Jess watched as the blur of the tunnel rushed by. Dark earthy stones like the walls of the church snaked away before and after them as they sped deep under the city. The tunnel was lit by the same blue lights that she had come to recognise both the Order and the Altered with.
It took nearly no time for them to reach their destination, the automatic controls of their little mobile clinking in and slowing them to a stop beneath a square hatch above them. The lifted upwards, the hatch opening to allow them inside like a strange spaceship docking bay. She looked at Levon who, as always, expressed little surprise to his surroundings. This must all be old news to him she thought.
They rose up into a space which was very much removed from the old stone walled confines of the crypt. The room was open and airy, with high ceilings and huge windows which reached up beyond the ceiling line. The walls were dusted in a smooth red copper, and plants and foliage hung and crept from all manner of nooks and crannies. It smelt lush, fragrant; as if they had entered a small snatched part of the jungle somewhere.
“Are we at the Zoo?” Jess asked, stepping out of the mobile and onto a glass floor. A few steps away from her she could see water flowing beneath, eventually cascading out into a small waterfall towards the edge of the room.
“A personal zoo of sorts, yeah. My teacher likes animals and living things.” Levon said.
“And they got stuck with you, shame.” Jess joked.
“It’s an appreciation for life, the thing that is most important I suppose.” Levon said, clearly understanding it better than he made out.
They stood there momentarily, a few parrots rustling above their heads and fluttering down to a lower roost in a palm across the room. The huge Bali styled doors opened on the far side, dispelling the mist that was gathering at the bottom of the door. I little figure stood there for a moment, silhouetted in the light that equally poured in from the other room.
“It seems I was the one in need of help, not you Levon.” The little voice said, fading away quickly under the sounds of the waterfall which sploshed the water down the artificial glass rocks.
“This is the teacher.” Levon said to Jess, casting his hand in the direction of the small woman who had begun to make her way across the room now. She was tiny, barely five foot. She moved gracefully though, almost floating across the glass floor towards them. Her silken clothes and coiffed hair gave Jess a regal impression and contradicted both her own and Levon’s rough and ready outwear.
She came over to them and outstretched her hand, offering it to Jess.
“Nice to meet you Jess, my name is Nina.” The woman said. Jess shook her hand which felt oddly soft, almost too velvety; as if she was a collection of the vapour she had just walked through.
“Good to meet you.” Jess replied, still taking both the woman and the room in.
“Levon here likes to make out he’s never phased by anything, but I do believe that he is very put out sharing this all with you.” Nina said, eyeing Levon wickedly.
“Uh, I wouldn’t say put out.” Levon replied, but Nina went on.
“It’s a very personal relationship to have with a teacher, and this very space here is a sanctum for us. Not many have passed up through the floor there that you just have. And never with company.” Nina added. She stood there now with her arms tucked away in her long silks. Jess was unsure if she was being chastised, reprimanded or cautioned. Nina’s expression did not lend to any interpretation, her features stood like a carved stature, trapped in beauty.
“I, uhhh.” Jess began but Nina smiled, sensing her nervousness.
“Please, do not feel alarmed. All this is pretty intense I imagine. You are safe, and most welcome; indeed I think you are exactly what we need right now.” Nina said, resting a light touch on her shoulder tenderly.
Jess was relieved, and smiled in reply.
“Looks like you’ve added some more parrots since I was here last.” Levon said, motioning towards two parakeets which were chirping noisily above them. Nina looked above, smiling still.
“The more the merrier I find.” Nina said, extending her arm out. The two birds suddenly flew down and rested on her outstretched arm, their noisy chirping now changed to a sweet birdsong.
“Amazing.” Jess said, watching the little birds.
“They are a delight. But come, you must need refreshing and a good sit down I imagine.” Nina said, turning towards the door she had entered through. She began to walk away and Levon and Jess followed, their shoes echoing over the glass floor.
“Just mind your step.” Nina said, motioning to a large dollop of bird crap on the shiny glass floor. “A delight, but a messy one.” She added.
The birds then took off as they made their way into the other room, leaving the humid nature of the tiny rain-forest behind and entering what Jess could only call a library. The likes of which she had never seen before in her life.