A Matter of Perspective

Ezra sighed softly and tilted his head at the painting. Then, he tilted his head the other way. There was something off about it and he couldn’t figure out what it was. He checked the anatomy of the figures. There were no extra fingers, the thumbs were on the correct sides, everything was positioned in an anatomically possible fashion. That wasn’t it.

He began checking through the background, looking for something that was out of place or disproportionate in some way. His brows furrowed and he bit his lip. “What’s wrong with this picture?” he asked of no one in particular.

“How big is that tower supposed to be?” Morgan said, pointing at a spire on an island in the left corner. “It looks tiny!”

Ezra laughed and shook his head. That was the problem. A trick of the angling in the composition. The tower was meant to be far to the background, but the base was too close to the bottom of the image. Shaking his head, he grabbed up his paints and began covering the top with various shades of green.

Morgan laughed as the top of the tower vanished behind foliage. “That actually helped,” she said.

Nodding, Ezra said. “It’s a matter of perspective and angles,” he said, shrugging. He used various shades of brown to suggest branches, then layered more green. Soon, he stepped back and nodded at the change. “Thank you,” he called, as he turned to wash up his palette and brushes.

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Dear lady

Morgan sighed softly as she listened to the man prattle on and on about his business. He didn’t seem to realize just how dull his business truly was. He was equally oblivious to the fact that his decision to address her as “my dear lady” was by no means endearing. In fact, it was beginning to grate on her nerves.

Ezra chose that moment to come to her rescue. He touched her arm lightly and said, “Would you care to dance?” He waved at the open place in the center of dining room where other couples were dancing.

“I would love to,” she said. Smiling at the annoying man, she said, “You’ll have to excuse me, my dear man.”

As they moved out to the floor, she whispered her thanks to Ezra.

He chuckled wryly and said, “Yes, well, I feared that if left you alone with him very much longer, he’d end up feeling your fan across his fingertips, at the least.” He held her close and added, “My dear lady, indeed. He doesn’t know you very well.”

Morgan chuckled. “You, on the other hand, know me quite well,” she said.

A faint flush of color stained Ezra’s cheeks and he nodded. “Well enough to know not to call you such an appellation, my dear Morgan,” he said, giving her a wry smile.

Forgiveness

Keenan spotted Maeve Sweetin Pemberton the moment she entered the room. All the guests were either people who were instrumental in seeing the Berklians overthrown or, as in her case, a loved one of such a person.

He cleared his throat and stepped over to her. “It’s Maeve, right?” he said, giving her a wan smile.

“Yes.” She frowned at him, tilting her head to one side for a moment. Then, she shook her head. “Do I… know you, sir?”

The gesture and manner were so much like Ezra that it was uncanny. He smiled. “I know your sons,” Keenan said. His expression softened a bit and he said, “I also knew your husband. I was saddened to hear of his passing.”

Maeve blinked in surprise. “Thank you,” she said. She glanced around and said, “Was this… all your idea?”

“Yes,” Keenan said. He also glanced around, nodding a greeting at some of the familiar faces he spotted, before looking back at Maeve. “I felt it was long overdue. I hope you’ll forgive us for that.”

Maeve blinked again. Then, she nodded. “I… never really understood Allen’s motivations for what he did – risking his life for people he barely knew. He was just one man – one man in such fragile health – I wondered if he’d ever made any kind of difference.”

“He did,” Keenan said. He bit his lip and swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. “The fact that he was willing to do those things, in spite of the danger and his illness… it was an example for others.”

Maeve nodded. “I think I see that now,” she said. She smiled, then, and added, “Thank you for honoring him – as well as the others.”

Keenan gave her a sunny smile. “It’s my pleasure,” he said. He bowed politely and slipped away, as Connor and Ezra stepped up beside their mother. He’d never quite realized what an example both of their parents had set for them until that moment. As he stepped off to mingle with other honored guests, he couldn’t help but feel that Allen would have been proud of them.

Trying Hard to Understand

Keenan had never actually visited a museum. Whether it was because he’d just never gotten the time to do so or because he’d never had the interest to do so, he couldn’t say. He’d been to libraries – loads of them. However, he’d never seen a museum.

He found, since visiting the Vault of Taliesin with Phillip, that he was actually interested in the sorts of things museums stored. This museum, like the Vault, didn’t just hold normal treasures. It was packed with magical artifacts and enchanted objects. In fact, the collection of such things here was second only to the Vault.

Each room represented a different country in the world of Ekudo. Keenan was staring at a tapestry. It depicted a man, his cloaks and hair swirling around in wind that didn’t seem to effect the trees around him. He had a fierce expression on his face. For some reason, he looked very familiar.

“Can I help ya with something?” a voice said.

Keenan looked over his shoulder at the speaker. He was taller than Keenan, but within the average for a Shynonian. His hair was a silvery color that Keenan could tell had nothing to do with age. His eyes were a vibrant blue. They were wide with surprise and locked on Keenan’s face.

“I’m supposed to meet the director of museum collections?” he said. Then, he tilted his head to one side, trying to figure out why the man was staring at him with such a shocked expression. “Something wrong?”

“Ya look…” he said, blinking. Then, he shook his head. “Ya know, what? Never mind. Dr. Upvalley is just over here.”

Keenan nodded frowning slightly. What, in the name of all that was, had upset the man so greatly? “Thank you,” he said, following the stranger.

Something She Won’t Forget

Maeve read the letter over again, just to be sure she hadn’t read it wrong the first time. Now, after all these years, the Agency was going to honor her husband for his service in overthrowing the occupying forces.

She’d known that his work had been important, not just to him, but to everyone. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been willing to risk so much to do what he had done. It was something that had stayed with her long after his death. Now, with both of their sons following in his footsteps, the Agency was ready to honor his sacrifice.

A faint smile touched her lips and she sat down to write a reply letter. Wild horses couldn’t keep her way from the ceremony. Soon, everyone would know the sort of man Allen Pemberton Sweetin had been – something she would never forget.

Satellite Orbit

There were those people who seemed to think that the world revolved around them. Everything that happened was either because of them or else they were the only ones affected by it. In the minds of people like that, they were the only ones that mattered.

For as long as Ezra could remember, his mother had been just such a person. To her way of thinking, even the lives of her children revolved around her. They were meant to drop whatever they were doing and do what she wanted.

Ezra was annoyed by it, but he was also used to it. Now, as he lay in a hospital bed, it was strange to see his mother – who hated hospitals – hovering by his bedside. She planned her day around the visiting hours, so that she could spend as much time with him as possible. He glanced over at her and smiled faintly. This, he realized, was not an unwelcome change. It was comforting, having his mother so close.

Where Will You Go?

Morgan shook her head and caught his hand. “Why?” she said, shaking her head. “Ezra, I could understand you trying to push me away before, but you’re still holding me at arms-length. You do the same with everyone who tries to help you.”

Ezra bit his lip and looked into Morgan’s eyes. “I… don’t know,” he repeated. “I’m scared, Morgan: of being hurt and of hurting everyone around me. Now… I’ve been pushing people way so long, I’m not even sure how to let them in.”

“That’s simple,” Morgan said, her voice soft. “Start, by trusting someone.”

For a moment, they just looked into each other’s eyes. Finally, Ezra said, “I… trust you.”

A faint smile touched Morgan’s lips and she said, “Ready to go back now?” When Ezra nodded, she turned and headed back towards the cabin they’d moved into. Lyroron was a quiet town. It was the perfect place to hide and, hopefully, it would also be the best place for Ezra to find what he was looking for.

Before Dawn

Ezra hummed softly to himself as he moved through the trees. He shivered slightly and stooped to catch up a piece of wood. He added it to the bundle of sticks under his arm.

He felt so alone and frightened. Normally, humming to himself helped. Tonight, it didn’t seem to be helping at all. He sighed and then flinched when a hand touched his shoulder. “Morgan,” he said, when he saw who it was that had touched him.

She smiled faintly. “I’m beginning to wonder what you’re really running away from, Ezra,” she said. “Is it really Keller’s men anymore?”

“Maybe it’s just my past,” Ezra said, shrugging and shaking his head. “I don’t know anymore.”

Anything For You

As Keenan listened to the words of the song, his brows furrowed. He felt like the songwriter had lived his life with him or dug into his emotions and memories to write the song. It was… intensely personal.

He shot Elayne a glance and tilted his head to one side. She was scowling. He wondered. Was she thinking about him or did the song make her think of someone else? He turned back to his work as she turned off the music mid-verse. Clearly, whatever it reminded her of, it was getting to her.

Returning to the real world

Connor sighed softly. Some part of him felt as if the last month or so – being kidnapped by Keller’s men and meeting his brother, leading the kidnappers on a merry chase through the port cities of Shynia – was all make believe.

Now, as he stared at the letter his brother had written him, he felt as if he were returning to the real world. His brows furrowed and he looked up as the agent that approached him. “You have my brother’s dog?” he said.

“Yes,” the agent said, blinking. “You wouldn’t…”

“I have no idea where Finian is,” Connor said, his tone brisk. He handed the letter to the agent and said, “He just asked me to get his dog from you.”

The agent read over the letter and then nodded. “All right,” he said. “Cyrus,” he called, “get the dog.” He gave Connor a sharp look, then, and added, “If you happen to hear from your brother, Master Connor…”

“I’ll let you know,” Connor said, his tone bitter. These people were part of the reason his brother was in hiding in the first place. They should have done a better job protecting him.

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