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A Clear Night [Altsoba 1x1]

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by romamaro, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    Cold winter nights gave the best skies. Deep, dark nights that crept up on you quickly, and clung on until the early hours of the morning. Stars seemed brighter, colours more vibrant. Mars glinted at you like a glittering ruby. The sky was crowded with beautiful balls of white fire that flickered and sparkled as if saying hello.

    But it wasn't winter. It was spring, and the nights were getting shorter and lighter. If you were really unlucky, then it was cloudy, and then you wouldn't get anything done at all. It was only getting deeper into the season, so Castor had to take what little chances he had.

    It was a clear night, any way you looked. Castor hang half-way out his window, breathing in the chill, nighttime air. With his neck arched up to the sky, he could already feel the ache in his back. He was used to that pain already; his mother said she was surprised he hadn't broken his neck from it all.

    He took it all in, drinking in the night sky. He trailed the constellations with his finger; the Big Dipper, Orion and his belt, and just around half of his star sign. His hand travelled up, up, as he tried to finish the constellation. It was just out of sight, just over his head. He grit his teeth, pushing himself out over the windowsill. Pointing with one hand, he used his other to brace himself on the window ledge, but as he looked down to adjust himself he found his eyes planted on the ground.

    How many stories up was he? He couldn't say for sure, but it was too many. With a muted yelp, he pulled himself back inside, hiding the sky from his eyes. With a deep breath, he slowly stuck his head back out. Again, he followed Gemini from star to star. But he couldn't finish it; the heads of the twins were just out of sight.

    He grit his teeth as he stared out at the sky. He didn't have to look at Gemini every night, but it felt wrong to leave it unfinished. Especially when Gemini was as important as it was.

    He knew what he had to do. It wasn't really a strange thing for him, he'd done it a couple times before, but he didn't like doing it. But he knew himself well, and he knew that he wouldn't sleep until he finished that constellation. So, he left his slippers tied his housecoat tightly around him, grabbed his wand, and tiptoed out of his dorm.

    Through some divine combination of a well-trodden route and a bit of magic, Castor made his way out of the school building. From there, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to the lake.

    The lake was always so much bigger than it looked from far away. As he reached the shore, he was captured again by just how massive it was. The water reflected the sky, a perfect mirror image of the majesty within the two. That wasn't where the similarities ended; just as no one knew what was really in space, no one could know what was at the bottom of the lake.

    But that wasn't the point. Reaching the shore, Castor spun on his heel and tilted his head up to the sky. He counted the stars off with his fingers; the dim ones that didn't have full names, the brighter ones with Greek letters to give them more identity, and...there!

    Pollux, and his brother, Castor.

    He beamed at the smile, his teeth almost matching his birthsake. There. Now he could head back, and get some sleep.

    But the sky looked so pretty from out here. Couldn't he stay a while?
     
  2. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Petra sat alone by the lake. Her knees drawn up to her chest, her arms crossed on top, and her chin resting at the very top. The water brought a sense of calm, despite something swimming beneath the surface. She suspected it to be a harmless creature, anyway and liked the way its movements created ripples on the otherwise calm surface.

    It was quiet, the sky was clear, and the weather warm enough that she could get away with a lighter jacket than earlier in the year.

    The young blonde was rather fond of this time of night. Everyone tucked away inside sleeping, studying, or just generally keeping indoors leaving the outdoors to be filled with more natural sounds.

    It was easy, then, for her to catch the sound of footsteps. Castor, with his neck craned back staring up into the sky and hardly watching where he was going, missed Petra curled up on the ground. She watched him for a moment, leaning back herself to see what was so interesting, before opening her mouth. "You could get detention, you know." She pointed out. Then again, so could she. What little she knew of the boy before her, however, she suspected it would bother him, getting detention.
     
  3. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    The sky seemed darker out here, and the stars seemed brighter. Maybe it was a trick of the light, or maybe it was because there weren't any lights to trick you. There wasn't like there was anything to distract you either. Castor's mind felt laser-focus, his eyes like telescopes. He was clicking constellations together faster than he ever felt he had.

    But it was stupid of him to think that he was the only rule breaker around. Most people weren't out stargazing, though. He was used to meeting a few rougher types when he was about. Never small, quiet, blonde girls, curled up by the side of the lake.

    Castor couldn't help but let out a little gasp as the voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked down, unable to hide the shock from his face. It wasn't like he was super observant, but he thought that he generally knew when someone was around. He knew the girls face, and maybe her name, if he just thought about it enough... Penny? Or...Pearl?

    He gathered his thoughts, and stuttered out, "why-why would I-why would I care about that?" God, he was the worst at acting cool.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
  4. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    She arched a brow at his attempt to act casual. She gave him a once-over; he was most definitely not the type to be careless about his record. Wincing as she stretched her legs out in front of her, unbunching from her previous position, Petra shrugged one shoulder. "Some people care about that sort of thing, about getting in trouble."

    Petra, being far more observant than her evening companion, recalled his name after a bit of thought. "... Castor, right?" She bit her tongue back from asking if it was like the oil. That would be rude. She leaned back until she was laying in the grass, staring at the stars. After a moment she gestured to the spot beside her. "It's far more comfortable to look at the stars this way than it is with your neck all bent like that," she pointed out.
     
  5. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    Castor struggled not to wring his hands together, as sweaty as his palms were. He didn't want to look nervous now, not now that he was trying to be cool. Instead he stuffed them in the pockets of his housecoat. "Well, obviously...obviously I don't care about that." He knew he was putting too much stress on his words to seem normal. He wasn't usually this awkward, but being caught off guard definitely wasn't when he was the most comfortable.

    He was surprised she remembered his name. It wasn't like he was a commonly known figure in the school; he wasn't in duelling club, or track, or student council, or even band, so he was used to flying under the radar. It felt nice to be known. He smiled a little - a real one, dimpling at his cheeks. "Yeah!" he said brightly, "like the star. That one!" As he spoke, he turned and pointed back to Castor A, totally forgetting that he was meant to be acting cool. It wasn't quite as bright as Pollux, but still important. Definitely still important.

    When he looked back at her, she was lying in the grass. His first thought was that it looked uncomfortable, but she quickly told him otherwise. He frowned a little, but sat beside her. He leaned back on his hands at first, but soon lowered himself fully down onto his back.

    He was used to lying down and missing things out. He lived in the city; usually if he didn't angle himself right, the skyscrapers would block his view. It had never occurred to him that he wouldn't have this problem in the all-natural Altsoba wilderness.

    He stared up at the sky, a hand gently rubbing at the spot on the back of his neck that ached. "You're...you're right," he admitted. He paused for a moment. "I'm...I'm sorry. You...you know my name but I don't...I don't think I remember yours?" He turned his head to look at the girl for a moment, but couldn't bear to look away from the sky for too long.
     
  6. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    It was Petra's turn to be surprised as she hadn't known there was a constellation of the same name. Her eyes followed his finger as she tried to figure out which mess of shapes was the constellation Castor. They all looked like dots in the sky, but when he looked back at her, she smiled, nodding in agreement.

    He seemed incredibly excited; she couldn't bring herself to ask which constellation was his. She made a mental note to look it up later. She was quiet as he hesitantly joined her in the grass, resisting the urge to chuckle as he did so. He didn't mind sneaking out at night but had a problem with sitting in the dirt. She shook her head slightly.

    "Petra," she replied, glancing back at him, but he was already staring up at the clear night sky. She chuckled. "I'm not surprised you don't remember, the way you tend to zone out in class." She noticed these things. Not to mention, aside from electives, they had every single class together.
     
  7. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    As soon as she said it, it rung through his head, clear as a bell. “Of course. I...remember now, obviously.” He took he took a moment, staring at the sky, then said again, “sorry, Petra.” He’d never been good at names. He once did a whole assignment with someone without knowing their name, just because he didn’t want to ask again. Just in case they were offended. That was in the ninth grade though. He was better now. “It’s a nice name. Petra,” he commented idly.

    He looked at her again when she accused him of daydreaming, mouth already open in protest. “I...I...” he tried to get the words together to defend himself, but quickly shut his mouth. “You’re right. I’m...not very good at focusing.” He chuckled nervously, wiping his hands on his housecoat. “How’d you notice that, anyway? I mean shouldn’t-shouldn’t you be paying attention, yourself?’
     
  8. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Laughing she said, "Don't worry about it. It's a big school. You can't be expected to remember everybody's name." She shrugged which was not an easy feat lying on the ground, but she managed. "I suppose." Beat. "It was my grandmother's." The irony in that was not lost on the young sorceress, but she wasn't about to give Castor her whole life story.

    "I do pay attention, but now and then my attention drifts, and there's you, staring out the window or something." She paused, again, "Besides, I can multi-tasking." No need to be smug about it, Petra. "Did you really sneak outside just to stare out at the stars?" Asks the one who snuck outside just to stare at the lake.
     
  9. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    Castor smiled at the mention of a gran. "My nan named me, too," he said, not realising that it wasn't what Petra meant, "I mean, my mom liked the name too, but my nan was the one that suggested it. Because I'm a Gemini, and Castor's one of the brightest stars in Gemini, and she was the astronomy teacher here for all her life- her work life, I mean." As he spoke, he realised he was starting to blabber, so he cut himself off. Any more and he'd start complaining about not being called Pollux, because Pollux was brighter, and sounded a lot cooler anyways, and there was no such thing as Pollux oil, and there definitely wasn't such a thing as Pollux sugar.

    Castor folded his hands above his stomach, feeling his chest rise and fall as he breathed. The thought that people noticed him enough to notice that he wasn't paying attention made the hair on his arms rise. If Petra noticed that he daydreamed, who knows what else people noticed about him? He didn't say anything, just cleared his throat awkwardly.

    He considered her question for a moment. "...yeah," he admitted quietly, "I couldn't see Castor A from my window, and...I don't know. I just felt like I really had to see it tonight. I knew I wouldn't sleep until I did, so..." he stared into the sky for a second longer, then looked to Petra again. "Why are you out, then? Any cooler than me?" He was feeling a little bit more comfortable now, at least comfortable enough to admit that he wasn't cool, and that he knew it.
     
  10. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    She was smiling at his blabbering. "She sounds like a cool nan. But my grandma's name was Petra. On my dad's side. It was his idea." Of course, if her mom had known, she would have refused the name but not much to be done about that now. He fell silent, and the blonde was content to lay there quietly as well. At his question, she shrugged again. "The semester is almost over," she said, unable to keep the sadness from her voice.

    "Just trying to enjoy the views and the campus as much as possible before I have to leave for the summer." It sucked that she wasn't able to stay for the summer like she was for able to do for the holidays. Not something she was going to spill to this boy she'd had one conversation with.

    "So, no, not really." She liked him better when he wasn't trying to pretend to be something he wasn't. He was awkward and a little odd, but at least he seemed more at ease.
     
  11. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    "Oh." Castor felt his face flush. Of course he'd managed to misread that. He opened his mouth to tell her what his name would have been, if he was named after his dad's dad, but realised he didn't know. Instead, he smiled and said, "that's still nice. Better than being named after some random celebrity, or something."

    It wasn't like she was some rebel without a cause. She was a rebel with a cause really, because seeing the Altsoba campus was a good cause if Castor had ever heard one. "I get it," he said. "I live in Philly, and it's always so bright out there. You...you can't really see the sky as well as you can out here." He turned his head to her. "Where're you from?" He asked. He guessed the city - a lot of Altsoba kids lived out in the country because their parents wanted to use their magic freely, so they weren't as impressed by the scenery as the 'city-slickers' were.
     
  12. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    She hummed in agreement. She never had a chance to really know her grandma Petra, but she was glad to have something connecting her to the woman she vaguely remembered.

    "Maine," she replied. "Jonesboro, but not many people outside of the state have heard of it. It's near the ocean?" She wasn't sure why she was explaining all that much, but most people have heard of Philly, not many people have heard of many cities in Maine. Letting out a breath, she turned her attention back to the sky. "You can see some stars, there, but it's not as... calm as it is here."
     
  13. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    Castor shook his head. "I don't know much about Maine at all," he admitted. Geography had never been his strong suit, which was why his geography teacher was pretty much always trying to give him extra credit. "I never even really left Pennsylvania before coming to Altsoba."

    Taking his gaze away from the sky, Castor looked back out across the lake. As he saw something shift, just barely under the surface, his mind was drawn back to the idea that no one knew everything that was in the lake. Goosebumps making their way up his arms, he shifted himself slightly away from the body of water, hoping that its secrets wanted to stay hidden. "I thought it'd be nicer near the sea. People say the sound of the waves is nice..." Surely there weren't any dangerous creatures in the shallow part of the lake?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  14. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    "That's fair. Even if you knew more about Maine than the fact that we're known for lobster, you probably never would have heard about it." She inhaled deeply and could practically smell each scent that was emitted by the lake. Then again, maybe that was just her imagination. "It is nice. It's not like the South or East Coast, though. Our beaches are more like..." she struggled to think of an accurate image and then cringed at the one that did come to mind.

    "If you ever saw the movies, Twilight, when they go to the beach. More rock than sand, and usually cold and wet. Although, sometimes it's humid and warm." She shrugged. "Still, the ocean does bring a sense of... peace, for me at least." Vaguely she wondered if there was any research in a significant number of water sorcerers being born near large bodies of water.
     
  15. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    Castor let out a brilliant bark of a laugh at the comparison, loud enough that a bird overhead squawked in protest, then escaped to calmer skies. Let it be known, fauna would never be his gift. Face flushing, he cleared his throat as he gathered himself. "My mom loves those films. Like, properly. Unironically." Normally he'd be a little embarrassed to admit that he'd seen them, but he felt like Petra wouldn't tease him for it. "So, yeah, I know what you mean."

    "The closest I think I've ever got to the ocean is Delaware River," he said. He punctuated the sentence with what was meant to be a light-hearted chuckle, but it came out tinged with a sadness that he hadn't intended at all. Stuttering for a moment, trying not to look like the sad little recluse Philly kid, he burst out with, "but! All rivers come from - they all come from and they all lead back to - the ocean, so, technically - yeah, technically, I've seen the ocean!" He laughed again, but this time it just came out awkward.
     
  16. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    She nodded. "Yeah, sod beaches like those. I loved them, too, unironically, once upon a time," Petra admitted with a giggle. "Don't tell anyone this, or I will end you, but sometimes I still enjoy watching them even though they were horribly made and there are so many awkward moments." She shrugged. "A guilty pleasure, I suppose."

    She watched him, trying to figure out what he was thinking, what made him go from having a normal conversation to vaguely trying to fit in. "It's nothing special," she admitted. "For me, I think I'll be declaring water next year, so I think it brings a little extra... comfort to me, but as for not being near the ocean, well, it's salty, and there are a bunch of fish and crabs and jellyfish, and honestly not worth the hype. Rivers are much better, in my opinion." And maybe she was trying to make him feel better, but there was also some truth to her statement. "They still, sometimes, have snakes of course, but less likely than a lake and you can generally see where you're standing." She hated the feeling of standing in water when she couldn't see her feet and what might be near them.
     
  17. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    Castor snorted. "Don't worry about me ruining your reputation, or anything like that. I don't exactly have a word in everyone's ears." He chuckled, somewhat melancholic. He had good friends, in Astronomy club and in his science classes, but sometimes he wondered what it would be like to be a social butterfly, flitting from person to person and getting along with them all just the same. "Sometimes you need a good cringe, anyway. Second-hand cringe, I mean."

    As she spoke about her gift, a pang of anxiety rushed through him, sparking in his chest and firing up through his spine into his burning scalp. Most people seemed to already have their gift decided. A lot of people already knew what they were going to do for the Declaring Ceremony. His hand fell to the side of him, where his fingertips met the soil. He felt the slightest pang of life there, as the earth breathed back into him. Fire and fauna had faded away a long time ago. Water had taken a little longer, but it was gone now. It was either earth or air, and there wasn't much distinction between the two. He returned his hand to his chest, trying not to think about the decision he would have to make.

    Her honest review of the different bodies of water made him chuckle. "Do rivers actually have snakes?" he asked. "Seems like the kind of thing that gets made up for like, a really bad book. I've never actually, y'know, been in the Delaware River. Some kids would brave it, but my mom never really let me near it. Never really wanted to, even." He hadn't been much braver as a child than he was now.
     
  18. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    She gave him a wry smile but said nothing figuring it would be rude to comment on his popularity (or lack thereof). It didn't matter to her the way it seemed to with other people, though. Nodding her head in agreement, "I totally agree. It's nice to see someone else having an awkward moment, even if they aren't real." It's a good reminder that nobody's life is perfect. Petra needs that sometimes.

    She doesn't seem to note his anxiety over her words, focused on her thoughts and melancholy.

    She rolled over so that her whole body was facing him now. "Oh yeah, some more than others; it all depends on where you live, but there are snakes in rivers and lakes." She made a face. "Water snakes are the worst, 'cause they're poisonous. What do you do in the summer, there in Philly?" It had to be better than whatever her summer would entail.
     
  19. romamaro

    romamaro Well-Known Member

    Castor could definitely relate to that, he thought as he nodded absentmindedly. When you lived every day on high alert, afraid someone would take something stupid you did and blow it right up for everyone to see, it was nice to be on the other side of it. And movies weren't real, so it wasn't like he had to feel guilty about making fun of the glittery vampire on the big screen.

    "Seriously?" His eyebrows raised in surprise, partially disappearing beneath the stray curls of his hair. "Well, I couldn't tell you if there are snakes in Philly. I mean, in the zoo, yeah...but maybe not in the city." Watching her move out of the corner of his eye, he mirrored her, pushing himself up onto his elbow.

    Summer was always a strange one for Castor. Some years, there was nothing going on, and he and his mom and his nan would play at tourists and see all the sights. And some years, his mother's research was so taxing that she didn't leave her office for days, and Castor was left to entertain himself. There was usually a few constants, however.

    He gave a one-sided shrug. "I mean, usually I'll stay up late and..." He trailed off, and gestured vaguely into the sky. "I've got better equipment at home, so it's a little easier than out here." He thought for a moment, before continuing, "I've got a few friends that don't work over the summer. They're my mom's students, so they're all just about as obsessed with space as me. Sometimes we'll go for lunch, but usually if we're going to do anything, we'll go to the library. Abigail - that's one of the girls, she's really smart - Abigail always has some weird idea that she'll want to look into, and she likes to get me to help." Castor was probably most comfortable with his university-aged friends. Rarely did he feel too big for his skin, like he did at Altsoba. Sometimes he felt like an intern, getting coffees and helping find the most random and obscure of astronomy tomes, but he was okay with that. They were good friends.

    He cleared his throat into his balled fist, wiping his face of it's vaguely sentimental smile. "What about Maine, then?"
     
  20. BrookeDi

    BrookeDi Well-Known Member Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    She watched the expression on his face; the ghost of a smile, the faraway look. He was looking forward to his summer. At the very least, he anticipated an enjoyable summer. Idle fingers plucked at the grass in front of her, examining each blade before letting them drop to the ground. "You're really into stars, huh?" It wasn't a judgment, just a casual observation.

    It should have been obvious, perhaps, with the way he wandered out in the middle of the night just to see a complete constellation. "Hey! Maybe next year you'll have a room with a better view," she pointed out, finding the positive about the end of the year (even if it wasn't a positive for her).

    At his question, her gaze dropped once more to the grass. "Oh, I've got nothing special planned. I might spend some time with my brother. He's in college, though, so he might be busy. Maybe watch some movies and take advantage of having access to technology for a few months." She chuckled.
     

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