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Through The East Gate

(Realm of Elysia)

Bren, in a one of a kind red Bliaut designed by Fabulous, walked confidently in the morning light. Luxurious embroidery of blue, gold, and silver graced the dress’s bodice and full open, cape sleeves. Around her waist, the woven belt hugged her hips, falling downward across her belly from where it latched. Hope had fixed her hair back, held by a small golden chain, gracing her temples. Over it all, she wore a lovely hooded cape, also of red, which felt like velvet to the touch.

Brenzel made her way with her small entourage through the Courtyard of Living Stones, past the Garden, and downward towards the East Side Gate of the sanctuary. The morning, as usual, was a perfect combination of cool and fresh, almost like it had showered the night before just for the occasion. Grace, holding Bren’s hand, chattered about her plans to journey with everyone to the southern shore later that day to pick fruit. Always calm and collected, Grace embodied quiet peace, making everything around her seem serene. Her hair was also braided backwards in a lovely fringe plat, with a long woven strand draping fashionably to one side.

Ever since tasting the fruit, everything about Bren’s body, mind, and spirit seem to be heightened. Or maybe, she mused, I am just how I am supposed to be, everything set right. Either way, food tasted better, sleep was sweeter, and her sense of touch and need to be touched intensified, too. Fortunately for her, all her girls, especially Manu, happily obliged her need for snuggles, making it a game as to which one gave the best hugs, back rubs, and butterfly kisses.

Butterfly kisses

My butterfly kisses are vastly superior,” Felicity had declared the night before, as her eyelashes caressed Bren’s cheek

“No, she likes mine the best!” Manu protested, in turn demonstrating her prowess.

Bren, for her part, felt every single lash of her dainty friends’ love as they played on her skin and giggled.

“Girls, girls,” Bren said in mock exasperation, “your butterfly kisses are each quite unique and works of art. I’d be a poorer lass if I didn’t have both.”

Pouting, then grinning, Manu said, “Okay,” as Felicity began to rub her back.

Coming back to the present, and rounding the East Gate, Bren thought of Traveler, as her heart beat faster. In the Mysteries, when she confessed her love for him, initially Bren felt like her private diary had been snatched and read by the enormous black and white bear. Now she blushed, knowing that she’d spoken her true heart. Those words, “If you mean Joshua, yes very much,” forced her to admit something she’d known ever since laughing with him by the river in Lakota land: Namely, that she was falling for him…hard.

Eventually, the more she thought about him, the more comfortable she felt thinking of him romantically. The fact that the first thing she’d mentioned to Dove after all her amazing experiences at the festival was, “I miss Joshua,” sealed her fate.

Barely breathing

Suddenly, Bren saw him standing in plain view and froze.

Stopping in her tracks, barely breathing, she gazed upon the tall young man holding the reins of two horses. Brimming confidence gave way to awkwardness, as she suddenly felt naked in heart and body. I should have dressed more conservatively! What was I thinking?! as she remember her bared shoulders. I’m too obvious! What will he think of me!? she thought, pulling her cloak around her shoulders and tying it under her chin. Slowing as she approached him, heart in her throat, Bren said weakly, “Hello, Joshua.”

Traveler smiled, looking at the girl he first met in a rank prison, sporting a new dress, all decked out with the finest jewelry, hair plated and shining, eyes highlighted with a faint violet shade. Marveling for a moment, the young man just stared.

Bren, chest tightening, thought, Say something! as her mind went totally blank.

Then she heard him say in her mind, “You are a vision, Dove was right.”

You look amazing!

Catching himself, as he stared, Joshua said, “You look amazing, Brenzel! A true vision!”

Hoping she wasn’t blushing too badly, Bren giggled nervously, saying, “Why, thank you, Joshua!”

Taking both of her hands in his, he looked deep into her eyes, saying, “I am so proud of you. I had a sense about you, and you have proved me right beyond all expectations.”

Looking back into his intense brown eyes, feeling her knees weaken, Bren just smiled, almost looking away. It was as if he really saw her, like no one else ever had and, even knowing all her failings, meant what he said.

After talking for awhile about how she felt and her experiences at the Seven Days of Wonder, Joshua finally sighed and said, “I hope I will have more time to spend with you soon. The work has been pressing lately.”

Heart sinking a little, Bren said, “I understand, I hope to see you, too.”

Turning, leading the horses named Sapphire and Gambit, behind him, Joshua looked towards a man leaning against a large tree.

I’d like you to meet the Hat Master

Traveler said, “Brenzel, I would like you to meet James, the Hat Master.”

Bren sized up a man in a short Seraph Hunter hat. Her eyes immediately recognized two playing cards stuck in the hat’s band, one joker showing, the other card turned, face hidden from view. He was about Traveler’s height, but instead of Joshua’s short, well-kept black beard, his beard was peppered with gray and unkempt. Also, he wore a pair of silver rimmed spectacles, shaded on each side.

Bren instantly disliked him.

“Good morning M’lady,” the man said as he approached, hand outstretched.

Bren, looking him over, said tersely, “Brenzel is fine, sir,” as she shook his hand hesitantly.

Traveler, glancing at Bren, cocked his eyebrow a bit, then said. “James is the Hat Master, which means he is keeper of all the Seraph Hunter hats.

That’s a hat master? Bren thought to herself.

Traveler continued, “He knows everything there is to know about hats, and he will teach you how to use your new one.”

Say something

James and Traveler waited awkwardly for her to say something. Bren, unable to help herself, asked, “Are those playing cards stuck in your hat?”

James, smiling slightly said, “Yes, of course.”

“So, you’re a gambler?”


“I don’t like gamblers.”

Looking at Traveler, then back to Brenzel as she scowled, James said slowly, “I like her. She’s going to be fun!”