Polychrome – Chapter 05
He did it. He DID it! For a moment, Polychrome was so filled with joy that she could do nothing but dance in the darkness, the song in her heart echoed by the Music of the Spheres, trying to give to her dance the ascending glory and defiant, mortal pride and courage that glorious City represented. She laughed, and saw his face looking up at her as she floated lightly in the air, and for a moment, she wondered at what she saw there; he seemed transfigured by her own joy, his blue eyes exultant yet wide and filled with something she could not quite recognize, something that made her miss a step, stumble subtly, an uneven movement that a mortal might not notice, but that was the clumsiest motion she had made in centuries.
But there is still so far to go, she reminded herself, and took hold of her joy. It was still there – at long last, they could at least begin, the hope was not gone – but they had to move, and move swiftly. She extended her hand. “Dance with me, Erik.”
He stared at her and blushed. “Um… Dance? I wish I could, but me dancing with you would be like trying to get a hippopotamus to do acrobatics with a dragonfly – the hippo would look ridiculous and the dragonfly might get squashed by accident.”
She laughed and took his hand. “Oh, I am sure you are not quite that bad, Erik, even if you have never danced in all your life. And really, it’s necessary.”
He took her hand gingerly, as though afraid to break her, and she extended her fingers, gripped tightly. “I am not a porcelain doll, Erik Medon, nor a dragonfly to be crushed easily. Now follow the motions.”
He’s definitely never danced as I know it, she thought, as he tried to follow her steps. But he does have some sense of rhythm, not entirely unschooled in musical beats…
Erik seemed to finally recognize the movements, at least in essence, following the music as it followed her. Not perfect, not nearly so graceful as even one of the Storm Guards, but not so bad as she had feared or he had implied. “So… this is necessary?”
She smiled at his puzzled expression. “Very necessary. You see, only by dancing our way through the sky will we be able to reach my Father’s realm. He cannot send another of his Bows here to the mortal realm, not so soon after the last; there are many reasons for that. But I have my own magic that – if you allow it, if you are part of it – can bring us where we need to go.”
“Dance through the sky?” he repeated incredulously, eyes still fixed upon hers as they had been ever since he took her hand. “Poly, really, there’s just no way that could happen. Not with me, two left feet and all.”
She giggled and swept one hand outward. “But Erik… you already are doing it.”
He glanced down and gasped, stopping for a moment, forcing her to continue to dance around him. Beneath them a ghostly, circular rainbow light rippled like a spectral dance floor, but beneath that lay air, hundreds, thousands of feet of air, sparkling lights like faerie itself dusting the land below. She laughed aloud at the wonder in his face, and again as she saw neither fear nor denial but a blaze of joy like the dawn in his face. “We’re flying!”
“Air-walking, dancing in the clouds, yes, even flying, Erik, that we are, on and within that which is my middle name, as long as you have the heart to see it with wonder as I hear in your voice.”
“Within… the glory,” he said, wonderingly. “Polychrome Glory…” His eyes met hers again for a bright needle-sharp moment, and then he seized her hand and led her in a dance, a crude dance but one of energy and sincerity that she cheerfully threw herself into wholeheartedly. “Oh, Polychrome, you… you have no idea. To fly among the clouds… this is one of my dreams. Since I can remember!”
His joy was contagious and echoed her hope, and she saw the glory following his feet as it followed her own, resonating between them as though he had, somehow, always known. Erik glanced ahead and his own smile broadened. “Can we dance to the top of that tower, Lady Polychrome? Will I be able to make it that far?”
In the silver of moonlight and the approaching deep rose of dawn, a mighty thunderhead loomed in the distance, an argent mountain of misted rubies. “That far and farther, Erik, for beyond that a thousand miles and ten lies the castle of my Father – a thousand miles, and closer than a few heartbeats.”
He said nothing, but his eyes shone, and for a moment she saw how he must have looked ten, twenty, perhaps even thirty years before, sharp gaze filled with wonder and a happiness unadulterated by any doubt or fear.
But as they climbed the misty billows, leaping from one height to the next in a dreamlike series of leaps, she saw a flicker of light to one side, far away. Dim and small, but the violet-against-darkness was unmistakable. A Tempest.
“Erik… we must keep our eyes open. Remember what I said about my journey here.”
It was odd; for a moment, she could have sworn that his face lit up more as he realized the implications. But it might have been her imagination, for his expression became grim almost instantly. “You saw something?” He glanced around, eyes scanning the area.
“Only one, and far away. It may not have seen us yet. And they would be scattered far and wide now, knowing that I may travel far from my landing spot ere I return. But I am afraid we need be on our guard. You… are not a warrior, I could see, and I will have to defend you if they catch us.”
His jaw set, his mouth opened as if to argue; but, despite the pride she saw in his face, she also saw him force it down. “I… guess you would.”
That was not easy for him. He probably thinks of me as a fragile mortal girl. “But I’d rather we not have to worry about that.” She led the dance, off to the side of the thunderhead, now reaching the crest. “The sun will rise soon, and while they can function in daylight, their senses will be dulled and – with luck – we shall be able to evade their notice.” She took stock of the situation, the distance they must travel, what songs and steps she might take to find the shorter path between the mortal and faerie worlds, nodded. “Just promise me – no matter what you think is the proper or right course – that you will do as I say if the time comes.”
Reluctantly, he nodded. “All… all right.”
She stood still for a moment, looking to the East; the bright line of sky abruptly brightened and a single beam of sunshine speared out, illuminating them and warming her, casting their shadows like arrows into the vast Western distance. “Then,” she said, with a sharp smile and hearing the music echo her resolve, “let’s go!”