Ian gently took the delicate hand that Sonora offered and led her out of the main door of his dwelling. As he had expected, she tried to stop and investigate every decoration and ancestor's painting that lined the lightly illuminated corridor. Her curiosity warmed him. These were things he wanted to show her in time, but he had a particular place in mind this evening.
He gave her hand another small tug to keep her moving along. If he wanted her to understand his people, then it was best to start at the beginning. She came, as he requested, but her gaze lingered on the artwork as they journeyed through the hall.
Soon they were at the cave-like entrance to the Atlantis Memorial Park. Here Sonora balked, he felt her nervousness over the dim cavern and saw the troubled look she gave him.
He read her emotions and imagined her internal conversation. She was mystified over why she was doing this, why she would trust him at all. From her point of view he was a criminal, and just because the criminal hadn't hurt her yet, doesn't mean he wouldn't.
Ian gave Sonora the time she needed to be comfortable with the situation. She took the opportunity to look over the grand entrance of the park. The delicate latticework his people were known for arched in gleaming silver over and down the sides of the dark stone. Each side ended in a small waterfall whose cheery bubbling echoed lightly around them. Entwined in the metalwork were pale green vines interlaced with flowers. Climbing land flowers toward the top and water flowers that floated in the small pools at the bottom on either side of the archway.
Sonora touched the silver metal, smelled the flowers and knelt to examine the little babbling waterfalls even closer. When she was done, she stood and spun toward him. All he could see was her radiant, smiling face as she said, "It's beautiful!"
Ian's heart beat quicker as he gazed back at her thinking of the all the words that described her and all the ways words couldn't describe her.
How could I ever have been disappointed in her?
Her brows raised in question, so he gave his head a little shake and cleared his throat. "Yes, it is. My mother had a hand in tending it."
"She does lovely work."
He nodded as he stepped toward her and when she didn't dance away from him, he put one hand on her shoulder and waved her in with the other. He let her take a slight lead in the winding, stone corridor. Its rough-hewn walls had subdued lightening making it darker than the corridor, and he wanted her to feel safe.
"These walls started as a small, cramped entrance one could crawl through. We enlarged them long ago," Ian said his voice reverberating on the rock. "The paintings hung along the walls, all have stories of their own. Stories I would like to share with you another day."
Sonora nodded, then flashed him a look. He knew what that look meant. The same thing she had been repeating, she was going home. There would be no time for stories.
Ian smiled as his heart softened. You don't know it yet, but there will be stories, our stories, and decades in which to tell them.
Ian watched her face as they walked into the main park. The water features, greenery, and flowers continued here but on a much grander scale throughout the open area. As lovely as any park one could see on land, its beauty tumbled in organized chaos across their field of vision. Flower and ivy-draped terraces of various heights could be seen throughout the large open garden, and small trails leading off to more secluded spots along the uneven walls could be seen.
His gaze traveled from her long, golden hair to her wide, blue eyes. She was still in that moment, her hands raised to her lips. The blue wrap of his sister's laying around her and enhancing the color of her delighted eyes. "Oh, Ian!"
She was entranced, just as he knew she would be.
He cleared his throat as emotion overcame him. Then he led Sonora to an old oak bench that sat, smooth as glass, on a low platform surrounded by some of the freshest blooms of the garden. It was there he started the story of his people.
"Only a few of my people survived. Twenty-three souls. And only because of the disobedience of a few boys.
"The boys were young and had been told many times to stay close to home. But, as growing boys do, they misbehaved. Unbeknownst to their families, they would take an old boat out to sea. Some days they would fish, and others they would dive, as the clam divers of old would do, holding their breath for long periods of time under the water.
"While diving, they found the entrance to this place, the very place where we now sit. They would play in this cave, never knowing the vital role it would one day have in their people's survival.
"When the earthquake came, it shook the city to rubble. Those that survived knew it was not over, a tsunami was on its way, and it would be massive.
"Some took to the highest buildings, but the force of the waves toppled the structures. Some chose boats, but most were overturned. Some ran in scattered confusion, and the water rushed over them.
"The boys grabbed the hands of those close to them and yelled for others to follow. Many didn't listen, for the boys headed into the water, instead of away from it. They could not see a way to salvation there.
"Many perished as they attempted to follow the boys. They simply could not hold their breath long enough to reach the entrance. But twenty-three made it. The only known survivors.
"The cavern easily held the people. What they thought was merely trapped air was actually a naturally occurring air shaft reaching just above the surface of the water.
"The people could easily fish. To their great relief, they found that rainwater flowed in small amounts down the inside of the air shaft. They could survive. After a while, survival became more than simply day to day existence, and this became their home."
"Did they ever try to get back to land?"
"Yes, many times. But nothing was left of their beloved city. The island itself was swamped, unusable. No ships or boats were seen, only debris. No one came looking for them.
"Within a few days, it became dangerous to venture out of the cave because death had gathered the sharks and other predators.
"Still, for a long time, they would send someone up until one day they stopped. On that day, they quit looking at what was behind them and started looking at what was in front of them. It was on that day, they started to build this city."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the origin story of Ian's people. If so, please let me know by voting and/or commenting. :)
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