Hot Herb Tea and a Happy Ending: Part Seven
“No, no, no! You’ve got it all wrong! You aren’t one of the Xweetoks we know. You fell in a trap, you’re on four legs, and you woke up in a flower and you DESPISE YOUR RELATIVES!”
“I have to be of another world, I’m so irregular! I first woke up in a plant. When I’m awake, it never takes long for me to be asleep again. Heck, I actually predict the future in my sleep!”
“Oh, Cerulean, Cerulean, that is perfectly normal,” Tor chuckled.
“I don’t recall Rubia telling me it is.”
“I’m not talking about normal foresters. I’m talking about Creator’s Children.”
“The Creator, she’s had to have gone mad making me, a Xweetok... She’s crazy...” I closed my eyes as words fumbled out of my mouth. But what was really making me uncomfortable was the question I soon stated to Tor. “How do you know so much about Creator’s Children, anyway?”
“Because I’m one of them.”
“No! It isn’t true; it isn’t true!”
“Cerulean. You ARE one of us. The Creator has her reasons. Now, go back to Rubia.”
“She wouldn’t be capable of kicking you out that easily. You need to go back. You don’t have a choice.” He herded me outside and closed the door. I sighed and turned back, once more beginning a plummet through the forest. The fact that he was twice my size caused me to not even consider knocking again. But the door opened again.
“One more thing. According to legend, all Creator’s Children are destined to see HER. Goodbye.”
Well, that was abrupt.
The dust pixies... One had saved me, but there was the one that led me into the sand pit. According to Rubia, dust pixies were rumored to always be accurate. Were they trying to bring my fate, or aid me? And there was also the third one. It tried pointing me back where I came, but since I didn’t listen to it, I’d never know about that one. Actually, I went the opposite way it told me to, and Torich told me to follow its orders (even though I didn’t tell him about it), so maybe it was trying to help me.
Rubia. I had to know if she’d take me in again or not. Tor told me she would, but he didn’t know how cold she’d acted to me. He never heard the distinct bone-chilling tone she talked to me in that one time. It was so beautiful, yet so hateful. It almost wasn’t hers.
I finally decided that Tor had to be right. Her real personality, how she longed for me for years, corresponded to what he said. My keeper could never suddenly kick me out. She could, but it’d take time for her to decide and even longer for her to let go.
The Creator wanted me. It was something I’d probably never be sure of (especially if I was an outsider after all), but they had accepted me. Maybe she made up her mind that I wouldn’t do them any harm, so she decided to leave me be.
At the same time, that explained the Pixies. When I first came and she wanted to be rid of me as soon as possible, one led me into a trap. But I had the chance to prove myself, so she allowed me to stay and even sent two more to help my survival.
The sudden stop in the trees snapped me out of my trance. There I was again, in the Blank. I shook some rain off of my fur and continued walking, but I slid. I could’ve sworn that there was ordinary ground there, but still, I slid across the puddle of oil which seemingly materialized.
Imagine the fear that filled my body when I felt something closing around me.
All I heard was a soft “whoosh” and then the web gripped me. Terrified, my paws flew faster. A net... That had to be it. However, it felt like it was alive. I tried shaking it off once before it took hold on me, but it only squeezed me harder.
That was it!
The net could feel my motion, whether or not it was alive. What was more, it could actually grip me harder the faster I went. But because of the accelerating paws I heard behind me, halting wasn’t an option. At the same time, plunging forward faster would cause the net to strangle me and render attempts at moving helpless. Noting the river in front of me, I jumped into it, dug my paws into the wet soil and hoped for the best.
I felt prompted to open my eyes (even though I was underwater) and look at what was happening. At first the water stung, but I got used to it within seconds. When I tried standing as still as possible, the net’s grip on me loosened completely and I saw something float to the surface (attracted by the current’s movement).
Through the surface, I could see the figure I learnt to identify as “Chix” throw something on the ground in frustration and stomp on it, but slipped because it had been battered by the rain. She shouted something I couldn’t hear prior to carefully examining her knee, which had buckled. Then I simultaneously ran out of air and lost grip in the mud.
She heard my gasp for air and gasped herself. The huntress rapidly slipped her arm cannon back on and pursued me as the tide swept me away. But the current was too fast for her, and I was in hearing range just long enough for her to say something.
“I’ll get you someday, you hear, forester?”
“And so then, she said, ‘I’ll get you someday, you hear, forester?’”
“Cerulean, I swear, it was like something possessed me. The Creator has her ways, and if she wanted you gone, you’d be gone long by now. After all, her power far surpasses any of ours. Welcome back.” Rubia smiled deeply with much relief. She hadn’t hesitated to take me inside, straight to the furnace.
“The dust pixies... I’ve seen three of them...”
“Then she likes you after all. Most people would be lucky to see just one. There’s a reason they keep coming to you, I’m sure of it...”
“According to Tor, I have to be a Creator’s Child. He said that my falling asleep easily and my dreams coming true are attributes of Creator’s Children.”
“Tor... He isn’t always right. At least he doesn’t seem to be. I mean, he’s a good leader, but he seems kind of crazy, don’t you think?”
“That may partially be because he’s a Creator’s Child, too.”
Her face paled for several moments. I could’ve sworn that the air got colder from her dropping body temperature. She finally took a deep breath.
“He never told us... Let us get you something to eat, Cerulean,” she said in a monotonous tone.
It was thundering and pouring rain like never before on the night of my worst dream. So much water was pummeling the ground, in fact, that you could very clearly hear the rushing of it from inside the underground home. Of course, on such days, it always just so happens that you have nothing planned and enough food to last at least until the next day. Rubia and I had a peaceful day indoors, baking bread and telling stories in the spot of the entry closest to the furnace.
“Don’t worry about me anymore. I’ve gotten used to the fact that he and you have the same mother. Hey, you’re brothers. Good night,” she said and lowered her head in sleep. I soon followed. As always, my mind stepped right into sleep.
Several moments of darkness followed. I am unsure of whether or not I had any visions in that time, as my mind was deep in rest, too much rest for the brain to be of much power. My body didn’t have any tension in that period.
They were interrupted by the forest suddenly springing to life around my paws. Grass materialized, trees grew within seconds. Amidst all of it, I was charging. What would have been a relaxing walk actually became a chase; because a sudden feeling, a feeling of fear, overtook me.
I didn’t know what was pursuing me by looking. It could only be the Huntress Chix herself. That being from a world beyond the sky... She could only be described as one word: evil.
She was known, and respected out of fear. Nobody dared do anything but flee around her. Somehow, I was calm, though. It wore off when I saw Hill, the baby JubJub I had met at the meeting, lying in the middle of the road. Why wasn’t he with Bronco and Callie?
I hurriedly scooped him up and continued dashing ahead. She was getting closer to me; I could hear it in her footsteps. You didn’t have to be entirely at her feet for her to down you with a net.
It was all over as soon as the shriek split the air. A shriek; one perfectly identical to the one I heard when sleeping in Torich’s den. I noticed that the Huntress had given up on me; instead she had Callie cornered at a tree. She was taking her focus!
Bruno dashed in front of her, startling the Xweetok. She staggered back. He leapt at one of her scrawny hind legs, causing her to tumble to the ground. In her panic, she launched a net at me.
As soon as it began tightening, my instincts told me to find a river (by then, I was used to getting in the river to get something off of me). But as it squeezed harder and harder, it was getting harder and harder to move. Blinded by rain in my eyes, my paw was inserted into a gap between a root and the ground, and my momentum flung me head over heels. I barely managed to get on all fours again before I could be captured.
One of my legs staggered from the fall (it felt broken) and I tried my absolute hardest to keep it from caving. All four of my legs were stumbling in the mud, getting shorter and shorter strides the faster I tried to limp. Another net lashed around my already snapped leg. I leapt forward, in one last effort to stay free...
Sitting bolt upright in my bed, I stared at the wall, terrified. It all happened so fast... But it wasn’t the dream itself that frightened me. I silently resolved to not leave the house the next day.
It was the knowledge that all my dreams had been becoming realities.
“Cerulean, wake up! We have visitors.”
In the middle of the night, a winter cold front had moved in. Rubia had said she’d gone out to see how cold it was, and the ground had frosted over. As even the bedroom (which was the most underground) was clearly affected, she had filled all of the tubs with hot water from the furnace for warmth. Later that morning, since I was very startled by her snapping me out of a deep rest like that, I jolted. A splash of water came out of the bath.
“I’ll clean that up... You go on to the entryway,” she sighed. Assuming I really didn’t have any choice, I obeyed and continued to the front of the house.
“GOOD MORNING!” A pet tackled me as soon as I opened the door. After wrangling her off of me, I was fairly surprised.
“Callie? You were so tired that one night!”
“She’s hyperactive in the morning,” Bronco filled in.
“That explained it,” I said prior to her going into a rapid speech.
“We were gonna go treasure hunting today and we were gonna invite you and Rubia but Rubia said no, she has work today and stuff, so you can spend the day with us looking for gems in caves and-”
“Callie, enough,.” Bronco clamped her mouth shut. She shook in place as Bronco spoke.
“Spelunking for treasure, mainly gems, is a favorite pastime of ours. I mean, it isn’t really all that dangerous, and besides, gems are plentiful. The reason why is that the Creator is often described as an infinite, bubbling fountain of magic and all the 'water' that would 'spill' over the sides comes off in the form of caves full to the brim with treasure. We usually go once a week and decided it’d be fun for you to join us, especially on days Rubia spends a majority of those twenty-four hours working.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be going.” I hardly hesitated to reply, hoping to avoid the encounter with Chix I had dreamed of.
To be continued...