Flowers and Fickleness

“You're distracted, Delphine,” Nestre says over their evening meal.

The younger woman stares back over the table. “I've a lot to think about.”

“You are giving yourself too much to think about, you mean,” Nestre counters.

Delphine rearranges some of the vegetables on her plate absently. She wants to say, I don't know what you're talking about, but Nestre can always see right through her.

It's that boy, isn't it?” Nestre continues, unabated. “A merchant's son, if I recall correctly. But despite whatever wealth his father has he is not worth your time, Delphine. You should focus wholeheartedly on your training, else you'll never develop your talent.”

Delphine whispers back defiantly, “And if I don't?”

I presume you mean, 'If I don't forget the boy,'” Nestre huffs. “You cannot expect gifts divine when your heart is trained on earthly desires, girl.”

You're one to talk,” Delphine mutters under her breath. Usually she is the patient sort, but tonight she is consumed by an unhappy fire. You have lit that flame in her yourself, she breathed it in through the garland of flowers that even now hangs on a hook by her bed. Delphine will not develop without some tension with her teacher.

Nestre pretends not to hear the girl's words, and slurps soup noisily from her spoon to mask her deep frown.

Later that evening, as Delphine lies in her bed you send her another gentle vision, her first while awake. She sees the pattern of the ceiling buckle and quake like waves on an ocean, rhythmic and lethargic but hiding great power beneath. The ceiling tears open and the roof is blown away soundlessly, the tiles flying through the air and shattering in pure silence. Delphine remains transfixed, certain she is sleeping, as the stars begin to echo the earlier movements of the patterned ceiling. As the stars dance in the night sky, some flare into brightness and gather in the shape of a stag with antlers resplendent. It digs a front hoof into the fabric of the sky, tearing it, and faint comets shoot forward as it breathes. The animal rushes forward, down from the sky, filling the frame made in the emptiness of the ceiling.

Delphine cries out, jerking her arms to cover her face, and falls from the bed in her frantic movements.

Nestre's figure fills the door frame in mere moments, an oil lamp burning in her hand. “A dream, my girl?”

Delphine nods from the ground, eyes wide, sweat now beading on her brow.

Please share, before the details leave you. Tell me!”

She starts with a stutter, but gradually tames her voice to tell of the dream. She does so from the ground, sitting cross-legged, with Nestre perched at the edge of her bed.

So the elk has found his antlers,” Nestre states, pensively. “I will meditate on this, Delphine. Thank you.”

With those words she departs, taking the lamp and the light with her. Suddenly alone and in a dark room, however small and familiar it is, Delphine feels a creeping fear. She unfolds her legs and stands, walking to the shuttered window. It opens with a squeak, admitting the cool night air and soft glow of the stars and moon. With her hand she brushes the sweat from her face and feels how hot and flushed it must be.

A sigh, and she returns to her bed. Delphine relaxes onto it slowly, as if she doesn't trust it to hold her anymore, and stares once more at the ceiling. The breeze from the open window carries the faint scent of the flower wreath beside her bed over her, and the girl relaxes.

In minutes she is peacefully asleep, and will remain that way until morning. You have no more dreams for her tonight.

The End

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