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Search & Scrutiny IX

“I was in a field of grass again and the field was carried along a road. Golden fields passed me by on the horizon.”
Louissos was talking about his last dream. They were the first, albeit faint and obscure, calls he could receive back from Aaka as she was recuperating.

He lay in the bed that used to be Garrett’s, with fresh bedding of course. Elissa had been nursing him for two days now. Getting him up the slope to the forest required some simple magic, but all in all it had been an easy endeavour. Elissa had also written a report to the highest circle to let them know where their connection to Nannade was now. A Guardian had come by to verify the claims she made. Elissa had asked Louissos whether she should bring him something from his room in Sosken to continue his work here, but he had only replied “Please allow me this short vacation at your side.” To which she couldn’t say no.

He slept a lot. Most of the day he was listless and tired but always willing to listen to Elissa’s stories. Sometimes they would be about her own childhood or education, sometimes about the lives of the people she cared for and sometimes about Nannade and Garrett. More rarely, he would tell her a story. Stories that did not involve abominations or sacrilegious acts.

On the few occasions that she did have to do work, he would watch her and smile every time she turned around to check on him. It was relaxing to have him by her side. She didn’t feel like she was replacing Nannade or Garrett, but rather that she had finally realized what Nannade and Garrett had made her yearn for. Now she just needed to keep her heart still, her head clear, and not let herself be fooled again.

He sat with her on the porch and listened to the song of the forest. Elissa barely ever talked to people inside the Lodge. She was glad she could be the keeper of the glade. It was a well-paying job for its negligible effort, next to her being a witch, albeit an unfulfilling one, therefore, Elissa never had someone to truly connect to on this level for long periods of time apart from Tirana and Nannade. And she knew Nannade also couldn’t connect to anyone else like she did to Elissa. It was on this mutual understanding of their worlds that Elissa and Louissos had built their current friendship. But it wasn’t the reason why they did build this friendship. So far, Elissa had no reason to be friends with anyone except Garrett, who she liked because they shared a past and because they enjoyed their mutual bickering. Garrett gained an additional safe house away from the city and she gained an irregular visitor and someone to keep her connected to the outside world. The reason why Elissa had built a friendship with Louissos was that they both had looked in the same eyes and saw the same thing: a deeply powerful soul yearning to be set free. Although Nannade’s eyes had changed, Elissa had still seen that soul within her after the girl had performed the ritual.

And from this friendship she was sure would something else grow. She didn’t know whether he agreed, but she was sure he understood what she was aiming at, and he never said no.

“I’ll open a practice in town soon.” She said at one point.
“Really? No more living alone with a cat in the forest?” Louissos said jokingly.
Elissa shook her head. “No, not ever. Those days have passed. Also, the days of dancing for the spirits and guarding the glade. Let some pretty young blood do that.”
“Didn’t your teacher have a practice?”
“Yes. I guess sooner or later all women become their mother. And Tirana raised me since I was almost seven.”
“And your real mother?”
“On the other side of Sturreland. My little brother takes care of her these days. I rarely visit her. Maybe I should do that soon.”
“Let me know if I can help you with anything.”
Elissa smiled at Louissos. “You’re almost overbearing in your willingness to help others, aren’t you?”
“I rarely stay long enough in one place these days to even offer anyone help outside of contracts. Let me have my vacation!”

They days flew by and he eventually recovered fully, while telling what Aaka had told him; that the girl was safe but confused and alone. On the last day of his stay, Elissa almost wanted to ask him to stay, but instead she just hugged him and he decided to press a soft kiss on his lips. As he walked down the path out of the forest he called out to her again. “Tea every forth?” and Elissa replied. “After noon!”

She went inside. It was lonely again, but she knew it wouldn’t last that long anymore. She got down to write an official letter to the Highest Circle. It was time to leave the forest.

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