This is my first story. I hope you'll all bear with me on this. I'll admit, I'm a little nervous. Please, tell me what you think!
Ellis Rooker had a magic mirror. It was a small black rimmed thing, given to him by his mother when he was only eight years old. She never explained how it worked, but told him that it would reveal the future to him. Unfortunately, shortly after that, the plague swept through the city, and she passed away.
And every time, for the next twelve years, when Ellis looked in the mirror, it showed him the same scene. The same woman.
She was young, and always in a grand library. Moonlight streaming in from the tall windows illuminated her. And she was beautiful. All soft skin and warm hair and brilliant blue eyes. But she was insubstantial. Almost transparent. And the look in her eyes was tortured. Tortured and angry and sad. She always had a single, wilted, blood red rose clutched in her hands. And even as Ellis looked into the mirror, a petal would fall from the flower to join those scattered at her feet.
The mirror disturbed Ellis more and more as he aged. He eventually stopped looking in it, only taking it out to polish on his mother's birthday. And it seemed to Ellis that every time he looked in the mirror, there were fewer petals on the rose, and more littering the floor. And every time he looked in the mirror, the girl seemed to be more and more translucent. Like a ghost.
Eventually though, he always managed to push the image out of his mind. He didn't like to think about the girl in the library. It made him restless, and kindled some other emotion that he couldn't quite name. So every year, after spending some time with the mirror, he wrapped in a cloth, and returned it to its drawer, and went back to his life.
And what a life. Ellis was handsome- all chiseled features and big dark eyes. And Ellis was brilliant, fluent in four languages. And Ellis was poised to take over his father's trading business. He had all of the makings of a future business tycoon.
He spent his days studying under his father, meeting clients, learning how to juggle the responsibilities he would soon have. He was his father's pride and joy, and the darling of society's women.
By all accounts, Ellis should have been satisfied with his life. He had no reason to complain. But business didn't make him happy. More than anything, Ellis loved to read. He loved the places that books could take him, and he loved how he could lose himself in them for hours. But despite his love for literature, he knew his place. And so his time dedicated purely to reading was slim.
No one knew of his secret love of reading. It was considered weak for men of his stature to read for pleasure. And Ellis had to preserve his reputation. The business was his family's life.
And so it went for many years. Ellis had no desire to find the girl in the mirror. He was an excessively practical young man, and knew that if it truly was his destiny to meet this woman, he would do so. There was no need to worry about it.
Still, some part of him was disturbed by the image, and so he kept it a secret, even from his own father. The mirror, and his books, remained hidden away from everyone but himself.
This arrangement suited him fine. Ellis liked keeping his life private. It was his, after all, and no one else's business.
When Ellis was eighteen, tragedy struck. His father- his successful, influential father, lost everything. His business empire collapsed due to one blunder.
Ellis and his father had been working together on a project. It was the final step before his father would let him become a partner in the company. Ellis, for this project, convinced his father to fund the development of the new steamships that looked to be the future of travel.
Only, the steamships weren't. Only a week after his father agreed to fund the project, a new technology was unveiled by a new party. Airships. They ran on steam, yes, but also electricity. The airships had the potential to travel three times farther that steamships, and in half the time.
The loss of the investment ruined the family. In a flash, everything was taken from them. The remains of the business, the servants, the house. The only real belonging he was able to salvage was his mother's mirror.
They only had each other then. The family left the city in shame, and moved to a new city on the outskirts of a vast forest, in hopes of a new start. Ellis' younger sister became a governess to a family she once would have scorned. His father began working as a bookkeeper for a small-time merchant.
And Ellis… Ellis fell in with some disreputable folks. They showed to him the dregs of the city, and helped him to forget his lost fortune. For even though his father and sister didn't blame him for their misfortune, Ellis blamed himself. He should have known better. He should have done more research.
He couldn't handle the guilt that plagued him. At first, Ellis turned to drink, trying to drown out his own thoughts. And when he ran out of money for liquor, he would spend the night in a gambling house. He had good luck there, putting his education to good use. And with money in hand, he would return to his whiskey or his rum, or whatever he managed to scrounge up.
But despite his new-found addiction, Ellis never touched the meager earnings that his father and sister brought home. In his mind, he wasn't worth their time and energy. He didn't deserve to spend their money.
These dark thoughts sent him spiraling down a path from which very few escape. His entire life became consumed with trying to rid himself of his heavy emotions. He would stay out for days at a time, and then return to the family's apartment staggering and incoherent.
At first, his father tried to coax him out of his depression. But Ellis would lash out at his father, and once, his sister. So eventually, his family began to ignore him completely.
After a year or so, alcohol wasn't enough. Ellis would drink, and relished the feeling of being drunk, but it wasn't nearly strong enough. He needed something that would keep everything at bay. All of the emotion, all of the grief, all of the guilt, all of the pain.
Opium. He found the dens, and then he rarely left. He didn't just love the high, he needed it. He felt euphoric, and nothing at all at the same time. He could slide into oblivion, and everyone would leave him in peace there in the den.
He started to lose weight. Of course, the hard lives that his father and sister were living caused them to become leaner, but it was hardly the same. There was no longer any muscle on Ellis. He was all hard bones and sharp angles. The same features that once made women swoon now made them turn away on the street and hurry away.
Ellis didn't notice the changes. He didn't notice anything, really. And he liked it that way. He forgot about the mirror.