This scene is my favorite so far. To me, it captures the mood just as I wanted it to. In it, Garridan is attending the Harvest Promise Festival with his sister, Carling. Unbeknownst to him, his world is less than a few hours from unraveling.
Quick bursts of green, blue and pink skyfire lit up the night and rained down upon the clearing in brilliant, spiny fingers. Each one thudded powerfully against Garridan’s body, quivering his insides to jelly and causing Carling, who was perched mightily upon his shoulders, to tense up around his neck as if her life depended on it. He could barely hear her laughter over the booms.
The clearing had been thriving with people ever since late afternoon, when the Harvest Promise Festival began. Tents, produce tables, makeshift spits and game booths dotted the land but were all abandoned when the skyfire started.
Garridan looked around at his fellow villagers. Everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder in awe and silence with their eyes stationed at the heavens, their faces awash with the colors dictated from above.
Carling squeezed him tightly as another one sounded over the land, and he looked up to catch its aftermath. This one seemed to be directly above them. Blue sparks swam down from the sky and dissolved into nothing as they neared. For a moment, Garridan pretended that there was no one else in the world but he and his sister. The open night sky filled his eyes, and the trees wrapped around his periphery. Beyond the veil of thin smoke shone the stars and an elegant moon whose light would cast a calm brilliance over the land if not for the constant bombardment of skyfire.
The perfect end to a perfect day, he thought.
The festival was truly alive and shy to not one of the senses. Even from the very beginning, when he and Carling were still playing their own games, he could feel its energy creeping in. It laced the crisp air, riding on the sounds of woodwind music, dressed with the thump of deep drums that brought the villagers together in dance. It set the tempo for the rest of the evening. Carling, more than once, caught Garridan eyeing the more attractive girls as the music rippled through them, but she didn’t seem to mind.
“So you like dancing?” she laughed as she grabbed his arm and parodied the older girls.
It wasn’t long before the scent of food rivaled the music for rights to the breeze. Roasted ducks and chickens sizzled and snapped from their spits and set free an aroma that made his mouth water. It blended with the smells of fresh made candies and baked goods that lingered on still, even after the skyfire’s sour smoke settled over them.
Carling’s legs squeezed his shoulders again, returning him to the moment. That’s when he saw him, past the wide gap of the clearing, beyond the heavy sprinkle of villagers that could look nowhere but up. The man dressed in black, the outsider. In a fevered pace, the dark figure was skirting the forest, and though masked by night and only given up by the thick foliage in slivers, Garridan could sense his urgency.
Garridan swung his eyes over the crowd, careful not to move his body, careful not to garner Carling's attention. No one else seemed to notice the man just as the man didn’t seem to notice anything at all. He simply continued on, dodging brush and outstepping the clutches of the forest floor.
Suddenly, as he was about to leave Garridan’s periphery, the man charged into the forest. Another boom of skyfire swallowed the land in pink hues, but Garridan barely took notice. Instead, his eyes were pinned to the forest’s threshold, waiting for something else, anything else.
Then it happened, though the timing was such that yellow skyfire took all the praise and no one else but Garridan saw it. Pure light pulsed from within the trees, near where the outsider pushed through just moments ago...one succinct, subtle blast. For as short-lived as it was, the light grabbed an old piece of Garridan’s soul and wouldn’t shake loose. He knew what brought the light. His father had spoken of it with such vigor after he went mad.
“Magic,” he gasped.