Monday, May 9, 2016

City of Curses: First Step (Flash Fiction)

A #Crux bit of #FlashFiction for #Monday.  Danyel Fyshir is a young Rosefolk boy, who besides refusing the veil men in his culture normally wear, is excited for his First Step.  This is the day Danyel takes his First Step in a Class.  It will define the rest of his life.  It isn't necessarily a choice, as the class you find is based on your own abilities.  Sometimes it is a choice, but other times, some find themselves forced into something that they can't get out of.


Danyel Fyshir arrived at school early that day.  The school, the Rose Quarter's Chapel of the Machine, was full of the other students of his grade.  Twelve years of age, Fyshir wore the best suit he owned.

He rushed down the steps of the Rose Quarter.  Despite being twelve years of age, Danyel had the height of most Rosefolk.  His dark, chocolate skin and fizzy black hair matched with the black and red of his waistcoat.  Smooth-faced, the young skinny boy looked like he had been on the verge of puberty.

His waistcoat wasn't well-tailored to him.  Sleeves dangled a bit too far, and the fabric frayed in spots.  His best suit also had been the cheapest on the rack.  But still, for a poor Rosefolk boy like him, it had been stylish.  The suit was Tomasi enough to let him fit in with the fashion of Crux and Ith enough.

His mother had gotten the dark Tomasi-style waistcoat for him.  She'd loved him, even if it had led to her separating with his father two years before.  Danyel didn't wear the veil like other Rosefolk men were supposed to.

That hadn't separated his parents.  Danyel's mind remained focused on the critical event at school this day.  Something to distract from how his choice to dress as a boy, not a girl, had split his family in two.

"The day has arrived!"  Danyel told himself.  He couldn't contain his excitement over what he'd learn today.  It would decide the rest of his life.  His first step on the path that would guide the rest of his life.

This day, Danyel and the other students would all take that first step together.  Like Danyel, the other students had arrived early for Priestess Aza's class.  Everyone looked nervous, curious and there were plenty of butterflies in stomachs all around.

"Ah."  Priestess Aza announced to the students.  "Even our perennial tardy Mister Fyshir is early for today.  I take it you all are eager for your First Step?"

Students looked at one another.

Priest Aza wore the ceremonial iron mask of the Church of the Machine.  The School also was a chapel.  An oddity in the religious Rose Quarter.  A place in the City of Curses dominated by worshippers of the Twins.  This chapel served a religion other than the Twins.  The Machine and its priests believed that everyone deserved an education.

Aza had spent the last seven years teaching everyone in Danyel's class.  Each student had grown up with the Priestess.

The mask only covered the top half of her face.  Aza's braided green and gray hair were wrapped around the back of her head in a bun.  The Priestess wore a simple, plain dress.  But even this early in the day, her fingers and part of the dress were already stained with chalk dust and ink.

Her mouth smiled.

"Good.  Everyone is here, why don't we begin early.  You all agree, I presume?"

Students heads bobbed up and down.

"Good."  Aza said.  She then stood up.  "Today, you all will take your First Step.  Everything you've learned the past few years has led up to this.  Classes are, of their own natures, metaphysical.  They exist in ways that others like you have discovered them.  I have done my best to help you find the door.  Today, I'll put your hands on the doorknobs.

"I know some of you are scared as much as you are curious.  I was too.  Unsorcerous classes will damn you.

Sorcerous classes will lift you up.  But I hope you remember to see the rest of your fellow students as equals.  Do not let the first step and gifts of your Class taint you.  Years from now you can always find mentors to explore another class.  Or, hopefully, you will find teachers in the next few years that will let you master the class you find today."

Danyel shifted in his seat as Aza began the rite.  The Priestess moved her hands around her head.  The prayer gave Aza glowing eyes.  Danyel didn't recognize the color, it seemed to be something just outside his ability to see.

The prayer opened Danyel and the other students' minds.  At least, that had been what Aza said it did.  It just opened their senses with magick lens.  A bit.

"Alright."  Aza spoke in a quiet tone.  "Now feel.  Listen.  Let your emotions out.  Remember everything you've learned.  There are secrets and tricks in all of it.  You can hear your class.  The step.  Take it.  Hear the word.  The class will speak it's name to you.  Be patient.

"Listen."

Danyel closed his eyes.  The first things that came to him were history books he'd read.  Memories of things to cure poisonous plants.  Then there was the time he'd learned how to play games in the field with the others.  How they accepted him as boy there, how he'd jump and move, swift and smooth.  Not faster than the rest, but with cunning.

Cunning.

Swift.

Quiet.

Danyel then heard a voice.  It felt distant.

Rough.  A woman's voice?  It sounded like she had struggled.  Danyel could hear a cleverness to it.

"Rogue."  The voice told him.

Danyel repeated the word.  It felt like walking through a door.  Like when a wind changes the sky.  But instead of clouds and suns shifting, Danyel's mind changed.  He could feel something there.  Something new.  It wasn't quite complete.

Like the first step onto a new path.

Danyel blinked his eyes open.  He knew new things, but they weren't complete.  He touch that place, were the Rogue class existed through his mind.

He tried to push back tears.  Rogue.

Half of the other students were laughing and bragging about their new class.  The half were busy lying to others about it.  Danyel felt what half of them felt.  Rogue wasn't a Sorcerous class.  Rogue was Unsorcerous.

Danyel had taken his First Step.  But the path ahead of him wasn't fair.  The Unsorcerous weren't citizens.  They weren't people.  Not the kind of people Danyel had wanted to be.  Unsorcerous were property.

Sorcerous could do anything they wanted to them.

"I'm unsorcerous."  Danyel told himself.  His gut just sank.  He wanted to puke.

Unsorcerous.  It wasn't fair.  It wasn't fair at all.