Lady Emerald’s Prologue

Karen Zipslicer Stories

She heard their voices. They sang, like a faraway chorus, carried by the breeze. Teetering at the edge of her mind, they whispered of needs, and dreams, and desires. These were not the voices she wanted.

The clouds parted briefly. Wayward sunshine cast her reflection over the glass surface of the orb, distracting her from the dancing colours that lay within. Though the face was familiar, Lady Emerald surprised herself. Her eyes were as vivid as her name. Her hair was rich and golden, like the wheat fields of her childhood. She still brushed her hair every night, sitting at the dressing table that once belonged to her mother. Though she sat by its mirror, she did not look at herself. It was her nature to watch others, observing their behaviour, understanding what motivated them. Now, caught by the orb, she delved behind her own eyes. Emerald stopped, frozen in that moment.

“Come on,” she muttered, and shrugged. Emerald straightened the crown of glowing filaments that rested lopsidedly on her head. She tugged the ends of her gloves, which ran up her long sleek arms, and over her pointy elbows. Then she went back to work. There was no time for reflection. Emerald was a mother, of a sort. A mother’s work is never done, and her child was in distress.

The wind howled outside. From her laboratory window, Emerald could survey the whole city, if she wanted to. The city was her child. It was stubbornly flawed, badly behaved. It writhed in agonies of its own creation. The city was a work in progress, in need of repair, and correction. They needed heroes, saviours, drawn from remote lands. So Emerald listened to distant voices, amplified by the orb. The strongest would come to the city, to fulfill their destiny. Each voice sang its own song. In time, they would compose an unrivalled harmony.

Emerald felt a new presence. A new voice rose above the others. It sang like a lone bird heralding the dawn. It was full of questions, but bright and clear. “Come to me,” begged Emerald.

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