgetsWidgets

It looked like every fae in the lands was gathered just off the bridge. Even with her dinkie-ness, it was tough going to make way through the procession!

Put her paw to her whiskers, Fidget decided to ask for help from some associates currently in Dawn’s Promise to see if they had sighted anything that would help on her adventure.

The Woodpecker —

Picture by FidgetsWidgets

The Foxes —

Picture by FidgetsWidgets

and The Little Bird —

Picture by FidgetsWidgets

The one thing that shone in her mind was she had supposed correctly, the locks in the lands *were* more malleable today. So there *was* that!

Picture by FidgetsWidgets

Turning tail back to re-trace bottle’s location, Fidget vowed to save EVERYTHING from now on.

With the exception of gummi worms. Always use your gummi worms!

Tomorrow would bring a glimpse of Egregore. What secrets would it have in store?

Dawn’s Promise – picture by Caledonia Skytower

Dawn’s Promise
by Caledonia Skytower

Aoibhe stumbled through the portal and the cobblestones swam before her eyes. It had been raining in the borderlands, and she was soaked to the skin – it was cold and uncomfortable. As miserable as her present state was, it was nothing to the pain in her body and the ache in her heart. The weather had seemed only an extension of her own spirit. There in the wild borders she had stopped, raising her face and arms to the torrent and asking the heavens, “Why?” But the rain had not cleansed her soul or body, and her question remained unanswered. She still felt slimy and bedraggled.

She shuffled forward, wondering what kind of land this could be that offered such promise. The old woman in the marketplace, three countries back had croaked out the secret path, whispering in her ear and swatting flies at the same time. Aoibhe had been suspicious that it was a trick, but the woman had asked nothing of her. She had sent her on her way with a disheartening cackle, and Aoibhe had followed her directions to the letter. What did she have to lose? Any hope, any promise was better than nothing at all. Better than the hollowness that threatened to consume whatever was left of who Aoibhe had been.

The air was fresh here, though Aoibhe little noticed as she reached the apex of the entry bridge and descended the other side. Her once lustrous hair, which she used to spend time carefully styling, hung lank and undressed. Her clothes, once a matter for daily consideration and decision, were now worn and shabby. Even if they had not been soaked with rain, they were neither fine nor lovely.

Aoibhe kept to the edges of the path. This place was beautiful and sad somehow, at the same time. Or had she brought her own sadness with her? The buildings were many and in varied states of decay, “Like me,” she chuckled ironically to herself. Yet everywhere there was evidence of spring – of new growth and rebirth.

She turned a corner too close to one of the buildings, and the naked bricks cut into her shoulder, tearing her wet sleeve and scraping her arm. It was as if a thousand pains awakened, and had been lurking unseen, waiting for a moment to strike. Aoibhe doubled over and shut her eyes, leaning heavily against the building and riding the pain through. She was never sure, each time it happened, whether there would be an “other side” to these sudden episodes. She was never sure if closing her eyes and breathing deeply, carefully, she was seeing the last of life and taking her last breath.

As it had before, the pain eventually subsided. It left Aoibhe weak, so she rolled her back to the wall and slowly slid down it, finally resting on the soft ground. She blinked to clear her sight, looking around her. The trees and the flowers were young. Some were newly bloomed. She watched them sway in the freshening breeze. One by one, life became even more evident – creatures she had not noticed before: birds, butterflies, a sedate white cat, a frisking ferret.

“Nuuuyaaahhh!” she pushed herself up off the ground, groaning, and stood precariously for a moment: steadying herself with one hand against the building while her knees remembered how to stand, and possibly walk. She was so absorbed, observing the float of petals and the flight of birds, that she took a deep breath in and did not even notice the change.

Weeks ago her lungs had begun to rattle when she breathed. It was mostly just a sensation she felt, like two bags full of gravel in her chest. Lately the rattle had been more and more audible. Yet now, in this place, her lungs made no such noise and she breathed in the morning air without thought, or sound.

The ground gave softly beneath her feet, and she found herself following the sound of falling water. Where was it? She saw wells scattered about, and clearly the land was moisture-nourished to grow flowers and trees in such abundance. She walked through a meadow patch of grass and huge blossoms: green, pink, white, blue, and coral. The grass made a satisfying rustle against her drying skirts.

The water sound led her to a natural rocky escarpment. She saw that it was not just one edge, but part of a whole network of winding bluffs. This land was a whole series of islands, she realized, and water cascaded in great cataracts from the rocky scarps that cradled the islands like the fingers of a benevolent hand. The edge before her drew her, seeming painfully familiar. Perhaps it was the height, but it reminded her of other precipices – places where she had contemplated how much endurance she really had, and whether enduring was worth it.

The land fell away sharply. Aoibhe fell to the grass and crawled on hands and knees to the edge, peering carefully over the edge. The channels between the islands were strung with vines and tangles. It gave the impression that these islands had once been connected – were still, somehow, connected by more than bridges.

The water! Something about the water drew her and she shifted forward, closer to the edge, clinging to the rock. The water looked cool and inviting. It shimmered in the sunlight, and she almost thought she could see her reflection in it – a reflection of the woman she had been. She felt it call to her.

“No, my child. Our waters are for healing, not for escaping.”

Aoibhe was shattered out of her focus by a voice that was deep and kind. She had not even realized that the thought had passed through her mind to crawl over the edge and let herself plummet into the water, but it had.

She rolled around to find the source of the voice. He was tall, and his silvering hair shone in the light. He was clearly an older man, but had the vitality about him of someone much, much younger. She hadn’t heard him approach, and here she was, crawling about on the ground. She colored, embarrassed, and pulled herself up on her knees to rise. There was a hand under her arm, helping her up. It was his: gentle and supporting.

“The water is so beautiful. This whole land is so beautiful,” she stammered, “are you from here?”

She had felt his touch, real enough, when he helped her up. Looking at him now, there was something insubstantial about him – like he was here, but somewhere else as well. She rubbed her eyes and face to try and shake off the confusing illusion.

“Yes, child. I am of this land, and have been for a long, long time. What brings you to our shore?”

In her mind Aoibhe thought “rest,” but she said no words.

“Ah, yes, many come for rest and rejuvenation.”

Had he read her mind? She furrowed her brow, unsettled.

“No child, I am not a mind reader. But I am an observer. The way you stand, your clothing, your hands as they gesture nervously, your breathing, they all inform me though I know no specifics. I do not require the details. Your charming face alone tells many painful tales.”

He took her hand, and said gently, “If you seek the water, let us find a safer way for you to achieve it. Would one of the wells suite you?”

“The shore? Is there a shore in this land? I would like to get close to the unfettered waters.”

“That can be done. Come with me, if you will.”

She nodded and he tucked her arm in his. They descended together through the town, surrounded by the perpetually moving air, the petals, the birds, and the sounds of falling waters. Motes in the soft wind seemed to wink at her, glowing and friendly. She saw a fox peep out at them, ears waggling in recognition. She tried to keep count the different colors of the many butterflies, but found that she lost count time and again.

Her companion was courteous: answering her questions when she asked them, pointing out features of delightful interest. He did not seem compelled to fill the moments with speech, and he did not pry into the particulars of her own story, the one he had seen written so clearly in her face.

Finally they arrived in the lower town. Looking back to where they had come from, Aoibhe was enchanted by the unending ribbon of bridge, rock, vine and waterfall – full of incalculable variety, set against a soft rainbow palette of blossoms and leaves.

Her guide led her to a low place near the shore. “The water here is still fresh water, our water. But be careful at this shore, you wouldn’t want to get wet again!”

Aoibhe patted her clothes and realized that she was completely dry. More than that, her clothes did not feel dirty and disheveled, as they well should have. They were not different, and they were certainly not new, but they had a freshness about them now – like they were clean and less worn.

She turned to thank her companion, but he was gone. He’d vanished as silently as he had appeared. Also vanished were the minor aches in her body, she rolled her head, stretched her neck and swung her arms to loosen her shoulders, amazed at how flexible she suddenly felt.

She sat down near the water, scooped some into her hands and bathed her face and neck. The water felt marvelous. She scooped more water up and sipped it. The water tasted sweet. Slipping off her shoes, she let her feet slide into the water and wiggled her toes happily. The water was cool, but not cold. It felt restorative against her skin, and she let both of her legs rest soothingly in the water. She flipped herself around and drank deeply, satisfyingly.

A flutter of butterflies surrounded her, and she brought her head up, smiling. They seemed to be playing with her, inviting her. She sprang to her feet with an agility she had not had in years. So delighted by the cheerful butterflies, Aoibhe hardly noticed the absence of pain. Her soul was radiant, and her heart felt glad. And when the flutter moved away from her, she followed. Joyful playmates, they chased over bridge, cobble; through grass, and among orchards of blossoms.

Finally, Aoibhe collapsed to the ground, laughing and happy. She rolled on her back and found she was in another meadow patch of colorful, plate-sized, petal-full flowers. While she was looking up through them, the dawn light cleared some obstruction and lighted the blooms into luminous splendor.

As if from a distance, she hear her recent companion’s voice, “Here you will never be alone, child.” Waving in the breeze, the bright flowers of Dawn’s Promise all around her clearly echoed the sentiment.

Dawn’s Promise – picture by Caledonia Skytower

“Would Smell as Sweet”
by Talia Sunsong
Inspired by the Dawn’s Promise Sim

The traveler walked into town, and gazed about at the ruined buildings.

“Where are the people?” he thought looking at the empty doorways, and collapsing market stalls. Flowers had grown over the paths, and window sills.

The only building that was still intact was a magnificent domed palace. The traveler moved down the dusty road, and found an oasis of flowering trees by a pavilion outside the palace.

In the pavilion, a man sat on soft cushions, and drank from a brass tea set.

“A visitor, come sit with me!” The man waved the traveler over. He gave the visitor a cup of steaming tea and bits of tender meat. “Welcome, I am Tomar.”

“I am Swiftwrite, a scribe. I record my travels. What happened here? It seems like most of the town is in ruins.”

“I was king of this land,” Tomar leaned back against the embroidered cushions, “once, a long time ago.”

Two shy fox kits peeked out of a rock burrow. Tomar tossed leftover bones towards the kits, who dodged back into the darkness of their lair, then poked their heads back out, to fight over the bones.

“Back then, it was beautiful here. The market was full of vendors with everything under the sun–silk cloth, ripe fruits, gold and silver jewelry.” He sighed “Better days.”

“What happened?”

Tomar stared at the cascade of purple flowers hanging off the pavilion before answering.

“A long time ago, a woman came to town. She was dressed in silks the same color as this flower. She would dance in the market, and draw large crowds. ‘You must see her’, my advisors would say. But a king does not go to a dancer, a dancer comes to a king. so I had her brought to my palace.”

“She came?”

“Yes, and she moved like a flickering flame except twice as hot, and her eyes, they burned me with desire. I was, well…”

“In love? Gave her your heart?”

“Somewhere lower down. In lust.” Tomar frowned. “But she wouldn’t make love to me, except if I promised to marry her.”

“Oh, so you never got to be with her?”

Tomar flushed, and sipped more of his drink to recover his calm. “I am not happy to admit this, but I told her I would marry her.”

“But you didn’t marry?”

He shook his head. “No, I bedded her, but did not wed her.” He stared at the ruins. “It was a mistake.”

“She was angry?”

“Very angry. She cursed me and my lands, destroying them.”

“That’s why the people are gone?”

“They’re not gone.” He touched a nearby petal. “They are transformed.”

Tomar swept his hand towards the profusion of flowers growing around him. “She turned them into flowers.”

Dawn’s Promise – picture by Caitlin Tobias.
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