Posted in The Path of Moonlight, Writing Endeavors

The Path of Moonlight: 17

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.

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Posted in The Path of Moonlight, Writing Endeavors

The Path of Moonlight: 16

In the last installment (The Path of Moonlight: 15), Charlotte was traveling to the town the man had told her about. Yep, he still has no name.  Before reaching her destination, however, she came across an old cottage on the side of the road. The old woman living there had invited her in and they were talking about where Charlotte was going and what she was going to do.

======== The Path of Moonlight ========

“You’d best stay with me, dear,” the old woman continued as she filled a bowl with stew.  She sprinkled something dry in it and held it out, a kind smile on her wrinkled face.  “For added taste,” she said, “and to help stave off hunger.”

I frowned as I took the bowl.  “I don’t understand.  You don’t know me.  Why do you want me to stay here?”

She chuckled as she settled herself into her own sagging chair and blew on her stew.  “I’m old, child, not blind, remember?  I’m not deaf either.  My ears can hear and my eyes can see you are not lately from this world.”

When I continued to stare at her, she explained herself.  “You are not dressed for this place and you don’t speak as if you are from this place.”

I shook my head, refusing to be told what I had been starting to believe.  While walking I had wondered if I was the crazy one, not the man.  What if I hadn’t left the house yet and was asleep in my room, dreaming all of this?

The stew no longer looked so inviting and I didn’t want to eat it despite my gnawing hunger.  My stomach won out though and I forced myself to be slow and chew the chunks of potato, the slices of carrots.  I wouldn’t make myself sick eating too quickly and having my mouth full gave me time to think of arguments against the reality of my situation.

The old woman ate a few hot bites in silence.  In my peripheral vision I could see her watching me.  I pretended not to notice and stifled a yawn.

“Shall I throw down the gauntlet and reveal what I know?” she asked.  It didn’t sound much like a question.  I glanced at her and tried not to show my suspicion.  Was it a trick?  “You’re not from here, this world.  Your clothes and accent say that much.  But you were.  I see it in your face, your features and coloring.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.  “I look no different from anyone else.”  I had reached the bottom of the bowl and my belly was full.  After spending a day and a half starving and dehydrated, it was pleasant to feel satiated.  The yawn refused to be held back this time and I had to cover my mouth and avert my face.

“Perhaps not to others, but I can see it.”  She tapped the middle of her forehead but all I saw were heavy wrinkles.  As I watched, the wrinkles twitched and an eye opened, blinking at me.

I gasped and jumped to my feet, dropping the bowl and stumbling backward.  The room tilted and spun with my sudden movement.  It should have righted itself after a moment but it didn’t.

“What?” I mumbled.  I swung my arms out, searching for something to grab to hold me up until the dizziness passed.  My hands found the edge of a table and I leaned against it.  Instead of abating, the dizziness grew worse till I thought I might throw up.

“Who are you?” I asked and was surprised at how slurred my voice sounded.  That third eye in her forehead stared at me as the woman sat still in her chair.  Perhaps it was my imagination making the eye look clear and sharp while the rest of the room grew fuzzy and indistinct.  “What did you give me?”

“Herbs to help you sleep,” she said.  “Don’t fight it, Lotteria.  You need to sleep.  You need your energy for the task ahead for it will not be easy.”

My world spun and lurched when I turned and groped for the door.  I saw it there in front of me but my hands waved at empty air when I reached for it.  It was too far and my legs were too weak.  My other arm fought to hold me upright against the table but I sank to the ground and lost consciousness before I had hit the floor.

======== End of 16th Installment ========

Is this old woman good or bad? Find out next time!

No, I didn’t change Charlotte’s name. You’ll find out later.

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