One Shred of Light: Part Four
Caelum looked out her window and saw the Wocky sitting in the tree. He was still fastidiously pretending that he was the only person in the world, all alone in that tree in sight of her house.
It had been four days since she had met him, and every day she had opened her drapes in the morning to find him sitting there, rain or shine. No matter what she did, she didn't get a reaction from him. She suspected that his constant presence was supposed to be intimidating, but Caelum was simply annoyed by it. Anastasia had given her a mission, and he was making it incredibly difficult to accomplish it.
She grabbed a heavy cloak and put it on, covering her head with the hood. She stepped out into the rain and instantly regretted it. The rain pounded her with the intensity of a wave from the ocean, only it was unending. She stalked to the gate and through it, and then walked up the edge of the forest, to the very tree where Magax was settled.
"What is your problem?" she shouted up at him over the roar of the rain.
He sat there, hands cupped behind his head, staring upwards at the dismal sky and the unending torrent of water falling from it.
"You heard me, Magax!" she shouted. "Come in before you catch your death of cold or go away to do it where I don't have to see your stupid face!"
Magax shifted slightly in his seat, like he was settling into a slightly more comfortable position. She grabbed a fistful of mud from the ground at the base of the tree and threw it at him. He ducked out of the way and it hit the tree with an inaudible squelch before being washed away by the heavy rainwater flowing down the tree.
"Go on, get out of here! Why are you hanging around if you don't want anything? It's annoying," she shouted up at him.
He still didn't react. The ducking out of the way of the mud she had slung at him was the most reaction she had gotten out of him in the last four days. It occurred to her that maybe he was trying to annoy her. Maybe he was toying with her.
"Are you seriously trying to annoy me? Is that your only aim? You don't even know me!" she was flabbergasted at the idea that he was just sitting there trying to get a rise out of her. For a moment, she began to question Anastasia, and then herself, wondering if she had misunderstood the vision the swords had shown her.
He didn't shift his gaze from the sky, or his position in the tree, but he spoke for the first time since the day they had met. "I know all I need to; you're a girl who is dumb enough to build her home on a mass Faerie grave. I don't need to annoy you; you probably do a good enough job of that yourself."
"I don't know what you're talking about, but I wish you'd go away," she shouted, lying and hoping he wouldn't be able to tell. "If I promise to annoy myself for you, will you go away?"
He simply ignored her, gave no indication that he had even heard her. She growled in frustration and turned on her heel to leave. However, because of the slick mud, she spun much faster than she meant to and lost her footing. She stumbled and tumbled into the mud. From above, she heard Magax snicker. It lasted only a second, and when she looked up again, he was still looking upwards, but she had heard it.
She got to her feet without a word and walked back to her house. She shut all the drapes before cleaning herself up, and left them that way for the rest of the day.
That night, as Caelum lay in bed, she thought about Magax. She went over in her mind the last few days. She had gotten more and more antagonistic with him since the day he wouldn't come to tea. He had just sat out there in the tree, acting as if he was oblivious to the world, and that was somehow more annoying than if he had been sitting there openly mocking her.
His motivations were no clearer than they had been that morning, despite the fact that he had spoken at last. She wracked her brains, trying to come up with a plausible reason why he might be sitting out there watching her. He couldn't suspect her true mission or he would have done something about it already, and he clearly wasn't interested in getting to know her because he was so clearly ignoring her.
She went over in her mind what she knew about him. Everything she knew about him was secondhand rumor, except for two things: he had attacked Fiona and killed Anastasia in combat. He was a fearsome warrior, and he was randomly violent. She thought about him sitting in the tree just ignoring her. Why hadn't he attacked her like he had Fiona?
A sudden wave of doubt filled her in regards to Fiona's story. She bit her lip, feeling guilty for thinking that way. Fiona's injuries had been real; she knew that for a fact as she'd been one of the faeries who had pulled her out of the fountain. Still, it didn't mean that Magax had been the one who had inflicted them, or that the attack had been random and unprovoked. Perhaps there was more to the story than Fiona was telling; it was so hard to tell with dark faeries.
Caelum closed her eyes and when she opened them next, the sun was shining through the drapes. She got up and changed into her clothes. She walked to the windows and opened the drapes; Magax was in his tree, still avoiding acting like he was alone.
For a moment, she felt a frown beginning to form on her face. Then, she had a sudden inspiration. She pushed the window open and smiled brightly at him.
"Good morning, Magax! I hope you slept well!" she called to him.
He made no reply, but she thought he looked surprised for just a moment. His face took on the empty look it had worn when she had opened the drapes, but she just continued smiling at him for a few seconds. She left the window and made breakfast, making enough for two. She ate hers and then put the second portion into her basket and walked outside. She walked to his tree and placed the breakfast under it. Caelum left it there and walked away without saying a word.
She went about her day, taking care of the plants in the garden, traversing the mile to the river to collect enough water for the day, and just general housecleaning. She made him lunch and supper as well, leaving it next to the untouched breakfast beneath the tree.
That night, she smiled out at him and called a goodnight before closing the drapes. She noticed that the look on his face had become increasingly sour as the day had gone along. He was still staring up at the sky like she wasn't there, but there was something in his attitude and face that told her that his attitude had changed as much as hers had. She wasn't sure if he would break down after a while, or what would happen if he did, but something had to give. She had a limited window of time to accomplish her mission, and it was dwindling fast.
She got up the next morning and opened the drapes to find that it was a dreary and overcast day. The plates of food were sitting undisturbed under the tree, and Magax was still seated on his branch staring up at the sky. She went about making breakfast and brought him out a plate of it. She collected the meals from the day before to take them back to the house to wash the plates. They had sat out all day and night, making them inedible, so there was no reason to leave them for him.
She walked to the river to collect water, taking two buckets. She could tell from the cloud cover that it would not rain, so she would need to water her garden. She was glad that some of her faerie knowledge could help her in her disguise. If she had been a fire faerie, she would have been in a lot of trouble.
She walked back to her house and put one bucket down in the garden for later and took the other inside the house for the day. She glanced out at Magax as she set the bucket on the table; his food was still untouched and he was still unmoving in the tree. The only thing that had changed was his face; there was definite strain on it. She wasn't sure what to make of that, but she shrugged it off and went about her day.
Magax had not been enjoying his surveillance of the Faerie Wocky. He was mildly annoyed that Nox had assigned it to him instead of getting one of his Chias to do it, but he didn't argue with Nox when he gave him an assignment.
The first few days had been somewhat tolerable. The annoyance he caused the girl had been mildly amusing, but it hadn't goaded the hoped for reaction out of her. She had invited him inside twice more, something he wouldn't dream of, it was an environment that she controlled completely and would be the most ideal place for a trap. So, he sat outside and observed her, waiting for her to show herself as something other than she appeared.
He was hoping that she might decide he seemed distracted enough to try to launch some kind of attack on him, but she hadn't made a move. She hadn't seemed to contact anyone, or seemed to have any ulterior motives at all. She was so normal that he was beginning to suspect that they had been paranoid and that she was just a normal Neopet.
However, her behavior had swung in the opposite direction overnight. One day she had been furious to the last degree with him, and the next morning she was being pleasant to him, offering him food, and otherwise disregarding his silence. He wasn't sure what had prompted the change, but he didn't like it. It wasn't proof that she was there with ulterior motives, but it made him suspicious. He watched her closely for the second day, even following her unobserved when she went to fetch water. Everything she did was natural, normal for a person living an ordinary life out there, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was different.
Magax felt his patience for the waiting game running out.
To be continued...