WhiteRain Posted July 16, 2012 Share Posted July 16, 2012 “This way,” Darion said. ‘This way’ involved a great deal more complexity than you’d expect for a corridor. Sclader had been renovating. “Where are we?” “Believe it or not, the entrance corridor,” Darion said, standing upon a stair that climbed towards a balcony which in turn descended toward another. “Welcome to the Court of Mirrors, Chang’s latest, greatest offering to the world of Novas.” “It’s incredible. Where’s the way out?” “That’s the hard part,” Darion said. “Maybe you can find it. I’ve never been able to.” Some of the Anavasi were referring to this as ‘an entrance exam’. Sclader, since been afforded the honour of having his work displayed as the very first thing someone would see on entrance, had been tweaking and twisting and altering his creation ever since. Now it was a thing of beauty, not just mathematically perfect, but incorporating precise visual elements as well. Light sources were positioned so as to be warped on the fractal edge of reality, where the hidden numbers did their thing and caused the wrap around effect that made it all so confusing. Sakura’s face lit up and she ran past Darion to follow the stairs and balconies, seeking the solution to the puzzle. Darion followed, smiling. It was good to see her relax. Since returning from captivity she had been taut as a bowstring, ready to snap. Many people didn’t see it, but he did. That kept him hovering just outside touching distance, never quite sure where he ought to be. She wanted contact, he knew. Sakura was one of those people who liked to be hugged. But hugs and simple closeness were not enough when it came to matters of the soul. Her illusions had been ripped away with brutal force. Few Novas emerged from that crucible unscathed. In this case it did no good that Sakura had been through this before. If anything that made things worse, because she had erroneously believed that unpleasant, unwanted past was behind her. Darion never felt that security. The past was a track and field expert. No matter what hurdles you put in its path, no matter how long the track, it would always be racing up behind, ready to overtake and unmake you in an eyeblink. They wandered through Sclader’s madhouse for nearly ten minutes before Sakura found the way out. More precisely she found the necessary steps to open the way out. It took a precise movement between the balconies, a physical re-enactment of the mathematical formulae on which the entire work was based. Ingenious, really. “That was the entrance?” Sakura asked when they emerged from the corridor. “Uh-huh.” She smiled. “This is the house that Chang built. I can believe it. I hope it does better than mine.” “It will,” Darion said, without thinking. “Oh, uh. That was insensitive. What I meant to say is, we have a rather more cynical outlook than other Novas. The Court of Mirrors shines, but the Court of Shadows lurks below. Anybody attacks this place they’ll have horrors boiling up from the depths that’ll make their eyes boil to look on them.” Such talk did not make Sakura comfortable, he knew, but it was what it was. No point pretending. The number one rule was ‘do not fuck with the Teragen’. It was right next door to ‘do not fuck with the Congo’. Unlike the Storm King the Teragen did not have to play nice, did not have to worry about politics, and would indeed murder your family and everyone you knew if you called their bluff. Darion did not know the precise fate of Sakura’s kidnapper. He knew that Snow managed to her hands on him. That meant he would die eventually. Eaten, most likely, once she got into a monstrous mood and decided to re-enact one of Meh’Lindi’s past-times. It would be a slow death, though. She took the whole incident personally. It was not a good idea to make an enemy of a girl who could read a hundred torture manuals in an hour to aid in brainstorming a proper punishment. He brushed the thoughts away. They weren’t nice, and he did not want them on his mind while Sakura was around. If anyone needed to see some smiles it was her. Though that did raise the question of why he was taking her to see Chang. She had never been known for smiling much. “So where is she?” Sakura asked. “Oh, you’ll see. This place brings the artist out of everyone.” He gave her a wink and linked arms. “Come on.” He guided her to the heart of the Court of Mirrors, to the enormous and normally empty chamber around which all the other rooms, corridors and amenities were constructed. It was not empty now. The entirety of the interior was filled with mirrors. The floor war mirrors, the walls, the roof over their heads. A corridor opened up into many corridors. Sakura and Darion were reflected a thousand thousand times, caught on angles designed at times to make it seem they stretched out into infinity, and at others to distort their images in queer ways. “Is this…” “Chang, yes,” Darion said. “All of it’s her.” He could not keep the awe from his voice. “Other people use their bodies to make art; she makes her body into art.” And art it was. More than just a simple conglomeration of parts, a mere exercise in position and composition, there were sources of light there within the Mirror Queen’s body, fixtures and torches that sent refractive ripples through entire mirrored swaths. The maze extended vertically, too, but accessing the higher levels required negotiating the lowers in certain ways, passing through nigh-invisible doors, coming face to face with one’s own twisted image. “Chang?” Sakura called out. “She won’t answer,” Darion said, looking at one of a thousand-thousand reflections of Sakura and quite unsure where she was now. “She only talks to someone who gets to the centre and finds her. She can hear everything, but won’t interact. She’s like that a lot these days.” It took an hour to navigate the mirror maze, even with Sakura and Darion working in unison. Chang’s body wove into more and more complex mirrored landscapes as they neared the centre, no longer obeying the mundane laws that governed the shape of glass. At one point they passed through an entire separate chamber within Chang’s maze-body, an open area where short mirrored blades of glass crunched underfoot and a reflective liquid pool beckoned them to swim with half-formed arms. Chang awaited in the centre of the maze, in a simple squared chamber formed of six mirrored surfaces. She sat in a mirrored chair, but she did not wear her ‘regal’ garb. The queen within the maze was the Chang of days past, punkish, hooded, with her hair shaped short beneath the wool, her white rain eyedrop prominent, and other tattoos snaking across her skin. A sign of the woman she had become was evident, though, for her fingers were laced and steepled in a meditative posture. She looked up as they entered. “Hello, Sakura. It feels like it has been a long time.” With a soft glassy slither, a couch and chair formed for Sakura and Darion respectively. Darion settled upon the chair, wondering how he should even address Chang. He could not be easy and relaxed the way Sakura was when she flopped down gratefully on the couch. He looked at Chang and saw a being an order of magnitude different to himself. She was at a point where even the most basic thought was a mystery to him. He leaned back to let the two friends catch up. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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