The afternoon on the balcony was breezy, but not cold, and in the bright light of day, the dark mood of one of two individuals standing there seemed out of place.
"Haven't we done this before?" there was irony in Tris Fa Toren's voice as she regarded her Writer.
Chandri sighed. "Yes, I'm sure we have. But I'm doing it again, all right?"
"'Heroes ride into the dusk and do not turn, and those remaining close their eyes and do not learn.' Are we comparing the House of Eorl with modern democracy, now? Cause... that's a little silly, however accurate the comparison might be."
"I *know* it's silly," Chandri snapped. "I know that. I just don't *care*. I want to be
silly. I want to be naive, and believe that good always triumphs over evil, and that no
matter how bad it looks there's always hope, and that when it looks really bad it's only
because the hero is waiting for his cue to ride in and save the day." The anger ran out of
her voice as she sighed again. "But I can't. I want to, I desperately want to, but I can't. It isn't fair. And don't say it," she said, holding up a finger warningly to stay whatever reply her Muse might have made. Tris only muttered, which Chandri ignored:
"This is what I get for letting you read Tolkienist essays."
"I can't help but think," Chandri said, her voice soft again, "that if more people understood - things like the War of the Ring, like what he meant by writing it, about Luddism, about honour and valour and losing what's most precious because we don't even know it's there... that maybe... maybe..."
Tris sighed, leaning once more against the wall next to her Writer. "I'm going to quote you, all right?" Chandri didn't look at her. Tris cleared her throat. "'Human beings,'" she said, "'Are simply unpleasant, vicious, violent, self-absorbed creatures. As a species they show little concern or conception for how their actions affect the world around them. They crash merrily through the wilderness and burn and cut and break until they get what they want. They do not care that what they do, though called progress, is in fact destroying the world that sustains them. It is equally true that most human beings live their lives unaware of the desert that lies within them, a world of immaterial wonder that grows more and more barren with passing years. They shun it, they mock it, they die a little more with each day because they do not care about those things that are most precious. They have lost the urgency, the fear of nothingness that once birthed such things as honour and honesty. They have gone from children to fools.
But these creatures hold a special faculty - their only saving grace. Within the human mind lies the capacity for change. Change in others, change in themselves. The ability to grow
and learn and become better and more than what they are. Imagination. It is the only sign
that the species may not be doomed as a race - the only possible explanation for why some divine wrath has not stricken them from the face of the Earth.
The story is sacred - as was once said - and is the only thing that makes us worthy of living. I fear only for a future in which the story is no longer sacrosanct, where dreams
and love and honour are nothing but legend and tale and fodder for mockery and psychology."
There was a long moment of silence. Then Chandri looked at Tris. "I'm sorry. That was supposed to make me feel better? And what was I on when I wrote that?"
Tris rolled her eyes. "You forget your own ramblings far too often, you know that?"
"I'm having a slow brain day. Used it up in exams."
Tris sighed. "You worry about the world losing magic - but look where you're standing." She
held out an arm and in one sweeping gesture included the castle, the fields of half-melted
snow, the mountains, and beyond.
For a moment, Chandri smiled, then it faded. "But even this is fading, a little," she said,
quietly. "It makes me angry, a little. But then I feel guilty, because I ignored it just as
much as anyone else. I've been neglecting it. And you." She looked sideways at her Muse, who sighed, shook her head.
"You have just as valid a reason as anyone else."
"The real world isn't a reason. It never has been, before." She shook her head, and frowned. "I'm getting boring," she said then. "Boring and mundane."
Tris didn't answer that - just rolled her eyes again. "You've also been busy world-making. There's nothing wrong with that." Chandri didn't look at her. "Tell me the Paxverse doesn't fill you up. If you say it doesn't, you're lying."
There was another moment of silence. Then Tris said: "Are we going to stand up here moping *all* day? Because I'm pretty sure that's even less productive than staying home."
Chandri looked at her in surprise, then laughed. "I did have a plan, didn't I?"
Tris nodded. "I seem to remember you declaring it with great enthusiasm."
The Writer tilted her head to one side. "What was that, again?"
The Muse grinned. "I believe the extent of it was 'get off my ass, go do something interesting.' In the non-mundane sense."
"Which certainly rules out studying."
"Oh, absolutely." Tris grinned.
Chandri grinned back. "Well, then." She started back inside, stopping once to glance back over her shoulder. "Shall we raise hell?"
"Or as close as you ever get," Tris replied, following.
"I think I resent that," the Writer said, as the door closed behind them.