The Aether Masters – Part 1

The ball of glass on the end of the pipe glowed red hot as the glass blower pulled it out of the fire. She turned it and blew aetherium dust through the pipe. The silver-orange dust swirled into the glass, expanding the air bubble at its center, and coated the inside. The glass flowed into a sphere, responding to her will as much as to gravity. Her attention flickered for a fraction of a second as the door opened.

“Hold your thoughts for a moment if you please,” she said. She twisted the glass with a flick of her wrist, ignoring her visitor as he took a seat on a nearby stool. She put the glass into the oven and held it over the fire to the count of twenty then slowly sat down as she cautiously pulled it out. The aetherium responded to a turn of her free hand and the sphere twisted in a spiral. She put it back in the oven. “There. You have ten minutes.”

“It’s good to see you too, Izabela.”

She actually looked at her visitor for the first time. “Dmitrio! I thought it was another of those sulfurous merchants come to interrupt my work.”

“Ah, yes. I know those sorts. They come into my workshop from time to time. I hate how they poke and prod at anything sitting out. More than one minor explosion has occurred because of their curiosity.”

“Only minor explosions?” teased Izabela.

“Alchemy is not for the faint of heart, especially when combined with machinery. How goes your own work?”

Izabela opened the oven and turned the pipe to examine the glass from all sides. “Well enough. I might even be close to getting the shape of this vase perfect this time. What brings you to Willow Grove?”

Dmitrio shrugged and said evasively, “Isn’t it enough to want to see you?”

“That is very sweet, dear brother, but you said nothing of a visit in your letter last month. No, something has happened. What news?”

Dmitrio sighed and stood. He tugged at his black silk waistcoat and said, “There is much to tell. I’m uncertain where to start. And you are busy. Perhaps later?”

Izabela raised an eyebrow and studied him critically. He was definitely nervous. He fidgeted absently with his ring, spinning the outer surface of alchemical symbols. It was one of his early inventions. Izabella counted the number of spins per second, noted the tension around his eyes. Whatever had happened was unexpected and he was still sorting it for meaning. Izabela motioned to a chair. “Sit back down. I’m nearly finished here. I can listen and complete this phase just fine. Just start talking. You’ll find the shape of the tale soon enough.”

Dmitrio nodded and sat on the edge of a stool. He pushed up the sleeves of his maroon shirt. Lavender and sage wafted from the silver-orange paste he put on his hands. Absently humming a fragment of an operetta, he created a ball of light between his hands. He pulled and twisted it, creating suggestions of shapes – a raccoon, a Traveler’s balloon, mountains, caves. The shapes became more detailed and focused. Izabela gave a slight nod. Good. He was putting his thoughts in order. She pulled the vase out of the oven and studied it, giving him space to think. A flash of movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. An illusion of winged raccoons fluttered and raced between Dmitrio’s hands.

“It began when I was chasing raccoons out of the workshop,” said Dmitrio.


copyright 2015, all rights reserved, Kimberley Long-Ewing