Wow. That was a long break. I was a bit preoccupied with other parts of my life and then, of course, Spring Break happened. Family vacation! Not to Cancun or anything, just SoCal. No Disneyland. Family and Seaworld visit. My son’s never seen killer whales before and he loves ocean life so I voted for that. It’s supposed to be the last year they’ll have them after all.
Afterwards I asked how he liked the whales and he corrected me saying they were orcas. I was wowed by the sea lion show and the cleaner fish. They swam right up and started nibbling on my hand! So cool. It tickled.
So! Time to continue the story I’ve got going. If you’ve forgotten what’s been going on (I don’t blame you if you have), you can start from the beginning, The Path of Moonlight: 1, or maybe just revisit the last segment, The Path of Moonlight: 16, if you need an update on what just happened to get Charlotte into this particular spot. Or start wherever you want in between. It’s up to you.
======== The Path of Moonlight ========
There was a loud noise, as of something banging against a wall, as well as howling and moaning. I groaned and turned my aching head. A crash sounded above me loud enough to make me jump. It was several seconds before I managed to focus my bleary vision and another minute before I could place the sounds.
Memory seeped back into me along with the realization that I had been drugged and was now lying in a bed. I wanted to be more alert but my brain was sluggish and confusion at my freedom – I wasn’t tied up – added to the molasses impeding its speed.
The old woman had drugged me, hadn’t she? As if in response, a spike of pain stabbed through my head along with a flash of light from outside. Fear sang through my veins as another crash of thunder shook the cabin. I sat up and a wave of dizziness added to my discomfort. My stomach responded in kind but I clamped my mouth shut until the world had righted itself and the desire to vomit had passed.
The bed creaked as I got to my feet and I staggered, almost falling, away from it, searching for somewhere I could hide.
“Awake at last?” called a voice from below. Thunder drowned out any sounds coming from downstairs as I stumbled around, searching for a place to hide. The room, loft really, was empty except for a bed, some baskets full of odds and ends, and a closed chest. Even had I wanted to shut myself up somewhere that could be locked, it was too small.
The old woman’s approaching figure was briefly illuminated by another flash of lightning. She had almost reached the top of the stairs. Candlelight lit the darkness afterwards and threw trembling shadows everywhere. The woman’s face remained as kind as it had looked before despite my looking for sinister features to reveal her hidden motive.
“Calm yourself, child,” she said. Her voice held a soothing and understanding tone.
“Calm?” I repeated. “Why should I be calm? You drugged me! What do you want from me?”
“Only to protect you and teach you,” she said.
“Protect me?” My voice was rising as new anger battled with my fear. “By drugging me? You have a funny way of protecting someone.”
“I needed you to stay so I could start preparing,” she said, her own voice unchanged. “I needed more time.”
“Time for what? To prep your oven?”
The old woman shook her head. “Would you have believed me had I told you there was a storm coming?”
Flabbergasted, I stared at her, my mouth hanging open. “You expect me to believe that you drugged me in order to save me the discomfort of walking through a storm?”
“No, I don’t. It wasn’t just the storm but what was in the storm that I wanted to protect you from.”
I tried to follow her but sharp pain was still lancing through my head making it difficult to understand anything.
“Rain,” I mumbled then tried again louder. “Rain is in a storm. And lightning and thunder. Does lightning hit people often here?”
The old woman shook her head again. “You don’t understand and I don’t expect you to. You aren’t familiar with the ways of this world.”
“This world,” I repeated. The memory of her saying I wasn’t from this world returned to me. “You said that before. You believe that?”
“Of course I do,” she replied as if the existence of multiple worlds was a normal thing to believe. “I’ve been waiting for your return.”
“My return?” I repeated. My mind felt hopelessly fuzzy but the woman didn’t seem annoyed with my slowness.
“Hoping for it really,” she corrected. “No one was really sure if you would return or not, but there are those of us who hoped. For the last few moons, the runes have shown me that your return was imminent but they wouldn’t say when so I have been keeping watch. But your head must be aching. Come downstairs and I’ll fix you something to ease the pain.”
“You expect me to eat or drink anything here after what you’ve done?” I asked.
Now she looked at me as if I were a slow and unruly child. “Yes, that is something I do expect.”
======== End of 17th Installment ========
It’s hard to get back into things when I’ve taken such a long break. But it’s good to try to get going again. Hopefully I can keep it up for another post on Friday, but if not then the next installment will be up next week.