Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose
Chilly air rushed through the valley. Droplets of rain were just starting to sprinkle down.
We hadn't found shelter, and the storm would get to us long before we could get back to our rock overhang.
We were frantically searching for anything around us that could keep us dry. Things weren't looking good. If we didn't find shelter soon, Indena's wounds might open up.
"Hey! What's that?"
Indena pointed to the wreckage of a car!
The car wasn't in terrible shape. But it looked really old and rusty, so it probably wouldn't be driving anytime soon. Luckily, the doors were unlocked.
We both hopped into the front seats. It smelled like old rubber. There was some kind of ash on the chairs, so we dusted them off and shut the doors. Just in time too, there was a huge cloudburst outside!
Water fell from the sky like angels had dropped giant buckets over the land. It was so strong that trees were getting warped in the heavy watery wind. We were nice and dry inside the car.
"It's a freaking tornado out there!" Indena shouted.
"No." I said. "This is a cloudburst. I studied the weather for a while, so I know the difference."
My studies were supposed to help me learn to fly, but I guess it paid off in other ways too.
"Whatever. How are we going to travel in this?!"
Cloudbursts are usually quick. They only last a few seconds to minutes. Infact, I predict it will end right about…now!
Yes! I was on the money!
"Oh thank the gods it's over." Indena relaxed in her seat.
The cloudburst might have ended, but the rain was still coming down hard enough to be an issue. We decided to wait it out for a little while.
"Why do you think there's a car here?" She asked.
"I don't know."
The car might have been a wreck, but the more I looked at it, there was only some minor damage on the frame. I had a feeling that some of the internal components might have still been intact, but that was iffy unless I could look under the hood.
"Hey, check that map of yours. Maybe we can figure something out since we have a minute."
I maximized the map, then started giving it a combing through. I wasn't seeing any shelter or anything. The car did stand out on the map though. It looked a little like a long rectangular box.
We could have gone back to that cave, but the rain was getting really bad and the wind could probably blow me away. So getting there would have been a lot of work.
We could have also gone back to the overhang, but I had a feeling it wasn't going to protect us very well from the bad winds.
“Find anything?” Indena asked.
“No.” I said.
She wanted to take a look. I realized I could project the map out of my eyes, so I did.
“Wow, that’s handy…” She mumbled, taking a good look at the map projection. “Ah-ha!” She announced, pointing at a weird snaking trail on the map. Then she pointed to it in real life. “Look, that’s cobblestone.”
“Like, the stuff you mine out of the stone with a pickaxe?”
“No, you dits! Like a collection of rocks that make a path.”
Isn’t that what I kinda said? Well, maybe she just didn’t hear me right over the patter of raindrops.
If we bum rushed it, we could get on the path and find out where it went. I say that now, but it's not like this path was going to magically stop the rain while we were traveling.
"Where there's a path, people have to be nearby." She claimed, spreading some hope that things could get better. "Once the rain dies down, we can head down it."
"Sounds good to me."
We waited an awful long time, but the rain was only getting worse. I was starting to get a little sleepy, so I took a short nap.
Little did I know, Indena would wake me up mere minutes into it.
"What do you mean, what's wrong?!" She pointed to a big moose looking in at us through her window. It might have been my imagination, but was it glowing blue? Kinda like a ghost or something. "Do something, nature girl!"
Was she calling me nature girl because I controlled the wolves and had a snake in my hair? I don't think that I could deal with a moose.
"Haaaaa!" The moose cried out, then it slammed its antlers against the car door!
"Shit!" Indena swore again!
The moose kept bashing its antlers against the door, nearly breaking it off the hinges.
Indena forced me out my side door, then she jumped out too. Now we were in the rain again.
It looked like the moose really didn't like that car, because he kept attacking it even after we got out. That thing was so strong that it was pulverizing the old steel frame! Wow!
"It's distracted. Let's get the hell outta' dodge!"
The storm wasn't too bad at the moment, so we could travel, but the path was really wet and muddy, so running was a slipping hazard.
The cruddy path was so slippery, I almost fell twice trying to walk along it. Indena caught me both times. Messing up my dress in the mud would have been the absolute worst!
She held my hand the second time I almost fell, then I clung close to her arm and we kept moving. We probably went about a kilometer before I noticed something come up on my map.
The map was showing a few squares just ahead of us. Each of them had a different colour. The biggest square looked green with yellow lines going through it, and the others had pale or brown on them.
"I think there's something up ahead!"
Low and behold, it was a house!
The house looked old. It was like a log cabin with cobblestone at the base of the building. Moss covered the sinking roof, probably barely holding it together. It might not have been too bad of a place if the roof got fixed.
Over the doorway was something smeared in brownish red. It looked a little like words, but it was hard to tell what it said since it was old and faded.
“Looks like blood,” Indena claimed.
“B-blood?” I shivered, cowering behind her leg.
Indena tried to pry me off of her leg, but I wasn’t letting go.
“Take it easy! You’re gonna’ see some blood if those nails dig any deeper.” She pulled me off once I loosened my grip. “This isn’t human blood.” She pointed to a stone structure not too far from the house with an animal skull on it. “That’s a sacrificial altar. The blood was probably from that animal.”
Sacrifices didn’t make this seem any better, animal or not. But I guess that was slightly better than it being a person’s blood.
But the real question was, why would someone put animal blood over their doorway? Seemed like a weird way to paint the walls. Creepy, actually.
“They’re probably superstitious.” She went up to the wooden door. “Let’s just hope they’re friendly.”
“I hope so. Then we could stay in their house till the rain died down.”
The rain started to pick up. Indena started frantically knocking on the door, but the wooden door creaked open on its own.
“Too spooky!” I closed my eyes in case a ghost flew out!
“Hey, that hurts!” I was holding her stomach pretty tightly, my nails were digging into her again. “Nobody lives here anymore, so don’t freak out. Head inside!”
“Ghosts might live there!” I cried out. “We can’t go in.”
She assured me that ghosts probably wouldn’t live here, and if they did, she said they had poor taste.
But spooky places like this were where ghosts lived, because nobody else would bother them here. That’s why they tried to scare people off by going ‘BOO!’
“I’m scarier than a ghost.” Her irises lit up bright orange. “So if they try anything, I’ll kick they’re invisible butts.”
I guess that made me feel a little better, since she promised to protect me.
We both started to head inside. This place looked dusty and decrepit, but otherwise untouched.
A few household items were sitting on a podium in the living room, all caked in dust of course. There were some couches wrapped in plastic. Honestly, this place didn’t look too bad. A little old timey, but it had that log cabin kinda’ vibe, so it actually seemed pretty decent.
It was a bit hard to see, so I engaged my night vision and continued to look around in the darker areas. Indena lit a fire over her hand to see better as well.
Lucky for us, this place wasn't leaking anywhere. It definitely wasn't in the greatest conditions, but it would shelter us for now.
Both of us managed to wander into the kitchen from two separate paths. The first place we both dove to was the somewhat modern looking fridge. It had some food! How old was this stuff?
The fridge itself wasn't working, but another lucky find was that all the food inside had been magicly preserved, so we had lots of things to eat! There wasn’t any power to cook, but Indena managed to get a lamb stew cooking with her fire magic.
What she was cooking actually smelled really good. She kept throwing in all kinds of spices and herbs to make it better. My expectations skyrocketed with every new pinch of flavour she added.
“I’m not really good at cooking, but hopefully this tastes better than all the other stuff we’ve been eating.”
She poured out some in a bowl, then handed it to me.
Like I’m not picky, but the meat was really dry, and chewy, even though it was bathing in a pool of liquid. I think it was too watery, actually. Did I set my hopes too high?
That’s when flavour hit, and it hit strong.
She put a lot of spices in, but only the water managed to take on the taste. That part was spicy, and pretty tasty. Then at the bottom of the bowl, I found where half the spices had collected into a flavourful mush of ingredients. This was a really weird meal.
“What do you think?” She was looking at me with a nervous brow, but the rest of her had that usual angry look.
“It’s good.” Was that really how I felt about this?
The nervous look faded, now she just looked angry again.
“And that means…?” her brow furrowed, and she rolled her hand around.
Did she want me to critique her food? What was I, a food critic? I guess I could tell her about how the meat was dry and chewy, I could also tell her about the power packed spicy soup water…not to mention that organic material gathering at the bottom.
“The meat was chewy, not very…tender?” I think that was the right term, I think? “And the spice was really flavourful, but most of it probably went to waste at the bottom of the bowl.”
She took a spoonful of the soup and tried it out for herself. Her cheeks rose up to her eyes, and her mouth puckered.
“Yuck, this is horrible. You didn’t have to lie to me.”
“But, I didn’t lie. I liked the spicy soup.”
Mmm…I’m not sure if that was true. This definitely wouldn't be my first pick. Maybe it wasn’t her thing to make stew? Or maybe she was just harsh on her own work.
Either way, I guess I kinda liked it…mostly.
We both didn’t have much choice anyways. Food was food. There was some jam and honey, but those would be for dessert.
Oh, you know something? Uncle never let me mix sweet things into my meal. I bet it would taste even more awesome! Sweet things always taste really good, so they must make everything else taste good too.
I grabbed out a jar of honey and brought it over to the stew.
It made a 'pop' sound as I twisted off the cap. I went to pour in the honey, but Indena grabbed the bottle before I could.
“What the hey?!”
She glared at me with deadly eyes. “Don’t you dare do something so disgusting.”
Yikes, she meant business. I guess this wasn’t such a good idea. Or maybe...she wanted to keep the secrets of a delicious meal all to herself? She must have known that honey would enhance the flavour.
When she wasn't looking, I'd have to try and put some in, just to see.
So, if I'm being really honest, honey on lamb stew wasn't half bad. I think you need to actually cater the dish to it, but it might be worth a try when we get back home.
What else could honey enhance? My Bee Princess side was showing!
Did you know my dad was King of the Bees? That was a nickname Uncle came up with for him. That made me a princess. Princess Yalda of the Bees!
So, I'm not legit royalty, but what is royalty other than a title we give powerful people? That's what I read in a book once. The Reality of the Ordained Majesty by Peri Tolken. What a title!
"Shrimp, quit mumbling to yourself and eat your food." Indena boredly glared at me.
Shoot, was I mumbling my thoughts? I checked my dialog history, but it just looked like a mess of barely understandable gibberish up till Indena spoke. That was something I'd probably need to keep under wraps if I didn't want to seem weird...
When we both ate our food, there was some bread we slathered the honey and jam on instead of the stew. Indena was more than happy to let me do that.
She left some red meat out, not cooking it completely. There was a reason she did that, and it made me happy that she thought about it.
Actually, it made Samael happy, because she left that for him to eat. He loves red meat. It was usually synthesized, but it still tasted all the same.
My goodness, he was happy to eat that all up. He had some blood on him though, and I didn’t want to let him back in my hair until he was clean, so I rinsed him off in the well water sink.
“He said thank you, I think.”
"Never thought a snake would say thank you to me."
We all went into the living room and started a fire in the chimney. She lit up a wooden log with her bare hands.
Rather than take a chance of sleeping in one of the cold bedrooms upstairs, we gathered up pillows and blankets from all around the house and set them up on the rug area in the living room. Once we had everything set up nicely for us to sleep on the floor, I heard Indena grumble when she found a hidden laundry room next to the kitchen.
“Guess what I found!” She sounded upset. “Sleeping bags! We didn’t even need to set up all these stupid itchy blankets.”
“They’re not itchy.” I said.
She pinched the rubbery skin of my arm.
“Yeah, little miss undersuit.”
Oh, see, this is something I figured would happen. People would mistake my skin for an undersuit.
“No, this is my skin.” I said. “When you pinched me, I felt it.” Thankfully it wasn’t enough to hurt.
At first she was really confused, but then she just shook her head and smiled, huffing out a breath.
"Guess we both have different skin."
She took off her jacket, keeping a bra on to cover up her chest. She had tattoos all over her body. Only a gap for clean skin existed down the middle of her torso. They looked so artistic and oriental, like someone skillfully painted all over her.
The pictures looked like fire, rising up vines and surrounding flowers. Words in the Kanai language were spotted all over.
She turned around and showed me her back. She had to undo her bra a little to give me a clear view. A beautiful looking woman was tattooed there, and she wore a flowing white dress and had lots of light contours shining all over like a halo.
Although these tattoos looked beautiful, they didn't look finished. A lot of contours existed, but they didn't all have full colour.
"The more experiences I have in life, the more I add to these. One day, it’ll be full colour, and look awesome."
"Wow, are those all part of your magic?"
She snickered, then pointed to her right arm. "Nah, only this part is magical. The rest is just part of me."
What did she mean by the rest being part of her? Maybe it's like she was saying that the tattoos are literally put into her skin.
"Anyways…" she fixed her bra back and gathered the sleeping bags, "let's get these things set up so we can sleep already."
So instead of using just blankets, we put the sleeping bags over them. Those admittedly were a bit more comfortable.
When we were going to sleep, I noticed she left the fireplace lit. I know you're not supposed to do that, so I was getting ready to put it out.
“Indena, can you use your magic to put out the fire?” I asked, not knowing how to put out a fire safely.
“No,” She replied.
“Because, it helps me sleep. Besides, if anything happens I’ll deal with it.”
Was she afraid of the dark? I think the dark should be afraid of her…but oh well.
“Are you afraid of sleeping in the dark?” I asked. “I am, a little bit.”
“No, I’m definitely not.” She didn’t sound convincing. “So shut up and go to sleep.”
Maybe Stardust would help both of us sleep better.
Haze radiated out of the skin of my hand. It burst to life like glowing glitter powder.
The white haze spun around on top of my palm, then formed into a ball shaped crystal with a flat bottom. The shimmering light from its surface lit up the room just enough to work as a night light.
I placed it between our sleeping bags, then crawled into mine and snuggled up. Samael slithered under my pillow and got cozy there.
Even though Indena was laying down, appearing to be asleep, her eyes opened and she lifted up her head to examine the glowing orb on the ground.
“What is that?” She asked.
“Stardust. It’s this amazing crystal made of sunlight.”
Indena took it from the ground, then inspected it all over.
As she held it, she brought it close to her chest and hugged it tightly.
“It reminded me of someone I used to know. I don’t know why, so don’t ask.” She was really clinging to the stardust.
“You can have that, if you want.” It was going to decay away in a few hours anyways, so she might as well enjoy it while she could.
She ended up leaving it between us, keeping the room lit up a bit extra. That didn't stop her from keeping the fireplace burning though.