After much searching I’d found a place to stay on Besserer Street, a three-story house dating from the 1700’s that normally boarded students from the University of Ottawa. It was when that special measures bill was being debated on the Hill and every place in every hotel was booked. I was lucky to get even that.
Mme Delacroix, the housemistress, introduced me to the students at dinner. There were Claude, Edward, and Gaston on the second floor, and Chantal on the third. As another female, I would also be on the third floor. Gaston and Edward shared a room; from the looks they gave each other it wasn’t platonic, but it also wasn’t my business.
Chantal was a bare wisp of a girl, studying vocal music for her Master’s. Since she barely spoke any English and I barely any French there was no real conversation. Mme. Delacroix told me Chantal often practiced late into the night, but that I should just roll over and pay no mind to it. She even offered earplugs should I need them.
I had just gotten to sleep that first night when the sound of singing caused me to awaken. It was so soft I should not have noticed, but somehow the foreign melody pierced my soul. What struck me most though was the language. It sounded nothing like any French I had ever heard. It was more an echo of a faraway and ancient tongue, casting images in my mind of lost histories and forgotten lore. I lay awake listening, unable to coax even a moment of sleep for the entire night.
I asked Madame about it in the morning and she told me I must have been dreaming. But the song haunted me throughout the day, and since I was only staying two nights I resolved to get to the bottom of the mystery that very night.
It was just nigh half-past eleven when the song started; I studied the hallway until certain that none were watching, then crept to her door. With exaggerated care I turned the handle and looked in.
It should have been the darkness of night, but the room was bathed in a silver glow emanating from the open window. The curtains billowed and flared in otherworldly light and a scent not totally unlike apple blossoms filled the room and my senses. Beyond the window I could see a broad city lit in that ethereal light, its golden spires and broad streets flooded like some otherworldly Venice. By some unknown agency I knew I was gazing beyond the Pillars of Heracles into the kingdom forever lost.
But it was not unoccupied. Monsters flew beyond that portal, swooping down and striking at creatures unseen in the light. Creatures unseen, but where each of these horrors struck its claws returned dripping blood.
A gale blew through the room save for a single stillpoint: Chantal. She stood naked, bearing only a silver spear which she held defiantly against the window. When a demon came too near the spear would flash out and impale it, its corpse dropping beyond the luminescent door.
And her voice filled the room; her silver voice in a song not heard by others in countless aeons. Yet somehow it was burned into my soul. She was Fylax, the Watchdog, standing at the door of Atlantis. None may pass.
Yet I was drawn to the window, enraptured by that radiant glow. I stepped forward, felt resistance, threw it off. Soon I stood before the window, naked in the gale. I placed my hands upon either side the window, climbed up and through.
He was silver and transparent, barely a shadow formed of the light of that place. Yet in that instant he came to me. His touch was ecstasy and rapture; I screamed for joy as his body came to mine in the way that man has come into woman since the dawn of time.
All went dark. “What have you done?”
I leaned against the now-sealed window and looked at her. This young girl, yet somehow ancient, stood glaring at me, light and spear and song now vanished. Her shoulders slumped. She spoke in a tongue I did not know, yet somehow understood.
“You have doomed the human race with your curiosity, woman. You have breached the portal, loosed the Seed of Atlantis. In time the demons will return.”
I fled her room and returned to mine. I could already feel the seed growing in me, though it would be months before it came to fruition.
And that, my little Elfida, is how you came to be conceived. I have carried you from first spark to birth; you will never know your father, for he is lost to the depths of time. Your alabaster skin and silver hair will set you apart from others, but you shall bring an age of glory to the world. Let the demons come, we will be ready this time.