Possessed: Part Two
"Cerulean, I was studying before we started this, and I wanted to ask you: When you and Faith were on your journey, were any spells cast on her? Was magic injected into her in any way?" Rubia asked me while we were hiking north.
"Not that I recall... She told me about her trip alone, and she didn't meet anyone with magic. We didn't encounter any magicians when we were together, either."
"Are you sure? For someone to be able to speak through her, at least some traces of magic would have to be inserted to her physically by the one who wanted to use her."
"Wait, yes! The only time someone used magic on her was when... No, wait, that's impossible. Never mind."
"The voice that she has when she's being used is the voice of the magician herself. It's definitely female... Do you recognize it from anywhere at all?"
I shook my head. Some disturbing knowledge lurked inside of me; it was either a complete coincidence, or a shocking truth. I dismissed it as a mere happening, not wanting to even bring up the possibility that the only one whose magic lay in Faith was...
Well, there HAD to be someone else...
"Hey! I told Sunpillar about you, and I got in trouble because I talked to a Xweetok! Why'd you have to talk to me back?" Snowball bounced around me, frowning. At least he's talking in separate words this time.
"He's my big buddy!"
"Won't you get in trouble for talking to me now?"
"Nu-uh, cuz I gonna take you to Sunpillar and show him how good you are! Then it'll be okay!"
He grabbed my paw and began tugging on it. I blinked. Why are little kids always so strong?
"I'm sure he's busy-"
"But you haaave to meet him. He'll know you're nice and then I won't get in trouble for-"
"Some other time, alright?"
He jerked me in another direction, into a small crevice in some grey mountain stone. A door was carved into a pine tree in a way similar to how they did it back in Deepwood. Snowball let me go to smack both of his fists on the door; an action akin to that of a miniature battering ram.
"Bang! Bang! Bang!" he shouted.
"Yeesh, you just have t- GOOD GRIEF, GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!" An orange Wocky shoved me off the doorstep just a split second after he answered the door.
"Away, I'm telling you!!"
"No, Faith is nice!"
"She's a Xweetok!" Sunpillar said again as he thrust me with his arm. I stumbled onto the ground and moaned. My vision was beginning to blur.
"Urgh..." I slowly got up without very sure footing. My eyes felt strange all of a sudden. It was as though tiny whirlpools were going on inside of them. What's happening?
Wait. I've felt this way before. I know what's happening. Please, person, go away...
My mouth numbed against my will. I wanted to flee while Sunpillar was saying something to Snowball, but my feet wouldn't move. Then I was completely paralyzed. 'Shh, it's alright, Faith. I'm just delivering a message. Don't be afraid, just cooperate-'
'GET. OUT. GO. AWAY. WHATEVER.'
'I mean you no harm. Don't fear me.'
Then I was possessed. I wanted to get away. I wanted the voice to leave me alone. But no, I had to speak (or rather, be spoken through) first.
"I am very disappointed in you, Sunpillar. You are coldhearted to all you meet. Many have been separated from their parents at a young age; why is it that you are the only one who hasn't learned to accept any others? You knew you would never have them back; why did you never learn to live with it? What's more, why did you not even get close to becoming social when you were sent a happy-go-lucky, hyper Creator's Child?"
They both stared at me.
"Why'd your eyes go all yellowy like that?" Snowball asked.
"Ughhh..." I put my paw to my forehead, suddenly regaining control. "I have to go!"
I bolted off on my hind legs. Snowball's most recent words to me echoed in my mind. My eyes turned yellow?
My teeth tore through the large pear I had found, while Rubia was picking at a leaf full of blueberries. We ate mostly in silence, keeping close to each other in the nest we had made out of dead limbs. It was high enough in the tree to see over the canopy and into the sky, yet the branches were still thick enough to be stable.
Rain slowly fell, drop by drop. They all moved in smooth, sluggish unison. Every one of them was identical to every other one. It was the way it always was.
The grey dome of clouds that always cloaked Creation made a part of me sad. There were so many counties, so many climates, so much to watch from just one place at a time. And to think: Faith was out there. Faith was alone.
The part of me that wasn't sad was worried sick. She was out there somewhere, dead or alive. My heart stung with longing. Where was she? Was she outside in the freezing rain, or curled up in the warm home of an openhanded forester? Was she suffering or ill or alone? Was she suffering, ill and alone?
She had made our family complete. It wasn't the same without her. I felt like a sea without water.
Faith, where are you?
Well, I thought. Lucky you. No need to hold onto that map for much longer.
I removed my hand-drawn map from the sack I clutched in my mouth. I'd been keeping it wherever I slept, and it was time to use it. The elaborately-carved door in front of me had letters etched into it.
Pyrus the Scribe
I had learned from Rubia that, in the forests, scribes made their living selling copies of books and maps. Other foresters gathered food to use to buy them. Scribes would spend hours just copying a single book.
By pure chance I had encountered the door. To take shelter from a snowstorm, I had ducked inside a nook in the tree, and noticed it had been made into a house. I raised my paw and knocked.
"Come in, it's unlocked," a muffled voice said. It occurred to me that if he had a lock at all, some of his books must have been worth fortunes.
I twisted the knob, entered, and began descending a mildly-steep set of stairs. Since most woodlander homes were earthy and simple, I was surprised to see about a dozen towering, wooden bookshelves, overloaded with leaf books and piles of scrolls, lined up in two orderly columns in the room at the end.
As I walked down the aisle, I noticed a carved desk at the very end, with a truly elaborate throne dappled with gemstones in front of it. Pieces of parchment were haphazardly scattered across the table. Some were blank, others weren't. Hunched over at his work, a blue Hissi was coiled in throne chair. A Weewoo feather that he held in one hand dripped with berry ink as he swiftly scrawled away at a paper like a furious Kougra fighting for everything he's got.
"Excuse me; I'd like to turn in this map," I said as I opened my bag.
"What do you want in return?" he mumbled, not looking up from his work.
"Lodging for a few weeks, and maybe some food."
"Let's see this map of yours."
As he still didn't bother to avert his eyes from his work, I set the map down in front of him.
"It's just of the terrain from Deepwood County to Cloudpoint. Is it bad?"
"Not shabby by comparison, and it's rather detailed. Name?"
"Oh, it's Faith."
He scrawled it down outside the margins of the map.
Pyrus got all the way to scrawl the middle of the 'W' before he looked at me and grabbed me by the scruff of my neck. I struggled in vain as he slithered towards the door, threw it open, and tossed me out. It's surprising how strong someone who stays inside all day can be.
"And stay out!"
I buried my head deeper into my mane as the piercing winds blew at me. Rubia veiled her face with one wing so as to shield it from the snow they brought. Silence screamed its name as we hiked up through the pine trees and stones of the mountain; but of course, we couldn't hear it.
The path was hardly there. I would scrabble at ice but fail to get my footing and thus lose at least ten feet of progress at once. Rubia was suited to Deepwood now, but she still didn't have it that bad.
"Are you alright?" she would loudly call down to me whenever I fell like that. The snow muffled sound.
"Just another bruise, that's all!" I yelled back, my voice edged with sarcasm that was aimed at the situation.
We trudged onwards. Did Cloudpoint have no end? After all, she did say it touched the clouds.
Finally, the snowstorm cleared. We looked, and found a mountain landscape rolling beneath us: huge patches of fir trees again a shining white. The thin trails of paw prints and tail marks in the snow that we had left behind were barely visible, but the many rolling hills of white and dark green behind us showed that we had gone quite a long way up. I turned around, and saw that there was beauty above, too. Higher up on the mountain, the trees began to thin, revealing a huge plain of sparkling snow.
"It's my homeland."
She put her wing on my back and gestured to the pine woods with her other one.
"There... The homes here are just like the ones back in Deepwood, but they smell different... It's good to be back. I feel good, showing you this."
"It feels good to be here with you."
A warm silence passed between us for a change.
"It's good to be distracted from Faith." I spoke softer than I had been. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that."
"No, it's fine. Forgetting about her entirely would be a mistake. She probably expects us to be worried. I feel like if we didn't, then it would seem like she was gone for good," Rubia advised.
"But do you think she'll make it through, wherever she is?" I asked. "She doesn't want us to follow her. Where is she sleeping? Has she been eating enough? Was she... Caught?"
"She picked up survival skills with you on your journey, I made her familiar with different edible wild plants and she can talk her way out of things with the Hunters. Still, it's hard to not worry. Come, there's a traveler house over here."
The Hissi slithered a few trees away, ducked into a bush, and beckoned. I gasped. The holly plants on the doorstep were huge; easily large enough to stand under, yet I noticed for the first time how giant the tree itself was. It was colossal, possibly wider than the Creator's wrist. The needles had a long way to fall.
"Most counties have traveler houses where anybody on a journey is free to stay," she explained as she opened a door carved out of the pine's trunk. We entered to find that just one torch in the wall was still lit from the last person who was there, providing the home with little to see by. I winced at noticing thick cobwebs hanging everywhere.
"Here's a twig of holly... There we go." She grinned to herself (I barely saw the glint of her fangs) as she set the sprig aflame and used it to light other torches in the walls. The room was illuminated earthily.
Three tables carved out of the tree's roots were clumped together in the center of the room, with a few stacks of books on top of them. A pair of beds, also made of the roots, was against the edge of the wall. Opposite to them, there was a row of three chairs, with a set of two doors on another wall.
"I've been here before. That door leads to the furnace, I think, and the one next to it is storage. Let's rest a while."
To be continued...