The tavern is well lit but loud, a few dozen busy people closing out
their day with a trip to their favorite watering hole. Many patrons
sit at the bar ordering yet another drink. The loud conversation of the
Sylvani bartender and his customer draws the attention of the guests
nearby. He’s tall, even for a Sylvani, and bears a striking resemblance
to a cherry tree. His hair has shed its springtime blossoms for tiny
budding fruit interlaced with the branches tied behind his head. He
rolls his eyes at the patron in front of him and plucks a cherry from
his head and drops it into the glass in front of him.
He slides the cocktail across the counter to the young Fairy on the stool,
who laughs and claps at the personalized garnish and downs a hearty pull
of his drink.
“You’re the best, Kirsikka!” His speech is slurred and it’s obvious that
this isn’t his first drink of the evening. “This is the kind of service
that I come to the Chimney Stork for. You know how to indulge all of a
fey’s desires.” He grins and takes another swallow before excusing himself
to the restroom. Kirsikka returns to cleaning glasses and checking stock
of his bar.
“Please excuse, Scroot,” Kirsikka says to a nearby fey as he offers
another glass. “He can be loud and a bit nosey, but it keeps him out
of trouble.” It isn’t long before Scroot is climbing up onto his stool
“Alright, Kirsikka,” Scroot says. “It’s Svenday. You know what that means.
Story time!” This isn’t his first trip to Chimney Stork and many have
caught on to Scroot’s habit. Scroot inquires about a particular patron
and Kirsikka does his best to fill in the backstory with what he’s learned
from serving them and taking creative liberties in filling in the gaps.
His expert storytelling leaves a listener unsure where the line between
fiction and reality ends but in the experience is usually a story worth
listening to. In fact, many frequent this establishment at this particular
time because they’ve become so enchanted with the stories that Kirsikka
“That one,” Scroot barks as he points a finger across the room.
An old human has crashed against the wall in his exit while throwing
his raincoat around himself. Even with his cane, he can’t quite stay
upright entirely. Eventually and with his belongings gathered, he slams
the last of his drink. He stumbles out after his awkward fall and leaves
through the swinging door and into the pouring summer rain outside. He
mutters something and shakes his fist at the sky as he leaves the Chimney
Stork this night.
“That man in the green coat,” Scroot confirms. “He’s been here at least
weekly for the last season. You have to have his story pieced together
Kirsikka protests but is worn down by Scroot’s demands. “Alright, alright,”
the Sylvani finally agrees. “I’ll tell you what I know about him. But
you have to keep this quiet, my friend, or else my patrons won’t talk
to me. Barkeep-client privileges and all that. I can only indulge you
if you keep my tales secret as well.”
Scroot waves it all away. “I know, I know, Kirsikka. Just get on with
it.” He settles himself in his stool, ready for the highlight of the
evening as Kirsikka tops off the drinks of the nearby customers so he
can focus on his story.
“His name is Eron Murhe,” Kirsikka begins. “And tonight’s stormy weather
makes me feel like I’ll be sharing the sad bits tonight.” The words begin
to echo slightly as Kirsikka’s particular talent makes itself manifest.
The rhythmic drumming of the rain against the roof gives rhythm to his
story and the gentle rumble of thunder sets the mood. While most magic
presents itself in flashy or more practical ways, Kirsikka has the unusual
talent dramatic. His words have a musical quality to them and one can’t
help but vividly picture the scenes he describes. There is no visual
illusion, but his words force even the weakest of imaginations to stretch
to new heights. This talent of his has made the Chimney Stork a popular
place for the few who witness this. Kirsikka is frequently asked why he
couldn’t could find better employment with his gift, but he seems
perfectly content to hone his craft here and is in no rush to move on.
Some nights he tells fables and folk tales and the Chimney Stork is
packed to the gills, but not tonight. Tonight Kirsikka takes a swallow
of his own drink before setting the stage on this more personal story.
“Eron Murhe was a gifted engineer,” he began. “He worked with the
Mechanica Guild and the Water Guild in designing the expansion of the
sewers and distribution of the water in the new Ward. Supposedly, he
suggested the use of water towers to reduce the total number of pumps
required for the distribution. The smishing things always seem to break
down and replacing them takes time to drain the piping and get to the
impellers. The way he tells it, him, a human came up with the idea to
use more gravity and less mechanica. Ha! As if a human ever came up with
anything half so ingenious on his own. But have you seen the water
towers? The Artisans and Metalcrafters outdid themselves in making them
more than giant barrels. They’re each a real work of art. Pretty good
for a plan that a human supposedly came up with.”
Scroot rolls his eyes, “I thought you said this was a sad story, not a
history lesson. Come on, Kirsikka! Get to the good part.” Kirsikka takes
it in stride as he polishes yet another glass and places it beneath the
counter. Patrons come and go but the rest of the staff know to give him
some leeway when he gets into a story. The storm outside refuses to
subside and Kirsikka must speak louder.
“It was at the dedication to one of the last towers that Eron met him.
The Mechanica, Water, and Artisan Guilds, together, at the same function.
And without tearing each other apart,” he holds up a finger to quiet the
fairy before he can ask his probing questions. “Yes, a grand banquet as
a meeting of the guilds. It’s happened before. You’ve heard of Octavio
Dorado, yes? Well, he painted the mural on the last tower. It is a sight
to behold if you’ve never made your way out that far. Beautiful colors
that I never knew could exist anywhere but in my head and the landscape
feels like another world. But I digress, Eron and Octavio met at the
banquet to mark the completion of the water works and there were fireworks
both literal and metaphorical. In the same way that the towers blended
form and function, so too did they mesh themselves.” Kirsikka cocks an
“Yes! Smooches!” Scroot cries out with a little too much drunken enthusiasm
and puckers his lips to kiss his pretend partner. “This is the kind of
story that I like to hear! A human and a fey falling for each other? Ha!
That only happens in stories. But I’ll go with it for now. Come on, come
on, what happened next? Get to the happily ever after bit.”
“This was many years ago, Eron was at the height of his career and had
a long time ahead of him. But Octavio was long past his prime.” Kirsikka
pauses to refill his customers drinks as he continues. “That’s the thing
about humans and fey. Our lives are so different. To a man a decade is
one volume of his life but to a fey it’s only a page. Octavio was a
Naidi nearing his fourth century. So many humans are born every year.
They grow old and die in the time it takes most of us to mature.” He
leans against the bar behind him. “But the Dair only knows why we meet
people at just the right time. How many stories have you heard of a
fey having a friend, a lover, grow old and wither away by the cruelty
of our out of sync clocks? Surely the opposite must happen as well.”
“Octavio opened up Eron to another side of himself. Eron was so wrapped
up in his work and studies that he never really took time to enjoy
himself. He was always focused on what work he could do and the legacy
that he could leave that he never took the time to enjoy living his life
instead of focusing on how he’d be remembered. He and Octavio grew close
and spent his twilight years together. Eron breathed some life back into
the aging Naiadi whose work had stalled in the years since his husband
had passed. The Spectacle Series is said to be largely inspired by Eron
and the comically thick glasses that he wore.”
Scroot is leaning forward on his stool, his drink forgotten and the
attention visibly apparent on his face. Kirsikka smiles as he continues
but with a small tear building up in his eyes. “They were friends, best
of friends, maybe more. Well, as much more as anyfey can ‘love’ a human.
And Eron was there to help Octavio through to the end. Even when he became
invalid and bedridden, Eron stuck with him. He’d leave Octavio whisper
jars when he went to work to remind him of small things, to tell him
that he’d be home late that night, that there was food in the pantry,
to take his medicine. The old artist had lapsing moments of clarity
and would ask about their friends, wanting to finish paintings that
had hung for decades completed in galleries, social events that happened
decades or more past… and his late husband.”
“Eron wasn’t his first love. Octavio had lost Muisti Kuva some decades
back. The pair were artist and muse to each other, constantly seeking
to outdo the other and finding inspiration in the competition. Somewhere
in his addled mind the past was blending with the present as his memory
was compressing against his impending end. Naiadi know when their time
is coming. Something inside of them warns them of their passing and many
things forgotten, some pleasant and some painful were welling up inside
of him. He warned Eron that he was running out of days, but what can a
human do? What can any of us do against time?”
The bar around the Chimney Stork is beginning to feel quite crowded.
Against his best efforts, Kirsikka’s charm has attracted the attention
of the surrounding crowd. Bodies press against each other to hear him
finish the story. “Eron returned from work to find their apartment torn
apart. The sheets from Octavio’s bed were stretched across the wall.
A burst of inspiration had come across the dying Naiadi and he had to
complete his final work. Across the floor, Eron found his palate.
Octavio dug the drying remnants of his supplies from the wardrobe and
infused them with the water of his dying body. Octavio poured himself
into his last great work and turned his death into a literal work of
art. On those dirty and soiled sheets was a landscape of the home he
shared with Kuva. In the doorway was the handsome couple embracing. In
the sky were the hasty scribbles Octavio left as he became more water
than fey, ‘I’m coming to see you, Muisti. We’ll be together forever.’
Well, that’s the way the human tells it.”
The rain and soft sniffles are the only noise in the Chimney Stork as
the story crawls towards its close.
In a shaky voice Kirsikka concludes, “Eron’s life fell apart that day.
His partner gone without warning; running back into the memory of his
lost love. He had nothing left but the reminder of Octavio’s final thoughts.
He wasn’t the same after that day. He buried himself in his work. There
were no more great masterpieces or flashy ideas. He surrounded himself
with monotonous drudgery to drown out the colors around him. Not worried
about his legacy anymore, he learned that the story we want told isn’t
always what the world wants remembered. There are too many stories and
too many memories to last through time’s grinding millstone. One among
millions, a candle amongst the starry night sky. After all, we are all
just fading echoes in a world filled with noise.”
The rain beats against the Chimney Stork roof and falls through the
gutters. The rain drops flow through the streets and into drains. Each
drop is swallowed up in the tiny rivers that are born and die in the
short life of a rainstorm. Millions of raindrops forming a collective
flow with no trace of the individuals that came before. Some will
continue their journeys and work their way towards those brilliant
towers. Others will end their journey in puddles along the way and
evaporate with tomorrow’s sun. Some fortunate few drops fall onto the
cloaks and coats of people who divert them from their original path,
taking them down roads they never would have journeyed unimpeded.
The rain beats down upon a man wearing a green coat, stumbling with
his cane as he opens the door to his home and enters. He hangs up his
coat and collapses into a chair. He wipes the water from his face and
looked out across his home. It is in total disarray, strewn with papers
and sketches. He hangs his head in his hands and looks at the bottles
on the table in front of him. The vessels are distinctly of two shapes,
some brown and narrow mouthed while others more resemble jars.
He rises and approaches the table, pushing the half filled brown
containers to the floor before grabbing one of the remainder. He limps
towards the corner of the room and the easel there. He leans his cane
against the wall and opens the jar, upending its contents onto the nearby
table. With a shaking hand he takes a brush from the table and begins to
work. It lacks professional talent but is infused, with passion, with
feeling, with being alive. The landscape of the ward with the water tower
standing silently over it, sustaining the ward with water but even moreso
giving it a memorable landscape, setting it apart from its neighbors.
There are many places within Ammingrad, but there is no view like this
one. A view to be remembered for ages to come, that means many things
to many people…