READ FROM THE BEGINNING: The First Page
It was a night to write of.
Branch felt lighter, more able to enjoy himself. Estelle made that easy, but it was something different, something that permeated through him. Like he was less worried about trying to grow in the moment, and more simply being there. Feeling and living, laughing and running, at one point he even heckled a guy. They drank exotic mixtures, and local concoctions. There was music and it was beautiful. Some of it was slow and haunting, playing on the edge of sorrow. While others, leapt and danced across the notes, cajoling those who heard into an irrevocable enjoyment.
As the night ended, or, came close to it. The sun had fallen behind horizon and the high walls of Clarity, Branch and Estelle found themselves sitting in the Traveler’s Respite, it was proving itself to be quite the fine inn. It was full, a good sign for an inn. People laughed loudly and often, another. But most importantly. There were two fireplaces. They were warm and kept clean, and even more importantly, cushioned chairs surrounded them. It really was a respite. Tall drinks, comfy chairs, and a warm place to set your feet.
Clarity was a great place for a traveler. There were endless corners and shops, they pandered to all flavors of preference. The city had a pride for being this way. Branch had heard it in many of the voices, an enamoring with their home, for what it was, the appreciation of its diversity.
Of course, there were always those that couldn’t see it.
“Today, was a fine day.” Branch said lazily, he was really sinking into the chair.
Music drifted in the background, there was enough conversation to stumble over it that only a few of the notes drifted through the crowd.
“It really was.” Estelle said. She was leaning back into the chair beside his, her voice was also low, relaxed, like it too fell slowly into the warm and cushioned seat.
Traveler’s Respite was one of those places that could be full, bristling with patrons and guests, and still feel comfortable, spacious and personal at the same time. It found itself that way now, full, people milled about, a jovial demeanor permeated through the room.
“Do you think you’ll be coming to the Garden of Sense tomorrow?” Branch asked, filling the quietness that had settled around their small corner.
It was one of those nice, and comfortable quiets. None of that awkward silence. The kind that could make anyone twitch with a sudden urge to shout, anything, to fill the weird and twisting way that an awkwardness can take over a moment.
“To see you do a Growing!?” She said excitedly, “Of course. It’s not everyday that a Growth Mage comes along you know! Besides you need someone there that believes in you.” She winked at him, in the way that seems to joke, but is actually serious.
At the same time, he felt uplifted from hearing she would, and, a pale anticipated worry that she would be there. It was one thing to stumble in front of a crowd, but to do it in front of a crowd and a girl. He would have to make sure he didn’t.
“Don’t blink! You’ll miss it.” He laughed, so did she.
“Did you get a room?”
“Yeah, I’ve always got one over at the tower. You know, the ever-rooms.”
Branch was going to stay at Mageform. Everyone who studied there -and had learned a Magic Form- had a room. It was theirs for the rest of their lives. Branch had left his as it had been, single small bed that was really more a cot than anything. He had a carved wooden dresser, a small table and chair for reading and writing, and that was about it. The room didn’t need much, it had been nearly ten years since he’d been there anyway.