Chapter 11: Purpose
‘You were in my head!’ Rayn screamed as Ada approached her.
Despite gasping for air, the half-elf was still standing, tears reflecting the evening sun as she faced Ada.
‘I’m sorry,’ Ada said. ‘I had to, or you would be dead by now.’
‘The shard is part of me!’
‘The rest of you still lives.’ Ada reached for her friend’s naked shoulder, bleeding from many small cuts. ‘Let’s go home.’
Rayn pulled away from her. ‘I don’t have a home any more.’
The events of the night before flashed through Ada’s mind. Zac had broken her heart, but that meant nothing now. Her heart was still beating. The fire, the flight. The magic. Something had changed. Everything had changed. For both of them.
‘You can’t know your shop burned. It could be any other building,’ Ada said, half-heartedly. Of course, it was the apothecary that burned.
‘Yes, I can. For certain.’
‘Because I felt it as we ran through the city. I sensed their distress.’
‘What? Whose distress?’
‘The stones. The crystals in my shop,’ Rayn gazed towards the mountains in the east.
‘Are you still talking to stones?’ Ada laughed.
Rayn couldn’t help herself from smiling. ‘I never stopped. I learned not to let anybody notice.’
Relieved to have managed to calm her friend, Ada bent and picked up a stone from the ground. ‘Can you talk to this?’
‘I could,’ Rayn replied. The half-elf pulled up a blade of grass and offered it to Ada. ‘Eat this, and tell me how it feels.’
Hesitantly, Ada accepted the grass and chewed. ‘Doesn’t taste much.’
Rayn kept quiet.
‘What’s your point?’ Ada asked, eventually.
‘Why don’t you eat more?’
‘Because grass doesn’t nourish me. Eating grass serves no purpose.’
‘Exactly, and that’s why I don’t talk to the stone in your hand. It serves no purpose.’
‘But some stones are worth talking to?’ Ada was only beginning to comprehend.
‘Yes. All stones are not equal. Neither are all plants or animals. A dog is more than a rat. A rat is more than a worm. You would not talk to a worm, because it serves no purpose.’
Ada nodded, remembering the noise from the incomprehensible thoughts and emotions from nearby birds and rodents as she’d reached out from Rayn’s spirit. ‘The worm has nothing to say.’
‘Neither does your stone, nor the grass beneath our feet.’
‘But your pendant does?’
Again, Rayn turned her head and gazed in the direction of the Jaw Mountains. ‘Yes, the shard speaks to me even now. But its voice is faint, weaker for every mile between us.’
Ada briefly examined the cuts and bruises on her arms and feet. Thanks to the healing salve Rayn applied that morning, the burns on her back did not hurt.
She glanced at Rayn. Blood covered more of her skin than her torn nightgown did. So fragile. So vulnerable.
Ada shook her head at their predicament. She briefly considered going back for the sword the dead man dropped but discarded the idea. Neither of them was proficient with a sword, and drawing attention by trying to sell a sword that so obviously did not belong to them would only get them into more trouble. ‘Alright, let’s find your stone.’
‘Shard,’ Rayn said.