Chapter 10 - Stone (Part 1)
When he stepped out of the house after returning the roast pan, his skin began to tingle.
Over the rooftop, the full moon peaked out. The silver glow touched his exposed flesh, sending sparks of electricity to ripple gently through him.
The power of the moon filled him, calling forth his beast. Refusing to allow the beast full reign of the night, he drove down the urge to shift and stepped forward.
Darkness had enshrouded the land, save for the light of the moon and the dancing orange flames of the campfire.
His soulmate laid on her back next to the flickering flames—far closer than he was comfortable with. He didn’t want her at such close proximity to the greedy fingers that grasped and consumed everything in its path, but the presence of the Spirit Walker next to her eased him.
The power of the moon radiated in the eyes that gripped his own. There was goodness, purity, and honor in those depths. If Stone had to trust one being with the soul of his mate, it would be him. He couldn’t explain it, but he could feel it.
Holding the Spirit Walker’s gaze, he strode across the property to the circle and stepped inside.
The air was lighter, the energy positive, welcoming, soothing, and above all, safe.
He inhaled the mixture of scents rising up from the campfire. Woody, spicy, floral, and slightly sweet smells filled him and any inhibitions he had fled him immediately.
The Spirit Walker motioned for him to lie behind Aubree.
His soulmate was a sight to behold. The light of the campfire illuminated her face in an ethereal glow. Long dark lashes lined her closed eyes, looking fuller with the shadows cast by the fire. Her lush lips were slightly parted as her breath entered and exited with each slow and steady rising and falling of her chest. Her hair, decorated with a few odd herbs and bits of plants, fanned out around her like a golden halo in the firelight. A thin blanket had been pulled up to her chin, the designs reflecting the Navajo traditions, peoples, and history in a vibrant array of colors and patterns.
He took a deep breath in and out as he closed his eyes and sent a silent prayer up to the Goddess.
Skirting around Aubree, he lay down on the ground, his head a few inches from hers as the Spirit Walker ordered him to do.
Following the same instructions given to Aubree, Stone closed his eyes and focused his attention on clearing his mind and breathing in a slow and steady manner.
The softness of the Spirit Walker’s voice as he began his song lulled his mind as herbs were placed around him and something astringent burned next to him. He found his mind drifting. Consciousness slipped away with the crackling of the fire as the comforting embrace of darkness enveloped him.
There was a lightness that lifted him up and a faint hum that vibrated in the space around him.
What was he to do now?
Reaching out into the void around him, he saw that he was no longer a solid, tangible body, but rather translucent. Smoke-like tendrils swirled and coiled to form the shape of a hand and arm, but like smoke, it spread out and disappeared when he waved his hand in front of him. Only when he kept still did the smoke take any shape or form.
He tried to press his palms together, but the wisps swirled and curled around each other. He felt nothing. Saw nothing. Smelled nothing. Heard nothing. There was nothing before him and nothing behind him. Nothing above and nothing below.
He went to step forward and saw that his legs and feet were like his arms and hands. Smoke curled in the general shape of his limbs but having no ground in which to stand on meant there was no need to walk.
Where exactly was he?
The Spirit Walker’s voice came out, not in front of him, nor behind him, but in his head, once again reading his thoughts.
A thin curl of smoke appeared next to him and began to grow and take some kind of human-like shape next to him. From the center of him unfurled arms and legs and a head with glowing white eyes, yet all distinguishable features remained absent.
And yet, Stone knew it was the Spirit Walker. He could sense it within him, like a psychic connection.
[I cannot let you pass into the Spirit World. You would not be able to return,] Clear Waters said.
Stone scowled. [That’s reassuring.]
Laughter vibrated in the space around them, yet there was no actual sound as the spirit before him closed his bright eyes and threw his head back. [Indeed. Come, this way.]
The way smoke curls on the wind, so too did he. Although Stone wasn’t sure how exactly to follow him with an intangible body, it was actually effortless. He merely leaned forward with the intent on following him, and his metaphysical body did so without hesitation.
Stone didn’t know where they were going—there was nothing to see to guide him. He could feel he was getting closer, though he wasn’t sure how.
Within moments he understood. The pull of her soul in the vast empty space drew him toward her.
When he could make out another being, she was spinning around in circles—at least, that was what it appeared to be. It was hard to tell when she had no solid form. Still, the tendrils of smoke swirled around like a top before pausing as he and the Spirit Walker drifted closer and she began to take on more or less a human shape.
A second form drew away and two pairs of glowing white eyes turned to watch Stone and Clear Waters’ approach. They smiled and though Stone couldn’t see the smiles, he could feel them within him. Warmth radiated and spread through him, coming from inside him, but also coming from them as he neared and they reached out their smoke-curling wisps.
The life-force on the left was feminine and the one on the right masculine. Though they appeared identical, the psychic connection clicked within him immediately.