Hot Herb Tea and a Happy Ending: Part Four
“Yes, but Torich has something to say first.”
“Cerulean, will you please rise?”
Torich gestured to a spot on the floor in front of him. The room’s occupants had all eyes on me as I padded over to the spot and sat down, my tail covering my feet.
“Rubia has been harboring a Xweetok ever since shortly after last meeting. She claims that it came to her door first. She turned it away, but followed shortly after it, to warn us others that one was out. Before she could tell anybody, she saw the Xweetok fall in a trap lain by its own kind. As he both fell in the trap and had the same posture as a Xweetok from the Age of the Creator, we assume Cerulean must be one. Am I clear?”
The foresters nodded.
“Then I pronounce him as one of us, as long as Rubia does one thing for you.”
“What is it?”
“Rubia, I ask you to embed some gems in him, as a proof that he’s harmless. If he were a REAL Xweetok, he probably would never let you do something like that.”
“I think I can do that for him.”
“Wait, what? That sounds painful!”
“Don’t worry, it’s my profession. There is a certain kind of leaf I coat my clients in beforehand that prevents any pain. Now, it’s time for what I put off for so long.”
“Oh, that’s right. The reality. I’ve always been best at storytelling, Rubia; I think you should probably leave this to me.”
“Torich, you probably should.”
“In that case, Cerulean should get back to your seat by the fire. You’re going to hate this. But you need to know it.”
“What are you doing, though?” Callie asked.
“Cerulean doesn’t know about the Xweetoks yet.”
“...” Callie fell silent. Tor paced over to me, looking at me with a deep, serious look in his eyes.
“You should be...” he sighed. “Eons ago, during the Age of the Creator, the sun always shone. Rubia, without a doubt, must have told you other stories of the Creator. There was peace and prosperity forever.
“One morning, Val, one of the two Xweetoks, was lounging in the shade of a tree. Val was very innovative, and so was Serace, the other Xweetok. Usually, Val would get the two of them into some sort of mischievous scheme, Serace would follow along despite the fact his brother was sometimes unkind to others.
“So, Val was bored. Very, very bored. So he decided to go to his workshop (which was also his house), and he- And he-” Tor started to choke on his words.
“What did he do?”
“He and Serace were digging through his material bins, and he found this chunk of crystal, and-”
“Val sharpened it into a boomerang and they used it to cut down a section of the forest.”
“Most say they built some sort of aboveground shelter out of the trees they had chopped down one by one. Naturally, the Creator was furious. She banished Val and Serace from her planet after making them grow with her pulsing magic, so that they wouldn’t be able to reenter our homes. One flap of her giant wings sent them rocketing off somewhere else.”
“But where did they go?”
“We know very little about the Xweetoks. We don’t know where they went, but we refer to wherever it is as the Distance. Some variations of the legend say that the Creator’s last words to the Xweetoks were, ‘And the next Xweetok who receives my magic will grow wings!’” Rubia added.
“But that isn’t the whole story. For a few years, the world of the Creator went on peacefully. Her children had children. The population flourished, until the Xweetoks came back.”
“Did they come the same way I did?”
“No. They landed sturdy-looking crafts on the cleared section of the forest we now call the Blank. We passed through it on the way here, remember? The Xweetoks had children, as with our ancestors. It was a new generation of evil. They come armored and armed. They are still hunting us down today, thousands of years later. For generations, we have been hunted. There almost was no time when Creation was free. For eons, we have been living in their shadow, in the shadow of the Xweetoks.”
My lip quivered.
I didn’t know what to say.
All of it had already been said.
I shook off my disguise, allowing wisps of magic to fly off. To the average person, it would seem as though I was never a Hissi. Nobody would ever be able to make it out in the dark, but I smirked. They knew I was somewhat mean, but who said they had to know the full story? That Cerulean kid... he had mystery about him, besides being the species which he was, which I was a part of. It would be most certainly helpful to dispose of him soon before he could hinder me any.
As for the present, I greeted two of my servants. I had broken into the Creator’s dungeons several times to kidnap prisoners to make my servants. The Eyrie twins clumsily bowed.
“Master, your janitor has mopped and dusted your bedroom today. We hope you are pleased with his work.”
“Yes, that more-than-decent janitor is certainly a more efficient old chap than the two of you combined. Where is that Zafara, anyway? I’d like to give him a pat on the back for being so organized,” I casually yet smugly said prior to striding down another two halls and flopping down on my luxurious double bed. Of course, the Creator had mutated me so many millennia ago, I took up almost all of it. I’d be the worst bunkmate ever, especially if I had the top bunk. Especially if the wood could snap easily.
One day, she would pay for what she did to me. Sera, my brother, was let go by the Creator. While she wouldn’t forgive him, he had it easy. As a punishment for not telling mother what I was doing, he was made so he couldn’t enter our homes and he was blasted away into the galaxies. The hunters were his direct descendants, not mine as well, like most believed.
As for me, she didn’t stop at giving me growth. She further expanded me and created a rage in my eyes. They constantly flickered madly. My ears were turned partially inside-out. My skeleton was padded with bulk. My tail was made like the one of a Miamouse and my fur was a deep matted navy.
Three more butlers entered. One carried a tray with cocoa and a small meal of a double-decker sap sandwich. The other two bowed, more gracefully than the sentries at the entrance.
“Is there anything we can do for you, Master?”
“Yes, yes. First off, Lawrence, have some others close off the tunnels to Deepwood. I’m done playing as Pansaru. Ugh, how I regret that choice of name! While you are at it, open up the tunnels to the Sacred Grove.”
The Christmas Wocky ran down the halls, leaving Orgos the Skeith and Rachroth with me.
“Orgos, thank you for the meal. Please return to the kitchen, have the master chef assign you whatever he needs you to. As for me, I think I’ll do a little possessing. Rachroth, ol’ Lenny, come with me...”
Rubia jostled me awake.
“Others are starting to leave, let’s see them off.”
“I... fell asleep?”
“You do that easily, Cerulean. It probably comes from spending a few weeks napping the majority of the time when you were recovering.”
“Okay, who’s leaving?”
“Callie, Bronco and Hill. Callie and Bronco are actually twins, y’know that?”
“That I didn’t.” I paced to the trio. “See you, um...”
“Probably in the next few days. Our house is three bounds away from Rubia’s, so chances are we’ll run into each other. Say bye-bye, Hill,” Callie answered. Bronco gave a slight nod. As for Hill, he twanged his jaw harp and waved his tiny foot.
Rubia chatted with others for a few more minutes while I sat by the fire. That night, I had discovered a second home. Even though Tor seemed as though he was hiding something from me, he still treated me like a smaller brother. He sat down next to me.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we were brothers?” I inquired. He was silent for several moments.
“Er, you say you’re a Creator’s Child?”
“Rubia thinks so, only I’m a Xweetok.”
“Did you wake up here in some giant blossom?”
“How did you know?”
“Because... never mind. You should go greet the next round leaving. They’re over by the door.” I darted to the pets.
“Bye, Azra, Tochino and Verilein.”
The Shadow Eyrie, Golden Eyrie, and Green Zafara (respectively) left. The Eyries were twins (they were common in the forests), but Verilein was constantly along to help the blind Azra along. I trotted back to Tor.
“You were saying?”
“Nothing much. Anyways, I don’t mean to be rude, but it sounds like the rain is worsening. You and Rubia might want to get back to your home before it gets too bad. Also, I feel strangely tired and want to sleep sooner tonight.” Tor punctuated this with a yawn.
“Oh, I understand.” Before I could tell it to Rubia, the door slammed open. The two previous groups stood panting. Veril flattened the door against the wall while the other five ran in.
“Chix is out,” he panted. The rest of the foresters gave, in unison, an “Oh,” Tor perked.
“Okay, everybody; you can sleep here tonight. The door behind me leads to a hall, and if you go to the door right in front of you, you’ll arrive in the bathroom. Make yourself home in one of the dips or a chair.” Everyone immediately obeyed.
“If I can get hot herb tea for any of you used to it at this time, then please allow me to do so. Remember the Foresters’ Oath.”
“Who’s Chix?” I questioned.
“She is the main Xweetok huntress in this area. None of us would usually be a match for her due to her experience. Over the years, she took away a great deal of our family members...” Tor started. “If you’re wondering about the Foresters’ Oath, the oath is that we must do our best to defend those around us from the Hunters in any way we can. Most say the Creator laid it down after the banishment of your kind.”
Once again, I fell asleep in a dip, deep in thought. With the evidence I had acquired, this time I really approached the mystery. Why would the Creator want a member of the race she had banished? Why would she want... who I was?
For once, it wasn’t Rubia who woke me up. All had been dark and quiet in my sleeping mind, but as soon as I reached the dream stage, a startled scream sounded. The voice was as if it had been innocent. It proceeded to a desperate tone, which uttered two words I didn’t make out. I sat bolt upright, my eyes opening. The door to the hall opened. A single figure strode out, a wooden cup in hand. I quietly strode towards her.
“Callie, what happened? You screamed!”
“I got some tea, that’s what happened. Nothing’s wrong, and I didn’t scream.”
“Are--are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Must have been your dreams. Good night,”
“Could’ve sworn she screamed...” I mumbled as I settled down in sleep.
After another few minutes, I was soon dreaming again. There were no writhing illusions of hideous proportions (with my eyes or ears). I only experienced peaceful visions. The figures talked, but I couldn’t make out their words. Sometimes my sight was turned off and I could hear better; but while I could make out the speaker, I still couldn’t make out the words. It was a world just like I’d been experiencing before; only I didn’t interact with it at all, but sometimes somebody would look at me and speak.
Precious minutes of tranquility passed. They started simple: Rubia showing me how to make bread and apparently telling me some other tale I didn’t hear through dreaming. They proceeded to thoughts of making a few more loaves and having a dose of typical food. Finally, I settled down in unconsciousness.
In between those visions, I experienced a silent darkness. Every second was comforting, relaxing. The increasing simplicity was what settled me down in total rest. When the dreams started coming true the following day, their accuracy shocked me...
To be continued...