Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

Annecy and the Lake

Roda Palfour watches the rise and fall of his land as it breathes.

He takes into himself the sound of the chalcedony surf as it rubs hard against the greyish, gold-flecked soil-sand of Ansypporus’ only island shore, where situates his little monastery among tall rock strut trees of jutting chocolate granite. A hand brushes his shoulder, as if the wind has thoughts, too; he moves to go inside, shuffling in nicely starchy robes and naked bird feet toward the wide window of doors which lead into the home of his sanctuary. His, he tells himself… The Student would have something to say about it.

He ambles down the central corridor, looking into the others’ rooms without turning; his eyes are on either side of his head, after all. His movements draw a few flutters from behind this intricate wooden screen, a nod from a shadow hidden behind a gold-papered dressing divider. He moves on.

Like a key, the path spans out to left and right; behind is a given. But the future, now, the future is flat. Either left, or right. There is no more middle, in some sections. The eating area, though, that is quite large and accommodating, with its pillowed stone benches and the lion birds that come to feast with the lot of them on certain of the darker days of late bintai and early sprinjjiia. The Student calls them Winter and Spring. These too, are nice.

The lion birds, Roda thinks, were called Fu once, long before he was a child. And they had no wings. But they are not here to-day. And the monastery’s pleasant eating area is not his destination.

Roda takes the left, spiraling around a key-shaped corridor of dust-bathing rooms, open to allow the grit to filter into fold and feather. He passes the comfortable stone stalls and their curtains, passes the second row of wetrooms for rare and ritual waterbathing, to arrive in the center, behind the great column he met when first he made the choice of left or right.

There is a small-handled door, made of time-tasted green painted timbres; it is nearly the only thing of bright color within this building place his Home. He smiles, and reaches for the door handle.

As he opens it the width of a fledgling’s toe claw, a sleepful voice from the pillows and rugs piled beyond the shadow of the doorway asks, “And what was on the right? I can’t remember.”

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