CHAPTER 3 - Glass Pearls
Sora stared out the window, watching the sunrise. She sat cross-legged on the bed, holding her harp in her lap. Sora's hair hung in her eyes and around her head in a tangled mess. Her clothes were rumpled from sleeping in them, along with the bed sheets. She jumped and nearly dropped her harp when the door burst open.
"Oh! I'm sorry." Frat said, a little too loudly. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's okay." Sora smiled slightly. "Sit. I was watching the sun come up."
Fratello sat down on the bed next to her. His hair was still tousled from sleep and he wore loose clothes. He didn't seem like the princely guy she had met yesterday. Sora turned her eyes back to the rising sun, and hummed softly to herself. Frat glanced at her, then began to hum with her. They both jumped when the door burst open again. "Hey, Sora. Hey Frat." Link said, walking in loudly. "Nice morning. What are you two up to?"
"Currently rising. Working towards shining." Sora quipped.
"Oh cute Sora." Link rolled his eyes. "You promised a full tour today, Frat." "I didn't mean at dawn." Frat said sarcastically. "We here on the Isle like to eat breakfast in the morning." Sora laughed.
"What's got you so bright eyed and bushy tailed, Link?" Sora asked.
"That is none of your business." Link replied, grinning slyly. "You're in a pretty good mood for someone whose parents just died." Sora muttered. Link's face fell.
"That was low, Sora." Link said.
"No fighting today." Fratello chimed in. "Today we're all going to get along.
We're going to be best friends and we're going to have fun. Understood?"
Sora snickered. "Who do you think you're kidding, Frat?"
"Me, myself and I." Frat sighed. "Or at least I'm trying to anyway."
"Aw! You're kinda grouchy in the morning." Sora teased. "I haven't had breakfast yet." Frat said. "Get dressed and wash up, and I'll meet you downstairs at the breakfast table."
Sora nodded and stood up, straightening the sheets. Link stood watching her for a moment, until she shoved him out the door, locking it behind him. She walked to the window and rested her palms on the cold stone sill, leaning out slightly and peering down into the crystal clear water of the moat. Birds chirped loudly around her, singing their morning song with glory and triumph. Sora smiled and turned back into the room to get dressed, sighing softly as a slight breeze swept her hair off her neck and into her eyes.
Sora sat on the whitewashed fence, listening to Fratello and watching where he pointed. Link stood on the fence next to her staring out over the emerald green grass at the abnormally tall horses prancing around in the early morning light. He listened to Frat with half an ear, his eyes focused on a big white horse in the middle of the field that was watching them warily; one ear cocked forward, the other tilted back. "I see you've got your eyes on Legacy." Frat said, slapping Link on the back.
Link jumped and glanced around, smiling sheepishly. "That's a beautiful horse." Sora commented. "He's not as tall as the others though. Did you say the tall ones were magic?"
"Correct." Frat pointed to a tall black mare standing in the shade of a large tree. "They are magic all right. Each one is specially bred for a member of the C'dessa family, and no one else can tame or ride one. They only respond to a song their companion was born knowing."
"But wouldn't another person know the song after hearing it?" Link asked. "Did I not say it was magic?" Frat chuckled softly. "Even if you hear the song, you would not remember it, because it is not yours to remember. Only one horse here remains untamed."
Fratello pointed to the far corner of the meadow. A big red stallion stood there dozing on his feet, his ears drooping, his tail swishing lazily at flies. Sora stared at him, studying him; his finely boned face, pert nose and perfectly sculpted head. His coat was bright red with speckles of white and black hair on his back, nose, legs and the very tips of his ears. Briar branches were tangled into his mane and tail and dried mud crusted his hooves and legs.
"He's beautiful!" Sora breathed.
"Beautiful?" Faylore said incredulously. "Are you sure you're not still sick, Sora?"
"Well, he's beautiful in a wild sorta way." Sora explained lamely. "Wild is right." Fratello said. "He was supposed to belong to my sister, but since she's gone, no one can even get near him."
"He's all muddy." Sora muttered, frowning. "You can't even brush him?"
"No." Frat sighed. "I tried to get those briars out one day and he kicked me.
I've stayed away since then."
"Does he have a name?" Sora asked.
"No." Frat replied. "My sister had a name for him. It was a secret, though, and she told no one, not even me."
"Come on!" Link piped up. "I don't wanna to be here all day."
Fratello nodded and climbed over the fence, making a beeline for the shaded tree where the black mare stood, watching them. He stopped half way and beckoned for the others to follow him. Sora jumped off the fence and sprinted across the field, while Faylore struggled daintily over the fence, trying to avoid splinters and mud. Link helped her down, making sure she didn't get dirty and they followed Sora and Fratello across the grass, which was still wet with morning dew.
Fratello gave the black mare a slight push and she turned her head and butted his chest playfully. Frat scratched her behind the ears briefly, then pushed her again and she moved out of the way. Behind her was a gate; it wasn't latched, but hung part way open. Frat turned to the mare and glared at her.
"This is Summer Sky, my horse." Frat told them.
"But she's black." Link said.
"Yeah but look at her." Sora laughed. "As innocent as a summer sky." "Correct again, little bird." Frat said. "She is probably the most mischievous of them all. She can open latches of any kind, get apples from the tree, break into Mom's flower garden, and I wouldn't be surprised if she could fly."
"She probably can." Sora joked, her eyes sparkling as she laughed. "That's probably how she gets the apples from the tree and gets into your mother's garden."
"I don't think so." Faylore said. "If she could fly, she would probably spend all her time dancing on the clouds."
"Well, she'd better not do that when I'm on her." Frat laughed. "I hate heights."
Fratello pushed the gate open and held it for Faylore and Sora. He let is swing shut as Link walked through and it shoved him back into the mud. Sora tossed back her head and laughed, and Faylore covered a smile with her hand. Link glowered at Fratello and struggled to his feet; he had mud in his hair and smudged on his cheeks.
"Link, why didn't you just use that disguise when you ran away from home?"
Sora asked, giggling. "It would have been perfect."
"There's a place you can wash, not far from here." Frat said. "Come on."
Fratello led them to a small clearing, where a waterfall spilled into a crystal clear brook and ran down through the trees in a trickle of a stream. A doe, with a small brown fawn at her side, sipped from the cool waters of the brook. She looked up when the group approached, and sprinted into the underbrush, her little fawn still glued to her side. "Anyone wanna go for a swim?" Frat asked, grinning. "Yeah!" Link exclaimed. He tugged off his loose shirt and jumped in, splashing all of them.
Faylore hiked her skirts up to her thighs and waded into the water. Fratello tugged off his shirt and splashed in after Link, getting Faylore wet in the process. She shrieked and stumbled backwards into the water, but Link managed to catch her before she got too wet. Sora watched her friends, feeling empty. She had always had a strange fear of water and couldn't bring herself to go in with them.
"Come on, Sora!" Frat called. "This is so nice!"
Sora shook her head, sat on the grassy bank, pulled off her boots and dangled her feet in the water. Link flicked water at her and she skimmed her hand over the water, sending a spray back at him. He splashed her with a huge wave of water; she spat out a mouthful and shook her now soaked hair. Sora kicked her feet in the water, sending huge rushes at Link, hoping he would leave her alone. Instead he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her in, dunking her under the water and holding her down. When Link finally let her up, Sora screamed at the top of her lungs and struggled to get away. "Whoa, whoa! Calm down!" Link shook her gently.
"Let go of me!" Sora yelped.
Link shrugged and dropped her. Sora slid under the water and it closed over her head, getting in her eyes, nose and mouth. She panicked and clawed around under water until Link dragged her to the surface again. Sora purposely spit her mouthful of water in his face, but he just laughed and shook it off.
"What's the matter, Sora?" Link asked, still laughing. "Afraid of a little water?"
"Yes!" Sora spat. "I don't like water! I never have. I don't know why."
"I'm sorry." Link said softly. "I didn't know."
Sora's eyes caught Link's and he stared, looking slightly startled and tightened his arms around her. Fratello watched them, smiling smugly as Faylore balled her hands into fists at her sides and glared angrily at Sora and Link. Faylore fumed silently, and Frat bit his lip to keep from laughing. When it looked like Faylore was about to explode, a shiver ran through Frat and he waded over to Link and Sora and splashed them. Link jumped and nearly dropped Sora again.
"Don't!" Sora shrieked.
"I won't let anything happen to you." Link said. "I promise."
"Promises were meant to be broken." Sora muttered bitterly. "I hate water!"
"Sora, calm down." Frat soothed her. "If Link drops you, I'm right here."
"What about me?" Faylore whined.
"You're not even in up to your knees." Sora pointed out. "I don't think you have to worry about drowning over there."
"At least I can swim." Faylore muttered.
Link ignored Faylore's whining and waded over to the shallower end of the pond. He set Sora down on a rock that was covered in water and Sora noticed with dismay that the water came up to her waist. Frat crept up behind Link and splashed him, getting Sora in the process. Link turned and soon the two boys were in an all out water fight, managing to get the girls almost as wet as they were.
"Okay, you win!" Link laughed, holding up his hands. "I yield."
"Of course I did." Frat grinned.
Link swam over to the bank, pulled himself up and sat cross-legged with his head tilted down, trying to catch his breath. Faylore sat on the rock next to Sora and Frat leaned against the edge of the brook, still laughing and shaking out his hair.
"Okay, Frat." Sora said. "You promised to tell us about this Isle."
"What would you like to know?" Frat asked.
"Everything!" Sora replied, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
"Everything?" Frat laughed. "Could you be more specific?"
"No." Sora grinned.
"Okay." Frat said. "Well, Caseree is really hard to explain, because there is no actual rhyme or reason, no true meaning. All of what you see here is made of magic; much is illusions and dreams. Caseree comes from inside us." "Us?"
"Us." Frat nodded slowly. "There are several races on Caseree Isle. Each one uses magic for some reason."
"Do they all have purple eyes?" Link asked.
"All." Frat replied. "My family and I, we are the Alima. The Lente are spring fairies, the Lixue are winter fairies, the Herbst are autumn fairies and the Natsu are summer fairies, but they are all classified as one race, Fairies." "Are they named because they only come out in those seasons?" Faylore asked.
"No. They have little jobs they do in each season." Fratello explained.
"There are also the ones we call Normals, because they are much like you. They don't use magic very much. The last race, are the Fay, which is sometimes spelled F-A-E or F-E-Y."
"I've heard of them." Sora said. "I heard that they were evil." "They are." Frat agreed. "Evil and beautiful. And also very powerful. Since we all have purple eyes, the only thing the distinguishes us from others is our hair color. The Alima are all blond, and the Normals are always dark, unless they have some Alima blood. The Fay all have red hair. With fairies it depends on what season fairy they are."
"The Fay." Link murmured. "My nanny, Cara, used to tell me tales of people called the Dark Faerie to get me to behave."
"Another name for the Fay." Frat told him. "We have long connections with the Sheikahs, who make up many tales about them. Is your nanny a Sheikah?" "Yeah." Link said. "I didn't know the Sheikah still lived."
"There is a small grouping of them, in place where Hyrule and Caseree meet. The way there is very dangerous and only very few make it back alive." Frat said.
"Speaking of making it back, I think we should head back to the castle."
Faylore piped up. "It looks like it will be dark soon and I'm getting hungry."
"Me too." Link said, pulling on his shirt.
Sora struggled out of the water with some help from Frat and pulled her boots back on. Frat climbed out of the water, shook himself off like a dog and put his shirt back on. The sun was falling below the trees and it was slightly difficult to see. In the distance, Sora could hear the sound of rushing water and she shivered in the cool night air.
Sora was sitting on the whitewashed fence again, almost a week later, holding a horse brush in her hand and watching the red stallion thoughtfully, trying to work up a plan. A bucket of soapy warm water sat on the ground, and Fratello sat next to her on the fence, holding another bucket of water and looking skeptical. Sora sighed and dropped the brush back into the bin of other brushes.
"There must be some way to get him to stand still." Sora muttered, her voice filled with determination.
"He doesn't stand still for anyone." Frat said.
Sora shrugged her shoulders lazily and slowly climbed down off the fence. She leaned against it a moment, totally still, before walking a couple of steps and looking around distractedly. The horse watched her, but she pretended not to notice, giving the impression that she had no actual reason for being in the field. When Frat laughed, she turned and glared at him. "What's so funny?" Sora demanded.
"He's not a normal horse, like Legacy." Frat explained. "He knows what you're trying to do and he's not going to fall for it."
Sora sighed and sat down in the dirt, hanging her head dejectedly.
She traced a pattern in the grass with her fingers, unable to think clearly. Frat jumped off the fence and leaned against it, watching her silently, unsure what to say. Sora had tried everything she could in the past week to get the horse to respond to her, no matter how many times Frat had told her that magic horses know better than that.
"I've tried everything." Sora said. "We need to get those briars out of his mane and tail. They must be bothering him. And he's covered in mud, and skinny too. He could use some good food, instead of just grass all the time." "I don't know what to tell you." Frat shrugged. "He's only meant for my sister. He doesn't even have a name. If he doesn't trust us, then there's nothing we can do for him."
"If he were my horse, I'd name him Robin." Sora said. "It's my favorite kind of bird. Robins sing so beautifully."
Fratello smiled down at Sora as she dug her nails into the dirt. She was so much like his sister; Robins were Sorella's favorite birds too. Frat looked up at the sound of hooves and his mouth dropped open. The red horse walked over to Sora and nudged her gently with his nose, whickering softly. Sora glanced up and smiled, then slowly held her hand out to the horse. He sniffed it and Sora reached up cautiously and rubbed his forehead, then scratched behind his ears.
Frat watched, amazed, and perfectly still, afraid to disturb the peaceful scene. He felt torn; he was happy that Sora had tamed the wild stallion, but at the same time, he felt betrayed. The horse was only supposed to be for his sister, and he was pretty sure now that Sora wasn't his sister. So, who was she, that she was able to tame Sorella's horse? "I did it!" Sora cheered. "Now we can take care of his coat and stuff. Come on, Robin. Let's clean you up."
Sora stood, grabbed the bucket of water, and hauled it over to Robin's side. She pulled out a sponge and sloshed the soapy water over the horse's back. Frat grabbed his bucket and helped her out, getting water all over himself. He scrubbed the thick layers of mud on the horse's legs and under his belly, while Sora worked on his back and neck.
After the bath they used a bundle of cotton towels to dry off their charge, from head to hoof, then brushed him thoroughly. He stretched his neck out, obviously enjoying the brushing. Then they worked together to the briars out of his mane and tail, cutting out the worst of the tangles, and then working a brush through the not so sever ones.
"Phew! I'm exhausted." Sora said.
"Me too. We should bring him inside for night and give him something good to eat." Frat suggested. "Not too much though, because he's not used to it." "Right." Sora agreed. "Come on, Robin."
The horse followed Sora through the side gate and trailed her all the way to the stable. Frat followed a few feet behind, watching them silently. Already the sun was beginning to set and Frat felt like he'd wasted the whole day.
Sora lay awake, staring at the ceiling, once again. She was too excited to sleep; in only a week, Robin had made amazing improvements. His coat was healthier, he had gained weight, he held his head higher and he was more responsive. Sora wanted to continue her work with him, not lay in bed awake. Finally she grew frustrated and threw the covers on the floor, bouncing out of bed and skipping over to the window.
It was near dawn and a strange mist settled over the water, blocking Sora's view of the green meadow beyond. Sora shrugged off the old woolen shift she'd been using to sleep in and quickly pulled on a loose shirt and leggings. She pulled on her boots, ran the soft brush Iola had given her through her hair and ran out of the room. She moved silently down the long, twisting corridors of Dragon Rock, careful not to disturb any of the animals sleeping in the shadows.
Outside the air was cool, but not at all unpleasant. Sora breathed deeply, inhaling the scent of spring in the early morning air, then started across the bridge to Robin's meadow. Birds were just beginning to rise, singing softly, invisible in the mist. Frogs croaked in the nearby ponds, crickets chirped and horses snorted as they rose. Robin had his head over the fence and whinnied when Sora approached.
"Hey boy!" Sora called, trotting over to him and scratching his ears. "How'd you know I was up, huh? Have you got some kinda horsy sense?"
Robin snorted and shook his mane. Sora laughed and sat on top of the fence, running her hands over his smooth coat. He nudged her hand and motioned to his back with his nose. Sora leaned over and studied it, but found nothing wrong. Robin nudged her foot and she jumped off the fence and studied his legs, head and mouth but still found nothing. "I don't get it boy." Sora said, frowning. "What's wrong?"
Robin nudged her again, in the general direction of his back, but when she gripped his mane and tried to swing up he danced away on his hind legs. Sora leaned up against the fence, her brow furrowed in concentration. She began to sing softly to herself, a song she had never remembered learning or even singing before. Robin's ears pricked up and he nudged her towards his back again. This time when she tried to swing up he stood still. The height from his back made everything else seem small in comparision.
Suddenly Sora felt as though a string had snapped, sending glass pearls flying through the air. Some skittered along the marble floor and eventually rolled to a stop, while others shattered, spilling water in small streams and washing away the empty bits of glass. The water collected and whirled, turning into a raging river. A small girl with blond hair ran along side the river; her eyes wide with terror, stumbling over tree roots and rocks in her path.
Behind the girl ran two figures, both as beautiful as they were evil, with red hair and purple eyes the glowed demonically in the dark. One was male, dressed in black armor, spikes on the shoulders and a long cloak waving behind, flapping in the wind as he ran. The other was female, dressed in old cloth and vines that made up some sort of short dress. Lightning crackled on her fingertips and thunder rumbled beyond the hills.
The girl tripped and fell into the rushing river; the water closing over her head as it dragged her down stream. She fought to get her head above water and keep it there, but the water was icy cold. Her fingers and toes were numb, and slowly but surely, her hands, wrists, ankles and knees began to follow. She lost feeling in them bit by bit, as if they were slowly fading into oblivion. The water closed over her head once again and everything became black.
Sora jumped as a bird flew past her face, making Robin prance sideways. She shook her head and everything that was happening came at her in a rush. Memories flooded through her like the rushing waters of that river, washing over her and soothing her fear. The horse beneath her was her best friend and the valleys, forests and meadows that surrounded her were her home. "We'll go tell Frat later, Robin." Sora whispered, leaning over the horse's neck to give him a hug. "For now though, boy, let's just have some fun."
Fratello woke with a sudden sense of urgency and threw the covers on the floor in his haste to get out of bed. It was almost morning, thick mist still hanging in the air and birds chirping as they rose. Frat quickly got dressed, throwing on an old woolen tunic over his sleep shirt and pulling on a pair of breeches. He almost forgot to put on his boots before running out the door and racing down the hall.
Frat slowed his steps as he reached the bridge, not wanting to make noise on the wooden planks. The morning was still fresh and cool and the air smelled of dew and flowers and water. Fratello could hear animals scampering in and out of the bushes and trees of the thick forests surrounding the castle. The morning dove sang its song with pride, raising its sweet voice to be heard above the other birds singing their own songs. Frat smiled and whistled along with the morning dove's tune as he walked over the spacious green meadows.
Summer Sky was wandering around out side the field, grazing on sweet purple and blue flowers. Frat laughed, not at all surprised, and walked over to the half-awake mare. She lifted her head barely and looked out at him from under her thickly lashed eyelids, her gaze as innocent as ever. Fratello scratched her ears for a moment before heading on to the main field.
The sound of galloping hooves reached Frat's ears even before the meadow came into view. He tried to focus on which of the horses was out for an early morning run, but the fog was still too thick and he couldn't see more than three feet in front of him. He walked along the slippery grass slowly until the white fence came into view and he was able to see a faint blur of red beyond it. Fratello frowned and approached the fence, staring hard at the blur.
Then the blur finally began to solidify and take shape, Frat sitting on the fence watching intently. The blur suddenly stopped moving altogether and as the mists parted, Frat could see someone sitting on the back of the big red stallion meant only for his sister. Golden hair waved in the air like a banner, and curled around ivory cheeks that glowed from the color of big purple eyes. Those big purple eyes were focused on him; the thick, curly lashes brushed against the ivory skin each time she blinked. It was Sora sitting on the big red's back, her long fingers tangled into his mane for balance.
Frat realized he had stopped breathing and shook himself. He jumped off the fence and started walking towards Sora, but stopped, feeling uncertain. Sora smiled at him, that same shy smile that he knew so very well. She swung her leg over the horse's back and jumped to the ground. Frat watched as she walked over to him slowly, Robin trailing behind her, his ears swept back, watching him warily. Sora waved him off and picked up her pace until she was running. Fratello caught her when she reached him, hugging her tightly and lifting her off the ground. He spun around in circles, laughing joyously, until Sora struggled from his grip.
"You're alive!" Frat cried.
"I think so." Sora replied, struggling with tears that threatened to spill over. "I'm really dizzy. Everything came back so fast. Ya know, what happened that night."
"Do you remember what happened after?" Frat asked.
"No." Sora shook her head. "I think I might have hit my head." "But you're here now." Frat said, hugging her close once again. "You're back home, where you belong."
"I am." Sora agreed. Frat put an arm around her shoulders and smiled down at her.
"Come on. Let's go tell Mom and Dad."
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