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Iris Charleston

The Girl Who Walked on Water

0 · 88 views · located in The Hidden Glen

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by Caledonia

Description

Iris Charleston

Image

Image is not mine. Image belongs to Jarrett Onions on Digital Art gallery. Will remove if asked.

Out of the darkness, I emerged into a realm filled with hundreds of wooden sentinels. At the center of it all lay a large looking glass, silver in the light of an oblong winter moon that hung low over my head. I paused as I came to the edge, staring down at the reflective surface, my bare feet barely touching the edge. The cold made me shiver.

Out in the center of the mirror was a silver sphere, the exact replica of the moon overhead. I wanted to go out to it, to pick it up and feel the icy light pour through my fingers. So I did. I put my foot out on the surface of that strange mirror, and felt my weight supported. One step after the other, I moved with all the grace of a dancer, eagerly approaching the light until it rested at my feet.

When I looked around me, the sentinels had receded into darkness, leaving me with nothing but the reflection of myself as I stared at the twin of the celestial sphere that hung over my head. I lowered myself, crouching down so I could reach to slip my hands around the orb.

But when my hands slipped through the glass, everything shattered, and I fell into inky blackness.

So begins...

Iris Charleston's Story

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The door swung inward on a cool breeze, carrying in the typical smells of a busy street on an Autumn day. Iris slipped inside, her arms folded within the warm fabric of her winter coat. Her white hair was swept back in a loose knot at the base of her neck, the multicolored scarf wrapped high enough around her neck to encapsulate her lips.

She glanced around, noticing one other female, then looked for a booth that was placed away from the door. She loved the cold weather, but she didn't want blasts of frigid air to assault her every time the door was opened.


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The girl straightened in her seat, finally taking the time to unwrap the scarf from around her neck. There was a thoughtful downturn to her lips as she turned to observe the two figures who had taken residence at the bar counter, and it wasn't until she felt that distinct chill against the back of her neck that she realized she was in need of something warm.

So she deposited the scarf and the white pea coat onto the table in front of her, and rose from her seat, stepping over to the bar counter in between Rowan and Sirad, to plug in an order for something that didn't contain alcohol. She quickly realized she'd probably walked into the wrong establishment for that.

"I don't mean to be a bother," she began, addressing both of the patrons to either side of her. "But would it be too much trouble to order coffee here, or would I be better off going to the cafe down the street?" She glanced to Sirad, and then to Rowan, her grey eyes lingering on his features for a moment before she looked back to the menu.

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She was taken aback by Sirad's response, her eyes widening a fraction as she studied the other woman's expression. It took her a moment to realize that she was being grotesquely sarcastic.

The pleasant baritone rumble of the other man's voice called her attention back to him, the surprise melting from her features as she watched him talk. His gesticulations signaled to her that he was willing to help, and with a small smile, she stepped back away from the console to allow him room to work.

"Iris Charleston." she finally replied. Her gaze flickered to Sirad, then back to Rowan. "I probably seem ignorant." she finally admitted, a light flush coming to her cheeks. "I'll admit, this is only the third day I've been in Wing City."

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"Oh, really?" Iris lifted a brow curiously, glancing at him over her shoulder before she turned back to the console screen. She smiled secretly, her eyes crinkling at the corners as she rested her knuckle against the corner of her mouth. Finally, she made her decision, selecting the order and paying for it before turning back to Rowan.

"Mind if I sit next to you?" she asked. "I've noticed some people prefer their space, which is why I ask."

She would not look back at Sirad, but it was obvious that the other woman was factored within that equation. "Where did you fly in from? Why Wing City?"

It surprised her, how easily the questions bubbled up in her throat. Rowan had an inviting presence, and it lead her to talk a little more than she normally would. She hoped he didn't think it annoying.

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Ah, she should have expected that his curiosity would be returned. "The mountains? I'd bet the atmosphere's beautiful that time of year, if not a little thin." She smiled at her own joke, unsure if he'd receive the humor similarly. She didn't have time to look to see. Her coffee had come, and she was more than a little excited to have that hot mug between her palms.

Breathing in the scent of hazelnut and that rich, dark bean, she brought the mug to her lips, drawing in a sip before setting the container back down on the counter. Bliss came with another delicate flush, and she smiled.

"I came from another city, north of Solinus. A sea-side winter town called Ridgewater." she told him, glancing sideways and meeting his green eyes. "I came here for a fresh start, a chance to escape."

Escape. And not in the vacationing sense either. She kept all worry from her expression and tone, however. No need to alarm her new friend. "If it wasn't so dangerously cold at high altitudes, I'm sure I'd like to go into the mountains for a short while too."

Anything to keep her location unpredictable. That was the safest thing, for now.

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Her eyes flickered back to his, wide with curiosity. "Really? There are volcanoes here?" It didn't alarm her. The fact that she was so used to the cold, wet weather meant that other, balmier environments tended to attract her attention.

She fought the urge to fidget, to pester him for more information about this iconic location. The mental itch was nearly palpable, and to distract herself, she took another sip of her coffee, lips pursing in thought as she concentrated on the dark, bitter liquid.

Then, in a low tone, she said, "I think I'd like to see that." Sooner rather than later.

"It sounds lovely." And her eyes shifted to his, hopeful that he might pick up on the hint.

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And she was so eager to respond positively. "Why, yes! I'd..."

But her sentence was cut short. She visibly flinched, eyes squeezing shut as she placed her fingertips to her temples. Her breathing, for just a moment, became a little ragged and shallow, as though she was experiencing a moment of brief, yet acute pain.

"Another time," she managed, sliding out of her bar stool. She needed to move. Shaking her head in frustration, she reached for a napkin, scribbling out an address with a pen she withdrew from her pocket. "I'm sorry I have to leave so suddenly. You can find me here." She slid the napkin over to him.

"Kindly don't show that to anyone else." And she met his eyes then. For the first time, she really did look worried.

"I hope to see you again, Rowan."

And with that, she grabbed up her jacket, threw it around her shoulders, and disappeared out the door.

The setting changes from Gambit's Bar to Wing City Gardens (South)

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The address that she had given to him had been the first recalled mailing address that had come to mind. She knew it existed within the same block of the small apartment that she'd rented for the time being, but she couldn't be sure that Rowan was intuitive enough to figure that out for himself. After all, she'd met a few mind readers, and he didn't seem to be of the same callibre.

One day passed, and then a second. And while she didn't have another episode of that strange, intense pain, she didn't see Rowan either, and when she'd decided to venture back to Gambits Bar in a vain hope that he might be there, she was met with little more than disappointment. She'd met others, sure, but none of them had been as amiable to to entertain her with their company.

The weather on this particular day was a little warm for October, but the cool breeze countered the blazing, cloudless sky. She left her jacket at her small home, venturing out with an oddly shaped box clasped tightly in her left hand. She looked out of place as she walked into the gardens, a white vision amidst green grass and colorful blossoms. She ambled amidst topiaries, skirted a vast stone fountain, and came upon an arrangement of park benches that were, for the moment, entirely deserted.

It was here that she set her container down. She unclasped the box locks, lifted the lid, and took out a mahogany violin from its velvet case. The bow soon followed, and she took a moment to tweak with the strings before she finally set the horse hairs to the instrument.

And the loveliest little garden tune lilted from the instrument, with its player unable to help the smile that formed. She always found peace with music. Even now.

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As her song came to an end, she lowered the violin bow with a flourish, removing the instrument from her shoulder as she gazed down at the glossy strings. Her brow knitted together as she began to fiddle with the knobs, but that was about the moment when the wind shifted, changing, directing a sudden gust of air towards her that came directly from behind.

She turned, her eyes wide when she found she had an audience.

That same blush painted her cheeks, and she smiled a bit sheepishly, averting her eyes as she moved to put the violin back in its case. "Rowan," she said, more to the ground rather than to the man himself. Her cheeks were still warm with embarrassment.

"I'm, uh, sorry I had to run out so quickly." she said, lifting her eyes to his. Her hair had fallen in front of her shoulders, but she made no move to get it out of the way. "And I went back to see if you were there, but..."

Oh don't say something like that to someone you only just met, Iris.

She clamped her mouth shut, flushing a deeper red as she shook her head and close the lid of the instrument case. "And that sounded odd..."

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"Thank you." she replied, eyes drifting to the case as he gestured to it. Since he had walked over, she reached to grab the case and set it on the ground, before she took a seat herself, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around her legs. Resting her chin atop her knee, she angled her face upwards, so she was looking up at him, then glanced to the seat beside her.

"I don't bite." she promised, her growing smile indicating that she was, in fact, teasing him into compliance. "What brought you out here?" What brought anyone out to the gardens on their own? The chance to get away from everything, to find some kind of tranquility.

One of her hands slid back behind her neck to idly rub at a spot at the base of her skull.

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"Something similar." she replied, her eyes following his, out towards the trees that danced and swayed in the late afternoon breeze. Something like a smile came to her eyes, her lips turned up only slightly at the corners. "Where I used to live, we didn't have streets or stop lights or even cars." Her head tilted to one side.

"It was a simpler way of life, pleasant, peaceful. Why did you go to the mountain in the first place? Did you originally live there?" She looked over to him, her eyes finding the ring faster than others might.

That was what held her attention for the moment, the glint of sunlight against that band.

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"Things came up." she said, in a voice like a wistful sigh. "An ... interruption to our way of life. My parents didn't care for the influence of these newcomers who had decided to live in a boom town not far from our home, so they respectfully asked me to go elsewhere." Her brow knit.

"Though, why they didn't want to come with me, I can't say. I was given enough to make it for a short while, but I'm sure I'm going to have to search for some sort of job soon." Search for that, and something else in the meantime.

"I hope I'll be allowed to go home soon. Wing City is nice, but...I suppose I've always been a sort of home body. Besides, I miss my parents."

They were the only family she had.

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She didn't flinch away from his touch, but the gentleness of the gesture was what startled her most. She turned to look at him so fast that the shorter tendrils of soft, white hair flew out away from her face before settling against her shoulders. She watched him, eyes wide, her skin warm where he'd touched her.

"I don't know." she managed, clearing her throat and looking down at her knees. Even though she knew it was utterly ridiculous, she had a strange, suffocating fear of the dark, and while she loved the idea of going hiking into the mountains to see that volcano he'd talked about...the idea of staying there past the time the sun went down sent an unnerving shiver down her spine.

"I mean, I want to. I really, really want to." She needed to, in fact. There was something important that she knew, at some point, she needed to accomplish while she was here. But with him? With a perfect stranger?

It was hard to ignore those eyes, the sheer difference between the pair of them. She was used to seeing fair skin, white hair, grey eyes, all meant to melt into the camoflauge of endless winter. Rowan was none of those things.

A dangerous feeling crawled through her stomach, and she shook her head violently to clear her thoughts.

"Maybe a day hike. Not as far." she nearly choked on her words.

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Flying...

She stared at him for a long moment as the pieces delicately fell into place. Her lips parted, brow furrowing as a sudden gasp rushed past her lips.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, flying to her feet and putting a hand to her mouth. Her eyes were wide as she stared at him, looking over the expression on his face.

"When you said you flew in the other morning..." She immediately looked to his shoulders, as if expecting something to suddenly rip his jacket apart.

"You meant...you literally flew..."

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"Of course I'd like to see them!" she practically cried, her hands flying away from her mouth as she shifted to her knees, sitting back on her heels and looking up at him. Realizing that her excitement was probably a little disconcerting, she put a hand to her chest, taking a few calming breaths before putting her hands in her lap.

"Please."

She'd seen a lot of things before, but a grown man with a pair of wings? Did such a thing exist? She'd lived for so long within the confines of her own culture, and she'd seen many things since coming to Wing City, but this was something entirely new.

She bet they were beautiful.

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She couldn't even begin to imagine why he would trust her with something of this magnitude. The fact that he was taking off his shirt surprised her, slightly, but she quickly realized it was more than likely a necessity considering what he was about to do. She kept quiet, her hands balling into tight little fists in her lap as she waited expectantly, her eyes traveling once over his figure before they fixated on the extra appendages. They unfolded from his back, rising higher and higher still, causing her to stand so she could better appreciate them without hurting her neck.

"Oh, wow..." she breathed, feeling burning at the corners of her eyes. She didn't know what to say, couldn't think of a single thing, but it was apparent from the look on her face that she was completely flabbergasted by the sight.

"They're beautiful."

And when she met his eyes, that soft flush colored her cheeks again, but she didn't look away. The fact of the matter was that the wings weren't the only beautiful part of him. Not at all.

"Thank you." she said, her voice small. She was dwarfed by the spectacle, completely humbled and in awe of it. Then, in a spurt of bravery, she asked,

"May I touch them?"

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Was it infatuation? She certainly didn't know. She appreciated the uniqueness of his physical form, how asthetically pleasing he was. Where she had come from, she'd never seen anyone like him, and now she was caught between this sense of reality and dream. The mystification at his presence was plain as she stepped forward, caught up in the way the sunlight glistened against his ebony feathers.

Her eyes flickered to his.

"You keep looking at me as if I should be frightened."

Her lips quirked into a smile before she looked back to the wing, her fingertips trailing against the soft, elongated flight feathers. Of course, she made sure to stay away from the redenned tips, as he'd asked.

"And something tells me I should be, but I'm not. Maybe I'm just weird."

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Her fingertips rested against his feathers as she turned to look at him, eyes half-lidded as she gave him a shy smile.

"It's a good thing." she added, taking a deep, shuddering breath before turning to look up at the arch of his wings. God, they were so lovely. Amazing. He was amazing. She blew out her breath in a sigh, turning to look at him one last time, to step closer. He had said he would carry her, hadn't he? That they would fly together?

But as soon as she got close enough to feel the heat of his skin against hers, something went wrong. Her vision blurred with the sudden, blinding pain that washed behind her eyes. They watered, and she took a sudden step back, throwing a palm over her brow for a moment as she bent slightly to rest her hand on the top of her leg. That pain. That same pain.

"I have to go." she said suddenly, her gaze frightened as she looked up to Rowan. It wasn't him though, it never could be him.

Something else was causing this.

"I'm so sorry. Another time..." She stumbled around him, grabbing for the instrument case as she attempted to walk away, back out of the park.

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The pain was acute, a sharp, jolting discomfort that rocketed behind her eyes, frightening her to no end. The only time she'd ever felt pain like that was when an invasive presence was trying to tap into her thoughts. She'd experienced it a few times at home, with other children who had developed such gifts. Here, in Wing City, she'd yet to have that.

Of late, it was only when she was around Rowan that it had happened. Yet, the pain felt indistinct, like it was coming from a strange, outside source. She couldn't place it, and to see if it would ease, she tried to put herself at a distance. But separating herself the first time had not improved the pain. She knew, however belatedly, that it wouldn't work this time either.

So, she froze where she stood, the case falling from her grip as she clutched the sides of her head with her hands, and lowered into a crouch.

"I just wish it would stop." she breathed, her eyes clenching shut as the pain threatened to boil her stomach with nausea.

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She didn't seem to sense that he was there. All she was aware of was the radiating, electric pain that shot from one temple to the other. Whatever it was prodded and poked, digging deep, searching for something within the recesses of her subconscious. In those moments that she was silent, she fought against the invasive force, her breathing ragged as she nearly physically forced whatever it was to the outside.

She felt something, like her ears popping from pressure, and then, just like that, the pain dissipated. With a soft groan, she sat back on her rear end, her arms falling to her sides as she unceremoniously fell back onto the grass, her eyes closed as the exhaustion swept over her.

Her right hand began feeling out, snaking across the grass until she found Rowan's hand. Impulsively, she squeezed his fingers, her eyes never opening as she whispered,

"I did it. I made it stop."

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She didn't seem to mind the gesture. Whether or not she realized precisely what he had done, it was hard to say. She did notice the sudden shadow that fell over her face and, alarmed that it was something else entirely, her eyes flew wide open. She found that his wing had somewhat sheltered her face.

Distractedly, she took her hand away from his and idly began to play with the feathers that hung over her. She didn't look at him, not yet. Her mind was too distracted by the unpleasant thoughts that continued to circulate after the event. While she didn't know precisely what the problem was, she did know that there was someone out there who was looking for her, and using painful methods in an attempt to locate her.

But she'd stopped whatever it was, for now. She could still feel a dull ache, residual pain, but she could live with that for the moment.

"Rowan," she said, desperate to change the subject for now. "Why did you show me this?" She combed her fingertips over his feathers, knowing that he would be aware of what she was referring to.

"It's such a precious secret. I'm sure you don't show them to just anybody."

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She let out a slow breath through pursed lips, her anxiety melting away as he relaxed. She continued to comb her fingers through his feathers, taking care to avoid the red edges, and making sure she was always, always gentle where she touched.

"I do like them." she said, her earnestness reinforced as she turned to meet his eyes. He was close. They were close, and it was a comfortable thing, something natural and unforced. She was aware enough of the social culture to know that such familiarity so early on was an uncommon thing. But...that didn't mean it was wrong, did it?

She certainly didn't think so.

She rolled onto her side, her head cradled by her arm, looking up at him tiredly through half-lidded eyes. She didn't know what it was about herself that he could trust. She did not consider herself as someone who was not trustworthy, but still...

She reached for his hand one more time, her brow furrowing as she gently clasped his hand, squeezing his fingers one more time.

"Is it too late to ask if you can take me to the mountain?" she murmured.

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She almost laughed, the sensation of his fingers against hers nearly tickling her. She got her knees up to her chest, and rolled to her side, sitting back on her heels so she could look him in the eye. "I don't." she reassured him.

She was fairly certain that she simply wanted to spend time with him. The method of travel didn't make a lick of a difference to her. She scooted a little closer, still on her knees, and rested her hands on top of her thighs.

"What do you mean though, by just moving?" She'd never heard of teleporting, though planeswalking was a little more within her realm of understanding. She looked him over, her eyes on his bare chest, before she sat up a little straighter so she could look over his wing. With a soft sigh, she got to her feet, trotting around the extra appendages and grabbing his shirt, which she returned to him by coming up behind him and dropping it into his lap.

"Don't want to forget this." she told him.

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"Don't want you to catch a chill." she replied, her eyes warm. She smiled, coming around to face him, and held out a hand so she could help him to his feet. It was an absurd thought, of course, to think that she'd be helping someone like him to stand.

But she did anyway, and she did it with a smile.

"How do you teleport then?" she asked. "What do I have to do?"

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She swallowed as he grasped her hand and pulled her close, carefully averting her eyes as she bit down on her lower lip. She could feel the heat of his skin against her chest as he drew her steadily closer, the wings encapsulating the pair like a shadow.

When she glanced, almost hesitantly to his eyes, she couldn't help her small, excited smile. "Oh, of course." she said with a mild shrug. Her grip adjusted, arms holding her more securely against his chest, and she even rested her cheek against his collar bone.

And that was when she finally closed her eyes.

"Okay."