The Knowing and the Myst
By Danube Adele
“I know you’re there.”
Bryland said this casually, the deep timbre of his voice giving me those warm, swirling tingles in my tummy. He donned his shirt over his sweaty chest. I pursed my lips with pouty displeasure. One of my favorite activities was sitting up on a leaf in the old oak tree closest to his home and spying on him. It was a plus if his shirt was off.
I wasn’t going to lie. I loved looking at his big man muscles. He was tall and broad, his dark hair tied back at his nape, and with a presence that commanded the respect of those from his village, Tregarsby.
“You aren’t very subtle.” He grinned, leaning his ax against the bottom of my tree and pausing, as though waiting for a response. Strange.
Who was he talking to? I did a curious scan of the immediate forest. No one was on the path. There was no other cottage for several miles. Was someone in the house?
“I’m talking to you, little sprite.” He smiled warmly, reaching to put a hand on the trunk of my tree. A faint blue light glowed under his palm. “I can’t see you, but I can feel you.” He closed his eyes and sudden warmth pulsed through the tree surrounding me.
Mother of the forest, he was talking to me! My heart fluttered. Escape? I pushed off my comfy seat to hover above it, but he opened his sparkling, green eyes and turned a wolfish grin my direction.
“I’ve surprised you.”
That was an understatement. It was unheard of for anyone of the Myst to be discovered by those of the Knowing, or anyone else for that matter. How in the worlds had he done it? Apprehension began to stir. This was unacceptable within the Myst community. We weren’t supposed to show ourselves to anyone. Ever. There were horrific consequences for such actions.
He frowned. “Don’t be afraid, sprite. I’m not sure of your exact words, but I can feel you’re worried.”
Yes, I was worried. This was wrong. Very wrong.
“I’ve enjoyed feeling your presence. It’s given me comfort. I’m sure you’ve heard talk of coming war. The Vieshins are in preparation.”
We’d heard rumor, but the Myst didn’t involve themselves in the affairs of the humans. We’d seen many battles over time, and this one would not be the last, but it would likely weave threads of destruction that would be devastating to the forest. We were nurturers. Healers. Helping the forest grow was our primary job. We would have much to do after the battle with repairing the forest. There would also be human death.
A sense of anxiety washed over me.
Could Bryland be killed in the coming battle? The Knowing were strong and skilled warriors and many had mastery of their blue magic. But even if they won, some might die.
“Don’t worry, little sprite. We’ll be fine. Guards are posted all over the forest. We’ll know the moment they come.”
At least that was something. There was nothing the Myst could do in any case, and besides, we tended not to become involved in human matters. Feeling a sense of heaviness, I realized this was more time than I’d ever spent spying. I had work to do.
“You’re leaving.” He seemed disappointed. “I understand. I thank you for listening.”
I didn’t know what to say, or if he’d even be able to interpret my thoughts, so I left. I spent the rest of the day mysting through my trees, creating the life-giving nutrients to spread within their veins and deep into their roots, accepting their thanks and feeling their renewal of strength and growth; however, a feeling of dread held me in a strong grip by the end of the day.
“Eadaya! Come quickly to the West Valley!” My sister Harine sent her message on a breeze. I could hear the urgency. Mysting to her at nearly the speed of sound, I covered hundreds of miles quickly and found her deep within the crevice of two boulders on the edge of a human encampment. A campfire was melting metals into the shape of a strange looking harness.
“They have strange winged creatures.” Harine looked to me with fearful eyes. “Look.”
Penned across the way were enormous, half-grown humans covered in scales, with reptilian-skinned wings that looked to span twenty feet. More than a dozen were chained together. When had they come?
“I heard the humans talking. They plan to drop liquid fire and burn the forest within the in a matter of days.”
“Oh no!” I thought of Bryland. They would expect an attack from the ground, not the sky. They would all die for certain. “You need to find the Council of Elders.”
“I told them. They said not to interfere, but that doesn’t seem right.”
“No. It doesn’t.”
My sister called after me as I mysted through the forest faster than I ever had before. I went straight to Bryland’s home, but found it empty. Where would he be? The village? I knew where it was.
Only a few moments later, I was there, weaving undetected through people, between the buildings, and within village stores, trying to catch sight of him. He was on a training field not far beyond the village’s boundaries wearing breeches and a wielding a large sword.
He felt me immediately. A look of concern touched his face as he turned in my general direction.
“Who are you talking to, Bry? Did I knock your senses loose just now?” His sparring partner chuckled, but frowned, not having any sense of my presence.
I tried to tell him about the attack, but Bryland only shook his head, frustrated.
“I can feel your fear, but I don’t know what you’re saying.”
Panic fueled my determination. There was only one thing left to do. I would need to morph into form on the human plane so he could see and hear me. However, stepping through the myst might mean never again being able to return.
I couldn’t let him be murdered. Concentrating on the film between my world and his, I created the light, and it enveloped me. Sticking my hands out, I pulled the film apart, tearing it, and stepped through one foot at a time into the cold air. Unused to the weight of the world, I fell weakly to the ground, my long black hair covering most of my pale naked body, and looked up, gasping for breath.
All of the men were speechless.
“The Vieshins created flying creatures,” I said with a soft, shaky voice. I’d never used it before. “They plan to pour fire from the sky.” The energy it took to move so quickly through the forest and undergo change from one dimensional plane to another drained me. I could only put my head down as darkness blacked out the world.
Bryland was watching over me when next I woke. I rested on a bed, likely at his house, with a sheet pulled over me. His expression was one of no nonsense as he captured my eyes, refusing to let me look away for a moment, but something he was holding caught my attention. It was a heart-shaped box he was pulling apart. Two small stones, soft and pearlescent, spilled into the palm of his hand.
“What is that?” I asked faintly.
“A conduit, from my heart to yours. It will give you energy to heal. It will also allow you to know my thoughts, and for me to know yours. Is that all right?”
“With war coming, we need to be able to communicate.” His green eyes were piercing with their intensity. “We can help each other.”
I realized it was for the best and nodded.
Holding one of the stones over his heart, it came alive, turning into blue light and sinking harmlessly beneath his skin. Holding the second stone over my breast, I saw his hand glow a light blue before the heat of the stone sank through me.
“A time of reckoning has come.”
Find out more about Danube Adele!