It was a lazy, boring afternoon and Galena found herself bored for once. It wasn't often that she did, as she was usually studying to catch up or keep up in her general classes, or she was in some sort of a talk session with someone, however today had none of those things in store for her.
Sighing, she began to think, despite everyone's cautions against doing too much of it. Something had bothered her for a while now. The simple fact that she could not remember the beginning of how she started to heal herself bothered her, especially in light of the fact that she seemed to be asked about it so often. She'd asked Mikal how he'd started his healing and rebuilding, and he could give her some sort of an answer, but when she looked to herself to answer her own question she came up with... nothing.
Harumphing to herself, she flopped on her bed... and it was only as an after thought that she considered letting someone know what she was going to do. Some instinct told her that the quest for this answer shouldn't be done without someone handy. So, instead of going directly into searching mode, she centered and went to her gallery. Once there she stood in front of Val's picture and reached a hand out to touch it. It quivered slightly at her touch, and then his voice filled the room.
Sorry if I caught you at a bad time Val... but... I need to find some answers to some things..
Umm.... how I even started to begin the building..?
I'll be right there. Thank you for letting someone know...
The rest of his answer was spoken right beside her "...instead of just trying it alone." Val gave his sister a hug. "Whenever your ready Sis, I'm here."
Galena nodded, and smiled. Of all the people she knew, Val was the one she trusted the most... though she still didn't know why. Maybe it was how he felt... warm and ambery. Taking a deep breath, she turned and walked out of her gallery, heading straight toward the center area. She never looked back to see if Val was following, she knew he would. Once at the center she looked around. For the most part everything was gleaming and pretty, but there were still some dark area's. She cocked her head and turned round and round slowly, a thoughtful frown on her face, then paused and looked at what she called the main gates.
"Which came first... the chicken or the egg?" she said slowly, staring at the gates.
"Huh?", came Val's puzzled comment from just behind her shoulder. Galena shook her head. "Nothing... just thinking out loud... I... itís not going to be in here is it Val? The beginning I mean. It had to start outside of this place, otherwise I would remember it... right?" turning to look at her brother quietly. The corner of Val's mouth quirked upwards, and silently he nodded. Galena returned the nod, then spun on her heel and headed for the gates, knowing that Val was following her still. She was a bit sacred, because she knew whatever the answer was it wasn't going to be particularly pretty. She stopped at the gates and closed her eyes for a moment, before giving the gentlest of pushes on the gates, which swung open silently.
Beyond the gates was a wasteland of chilled, murky blackness. Galena gulped silently and reached back for Val's hand. Finding it warm and ambery in hers helped, and lifting her chin she stepped into the blackness. It swirled about them silently, the tendrils feeling chilly against them. Galena couldn't see in front of her, couldn't see the ground beneath her feet... only the swirling, eddying tendrils. She walked on. She didn't have a clue where she was going, but moving forward seemed to be far better then standing still. Step after step she moved. The further she went, the less she seemed to be affected by the gloom. She peered into it now, trying to make it make sense. I don't know what this stuff is, she thought, but itís not trying to hurt me... its just here. Tucking that bit of knowledge away she walked on, always aware of Val's hand in hers.
She didn't know why she stopped walking, or why she looked down, but she did. There, at her feet something gleamed duly. She dared to let go f Val's hand long enough to stoop down and look at it closer. Laying there was a rough stone looking object, that shown half heartedly, as if the glom of this place had somehow covered up its natural brilliance. Ahhhh, thought Galena, I know what this seems to be. Itís a memory pebble.... but none of them ever seemed this dull or unhappy before. Then again I haven't been able to find too many of them either. She looked up over her shoulder at Val.
"A memory pebble all the way out here. Why?" Val cocked his head at her, "Maybe because this is where it was supposed to be." Galena snorted and looked back at the pebble. She knew, from finding a few of these that she would have to pick it up carefully before she would know what it held. She took a deep breath and reached out toward the pebble. The moment her hand touched it the world swirled and spun before her, as the pebble revealed its contents.
Blackness... total silent blackness, with one small exception... a glimmer or something warm and ambery. She'd been in this blackness a long time it seemed. The amber color drew her for some reason though. She didn't even know where she was really, but she sensed she was moving toward whatever that amber thing was. The amber thing turned out to be a person, standing in the midst of the blackness, as if waiting for someone or something. The person had wavy brown hair and eyes that were hazel. He, for it was male, was dressed in soft doe-skin clothing, and as she approached him he smiled. He seemed so warm, in the midst of this blackness. She walked up to him and just stared. She waited to be afraid... and it never came. There was just this warmth coming from this man.
"Who are you?" Sheíd asked. "And why don't you scare me?"
"I.... I'm Valdis, and I'm hoping you aren't scared of me because some part of you remembers me", came the quiet amber sounding reply.
"Oh. Where am I?"
"You are in you. You've been really sick... and... itís hard to explain, and right now it would probably make you sicker instead of better. Do you know your name?"
"Umm... slut?" she answered doubtfully. Something gibbered off in the distance and she cringed away from both the sound and this Valdis person.
Valdis shook his head sadly, "No... you have a real name." He looked off into the darkness and for some reason the distant gibbering silenced itself.
She blinked as the gibbering stopped, "You made it stop. How did you make it stop? I have some other name then... slut?" His answers and actions left her feeling both safe and confused.
He nodded, "Yes... you do, and when you can say it I think the light will return.Ē he smiled and continued," I didn't really make it stop... I only closed off where the sound was coming from"
She blinked, "Oh." This was puzzling, because she couldn't think of anything else that she'd ever answered to. She sighed, and looked off into the blackness, thinking that maybe the black silence wasn't so bad after all. Then she looked back at this Valdis, so warm, and decided to stay here a while longer. But she still couldn't think of any other name. She wondered if she didn't get the right answer if he'd hurt her. He didn't look like he would, but then the others hadn't always looked like they would either and yet inevitably there would be pain, followed by all the bright colors and then oblivion. She just kept staring at him, as if she stared long enough there would be an answer. She'd done that before, stared at something until it made sense, which had impressed the others.
Sighing she just stared, and then looked back into the darkness. I don't know any other name, she thought, but maybe if I make one up he'll be pleased. She looked back at Valdis.
"Umm... Galena..?" trying to sound more sure then she felt. She didn't know where the name came from, but it sounded pretty to her ears, and hoped it would to his too. For some reason it seemed very important that this Valdis be happy and smile. She'd no sooner said the name then the darkness melted, or rather faded to a deep hazy grey, and she could see where she really was. It also made her feel... better. More... alive? She wasn't sure what the feeling was, but she liked it. It was almost the same sort of excitement as when she'd get her reward from the others. A sort of singing in her veins.
Valdis smiled and nodded. "Welcome back Galena." He looked as if he wanted to reach out to touch her, but hesitated, much like one would pause before touching a wild animal. Galena frowned a bit, then did something that she could only recall ever doing once or maybe twice. She walked right up to him and hugged him. Warm... amber... cinnamon...happiness... these things and more swept through her as he returned the hug. It was almost dizzying. It was also hard to let go of the hug, but now she was curious to see what the blackness had hidden.
She turned and looked. Smouldering ruins, twisted shapes, misery, all under a sullen sky is what met her eyes. Startled, she turned to look at Valdis, "What... what is this place?"
"This... this place is... is you in a way Galena. See... you are kinda special... and you were very very sick for a long time.. so sick that it ended up being reflected inside you like what you see."
"Oh." She turned to look at the devastated ruins again. Its... its ugly, she thought. Does that mean I'm ugly? The others didn't... wait... the others never said I wasn't. Slowly as she thought the light seemed to brighten a bit, giving her a clearer view of the complete devastation. In the very center of it all looked to be a building, or what was left of one. She looked back yet again at Valdis.
"Can... can I look around? I mean... I'm not a prisoner or in trouble am I?"
"You can go where ever you feel safe going here Galena."
"Umm.... would you come with me? Its... well its kinda creepy.. and even the others wouldn't let me go into really creepy places alone."
Valdis nodded, and held out his hand, "If you really want me to come with you I will. Would it help to hold my hand?"
Galena nodded and tentatively reached out t take the offered hand, "Thank you" His hand felt so warm around hers. Biting her lip she started to walk toward the ruined building. Her steps made no sound, which seemed really weird to her. She stopped by the first wall, or what was left of a wall and looked at it. Scorched, blacked, twisted stone that at one time must have been beautiful and sturdy. Parts of it looked to have been melted like candle wax. A rank, bitter smell came from the entire thing. She wrinkled up her nose and looked up at Valdis, "Eww... this stinks like a three day old dead cat."
Valdis couldn't help but laugh at her apt description. "Yes... yes it dos Galena."
"Can you fix it? Like you made the gibbers shut up?"
He shook his head, " No Galena, I can't. Itís not mine to fix. Do you want to fix it?"
"Well... I want it to at last smell better. Heck, even stale cum reeks better." she snorted.
"What would you rather it smell like?" came the curious reply. For a moment she didn't answer, she just frowned, as if thinking was hard. Above the clouds eddied sluggishly.
"Clean... I want it to smell clean. Like.. like a really blue sky on a prefect spring day." She finally said with far more spunk or determination then she'd shown up to this point. If she was going to be allowed to decide what she was going to smell then it would be something happy. She'd no sooner said the words then the earth quivered and the air swirled, and the stench was gone. She blinked and looked at Valdis, "It... it worked...", her voice stunned as she took a deep breath, "It really worked."
Valdis smiled, "Yes, it did Galena. You can fix all of this up if you wanted to."
"Really?? I could make it anything?", she asked, still not understanding how she could do such a wonderful thing, but the idea of it was exciting none the less. Valdis simple nodded. "Wow... would... would you help? Some of this stuff is pretty heavy... and I'm not very strong.."
Valdis nodded again, "I can help to a point sure Galena, but most of it is going to have to be you... buuut... if you really would let me hang about and be here while you work, itíd be nice."
"I... I like you. I... I kinda think I should know you..like you are like... related or something?"
"Honestly Galena... we are related. I'm your brother." Came the quiet reply. Galena felt a strange surge at the words. For as long as she could recall she'd never thought she had any family... she'd been told often enough that she came from nowhere and was going to hell and she'd best just be a good girl and enjoy the ride, cause when she was all used up nobody would give a tinkers damn.
"Then... then could we start now... Valdis? Please..?? Cause... well... this place looks worse then where I had been... and that was pretty sucky. I... I think I'm tired of sucky."
The memory faded to black and Galena found herself laying on the ground, with Val's arms cradling her, tears running down her face.
"Thank you. I... I didn't realize... oh... oh..." Galena's tears fell and Val just held her.
"You did it just that 'Lena... you removed the stench... and started, one icky stone at a time. All I did was stand by and watch... maybe offer a suggestion, or answer a question from time to time, but you were the one that did the building Lena." Valdis said softly.
For a long time Galena just lay there sobbing, and as she wept a gentle rain fell. Sniffing, she wiped her nose with the back of her hand and sat up a bit. "It's raining..."
"It'll stop now though... cause I've stopped crying... right?"
"Bingo sis. ", came the half teasing reply. "Can you stand?"
Galena didn't know, but it was certainly worth a shot, so she made the gallant effort to stand, and was really grateful that Val was there to haul her the last couple inches. Now that she was standing, she looked around again. The swirling blackness was more like a sullen grey thick fog, and she smiled. She still clutched the pebble, and she opened her hand to regard it. It lay there, dull as ever it seemed, but now it was a bit smoother. Galena closed her fist tight around it and looked at Val. "I think I should go back now and put this with the others."
Val grinned at her, "You're getting a good collection Lena. Come on... I'll walk you all the way."
So the two of them re-entered her city, and the gates closed behind them silently. Hand in hand they went first to her special cache for the few stones she'd found up until now, and gently placed the new one with them, then closed the chest with a soft click. That done, they headed back toward the gallery, and stopped in front of Val's portrait.
"Thank you for being here for this. I..I don't know if I could have handled that alone ya' know?" said Galena, hugging her brother tightly.
"Never a problem Sprite... " came the quiet reply, using his nick-name for her. "Time for you to rest though and I need to be back for food." Galena laughed and let go. "Okay... give Dad a hug from me huh?"
"No worries." Val winked, ruffled her hair softly and seemed to vanish. Galena sighed and walked out of the gallery.
The sounds of Sanctuary slowly seeped back into her consciousness, though she left her eyes closed. Wow... and there are probably other stones out there too... older stones that... no... not today... maybe not for a while. Itís enough to know that they are there, she thought. Stretching, she let her eyes open slowly, and then took a deep breath. The smells of diner wafted to her nose, and she smiled. Gods... timing is actually everything now isn't it? That smells divine.
Sitting up, she shoved her hair off her face and began getting dressed for diner. The long, dull afternoon was gone, and it had ended up being productive after all. Not to mention she'd worked up an appetite. Yes, diner would taste good, and sleep would be a welcome thing this night.