Betwixt and Between

Part Two: Prologue


"You are here, alone again, in your sweet insanity,

All too calm, you hide yourself from reality.

Do you call it solitude? Do you call it liberty?

When all the world turned away to leave you lonely....


The fields are filled with desires, all voices crying for freedom,

But all in vain, they will fade away:

There's only you, to answer you, forever.


In blinded mind you are singing a glorious hallelujah,

The distant flutter of angels, they're all too far,

Too far to reach for you.


I am here, alone again, in my sweet serenity,

Hoping you will never find me in any place,

I will call it solitude when all my songs fade in vain,

Like a voice far away, to eternity."


"That's a lively little tune, for such dire-sounding words."

Unaware she'd had an audience, Yula looked up with a start, nearly dropping her violin. A familiar, friendly face grinned at her from the doorway, with a familiar little black muzzle poking around under his ear, and she burst into a smile, hopping to her feet, music forgotten, to throw her arms around his neck. The nameless flitter took to the air with a scolding twitter, but he just chuckled, putting his arms around her waist. It always startled her just how small he was-- but that didn't change the fact that she was glad to see him!

"Tavarez!" she cried happily. "I wasn't expecting you today!"

"Well, I was in the area," the Rattai chuckled, and she released him, letting him come in the rest of the way. "And I hadn't visited in a while, so...."

"Not since that last winter storm," Yula agreed, stooping to pick up her violin-- it was a relatively new instrument, but one she'd come to like quite a bit-- and her scattered pieces of music. That last visit had been five months ago, but it felt like so much longer. "So what brings you here, this time, if not just for me and Nightling?" she teased.

"Not that visiting you isn't quite enough reason to do anything," Tavarez teased, right back, "I'm here looking into that mystery clutch between the Sanctuary and the Citadel."

"Oh, that," Yula said, waving a paper-filled hand at him. "They're so secretive about it! There's rumors flying around, of course, but no one knows the real truth."

"Well, you know how much mysteries intrigue me," Tavarez replied serenely, but his whiskers twitched with supressed amusement and curiosity both.

"I should hope I'd know, by now," Yula scoffed. They both sat, once Yula had finished clearing off a seat for each of them on the couch. Her things were scattered everywhere, as they usually were when she was in the midst of creation-- and since she'd been song-writing for the past week, that made for quite an accumulation.

"So what was that song you were playing about?" Tavarez asked, as they both settled into the couch cushions and he called the black and orange flit out of the air and back to his wrist, now that it was "safe" again. His whiskers flicked again. "Another adventure?"

"How can you tell?" Yula asked dryly.

"Instincts," Tavarez replied succinctly, looking as serenely pleased with himself as ever, when he used that excuse. Yula thought there was probably something else involved, but she'd never really felt the urge to ask about it.

"Well, yes, it was an adventure. Of sorts, anyway."

"With Vagrant?"

"Who else would I go on an adventure with?"

If her lack of an over-dramatic sigh, sorrowful expression, or even tart tone surprised him, Tavarez didn't seem to show it. "Since he doesn't seem to be here--"

"It's summer," Yula interrupted to explain, smiling slightly, "so he left for a few months."

"Ah, I see," Tavarez nodded. "Well, since he isn't here, perhaps you can tell me the story."

"Oh, Tavarez, you're a better story-teller--"

"Not true, or I'd be a bard like yourself."

She took a different track. "And it's really not very interesting--"

"It was interesting enough for you to make a song about."

"--I don't know how to explain it--"

"Of course you do, you just don't want to."

"--a lot of it's personal! Why do you think I sing it instead of tell it?"

Tavarez didn't have an immediate counter for that, he just cocked his head at her calmly and perked both round ears at her. She flattened hers back at the simple, expectant expression, then sighed. "All right, if you really want to know...."

"I really do," he assured her, mirroring her own words, and she smiled in spite of herself, taking courage from his solid friendship and attentive listening, and began.

"Well, really, it all started with Lament...."


"Which way, now?"

He paused, looking down first the left tunnel, and then the right tunnel, weighing each option in his mind. Either way seemed the same, though one led upwards and the other seemed to have a slightly downward tilt to it. Both were dark. Both echoed with the soft strains of the Lady Sphiridon's song, and the secret song that was his alone, that she never seemed to hear. That secret song didn't seem to know which way to go, either.

"Not with your brain, child!"

He cringed a little at the snapped reprimand, but he had yet to figure out any other way to make a decision. Unless she just meant blind chance-- guessing. Not that there seemed any other way to guess between them, so he shut his eyes a moment, tried not to think, and randomly started left. As this didn't earn him another reprimand-- instead, the Lady Sphiridon followed him wordlessly-- he guessed he'd done what he was supposed to do. Or, at least, he'd randomly chosen the correct direction.

The same thing happened at three more intersections, until, after his random choices led him higher up in the caves than he'd ever been with Sphiridon in attendance, she stopped him, just as he was starting to want to keep going. This wasn't a part of the caves he'd ever been to, that he could remember. The dim light, pale blue and easy on the eyes in the rest of the caverns, but with a chilly and unearthly aspect to it, was different here: it was golden, warm, and cheerful, very earthy and very real.

"That's far enough," Sphiridon said, voice unexpectedly gentle. "You did well."

With one last glance over his shoulder at the warm and living light filtering from the tunnel ahead of him-- the secret song whispered that it was sunlight, something he could never remember actually seeing except in dreams-- he turned obediently and followed her back the way they'd come.

That was when he woke again, blinking and staring up at the shadow that crossed his vision, blocking out yet more of the elusive thing called "sunlight". The thing, silhouetted against the brightness, licked the end of his nose, and he sneezed convulsively. The shadow removed itself with a little laugh, blinding him with light. "Lament," he said, remembering, and sat up. The violet dragon, now half-grown and taller than he was, blinked thoughtfully at him.

He'd fallen asleep legitimately, this time, rather than in the middle of something. They'd just finished lunch, on a day he wasn't scheduled to work anywhere, and stretched out in one of Sanctuary's gardens, letting the sun lull them into a nap. Or, he had, anyway; Lament might not have actually been asleep, since whenever his bond dreamed, Lament somehow always managed to be there. Somehow, that made the dreams less disturbing, and he'd long since given up on trying to stay awake for days on end.

Especially since, with Lament somehow moving between worlds, he proved they were just that: dreams.

At least, that's what he figured, until Lament, looking at him pensively, said, "I think it's real."


Chapter One



Song borrowed from the OST for Hack//Sign, the song "The World"

Draclin'geyar are the Creative Property of Silver Midnight; Fleshshifters are the Creative Property of Drakiera