An anon. narrator tells their strange, endearing story set far in the future of humanity.
“I hear the flute over the grasslands, calling to me, reminding me of the spirits in my blood and in the wind that had whirled as one. The rhythms of the Earth are steady, like my heartbeat.”
My story begins the first moment I fell in love.
If it had not been for that moment, I would not be writing this.
There would be no need, for nothing I have to tell tale of would have come to pass.
I would not be here in this moment, awaiting destiny, whiling away my last remaining hours writing to you.
If you are wondering why I am doing this, and I know you cannot help but yield such thoughts for I too would have them, I will simply tell you this:
If this goes unwritten, if this goes unsaid, then no one will ever know the truth.
And in this truth, there is possibility, and there in it lies life.
Life is scarce in these times, a man called Aledrael used to tell me, if you do stumble upon it, or the ancient gods grant you a sliver, you cherish it and keep it precious, and when the time comes, you pass on the bit of good fortune and give it to another.
That has been the way of our people since we had lost all that was given to us by grace in the first place. It is a noble and good practice, but you would be surprised how quickly you forget your promise when you finally are given what you desire.
Someone forgetting is the reason we are here, someone’s neglect is the reason there is so little life, so now, to remember is one of the most important things you can do, and what you remember is to share life. These were his words and I believe them.
So in the hopes of not only honoring this man’s memory, but the most sincere wish to keep his edict alive is the reason that I write to you.
I had written that it all began the moment I fell in love, but to be more accurate in my retelling I will begin this tale from the moment when I first caught sight of love.
Her name, her exotic, sensual name was Emeripur. That was all.
Like most drifters, by tradition she had no family second name or clan tie, but held the guild kin’ing of Ael-Pyperi.
It had been the pleasure of my life to be there at the gathering in the Saoile tavern that evening. Aunt Odette, my mother’s friend, always made sure I was there when there were happenings I liked the most.
It was not a spectacular affair, far from grand or illustrious, for physical manifestation of such words was unknown to me.
But it was the particular night when travelers and traders would meet, and with them attract the company of rare minstrels.
And not just any minstrels, no, but those that played the far-past music of a time I could not place. All I knew about that period in human history was that none of my farthest reaching relations had been born in it, or any where near for that matter.
Even our greatest, eldest ancestor was born near a glimmering nebula, in space.
But people of that far-past time were never born in space, the lore folk tell.
But they may be lying.
Everyone and anyone living today from grand-pappy on were born in space if they hadn’t stumbled on a planet. Few people lived on planet all the time. And even fewer chose their children to be born anywhere other then in space.
Not even now when there are so many planets that have eathlad, what we call places that humans can walk on and live off.
So it was that night, when the minstrels played their haunting music that plucked my heart strings with each beloved note, was when I first saw her.
I caught a glimpse of her in the midst of the crowd, not far from the throng players in whose direction I was headed.
It was her large, glistening eyes and her dewy face that caught me first; then her rich mane of hair, her petal mouth and her floating voice.
It was quiet warm in the place with all the amber-cauldrons and hearths and torches, not to mention the bustling crowd of people, so there was a gleam on her eyes and a flush to her cheek.
She was radiant, alive and beautiful.
But I did not meet her right then.
My mother’s mate, Aledrael, came up to me with a branche, a strong rich drink that he knew I would like for the first hour, and swept me away to say greetings to Aunt Odette.
Nor was I introduced to her then, for Aunt never said she knew her, although later I found out she did.
No, Emeripur introduced herself.
I hadn’t even finished my drink when she leapt into the crowd of other young people that surrounded Aunt to be introduced to each other and to mingle politely.
Choosing a random youth, she put one arm around his shoulder and the other around the young woman next to him, and asked them how dandy they where and when they were planning on breaking out into dance and song.
That absurdity immediately broke the ice and took the possible awkwardness from her bold and bouncy attitude from our midst.
Whispering behind her back later, a few of my age mates concluded that she was probably simple minded and too-land-locked (a term for people that live almost exclusively on planet surface in tight nit communities) because of her presumptuous manner, but I knew there was something more to her then that.
When no one was paying attention, or engrossed in some other aspect of her behavior, there was a sly, wise glint in the corner of her eye, as if she knew something they didn’t, and knew they’d never find her out, lest her secrets.
She had bowed low and kindly to Aunt Odette, and then whirled about putting name to pace as Odette began to introduce everyone in the group.
When Aunt Odette spoke my name, and the twirling figure turned to me, leaving me bare in her wide eyed, uninhibited gaze I nearly gasped and was about to take a step back if an instinctual sense of etiquette didn’t jolt me into stopping myself.
Passionate and yet reserved, were the first tangible words that came to my mind to describe her. This woman was a rich, multi-layered conglomerate, much like the complicated branche I was drinking, and like the beverage, she was strong.
It was this very intensity, that she both let shine through seemingly free for all to take part in, was also deep rooted, a component of her blood and bones.
Later, Emeripur told me I did indeed gasp, and really did take a step back.
But she told me not to look so horrified.
No one noticed, she said, only I was really looking.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with her so quickly.
She was the only one who I felt really saw me, really ever dared to know me so completely, and really drank deep from the well of who I was, wanted to be, and ever tried to become.
I hardly heard any of the precious music after that first glance until Emeripur suggested we take stools and sit right by the musicians.
This time, we drank the mild, soothing and delicately flavored mealliame, and with her sitting next to me, eyes flutter closed and opening again as the melody rose and fell, I felt I had never before so enjoyed the instruments.
And when she told me to press my palm to my heart as one of the old rhythms sounded, to hear how my heart matched the music, I felt I had never so understood this music I so loved before that moment.
But I had not given her my heart completely yet, although I knew that I would love her.
No, I hoped, I yearned, I begged that I would love her, because never before had I met a creature I so wanted to love.
And I knew that if indeed I felt those stirrings, I would have the courage and the faith to find out if she could love me too.
After that night, we spent our days together.
She had never been planet side on this particular planet, and there many things to see.
Not all those that came to this planet would say so, but she possessed a unique and insatiable curiosity that did not only stop at the most striking things.
In the seemingly ordinary, common and mundane, Emeripur found life and reveled in it.
The single week that she was supposed to stay directly on the planet turned into three weeks.
The following week after that, we visited the space camp.
I was eager to show her this place too, for I spent only half my life on the planet eathlad.
The rest was spent in space, where my mother had been born, and I would have been if my arrival had not been slightly miscalculated by my mother’s friend, the birth-matron.
The weeks turned into a planet month, a moon month, and finally a space month, and yet Emeripur did not move on.
I have plenty of things to explore here, to study here, to experience and to learn, she said simply, why should I leave now and go to another place and be even more confused and misplaced then before?
I did not argue with her. I did not want her to leave.
Three more months passed, planet, moon and space, and that is when I knew I had fallen completely and passionately in love with her.
And it was then that she told me that she had fallen in love with me.
I had never been happier or more ecstatic, though I began realized that deep down I had know the moment I saw her that we would exchange hearts and love one another.
That is when we started spending our night together, too.
We had before, but not like this, nothing like this.
We were in love and all knew it.
In space and planet side, we were recognized.
My mother was pleased, Aledrael approved heartily, and all the rest of my family and friends commended us.
If I were part of a clan like mother, they would have supported it.
If I were in I had guild kin, they too would cheer.
We connected with one another and we were young and alive, beautiful and free.
Emeripur and I had begun to live together in one tent in space and one chalet on the planet and we agreed that nothing could stop us from making a journey to the nearer planet’s far moon when the moment came.
I was to be granted a pass band to be associated with the Emeripur’s guild-kin through her, since traveling with a traveler required such a thing, and we made plans on when we would leave and how and what we would bring aside from each other.
And then, she disappeared.
The love of my life vanished practically while in my sight, for when I awoke one morning, there was no sign of my beloved Emeripur next to me.
All her things remained, except for the few possessions she always wore, but even in the first moment that I awoke, I knew something was terribly wrong.
Despite all the suggestions of the others, I knew she had not gone a quick trip to bring us something for our journey, or to surprise me, or because of some sort of emergency concerning a friend of her guild kin.
In vain, I asked around and searched the space and planet for her, a sign of her, or someone that could possibly lead me to her.
But I returned to our chalet empty handed and at a loss.
Emeripur was gone.
I was devastated and thrust in despair.
I had never shed so many tears in my memory and nothing could comfort me, nothing.
And then one morning, a few days after her disappearance, there awoke an urge in me.
I had a strange dream, morbid and horrific mostly, but there were lucid moment that held sensation that I associated with Emeripur.
As difficult as it was for me, I took this as a sign.
The depression into which I had willingly set one foot in began to grudgingly dissipate.
For the first few hours that I idly looked through Emeripur’s abandoned belongings, I heard the voices of doubt and hopelessness telling to give up the ghost.
But that ghost was Emeripur, and even in such a shady, spectral form I would not let her go.
I resumed my search with vigor that I though had been impossible only a night before, and when I reached Emeripur’s ornament casket, all traces of my irremovable dejection were vanquished.
I looked within the pretty box to see if Emeripur had left anything that she normally wore, or visa versa.
Yes, there was one thing.
A gloeathe bangle bracelet, a shiny yellow-star hue, with pearly turquoise and crème enamels set as waves by an undulating piece of gloeathe on the outer side.
She had found it beautiful and it was a familiar site on her wrist.
Lifting it and holding it so that the tips of my thumb and forefinger from both hands were on opposite sides of two intersecting diameters, I pondered on why she would have left it behind.
Coming up with no straightforward or distinctive answers, I slipped the bangle unto my own wrist.
Help me find her, I whispered silently to the ornament in my mind.
After combing through our home, both in space and on planet, I decided to visit a space communal datallect Class-Great, shorthand for data collector that historians say at some point was called a ‘librariotec’.
Choosing one of the consoles, I began my research.
I looked up the guild of Ael-Pyperi, but only scant information was provided.
You learn about the guild from the guild kin, not from the datallect.
It was an accident really that I stumbled upon the first clue.
The image I saw didn’t even come up on my console screen.
And yet I realized it had been haunting me nearly the whole time since I came to space from planet after firmly deciding to look for answers.
Upon arrival in a lobby hall I caught glimpse of bolts of shimmer fabric being transported to an adjacent chamber that held one roll of cloth with deep, jewel tones that captured my eye although there were more flamboyant ones present.
But I didn’t pay much attention.
My thoughts were on Emeripur and the desperate need to find something that would lead me to her.
It was this state of mind in fact, I later realized, was why I noticed that fabric’s colors in the first place.
Thoughts of the bracelet and something strange about it being left behind although nothing else was plagued the dark corners of my mind, venturing when it could into the flurry of my thoughts.
But again, I pushed aside the impulse to question this further.
Something shining on a hand of an exiting girl when I walked though the entrance of the datallect grand chamber brought me to a jolt and made me pause.
But I spied the console I wanted and rushed forward to claim it before anyone else had the chance.
I didn’t think twice about that incident when I settled for my research that would prove fruitless and empty ended.
But then finally, something came that I could not brush off or ignore.
The work station I had chosen was on the edge of those that were lined up in front of a huge collection of flat screens on which one image could be brought up, or multiple separately, depending on how the screen was programmed to be divide.
As I took my gaze of my own console video, finding nothing on Ael-Pyperi that would help me, my eyes naturally drifted toward the expansive screen before me.
And there, vivid and exploding on screen, taking up the center right, was the flower whose roots lead me to the object that would be my primary clue to the unraveling the mystery of Emeripur.
It was a photapture (photo-capture, a still image) of a beautiful clustered nebula, that held the glimmer of what I glimpsed on the girl’s hand, the fabrics vivid colors, and the answer to the question of why the well liked bracelet was left behind.
Emeripur wore her ring on the day that she vanished.
I knew this with ultimate certainty.
There was only one time, under normal circumstances, that the bracelet was found absent on Emeripur’s wrist.
And that was when she wore a slender, white-star mooniev (silver) ring with the twinkling stone, flanked by two small, clear, sparkling gems.
The center stone had no name that I knew of, but it was one of the most unusual and unique I had ever seen.
Such colors could be reproduced, the cut and composition of the stone probably too could me remade, but the stone itself was singular.
It looked alive, like it held within it a soul.
From its depths came deep, vivid hues of emerald green, violet, blue, and ruby red.
And when Emeripur wore that ring, she never wore the bracelet too.
She was very fond it, and said that it looked its best when unhampered and solitary.
After the first wave of triumph at this realization waned, I couldn’t find anything else associated with this gleaned fact that would lead me to concrete theories on Emeripur’s whereabouts.
And although I couldn’t come up with anything substantial logically, the thought of the ring still stayed in my mind, like a beacon that refused to be put out.
I decided to learn from my mistakes and not dismiss something just because it doesn’t make perfect sense right away.
I would let the notion lead me to where it would and hope that it would bring me that much closer to Emeripur.
So I began to research rings, ones that resembled hers, hoping that would bring up something that I could use.
I typed in the general description of the ring, the way the stone made me feel, the way firelight made it glisten, listing all I could about it that I thought might provide me with a wealth of possibilities.
I was surprised when my search led me to historic image galleries rather then to jewelers, ornament artists and collector of more contemporary origin.
It was then that I realized that in my description I didn’t use any strictly modern terms. I simply described the ring’s impression on me.
While skimming over various ancient artifact galleries, I smiled despite myself when I noticed one I had checked into before.
On an impulse I clicked on that one first and browsed through the various photoaning (photo-paintings, created images from photaptures or life) and photaptures.
Gradually I reached a section where most of the ornamentation and jewelry relics were concentrated.
I recalled that I had only briefly glanced over these images when I last logged into this gallery site, having little interest in such things at the time.
But this time, this was just what I was looking for.
I gaze over the items, all the different sorts from all different kinds of time, when suddenly my eyes passed over a photaning of a ring.
The image was poor and slightly distorted, but the colors unmistakable.
I looked for a complement photapture but found there were none available because the recovering of the original medium that held the image of this relic was not congruent with that of the photapturer. This was odd, but I didn’t elaborate further.
I wanted to see the ring better, so I used an available program to improve the resolution of the image and restore original composition.
When the process was complete, I looked to see if it was familiar.
My body had never undergone such a strong physical reaction of shock before.
Quaking shivers shook loose my bones and my blood both seared flame and turned ice cold.
My eyes gave to tears, my skin flushed and then paled and I nearly howled.
There was no denying it.
The ring in the restored photaning was Emeripur’s ring.
Exact in every detail.
It was her ring.
What was it doing there!?
Quickly, my mind too still too stunned to begin to produce possibilities on its own, I glanced at the information and dating accompanying the ring’s photaining.
If my first reaction was dramatic and violent, it compared nothing to this.
My face contorted and I did indeed let out a strangled shriek before I lost consciousness long enough to bring me to my knees.
There was no one near my console and a decorative curtain (maintained for privacy) shielded the out of ear shot head reference desk from the site of me.
I was left to recover on my own.
Yet the moment I thought about what I had seen, my consciousness threatened to disappear into oblivion again.
So there I was, panting and shaking on the floor, too weak to rise, too traumatized to really consider anything.
I though that I would die of shock, if that was anything that could happen out of stories.
I couldn’t believe it and at the same time I knew it was true because the moment I thought about it I felt I would be sick.
After what seemed like a great long while, I finally composed myself enough to try to rise, although I knew I couldn’t look at the screen just yet.
At that moment, another person, also desiring privacy, who was making their way to my area spotted me, and immediately rushed to my aid, calling the lady responsible for the desk from the front of the chamber.
They managed to contact my friend Aammeara and my mother, who came and retrieved me, asking question and threatening to defy my protests that I did not need a healer if I didn’t tell them what the matter was.
I couldn’t tell them.
Even when I almost began to, the words welled in my throat and I choked on them.
It was truly fantastical and unbelievable.
They would think me mad or joking, and even when they found out I was neither, someone would come up with some sort of excuse.
Even though folk were attentive to detail and believed many a great strange things nowadays, there was just too little empirical evidence to support what I claimed.
No one knew for sure what Emeripur wore that day since no one had seen her, and the ring might have been a careful and expensive duplicate, and I might not have paid attention to the difference.
My deteriorating emotional state in the last few days I knew did not make me the most reliable candidate for such bold suggestions.
My people were tolerant and open minded but by the most part they were also quite reasonable.
And I was behaving and thinking far from the sphere of reason and likeliness.
But I knew what I saw.
I knew what was truth, and that was Emeripur’s ring.
Not a duplicate, for as I said before, that ring was singular.
The soul I glimpse within the ring of the photaining and on Emeripur’s finger were one and the same.
There was no denying it.
But according to the dating of that ring, and of the original “photo” in which the ring appeared, was almost unimaginable.
Ironically, the idea of that date was little better off then the imaginable, because in fact it was nearly considered part of the imagination. A fiction, vision, dream, make believe invention.
According to the information which I accepted as true, there was no reason I should suspect deception (especially in the prestigious datallect), was that Emeripur’s ring, the ring a woman I had seen only a few days ago, alive, happy and healthy, dated back to the age before people were born in space, before the age of actual space travel and space dwelling itself.
It dated back to the beyond-ancient One Planet: Terrea, Erdet, Aarded, Jorde.
Or as some mystic historians say: Earthe.
The actual plausible existence of such a place was bizarre and eccentric on its own.
Some believed parts of it, more or less, even general supporters could be found, but those that believed it all completely and unquestioningly were virtually unknown.
It was a legend, a myth, a sliver of truth wrapped in too much time gone past.
If this was difficult to accept as truth, can you imagine how extraordinary my discovery seemed?
It was more the unbelievable thing…it was an impossibility!
Even this image record of the ring was already an updated copy of the original image, to which there was vague reference as not having survived the time.
Accordingly, this ring never even physically and substantially existed in the far reaching time of which anything was known.
This thought struck a cord in me.
I did not know what it was exactly, but it was powerful.
It shook the very foundation of my being, and although it gave me no lucid answered, it made me realize something very important, but also extremely arduous to whole heartedly accept.
Emeripur was not all she seemed.
The woman I loved was an enigma.
I could have accepted that, and loved her all the more for it.
But she was gone.
And that only left one thing in my mind:
Emeripur had secrets…deep secrets, and the mystery of why she disappeared and to where, and these veiled things were tied together.
If I had not loved Emeripur, I would have left it alone.
I would have let her memory go, and I would have lived my life differently.
I would have made other choices; I would have loved other people.
But I loved Emeripur.
I loved her as deeply as I love life itself and perhaps beyond, because I was willing to risk my sanity and quite possibly my life to find her.
It did not matter to me that I might spent my life in an endless search, never compensated for my efforts, never brought the relief and joy of discovery that would end my desperations.
I loved Emeripur.
But most of all I knew her love for me.
I breathed it, tasted it, kissed it and fell more deeply in love with verity of it.
If I thought for a second she did not love me and left me for that reason, I would have abandoned everything and left her be.
I would have been greatly saddened, but I would have found a way to understand.
But this was not so.
We were in love, deeply and truly and with all our being.
I would not abandon her to a fate of absence, and nor could I ever even attempt to forget her.
I made the decision then and there that I would do all I could to uncover her secrets, what led her to vanish from me.
And her shimmering, living, ancient ring was my first step toward my love, Emeripur.
The verses that begin each chapter are excerpts from a poem called “The Flute”.