“What do you see, Atticus?” One of the townspeople came into one of the caves with me, showing me exactly where he has seen these small creatures coming from, or at least, where he thinks he saw them coming from.
“Not much,” I replied, staring down a long dark corridor. The flashlight lantern I had brought with me was designed to shine up to three hundred feet in one direction, but this corridor was much deeper than three hundred feet. There was also something dark and ominous about this corridor and that was causing the darkness to be more overwhelming than it would normally be.
I reached into the side pocket of my tool satchel, digging for a specific stone when I thought I saw something bolt across the corridor from one side to another. My hand froze in the pocket as I focused all my attention down the corridor.
“What was that?” The man from town who stood just behind me asked, the sound of fear evident in his voice.
“I’m sure it was a wild animal,” I lied, not needing him to freak out right now. “Why don’t you go back to my truck and radio the nearest DNR station. See if someone can get down here to identify this animal.” I knew no one, besides this guy, came near these caves, not even DNR officers, but I needed this guy to get out of here for what I was about to do. He knew that I investigated the strange mysteries of the world, but he didn’t know to what extent I went in order to solve them: Magic.
The man had no problems following my instruction, probably wanting to get out of here anyway, and took off running back towards the cave entrance.
Once I was alone, I located the stone, which was as old as me and given to me by Briar herself when I pulled it from my satchel and rolled it between my fingers.
“Da mihi visus,” I chanted, “Give me the sight.” I began rubbing the stone. One minute I had normal vision and then I watched my eyesight slowly blur over as everything became much more clear. This stone, along with the right incantation, could give a person night-vision. How lucky was I that I remembered to pack it?
After shutting the lantern off and setting it aside, I let my eyes get adjusted. It amazed me how well I could see now with no light source in the cave. I could almost see as if it were daylight in here. I’m going to have to remember to bring this stone with me on every investigation.
My feet began carrying me down the dark corridor, no longer dark, as I peeked into several holes and side caverns, hoping to find some kind of life or movement. These people weren’t crazy, that I was sure of, so there had to be some sort of explanation for these small creatures coming from the cave systems.
But as I continued down the long dark corridor, there was no sign of life anywhere and the thing I saw dart across earlier, was nowhere to be found. I know I’m not seeing or feeling these things for nothing. There has to be something down here.
Sounds of dripping water echoed through the corridor until I heard tiny little footsteps. I froze in my spot to listen, noting the eerie silence now. The drips had stopped making their sound and I couldn’t help but notice the fear rising in my chest. It wasn’t often that I got frightened on investigations, but this one was far too creepy at the moment. It felt like there were a million eyes on me right now but I couldn’t see a single living soul.
I turned this way and that, peeking in places that would be a perfect hiding spot, but not finding anything. Frustration was building inside of me, knowing that if I didn’t figure out who these creatures were and how to stop them, then I’d be stuck here until I did. And I really wanted to get back on the road and head for Louisiana. We finally found Emersyn and now I couldn’t be with her until this mystery was solved.
More tiny little footsteps surrounded me and my head whipped in all directions I had heard them from but it was as if they were too fast and dodged out of sight before my head could spin that fast. Stop moving, you little jerks, I thought to myself.
Then I saw one.
The creature wasn’t much taller than two feet tall with elongated pointy ears and stubby arms. For a moment, I thought I recognized the creature but I couldn’t be sure because it dipped behind a large stalagmite, hiding from my view.
“It’s okay, I won’t hurt you,” I called out softly, hoping to draw the little creature out. But he wasn’t moving.
I began slowly making my way over towards the stalagmite before I jumped around it hoping to catch the little guy in surprise. But he wasn’t there!
“Alright, this isn’t funny! Come out right now!” I barked, hearing my agitated voice echo back to me from deep inside the cave system. “Don’t make me use my… whoa!”
Before I could finish my sentence I felt the floor give way like jello and then I was falling fast. Instead of falling straight down, I was sliding on what felt like a giant stone slide, descending to an unknown destination. Fear gripped my chest as I tried to grab at the walls so I could stop myself but there was nothing to hold onto. I have no idea where I’m going to end up, but something told me it wasn’t going to be easy finding my way out.
The night vision stone was still allowing me to see in the darkness as I noticed familiar symbols beginning to form on the cave roof above me. I recognized these symbols well, but I can’t remember where I’d seen them before. The symbols became more clustered together and now my vision was becoming so bright that I couldn’t see them anymore. Wherever I was headed to in the cave, there was a lot of light here because now I was blind.
I quickly squeezed my eyes shut and whispered under my breath, “Release me.”
When I opened my eyes again, my vision was normal and I could see everything. My body was still sliding down this stone slide, but the farther I slid, the brighter it got.
And then I landed with a thud but I noticed it wasn’t stone that I landed on; it was soft moss. My head turned this way and that as I took in the sites around me.
The large cavern opening was brightly lit as if the sun were shining down and large purple blossoming trees created a majestic canopy over the cave floor. Except the cave floor was no longer stone, but grass and moss. A small stream of water cascaded through the moss and small colorful forest in front of me. Several species of budding flowers were scattered throughout, making the most beautiful scenery in front of me.
I noticed then that there wasn’t a soul in sight. Where are all of these creatures?
“Hello?” I called out, getting up from my feet as I brushed my jeans off. One step away from the slide and then I was surrounded by a hundred of these little creatures. They literally just morphed out of thin air.
But that wasn’t what surprised me. No, I knew these creatures very well and they weren’t creatures or monsters at all, but were fairies; ones I called friends.
I dropped to my knees and stared them in the eyes, a smile tugging at my lips.
“Where is Tavia?”
At the mention of their leader's name, they stepped out of the way, forming an aisle down between them as my eyes followed, landing on the head fairy.
I smiled at her. “Tavia,” I sighed in relief, glad that it was this bunch of fairies I landed upon and not the others.
She walked towards me, a huge smile on her face, as she cupped my cheeks with her tiny little hands. Her face sparkled in the sunlight and her skin was the tone of lavender. She looked much older than when I last saw her and I wondered what had happened to them. It was strange that I was seeing them in a North American cave system all these years later.
“Atticus,” she beamed, “I’m so thrilled to see you after all these years, friend.” She pressed her forehead against mine as I felt the familiar vibration from her to me. It was their way of showing affection and trust.
“What are you all doing here? The last time I saw you, you were back at your hidden village in the highlands.”
She shook her head sadly, looking among her fairy people before turning back to me. “Our homes were destroyed, Atticus. An ancient being found our whereabouts and stole our ancestors’ quartz before destroying our homes. We had to flee, hoping to get away from the ancient one. We also heard you were here and would find us if we caused enough trouble.”
“Tavia… I’m terribly sorry you lost everything. Do you know who this ancient one is? Why they would want your quartz?”
She shook her head. “No one saw his face but could feel his aura. He’s a bad one, Atticus. We don’t know why he stole our quartz. Perhaps he wishes to do harm with it. It’s a very powerful stone in the hands of someone like him.”
My mind was going a million miles per second, wondering who this ancient one could be and what he would want with a fairy’s quartz? It didn’t make a bit of sense. Was it the same ancient one Tristan had felt? But, how could that be? Uneasiness filled the pit of my stomach at the realization that it could be the very same person and they clearly had something unfathomable planned. All I know is that if this ancient one lays a hand on Emersyn, he’ll pay with his own life.
Immediately, I felt my thoughts get pushed out of my mind and my body froze as I heard a beautiful voice in my head. I hadn’t heard this voice in many years and hearing it now brought tears to my eyes.
“My boys I call to thee. Mama Briar wants you to come home. I have news.”
Briar. Hearing from her brought back some dark memories but also very warm ones. I missed her like crazy but it was too hard to see her.
“Briar- what is it?” But there was no longer a connection. She didn’t get my message. Strange, I thought to myself, she wouldn’t end the connection before she reached us. Had something happened on her end?
Tavia was watching me intently when I looked back down at her.
“What’s wrong, Atticus? You look troubled.”
“I am troubled, Tavia. Briar just reached out to me in my mind but she ended it before I could respond.”
She began jumping up and down in excitement. “Briar?! Oh, how we miss her! What about Emersyn? Tell us everything!”
At the mention of Emersyn’s name, my heart squeezed. It made sense that they knew nothing of her death or the fact that she had come back to the earth plane with no memory of me.
“She’s not with me, Tavia.” I knew that’s all I had to say for her to understand and she did because she reached out and placed her hand on my cheek.
“Oh, Atticus. I’m terribly sorry. I know how much you love her. Will she be joining you soon?” Her brows furrowed together, really staring into my eyes.
I shrugged. “I honestly don’t have a clue. Her previous life ended…” I paused, trying not to remember that horrible day but it was as if my mind had other plans for me.
My thoughts immediately brought me back to that day as I returned home from an investigation. The house was very quiet and Emersyn wasn’t answering me when I called out to her, so I ascended the stairs hoping to find her sleeping, but she wasn’t in our room either. Instead, I walked into the bathroom and that’s when I found my beloved Emersyn.
She was in the bathtub, the pink water filled to the top, and she had slit her own wrists.
My Emersyn was gone.
Immediately my mind came back to the present and it was then that I realized Tavia had caused that memory to flash through my mind’s eye so she could see it. I hate that she made me remember that day. It was the most painful day in my existence and I did a really good job pushing it out and forgetting about it. Until now.
Tears filled her eyes as she took my hands in hers. “Oh, Atticus…” she sobbed out.
When I felt the danger of my own tears swimming in my eyes, I blinked them away.
“Why did you do that?” I didn’t like that she made me remember that day. It was the worst day in my existence and she made it all come back; every emotion from that day gripped my chest as I tried to take a few steadying breaths. I didn’t need to break down now.
“I had to know,” she replied simply. “You’ll get her back, Atticus.”
I wish she was right but I just didn’t know anymore. This was the first life Emersyn came back with no memory of me. It wasn’t going to be easy.
“I need to go, Tavia. I think there’s trouble brewing with Briar and I can’t help but shake the feeling that it has something to do with Emerysn as well.”
She nodded. “Say no more, friend. Go take care of things and bring her home.” Tavia waved her hand and then I felt several fairy hands on me, bringing me back towards the stone slide that brought me here.
I turned to her once more, thanking her with a nod of my head before saying, “Can you chill out with the townspeople for a while? They don’t exactly like their things being stolen and feeling scared in the night. And don’t kill anyone else.”
Tavia giggled, waving me off. “You have my word and that death wasn’t caused by us, but by the fear of us.”
In the blink of an eye, I was back in the main part of the cave, darkness surrounding me. I have no idea how I got back up here so quickly but I wasn’t about to question it any further. I’ve learned that there is far more to this magical world than I could ever imagine.
Pulling out my lantern, I lit my path and headed for the exit. But not before I reached out to Tristan first.
“Tristan!” I scolded him but immediately regretted getting into his head. He was currently in the middle of a sexual conquest with a beautiful brunette and I did not like hearing his current thoughts. “What the hell are you doing? Where is Emersyn?!”
“Shit,” he cursed out, “You really need to stay out of my head. Emersyn is fine, safely at home with her parents.”
“Are you sure about that? Did Briar reach out to you?” I could see the cave entrance now and I knew I needed to wrap this up before I got out and found the man from town waiting for answers, so I stopped to finish the conversation with Tristan before he pushed me out of his head.
“Of course I’m sure, Atticus. I was just there a few…” he paused and I could feel his panicked energy all the way in the mountains. “I’ll find her.” And then he pushed me out, no doubt afraid that I was about to flip out on him.
I’m going to kill him. I literally gave him one job! One!
New anxiety filled me and I quickly exited the cave, needing to get to Louisiana and fast. Something is very wrong. I can feel it in my soul. And Tristan screwed it all up.
I swear, if there’s trouble with Emersyn, he’s the first one I’m going to blame.