The Floating Cottage

The Floating Cottage

A Story by Mr. Misanthrope





“Mother, I don’t want to go back to the Academy.” This was more a confession than a plea for permission.

The reaction was instant. As sweet and beautiful as his mother’s face was, a lack of eyebrows worked to have a very particular effect when the shadow of disappointment appeared. That, and the striking blue eyes, as the men from her past used to call them. Her entire body was practically immobile, trapped, unresponsive, but her face did all the work.

“Oh my God, would you please stop it with this? And why? And what will do if you don’t? You know we don’t mind you staying here, you’ll always have a place, and we’ve developed quite the routine, but what will happen once we’ve gone?”

His head turned at an angle. He sighed.

Mother’s Room

The room was practically cavernous, with a ceiling that stretched up to the heavens, and tall glass windows that looked out onto the maze gardens, but were presently covered by heavy velvet drapes. Still, the sunlight found ways of entering through a few openings that weren’t entirely covered, and helped to create a cool atmosphere that wasn’t too bright or dark. His mother was lying on a cushioned lounge chair, the kind that had lion-shaped feet, but they were currently hidden under a bunch of shawls and silk quilts that the lady had wrapped all around her. Ever since Luke could remember, her reclined position looked as though she were lying in an oyster, with the shells ready to slam shut at any moment. Like this, she looked like she was part of some grand mosaic design of colour and grandeur, unable to move lest the masterpiece should crack. He sat down next to her on the edge of the seat, and took her by the delicate hand that protruded out of all the silks and satins, and smiled at her. It was the same as every other night, a routine that he had come to depend upon quite a lot recently.

“How are you?”

Whenever the conversation started to take a stale turn towards the negative, Luke would focus his gaze on anywhere else in the room, which wasn’t all that difficult as it was filled with all manners of distracting things. Occasionally he’d prop his head to one side in a dramatic fashion when he would try to show reluctance to accepting the ordinary life, at which point his ear would achieve an angle whereby it would become more finely tuned to the trickling sound of the fountain in the room.

“Be sure to come and see me later, before I sleep,” she said with a dainty smile that automatically closed the conversation with as little negativity as possible. “I’ll just say my prayers now.” It was always accompanied with a repetitive nodding, like a charm to keep everything in a solid state, to calm the complexities of life.


Luke ran and ran, and ran faster still, as fast as his feet could carry him. He was beginning to feel a little bit like a gingerbread man, and this came as a surprise to him that he could still be jovial and funny while being chased by people who wanted him dead. His breath was deep, his asthma starting to come out, as he passed a bridge, and then another bridge, and then a moat that stopped him in his tracks. He looked left and then right, even though he knew that would do no good. The thing was that in the moment, it helps to keep your body moving, because that keeps the mind moving too. He ran his hands through his hair in exasperation, waiting for a sign or signal as a path to salvation, but so far there was nothing. What did he expect? That someone would just willingly help him apparently mentally challenge the city of St Harps and that everything would be fine as he went off in search of something other than this drab life? Yes, it was a drab life, and he would rather be dead than be forced to live it day after day. It might not have been the smartest decision in the longrun; an intelligent person would have thought things through, would have gotten as far up the ladder in this community as he could and then would have used all of his advantages to still get away, just more legally and with less of a chance of being chased by the Thought Authorities. He had never heard of other so-called subordinates, so how exactly was he thinking of this stuff to begin with? Maybe his mother had something to do with it. Maybe his mother had an answer. Yes, that was it, he’d find a way of turning around and going back to his mother’s house and locking himself in. It was an old thing and had plenty of defenses over it that had been applied over the years, mostly as experiments his father attempted while stocking his library with all manner of books. Luke wondered what his father was doing right now, and whether his mother had heard about all the commotion. He could hear the crowd approaching with every second, as the city remained in its quiet slumber, tall slender buildings made ever more beautiful in the moonlight. He’d wait under the bridge for the crowd to pass, even hold his breath underwater if he had to. Then they’d go away and he’d make his way back quietly to his mother.


“What on earth are you doing?!”

It was Jell. His thoughts were getting the better of him. He had transformed in a single night from a person who felt like he never had an interesting thing to say, to a person with practically every right to speak his mind. He wanted to shout and shake at her because that would more appropriately describe his current state of emotion.



The Welcome Inn

It was a building like any other, at least like any other in this strange little town. It was common yet had all the makings of magic around it, almost like a building could actually have a personality of charisma about it. Nothing entirely special, Luke thought, but at the same time, that is what he would think, coming from such an aristocratic background. Things were bound to go wrong. He could just sense it.

Standing there in front of the building, waiting for something to happen, almost like it would swallow him whole and have a reason to fall inside, but that wasn’t going to happen. Thank goodness he was with his companions, or else he’d never have made up his mind. Taking a little bit of time to calm down, he realised that his feet were actually quite tired. His boots felt like they had seared themselves into his legs and become part of his body. He could certainly do with a rest, he thought.

“Come on. You’ll be fine. This place is very…welcoming.” She had to stifle a laugh.

Luke made a half-laugh, because he was completely out of his sorts here and wasn’t entirely happy about it. Familiarity was where he wanted to be right now. Her arms wrapped around his back and he found himself moving towards the Inn.

Upon entering, he felt a fool. Not for his clothing or anything of the sort, but for ever doubting the name of the inn itself. Clearly, magic did have something to do with it. An instant sense of relief came over him, and he felt like he could breathe a sigh of relief that would actually make a difference in the long run. He smiled a smile that he felt he actually meant.

“Nice, isn’t it? That’ll be the fires in the fireplace over there.” She gestured with her chin. Sure enough, there was a fireplace at the very back of the place, almost too far away for it to be having any sort of effect on Luke, and it being not particularly cold outside, there didn’t seem to be any kind of warmth about the place. At least not the stuffy kind.

“It’s magic. It’s not your typical kind of fire. They throw some kind of herbs into it that does that. Even if you were to go closer to it, it wouldn’t make much of a difference, because it’s not about scientific heat. It’s meant to coat the entire surface area in exactly the same feeling. You can imagine that they don’t have that many brawls here, what with everyone feeling so…fine and all.”

The more time passed, the more he felt his shoulders beginning to relax and actually turn into aching pain. It made Luke wonder just how much tension he’d been carrying around with him all those years.

“You really should stop reading my thoughts. What if I say �" er, I mean, think, something about you that you might not like?”

“Don’t worry. I’m used to that kind of thing by now. Believe it or not, nothing can phase me anymore. But I was never really the type to get offended by anything anyway.”

Luke would look at a few crowds and faces, and while everyone’s mouths were moving and clearly conversing, there wasn’t that much sound that you’d expect from such an amount of people. Everything about this place was just right. Especially the colour. A kind of warm, kingly brown, light, like caramel sauce. Luke’s mind suddenly felt so calm and at ease that a sudden rush of thoughts came flooding back, like why they hadn’t been greeted by anyone from the management yet, or why they weren’t moving to the counter to seek service for themselves, or why time seemed to be going at a slower pace, yet faster at the same time…

“You’ll get used to it.”

“I’m not surprised. You’ve never been exposed to this level of magic. At least not the non-mental kind. This is the really raw stuff, the kind they pump from the ground. It’s normal to feel a little lightheaded at first. Then you also have to consider that you yourself are quite an adept at using mental magic, so you’ll be feeling it a lot worse than normal folk.”

It is one extreme to another, and neither can be mixed.

“Oh, that’s right, I forgot, you’re also a mental adept.”

The barkeep eventually served us. One minute he was nowhere to be found, the next standing in a place that you could have sworn you would have noticed him in. Especially for such a strapping individual as him. He looked like quite the homely type. Dirty, blonde hair, warm eyes, and an honest smile. He was resting his cream hands on the counter top, waiting for them to approach.


Wasn’t expecting that.

“How are you?”

© 2015 Mr. Misanthrope

Author's Note

Mr. Misanthrope

20 August 2015

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Added on December 26, 2015
Last Updated on December 27, 2015


Mr. Misanthrope
Mr. Misanthrope


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