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Since it seems I'm spinning dreams today, I think I'll continue. Some of you know, or at least know of, the House that my imagination occupies. It has two forms, the first being a place of residence for myself and a select few others, the second being the sort of place that would be understaffed if it had less that four butlers, has its own gardens and separate quarters just to house the staff, etc. The room mentioned in my last post is... a transitional point, I guess you could say, but for the most part it is in the second realm, the one where the House is closer to a keep or manor than a simple home.
I've spun off a few rooms of the other side of it as well, in the past; I'm too lazy to track them down and link to them but I know I posted them, in LJ if not in here, and the concept is simple enough. A spacious home, full of books and cupboards and wardrobes and thick rugs, most of the furnishings handmade, strange and somewhat archaic but oddly comfortable. However, that's not the House that I am wandering through in my mind today.
No, today the sprawl of halls spreads out before me, open and willing, as it were. *slight grin* So perhaps it would be... pleasing... to show you a few of the stranger rooms that have come into existance here. These aren't the ones that most of my stories will pass through, no, these are the ones out of the way, half-forgotten, rooms most of the staff and members of the household don't even really know exist.
One such room is the domain of a pair of clever twins, hired for their intelligence as well as their obedience, not pets exactly and not staff exactly, somewhere in between. They live in a nest they've built for themselves among the boilers, and they operate and keep clean the steambath.
Picture a Roman bath - tiles, columns, clear water, the faint hint of harp and chimes somewhere in the background. The colors are mostly white and blue, with traces of vine motifs, yes? I'm sure you can imagine such a bath.
Now, take that bath... and in place of the columns, run thick copper tubes, inscribed with row upon row of arcane markings. The tiles are the blue of a deep sea, the white of fish bones and pure, clean sand, but the images etched on them in green are not of vines but of strange tentacles, twisting and knotting together, seeming to strain outward as if attempting to lift themselves off the tile completely.
Put in the center of the main bath a huge slab of some dark, marbled stone. Rough-hewn, drilled through with tiny holes, whenever the water slaps against it the stone sounds as if it is breathing, or even singing. The stone is also the source of much of the bath's heat... steam rises through it constantly, escaping from those tiny holes, adding another level of faint, not unpleasant sound.
Line the walls of the bath with murals, painted in rich, lavish colors. Gold leaf details gleam in the light of the lanterns that are filled with scented oil, then lit, and set to dangle from intricately-worked copper poles. The murals are, at first glance, what one might expect in a Roman bath house... until the little details start to creep into your awareness. One figure has, beneath its robe, tenticles emerging instead of feet. Another has huge, bulbous, unlidded eyes. Several others seem to be ejoying a snack of fresh fruit, but on closer inspection among the apples and grapes can be found stranger fruit, unnatural, that seem to glow with a light all their own, and perhaps even a stray body part or two.
Take this bath, and staff it not with decorous young women, or even sturdy boys able to fetch and carry as well as rub and lather... no, staff it with just two, boy and girl. They move near-naked through the constant steam and dripping pipes, garbed in something akin to loincloths, simple, if a bit old-fashioned. However, each cloth is woven with threads of gold, and both of them wear jewelry crafted into obscene, imbalanced forms that seem to twist and writhe across their skin with each movement.
Give them both eyes that have been tinted, gleaming with a disconcerting green hue. Give them both teeth that are kept clean... and sharp, filed into slight points. Give them a knowledge of massage and hygine, enough that they can be excellent bath attendants. Give them songs found in odd corners of the world, haunting pieces in languages they profess not to know. Give them flutes made of bone and small drums whose skin is, perhaps, not leather. Give them the flickering lamplight, the ever-moving steam, the glitter of water and the slap of bare feet against tile. Give them the tools to keep the maze of pipes functional, give them the rule of this strange kingdom within a kingdom...
...and do not step within when the moon is dark, when their singing turns to chanting and the water gurgles through every pipe at once. Do not ask them, when the songs they sing change, when they change, what it is they have seen. Simply smile... dabble for an hour in the waters they attend to... and be thankful that you can leave. They cannot, you see... the only way in and out, other than the pipes themselves, is through a small door. That door is kept guarded, and is locked whenever you are not within. These two strange children are trained from almost the moment they can walk to keep the waters flowing, to keep the boilers and the steam and the pool ready at all times. They know no other world than copper pipes and cool stone tile and the everpresent gurgle of water.
....................yeah, my head is going off in weird places today, sorry about that. *wry grin* It's an odd day.
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