And Still, We Stand

The morning’s sun struggled to break through the grey along the Firth but Aev had been up for hours, milling around the gardens on the great island of East Speirling. Though she had the magick to keep the ongoing downpour from her, she had allowed it to drench her cloak as she went about her chores. The velvet, weighed down by the water, clung to her arms as she moved in a seeming rhythm as she worked. She reached for another glowing petaled treasure, stepping forward, and the cloak slapped against the backs of her ankles—reach, pluck, step, slap, slosh, reach, pluck, step, slap, slosh.

What would have been a fresh crop of tea roses elsewhere in Caledon, in Speirling, they were something to behold. The Speirlinium veins that ran beneath the islands seeped through the soil, affecting the flora and fauna in rather interesting ways.

If they hadn’t been frightened away from all of the rumors of witches and otherkins, the colonial scientists of Caledon would surely be crawling around the islands, their khaki tents full of specimens and tomes of research. Aevalle had long ago decided to leave the rumors be—no need to welcome prying guests (not to mention, she couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t end up on the Firth Witch’s bone-pile).

She lifted her latest treasure to her eyes—the sight of the perfect tiny buds, glowing purple, with their minuscule sparks—if it ever became old, Aevalle knew it would be time to move on. Even after all that had happened, the islands still amazed her. Could one love a bit of land down to their very soul? She thought so—after all, she’d been bound to it blood and bone. If it died, she might too.
But enough of those thoughts. There was a new crop of Speirling roses and she wanted to capture them before the buds opened to the storm and were damaged by the heaviness of the raindrops.

A series of grinding noises behind her drew her from her thoughts.

“Ah, I was wondering where you’d gotten off to.” She smirked and turned to face a little robot-type creature—the noises it made certainly could earn this one the nickname many Caledonians had for such metal creatures—clanks. Its one eye blinked at her and it reached out with a hand made of bent brass for the bud-filled basket in her arms.

She handed it over. “Thank you. Please take it up and put it with the others. And bring me an empty one, please and thank you.”

Had the little creature had long enough arms, it may have saluted her. Instead it made a gesture before four sets of small propellers extended and began to whirl. With barely another hesitation, it zipped upwards into the skies, avoiding lightning strikes from the ongoing storm.

Once Aev finished her gathering and returned to the fortress above the storm, she’d have to get Moggie to make sure the little guy was properly dried and oiled—and she’d have to make sure the girl didn’t “paint” the landing area with the oil, as she was known to do. Though, these days, maybe it would be good to have something bide the girls’ time.

She looked to the east, to the open water where Citadel Island had once stood. Now, there was only wreckage and the Speirlinium-purpled foam on the crashing waves—and memories. Could Aettrynne’s magick be powerful enough to pull the island and its inhabitants back from the aetheric mysts? Possibly—the Firth Witch’s powers seemed to be heightened here—though the witch had told Aev that it was better to let it be—better not to meddle in things that were meant to happen. Aev wiped her cheek with the back of her hand, not sure if it was a tear or raindrop that lingered there—some mornings it was harder to tell which.

The shifting landscape had first taken the brilliant palace of Lionsgate, dragging it beneath the waves, and now the duchy of Middlesea, with it Citadel Island and the seemingly invincible Iron Cloud. So much had seemed indestructible not so long ago. But now, the islands of Speirling and its brilliant forever-storm were alone amongst the churning tides.

Aev looked up at the storm swirling above her, purple lightning flashing in all directions, and she felt her jaw set and a silent oath come from her soul—Speirling would not be going anywhere anytime soon. Her eyes scanned the land for other chores that needed to be done.

She came across the crop of catnip plants, growing near the water’s edge. Upon pinching a few and sniffing the fragrance, she determined that they were almost ready to harvest as well. She’d have to let her girls help with that chore as they both enjoyed it immensely, though she’d also have to put a “clean” spell on them first. While Speirling mud might do wonders for the complexion, it was a devil to get out of little wriggling cat sidhe.

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