Submission (#64) Approved
Act Type: ? Exploration
Word Count: 1984
Adult Elnin Present: N/A
Regional Affinity: N/A
[Noble] Rank Unlock Mini-Requirement: Depict a treasured possession or a gift for a treasured friend/mentor.
[Act 4: Pilgrimage]
Fresh saltwater splashed along the side of the small boat, dousing her ears with the water. She took a deep breath of it and grinned out at the ocean. It was a fickle thing, her calling. Spritz had gone further than she ever had before. Over the course of a few weeks, she had passed through Faerindell, Bellmoril, Enmir and stayed at a small traveler hostel at Ealei, though she didn't venture much into the actual region. The constant movement was like experiencing whiplash, being pulled to the four corners of Eyre and beyond. From the trajectory she had, moving down south to the marshlands and towards the large tree at Ealei. That made sense to her. It was a journey that she was meant to go on, and the large tree might be seen as a typical destination for soul-searching journeys, or so she had heard. Yet, when the kittom tried to ascend towards the tree a new, crashing wave of noise boomed in her ears like lightning striking down at her.
This wasn't her destination.
The debilitating noise was louder than it had ever been, ringing through her ears like the loud beating of jungle drums inside of her ears. Spritz moved as fast as she could, nearly leaping onto the next ferry going anywhere. Now she sat at the edge of the long ferry ride, watching the watercolor of sea shift from the bright, tropical hues to the deep blue of the open ocean. The scent made her nostalgic for home, and the ocean spray made her feel right at home. Happily, she enjoyed the noise of crashing waves over the roar in her ears. Wherever the ferry was set for, it diminished the louder noise to one that pulsed, much like a heartbeat. She appreciated the change and put her paws on the railing of the boat, looking at the passing lands.
Looking from the water made it seem like a faraway place, something that only existed at the edges of her imagination. She wondered if she'd been in the areas before, maybe she'd passed them on her travels. It wasn't so long ago, but she did feel like a different nin than the one who left the sandy beaches of home. Her thoughts drifted back to home and she wondered what her parents might be up to, or her siblings. A strange sadness washed through her and she put her paws back down on the boat, staring down at her colorful legs and she let out a sigh. It wasn't like her to let thoughts bring her down and she quickly shook it off, looking back at the destination ahead. Just where is this calling taking me?
The bridge from Enmir was child's play compared to the crisscrossing bridges one had to cross to get onto the Isles themselves. Spritz was happy that she was small in size, able to squeeze between other travelers. From her practice on the tree walkways, she was (albeit shakily) able to move up the islands slowly by keeping her eyes pointed upward. It's gotta be Ilrian! The place I'm meant to go! The kittom jumped with joy as she landed on another small island. Thunderous waterfalls surrounded her and she could see the large city on another island, far off. With a bright grin, she took a few steps but recoiled from the noise in her ears. She twisted her head back and shook it like something was stuck in her ears.
"I'm almost there, just leave me alone!" She shouted, much to the surprise of others passing by. The kittom grumbled and walked around in another circle. Why now is it still doing it? It was frustrating, but slowly the thought crept into her mind. "Is it not the city...?" She spoke low, to herself, and stared back out at the islands floating peacefully. How unlike herself they were. As her eyes glossed over with internal thoughts but they were interrupted quickly as she thought she saw a twinkle from afar. Curiosity getting the better of her, she headed off to a path far less traveled. A path moved off to a series of small islands, tiered just above each other with vines crossing between them and small, wooden bridges with large gaps set between them.
Apprehension filled her body, but it was overrun with her excitement to see what the glittering was. Above her a waterfall trickled down, creating a rainbow as the water droplets danced with the sun. Breathtaking as it was, the rainbow wasn't her destination and she continued on through the new maze of islands. Doing her best to not stare down at the water, she crossed one of the more precarious bridges that swayed in the soft breezes. As it shook, Spritz felt the surge of fear and she jumped over onto a smaller island, coughing from the dust as it settled.
When she sat up her tails wiggled and she regarded the tiny island to see where it had taken her. Large roots encased the side of the island, connected to a nearby island with a large tree. Small outcroppings of rocks formed a barrier on the opposite side. Near the center, a small pond of water glistened in the sunlight, sitting in a crescent moon shape with an area to sit nearby. At the edges of the water, crystal-like structures shimmered, varying in hues of color. Spritz took in a deep breath of the cool air nearby. A sudden peacefulness surrounded her and she smiled softly, listening to the grass rustle and water flowing from nearby waterfalls.
Wait, it's quiet.
Inside of her ears, she couldn't hear or sense the presence of the sound she'd been carrying around like a companion. Instead, she could hear the richness of nature around her. The glimmer she saw was gone, but she approached the water, staring at the little space by the water and she approached, looking down. "Oh!" At the bottom of the water, crystals jutted out in a rainbow kaleidoscope. Her eyes sparkled and she set down her little basket to the side, looking back up to the blue sky and white clouds floating overhead. Spritz exhaled. "I think... this is the place." She said simply. Turning back to her shadow she reached deep inside of it until she pulled out a small orange cloth. She smiled warmly while she set it down in the space, smoothing it out.
Aurum. Her thoughts went back to the small orange and white kittom and she blushed softly. The small blanket had been what wrapped around the sweets he'd made. The design was of maple leaves, handwoven into the sides with varying colors of orange, like Autumn. She could see where she had spilled some jam on it, leaving little spots of red stains and she gave it a warm smile. Though she often intended to return it, she just couldn't let the keepsake go. And now it accompanied her on a different kind of journey. Slowly she perched on it, bringing her body down to lay on the soft fabric, staring at the water that rippled softly.
Silence soothed her body, finally coming down from the adrenaline rush from her jump earlier. Though the noise was now gone, and the source of the sparkling known, she was unsure of what to do. Was there something she was meant to be here for? What was the purpose of such a long journey? It was clear to see that her fear of heights, and learning how to push through, was some sort of necessity. But now all she was doing was sitting, staring at the water and being among nature. Surely that was something she could have done anywhere else, what was the special reason for being in the Sunshard Islands?
The midday sun had moved straight above and as the clouds rolled away it revealed the brightness underneath the water. It reflected back on the water, creating a pool of colors. Spritz stared at the water in awe, feeling a tingling sensation in her body. Warmth filled her and she watched the colors dance in an ethereal display. Otherworldy as it was, it made her feel at ease and her eyelids fluttering. While she wanted to fight the urge to close them, something inside of her called for them to close and she gently shut them, feeling the warmth of the sun reflecting from the water onto her in colored strands.
She became acutely aware of her breathing after a few moments, but it faded away as a sense of serenity filled her. Inside her mind were bright colors, mixing along to the sound of the distant water like a liquid prism. Though she was small, she suddenly felt like something much bigger surrounded her. Something beyond her body, the water pool, the rocks, roots and even beyond the island. Maybe even beyond the land itself. Slowly breathing, she swore she smelled something sweet at the very edges of the wind. It was relaxing. The rest of her worries melted away as her thoughts swirled with colors and feelings rather than distinct images. Warmth filled her tiny body, as well as a sense of ease. Her mind had reached out and she could feel the island as it gently moved with the wind, yet remained floating. No matter how the wind blows or the water flows, the isles stay where they are. The words swirled among the thoughts and sank into the abyss of happy thoughts.
Yet in her meditation, she gradually became aware of something else around her. The crystals hummed in the light of the sun, and she wondered briefly if perhaps they were related to mana or other forms of magic. She'd had very little experience, but had heard stories and watched marvels at the Starfall Faire. Here, it swirled around her like a forming mist to cut through the warmth she felt deep inside. It brought her to an equilibrium. Is this what it is? This balance? Echoes of voices filled her ears, just out of reach of what she could understand. There was a kindness in their words, trying to tell her something. She wanted to scream out to them - but all went silent.
Her nose crinkled.
Something around her changed. One moment she felt attuned to her surroundings. The mist. The warmth. All of the emotional sensations and feeling of being small in a larger setting. Now it teetered closer onto the cold, to the dark. She felt her eyes squint tightly as they remained closed. What's that...? What's coming now...? It formed into her mind, like an ink droplet into a water well. There was something else there, a dark blot in the parade of colors. A coldness into her warm center.