Addergoole West-Coast, a beginning of a story…

May or May Not Be Canon. Fun, though.

“…this underground place, I mean, even back then, it was the height of luxury. It was… well, it was strange, but it was safe.” Rosmarina’s mother had always ended the story there with an awkward shoulder pat. If it was her father, he might add “you’ll be safe there, when you go. There’s plenty of food, and it’s safe and warm.”

Sometimes the kids a couple years older than Rosmarina went off to join the People’s Army. Their parents looked like Rosmarina’s did, when they talked about Addergoole: proud but worried. It’s safe there. It was some strange mantra that had nothing to do with their expressions.

And then the invitation came, soft paper unlike anything Rosmarina had seen actually used, Rosmarina’s name and her mother’s name on it in careful, precise handwriting. And it hadn’t said Addergoole, it had said Addergoole West-Coast.

Her parents had hemmed and hawed over it, argued and complained, both when Rosmarina was listening and when she wasn’t, but in the end, her mother had sighed and muttered “it’s not as if we have a choice.”

That was so unlike her mother — her mother who railed against everything, shouted at the Officials, found ways to disobey every Ordinance — that Rosmarina had almost given away her hiding-place, tucked in the cupboard in the kitchen from the loose boards along the basement stairway. She’d muffled her noise with both hands, waited till her mother complained about the mice, and sneaked back to her room to wait for her mother to give her the news properly.

Addergoole West-Coast was a long ways away, five days by river-boat and two by wagon. It was further than Rosmarina had ever gone from home by almost five times, and her parents brought everything and everyone — both her little brothers, her uncle Todd, the feral cat that liked to hang around and the dog they’d adopted, everything that fit in the trunks and satchels and bags. When her father put the cat in a modified satchel, that’s when Rosmarina knew this was serious, they they weren’t ever going home. When they’d passed the borders of the People’s Lands and told the guard there that they were going to visit a friend of Rosmarina’s mother’s and would be gone a couple days, Rosmarina was sure.

When they reached the gate of the place called Addergoole West-Coast, Rosmarina began to understand why.

The gate itself was twenty feet tall, set in a wall built of old buildings, smooth stone set against rough in a pattern you could only really discern from a half-mile or more away — ocean waves below and clouds above. The gate was made of steel, thick and impenetrable, like the People’s Lands’ borders, but it opened right away for Rosmarina and her family.

Inside, more buildings built in the same style wandered in gentle curves towards a large central edifice, almost like a fairy-tale castle, with towers and buttresses and, again, the pattern of waves and clouds worked into the very stone — stone which, Rosmarina couldn’t help but notice, had a faint teal hue to it.

“You said it was underground.” It was the only thing she could think to say.

“You said it was warm,” muttered her little brother Quirin. “This is pretty chilly.”

“This is new.” Her father looked around. “This is… there was nothing like that when we were in school.”

Her mother was holding tight to Rosmarina’s hand. “Can you smell it? The water? The ocean?” There was a longing in her voice that Rosmarina had never heard, and it seemed like she was pulling against herself, holding herself from running off the way she normally held Quirin or Vahan.

“I smell it.” Rosmarina’s father’s voice was tight now. “Do you think it’s real?”

Rosmarina was confused. They had travelled many days, and in the direction of the water. If they had gotten as far as her map said they might have, then the ocean would be there… “how could it be fake?”

“Not the ocean.” Her mother slowly released Rosmarina’s hand. “The promise of it. The possibility of it. The… oh, damnit.” She shook her hands. “Yima…”

“I’ve got it, Muirenn. I’ve got it. Go.”

Rosmarina’s mother was off at a dead run, bouncing through the streets. Her father caught Vahan just as he started to take off after their mother.

“Not now, sluggo. Your mom’s got an appointment, that’s all. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the ocean.”

Rosmarina could hear longing in her father’s voice as well. She didn’t question it, not now. The building was looming too big and too close. “Dad…?”

“That’s it, I think. Well, the logo’s close enough, and I mean, not many places would look that… brazen.”

The crest on the gate had horns like a cow’s curing upwards and a fishlike tail swinging downwards, and in between a stack of three books were sailing on a choppy sea. The crest was in brass – or maybe bronze – but Rosmarina was pretty sure that wasn’t what her father was talking about.

“It’s awfully ‘look at me here I am’,” she offered.

He snorted. “It is. Regine has always been like that – though I doubt she’ll be here. She doesn’t leave the bunker. And this, you’re right, this is right out in the open.”

The gate swung open. A very tall man stood there, smiling at them with far more teeth – and far whiter teeth – than Rosmarina had ever seen. “You must be Rosmarina. And Yima, I remember you from school. Remember me?”

more coming!

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