Forever winter (part 16)

The Story so far or Listen to this episode


Adventure with swiftness

They set off in haste and excitement, the little band of new friends and old souls. What the lady of the jars had said about dying had stunned them, but she had refused to explain further. P’erl, naturally, was not used to earth’s customs regarding inquiry, and Ezra had not pushed the point. It was as if a part of him knew what she meant, but there was no sadness or sorrow, merely passive understanding. The girl from Europa knew of death and ascendance. Back on her planet passing was not the same as it was on Earth. When people moved on to the next stage, their energy was condensed into a small ball; the body reduced down to a spherical composition of life. These balls were then placed into ‘wattlers’, huge ice ducts that looked like frozen organ pipes which descended deep into the moon. These would then be absorbed by the giant machine of their ‘god’, the churning mantle of their lives, regurgitating new souls out into the world. All the energy that would ever be existed there, and nothing really died, it was processed and recycled over and over. The Europans believed that the soul moved into a different space, above their moonly material realm, and that the energy left began another life.

P’erl knew that a similar process happened all over the cosmos, though different entities practised different rituals around death. She knew the lady of the jars would pass in a similar way, and she knew that this was a stage, and was comforted really by the fact that she knew when she was going. Many did not.

The Lady of the jars did not wish to discuss her death, for though she knew it was all a part of her process, the manner in which she were to go had always been foretold as being painful; and her visions recently had not been clear. But she believed this was her fate, and the girl had come for this reason. She was saddened by it, as there was much she still wished to do in her life, but she understood that these things were destined.

They took the path leading away from her little cottage, trudging through the snow and the wind which was slowly dying down. Before leaving, and while the others put together little bundles of clothes and provisions, the lady had tempered the weather slightly, aiding their journey but also masking their intent to those who were to follow. For to follow them she knew both the Dimian and the gentleman of the boxes intended to, and away from the protection of her house she knew they were more vulnerable. She had some tricks up her sleeves of course, but it was best to be prepared, and swift as they could be though the Mondol stone was not close.

The path took them deeper into the woods, the silence of the snow and the encroaching trees made light scarcer. The trees seemed to be bunching closer together the deeper they went, as if looking for woody comfort in the cold darkness they created. The lady led the way, the top of her cane glowing in a luminous bluey white light that reflected off the snow below and all around. They moved through like little characters atop a Christmas cake, the path digging deep into the ground below them that seemed undisturbed. She knew the areas all around better than many, she knew the tracks and the concentration of the animals in certain parts. And she knew where the darker energies concentrated, these were the areas where the animals themselves would not venture.

“You know, with all your hot air about being such a great magic caster; is there no way you could’ve just sent us to the stone in a flash?” Ezra grumbled, his foot falling into a hidden hole beneath him which made him stumble.

The lady cast him a furrowed expression, shaking her head and turning to check on P’erl.

“You knew the journey and stakes before we left, don’t start complaining now.” She said, then asking the girl. “Are you alright still my dear?”

P’erl smiled and nodded, she had no qualm with the cold or the snow, and the connection with them both and the journey they were on were indeed the reasons why she’d come here.

“Yes, I’m taking everything I see around me in; this is truly a wonderful world.” She added, looking up into the trees as tuffs of snow fluttered down, a small invisible animal knocking it off a branch as it scuttled into more unseen branches.

“I just think you’re a bit of a fraud, if you can’t even get us there with any magic.” Ezra said, tightening up his huge jacket, the hood of which nearly made his face disappear.

“You know it doesn’t work like that, and besides, projections and transporting have never been my strong suit. Best we go like this and be safe. I wouldn’t want half of you ending up frozen under a bridge while the rest drips in a gooey mess all over the stone.” She said bristly.

Ezra thought over this and seemed to agree by his silence.

They went on further, the trees becoming denser and the land beneath them becoming bumpier, the giant roots sprawling up and around the pathway which struggled to make its way through. Not many used the route anymore, and the ill feeling of this part of the wood was another deterrent for many wishing to journey through. It was tough struggling through the heaps of snow, but the light that glowed from her cane seemed to melt the path slightly as it shone forth.

“How old is the Mondol Stone?” The girl asked, coming besides the lady, seeming to float alongside her.

“Almost as old as her.” Ezra said, clumping his way behind them. The lady ignored him.

“The Mondol stone, oh it’s very ancient. If you want the silly story, it is believed to be the peach pit once eaten by a huge giant who choked on it, falling to the ground. As the flesh and bones rotted away, the pit remained, calcified by the ancient magic of the giants.” The lady said, chuckling herself to the story.

“And if you believe that, then you’ll believe anything. Besides, everybody knows giants hate peaches.” Ezra added. The girl smiling at them both.

“But the stone itself is very interesting, and much of our magic and power emanate from it. The Kahall who bore our magic from the earth in the times of the great before, wrote their knowledge upon the stone in the beginning. All that we know came from that place. It is an energy centre, the navel of our land, where the energy and power intensifies. The stone is old and sacred, and much has happened there. There is an understanding through all beings, light and dark, that this place is of importance and is respected.” The lady said, the gravity landing on the words the girl heard.

On they went, passing through the trees which became narrower and narrower, trying to be quick despite the snow ladened path. With the glow from the cane leading the way, the lady of the jars was lulled into believing they were taking the quickest path through. But much had changed since she had been through here before. She realised this when they came upon a clearing that should not have been there, at least she had never remembered one on this path. And she would definitely have remembered a well in the middle. This was new, and alarming to her. It seemed to yawn upwards, swallowing in the sky above.

He had lost them for a while now, the glow of the cane had dimmed and extinguished before him as they had moved deeper into the woods. The gentleman of the boxes had tried to keep both his distance, and up with them, but he had lost them when a fork had appeared in the path. He felt within him a pulsing energy which spurred him on, the little chunks of the cocoon from the crash site vibrated in his pockets, almost yearning to be returned to her. He let them pull at him, directing him on deeper into the trees which hung low and dark, and silent as always in the snow-covered land.

Beneath his feet, in the underground tunnels that marked the underworld like veins, the Dimian too followed. Their little hungry eyes consuming the light given off by the girl from Europa, the magic from the lady, and fear from the gentleman of the boxes.


 

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