The beam of golden light illuminated the front of the cottage. He saw it like a rising sun, casting deep shadows now over the backyard and the wreckage. His pockets were full, and his hands were numb. “Curse this coldness” He muttered, the snow continuing to fall. The light now snaked around the side of the building like a moving body, banishing the dark and the evil shadows. It crept closer and closer to him. He naturally began to edge backwards, as if a creeping hand of light was reaching for him, threatening to cast him into the open and explain himself. He backed up more and more before falling backwards into a huge snow drift.
The cold condensed snow stung his face and he scrambled to be free, like a cat stuck in a bag. “Curse you and your snow!” He spat towards the house. He turned hastily then and sped off into the woods. His pockets heaving and weighted down as if he carried gold, for the sapphire tears of the girl’s cocoon were heavy and clung to him like weights of guilt.
Ezra made his way quickly to the fire that still roared away in her little living room. Strong white and blue flames danced in the grate and he rubbed his hands hastily to warm himself. The girl watched him from the stairs, the small little boy in his pyjamas and his feet covered in snow.
“Next time, I’m wearing the coat before you freeze me back!” He grumbled. The lady hovered in the doorway smiling, the light from the flame in the jar dappled her face bringing forth a deeper warmth. Ezra concentrated on the warm fire. “So, you’re what all the fuss is about huh?” He said, not looking away from the fire. Theatrically shivering away. She was surprised he’d seen her but answered swiftly.
“I’m sorry for your coldness, I can help if you like.” She said, descending the little stairs and bringing forth a huge overcoat. Her skin shimmered in the light of the flames, and the closer she got it seemed to cascade away in huge chunks, repairing back like a tide of cells in different colours.
“Don’t go spoiling him now.” The lady said, going over quickly to the sideboard on the other side of the room. “A little cold never hurt anyone.”
“Thank you, glad someone has some manners.” He said, turning to the girl and taking the coat. He slipped it on and stuck out his hand. “I’m Ezra.” He said. She looked at his extended little hand curiously. He waved it a little impatiently.
“Nice to meet you Ezra.” She said, swooping down upon him and giving him a hug. This was unusual for both of them, but in the moment, it seemed like the better thing to do. Ezra was warmed further by her touch, and she was able to dive into his life in that short moment. She saw oceans of adventure and wonder, and little pools of sadness too.
“Well, you are the damsel after all. Even if you are much larger than usual. I suppose it befalls me to save you, and the old crone over there.” He said, stamping his feet now by the fire. The lady ignored him.
“Thank you.” The girl said, bowing humorously.
“My name is many things, but P’erl is one I wish for you to have.” The girl said, touching her heart with her forefingers and then touching his forehead. He smiled at this graceful and generous act.
“And you’ve come from the stars?” He asked. She nodded, smiling.
“Very well.” He said, as if used to the unexpected. “So, what is all the fuss?” He asked, turning to the lady, warmed now and eager to get started.
The lady of the jars was fumbling in the sideboard, reaching to the back of the cupboard now. She stuck her tongue out in an extended effort to stretch and reach into the very heart of the wooden beast.
“Well, we have to make our way to the Mondol stone. This is where the energy in this area pools and the magic is deep and expansive. You my dear will begin to change the closer we get,” She said, looking to the girl. “Layers will begin to lift, and meanings will come forth. You will evolve and reveal. Once there, I shall perform a rite of sorts, and if all goes to plan; what is meant to be, will be unleashed.”
“What do you mean, what’s meant to be? And that doesn’t sound too difficult, a quick trip in through the woods. Why do you need me?” Ezra argued, half-jokingly.
“Well, excuse me mister but I’ve never done this before you know.” The lady snapped, bumping her head on the cupboard and suddenly succeeding in her retrieval of a small box from within. “I’m not too sure what is to happen. I’ve only read about this in the book.”
“Well, that’s helpful.” He said. The girl laughed; she could see the ease between the two of them. She didn’t know it then, but Ezra had once come from the lady. A manifestation of a small part of her that she had conjured into being. The arguing, questioning side of her youth that was a source of strength and safety.
The Lady frowned.
“It will be some opening of portals and minds, a great wash over the land that will lift us all to new heights and banish that darkness. It will also bring forth her true purpose.” The lady said, peering now into the small box before putting it into the bag she had over her shoulder.
“In other words, you haven’t got a clue, but it’s something to be getting on with.” Ezra said, walking over to the door where a row of boots and shoes stood. “Sounds like a wild goose chase to me.” He picked up the brown hiking boots and begun to put them on.
The lady ignored him and bustled about the room putting things into her bag. The girl followed Ezra and chose a pair of boots also. She hadn’t need for them, but if she was here to explore and try different things, she could start by wearing shoes for the first time.
“Dimian.” The lady suddenly said.
Ezra looked over to her.
“Not them again.” He said, his brow furrowing.
“And the gentleman of the boxes.” She added.
“That old goat, what’s he up to?” Ezra asked.
“And I hadn’t mentioned it earlier, but we are also going to have to hurry.”
“Hmmm, because two challenges weren’t enough. Why the haste?”
The lady stopped and looked at them by the door, dressed now and ready to leave.
“Because, in two moons from now; I will have died”.