Hey there! Sorry for the delay. I'm a bit lazy (okay, change that to very) and I'd gone to China for summer so, yeah, it's easy to get distracted. Anyhow, I'm here now, and that's what matters!
Nerili dreamed of a great wave of light. It had started as a drop, inside her, until it became large enough to swallow her and finally became a wave. Suddenly, she felt the wave quivering. It was quivering both inside her, as her, and outside her. It was being sucked out, and still there. And she, Nerili, and she, the wave itself, were both crying.
"Nerili? Nerili?" Someone was shaking her awake.
"Wh-what?" Nerili groaned, as she raised her face groggily out from the lush pillows.
"Wake up, you silly girl! Whatever do you think you're at, sleeping late when it is the day of the coral expedition, to which every girl may cast spells on each other so that she is the one who gets to see those lovely corals and swim in those cool waters?"
Nerili wanted to push away this girl who'd so unmercifully aroused her from her deep slumber. She raised her head higher, and saw, with annoyance, but not surprise, that it was Kabeka.
"Kabeka...don't create such a mayhem. I'm getting up!" Nerili sat up and ruffled her tousled hair.
"That's not the point; we have missed the first excursion! And you know the real fun lies in the first excursion!"
"Kabeka, honestly, you're behaving like a child of six. In fact, six year olds behave better than you." Nerili removed her blanket. "Now, if you will, I've to get ready."
Kabeka left the room quietly enough, though her lips were still pursed up in annoyance. Nerili watched her leave and as the door was shut, she let out a tired sigh. What had that dream been about, she wondered, as she took a sea green dress which she had selected the previous night into her bath area, where she opened the taps to fill up the bath.
As she stepped in to her bath, Nerili played the dream in her mind again. A great wave of light, which remained a wave, becamer her, and left her - all at the same time. And when it was receding, she felt the pain. The pain hadn't been merely anguish about the departure of the wave; it had been almost as if she was regretting allowing the wave to overwhelm her, to enchant her, and more importantly, to become her.
Her mind was trying to decipher the dream even as she dressed, and by the time she got out of her room, Kabeka had gone half-mad.
The Great Magdelian Gesdath of Thorold - an isolated cave along Thorold's and Busk's rockiest and most dangerous coast - the Sea's Ire Shore, the Bards called it. They said that it was there, where the Lady of the seas of Thorold had been rejected by her Mountain lover. It was where the Lady drenched the Mountain with her gifts; gifts which were now given out of spite instead of love. The Gesdath was hard to locate, even for a Bard's eye, but as the Bards who were directing the winds were experienced, they reached the shore very safely.
The Gesdath was hidden, as if it was the Lady's heart itself. It was hidden, some sang, by the Lady, who wanted to preserve the love she'd once felt, and the joy she'd got out of her love. The coral deposits were said to be the tears of her heart. Some of the Bards used to feel this description of the corals so deeply, that when they used to actually visit the corals, they used to be moved to tears.
It was Nerili's maiden voyage to that shore. She got gingerly off the boat, and felt the sea winds whip her face.
"I didn't realise it would be so windy." She stated, as she took in the rocks of the Gesdath.
"I suppose it's the first time you're coming here, then, miss?" their boatman asked. "We mage the winds to keep them still; for it is better to carry on with winds of magery, than to let the sea do her work and end up being wrecked somewhere."
"Well, I certainly would be lying, Owan, if I said that I'd expected something a bit more imposing." She shrugged. Nerili didn't find the place to be understated or anything less than beautiful - if anything, she felt it described her completely - but she couldn't stop her vivid imagination churning out exceedingly detailed or grand scenes for her.
Nerili felt the wind and the rocks, the sea and white sand which was bespeckled with small black stones, and the sounds of nature and the blue of the sky and the sea deeply. To say simply, she was in awe of it. However, her awe ironically transformed her expression and deameanour to mere nonchalance, which has resulted in a number of dejected artists and other people of notice.
"Well, Nerili, this is the Lady at her barest; will of rock and winds of despair, confusion and rage protecting gems of a heart." Owan d'Aroki smiled and returned back to the boat.
"It's beautiful, isn't it, Nerili?" Kabeka grinned. "Here, let me tuck in your dress; it'll be reduced to rags if you take even a step on these treacherous rocks. I say, isn't the wind bothering you? Tuck your hair in the lovely new scarf of yours, Neri!"
Kabeka excitedly took Nerili's hair in her hands and began wrapping her scarf around them.
"Kabeka, I'll manage on my own." Nerili smiled at the enthusiasm which her friend displayed. Kabeka had been here quite a few times, but still she was as awed as ever.
"Well, then, come along!"
Nerili tried to find some footing as much as possible, but seemed to be failing miserably.
"Actually, Kabeka, I wouldn't mind some help." But she realised her friend had long gone.
Stumbling and fumbling through, often cutting sides of her feet against the rocks, she finally reached the cave. Supporting herself with a rock boulder, which made it seem as if nothing but a huge rock existed beyond, Nerili shut her eyes against a sparkling fountain of light. The glare was so strong, that she thought herself to be blind to not have seen it even from afar.
Suddenly the light went out and Nerili found herself opening her mouth in horror.
"Come in, Nerili, you're spoiling the view." Someone whispered. Nerili shuffled herself in, and suddenly, the light was back, and the pain in her palm caused by the cuts and bruises there was forgotten.
"Isn't it wonderful?" someone asked softly.
"Yes. It is." Nerili responded.
"I see it every year, and it never fails to amaze me. It is magnificent." Someone else echoed.
And it indeed was. The ceiling was not too high, which made the cave look more like a hide away. The glare was coming in from a part of the wall close to the entrance. The entire wall was made of crystal. She retreated and saw the sunlight strike the crystal so perfectly, as if they had to be together.
She looked around, and saw crystal branches jutting out of rock walls; crystals hanging from ceilings in such a way that it looked like they were large tear drops and some crystals even grew out of the floor like plants grow from soil. There were pillars of crystal, and small gaps in walls from which crystals peeked out like sunflowers.
Nerili observed them carefully - they were colourless, with only a streak of blue running through them. The crystal wall reflected the light on to the other formations, and they shined with different colours each time you noticed them. They didn't illuminate the cave, but their glow was enough.
Everyone walked very silently through the narrow end of the cave which was barely visible. If Nerili had anything on her mind besides wonder at such beauty, it was only astonishment at why her neck wasn't aching, considering how frequently her eyes were seeking every part everywhere, every time.
She would have kept walking had she not stumbled into someone's hand.
"Careful." The person ahead of her replied, holding out his hand to her.
"What is up ahead?" she whispered back.
"The corals. There's water, and difficult journey, which is why it's taking a lot of time."
Finally, the Bard ahead of her began moving, and Nerili walked as fast as she could to keep up with him. A sudden thought struck her.
"Why can't we use a magelight here?"
"It allows us to appreciate the beauty of the cave as it is. The natural light, the natural crystals and corals - it makes it seem more breath taking that way. Also, these caves are old. Use of magery may harm the natural features here."
Nerili nodded, not quite knowing that no one would be able to see her.
"Be careful up ahead - there's a bit of an ascent and more water."
Nerili just barely suppressed her sigh of frustration.
The water was increasing, and Nerili could almost feel her feet sinking into the soft sand. She distracted herself from the pain of the trek by thinking about what colour the sand could've been. Finally, the man in front of her stopped. The narrow passage widened, and suddenly, Nerili found herself in an oval cave, with crystal adorning the roof, and in front of her, lapping at her feet, the clearest and coldest water she'd ever seen or felt.
In the little lake, which ran till the end of the cave, were ledges on which resided corals of every colour imaginable. And the most surprising part was - they glittered. Nerili realised with a slight shock that the crystals were growing amongst and beside the corals.
The water reflected the crystal tapestry above, and though it wasn't quite still, it was even so hypnotising.
"A pity, I was late for the first trip. The third trip is hardly worth it." someone beside her said.
"Why? Don't you find this beautiful?" Nerili challenged. How could one be so impartial towards that bewitching sight in front of them?
There was laughter. "Your first time here? Well, then, if you come next year to the first trip here then you'll see what I mean. This sight is spoiled - some corals are trampled, the water is not still, foot prints along the way and the crystals have become dirty."
Until now, they were talking in whispers, but a Bard broke the silence.
"Here we are, my friends, beholding the one of the most bewitching sight in Thorold, and perhaps, Edil-Amarandh. Feast your eyes, and then we'll depart. And all the men and women who have attended their maiden voyage here, rejoice! For you have seen the jewels of a lover's heart, jewels and flowers which were planted at the very beginning this love started. Once you leave, you will find something new. And if the Light wills, maybe even a love."
"If the Light wills!" Everyone echoed besides her and a few other people, who were presumably here for the first time. After a few minutes, they began heading out towards the shore.
"So, do you believe finding something new or some love?" Nerili asked a random Bard behind her.
"A love, you say? That's all I ask." Nerili realised it was the same man who was walking in front of her when they were exploring the cave.
"What do they call you?" the man asked.
"Nerili." she replied. "Nerili of Busk." she added as an afterthought. They were near the end now. "What is your name?"
But before he could answer, a couple of her friends, with Kabeka leading them, jumped almost on top of Nerili to ask her how she'd felt. And in the glorious sun, with the water lapping up nearby and wind blowing against her cheeks, with her closest friends talking and giggling with her, she felt a kind of joy that she hadn't felt for quite some time now.