#QueerBlogWed: Danyel’s Dream

On May 16, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt. It involved a raft, an urgent trip, and a pipe.

This Tale of Omphalos, in particular Danyel was the result…

He sensed it was a dream the moment he saw Map struggling to get into a raft. She’d never leave her cottage or her family. 

“Why are you doing this?” he protested. “I thought you didn’t want to go anywhere, like Tayel!”

“Now, now, I have to take this urgent trip.” She patted him on the head, stuck her pipe inside her loose tunic. “Someone needs my help, got themselves stuck behind some blasted Door. You and your brothers should manage for a few days.”

Brothers, yes. He had brothers. Leiwell, tall, dark-haired, with emerald green eyes. Foolish trips off to mysterious places were more his sort of thing. 

Not to mention Tayel. Tayel would never take a foolish trip off to a mysterious place. Most places weren’t mysterious to him, just unpleasant. 

Yes, his brothers, Leiwell and Tayel. He was Danyel. For a moment he’d felt like someone else, as if that name had been given to someone else. 

“But why are you taking that pipe?” The question was somehow very important, even though he didn’t understand why. “You don’t smoke, except when you blow rainbows when no one is looking.”

“Oh ho, have you caught me doing that, have you?” She grinned, her wrinkled face like a mischievous walnut. “Guess you could say I’m partial to pipe dreams, even though I thought I gave them up.”

“Does whomever you’re trying to save need a rainbow?” He struggled to understand the reason for this departure, even though it seemed unreal. Of course it was unreal. It was a dream. 

“You might say that.” She settled down in the raft, fixing a sharp black eye on him. “Maybe I need to smoke a rainbow to catch a rainbow. Maybe it’s the only way to send Christopher’s rainbow dragon back to him.”

“Christopher.” The name caught in his throat, making every hair tingle. “Who is Christopher?”

“Guess you don’t remember.” Map huffed, pushing the raft off the river’s bank. “Be a good boy, take care of your brothers, and don’t daydream too much about the tower! You’ll get its attention, make it a lot more than it ought to be.”

“Map, wait!” Danyel tried to call, only to find the words stuck in his throat. “Wait!” 

He woke up to his own cry, staring at the attic ceiling. 

“No point in calling after dreams.” Tayel was laying on his side beside him, staring at him with overly bright eyes. “They’ll only come back when they’re ready.”

“It was Map. She was leaving us.” Danyel rolled over to face his twin, their noses inches away from eah other. “She was looking for Christopher.”

There was no surprise in Tayel’s voice. “Map is downstairs, making the walls rumble as she slumbers as always. Listen.”

Danyel listened. 

Sure enough, he could Map’s snores through the walls and floor, heaving breathing and snuffling, like a dangerous bear hibernating. Not to be disturbed, not even by dreams of her departure. 

“Who is Christopher?” Danyel gazed at his twin’s lips, his glittering eyes. “That name sounds so familar.”

“Familar are the figures within the pages of book, coming to life in story.” Tayel shut his eyes. “He may have been one of them.”

“He may have been.” Come to think of it, the name did sound like someone who might have been in a story. “I can’t help feeling like he’s much more than that.”

“Anyone is more if you allow them to be.” Tayel turned away to face the ceiling. “To give them such power may be a dubious idea.”

“Like thinking the tower is more than a pile of rocks?” Yes, Map had mentioned the tower, too, hadn’t she?  “You sound just like Map. Warning us not to daydream because it’s dangerous.”

“If more than one warns you against the perils of imagination, you should consider before daring them.” Tayel kept his eyes closed, his lips pressed together.

“How I not dare? How can we not daydream?” Danyel demanded. “I know you do it. Why don’t you want to talk about Christopher?”

“Whispering your fears in the night encourages them to whisper back.” Tayel rolled away, leaving Danyel facing his back. “Go to sleep.”

Danyel didn’t answer. There was no point in doing so. His mind, however, refused to be quiet. 

Maybe so, but I’m not afraid of Christopher. I feel like he’s someone I want to remember, but somehow, someone is stopping me. 

He swallowed, pulling the covers up to his chin, only to have Tayel yank them away. 

You’re a blanket thief. Tayel didn’t speak, but Danyel heard the words in his head. 

For a moment Danyel forgot his worries and his questions. He just grinned. 

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#QueerBlogWed: Tales of Tayel

On March 16, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt at ptwyant.com involving a lucky charm, a rainy day, and a maze.

This Tale of Tayel was the result…

The rain fell, revealing the rainbow dragon gliding between the drops, between realities in a shimmer of color. 

Tayel decided to take them for a sign of hope, bringing together the sunshine and the rain. 

“Come on, Tayel!” Danyel ran ahead, golden curls bouncing, the silver threaded within them flashing. He disappeared behind a hedge covered flowers, a hedge which cut off the view of the path ahead. 

This was wrong. There were no hedges this high, not in their garden. 

“Danyel!” Tayel cried, seeing the illusion too late, trying to catch up with his twin too late. A wall of thorny green blocked the way ahead. He could only go right or left. There was no sign of Danyel either way. 

“A maze, a puzzle of paths.” He and Danyel had seen pictures of mazes in books, but sometimes Tayel dreamed of cultivated hedges, guiding and tricking the walker into a central court where a beautiful statue waited and watched. Waited and watched for the ones to come to awaken him, to become his vessels in the game he played with his deadly bride. 

“No,” Tayel growled through closed teeth. He might have enjoyed solving such a puzzle if Danyel had been at his side, but his twin had been taken from him. 

“Desires granted, trickling out a greater desire.” He heard the faint laughter of boys his own age, voices like and unlike Danyel’s and his own. This was a memory ghost, a memory belonging to someone who refused to be ignored. 

“Is he really here?” The voice was very close. “At the heart of the maze?” 

“Come. I’ll show you.” The other was deeper, seductive with a wickedness that lured others into mazes with beckoning fingers. 

Tayel held his breath, saw the exquisite dark-haired youth, leading a younger one with coppery-golden waves. It might have been Leiwell as a child, leading Danyel or himself, but no. The dark-haired boy didn’t have Leiwell’s slender face or his emerald green eyes. Rose-purple ones gazed from under sly eyelashes, fixing upon Tayel for a moment as if he saw him, but he said nothing. He kept a firm, yet gentle grip upon the boy he was leading. 

The two of them ran through Tayel, passing through him as if he was a ghost. He shivered, spasmed, waking up in his own bed. 

“Tayel!” Danyel gazed at him, a tousled curl falling over his eye, right where he should be. At Tayel’s side. “Are you all right?”

Tayel released a shuddering breath and didn’t say anything. He just reached out to hug his twin.

Danyel, startled, hugged him back, filling his nostrils with the scent of sweat, fear, and something like dew on grass in the sunshine. Fresh and clean. His brother was warm and present. 

Trap Tayel in a maze, force him to face living statues, a ghost haunting someone else’s memories; all of that he could cope with. 

He just prayed no one would ever separate Danyel and himself. This was the one destiny he couldn’t cope with. 

Tayel swallowed and held on tight, wishing he could do so forever. 

He doubted he was that lucky. No matter how many rainbow dragons appeared in his dreams. 

#QueerBlogWed: A Tale of Tayel

On February 2, 2022, P.T. Wyant offered at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a shadow, a superstition, a tradition.

I do love it whenever she does a prompt involving shadows and nothing too clearly tied in this particular world. (heart) It’s an excuse to head for Omphalos. Any of the versions of Omphalos which you might find behind a Door. Or a place where an Omphalos was or is going to be.

Like the lonely cottage Tayel lives in, trying to pretend things aren’t going to change. Trying to pretend he can’t sense things in the shadows reaching out for him.

He’s not fooling anyone.

Seeing things in the shadows was just superstition.

“From superstition comes tradition.” Map muttered this between her pipe, puffing on it. A faint scent of rose petals, cloves, and something else rose in the air along with a hint of color only Tayel could see. “Bad tradition.”

“What do you mean?” Danyel had to ask. Had to look closely at Map’s tunic, the grayish-green, high collared garment with its half-silver, half-gold clasp of two dragons circling each other. A tunic she always wore over her homespun skirts. 

“You start seeing things in the shadows, you start chanting things to keep them away.” Map fixed her fathomless dark eyes, gleaming out of her weathered face upon Tayel, not Danyel. “Before you know it, it’ll become a prayer. A ritual you use to keep whatever you fear at bay. That prayer will feed your fear.”

Tayel flushed. Map knew. Somehow she knew about the little chant he’d started saying whenever the shadows started to move in the bedroom. Especially when they crept closer to Danyel and himself. 

“Light of the moon

Keep them at bay

Smile bright and broad

Keep the shadows at bay.”

The crescent moon did look like a smile. A slightly mocking grin which might grace a handsome face very like their brother, Leiwell’s. 

“I thought prayers were meant to summon something which would chase away what we fear?” Danyel crossed his arms, gave Map’s clasp a pointed look. “Even if it’s just our own courage?”

“Hah!” Map snorted, removing her pipe. “Your courage doesn’t need to be summoned. It’s already part of yourself. Anything else you might summon is more trouble than he’s worth.”

Tayel swallowed, dropping his head, allowing his hair to fall forward in a wave to shield his expression from scrutiny. 

He’d revealed too much already. He didn’t want Map or even Danyel to guess his fancies about the man in the moon. 

“He?” Danyel leaned forward, intent on that slip. “Is there someone in particular you’re worried we’ll summon, Map?”

“Just be careful.” The problem with pinning your hair up in an untidy bun was Map couldn’t hide her expression. The way her mouth turned down, her gaze shifted away to avoid Danyel’s. “Words have power. You never know you might be listening.”

“We’d know more if you’d tell us.” Danyel wasn’t about to let go of this. “Who might be listening, Map? Who are you afraid of?”

“There’s nothing or no one to be afraid of. Don’t let your imagination run away with you.” Map got up, moving away from the table, turning her back to the twins. 

“Don’t offer my imagination a carrot, encouraging it to run!” Danyel retorted, standing up from the table.

Tayel couldn’t help but giggle. They’d seen a picture of a horse in book recently, a horse with a carrot. How the horse strained after the fat vegetable dangled in front of it. The idea of Danyel’s imagination being that horse, trying to get to that carrot was only too apt. 

“Here I thought I was offering it a stick.” Tayel heard the smile in Map’s voice, even if she didn’t turn around. “Trust you to see it as a carrot. I’m going to bed.”

She trudged across the floor in the direction of her bedroom, never looking back until she’d opened the door. She offered the twins a tired, almost sad smile before shutting the door behind her.

Danyel gazed at the door with an open mouth. “She didn’t even try to pretend she was hiding something.” 

“It’s tiring, holding up a mask when you constantly seek to knock it off.” Tayel shook his head, pushing his hair out of his face. “Map has reasons for not explaining herself.”

“Why did she try to warn us against praying?” Danyel shook his head. “Map was herself part of a religious order. She’s never pretended she wasn’t.”

“Maybe that’s why.” Tayel shifted, glancing at the closed curtains. “Warnings about superstitions becoming traditions soften tragic truths.”

“You know what she meant.” It wasn’t a question. Danyel gazed at him, a troubled frown tugging at his lower lip. “You’re keeping secrets again. From me.”

“Superstitions become traditions. Traditions become a thicket of thorns.” Tayel wouldn’t look at his twin’s pleading face. “We may bleed if we brush our hands against them, but they’ll keep peril out.”

“Or you could stop the superstition from becoming a tradition.” Danyel reached out to take his twin’s hand. “You could tell me what’s making you superstitious. We could face it together.”

Yes. This would be the most direct way to face the problem. Only Tayel was afraid. Not just for himself, but for his brothers. Especially Danyel. 

He didn’t want Danyel to see what lay in the shadows. He didn’t want him to reach out for them, to try to get to know them. 

No, better to keep them away. Even if it meant embracing superstition instead. At least it was just Tayel. 

“Tradition becomes superstition when infused with too much fear.” Tayel shrugged, allowed himself to press his twin’s hands. “Summoning courage may be exactly what I need to do.”

“Do you really need to summon it?” Danyel studied his face intently. “Is there a particular source of courage you need to draw upon? Outside of yourself?”

Tayel cursed himself for being a fool. All this talk of summoning courage had aroused his twin’s curiosity. 

“No.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. “I shouldn’t need to.”

Danyel studied him and nodded slightly. It wasn’t clear if his twin believed him or not. 

Too many things lay unsaid between them. 

#QueerBlogWed: Omphalos Neighbors

On November 24, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a brown feather, a family gathering, and bones.

This freebie Tale of Omphalos was the result…

The feather falling from the sky wasn’t white or black. It was brown.

Danyel caught it, gazing it with wonder. 

“Muddy with ambition, he cannot even manage to be a raven,” Tayel muttered under his breath, refusing to explain himself. 

“It’s still a proud feather,” Danyel murmured, extending his arm along with the feather. “It might have been a quill or a wand.”

“Don’t let my brother-in-law hear you say that,” Aggie muttered under her breath. “It will go straight to his head.”

“Exactly what will go straight to my head?” 

Gryluxx sashayed out, wearing a cloak of brown feathers over red robes. Something rattled in his robes. 

The effect was striking, Danyel had to admit. The tailor knew what suited him. 

Aggie didn’t look at all impressed. She rolled her eyes as if the display was too tedious for words.

“Something bothering you, sister-in-law?” Gryluxx asked with the sweetest of malice. He chose the seat one over from Aggie. The empty space was probably meant for Meggie.

“The usual, brother-in-law.” She didn’t smile back. “You.”

“Ah, the lack of fraternal affection between us wounds me. Especially when it’s mingled with ingratitude.” Gryluxx snapped his fingers. “Do bring out those custard tarts you’re so fond of, wench. Sweets for the sweet and all that.”

“Hmm, just a moment,” Meggie called from the open door of the cottage, utterly oblivious to her husband’s sharp tone. 

Aggie wasn’t. She leaned forward, cracking her knuckles. “Don’t call my sister a wench. She’s your wife. At least pretend you have some consideration.”

“Oh, I have the utmost consideration for my wife, but a wench is a wench.” Gryluxx grinned at Aggie. “You ought to know.”

“What was that?” Aggie growled. 

“Stop that!” 

Danyel didn’t realize he’d leaped out of his chair. He felt the anger,  the violence prickling in the air. He reached out with the feather, waving at it, trying to get it disperse. 

Aggie settled down in her chair, some of the anger leaving her furrowed brow. Gryluxx sniffed at the air, at the feather in an almost disappointed fashion. 

“You don’t seem to understand how things work around here, little one.” He snatched the feather out of Danyel’s hand. “You serve me. I’m the one who gives the orders.”

“Why?” Danyel looked straight up in those hairy nostrils, the whiskered lips twitching. “Why do you goad Aggie, taunting her, enjoying her anger so much? Did you invite her here just to torment her?”

Gryluxx took a step back, opened his mouth and closed it, flushing. “How dare you accuse me of such things? Angharad may only be family be marriage, yet she’s still family.”

“Is that what family does?” An image of Leiwell pale and sweating rose from his memories. “Torments each other? Or do they try to protect each from being tormented?”

“You cannot sound the depths in the shallows,” Tayel murmured under his breath. 

“Now, now, not everyone can be deep.” Meggie emerged, carrying a tray of custard tarts. “My raven is a fragile creature, boys. The reason he flies at others, trying to peck at them is because he’s fragile.”

Aggie chuckled. “Maybe, but he takes advantage of that far too often.”

“I can see these twins are as bad an influence on the both of you as their mothers and their brother.” Gryluxx wrinkled his nose and mouth as if he’d breathed in something which disagreed of him. “Do not let yourself be beguiled by the residents of the Old Cottage for all their beauty.”

“Hm, funny coming from you, dear.” Meggie smiled blandly at her husband and took a seat next to her sister. “You talk about them more than any of us.”

“Nor can you blame them for my attitude. Not about you.” Angharad placed a protective hand over her sister’s, baring her teeth in a parody of a smile at her brother-in-law. “I detested you the moment I met you.”

“And I was the one who rescued your sister from the abyss these boys’s mother cast you into.” Gryluxx regained some of his smugness, lifting a custard tart to his lips. He devoured it in three bites. “I did something you couldn’t after your precious master destroyed you. Again.”

“What are you talking about?” Danyel felt his brother shake his head slightly, but he couldn’t help asking the question. “What did Ashleigh do to Meggie?”

“Hmm, it wasn’t Ashleigh.” Meggie picked up a tart with utter unconcern as if they were talking about the weather. “It was Map. Not that I’d expect to remember. It took me a long time to do so.”

Flash of fire from torches, a night of fire. Fleeing, feeling a heavy unfamiliar body settle around him. Screams of anger became screams of anguish. 

Danyel raised his hands to his face. Much of what happened beyond the Door was like a dream, but he’d been Map for a brief nightmare. 

Tayel leaned closer, not touching him, but gazing at him with concern. 

This is how he felt all the time. Tayel saw things he doesn’t want to, learned things he’d rather not know, yet his greatest concern was whether any of it would hurt his twin.

Danyel reached out to touch his brother’s shoulder, sending the silent assurance that he was all right. Even though he wasn’t sure if he was. 

“It was another lifetime ago.” Aggie gazed down at her folded hands, not looking directly at either of the twins. “Back when Meggie, Mel and I were all Sisters of Seraphix, terrified of anything which might disturb our isolated idyll.”

The Sisters of Seraphix. Seraphix. 

Danyel shivered at the name, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck quiver. 

“Isolated idylls are raised from pits of darkness by sacrifices of others.” Tayel gazed at one of the tarts, not touching it. “Sometimes you catch a glimpse of their ghost in the sunlight.”

“Our ghost was something we’d learned to fear.” Aggie lifted her head to fix an angry green eye upon Gryluxx. “Just what do you know? What do you want?”

“I was curious to see how you’d react around the twins, given their closeness to your former master.” Gryluxx rubbed his hands in anticipation. “We are all neighbors again, in spite of all which transpired between us.”

“Just what did transpire between us?” Danyel leaned forward, gazing at the neighbor he’d much rather not have. “Just who are you, Gryluxx?”

“This lump called me a raven.” Gryluxx sniffed at his wife. “It’s true. I’ve been one. I caught a glimpse of you before you were an egg, a mere stone Christopher decided to carry.”

“Christopher?!” Danyel stood up, nearly dropping his chair. “You know Christopher?”

“Child, I know everything.” Gryluxx sniffed in Danyel’s direction. “Christopher was a creature of the Shadow Forest. Like everyone here.” 

Silence fell around the table. Aggie dropped her head. Meggie began moving her lips rapidly. 

Danyel reached for Tayel’s hand, gripping it. “Including yourself?”

“Of course!” Gryluxx pouted a bit. “Why should I deny it? The Shadow Forest is a place of power and potential. As is anything which slips out of its Doors.” 

“And you can never get enough of power,” Aggie said with utter dryness. “Watch yourself. The price may be too high.”

“Only for those too cowardly to pay it.” Gryluxx bared his teeth at his sister-in-law. “Are you such a coward, Angharad? I’m not surprised.”

“Is there some purpose to this conversation?” Aggie rolled her eyes. “Or do you just want to insult us?”

“He does enjoy insulting everyone.” Meggie smiled at her husband indulgently. “Don’t pay it any mind.”

“Don’t speak for me, you addle-brained wench.” Gryluxx glowered at his wife. “Think I’m just this amusing little man, don’t you? Of no consequence at all?”

“Why, yes.” Meggie’s smile widened, showing no malice whatsoever. “I don’t mind. I love you anyway. Not everyone can be great.”

Danyel started to giggle, nearly choked turning it into a cough. Tayel raised a hand to cover a grin. 

Aggie chuckled, not bothering to hide her amusement. “Guess you’re lucky, Gryluxx, to find someone who loves you, no matter how small you are.”

“Small?” Gryluxx glowered at his sister-in-law and the twins. “I’ll show you just how small I am. When Seraphix grants my wish, you’ll see.”

He stalked away from the table, muttering to himself, robes rattling more than ever when he entered his cottage, slamming the door behind him.

“Bones,” Meggie answered Danyel’s unspoken question about the noise. “He sometimes carries bones around with him. A way to ground himself to reality, for he is telling the truth.”

Aggie wrapped her arms around herself. “No. I am real. I feel real. No matter what happened in the past, I am real.”

“Aggie, we died.” Her younger sister fixed round hazel eyes upon her, shining. “Our master killed us all, yet somehow we’re back. Gryluxx brought me back.”

“How?” Aggie dropped her arms to clasp her hands together in entreaty. “I begged that man to help me bring you back, yet Gryluxx somehow succeeded where I failed.”

That man. It took a moment for Danyel to realize Aggie wasn’t talking about Gryluxx. 

“Oh.” A faint blush colored Meggie’s cheeks. “You might say bringing me back was our marriage ceremony. One we often renew. Together.”

“Oh.” Aggie echoed her words. 

Tayel flushed as well. 

Danyel looked at their faces, unsure what they were talking about. 

“I suppose that’s one way to ground yourself,” Aggie murmured, shaking her head with a bemused little smile. 

“Well, you have Jupitre, even if he’s Juno’s husband.” Meggie tapped a finger to her temples, gazing in speculation at the sky. “If he’s not enough for you, you could try Gryluxx.” 

“What?” Aggie spluttered and started coughing. 

Tayel turned even redder. 

“Just what are you talking about?” Danyel was unable to bear it anymore. 

“Never you mind!” Aggie growled before turning on her sister. “That’s your husband you’re offering!”

“Well, yes, which is why I thought it would be best to offer.” Meggie nodded, considering her words. “He is my husband, but you’re my sister. If you’re worried about not being grounded in reality, you could try him out.”

“No, thank you!” Aggie growled. “The way your mind works, sometimes I think I’ll never understand.”

“Thank you.” Meggie smiled with utter sweetness. “It’s good not to be too predictable.”

Tayel let out a strangled giggle, still blushing. 

Danyel glowered at his twin. “I wish you’d let me know what was going on.”

“Really?” Meggie gave Danyel a surprised look. “For all his insults, I know he thinks you’re one of the most beautiful creatures he’s even seen. If you’d like to try Gryluxx for yourself, you can.”

“Meggie!” Aggie snapped, sounding scandalized. “He’s a child!”

“Is he, really? He looks small and slight, but we’re not sure how old the twins are.” Meggie gazed contemplatively at Danyel and Tayel. “They might be older than any of us.”

“No.” Tayel said before Danyel could ask again what they were talking about, why Aggie was so upset. He took Danyel’s hand firmly in his own. “Thank you.”

“Don’t be jealous.” Meggie smiled at Tayel as well. “You’re welcome to try Gryluxx, too. He might be nicer if you do.”

“Niceness happens only if a creature wishes to cultivate it.” Tayel, cheeks still very red, looked Meggie straight in the eye. “Your husband has no taste for niceness.”

“I’m not quite sure what you’re offering,” Danyel ventured, “but if Gryluxx isn’t nice to you, his wife, why would he be nice to anyone else? Especially considering everything you do for him?” 

“Yes, I was nice to him when you first came to visit us, wasn’t I? To try to put him in a better mood.” Meggie tapped her temple again, eyeing the door thoughtfully. “Guess that doesn’t work.”

The squeals and grunts from behind the closed door returned to Danyel, bringing a hot flush to his cheeks. 

Oh. That’s what they were talking about. 

“Well, I offered.” Meggie smiled in utter pleasantness. “Here I was hoping if I offered you my husband, you might offer me your handsome brother.”

“Meggie!” Aggie shot her sister a scandalized look. 

“I don’t offer my brother to anyone. Either of my brothers.” Danyel tried to keep his voice even. “Even if you and your husband regard us as creatures of shadow, we’re people now. People with our own will. If you want something of Leiwell or Tayel, you ask them.”

Tayel squeezed his fingers in response, shooting him a private smile.

“Well said,” Aggie nodded in approval. “Gryluxx has been a bad influence on you, Meggie. I know you mean well, but you shouldn’t go offering people to other people as if they were a comb or a book.”

“Shouldn’t I?” Meggie widened her eyes. “Our lord offered me to my husband. I seem to remember an elegant lady with many arms asking for a beautiful youth, a youth a lot like Leiwell. Oh, what was his name?”

Tayel let out a hissing sound. Danyel shivered again, unsure why. 

“Just because someone is a lord or elegant doesn’t mean their ways are right.” Aggie sighed, shoulders slumping. “Young Danyel here is right. We’re trying to be people. Let’s treat each other as people.”

“Of course. I’m sorry.” Meggie turned to Danyel. “I didn’t mean to insult you or your brothers. You’re very beautiful. I’d like us to be friends.”

“So would I,” Danyel let out another sigh. “Meggie, I don’t understand why you let your husband treat you the way you do.”

“Don’t you?” Meggie looked puzzled. “Guess it doesn’t bother me. I don’t listen to his insults. He’s very good at certain things.” She winked at everyone present. “Guess I didn’t want to be greedy, even if I am his wife. I wanted to share.”

“We’ll keep that in mind, if Gryluxx ever, ah, says anything to us about this,” Aggie said, waving her hand as if to will this entire conversation to disappear. “Given how we feel about him, it’s not something we’re interested in. At all.”

“All right.” Meggie reached out for a custard tart and began eating it with no discomfort whatsoever. “He does like you. That feather wouldn’t fall into your hands if he didn’t.”

“Does he?” Danyel looked down at the feather he was holding. “It’s more likely he wants something of me.”

“That, too,” Meggie said with her mouth full of tart. “Who wouldn’t?”

Danyel felt himself flushing again. 

Conversations with Christopher: Danyel and Tayel

Two doors appear in the tower wall. One is blue, the other is green.

An eye opens in the first door. It’s violet-blue with green and silver flecks in its iris. 

A hand reaches out of the second door; small, pale, glowing with verdure light. 

Christoper: (shakes his head) Two should become one. You don’t really want to separate.

The doors shimmer, sparkle, and slide together, becoming one large greenish-blue door. The eye winks, fluttering its eyelashes at Christopher. The hand beckons to Christopher.

Christopher leave the bank and wades into the river. He stretches out his arm, offering his own hand.

Christopher: I really shouldn’t be doing this. 

Tayel: (his voice comes through the door) No, you shouldn’t. 

The hand reaches out, becoming an arm covered with a white balloon sleeve. It seizes Christopher, pulling him through the Door (for it is indeed, a Door, a portal to somewhere else), into another place. 

For a brief moment, he feels the cool kiss and touch of shadows, seeing darkness. Light bursts out, shining from a sunlit sky. 

Rose petals are flying, entire flowers are floating. Not just roses. Tulips, carnations, daisies, marigolds. An entire floating garden, rising up as if the air was water and they were sea creatures. 

Christopher looks down to see the small hand holding his, attached to a boy with a heartshaped face framed by tousled silvery-golden waves falling to the shoulders of his green vest. The boy looks at him with large violet-blue eyes almost too big for his face. 

Danyel: (for that’s who the boy is) Should and shouldn’t are overrated, don’t you think?

Another boy who looks exactly like Danyel except for his blue vest and the silvery gleam in his violet-blue eyes scowls.

Tayel: Everything is overrated and underrated when clutched by grasping fingers. 

Christopher: (smiling in spite of Tayel’s scowl) Hello, Danyel. (He presses the fingers entwined with his, reluctant to let go.) Hello, Tayel.

Danyel: Hello, Christopher. We were hoping we’d find you. Or you’d find us. 

Christopher: I’m glad to see you. I’m also curious where we are. 

He breathes in, inhaling the flowers sweet scent. 

Danyel: Beautiful, isn’t it? Like our garden, only the flowers are no longer trapped on the vine. 

Tayel: (looking up) They’ve abandoned the green which nourished them. 

Christopher: Or the flowers have simply let go of the earth. Something they can do in this place. 

Danyel: We’re not sure what this place is. We just found it and brought you here. 

Tayel: Or the flying flowers found us. (He crosses his arms, ducking out of the way of a tulip which comes too close.)

Christopher: (releasing Danyel’s hand with slow reluctance) Want to see something else which can fly?

He moves away from Danyel, gazing at the drifting flowers. He visualizes a serpentine form with rainbow scales, streaking through the air. 

Christopher: Crowne, come out! (He pictures the soft, pearlescent colors, remembering the wonder he felt when he saw the form his power took. How would the twins react?)

Nothing happens. Christopher raises his hands and stars at them. 

Christopher: I guess I have to need Crowne for them to appear. 

Danyel: Who’s Crowne?

Christopher: A rainbow dragon. They manifested when I was with Quartz.

Tayel: (looking curious in spite of himself) Many manifestations are pranks. Especially when jealous kobolds watch. 

Christopher: No, this wasn’t Nimmie Not. This was me. This was part of my power, of myself. Only they’re not coming. 

Danyel walks up to Christopher, closing the distance Christopher put between himself and the twins. He rests a hand upon Christopher’s chest where his heart should be. 

Tayel: Danyel! (He blushes, makes a little movement as if unsure whether or not to stop his twin.)

Danyel pays no attention to his protest. He leans his head closer to Christopher and his hand, listening for something. 

Danyel: Crowne? Are you there? I’ve never met a rainbow dragon. Neither has Tayel.

In spite of himself, Tayel takes several steps closer to Christopher. 

Tayel: I’m sure you’re beautiful. Bringing hope to everyone who sees you. Christopher is too often without hope. He’s probably not sure if you’re real or not. If you’ve ever come out again. 

Danyel: Won’t you come out and meet us? All of us?

Christopher gasps, breathless, feeling a strange shiver of pleasure spasm in his chest, running through his entire body. 

A dragon’s head pokes out of his chest, golden-green with silver whiskers. They butt the boy’s hand, playfully encouraging a scritch. 

Danyel grins and obliges. Tayel lets out a low laugh and claps his hands, eyes shining. 

Christopher: (stares down at the dragon’s head) Like a memory ghost passing through me! Only you can touch it!

Tayel: Them. You’re full of surprises, Christopher, so many, they’re no longer surprising. 

Crowne lets out a purring chuckle like a cat, tinkling wind chimes, and a breeze all at once. They slither out of Christopher’s chest to glide around him. 

Christopher feels that strange, shivery delight again. It makes his eyelids flutter and his lips tremble while he sways on his feet. 

The dragon does a slow, teasing spiral in the air, very close to Christopher and Danyel before streaking over to where Tayel stands. 

Tayel: (who cannot stop smiling for once) Yes, you’re quite the charmer, Crowne. 

The dragon does the same spiral glide around Tayel before flicking out their forked tongue to kiss the boy’s nose. It’s Tayel’s turn to blush. 

Danyel: (it’s his turn to clap his hands) First time I’ve seen you at a loss for words or riddles!

Tayel shrugs, his face still flushed, and bows his head. 

Danyel: Thank you for coming out, Crowne! I’m Danyel and that’s Tayel. (He gestures to his twin.) I’m guessing you already know Christopher quite well. Or are you getting to know him?

Crowne angles through the floating flowers away from Tayel to glide around Danyel once more, flecking his forked tongue out to touch Danyel’s cheek.

Danyel: (it’s his turn to blush) Yes, you are beautiful. I can almost hear music when you move. Wind chimes and Christopher singing in a very low voice. 

Crowne twists, turns, and goes flying back to Christopher, sliding back into his chest, disappearing as if they never were. 

Christopher: Well. (a little breathless) That was Crowne. I hoped they’d come out to meet you.

Danyel: I’m glad you did. Thank you. 

Tayel: Seeing Crowne, seing that part of you gives me hope. 

Christopher finds himself blushing as well, but he nods, raising a hand to press it against his chest. 

Christopher: Me, too. 

Paula’s Prompts: A Tale of Omphalos

On August 18, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a current dilemma, a new job, and an old song.

This made me think of Danyel and Tayel; their dilemma they faced in choosing to work for Gryluxx. Thus this freebie Tale of Omphalos was born…

“Passion is red

Yellow is sly

Blue lies in the deep

Brown is always dry.”

It was an old song. He and his twin sang, hummed, and muttered many versions of it. Right now Danyel couldn’t get out of his head. Especially with Tayel murmuring it under his breath. 

“I’m not sure about the new job either,” he said, spinning around to face a face exactly like his own from the shaggy golden waves falling around it to the stubborn pout. Only Tayel’s violet-blue eyes glittered more brightly. Literally. “Only we can’t let our impression of Gryluxx ruin it for us.”

“He has a dusty soul behind his toothy smile, creeping up on anyone fool enough to roll around, looking for treasures in his dirt.” Tayel crossed his arms, silver triangles vibrating in his eyes, bright enough to spit sparks. “Secrets are seldom offered by those who claim them.”

“Meaning he doesn’t know anything useful. He’s just pretending he has secrets to share.” Danyel heaved a sigh. “Why would anyone think we needed to seek him out? I’m wondering the same thing.”

Tayel’s eyes narrowed. He’d guessed Danyel wasn’t telling him everything. Only he wouldn’t ask. Tayel never asked. He hated questions. Once you ask a question, it must be answered, even if you try not to. 

Danyel, on the other hand, was always asking questions. He would have asked Tayel what he was hiding. Not that Tayel would have told him. 

“Gryluxx lacks the crimson intensity of passion or the depths of deepening blue.” Tayel fixed one of those unearthly eyes upon him. Why Tayel had them and Danyel didn’t was another one of the questions he had. Only Danyel wasn’t sure if anyone would answer it. “He takes advantage of the nurturing vitality of green. He’s puffed himself up with the yellow feathers of cleverness, but even that sinks into his inner murk.”

For the twins, different character traits had color. Red was the color of heroes, passion, and anger. Yellow was the color of cunning or cleverness. Tayel’s own favorite was blue. A blue person had depths of feeling and emotion no one else could understand. 

Danyel prefered green. It was the color of love, life, and rebirth. Tayel was quick to point out it was also the color of jealousy. 

 “At least Gryluxx is not part of your hungry darkness or pitiless light,” Danyel pointed out deciding to play his brother’s game. “He’s not trying to devour everyone else’s color or reject it.” 

“To do either would require paying attention to other people’s color. He’s too wrapped up in his own world, his own ambition.” Tayel wrinkled his nose. “Everyone becomes a muddy hue, closer to his own as they get closer to him.”

“This way we can all be part of his mud.” Only it wasn’t that simple. Not when it came to people. 

Lately Danyel had been wondering about the colors he and Tayel played with, the character types which went with him. Just how accurate were they? The twins were only just starting to meet other people besides Map, Leiwell, and each other. Everyone else had been just part of a story. 

All this changed when Omphalos began to rise around their formerly lonely cottage, a thriving village of like-minded souls. Or so their new neighbors claimed to be. 

“Self-doubt is a poison. Don’t let it in!” Tayel hissed with surprising directness. “Allow it to bubble and the raven will spot it.”

“You see Gryluxx as a raven.” This made sense. Given his beady black and acquisitive personality. Danyel could see him pecking at seeds, shining objects, or other people. 

“You can hear him caw.” Tayel lifted his chin, gave it a sharp jerk in the direction of the tailor’s front door. 

The cottage was no bigger than any other, but its door was painted black. An ostentatious golden knocker in the form of a gargoyle scowled at visitors. 

Danyel lifted a small hand and knocked. 

The door opened. The smiling round face of Meggie gazed at him with bright eyes through the crack. “Oh, you’ve come back. I, um, wasn’t sure you would.”

“I wasn’t either,” Danyel admitted, finding himself smiling. If only he and Tayel were working for Meggie. Perhaps he should be more uneasy about Gryluxx’s wife, but she seemed so relaxed and sleepy. She made him feel relaxed too.

“You’re welcome, um, to come in.” The door swung open, revealing a table with a pile of what might have been swaths of silk lying upon it, shelves with thread, scissors, various rolls of velvet, wool, what might have been fur, and the scales from some beast.

Danyel felt his twin shiver at the sight of the latter, only to quiver himself. Just what living creatures died in order for Gryluxx to make clothes?

“We, um, have people bring us materials.” Meggie took a bite of the custard tart in her hand, dribbling crumbs all over the floor. She glanced into a corner and said, “Yes, that’s right.”

Tayel let out a hissing sound which perhaps only Danyel could hear. His twin stared with overly bright eyes into the same corner Meggie had addressed. “Right is relative to the creature in question.”

Meggie flinched a bit at the corner before shaking her head. “No, ah, he has a point. Something may well have died to provide the fur and feathers. Maybe more than one something.”

“Who are you talking to?” Danyel glanced from Meggie to his twin. The latter was shaking his head, warning him with his eyes to shut up. 

“Oh, just my dead aunts. They’re very difficult to please, being dead and unable to rest.” Meggie tapped a finger against her head, getting crumbs in her hair. “Guess that would make anyone difficult to please.”

“Talking to ghosts again, you addle-brained cow?” The sharp, nasally voice of the tailor filled the room. “Don’t pay her any attention, you wide-eyed brats. There’s nothing in the corner but Megan’s imaginary friends. They’re only as real as you think there are.”

“And the tower on the hill is a just a pile of rocks?” Danyel couldn’t help himself. Gryluxx’s dismissal of what his wife saw was too much like Map’s denial of anything lingering around the tower back when it was a ruin. 

It had just been wishful thinking on her part.

“Of course not!” Gryluxx did his best to glide into the room in his black robes tied with a golden cord, his nose held high. “The tower is the Temple of Seraphix! Where fools gather to worship a demon as a god!”

“What?” Danyel asked in astonishment, looking around. 

No seemed surprised other than him. Meggie blinked at him. “Well, of course it’s Seraphix’s temple. Didn’t you know?”

Tayel looked away, allowing his golden waves to sway, hiding whatever might be on his face.

Of course. His twin had known what was going on. Again. All the while keeping Danyel in the dark. Again. 

“Um, don’t let this silly bird scare you with his talk of demons.” Meggie blinked her sleepy eyes at her husband. “Of course Seraphix is a god. I’ve worshipped Them for years.”

“You have?” Danyel turned, his heart picking up speed. 

He remember a night of torches, running, screaming out curses, naming her monster. For Danyel hadn’t been himself at the time. He’d been someone else, a priestess at a temple. A priestess whose sisters at the temple turned against her. 

Someone who’d once been Map. 

“You weren’t a priestess or a Sister of Seraphix, were you?” It was a blind guess, plucked from a few words vaguely remembered from a dream.

“Huh, maybe I was.” Meggie scratched her head again, glanced in the corner. “Don’t shout. There’s lots of things I can’t remember.”

“Including what’s real and not,” Gryluxx sneered, stroking the silver coin around his neck with ringed fingers. “Seraphix is no god. There are no gods. They got weak and were overthrown. It’s a spiritual landscape of opportunity now, my chicks. You can seize a part of that for yourself.”

“Just what did you want us to do?” Danyel asked, lifting his head. Best to find out exactly what the tailor wanted of them.

“First off, sort through this silk.” Gryluxx gestured to the piles. “Fold them neatly, according to color. I’m overwhelmed here with everything our lord asks for.” He eyed the boys with sharp black eyes. “Some of what he asks for is for you.”

“For us?” Danyel squeaked, but he looked down at his light green vest over his white tunic. 

“Yes, I was the one who sewed that. Without you here for measurements, I might add.” The tailor puffed out his chest with some pride. “Our fine lord has instructed me to make two more for you. Blue and green again, only this time they’re to be silk.”

Danyel glanced down at his vest. “It is beautifully made.”

“Of course it is. Don’t act so surprised.” Gryluxx scowled at him. “You’ve been very spoiled, both of you. Do you know how many souls have been run off their feet, clothing and caring for you on our lord’s orders?”

“No,” Danyel said with complete honesty. “Leiwell and Map brought us things. They only said they came from our lord.”

“Sheltered as well as spoiled.” Gryluxx made a harrumping sound. “If you two wish to survive in this wicked world, you’d better learn more about it!”

“That’s why we’re here.” Danyel lifted his chin with some pride and walked over to the piles of silk. 

Tayel let out a low angry sigh. His twin didn’t want to be here. He didn’t trust Gryluxx. Everything he’d said about the man had been the truth. 

At the same time he could leave his twin alone to learn about this wicked world alone. 

Tayel walked over to join Danyel in sorting. 

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Conversations with Christopher: Danyel and Tayel

Christopher wades into the warm water, bubbling with color, trees casting their shadows overhead. His clothes disappear, leaving him naked and pale. Vulnerable to the lapping colors, the kiss of giggling bubbles. 

Images, flashes of memory and thought touch him, but the cramping pain at the center of being distracted him from everything. He needs to expel something trapped with his being, something seeking life of its own, a chance to grow. All the frustrated questions; all the answers he wishes he didn’t know gather in a painful knot. 

The trees overhead, the whispering shadows, even the gurgles of the pond retreat in the face of this pain, this frustration. He needs to push it out of himself. He concentrates, gritting his teeth, tears running down his face and shoves. 

Release finally comes. He forces the knot out of himself into the water, crying and helpless; a floating mass of green and blue. 

Is this the result of his conversation with Ashleigh? The rebirth she spoke of?

The green and blue mass separate reluctantly, becoming two distinct bubbles. They rise to the surface of the pond. 

Christopher: Stop. I don’t want you to rise. I don’t want you to pop.

The Green Bubble: (a voice like Danyel’s floats up from it into the air) Why not? Why should we be any different than the other bubbles?

The Blue Bubble: (speaking in a voice like Tayel’s) In order to exist, we must rise. Popping is the price of existence. 

The two bubbles escape from the top of the water to float in the air around Christopher, a warm green bubble with a touch of blue and a cool blue bubble with a slightly greenish cast. 

If Christopher looks closely he can almost see Danyel, peeking out curiously from within the green bubble, hands pressed against the inside. He can also see Tayel, almost Danyel’s exact likeness except for the gleaming silver in his eyes, keeping his eyelids half-closed, golden waves of hair falling forward to obscure his keen gaze. 

Danyel: (for Christopher cannot help but think of the green bubble as Danyel) Is this where we were born? Were we impulses you gave birth to, Christopher? 

Tayel: (the blue bubble is now Tayel as far Christopher is concerned) Don’t ask. Don’t spoil the story. Let the mystery simmer. 

Christopher: (frowns) Does this mean Ashleigh is your mother and I’m your father? No, that’s not right. Does this mean that Ashleigh is your father and I’m your mother? (He frowns even more.) No, that’s not right either. That’s not how I feel. Not entirely. 

Tayel: Pieces of truth do not make a whole. 

Danyel: I’ve often wondered the same thing. Map is our mother. Leiwell is our brother. How did we come to live with them in the Old Cottage? Just where did we come from?

Tayel: Born of shadow, our hold on reality is tenuous. 

Christopher: Tenuous, yes. You hold onto Map and Leiwell like I hold onto Damian and Gabrielle. Otherwise you might slip back into shadow. Like me. 

Danyel: I’ve always felt close to you, Christopher. You seem so ancient and wise, a fountain of power I could draw strength from, yet you’re so fragile. In protecting you, I protect myself. 

Tayel: Hungry darkness wearing a compelling mask of innocence you’ve made part of yourself. I fear you, mistrust you, yet you give me hope. 

Christopher: Thank you. You make me feel less alone. 

Danyel: I’m terrified of your loneliness, Christopher. You could swallow me whole, swallow us both whole when you’re lonely. I fear I might let you swallow me if I shared that loneliness. 

Tayel: Hunger comes from emptiness, feeding a need to take back what you given. Perhaps it’s your right, but I don’t wish to give up the gift. 

Christopher: Fair enough. (He sighs, closes his eyes, and allows himself to sink below the water’s surface.)

Down, down Christopher goes, a shining pale figure amongst the darkening colors losing their light. Flashes of memory dreamers leave behind, never knowing what they’re leaving twinkle, illuminating his way. 

The green bubble begins to cry and pops, falling in a verdure shower upon the pond’s surface. 

The blue bubble trembles and pops as well, dissolving into cerulean tears which mingle with the green. 

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