Flash Fiction Friday – The Water Ballet

My Dungeons & Dragons group are about to start a new campaign soon, which will be set in the world of one of my favorite tabletop rpg shows Critical Role. I’ll be playing a halfling druid, who I suspect will be quite adorable. We did a short session zero type thing, and I wrote this little scene taking place just after it. Hope you enjoy!

The Water Ballet

Naria’s steps felt heavy as she left the enclave. She couldn’t get that poor man’s face out of her mind, the slack jaw and vacant eyes. She didn’t care if he had been a criminal, as the others at the enclave assured her he was when she told them the crownsguard had identified him as a member of the Clasp. No-one deserved to die like that, murdered in an alleyway with no-one around to hold their hand as they passed. It just wasn’t right.

The sun was slowly creeping down towards the horizon, the shadows cast across the streets of Emon growing longer. It felt strange to admit it considering how overwhelming she had found the city when she first got there only weeks ago, but she had missed the place. The bustle, the markets, the many faces that passed her by every day here… Her short stay in Eton to deal with a weevil problem hadn’t seemed particularly exciting compared to that. There was still so much for her to explore here, but tonight she did not want newness. Tonight she wanted familiarity, and so she was heading for the fountain.

There was nothing special about the fountain. It was not particularly ornate, just a simple water basin with a small waterspout in the center that dribbled a steady, clucking stream of water. It was located at the heart of a small park, and she had found it strolling around on her first evening in the city. It was a nice, secluded spot, dotted with trees and half-unkempt shrubs, in a calm neighborhood and she’d been back almost every night since she came to Emon.

Naria sat down on the stone edge of the fountain, smoothing out the folds of her skirt and then raising her hands above the very gently ripples surface of the water. She closed her eyes and for a moment she saw the waters of Vesrah in her mind, smelled the salt of it. The magic in her stirred, coming to life in her fingertips.

With a flick of her wrist, a column of water jutted upward about two feet, tinting a deep shade of burgundy. Rotating slowly, it bloomed into a flower, then warped and dove into a wave as she hue shifted into a sapphire blue. Swaying gently to some internal music, Naria made a shifting, silent ballet of morphing shapes and colors dance across the surface of the fountain. She played it like an instrument, one she had begun to learn as a child and practices for hours and hours until it came as naturally as breathing, her gestures precise and effortless, one moment relaxed and one moment sharp. Tonight, unlike most nights, the ballet was sad and roiling, an arrow piercing the heart of a stag, a bird in desperate flight, a ship torn by a storm. As always, it attracted the neighborhood children. They must’ve had someone posted for a lookout, because she had barely begun before the fountain was surrounded on all sides by young faces, and some grown faces too, watching and whispering, chattering and clapping, though she hardly noticed them.

She went on for longer than usual, kept playing until the last rays of sunlight had almost disappeared. When she finally finished, shoulders aching and limbs trembling from the unusually lengthy exertion of her magical talents, she felt somehow better. Most of her audience had left by now, leaving only a mother with a now-sleeping five-year-old on her lap, giving her a soft smile as she got up off of the edge of the fountain, and a young couple holding hands in the soft grass, who Naria thought it was best not to bother. On a nearby bench, an old lady had nodded off, and Naria put a hand gentle on her shoulder as she headed out of the park. “Time to get home and to bed, grandmother,” she said, a small smile on her lips.

“Hmm? Oh yes,” the old woman replied, blinking. “Yes, thank you, dear. Good night.” Nodding to herself, she got up and began to slowly head home.

“Good night…” Naria responded, and as the last rays of sun slipped down past the horizon, she headed back toward the enclave.

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