They could hear the music flowing down the huge vents that seemed to puncture each room. A crystal symphony fluttered over them as they sat in a small glassy space, the ice on the floor moving in dark solid colours. It was comfortable and warm, the air hanging with a lovely woody scent which seemed to drift by along with the music. P’erl was talking to someone as the lady and gentleman sat together on a large chair in the centre of the room.
P’erl’s voice sounded strange and intriguing, slipping it seemed to them both, between Europan and earthen dialects. They didn’t understand much of what she said, but they seemed to feel the conversation, as if the sense of it all crawled under their skin. The gentleman was quiet, his head hung slightly low but not in shame, more of respect for his circumstance. The lady of the jars touched him gently on the arm.
“Are you alright?” She asked. The gentleman nodded. He had been scanned by a strange object upon entering the room, P’erl had arranged for him to be checked over both for health reasons, and to peek into the soul that lay inside him. Europans were able to view the soul elements of the body as clearly as those who practised medicine on earth. They could see where the bonds were weak, where the darkness had ravaged the light filled nature that they knew all beings had. “Things will be better from now on, please know that to be the truth.” She added, patting his arm to punctuate her intent.
“I am….” The gentleman began quietly, but at that moment P’erl came over to them.
“You are both invited it seems to the great festival.” She said, smiling warmly. The lady of the jars beamed back at her.
“Oh, how wonderful. I do love a good knees up, and there is much to celebrate. Urm, what is it all about then?” She said, curiously. P’erl put her hand to her heart.
“I thought you might have sensed. The emanations are pretty strong, and you are highly tunned I feel.” P’erl said. The lady smiled, casting her eyes all around the room and sighed.
“My dear, I think all my energy has been exploited, stolen, and fluttered away. I can just about keep my eyes open.” She said, and there was but for a moment a wink of loss in her eyes.
“I can help with that.” P’erl said, and she went across the room to where a small set of box like objects sat in the wall. They looked like mother of pearl shells, the light catching the colours which twinkled out of the many things in the room. She spoke over them, quietly and breathlessly making the boxes open like an oyster. P’erl took out two items and returned to where they sat.
“Please wear these.” She said and offered two crystals to the lady and the gentleman.
The crystals were small and blue, out of which a small gossamer thread looped around like a necklace. “These are Ranoang stones, they will heal and revitalise you.” She added, watching as they took them and placed them over their heads. The threads tightened lightly, and the crystals seemed to glow as they touched their skin.
“I can see how you all remain beautiful.” The gentleman said, not looking at her. The lady of the jars smacked his arm playfully.
“You old cad.” She said, smiling. The crystals seemed to instantly work, with a renewed energy flowing now in their hearts. “I’m assuming they do more than heal.” The lady noted, touching hers. P’erl gave a twinkle in her eye.
“They…rebalance.” P’erl finally said, the silence hanging a moment too long. The lady understood. “Come, Othrox is the celebration of our time lived and gone. A remembering of who we were, and who we are yet to be. It is the most festive of events.”
The lady and the gentleman stood; the gentleman looked back towards the inlaid boxes in the wall.
“The people we were… I’m not sure that is merry in my case.” He said, his head hanging slightly. P’erl came over to him and touched the crystal now around his neck. A beautiful sound escaped it, one only he could hear. It whispered words to him in delicate song, words from his own heart.
“We all look back in the remembering, knowing where we have been and who we are now because of it. No matter what we have been through, it has gotten us here to this place now. Tomorrow is yet to be after all.” She said with a smile and turned, leading them out of the room and towards the Koddoah.
Ezra and Malthrop had made their way back to Malthrop’s little house. Patches of snow lay about the forest, and much of the roof to his cottage was weighted down still by a white blanket. The sun was bursting through the trees, speckling the watery drips of melting ice and snow, and refracting little rainbows all around. The sun shone in through the windows, and despite the rays, Malthrop had put his little stove on and started a fire also.
Ezra sat by the fire, rubbing his hands which were still raw and cold together to warm them up. Malthrop sat down by him, two steaming cups of spiced chai tea filling the space with the smell of comfort.
“From Chu’zin, they have the best sellers there.” Malthrop said, clonking them down on the little table which also held a book bound in a beautiful green cover, a pattern of lotus flowers decorating it.
“Thank you.” Ezra said, reaching for his mug.
“Quite the adventure I’d say. I do think this needs to be written down, a story to tell.” Malthrop said, looking at the fire. Ezra had explained it all to him, how they’d all come to be there, the challenges and the treasures which had unfolded since the arrival of the girl from Europa.
“My guess is you might just be the man to do it.” Ezra said, smiling.
“They loved stories, you know; they used to say I was a conjurer of the fantastic.”” He said, chuckling a little. He patted the book next to him. Ezra smiled too but could see the sadness.
“It must have been hard for you, and awful in the clearing. Seeing them like that.” He said. Malthrop shook his head.
“That wasn’t them, that was just the body. Their soul passed on, too much to see and do beyond I imagine. No, what had become of them was not who I love and remember.” Malthrop said, confidently.
“You know, the old boot loves to tell stories. She has the children from the village come to hear her go on and on about her fanciful tales. I’m guessing you two could make quite the team in your storytelling.” Ezra said, slurping the chai now eagerly.
“Truth telling!” Malthrop said, with a smile.
“But who’d believe you, eh? “Ezra added.
“Ah, well that is the key isn’t it. I think you’re on to something though, I may indeed apply my so-called talents to where they might find appreciation.” He said.
“I’m pleased to hear that.” Ezra said, sitting back in his seat. The light was shining in through the window now, a beautiful yellowy shine as the ice dripped off the roof. Spring it seemed, was making itself known.
It was the music that caught them by surprise. They had expected such sights, due to the nature of Europa. The beautiful ice and glassy casings in everything, pops of colours shooting around like blood through a vein. But the music, they had heard nothing like it before. It seemed to breathe out of the surfaces, swirling around their heads where you stood before moving onwards to dazzle someone else.
The great hall was awash with activity and movement. The stones shimmered above, jettisoning colourful puffs of smoke while light twinkled everywhere, like the sun catching a jewel box. Europan’s danced and swayed, stood, and sat all around the room. Hundreds of them, dressed in silvery clothes which made them look like giant salmon fish to the lady of the jars. But the beauty of the place was undeniable, and the feelings of kindness, joy and light flooded everything and everyone.
P’erl led them forward into the room, acceptance of their presence notable in their welcoming smiles and feelings of ease all around. She navigated them to the centre of the room where a sunken section tiered downwards like and inverted tiered cake. Here there were great flumes of blue water which shot upwards, freezing into ice and melting downwards in the next moment, particles of dusty light erupting outwards and off into the room.
They made their way down into the centre point where many Europans were gathered. P’erl seeming to float before them, leading the way. She stopped at a small group and presented the lady and the gentleman to them.
“Father.” P’erl said, and she reached forth touching his arm delicately. She had been with him earlier and was delighted she had returned. He knew how important it had all been to her, but he’d known also that it would have gone this way. Though he was in possession of future sight, it was not in his nature to inform those of their own destiny.
“Here are those souls from Earth.” She said, smiling at the lady and the gentleman.
The gentleman was rapidly growing accustomed to new and amazing things. Being bunkered down in the ground for so long, captivated by the darker magic and trapped in his own thoughts, now this mind and heart had been prised open, the rush inside was like oxygen to his brain. He stepped forth and shook the hand of P’erl’s father, who seemed the find it an odd way to greet. The lady bobbed her head, saying hello and thanking them for everything.
“So, all is safe, and all is changed then on Earth.” P’erl’s father inquired. “These stones and this place are, I’m afraid, one part in the great order of things.” The lady nodded in understanding.
“Our little planet is safe, and the great change has happened. Because of P’erl, and because of this magic we have made things better in our own way.” She said. “This magic, as you know, is not ours or yours. We are but the caretakers of the great ancient power, it’s an honour to handle it and to care for it.”
He nodded himself, the words burrowing deep into his soul. This is exactly how he felt. With all they did across the universe, with everything that the room they were in represented, it was all part of something they knew only a tiny bit about really.
“This is universal. Though strangers, we are all intertwined. P’erl was fortunate to have made her journey at this time, so that you are the souls she met. As it was written.” He said.
“Written yes, but it could always be changed.” P’erl added, her mind turning over a hundred things now, potential seeming to slither inside of her once more.
“Of course. And look what you achieved.” He said.
“She saved me, she saved all of us from something most terrible.” The gentleman said suddenly.
“No, you saved yourself. I merely shone the light.” P’erl said, placing a hand on his shoulder tenderly. A great understanding and comfort surrounding them all.
The celebrations of Othrox rolled on, and the room lifted and fell with energy, light and appreciation. They all looked to their former selves, giving thanks for the challenges which had changed them, and brought them all there to that spot in that moment. The Mondol Stones had begun to fade as the day had gone on. The images within disappearing and darkening as the energy was required elsewhere it seemed. Much would be remembered by the gentleman of the boxes and the lady of the jars, but that moment and that time with P’erl celebrating their lives in a most strange and wonderful place was something that stayed with them all forever. Knowing how far they’d come and what was left to be.
As the day slipped away, one day on Europa equating to three days on earth, time did its funny dance in fixing and healing, mending, and forgetting. Soon it came to talk of taking the next steps, of goodbyes and plans on returning. The lady of the jars however had some very specific thoughts on this.