Quests and Divine Pests
Part 30 of Quest
Part 1 of A Quest Special Event:
& Part 1 of Irene’s Solo Quest: A Game of Death
~ ~ ~
Can you read my mind?
Read it when we’re far apart?
When we’re heart to heart?
~ ~ ~
Can you read my mind, she walked and wondered.
Without Winter’s Mantle or that ice crown
to constrain his gift, will his mind wander
far enough to find hers and read right down
to the heart? Read her regret at leaving
not just now but then, when she’d had to go.
When pow’r’s acquisition made her heart sing–
a false song of emptiness and loss–too
long she’d sang it not hearing false promises
in each verse; seeing him again had proved
her choices wrong and now she stood in the mist
facing a gray tower that time had shoved,
knocked it askew and broke its masonry.
Echoes of its students lived in memory…
~ ~ ~
Irene regarded the gray tower of the Academie de Magica. When she’d seen its ruins on the horizon, she’d known why that psychopomp spider had left her here. It had started here after all. Here’s where the answer to the riddle lay: what had turned Imelda into the Undeem’s Queen and why?
Before she faced that witch again, she had to know. So she picked her way through yellowed grass; its yellow-green hue stood one step from the brown of final death. A sickle-sun, mostly hidden behind heavy clouds, dropped sallow light on what had once been a fertile plain.
Choked with decay, the river struggled in its bed. Ahead a bent figure interrupted the solitude. The crone perched on a rock, her hood up, her face hidden except for her nose which peeked out of the shadowed folds.
“About time you showed up.” The crone glanced at the sky and made a clicking sound with her tongue. “Another ten minutes and it’d have been too late.”
“Too late for what?” Irene crunched to a halt.
The clouds above held no rain for the parched earth under her feet. Though she could be wrong about that. Istan was the one who read clouds. Istan…Can you read my mind? Do you hear my thoughts of you? There was no answer insinuated into her mind, soft as a falling leaf. Maybe she was too far away for his gift to work.
“Secrets, that’s what you came here to find.” The crone leaned on a walking stick she produced and rose. The edges of her being flickered as if flames licked it.
“The Illuminator of the Future….” Irene covered her mouth too late; the words had already escaped.
A rich chuckle met her exclamation and the woman shrank, growing younger as she pushed back her cowl, and her disguise, with small ebony fingers.
“Who were you expecting?”
Phaedrassen stood there regal in her cream gown. A petite black woman who held fate in one hand and the flame of the future in the other–when she was doing her goddess thing. At the moment, she held up delicate hands empty of things both arcane and mundane. Did that mean she had dropped by for a social call?
Irene remained tense though. Thanks to her ex-husband, she’d had dealings with gods and goddesses before. Those meetings never ended well for sorceresses or mortals.
“Just Fay if you please. I’m here as a favor.”
Fay held up one hand to forestall the protest building in Irene’s breast. Molten eyes–looking into them was like peering into a volcano’s roiling magma chamber–met Irene’s and held them. All thought of refusing Fay’s aid died in that one held glance. Fay nodded and the magma left her gaze; though her irises still glowed red like banked coals.
A smile tweaked Fay’s thin lips. “You did a favor a long time ago for one of my great, great, great-you-get-the-point-grandchildren and so, I’m here to return the favor.” Her thin shoulders twitched in a shrug.
Right, and this had nothing to do with Fay’s nephew losing Winter’s Mantle and throwing around a forbidden power on whatever plane the Undeem inhabited. Sure and there were tropical beaches in Ikara’s frozen tundra… Irene rubbed her brow and shooed such silly thoughts from her mind.
“Shall we?” Fay gestured to a flagstone path that wound towards the ruins and the shadow that tilted tower cast.
“What happened here?”
Irene clasped her upper arms as the wind bit at her exposed flesh. Spring had some bizarre ideas about proper temperature this year. Without a sweater or a shawl, or any rations at all, she was stuck shivering between gusts with a gnawing ache in her gut. Until Fay handed her a flask. She shot the tiny woman an assessing look.
Fay smiled, displaying a mouthful of serrated teeth and then, with a laugh at Irene’s reaction, she relented. “It’s neither poisoned nor magicked. Not my style. If I wanted to kill you, which I don’t, I would just incinerate you.”
Fay snapped her fingers drawing Irene’s attention to the goddess’ pearlescent white claws that had been recently manicured. A flamed rippled along one of her claws, spread to the other and then snuffed out when she snapped her fingers again. A hand crocheted purse tied at her waist disappeared from view as Fay’s arm lowered until it hung at her side covering it.
~ ~ ~
Dead–gone with a snap…
A death-wish goddess-granted…
Would you know I’m gone?
~ ~ ~
Can you read me when we’re so far apart?
My body’s far from you but my heart’s close.
I left it with a kiss when we did part.
Has your gift left you in agony’s throes?
O’erwhelmed by thoughts and voices not your own?
Irene turned, plagued by doubt, to look again
at that patch of yellow-green grass, wind blown,
but marked still where that portal ‘d opened when
it’d spilled her onto this barren landscape
of memory where a goddess with plans
stands instead of him, her lost love, agape
at the changes time has wrought on this plain.
I hope you can read my mind, Istan; hear
all the things I should’ve said when you were near.
~ ~ ~
Irene’s story continues in Tower’s Quest…
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Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie: Music Prompt #29 “Read My Mind” by the Killers & Taleweaver #52 “Love Notes”; Color Your World: Green Yellow; Prompt Nights – To Love Would be Sublime; Daily Post: Longing.