Thursday, June 13, 2013

#FridayFlash 60: In the silence of the night

“Highness, I could use your assistance.”

“Of course,” she said instantly.

Lissa turned her horse to follow the wizard Zander across the camp, nodding to people as they passed through.  It was Illian's turn to be her shadow again tonight, and he followed without question or comment.
They left camp and rode toward the quickly setting sun.  Her eyes adjusted to the dim light easily enough, but soon she was relying on her horse to follow as she could hardly see Zander in front of her.

Zander’s voice, when he spoke, seemed exceptionally loud in the silence of the night even though in reality it was barely more than a whisper.  “Highness, you know what I’m looking for?”

“Yes,” she answered after realizing he couldn't see her nod.

“It is here somewhere.  There is a chance you might be better able to find it than I.  You should be able to communicate with the earth the same way you speak to the dragons.”

Speak to the earth the way she spoke to the dragons.  Right.  Hi earth, how you doin'?  She smiled, amused by her own smart-ass attempt.  The only answer she received was a crunch of grass as her mare snagged a bite to eat.  But she acknowledged that wasn't going to get them anywhere.  Zander said she had the skill; he didn't, so he couldn't teach her to use it.  She was on her own, but she’d been on her own before. 

Speak to the earth the way she spoke to the dragons.  Okay, so how did she speak to the dragons?  She brought the image of her dragon, Dezian, to mind. Can you hear me? She asked.

Yes highness, how can I serve you? The voice was fainter than she was used to, but no less majestic.

Don’t come here, she said, warding off any instinct the dragon might have; Dezian showing up would not aid 
their stealth mission.  I need to talk to the earth; do you know how to do that?

It is no different than us talking.  Just open your mind and listen.  The earth is far older; it speaks 
slower and only when necessary.  Be patient.

Thank you Dezian.  She didn't really know how to apply what she’d just been told, but at least she’d been paying conscious attention to how she spoke to her dragon.  First she had to visualize her; then she could communicate.

She dismounted, somehow knowing it was the right thing to do.  Illian appeared behind her and she gave him her reins.

“Your highness?” he asked as she stepped away from him.

“I’m not going far,” she took only a few more steps to a tree bigger than any she’d ever seen at home, but of average height here, and ran a hand softly down its bark.  She sat at its base, leaning back against it.  Her legs were stretched out in front of her and her hands lay softly at her sides.  One, resting on a dirt patch, the other on slightly damp moss.  She closed her eyes.

Great and mighty earth, she said, serious this time and her tone one of pure respect.  Would you do me the honour of sharing your knowledge?

She waited patiently, focusing on her breathing.  Slowly inhale, pause, and exhale – as though she were preparing to meditate.  Without her vision, her other senses became more attune.  The moss seemed softer under her hand.  She could smell the dirt, but also the rain that had fallen hours earlier and a whiff of a flower somewhere nearby.  Her ears heard the songs of the crickets calling; she felt like she understood their longing, but could do nothing to remedy it.  An owl hooted somewhere far in the distance and a wolf howled; the two couldn't possibly have been connected, but somehow it seemed as though they were communicating with each other.  But she couldn't quite grasp what they said.

She tried to close her ears to the night, listening only to the sound of her own breath.  Inhale, pause, exhale.  She lost track of time.  She could've been sitting there minutes or hours.  Inhale, pause, What is it you seek?  She was startled, because she hadn't really expected to receive a response, but exhaled just as calmly, focusing on maintaining her meditative state.

Inhale, pause, Once, long ago, a tunnel was dug through your magnificent forest. Exhale.

This did happen, it wasn't so much a voice as a memory.  The image of a much younger forest floated through her mind.  She was having trouble separating the earth’s thoughts from her own.

I would really appreciate knowing where the entrance to the tunnel is, she thought in-between breaths.

You already have this knowledge, and while that answer should have both surprised and frustrated her, it didn't.  Because it was correct.  She found she had the knowledge of this forest and all it had seen since the days when it was nothing but weeds and dirt.  She knew of the trees that had grown mighty, only to be felled by an axe.  She knew of the animals and their reliance on one another in their life circle.  And she knew of the people – those who had loved, those who had killed, and everybody in-between.  Watching eons of history flip through her mind in seconds she continued to focus on her breathing and paused when she saw a boulder being moved, a tunnel being sealed.  And she knew, better than she’d known her own home, exactly where the tunnel Zander sought was.  

Thank you for this gift, meaning so much more than thank you.  Is there anything I can do for you, majesty?  She doubted the title was correct, but it seemed to suit and she hoped at very least it wouldn't offend.

Use your tunnel, Lissa, and then restore this forest to those who belong here.  She was unsurprised to hear her given name used; what was a queen next to the earth?

It will be done. It was a promise she would keep.

From my WIP.  Thoughts?