Day 17 of 100 Word Prompts: X-Ray
Gwendolyn had grown accustomed to her tiny windowless room in the attic of The Laughing Leaf. Her bed only barely fit her and was lumpy in spots, but Germain ensured that she’d be safe. A small desk had been squeezed under the eaves of the roof where she could write songs and stories. Germain had insisted that all true bards needed a place in which they could concentrate on their craft. She had learned a little magic already, but she was having problems with consistency.
“You need to relax,” Germain said as he leaned back in his chair. “You’re too stiff. Using magic is like playing music. It always works best when you can lean into it and feel it.”
“I’m trying,” Gwendolyn said, her face contorting in anger as she plucked the strings on the lute. Only a handful of notes ringing clear.
“Don’t rush it. It’s only been a week,” Germain said, a small chuckle. “Try this. Play anything you want-like your favorite song-and think of how you feel and what the music feels like. Don’t think about the magic. You have it already. It’s just waiting.”
Gwendolyn closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She let her hands move on their own through Light of Tomorrow. The song reminded her of her grandparents. Her grandmother had loved it when the traveling minstrels had played it and tipped them accordingly. The melody filled the room, rising and falling at all the right parts. Her breath came even, and natural as the feeling of loss filled her.
“There you go!” Germain cried, starting her. Gwendolyn opened her eyes to see tears running down Germain’s cheeks as he began clapping. “That’s what I’m talking about! Did you feel it?”
“I-I don’t know,” she said. “What?”
“I saw a woman,” Germain said. “It was like she was sitting next to you. It was interesting. It built itself layer upon layer like watching a person be put together. Like x-ray vision or something.”
“You saw a woman?” Gwendolyn asked.
“Yeah, she was an older lady. He was clapping and dropping what looked like coins at your feet. She was wearing a floral dress with a lace shawl-”
“That’s my grandmother,” Gwendolyn said.
“Did you think about her?” he asked.
“Yeah, that was her favorite song. She loved when the minstrels would play it in town,” she replied.
“Wonderful! You, madam, just created your first illusion,” Germain said, clapping.
The door at the front of the building burst open, and Gwendolyn’s jaw dropped as a blue-skinned girl walked through the door, her horns twisted in curled spirals down around her ears. Each of her horns had been pierced and adorned with silver and gold thin chains.
“Germain?” the girl asked.
“That’d be me-I’ll be right back, Gwen. How can I help you, miss?” Germain said as he turned and walked over to her.
“My uncle sent me-”
“Ah, so you’re Flynn’s niece,” Germain said, grabbing her hand gingerly. “It’s an absolute pleasure to have you here. Gwen, come here and meet the new housemate.”
Gwen set her lute down in its case and stepped off the stage. The girl looked at her with a shocked expression, her jaw slightly slack.
“Are you a-”
“Tiefling,” Joy finished with a nod and a wide smile. “I haven’t seen another in a long time, and red-skinned no less! You’re stunning.”
“You’re blue?” Gwen asked.
“Yeah, we can be all kinds of colors. Do you know which devil is your father?” Joy asked.
“Oh, no, it’s not like that. I-I don’t really like talking about it,” Gwendolyn replied, running her hand through her hair as she looked away.
“No pressure, Gwen,” Joy said, extending a hand. “I’m just happy to know that I have someone who really understands how unruly a tail can be, or how difficult it is to fashion hair around horns.”
Gwendolyn laughed at that. “Yeah, my grandmother was the only person I’ve ever met who was able to style my hair.”
“So, this is why you thought my name was Joy when I got here?” Gwendolyn asked, turning to Germain, who was smiling the biggest smile she’d ever seen on his face.
“Correct, M’Lady,” Germain said. “Her uncle Flynn is an old traveling companion of mine. There was some complication that required Joy to get away from home. It’s not my place to spread other people’s stories.”
“Uncle Flynn said that you knew magic?” Joy asked.
“He’s teaching me already. Maybe he can teach you too!” Gwendolyn said.
“From what your uncle tells me, I may not be able to teach you what I know. You’re not much of a performer,” Germain said.
“No,” Joy replied, waving her hands. “You don’t want me to sing. Trust me. It sounds like the abyss opened a portal to my throat.”
“Fair. Have you done any magic before?” Germain asked.
“I can do this,” Joy said, waving her hands and making a few coins appear in them.
“You can make money?” Gwendolyn said.
“No, it’s just an illusion. The only other thing I can do, I probably shouldn’t do in here,” Joy said.
“Why, what happens?” Gwendolyn asked.
“Well, if I focus really hard, sometimes I can clap my hands, and it’s like a shockwave. Everything blasts away from me, and a lot of stuff breaks,” Joy said.
“No one taught you how to do this?” Germain asked.
“No,” Joy said, shaking her head.
“Hmmm, interesting. Has anything else happened?” Germain asked.
“When I created the shockwave the first time, pink bubbles came out of my mouth every time I tried to speak,” Joy said.
“Interesting,” Germain said, rubbing his chin. “I may know someone that can help you, though I’m not sure.”
“Any help I can get to learn to control it is appreciated. Uncle said that if anyone could help me, it’d be you,” Joy said.
“Gwen, Joy will be staying in the room across from yours upstairs. Will you show her up? I’m going to see if I can find the person Joy needs to speak with,” Germain asked.
“Of course,” Gwendolyn replied with a smile.
Germain walked out the door, closing it behind him, leaving Gwendolyn and Joy alone.