Hey everyone! I meant to get this posted last week, but this flash piece took on a bit more life than I’d expected so I didn’t get it finished when I thought I would. But you get a longer post out of the deal as well. That’s a good thing, right? I would love to hear what you thin, about this one’s potential to be a longer piece. Something about it is calling me to explore more.
In Search of Souls
I stood there, my pulse pounding and hands shaking, staring at the wall in front of me. A wall stretching higher than what I could see in the reflected candlelight and spread out to where it curved beyond my vision in both directions.
With an unsteady breath, I glanced over at my partner. “Well, this poses a bit more of a challenge than I’d expected.”
I could see the turmoil of my emotions playing across his face, too.
“I’d say.” Mekar was a man of few words.
It was becoming a serious battle between anger and panic in my head as I continued to take in the many thousand scrolls before me.
“We are in the right library, right? I can’t decide if I am hoping we are or if I hope we’re in the wrong place.”
“We’re in the right place.”
Mekar’s flat tone brooked no argument, but I pushed back anyway. “How do you know?”
He arched an eyebrow at me. “Seriously, Katasha?”
I threw up my hands and turned to face him full on. “Okay, I get it; your magic isn’t wrong in things like this. It guided us here, so we’re in the right place. Come on, though, how are we supposed to find what we need?
Mekar rolled his eyes at me, communicating without a doubt his belief I was being overdramatic, but I happened to disagree. I know, all we had to do was find the right scroll in the library. How hard could that be? Obviously, a lot harder than we’d guessed.
I sighed again and wandered a short way down the immense wall of scrolls. Some had been used in the recent past as evidenced by the lack of cobwebs, while others hadn’t been touched in so long I could hardly see them in the thick layers of grime. I spotted the occasional scroll with ornate beads hanging off the baton and scrolls with no baton at all.
Then something rustled in the deep shadows beyond my candle. I froze. My heart threatened to choke me as it pushed into my throat. I risked a quick glance over my shoulder at Mekar. He was about fifty meters away, intent on a spell. I couldn’t count on help from him.
The sound came again, this time a little closer, and angled to my right. Whatever lurked out there hope to trap me against the scroll shelf. Little did it know, my magical skill rested in connecting with living things. I took a few slow steps back as the first words of my calming spell crossed my lips.
The creature followed me a little slower this time. As the last words floated into the space between us, I paused. It did, too. Without missing a beat, I started in on the charm that would allow me to connect with it. I knew that was a risk, seeing as I had no idea what the creature was, but I thought it worth the gamble with how close we were to our goal.
When I spoke the last word, a feline energy filled my head. But it felt off. Frustrated. Unhappy, which broke my heart. I crept forward, all the while projecting soothing energy, working my hardest to reassure the feline I meant it no harm.
Within a few steps, a small snow leopard emerged from the shadows. I paused. No wonder it felt angry. Snow leopards belonged in the arctic, whereas this cave bordered on a desert.
It stunned me when it spoke into my mind. Help? Home many sunsets away.
I blinked several times. “Yes, I know. You belong in the arctic, not in a library. How did you get here?”
Woman came. Dress like moon on snow. Said she needed cub. Needed me. Brought me here and said to guard place. Pair would come who would need me.
My brow furrowed at the snow leopard’s words. Could it be someone brought her here for Mekar and me to find?
“What is your name, little one? I’ll help get you home again, to your mother and your kind.”
Xeada. No mother to return to. Just left den when woman came.
“Oh, you poor thing. At least I can return you to your home territory, and I promise I’ll help you find your kind so you can be safe.”
Mekar’s deep voice filled the air, interrupting our conversation. “Katasha, is everything okay?”
I looked at where he had risen. “I’m fine. Found a friend in need of our help.”
Turning back to Xeada, I gestured for her to follow me. “Let me introduce you to my partner, Mekar. I promise, he won’t hurt you either.”
Xeada followed me, albeit at a distance, back to Mekar. I saw his hand reach for his sword when he caught sight of her. “Wait, don’t hurt her!”
Mekar froze, but did not release the hilt. “That is a snow leopard.”
I put both hands out, the candle still in one, trying to placate him. “I know, but she’s young. Some woman brought her here to guard the scrolls. Her name is Xeada, and she was told to wait for a pair who needed her by a woman in a silver white dress.”
I realized I should have left that last part off when I saw Mekar tense again. “Wait, please! Xeada’s not dangerous!”
“How do you know?”
I gave him a sharp look. “You’re kidding me, right? She and I have been talking, or did you forget I can do that with some lifeforms?”
Mekar relaxed a little. “Didn’t know you could speak to snow leopards.”
“Honestly, I didn’t either until now as I haven’t had many opportunities to speak to one.”
Throughout the entire exchange, Xeada had waited, crouched, just out of sword range. That distance wasn’t a deterrent for her, though. Snow leopards could pounce over twice the distance between us with ease.
“Xeada, we can help you, like I said. We need to find a scroll before we can get you home, though.”
Mekar gestured in the direction from which Xeada had come. “It’s this way.”
Seek one scroll among many?
“Yes, we’re looking for a special scroll.”
Come; this way.
I shrugged. “Since you both say it’s this way, I’m good with that.”
Mekar gave me that arched eyebrow once more. He spoke such volumes with that look. I shrugged again and followed him and Xeada.
We walked for over five hundred meters along the curving shelf that, even this far, showed no sign of ending. This had to be one serious enchantment to create something so enormous within the small cavern we’d entered.
Xeada paused, sitting back on her haunches, her long tail curled around her. Is there. High as first branch. Smells of warm dry earth.
Mekar had already stepped toward the shelf, his eyes closed, his hand not quite touching the surface. I knew that gesture. He was using his magic to locate it.
“Xeada says it’s at a height just above your head and smells of warm, dry earth.” Despite whispering, my words still felt too loud.
Though Mekar didn’t respond, I knew he’d heard me as his hand shifted above his head. We spotted it at the same time, the scroll drawing my eyes as it drew his hand. It held a thick layer of dust, though not as thick as some I’d seen. The baton had a small string of glass beads hanging from it, but I couldn’t tell their colors. Instinct told me they would be red, blue, clear, green, white, and black. The colors of the Elements.
With an amazing gentleness, Mekar pulled it from the case on the shelf in which it rested. We had it now, The Maker’s Scroll. This could help restore our people. Mekar and I would finally have a home.
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