The room is filled with overpowering vanilla - the scent hangs everywhere like a huge, ominous cloud. There is a bed, positioned in the exact centre of the small white room. All the walls are white, a clear spotless white, with a few windows and no lights or other furniture. The bed, too, is white, silk sheets and silk pillow and silk blankets. There is no colour in the room. Even the vanilla smell is white and empty. On the bed, a young boy sits. His hair is long and dark, flowing down his back; his skin is the same white as the room. His eyes stare out of a thin face, dark grey and almond shaped. His cheekbones are too high, making his face unnatural, not ugly, but certainly not pretty, hard to look at for the oddities, and expressionless, uncaring. His lashes are long, like a woman's, and print on the cheekbones. He is far too thin, and his hands and feet too small. There is a feel of "too" around him - everything about him is too something. His clothes are white as well, just like the room, like everything else. A soft white linen tunic belted with white satin, and ivory leggings. His white feet are bare, his head uncovered. He looks stark, and unwrapped, and the darks of his hair and eyes and lashes conflict and collide and clamour against the whiteness of his world.

He sits, unseeing, staring at nothing through one of the windows, a window that overlooks the sea. A tremendous, never-ending ocean, cascading into the distance, ebbing and flowing in an eternalness. Whitecaps grace the waves, and the sun cuts down through white clouds, turning the entire surface into a lake of molten silver.

A few tears escape his blank eyes, catching in his lashes and glittering in perfectly held drops of rainbow salt water. His hands twitch, folding and unfolding, his lips suddenly moving in a silent prayer, or song, or lost longing.

The door to the room is opened unexpectedly, but he does not flinch or even show that he has noticed. A young woman steps in, clothed in a dress that sings and flaunts its colour: Rich silks in purple and crimson and dark clear blue that has never been navy, the skirt billowing out. The sleeves are wide and flowing, and she wears a tiara of some blue stone on her pouring golden hair. She counters the boy in every aspect, wildly beautiful, with clever green eyes and a full mouth turned up in a smile. She carefully does not move even a dainty slippered toe over the line separating the white, thin carpet within the room and thick, fluffy, emerald one outside. In a voice that lilts sweetly, she asks:

"Musouka, it's Lelyi. Would you like to come out and play?"

He turns to look at her then, throat convulsing at the sight, and whispers, "Never. Leave me alone. Go away. I want my books."

She frowns gently, in a concern that carries a bordering touch which slyly hints she is humouring him, but that at the same times struggles to prove honesty in her emotion. "Would you like to eat?"

"I shan't eat. Go away."

"Musouka, lovey, everyone wants to see you."

"I'm not a pet. I want my books back. I hate you." He speaks softly, but with a childish protestation, his voice straining at the words. "I need my books. I don't want to be your child. I don't want to be your puppy. Go away. Let me out of here forever, let me go home."

"Oh, darling, this is your home. The marble house by the sea. You'd love it here, if you'd only come out for a while and look around. Cousin Silio does so want to meet you."

"He wants to look at me, and touch my hair because it's black, and everyone here has awful gold, and wonder over my skin because everyone else is pale gold, and then ask me what I dream about like all the people here do because they don't dream, and pity me for what I am. I shan't come out. I shan't leave my bed. Go away."

She sighs dramatically, as if trying to pull him off the white silk sheets and into the brilliantly coloured hallway. "Musouka, won't you at least call me by my name? How much do you hate me? How long will you stay in there?"

"Until I die, or until someone lets me go home."

She sighs again, and turns from the room, closing the door. On her side of the hall, it is painted dark gold. She looks at the old woman who stands beside her, before concealed by it. This woman shrugs bony shoulders, and squints at Lelyi with dimmed green eyes, pushing her wispy, once-gold hair out of her face.

"Nothin' y'can do. Silly hybrids. Forget it - s'tea time, anyhow."

"Calia, he was one of their princes. Before our houses took over. There used to be huge clans of them, the hybrids, and now they're mostly all dead. So Fe of course brings home one of their children, and hopes he'll like living here with us. He would have been happier to die with his parents. I think he had a sister. I feel evil. I feel as though we should let them all go, and leave their world. He never leaves the room, he wanted it all in white, and that's mourning. He's a Felakese hybrid too - only saying hybrid seems so disrespectful - so he fasts, and he never wears colours. He hurts, can't you feel the ache that bursts out every time I open the door? We shouldn't keep him. We should let him go."

"Silly girl, just as them. You think he could survive on his own? It'll please him no end to die here, wasting away. He'll feel good and martyred, and it'll thrill him. Forget it, like I said. Come on and eat."

Lelyi sighs a last time, making herself a note to bring the hybrid prince more vanilla next time she tries to bring him out, and follows the woman down the gold-and-green hallway into one of beautiful blues and silvers, ripping in spiralling, rolling, waves and ribbons over the walls, down a wide marble and gold swirled staircase, then onto a veranda of soapstone with long mahogany tables. The other Jelasin angels are already there, in a frantic flourish of colours and materials and patterns, all talking among themselves. Lelyi takes her seat with the old woman, tucking an embroidered silk napkin into her lap.

A tall, violently handsome young man resplendent in wine-coloured velvet stands and calls over to her, his voice clear and ringing so that she flinches.

"Hey, Lelyi, have you wormed your hybrid out of his hole yet?"

Blushing, she tells him not yet, wishing she knew his words wouldn't carry to Musouka's room. But she knows they will, and she feel her heart sink.

On his bed, Musouka grits his teeth and falls face down on the bed, losing his statue nature, sobbing into the pillow, hot tears spilling onto the cool silk. Another day, he knows. Just another day. Some day, it will all end.

He's praying that day is soon.

/Pearls swim in the wide salt seas, turning

And turning

And singing in the waves

Moonstone dances through moonlight

Sapphire twists into fresh free skies

Rubies trickle through

Broken hearts

And emeralds caress burning skin/

/And my captive, my captive

My little captive soul

Looks out the only window

In this


Iron prison

And imagines grasses, long and tall and velvet

Swishing against bare knees.

Imagines droplets of sunset

Caught in the clouds

Imagines the wild blue waters of a great lake

And pale, white-bellied fish


The soft reeds and softer, silken sand


Round moons somewhere far away and very high up

In the starry sky/

/And sharp spruce means nothing

As crystal glows…/

/And a quiet, lonely song plays over the fields of tall,

Ripening wheat

And the melody is covered with dust, fine grey dust

And somehow,

It blows in the wind,

Spreading wings of prayer/

/And the captive waits. The captive

Sits alone

Someday the prison doors will open


The sunset won't have bars across it

And the world won't be blurred

For there will be no longer tears in my eyes/


/But while the day waits, and pauses

And lingers in its course

Until joyfully the doors spring open

And the world belongs

Until then,/

/The little captive spirit mourns

And the little captive heart grows too full

And captive tears flow down,

But do not fall free

Bound fingers cannot take your hand

And parched lips cannot kiss your mouth/

/Someday the loneliness will end

But till then

I'll be a captive…








Owari ~ End