Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words" List #5

"At the foot of the tree huddled a figure swathed in a cloak of many-colored butterfly wings..."
 *Suggested By: Autumn Siegel

The List*:
An Island
Modern Day/sunrise
A necklace that brings back lost memories

The Result:

"Soul Mates" (Part 2)

Excerpt from Part 1: He spoke again. “I thought I saw you run in there. Don’t be afraid, I won’t hurt you, and the others are long gone. Please, will you come out?”

Nakoma waited. So did the man. She saw him sit down on the log across from the one she hid within. He would probably wait there the whole night. The fire spirit in the orb danced and flickered—only it wasn’t exactly a spirit, she now saw, just the flame of it. How had the giants managed to separate the element?

“Frankly, I don’t blame you.”

Nakoma shrank back into a frightened little ball at the sound of the voice. The giant continued talking--but to whom? Nakoma knew of no one else besides herself in the area; could he mean to speak with her?

“You’ve probably never seen a human in your life, and here we are, invading your island, looking for treasure—at least,” he sighed, “the others are.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out something that Nakoma could not see—but she saw the gentle smile that played over his face when he looked at it. “Me, I came here looking for something a little different—and infinitely more precious.”

She wasn’t cowering anymore—but she still remained in the shadows of the log. This man—this human—was unlike anything she ever expected. He wasn’t trying to capture her, or kill her. He just kept talking.

“You see, my wife, Arielle, was an explorer like me. She came here many years ago, with another team.” He paused for a very long time.
Nakoma took another cautious step forward.
“Their camp was attacked by wild beasts, they said, and a couple of them were killed—but my wife—“ His voice stopped, and when he next spoke, his voice sounded different, round and open like the log she stood in. “They never found her body.”

Nakoma stood at the mouth of the hollow log. The man had ceased talking—but the strange gasping noises made her wonder exactly what he was doing. Carefully, inch by inch, she peeked around the edge of the log.

The man’s hands covered his face. His body quivered. The next time he made the sound, Nakoma timed her movements exactly and scurried across the ground toward his log.

His head snapped up as if he had heard the sound. He looked toward the log, as if he assumed she had run away. Looking back down, he saw her standing at his leg, and his body stiffened. Not daring to move, lest she prove to be some kind of illusion that would disappear, or something incredibly skittish that would vanish at the mere thought of alarm, he watched her.

Nakoma stared up at the man. Slowly, she tried forming words that the man would understand.
“You… come… to… find… her?” she asked.
The man’s mouth opened in surprise. “Yes,” he said quickly, as if he worried that saying anything more would scare her.

The man held very still as Nekoma climbed onto the log next to him. She stood eye-to-eye with him now. His head was turned away from her, but he watched her with his eyes.

“Me… Nakoma,” she said, pointing to herself.
“I am Kenneth,” he said, turning to face her.

Nakoma examined Kenneth closely. He wore strange clothes that were not the coverings of any animal she had ever seen. His eyes were brown like his hair. She saw something glint in his hand. It looked like two halves of a shell, but one side held a little black creature with antennas that clicked around and around in a circle, while the other held a face.
Nakoma gasped; she knew that face!
“What is it?” Kenneth asked.
Nakoma grabbed his hand; or rather, she could only grasp two of his fingers. “Must come with Nakoma!” she cried, running toward the deep part of the forest where the Druid Circle was hidden.
“What? Why?” Kenneth bounded to his feet, but already lost sight of her. “Where are we going?”
Nakoma returned to his side. “Must come!” she insisted.
“All right,” Kenneth sighed, “but not so fast! I can’t keep up.”
“Come with!” Nakoma tried to slow down her pace so that Kenneth could follow. All the while, her mind spun with the discovery she had just made.

Who could have predicted that Nakoma would be trapped outside the Circle on the very night a human crew would invade the forest—and one of those humans happened to be the mate of someone Nakoma had seen many times without once ever wondering where she came from? All this time, a human in their very midst—why had the Elder Sprites allowed this to happen, if they were indeed so concerned about any beings from the outside world discovering their existence?

Nakoma came to a stop just outside the shining border. Kenneth crashed through the underbrush behind her. He leaned against a tree, panting heavily.
“Why did we stop?” he asked. “Where are you taking me?”
Nakoma winced as she tried to find the words to tell him. “Circle… is here.”
“You’re kidding, the Druid Circle?” He gazed all around him in wonder. “Where?”
Nakoma realized Kenneth could not see the gauzy curtain that separated the world of the Fae from that of the humans. She marked a line in the dirt where the boundary met the ground.
“Here,” she pointed. Kenneth squatted down next to her, staring keenly at the space above the line. He moved his hand toward the barrier.
“May I?” he asked the little sprite.
Nakoma nodded, too overcome with the quandary she was getting herself into.

Kenneth stuck his hand over the line. Everything that crossed the mark seemed to vanish into thin air. He gasped, withdrawing his hand to make sure it was still there. Everything remained intact; a perception shield! It was as if magic existed in the real world!
Dawn gleamed at the edge of the horizon; sunrise, which meant the barrier would lift and allow them entrance. Her heart weighed heavy with dread as Nakoma stepped forward and took Kenneth’s hand. “Come,” she said, crossing the border into the Druid Circle.

Kenneth crossed the barrier and gasped. All around him, glowing figures danced and clambered around plants that seemed to emit their own light. Everything sparkled and gleamed in the new light of the sun. At the center was the largest tree he had ever seen, with many branches. Little brown wood sprites like Nakoma scurried around its many branches. Ethereal blue water sprites lifted their heads from the little pond at the foot of the tree to stare at him in wonder.
At the foot of the tree huddled a figure swathed in a cloak of many-colored butterfly wings. As Nakoma and Kenneth approached, the figure stood and threw back her cloak. Her dark hair hung down her back, adorned by a crown of brilliant flowers. She was nearly as tall as Kenneth; among the small sprites, it was very obvious that the two were the same species.

Kenneth stared in shock. “Arielle?” he gasped, confirming what Nakoma had feared.
The woman stared at him imperiously. “I am Allyra,” she announced. “Warden of the Fae; who is this Arielle you speak of?”
“What?” Kenneth frowned, and stepped forward, reaching for Allyra’s hands; she drew back from him. “Arielle, it’s me, Kenneth! I’m your husband!”
“Stay back!” Allyra barked, and a crowd of winged Air Sprites imposed themselves in front of her. “I know not but you are human! Do not feign to be so familiar with me, when I have never seen you before in my life! Take him from my sight!”
“What? Arielle! Wait, please!” Kenneth could not evade the wall of tiny spears brandished at him. He turned away, and they cleared. Lady Allyra had withdrawn.

Nakoma watched Kenneth sit on a rounded stone and pull out the golden shell with the image of Allyra—whom he knew as Arielle, his wife—inside it.
“I don’t understand,” he said softly, as the tears formed in his eyes.
“She has no memory,” Nakoma explained softly. “She come into the Circle, wounded, scared, seeking shelter. We give shelter, we heal—but she not remember what come before. Chose to stay and become Warden of the Fae.”
Sadness became anger as Kenneth scowled. “So that’s it, then?” He said despondently. “I’m just supposed to leave her behind, after I finally found her after all these years?”
Nakoma knew that this was not the end; she could not imagine if Kharrie forgot her and began to treat her as an enemy. She would help Kenneth, whatever it took.
“There is legend,” she offered the human. “Of a treasure, a necklace; it name Collar of Cuimhne.”
“Cuimhne,” Kenneth snorted, “The Irish word for memory.”
“Yes,” said Nakoma. “Legend say, those who forget, put on collar, remember everything forgotten.”
“So,” Kenneth said slowly, “If we were to find this collar, and somehow convince Ari—I mean, Allyra to wear it… she would remember me?”
Nakoma shrugged; who knew? “Legend say,” she said.
Kenneth considered this for a long moment. Finally, he looked at Nakoma. “Where can we find this Collar of Cuimhne?”

Previously in This Series:
#4 "Inside The Impact Zone"
#3 (See "Part 1" above) 
#2 "The Artist's Wife"
#1 "Red of Morning"