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I could see the longing in my erstwhile lover’s eyes. I understood his craving for freedom, his desire to break bonds, but a different hunger had driven me to board the Jade Dragon.
I thought of stars and moons and the unfathomable distances between them. I thought of the glorious crowning of light over the edge of a new world.
And I thought of fountains.
Like all of the settlements on Loess, the great city of Verdure had been built above a subterranean lake. Gravity pumps drew water up to the surface, where it was filtered and piped out to the hydroponics domes and greenhouses. Each drop was husbanded as carefully as if it were a living thing.
Except in Verdure. The lake underneath the green city was the largest on Loess. The water flowed in open canals, and fountains splashed and sang as sweetly as birds, and there were birds in Verdure as well. It was an excessive display, but – some would argue – necessary for the human psyche, a concession to the liquidity of our souls.
They say that when Verdure burned, flames raced along the canals. The gravity pumps melted into slag. The greenhouses burst from the heat, raining fire down into the streets. I remember the fountains erupting with molten fire, and the stench of scorched feathers. The spaceport collapsed and we fled, leaving behind the poisoned, blazing ruin of what had once been the jewel of Loess. Since then, Verdure had been interdicted – cut off from the rest of the world. A self-appointed militia patrolled the walls, keeping us out for our own protection. Verdure was too dangerous to enter.
Somebody had made the water to burn – my father, if the stories were true. At last, I began to grasp what Jonath needed from me, what I could do for Loess. I had the skill to restore the pumps and the spaceport both, and Jonath was offering me access. The Jade Dragon was our key to the green city.
This post is part of the Jade Dragon series. Though I try to make these installments enjoyable as individual pieces, I highly recommend that you read the series from the beginning to really get what’s going on.
This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge weekly prompt:
You should write a creative response using the third definition of the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:
1: to take or seize eagerly
2: to clasp or embrace especially with the fingers or arms
3: to lay hold of with the mind : comprehend
This week’s challenge is community judged.
- For the 14 hours following the close of the challenge, voting will be enabled on links.
- In order to vote, return to this post at the Trifecta Writing Challenge site. Stars will appear next to each link. To vote, simply click the star that corresponds with your favorite post.
- You can vote for your top three favorite posts.
- Voting is open to everyone.