Path and Fruition


As you already know I’m not writing this in chronological order. I’m gonna go with this sequence: Joy POV, Shield POV, Joy Flashback/forward, Shield Flashback/forward. I’m thinking this flash forward and the next come somewhere after the story last weekend, but before some story I’ve written, and haven’t seen yet. This’ll be the first 1k of my weekend goal of 10k. I’ve edited the other story chunks already revealed to indicate where in the sequence it falls. I’ve worked in prompts from Word-A-Week, Inspiration Monday, #3WW and went over the word count for #WOW555.


Where is he?

Joy’s head and shoulders breach the surface. She looked elegant, water lapping against her smooth skin. The scene, had anyone seen it, would’ve been serine. The sun appeared to perch on her shoulder, casting long rippled reflections on the water. The moon was just piercing the flat horizon. It was as if the sun’s reflection pointed to the sliver of the moon for any interested to behold its birth.

It may have looked serine from the surface, but below her legs kicked to maintain her position. Her fingers fluttered to keep her facing the moon. She shook her head, spraying water from her hair as she watched the moon slowly rise. She could feel the warmth of the sun wane as the two heavenly bodies performed their dance of death and birth.

The last five years were peaceful. She was able to bask in all that she and Shield had accomplished. Where is he? she thought again as her gaze shifted to the only other thing in the sky.

When she visited the Sky People a little more than five years ago, the spires gleamed in the sunlight. Brilliant white stonework adorned with intricate carvings astounded her. Winged people flittered from tower to the ground, and groups of young men and women fell toward the water before flying great arcs back to the floating city.

Then, she had lived with Shield not seeing it for himself. The glory of the Sky People was not something she felt he could not comprehend.

He barely accepted me, she thought. And I was only away from the Sunken City for four years.

The city she saw now made her sad. She knew the path she set in motion only five years ago had only a single conclusion. She now witnessed that path in fruition.

No longer did the towers gleam. No longer did the spires contrast, adorned with colors unseen below the surface of her world. Rust streaked the heavy chains linking the skyways from one floor to the next. Those who deigned to walk on the ground dodged a fusillade of debris. The massive base the city sprung from listed to one side. A pool, larger than the great arch, looking over the edge of the city now formed a lazy waterfall as the city continually pumped in replacement water. Hoses and other apparatus skimmed the sea replenishing the city’s water supply. The roots of the trees that decorated the city poked out of the bottom of the flotilla. It was all roots and wings, she thought, with sudden odium. It was as if the Sky People had given up. They needed the fresh influx of young women to maintain the construct, and without the promise…

Joy revealed the true fate of her crystalline sisters. She saw the pillar of light for herself. She watched the offerings of the Dons and Clerics made to the Sky People. Yet she still chose her own duty. Her refusal wouldn’t have stopped anything – only delayed the inevitable. She and Shield were able to stop it, but at what cost? Were the lives of a few girls worth the destruction of a society? Two societies?


The answer back then was simple. Joy couldn’t abide while her people suffered. It was easy to want her people to return to the Sunken City. As the thought formed in her mind, she looked down to where she knew her city rest. She couldn’t possibly see it, but she knew it was there. She knew her people were oblivious to the trickery of the Dons and Clerics. They only cared about the changing ceremony.

Where is he? This was the third time she wondered about Shield since she escaped. After everything that had happened to them, all the plans they made – Shield was not there. She remembered his solemn eyes as she confessed she would follow her path. He didn’t try to dissuade her; he only nodded and turned away from her. She watched his bare shoulders rise and fall. She had her suspicions, but to speak them – that would be a betrayal she new she couldn’t perpetrate. He stood with his back to her for an eternity, but in reality it might’ve been only a few minutes. He stared at the ceiling for the briefest of moments before turning and embracing her.

At that moment, if he had tried to convince her to not do what they both knew she must, she feared her resolve would’ve faltered. She could’ve lived in that moment forever. She needed no other to tell her her worth or to make her feel safe, but she felt safe and secure in his arms.

Joy felt a pain in her chest. Her eyes shed tears as if they wished to be reunited with her people. She had already damned the Sky People, now she would do the same for the Sunken City. She knew she could do it, and she didn’t need Shield to accompany her, but she wanted him to. The Light of Joy that replaced her would be their last. She had no qualms or trepidation freeing the young girl who maintained the Sky People’s city, but to do it to her successor? A young woman, who despite Shield’s protestations and vehement opposition to the leaders he once followed, knew her path. No doubt, she, like Joy, had followed the advice her father and the Clerics had doled out.

She knew Shield tried everything he could to stop the new Joy. Knowing full well, that if she didn’t replace her, he would never get his Joy back. She shuddered, thinking of herself as property that belonged to anyone, but also appreciated the sentiment and the sacrifice he was willing to make to end her people’s suffering. Well, at least the suffering of a small portion of her people.

The only thing she dreaded more than the insatiable hunger of the Sky People was the complacency she threatened. And, she knew her people would protect the traditions of the ancients with fervent zeal.

Next: Life in Caveae

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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