To read the previous installments, click here
It was not the nature of the lady of the jars to be idle. Though she lived a somewhat idealised life, she was never one to shy away from work. Though her magical abilities helped in many ways, she believed hard work and action were the ways to get things done. She respected the powers that had come alive within, the knowledge that had been entrusted with her. Which is why she was keen to spring to action in helping the girl who had fallen from the stars.
There in her small kitchen, she watched as the girl curiously looked over her book of magic, wondering what they could both share with one another before the end. For she knew an end was coming, and every end had a start.
“Right, I think we’re going to need a little bit of help.” She said, looking deep into the azure wells that seemed etched with blue veins, the lamp light catching her eyes in a hauntingly special way.
“What do you mean?” the girl asked, no fright or reservation gave way in her voice. Just curiosity.
“Well, though we are protected here in my little cottage; and the snow will offer us more protection, there are things outside that I’ve begun to notice that might try and make things a little tricky for us.” The lady said, looking out the windows into the darkened grey beyond.
“Where are we going then?” The girl asked, holding her wrist the lady noticed, her hand spread like a small mirror. The lady hesitated.
“Do you sense them too?” the lady asked suddenly. The girl blushed purple, or seemed to blush, for she was actually in the process of travelling beyond the walls of the cottage. Projecting a version of herself outside to look around.
“I see a man, and things I do not know of.” The girl replied, the colour draining now away from her face.
The lady sighed slightly.
“He will never learn I fear.” She said, going over to the window to take a look for herself. But the snow was thick and heavy, and obscured much of her view. She turned back to the girl. “We need to go to a place where the energy centres collide. We need to conjure something which is much beyond what I can store in a little jar. It’s a place not far, at the centre of the forest. There is a clearing and you will feel it before you see it. It’s a very special place but I’m afraid it does not hold the type of protection my cottage has. This energy, this magic is not owned by anyone. It’s powerful and magnificent. Like the electricity that runs in the big cities. Anyone can tap into it. We can light a room or power a bomb, it’s how we use it that matters.”
The girl looked on, thinking suddenly of her home planet Europa. Where the ice coral was used to power and give life to the subterranean cities. This power was never abused, but cherished; a blessing that had come to them. And then she remembered the coral she had taken the day she left. That which she didn’t need but had spirited away with her. Why she had, she still was unsure of. Something within her had told her to. The same conflicting voices that sometimes forced her to act in ways she knew were different from everyone else.
“Are you okay?” the lady asked. Noticing how the patterns on her skin had changed suddenly, taking on a metallic colouring, covering the skin in an almost armoury sheath.
“Yes, I’m fine honestly. Sorry, I was thinking about something…..This place we need to go to, is it far?” She asked.
The lady watched as the metallic colours shimmered away, and the aqua blue hues began to dance and sway once more. She was concerned, it was the first moment she had seen as if the girl was frightened.
“No, it isn’t far really. But we will need some help to get there, and to shake off that man who is outside and who you have now seen. He’s the gentlemen of the boxes and he thinks you are here to help him with something.” She said.
“Can I help him?” The girl asked.
“Yes, you can. But you shouldn’t my dear. For what he wants helps no-one but himself. Before this is over, I think he will learn perhaps the biggest lesson. For wheels are in motion now that cannot be stopped, even if the destination is still unknown.” She replied, going now to the cupboards in her pantry.
“Oh, I see. It’s funny how we slide so precariously on destiny’s string.” The girl said. The lady turned and smiled at her.
“Indeed, destiny brought you here. And it’s destiny that we can still have a hand in. Come, there are things to be done.” She said, grabbing a bag that was tucked away under one of the chairs. “We need a few things, but I must quickly go and wake Ezra.
The lady of the jars opened her front door, pushing aside the drifts of snow which had built up during the day. Out of habit, she kicked off the snow which had collected over her doormat, revealing a ‘Welcome’ that had been hidden by the snow that the overhang had failed to protect from. Stepping outside, she got a greater sense of what was now out here. She had known the gentlemen of the boxes was around, she had sensed him earlier. But now she felt something else, and she reached quickly into her pocket and took out two coloured vials. They glowed there in her hand and in the dark. She took the red one and popped the stopper out with her thumb. The contents rushed upward and dispersed into a small cloud in front of her. In the blink of an eye the red vapour sped away and around the house. It collected back in front of her and she could see then in the smoke what it was. They had left their mark, staining the ground and the space where they had been.
“Dimian” she said, her breathe dispersing the red cloud in front of her which drifted quickly up into the sky, lost suddenly the in the snow which continued to fall. Dimian were old, ancient creatures which dwelled in the ground. They weren’t necessarily bad creatures, just all consuming. They gobbled and swallowed all the power they needed for their epoch slumbers, consuming vast amounts of previous ancient magic to keep themselves sustained. They did not discriminate on who or what they devoured. The Lady of the jars had her own protections against these creatures, but the sheer number of what she had seen in the cloud gave her pause for thought. Clearly the landing of the girl, and her cosmic concentration had woken them, fuelled them to seek out this treasure trove of power. She would have to be careful.
Inside the cottage the girl went about collecting the items the lady had asked for and adding further layers to her clothes in preparation for their journey. The lady now walked swiftly to the middle of her garden and took the other vial she had in her hand. This one glowed strong with a yoke yellow light. She reached a mound in the middle where a small stature of a boy stood, a fishing rod holding up a huge lantern that flickered out a warming flame in the dark. This was one of her protective elements to her cottage. The boy stood as a guardian, casting his light and power around her little home. But he could also do more than that. She cracked the vial over his head, sending the snow that had collected there up into the air like yellow dust. The vial smashed, but like that of an egg, as the yellow contents dripped down his head and covered his body. With a final flash of light the stone broke away and the boy came to life.
“Ezra, good to see you.” The lady said, as the boy swung the lantern on the fishing pole over her head.
“Brrrrr, it’s always so cold! Don’t you ever have a taste for warmer climates?”
The lady laughed. “Well, you are only wearing pyjamas. But you know me…” She said, a twinkle in her eye.
“That I do.” Ezra said, smiling a little and looking around. “Which usually means there’s a perilous task me for me, right?”
“Got it in one, but this time there is a damsel in distress.” She said.
“Really. Well, I would have put you more in the spinster in danger category myself.” Ezra said, putting the fishing pole under his arms so he could rub his hands together.
“You know, I could move for a more Grecian theme to your statured state, sans pyjamas!” she said, mockingly. Ezra looked around into the billowing snow.
“Alright, alright. Who needs saving this time?” He asked.
“Come, you can meet her and then I’ll show what we need to do.” She said, taking the fishing pole from him and opened the little door on the lantern. She tipped out a little flame which she hurriedly captured in a bottle she retrieved from her pocket. And placed it on the ground where Ezra had stood just before. It glowed in the dark and gave a warmth which melted the snow slightly around it. Looking like a sparking amber jewel in a sea of white.
to be continued….