Episode 26 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 26


I could feel Solen’s eyes on me as he tried to work out the meaning of the Priestess’ words, so I didn’t risk glancing his way, instead focusing diligently on what she was doing with the newly boiled water.
Using an old rag, she retrieved the kettle from the fireplace and poured the steaming liquid through a piece of fine fabric which, I saw, held an assortment of leaves and berries. The water passed through the cloth and dripped into another smaller clay pot below. The scent of the steeping leaves and berries reminded me of rich dark fruitcake and warm sweet honey, and I found my mouth watering again as I watched her divide the liquid into three ornately carved wooden mugs. Setting the pot back down by the hearth she handed one each to Solen and I and lifted her own mug to her nose breathing in the aroma with an appreciative sigh.
It wasn’t until I heard Solen gasp that I realised what was wrong with that picture. I stared down in amazement at the warm mug cradled in my hands, running my thumb across the grain in fascination as my senses exploded with renewed sensation.
My heart was pounding as I carefully lifted the mug up to my waiting lips, all the time expecting the moment to end and the cup to crash to the floor as my new reality asserted itself once more.
It didn’t happen and I tipped a small sip of the brew between my lips, gasping and coughing as it burned its way down my throat.
“Careful dear, it’s still a little hot.” If the Priestess saw the grateful tears welling up in my eyes she didn’t let on. The three of us fell into an almost companionable silence as we sipped at our drinks, and for a few precious minutes let our problems take a welcome rest.
It wasn’t until I was staring into the bottom of my mug that I suddenly wondered if accepting drinks from an almost total stranger was a wise idea. I quickly pushed the thought aside though as I didn’t want to offend the only person who stood any chance of helping me, plus I figured that it was a little late to be worrying about it now. Besides I felt better than I had in days, in part due to just being able to partake in a little normality again and part, I suspected, to the natural medicinal properties contained in the mixture of leaves and berries that the Priestess had used.
I wondered for a moment how it was that any of this was having an effect on me considering that I didn’t actually have a physical body at present. Surely spirits couldn’t heal by decoctions of plants and roots in the same way that the living could?
“A little bit of medicine and a little bit of magic.” She winked at me, which totally obliterated my former ideas on how serious and unemotional the Priestess always appeared. Maybe this was part of the reason that the chosen weren’t allowed to be in contact with the tribe anymore? Because in being so, the people would see through all of the myth and mystery surrounding the post and realise that they are still just ordinary people like anyone else. Well almost anyhow, if you ignore the snake minding, the purple eyes and the mind reading.
“Oh, I’m anything but ordinary I assure you.” She grinned and my throat tightened slightly.
“But, we aren’t here to talk about me, Amara. I’ve been expecting you…” she glanced across at Solen, “…both of you, as it happens. We have much to discuss before the dawn arrives and your true journey begins.”

Episode 25 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 25


It had all been too fraught in the clearing to take much in aside from those glowing red eyes. I had noticed the shimmering green colour of her long flowing robes and yet missed that the source of the shimmer was a thousand, iridescent jewel beetle wing cases which had been carefully and painstakingly sewn onto the smooth flaxen fabric. I had noticed too the eerie way that she moved as if the earth had no hold over her, but failed to see that her feet were bare and lightly stained green from the forest floor.
In the clearing, she had seemed so otherworldly and strange, like an alien being at odds with the natural order. But down here in the gentle light of the fire she seemed far more human. Just a woman who preferred a solitary life amongst the trees and animals instead of that found by belonging to a community.
That was, at least, until she looked directly over at me with that odd purple gaze.
“Will you stand staring at me for the whole of the visit, or do you intend to take a seat on the bench here next to your friend?”
My mouth dropped open in shock and she chuckled gleefully.
“You will have to excuse me my fun. It’s been many years since I last had company so I couldn’t resist teasing you both just a little.” She gestured again to the wooden bench and I shuffled over to it and sat down, not really knowing how to respond but content, for now, to settle for not sinking straight through the bench and ending up sprawled on the floor.
There were a million questions buzzing around in my head but I couldn’t for the life of me work out where to begin.
“Hush now child, or you’ll give me a headache” She poured water from a large earthenware pitcher into an old copper kettle and set it to boil next to the cauldron.
“But, I didn’t…that is…I hadn’t.” I stammered looking quickly over at Solen who gave me a subtle head shake which effectively silenced my babbling. The fact that I was now fairly certain that the strange woman could read my thoughts gave me all the incentive I needed to try and make my mind into a blank slate.
I focused on the room instead, taking in the array of dried and fresh herbs which hung from the ceiling and the assortment of different coloured potions which lined a stone desk to the right of where we sat.
“I wonder what those are for?” The thought popped unbidden into my mind, and when her purple gaze once again snapped to mine, I blushed crimson and dropped my own gaze to stare in feigned fascination at the colourful and ornate pattern on the carpet beneath my feet.
A few awkward minutes later and the kettle finally began to hiss as the water inside bubbled away merrily. How on earth did Solen manage to stay so calm and collected all of the time? It verged on infuriating how good he was at masking what he thought and felt.
“Still waters run deep my dear.” My gaze snapped back up to hers and she smiled knowingly at me.

Episode 24 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 24


There was a feeling of pressure as I passed through the archway as if the air had grown unnaturally thick around me and I was having to push my way through it.
A light flared a moment later further down the stone tunnel and the odd sensation lifted. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the fast change in light but finally, I glimpsed the Priestess standing next to a recess in the tunnel wall holding a flickering torch which she had clearly retrieved from a metal sconce set into the wall.
“Come along now. It’s not much further and then you can tell me all about your troubles.”
“Thank you.” She smiled at Solen again, and then with a small nod turned and headed off down the tunnel. Solen and I followed her, trying to stay within the pool of light cast by her torch. I wished I could talk to Solen, to ask him if he trusted her if he thought we’d made a grave mistake coming to this strange unsettling place. But then I remembered what he’d said back at the lodge. Otherworldly or not, there was still a good likelihood that when he told the Priestess that he was communicating with my disembodied spirit, she would kick him right back out on his ear for wasting her time.
If I spoke to him then even if he did respond, there was a good chance that she might overhear him and it could give the game away far too soon. Best instead to let Solen work up to telling her my situation in his own way, she may still refuse to listen to him but at least we would have given it our best shot.
I refused to let myself dwell on the possibility that she might refuse to help us. Worrying wouldn’t help anyone or change anything, so instead, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other until at last, we reached a large wooden door at the end of the passage.
The Priestess raised her hand and places it gently on the gnarled wood of the door and a moment later I heard a click. The door swung back on surprisingly silent hinges, revealing a small dwelling with a gently crackling fire pit at its centre.
On one side of the fire pit was a semi-circular wooden bench with a selection of animal skins spread across it and on the opposite side a large metal cauldron bubbled away merrily releasing puffs of fragrant smoke which made my mouth water.
On the far side of the room was a bed and every inch of available floor space was taken up with woven carpets of all shape, size and colour.
All in all, it was a very comfortable looking little dwelling, a far cry from the austere minimalistic quarters that I had envisioned the Priestess occupying. It seemed in direct conflict with the seemingly cool, perfect being that stood before us.
She moved over to stoke the fire, gesturing for Solen to sit down on the bench seat. I assessed her again with a clearer head as she fetched two new logs to add to the dying flames.

Episode 23 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 23


“I’d really prefer it if you didn’t hurt my pet. He’s been at my side for more years than you’ve walked the earth, and I’m quite fond of him” The voice was smooth like silk and totally neutral. I’d never actually heard her speak before, but I didn’t need to turn my gaze to know that it was the Priestess herself who was addressing us.
“Then you won’t mind at all, calling him off” Solen’s voice- was low and unyielding, yet somehow even standing over me like some sort of blood-sworn bodyguard, with his bow still gripped firmly in his hands, he still managed to sound respectful.
“You heard the young man Jinzu” The creature gave one last shriek of acknowledgement with a definite undertone of irritation at being denied its new playthings, before bounding off through the canopy. It must have already been in position before we arrived because, if the din it was making as it headed back towards the temple was anything to go by, then stealth was not a skill it possessed.
Part of me was almost disappointed that I hadn’t managed to even glimpse what kind of creature ‘Jinzu’ was, but only a very small part. The memory of its shrill terrible screams still rang in my ears, and I hoped that I’d never have the misfortune of hearing that sound again in my lifetime. If I still had a lifetime to live that is.
I struggled to get back to my feet and once I was stood at his side again Solen slowly lowered the bow to his side, placing the arrow back into his quiver with practised ease.
“This place is forbidden to all but those chosen by Ziuni.” I wasn’t sure what I had been expecting in response to our trespass but it certainly wasn’t the soft smile that grew to brighten her otherworldly purple eyes.
“I am sorry Priestess. I wouldn’t have come to this sacred ground but there seemed to be no other choice. My problem is very grave, and I fear not one entirely of this world.”
The Priestess raised her hand to stop him, silver bracelets glinting in the late morning light. “You had better follow me. Such things are best only spoken of safely away from prying eyes.”
Her words sent a whole new wave of shivers through me, and I couldn’t help but scan the thick blanket of green surrounding the clearing. The Priestess lead the way, her unnatural grace making it seem like she floated over the roots and vines rather than walking upon them. In fact, everything about her, from her strange purple eyes, to her oddly calm demeanour had me wondering if she had any of her former humanity left inside of her. She just seemed so strangely…other.
We arrived in front of a seemingly impenetrable wall of dense foliage but, with a smooth wave of her hand the vines drew back revealing a crumbling stone archway. It had a series of symbols carved into its sandstone blocks and in the centre of the top of the arch was Ziuni’s symbol, the heart crossed by twin spears, wrapped tightly in the coils of a two-headed serpent.
The Priestess passed under the stones and after a quick reassuring glance back at me, Solen too stepped forward into the shadowy interior of the temple.
Standing alone in the sunlight dappled clearing should have been preferable to the shadows that awaited me inside, but I couldn’t help the feeling that someone was indeed watching me, just as the Priestess had implied. The back of my neck prickled uncomfortably, but I refused to turn around and give substance to my fear.
With a soft shushing sound, the vines began to relax again, one by one slowly falling back into pace in front of the entrance and without a moment’s hesitation, I darted beneath the arch and into the darkness beyond.

Episode 22 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 22


It was as if all the fear I’d clutched so tightly within myself, had suddenly manifested in front of my eyes.
Giant glinting coils rose, stretching up toward the patch of blue sky at the centre of the clearing. My wide eyes followed their scaled path as they twined up and around the large stone columns, which held up a roof that seemed to defy all the laws of nature. Crumbling from the passage of what had to be countless generations, it seemed to my eyes, to be part formed from ancient weathered stone and part out of the living jungle canopy itself.
Large creeping strangler fig vines had been trained in and around the original stones, living ropes, binding the whole crumbling structure together. As if man and nature had come together in its creation. It took my breath away.
How ironic that the people of my tribe had all in some way been correct. I couldn’t help but wonder if we would both be allowed to live long enough to return home and confirm their beliefs?
Although within the first few moments, once my initial terror died down, my brain had registered that the giant coils were actually that of a giant inanimate stone statue, rather than the final embodiment of my Goddess’ wrath, I still found the large obsidian orbs set into the serpent’s twin heads sickeningly familiar. I was still frozen to the spot but I was certain that, if I ever found the courage to move again, those black stone orbs would follow my every step.
“Regretting helping me yet?” My voice was reedy and my small nervous giggle sounded discordant and out of place in the deathlike stillness of the clearing.
I wasn’t actually expecting him to answer me, my words had only been a vain attempt to push back my anxiety enough to allow me to take the next step.
“Never” his voice was so low that I couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t my own imagination running away with me. Glancing over at him I found his grey gaze on mine once again with that unreadable expression which was fast pushing my already frayed nerves towards breaking point.
“Come on then, let’s get this over with.” My voice was a little high pitched but at least it sounded steady, a fact which I got to be proud of for all of two paces before a terrifying shriek broke the stillness.
“Sacrilege!” the voice howled its harsh notes echoing off of the surrounding tree trunks.
Screaming, I stumbled back a pace my foot disappearing straight through the moss-covered tangle of roots. Landing flat on my back on the damp musty ground, my scream died in my throat as I found myself pinned in place by a pair of furious looking blood red eyes.
“Intruders…. Defilers!” The eerie voice sounded like it was coming from everywhere all at once.
I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the creature’s crimson gaze, but I heard Solen pull his bow smoothly from the sling at his back, and the soft almost imperceptible tap as he notched one of his deadly black-tipped arrows in place.

Episode 21 of Bite of the Amphis

As the dark green canopy closed in overhead my lungs tightened and a powerful urge to run back out into the safety of the sunlight slowed my pace.
I longed to take Solen’s hand in my own in an attempt to drive away my fear. But I had to settle for keeping my gaze fixed on his broad back instead, forcing myself to pay no attention to the deep impenetrable shadows on either side of me.
I had always felt a little unsure of the thick heart of the jungle, preferring to stick to its larger pathways and clearings whenever I had to venture further than the village’s boundary.
It was silly really, in fact, I wasn’t even sure what it was that unsettled me about it? The strange musty smell of the decaying leaf litter perhaps? Or maybe the way that the tightly packed greenery seemed to press in upon you with every step? Whatever it was I knew that my feelings were even more irrational now that I found myself a disembodied spirit.
Nothing could even see me let alone do me harm. I repeated those words in my mind as we passed the gateway stones, and again as we crossed in front of the dais. My skin crawled but by force of will, I kept my feet moving.
Solen paused at the smaller stones which marked the way to the Priestess’ dwelling, allowing me to catch up before taking his first tentative steps up the forbidden path.
I don’t recall anyone from the village ever treading the soft moss that covered the floor of the winding overgrown trail. It was called the forbidden path for good reason after all.
From the moment that a young girl was chosen as priestess, she started out on a life of almost complete solitude. All family ties were broken the moment the Amphis’ mark appeared on her hand and the entire tribe was forbidden from even so much as speaking her name for fear of bringing down the wrath of the Goddess.
The only time that the priestess was allowed to re-join the tribe was during the ceremony. Even then no one was allowed to address her and upon concluding her part in the ritual she would make her way straight back down this very path to Gods know where.
Some people said that she lived in an ancient hollowed out tree, others that generations of priestess’ had carved a grand temple to their beloved goddess from the very ground itself. No one knew for certain.
Three days ago, I would have likely mocked all of this. Just another silly superstition. My current predicament was making me rethink a good many of my seemingly naive former beliefs. I just hoped that we would be forgiven this day’s desperate transgression on account of the unique circumstances that had led us here.
As we walked, the path became more and more treacherous. Tangled roots rose up from the dark soil in chaotic abundance, and our progress was made even slower by the several large rotting tree trunks which had fallen to block the path completely.
We could have detoured into the undergrowth to bypass them entirely but when Solen had suggested as much the look of horror and panic on my face had clearly been enough to convince him to cross them the hard way. With a small sigh, he clasped his hands together and motioned for me to put my foot on them so that he could boost me over the slippery mass.
By the time we finally stumbled out into the clearing I felt like we had been walking through the choking green mass of foliage for days. But when I raised my eyes, and finally saw what the clearing held, it was all I could do not to turn around and dive right back inside again.

Episode 20 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 20

I landed face down in the long grass with a thump but it wasn’t the impact that had me gasping for breath. I rolled to my back staring blankly up at the cloudless blue sky overhead.
I hadn’t realised just how much I had been yearning for simple human touch. It had only been a couple of days but already the feel of Solen’s warmth had left my fingers tingling. Like that feeling when the sun comes out from behind a cloud and its warm rays bathe the back of your neck in liquid gold heat. Well maybe if you multiplied that sensation tenfold.
How amazing it was that something so very ordinary, something I had taken-for-granted my entire life had suddenly transformed into the one thing I now found I desperately craved, more than anything else in the world.
I was still lying in a daze when Solen’s worried face appeared over the top of me blocking out the blue sky above.
“Are you okay?” His voice sounded calm but I could see that he was trying his hardest to mask the fear and uncertainty reflected in his eyes. For once in his life, Solen’s stoic shield had failed to come to his defence and as I gazed up at him I felt an echoed understanding deep inside my own chest.
I knew just what he was feeling because somewhere under the vast sea of roiling emotions which seemed to have taken up permanent residence beneath my skin, I felt exactly the same way.
Somehow that single touch had changed things, had changed me, more so than anything else which had happened over the past few days.
A thousand questions crowded my mind but instead of giving voice to them, I pushed them aside and settled for a small tight-lipped nod. I pushed myself to my feet again, trying not to notice when Solen chose to slide his hands quickly into his pockets instead of trying to help me up.
I couldn’t really blame him, this whole situation was crazy on a level that I never even knew existed, like something out of one of the fireside legends that my Father enjoyed telling so much. Oma and the seven gates maybe, except starring a clueless, frightened sixteen-year-old girl instead of the customary strong, cunning warrior hand-picked by the gods to steer the course of mankind’s fate.
I just hoped that the Priestess could give us some answers before the Gods finally noticed me, realised their mistake, and nudged me from half dead all the way over to all dead with the bored twitch of one divine finger.
I felt my hands shaking at my sides. Quickly crossing my arms to hide their trembling, I glanced up to see if Solen had noticed my blatant cowardice but he was facing away from me, already turning to lead the way across the village towards the edge of the forest.
Trying not to think about the last time I had entered beneath its dense musty canopy, I took a deep steadying breath and forced my feet to once again follow in Solen’s wake.             

 

Episode 19 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 19

“I need to tell my father that I’m okay, and Shari, I have to help her. She’s trapped in those horrid animal pens and I don’t know what my father will do with her…”
“I’m not even sure that I believe my own senses right now, Amara. What makes you think that any of them will even listen to me let alone believe me when I tell them that I am talking to the disembodied spirit of the Chieftain’s Daughter?”
“Well we have to at least try, don’t we?!” I forgot my limitations for a moment and went to grasp his arm. He shivered as my fingers passed through him and I quickly pulled my hand back feeling awkward and miserable. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that no one would believe him, but I had to accept the fact that it was certainly a good possibility considering that he was already considered by many of the tribe to be more than a little strange. His stoic nature and preference for spending much of his time alone in the jungle had made him an outsider in the close-knit community, and no one would easily accept the word of an outsider, especially when what he had to say was so unbelievable to begin with.
I jumped up off of the bed and paced across the room. So, what would I do now? Maybe I could think of something that only my father knew about me, like a test to prove that it was me who was telling Solen what to say? Would my father’s grief let his mind be open enough to listen though? I wasn’t sure. If our places were reversed I think I would be too upset and angry with the world to hear the truth in Solen’s words. My father was far calmer than I, but would it be enough to let him hear my message?
“We should go and see the Priestess.” I stopped pacing. Solen’s words were quiet but his voice sounded sure.
The idea of returning to the sacred circle made my insides churn. I closed my eyes but all I could see was the blank obsidian stare of the serpent’s twin heads in those few terrifying seconds before it struck.
“Amara!” I blinked open my eyes. Solen was staring at me with a horrified expression on his face. I looked down at my feet and realised why. Where my feet should have been there was now only floorboards, floorboards which I was currently in the process of slowly sinking through.
This was totally unlike the other times when I had passed through solid surfaces. Normally the transition was fast and over in the blink of an eye but this time I was sinking so slowly that I could swear that I could feel every grain of wood as it passed through my insubstantial form. To say that the feeling was unpleasant would have been a total understatement. It was indescribable.
I panicked, my mind going blank. Solen dived forwards and reached out his hand to pull me to safety. Without thinking I grasped his hand in both of my own. Solen pulled back, and for a moment I stared down at our joined hands in amazement.
I could feel the warm solid grip of his fingers around mine just as I had as we stepped up onto the dais to face the Amphis.
Solen looked just as shocked as I did, especially when a moment later I went sailing straight through him and out the back wall of the lodge for the second time in as many days.  

Episode 18 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 18

“You’re really here, aren’t you?”
I spun around looking for the source of the voice but because I was still stood within the light from the candle, my eyes couldn’t pierce the darkness to find the source of the voice.
Solen stepped forward into the candles light. His face wore that same expressionless mask that he used so well to mask his true emotions, but his eyes were finally fixed on me.
I felt a moment of regret that I wouldn’t need to put all of my haunting plans into action after all, but it, along with my former anger at his callous reaction to my situation, was quickly washed away by the sheer relief that I again had someone who I could speak with.
It had only been a day and a night since my whole world had been turned upside down, but without the human interaction, which I had taken so for-granted for the whole of my life, those hours had seemed the longest of my life, or whatever this new existence of mine was.
“What am I?” normally it would have irritated me how much my voice shook as I asked the question, but right in that moment I was too overwhelmed to care. How was it possible that I was a spirit when my body wasn’t even dead? No wonder I can’t move on. What if my body stays this way for the rest of my natural life?
My mind flew to images of the long years ahead with only Solen able to see and hear me. Never able to walk my life’s true path. No home of my own, no husband or children. Just trapped in this half-life having to watch as everyone I knew moved on and forgot me.
I had thought that the pain of being separated from those I loved by death was the worst possible outcome of the Amphis’ bite, but this…this was far worse. I slumped down on the edge of the bed and dropped my head into my shaking hands as despair and hopelessness rose within me like a tide threatening to wash what little there was left of me away.
Moments passed and then I felt the bed give slightly as Solen sat next to me. His presence should have been a comfort but it only left me feeling hollow. I wanted to bury my head in his shoulder and cry out all my sadness and fear but I knew that if I tried I would only pass straight through him.
He seemed to sense that fact as well as he made no move to comfort me. Had I been in his position I think my curiosity would have driven me to reach out a hand and watch with fascination as my fingers passed straight through him, but not Solen.
We sat in silence for a time, and after a while his solid presence next to me started to drive away a little of my hollow despair. He seemed to pick up on this too, and when I finally lifted my head I found his solemn gaze on me once again.

Episode 17 of Bite of the Amphis

Episode 17

By the time first light broke I was back at Kansan’s lodge with a whole bevy of new ideas on how to get Solen to break.
Passing with ease through the front door I floated up the ladder to the loft rooms, not bothering to place my feet on the rungs and risk falling straight through them.
If it hadn’t been for the whole being dead, devastated family, potential curse thing, playing with these new powers would have been a whole lot of fun. As it was though I couldn’t lose track of the goal. Time may have little to no meaning to me now but my father and Shari still felt the burden of each and every minute ticking by. I owed it to both of them to try and relieve what suffering I could as soon as possible.
Because I had run from the lodge the previous evening, I had missed what, if any, verdict my father had passed down on Shari’s head. Before returning to Kansans, I had managed to locate her cold and shivering in one of the small vacant animal pens. I felt terrible that she was being treated in this way, her actions had been selfish, it was true, but anyone could see they were born of fear and not malice. I had to fix this, before things got any worse, if indeed that was even possible at this point.
The first room I entered turned out to be Kansan’s who was sleeping soundly by the light of a single flickering candle. The second room was much smaller and turned out to be a store room of sorts, packed full of all of Kansan’s medicinal ingredients, potions and pastes.
There was only one room left in the upstairs part of the house but when I stepped through the door one glance at the feminine touches and I didn’t need to look over to the bed to see Damphe sound asleep within her blankets.
Where in all of Gaia was he?! I knew that he was strange but did that aloneness reach even his sleeping habits? Was he curled up in a clearing in the woods somewhere like an animal?
At a loss, I drifted back downstairs again and was about to leave but the pull towards the back room was too great. On the two occasion’s that I had been in the vicinity of my body it had only been for a few emotion-filled moments. I hadn’t really had chance to properly process the loss of my physical form.
I realised that when I had looked at my body before I had almost seen it as a different person.
Steeling myself I passed through the door covering and into the dimly lit room. The sun had not yet risen above the tree line and so the only light in there was a single flickering candle on a small table at the head of the bed.
I moved over to stand in the small pool of light and looked down at my body. Someone, probably my father, had placed a bouquet of Leilani blossoms in my pale hands.
I stared down at the pink and orange flowers feeling tears well in my eyes, but then I noticed something incredibly strange. Brushing the tears away I crouched down by the bed putting the flowers at eye level. Holding my breath, I waited…one second…. two seconds…three. There!
I felt a mix of hope and horror well in my chest. The movement was only slight but it was definitely there. My body was breathing!
“Oh my Gods I’m not dead” My voice was a shocked whisper in the darkness. A moment later that whisper turned into a terrified shriek when a low voice spoke up from the shadows on the other side of the room.  

By the time first light broke I was back at Kansan’s lodge with a whole bevy of new ideas on how to get Solen to break.
Passing with ease through the front door I floated up the ladder to the loft rooms, not bothering to place my feet on the rungs and risk falling straight through them.
If it hadn’t been for the whole being dead, devastated family, potential curse thing, playing with these new powers would have been a whole lot of fun. As it was though I couldn’t lose track of the goal. Time may have little to no meaning to me now but my father and Shari still felt the burden of each and every minute ticking by. I owed it to both of them to try and relieve what suffering I could as soon as possible.
Because I had run from the lodge the previous evening, I had missed what, if any, verdict my father had passed down on Shari’s head. Before returning to Kansans, I had managed to locate her cold and shivering in one of the small vacant animal pens. I felt terrible that she was being treated in this way, her actions had been selfish, it was true, but anyone could see they were born of fear and not malice. I had to fix this, before things got any worse, if indeed that was even possible at this point.
The first room I entered turned out to be Kansan’s who was sleeping soundly by the light of a single flickering candle. The second room was much smaller and turned out to be a store room of sorts, packed full of all of Kansan’s medicinal ingredients, potions and pastes.
There was only one room left in the upstairs part of the house but when I stepped through the door one glance at the feminine touches and I didn’t need to look over to the bed to see Damphe sound asleep within her blankets.
Where in all of Gaia was he?! I knew that he was strange but did that aloneness reach even his sleeping habits? Was he curled up in a clearing in the woods somewhere like an animal?
At a loss, I drifted back downstairs again and was about to leave but the pull towards the back room was too great. On the two occasion’s that I had been in the vicinity of my body it had only been for a few emotion-filled moments. I hadn’t really had chance to properly process the loss of my physical form.
I realised that when I had looked at my body before I had almost seen it as a different person.
Steeling myself I passed through the door covering and into the dimly lit room. The sun had not yet risen above the tree line and so the only light in there was a single flickering candle on a small table at the head of the bed.
I moved over to stand in the small pool of light and looked down at my body. Someone, probably my father, had placed a bouquet of Leilani blossoms in my pale hands.
I stared down at the pink and orange flowers feeling tears well in my eyes, but then I noticed something incredibly strange. Brushing the tears away I crouched down by the bed putting the flowers at eye level. Holding my breath, I waited…one second…. two seconds…three. There!
I felt a mix of hope and horror well in my chest. The movement was only slight but it was definitely there. My body was breathing!
“Oh my Gods I’m not dead” My voice was a shocked whisper in the darkness. A moment later that whisper turned into a terrified shriek when a low voice spoke up from the shadows on the other side of the room.