Category Archives: Series of Unfortunate Stumblings

Not just a dream.

Hot afternoon air was filled with cicadas singing and a faint smell of dry grass, flower blossoms, and strawberries. Children’s laughter rang across the garden and Circe blinked several times trying to get used to the white sunshine. That garden! That exact day, she realized, shaking her head in disbelief. That dream… She hadn’t had it in a while.
Stepping lightly, she walked deeper into the garden to once again watch, and listen, and… remember.
The boy and the girl were there, sitting near the fountain and arguing.
“Stop it, that looks stupid! I look stupid” the boy tagged at the side of a flower crown.
The girl giggled. “You don’t! You look cute. Sit still.” She added another flower.
“Why can’t we just get the books and talk of dragons?”
“‘Cause we did it last time and I have won the bet!” Another flower joined those in the crown. “As always!” singsonged the girl.
“Not always!” argued the boy. “I let you win, so I don’t have to see you cry!”
“Are you now?”
“Yes, I do!”
“No, you don’t!”
“Yes, I do!”

Circe could recall with a minute to minute precision every word they would say, every move they would make, as well as every time she dreamed of this scene.

The first time she had this dream many years ago, as a child, just mere weeks before her friend perished with his whole family in something that later her Nan called a “daedric incident”. The dream was back after that each time to leave her in tears on waking up from it. She remembered that one and only time when it changed, adding another detail to itself. Several years after the incident she felt the presence of another spectator in it, moments later noticing a vague cloaked in shadows figure behind the trees on the other side of the clearing. A couple of months after that she acted on her decision to run away from home to avoid an arranged marriage. Since then that Another, as Circe called the figure, became the essential part of the dream. Time after time she tried to get closer to the figure to see the intruder more clearly, failing every time, always facing an invisible wall, preventing her from getting a better view.
There it was again, dark figure – standing and looking at the children’s playful argument. Slowly, carefully she moved, trying to reach it again.

Step.
“You look like an elf from the book,” said the girl. “Nan has that book with fairy tales she read me when I was smaller.”
Step.
“You’re still small,” scoffed the boy. “You’re only 12.”
Step.
“Hey,” the girl lightly pushed him. “Almost 13 and I don’t need Nan to read me anymore!”
Another little step. That’s where she usually is met by the invisible wall.
“But you’re still reading fairy tales,” teased the boy.

To Circe’s surprise, she could take another couple of steps towards the figure. And then some more. She could see it clearer now – definitely male, stubborn chin and pressed together lips. The upper part of the face, as well as the edges of the silhouette, were still blurred, but whoever it was he seemed to be mesmerized by the scene in front of him.
Circe stole a glance at the children near the fountain. 12 year old her tucked the last flower in the boy’s hair and was now examining the flower crown on his head with deep satisfaction on her face. “You really look like an elf, but we will need to think of another name for you. “Alastair” doesn’t sound very elven.”

Circe blinked, suddenly noticing that the smell of strawberries overpowered everything else. She carefully reached forward trying to touch the man’s arm, and as if sensing her movement he turned to face her. “Who are you?” she whispered, blinking furiously and trying to make out his face, still being unable to see it clearly. The smell of strawberries and cicadas trills got overwhelming and the dream suddenly crumbled in pieces, shattering like glass around her.
She woke up in her small apartment at the Belkarth Inn. “Time to get the job done!” She will check that abandoned house in the outskirts of Elinhir to see if its previous owner left anything of value behind and then head back to Abah’s Landing, she decided. She’s been away long enough.

A little bit on the posts down the line

Alastair and Circe are two young Imperials, awkward dorks whom we RP with an old friend of mine in ESO (alongside with Rin and Garzur, but that’s another story altogether). We’re in the middle of their storyline, far from its end, but it’s fun enough to tease my lazy plot bunnies into action and writing some bits down. I plan, but, honestly, don’t see myself writing a full-scale story about those two in any visible future, so there’s just it – small drabbles about them and their efforts to figure out mutual feelings and stuff.

Pickpocketing

“You’d never pickpocket me.” He smiled widely at Circe, pleasantly warm and his head buzzing slightly from the wine. “I’m always alert.”
Young woman’s eyebrows shot up. “Are you, really?”
Alastair snorted. “Of course! Besides you said it yourself, you’re not too good…”
“But I’m not that bad either!”
Alastair’s grin got even wider. “Ok, how about… I’ll take this septim and put it here…” – he carefully tucked the coin behind his belt. “Come on, try to get it from me!”
Circe’s eyes narrowed. “Are you challenging me?” She took a small step towards the man. “You?” She took another step, coming close. “Or are you just trying to piss me off?”
Alastair blinked, she looked really angry that moment – eyes narrowed and nostrils flared. Angry and… beautiful. He blinked again trying to clear his head and stand his ground. “Well, you wanted to prove you can make it after all, didn’t you?”
“Oh, you…” Circe’s finger was now poking him in the chest. “I! Do not! Have! To prove! You! Anything!” Abruptly she took a step away and turned his back to him, and Alastair suddenly noticed her shoulders were shaking.
He felt like a bucket of ice-cold water washed over him. He didn’t just make her angry, he… made her cry? “Circe, I… (am the worst, I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry, I didn’t mean to! Please forgive me!)”
The young woman took a deep breath and turned to him. There wasn’t a trace of tears on her face and her eyes were shining with mirth – on the palm of her hand was lying a septim coin.
Alastair’s jaw dropped and his hand shot to his belt. There was no mistake, a coin on Circe’s palm was the one he challenged her to take from him.
“How did you…? When did you…?”
Circe stopped close to him again, took his hand and gently pressed the coin into it.
“Seems like I’m not that bad after all, aren’t I?”

Scandalous Sweetrolls

Art book, “Allure of the Sweetroll”
Rare art book, “Ong’s Passion: Allure of the Sweetroll”,
depicting healthy unclad Imperials holding artfully placed sweetrolls.
(from the item description)

“Make yourself at home, it won’t take long.” Saying that Circe disappeared through the doorway leaving him in her small, but cozy apartment in the Belkarth inn.
“Might’ve as well waited in the common room” he muttered more to himself, feeling slightly awkward surrounded with her belongings and a faint smell of jasmine – so distinctively “hers” that it made him dreamy and dizzy at the same time. Alastair sighed and looked around. A stack of books on a small shelf got his attention, and he moved closer – history, poetry, something about cooking. Cooking? Alastair shook his head, Circe definitely knew how to cook, but reading a cooking book – that was new! “Allure of the Sweetroll” – even the name sounded tempting. Snatching the book from the shelf he flipped through the pages.
The room suddenly seemed much smaller and way hotter, and he felt treacherous bright red color creeping up his neck to his cheeks. Alastair shut the book with a loud snap. That was not a cooking book! Oh, there were sweetrolls in it, sure, plenty of them actually. Held by and placed on various body parts of young Imperials.
Suddenly he remembered lingering looks Circe gave him several days ago when he was eating one of the sweetrolls she brought. No. Oh, no! Or? The blush that started to disappear was back. Could it be that she made those on purpose?
He dared another peek in the book, opening it in the middle and flipping some more pages. Oh. Oh! His breath caught, and he paused looking at the two portraits of a young woman. The first showed her holding a sweetroll in both palms as if offering it to him, and on the second she was biting in the plump pastry’s side, still looking straight at the viewer, her smiling lips lightly smeared with the white icing. She didn’t look like Circe, except for, maybe, the color of her eyes – but it didn’t help. All Alastair could see was Circe smiling like that and biting the sweetroll.
“Here’s the letters I wanted to… Oh!”
Alastair spun around facing her. Circe’s looked at his burning face, then at the book in his hands and at his face again tilting her head to the side in surprise and amusement.
“I thought you were more into huge Redguard guys!” he blurted out trying to hide his embarrassment.
“I… What? No! I… What are you talking about?” Circe’s turned the most lovely shade of pink. She took a step closer, looking at the book’s cover. “That’s not what you think it is! It’s an artbook!”
“Yes. Right. Art…” His voice trailed off.
“But it is! It even says so in the foreword.”
“I… I think I’d better go now.” Trying not to meet her eyes with his Alastair scooted over to the door.

***********

The first thing he saw getting back home was Garzur… lazily chewing a sweetroll. Alastair choked on a greeting and froze at the doorstep, looking at his friend. Orsimer vampire rose his eyebrows and after a brief pause broke the pastry in two, offering half to him. Blood rushed back to the young man’s cheeks.
“By the Divines! I think I had enough of those today!” With that he stormed upstairs, leaving puzzled orc to wonder how an innocent offering of a sweetroll might’ve caused such reaction.