Prologue 7

Lillian Silvers clinic, NYC.

"And... TIME!" Lillian Silvers shouted at her husband. Daniel had been running flat out for an hour around the small quarter mile track under his wife's NY clinic and had even managed to keep to a 5 minute mile time though by the 30min mark he had begun to loose his physical coherency as his short red hair which had always waved and flickered like flames had had in fact become flame. By the 45min mark Daniel's body had a transparency to it that was decidedly creepy as you could actually see Elemental Fire trying to conform itself to the shape of a man with skin, bone, muscles and internal organs; but still Daniel had ran on, and at the end he wasn't even a 'he' anymore but living Fire in the basic shape of Daniel Silvers.

As Daniel heard the time-call his shape stopped moving around the track and strode over to his wife, his form flickering wildly. Lillian always had loved seeing her husband like this and a small shiver ran down her spine as his glowing white eyes lit on her body. Maybe later tonight...

"Time for weight training, dear. You've been slipping lately and you need to be in top form for the first day of class. Head over to the bonfire and recharge. After your done with the weights we'll call it a day. And remember we have dinner reservations with Jasmine at 9."

"Yes, Ma'am!" The Elemental in front of her even saluted before heading over to the weights. Lillian momentarily reflected that as Daniel didn't have a mouth or vocal cords in this form the sound of his voice always took her somewhat aback. The sound of Fire should not be auto-tuned like that. Lillian shook her head and went over to the lift in the far corner her mind already making a list of tasks that needed to be done before she started closing the building down early.

On The Way To Dinner, Somewhere In NYC. Wife Refuses To Me Tell Where.

As Daniel pulled the car up to the front doors of the restaurant he understood why Lill had made him were the pinstripe Brioni suit and Testoni's Moro monk-strap loafers that she had gotten him for Christmas 3 years ago. They apparently they had dinner reservations at Gabriella's, THE MOST ostentatious upscale restaurant to be found in NYC... or the continental US.

As Daniel shifted the car into park and set the emergency brake a trio of sharply dressed valets stepped forward to help the Silvers' out of the car. As the sole female in the group helped Lillian out of the passenger side door and onto her feet the taller of two men held the door for Daniel as he got out while the last shorter man, not wanting to crowed the arriving VIP guests, stood off a little distance to the side.

Walking around the car Daniel gave his wife a brief but passionate kiss and offered her his arm with a suave little bow. Lill Looked magnificent in the newest Manolo Blahnik 5in heels and Shimmer-Cloth dress. The shifting colors of the Shimmer-cloth, continuously moving in slow rippling patterns, could hypnotize the observer all by itself but Daniel was only interested in the woman inside the dress. And the heels. The heels can stay on too. To drag his mind out of the gutter Daniel thought of how much the dress had cost. THAT was a splash of ice cold water. It had cost as much as his suite and shoes combined and then some, he shivered internally at the amount that their bank account had decreased by when he had it commissioned last year as a Valentine present.

Lill, accepting his arm, laughed and returned the kiss before they turned and strolled over to the chauffeur who had remained a little off to the side and the woman who had joined him after assisting Lillian on to her feet. Never having been comfortable in such overblown clothing Daniel still managed to carried it off well; strolling, with Lill on his arm, over to the waiting attendants with a practiced poise that had taken him YEARS to learn. Give me a sturdy pair of blue jeans, flannel shirt and work boots any day. But, 'Needs must went the devil drives'... or one's wife.

"Welcome to the Celestial Gardens, Mr. and Mrs. Silvers. If you would be so kind as to follow us?" Queried the waiting attendant as the taller man, still by the car, gently set his hand on the roof of the vehicle and disappeared in a warping of the air. Setting off the two led Daniel and Lillian into a massive front lobby where they were met by an older gentlemen that had the unmistakable air of a majordomo; you could tell as he had his head shoved so far up his ass that there was little to no chance of it ever being removed without the assistance of industrial excavation equipment and maybe a couple of the train-sized drills they use to bore out subway tunnels.

"Mr. Silvers, Mrs. Silvers. Welcome to the Celestial Gardens. My name is Travis Myers. I will be your servitor this evening. This way if you please, we're ready for you. Jasmine Everill has already arrived and is awaiting you on the top floor." The man even sounded British.

As they traversed the lobby on the way to the extremely ornate lifts they passed by fantastical sculptures of marble, onyx, jade and opal. Off to their right was a white marble sundial with two Ancient Greeks in flowing robes standing proudly in the middle of the dial'. In the prime of life the two Greeks stood back to back, man to woman, their shoulders thrown back and heads raised in the epitome of nobility, power and grace. As they passed the massive sundial their eyes where drawn to a 15ftX30ft dragon carved out of one solid mass of opal. I didn't think there was that much opal in the entire world. With the 30ft wingspan it looked very real, real enough to come alive and breath fire.

"The decor here is amazing, Mr. Myers." Lillian commented absently As they were setting off toward the open sided lift that would take them up to the top floor.

"Yes, it is glorious isn't it? Every item and material in and of this building is unique and priceless, constructed by teams of artisan supers." Myers beamed at Lillian as he warmed to his subject. "But as impressive as the lobby is you should see some of the mid-level floors Mrs. Sivers! Forest glades; trees, bushes, and wildlife; all with something stunning and unique about them. Living trees with growing metallic leaves of gold, silver or bronze. Bushes with gemstones of an identical color and shape to the berries and nuts inlaid into the in branches to sparkle. Moon-Gardens and Wildflower Fields! On the 60th floor there is a tree where if you eat it's plum sized fruit it will make your lips, eyes and fingernails glow. The effect lasts for only about an hour or so but isn't it marvelous what modern science can achieve? The Misses, god rest her soul, would have loved this place. Ah, well. Here we are."

As Myers had been waxing poetic they had arrived at the lifts and the door swung open. Bowing his two VIP's into the lift his manner changed again, shifting back into his 'servitor mode'. The ride up was quiet.

As the lift doors slid open Daniel didn't notice any huge statues or fancy trees or even a stray flower which was weird, just a shiny black floor and spacious rectangular table with a whiter-than-white tablecloth and three vary comfortable looking chairs stationed around it with a diamond chandelier floating over head on invisible wires. The large open room was nothing compared to the lobby or what Myers had described so why was this room the Top Floor? As Daniel stepped out of the lift he got his answer and also found out why it was called the 'Celestial' Garden. Stepping on to the black floor he glanced down and an overwhelming sense of vertigo hit him as he was looking down at a void with nothing between his feet and him falling into the blackness between stars. Mastering himself with an effort of will Daniel forced himself to look, acknowledge and accept what his eyes and mind where telling him and ignore his stomach. Of coarse it's not outer space, you would already be dead if it were. It's an illusion. A very, very incredibly good one but still only an illusion.

"Oh, Daniel. It's beautiful!" Lillian whispered. She had stepped forward off the lift when he did but while he had looked down she was looking up. And as Daniel turned his eyes to fallow hers he found himself gazing upward at the entire Milky-Way Galaxy as it ponderously turned in a ancient, ancient dance out among the blackness.

"Yes, it is, isn't it? I never tire of looking at it myself." A new voice materialize from beside the table and Jasmine Everill stepped forward dramatically and then ran to hug her old friend and teacher. "It so good to see you again Lill! What's it been? Five years and you haven't aged a day! But then again, you wouldn't would you? And Daniel, you keeping this old granny out of trouble?" Jasmine absently reached out an arm and pulled Daniel in to a crushing hug with the other two before squealing. "Group Hug!!"

Most of the air having been squeezed from his lunges Daniel whispered, "Jasmine! I can't breath!"

Jasmine instantly let go at Daniel's rasped plea and then had to gently grip Lillian around the arms again as she was a little light headed from lack of air. "I'm sorry, old friend. I work around some of the strongest people around and I've gotten used to them being a great deal tougher than an average person, it won't happen again. Come let's sit down and eat. And Daniel, off campus it's Jazz. I expect you to remember that."

Lill found her voice as they were lowering her into one of the plush high backed chairs around the table and she immediately tore in to Jazz using The-Calm-Voice-Of-Reason-That-Is-Extremely-Annoyed, "Jasmine, I swear, I don't know how you manage to treat ANYONE without injuring them further. You could have smothered me you Ox. Did I not teach you any control while you were my Resident? Well?"

As the tirade continued Jazz looked ever more despondent as she took her seat on the other side of the table until at last she murmured "Yes, Ma'am." she was saved by the arrival of the first course of food... maybe feast was a better term.

As plates, silverware and numerous platters of delicacies where set down gently on the table Daniel took a moment to study Jazz as he took his own seat. He had known Jasmine years ago but only through Lillian and never all that well, they had exchanged a few words now and again at the odd social gathering, work dinner or party but that was about it. She appeared much the same now as she did then; with the natural tan of her South American heritage she was small, maybe 5foot even, thin and strong way beyond the bounds of her exceedingly feminine frame. She was a little older maybe, and had perhaps a few more lines under her eyes, but that little-girl spark and mischievous glint in her eye that he had marked in the past had not dimmed in the slightest but was there in full measure.

"So Jazz, how did you come to be working at Korman?" Daniel asked in an effort to get the conversation rolling in a safe direction while he still had the opportunity.

As the servers disappeared Travis Myers stepped forward, having acquired a long black cape from somewhere, and Daniel gave a start having forgotten about the man. "Miss. Everill, Mrs. Silvers, Mr. Silvers. Welcome to The Celestial Garden." He announced with in a full bodied voice and a flourish of his cape. It seemed to echo from star to star and made you aware of the void under foot and the immense and majestic sight above. "I will be your Servitor this evening. Would everyone care for a drink?" ...