Jo Clayton: Wild Magic

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Jo Clayton Wild Magic
  • Название:
    Wild Magic
  • Автор:
  • Жанр:
    Фэнтези / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Wild Magic: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Jo Clayton


Wild Magic

Goddance. The Opening Steps

The islands of the Tukery glitter with dew; the sky is dark blue burning at the edges, clear of clouds; a wandering breeze twitches at green leaves still on the trees, whirls up and drops again khaki and mustard leaves drying on the ground. The selats-the narrow winding stretches of sea between the islands-are filled with chop and shadow and drifting veils of mist.

A small boat slides gracefully along the selat that goes past Jal Virri. The hull is amber and mother-of-pearl, the single mast is yellow sandalwood, the lateen sail silk the color of beeswax; the bow curls up and over like the scroll on a violin; the stern rises in a duck-tail; delicate feathering is carved into the sides. A woman clad in veils of honey-colored mist stands in the stern, honey arms folded across her breasts, gossamer bee wings shimmering from her shoulders, antennas like curved black threads rising above huge black bee eyes.

The boat stops improbably in midstream when it reaches the part of the island where a house is visible among the trees and a broad lawn slopes to white sand and the sea water. The Bee-eyed Woman begins to hum.

› › ‹ ‹

Inside the house, in a small nursery, the newly risen sun is shining through the window, turning the leaves of the vines that grow across the glass into slices of jade; leaf shadows dance on the white wall across from the crib and the child in it; the leaves scrape across the glass in soft arrhythmic sshp-sshps.

Faan rolls onto her back, kicks off the sheet, and sits up. She pulls herself onto her feet and pushes at the latch holding the side of the crib in place. She unbalances as it goes crashing down, gurgles with pleasure as the crib mattress gives under her and bounces her a few times.

She flips over, wriggles backward till her legs are hanging over the edge, lands on her feet, wobbles in a crouch till she gets her balance, then trots into her mother’s bedroom.

Her mother is deep asleep, lying on her stomach with her light brown hair in a tangle over her face and shoulders. Faan holds her breath and scurries across the room. She raises on her toes, stretches up, gets her fingers on the latch handle, pulls it down, and leans into the door. It opens and she slides through the gap after a quick guilty look at her mother.

She manages to get all the way outside before the guardian sprites of Jal Virri catch her, strip off her nightgown and her damp diaper, and dress her in a dainty; lacy shift. They play with her a moment, then go back to the never-ending work of keeping the house and garden in order.

› › ‹ ‹

She is watching a frog hop beside a pond when she hears the humming. For several minutes she sits on her grubby heels and listens, then she shakes her head impatiently, gets clumsily to her feet. Wiping her muddy hands on the shift she starts toward the sound. ‘‘Maksi,” she says. As she trots around the house, she makes a song of the name. “Maksi, Maksi, Mak la la si la la Mak la la si la la Mak la la seeee…”

When she sees the boat and the Bee-eyed Woman standing in it, she stops and stares. “Not Maksi.”

The humming grows louder and more compelling. Faan slows. She doesn’t like that woman’s eyes. They frighten her.

Step by step the Bee-eyed Woman hums her closer. Closer.

She is walking on sand now. She doesn’t like walking on sand. It gets between her toes and makes them sore. Closer.

Mamay said never go in the water.

The sprites said never go in the water.

They aren’t here now.

She whimpers, but the sprites don’t come.

The water is cold. It pushes at her. She stumbles and goes floundering under the surface.

The Bee-eyed Woman reaches out, her arm stretching and stretching, plucks her from the selat.

Faan wails as she swoops across the water.

“Be quiet.” The Bee-eyed Woman sits her on the deck. “You aren’t hurt.”

Faan ignores her and wails some more. “My Liki. I want you-ooo. Leee leeee… Leee keee…”

The mahsar pops out of the air beside her, hisses at the Bee-eyed Woman.

“Good,” she says. “I was waiting for you.”

She hums and the mahsar curls up with her back against Faan, deep asleep.

Faan yawns; her eyes droop shut and she sleeps. The Bee-eyed Woman hums another note.

A honey shimmer trembles about the child.

“Be loved,” the Bee-eyed Woman croons over her. “Let he who finds you cherish you to death and beyond. Let them who dwell with you cherish you. Be loved, Honeychild, by everyone you need.”

The Bee-eyed Woman hums.

A block of crystal hardens around Faan and Ailiki the mahsar.

The Bee-eyed Woman hums a double note, spreads her arms. A dome of crystal forms about the island, stopping everything inside.

Kori Piyolss, mother and apprentice sorceror, sleeps.

Settsimaksimin, Sorceror Prime, and his lover Simms the Witch sleep side by side.

The sprites melt into the soil and sleep.

The trees and everything on the island freeze in place and wait.

The Bee-eyed Woman turns her head.

The honey-amber boat glides off the way it had come.

Sibyl

A mist flows from the stone, eddies and blows about in the strong wind coming up the cave from the lava lake at the heart of the mountain, a hot wind like the breath of the sun.

Near the mouth of the cave, on the dark side of the line where sunlight meets shadow, there is a chair carved from stone, broad and worn, old as the mountain.

The mist blows toward the sunlight, coalesces into a big woman with an ancient wrinkled face, iron black and collapsed on the bone; the smell of age hangs about her, musty and intimidating.

She settles in the big chair, sits there wrapped in layers of wool and silk, leaning back, relaxed, amused, her face obscured, her once-beautiful hands curled over the worn finials, a jewel on her thumb shimmering blue and green and crimson, a black opal that echoes the bright lights in her black eyes.

She opens her mouth and declaims:

The wheel is turning, the change is near

One by one the signs come clear:

Salagaum flower

Through the nights and the days

High Kasso seeks power

In odd little ways

In the Beehouse’s Bower

The Honeychild plays.

› › ‹ ‹

She laughs, a soft growly sound like the earth shifting.

To be a sibyl, she says, it is necessary to cultivate a talent for bad verse. The seekers demand it. They will not believe you if you speak them plain.

If you want me, she says, come. I am waiting for you.

You will find this cave on the slopes of Mount Fogomalin not far below the high terrace where the Temple is, the Camuctarr of Bairroa Pili. To reach it, climb the steps and steeps of the Jiko Sagrado until you reach an ancient olive tree. It is no bigger than a bent old woman, but it has been making olives since the world began. The path begins there. Go along it, holding your clothes tight against you so the firethorn won’t catch you and the boutra birds won’t eat your livers. If it’s Spring when you’re coming, bring silk to breathe through when you pass the grove of Enyamata trees lest the pollen beguile you and keep you till you starve. Follow the cairns of black lava around the bulge of the mountain until you reach a cave mouth. Enter and I will be there.

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