Since I am too lazy to write something interesting, I’ll just post a snippet from Dragon Valley. Perhaps one day I will actually finish this story. As usual, all rights reserved. Copyright 2003 Julie Weathers.
The metallic leaves tinkled softly when Barrahcus rapped his staff against the floor, the sound echoing through the silent chamber.
“Arrest that woman!” he roared. “This is an outrage.”
The guards looked at Maija and back to the councilman. The captain stepped forward at last, followed by three armsmen. She waited. Her cause was lost before she had even addressed the council. It didn’t help that she was fading completely from sight very rapidly, making it appear she was avoiding arrest. She tried to calm her breathing to slow the process or hopefully halt it. It was no use. The mer armor was designed to protect the wearer and it sensed her feelings of fear. No amount of thinking would remove her emotions. The aura continued to glow and strengthen as she faded into a shadow.
“Hold,” said the princess. She held up her hand toward the guards. Maija heard one of them exhale deeply. Maybe it was her sigh of relief she had heard.
“Council, come closer.” Maija watched the members gather around the throne. There was much animated discussion, punctuated by an occasional outburst. Most was kept to a low murmur only those closest to the group could hear.
She let her attention wander to the room, trying not to think about what the next few moments might hold for her. It was a forest frozen in time. Trees fashioned of bronze and slightly tarnished silver formed a rough circle against the rounded walls. The ceiling was domed and made of intricately crafted slabs of colored gems. The pieces were joined together with lead channels, which traced through the roof like a dull, metallic spider web. Toward the edges, the gems were various shades of jade, mimicking the leaves of the forest canopy. Beams of sunlight knifed through in places where the artisans had placed slivers of amber to produce golden rays. In other places, topaz and opal, sliced thin and flat, gathered to give the illusion of a clouded sky peeking through the woodland cover.
The metal tree trunks were so lifelike she was almost compelled to reach out and touch the rough bark of some and caress the smoothness of others. Some of the tree roots snaked over the deep green marble floors before fading to nothing. Smaller trees receded against the wall in such a manner the observer felt they were looking through the mists of time, taking them back to the old world where the land was whole and elven guards still rode with unicorn escorts at their sides. The tree leaves were made of copper, like the entrance gates of the city, so they aged to an appealing verdigris. The branches and the leaves of the trees covered the ceiling, thinning toward the middle of the dome where only the mosaicked sky remained. Squirrels of faded brass with, bright, obsidian eyes watched the elves of Kyralai. Birds nested in the branches, setting eggs of onyx for eternity. Butterflies with jeweled wings flitted among the blooms. No detail had been overlooked, not even the finely loomed tapestries woven behind the trees, showing the heroes embarking on the four prophecies. The tapestry behind the dais showed a young princess and her escort, leaving home to fulfill a destiny. The same princess who now sat on the throne with a multi-hued sheka kitten in her lap.
The cat would have been particularly at home in an old forest such as the one recreated in this room. Its emerald eyes blended with the green stripes and splotches on its ebony coat. Strips and dabs of gold and blue intermingled with a deep brown to create the perfect woodlands creature. It would have been perfectly camouflaged in a tree. Shekas were nearly impossible to see when they perched on a tree limb or blended into a vibrant forest floor. Outside the forest, their coats were anything but concealing, however. They looked almost like a long-haired harlequin. The brilliant markings may have contributed to the extinction of the cats as more and more people hunted them for the furs. Yet, there sat the princess with one of them in her lap.