Chapter 2. Questions
Cerridwen and James walked slowly through the golden meadow, despite the situation James couldn’t help but admire the beauty of this place. The sky was indeed of yellow color, he swore he could see two giant, orange suns above their heads. The tiny leaves on the trees were shining, James could feel a warm wind and inhaled deeply and felt a bit dizzy, he bit his lower lip in order not to scream or cry, or both. How he missed this freedom of walking, feeling and breathing. He looked at Cerridwen, who was walking right next to him, he did not know whether she chose not to comment or she actually did not see he was about to break, either way he was grateful. Most of the road they were silent. James was trying the best he could do not think about the last years of his life. He could still feel the heat of the flame, the sharp blades in his flesh, the stench and the desperate screams all around him. Whatever that place called, Black Market or not, it was hell.
Cerridwen was lost deep in her thoughts as well. She was trying to focus more on getting to the safe place. She knew for sure that the Hagglers will be looking for them. Not that she was afraid of the wretches, they could not hurt her, plus they knew who she was and how easily she can stop their existence. No, Cerridwen was afraid that they could snatch James back. His mind was too fragile now. She needed to get him out of here as soon as possible, to the place where no troubled spirit can get through. She looked at James and wondered if he himself was a troubled one, Raven will definitely moan about this for hours.
‘Cerridwen?’ she heard James’s voice. She tried to ignore how broken this man looked. She was far from the fan of the Hagglers and all their crimes, but looking at the person in the flesh, so to speak, she felt rage and hatred towards those creatures. Cerridwen have never been to the Black Market before, although she did hear a lot of terrible stories about the place. She couldn’t save all poor souls from their prison, but she had to help someone.
‘Yes, sleeping beauty,’ Cerridwen put a quick smile on her face.
‘I think we did figure out my name,’ James said a bit snuffly, he didn’t want this nickname stick to him.
‘Ok, James, what’s up?’
‘I was wondering, where are we going?’ in fact James had millions of other questions, most of them were about Black Market and everything connected to it, but he just wasn’t keen to go there yet. He needed to process first all of it, he could feel that his mind was already at its limit and he didn’t want to push it further.
‘We are going to someone who will decide what happens to you next.’
James stopped at those words. Cerridwen looked at him and tried to explain.
‘Don’t worry, she is nice. Chantale is the Ruler of the Light Realms, she is sort of a queen of goodness and peace, stuff like that. Not that I believe in absolute good or evil, but she is very close to being really good. Sometimes annoyingly good, it drives us crazy sometimes.’
‘Yeah, me and other springers. There are loads of creatures living in her world, but I don’t spend much time with them. I prefer the company of friends.’
‘So what this Chantale lady will do to me?’ he asked carefully. ‘Will she judge me or something?’
‘Judge you, why would she?’ Cerridwen quirked her brow. ‘I know you humans were scared to death with the Judgment Day from the book that has been re-written more times than it has pages in it, so you would behave, but as far as I know it’s twenty first century up there on Earth. No one is going to judge you, James. She will just help you to decide whether you would like to stay here, go back to Earth or move on.’
‘Move on where?’ James asked another question as they resumed their trip. He felt a bit relived at Cerridwen’s words.
‘Well, yeah you know, to the afterlife or whatever it is there.’
‘And this is not an afterlife?’ asked James sarcastically, Cerridwen laughed at his tone.
‘Of course not! This is just the In-Between-Worlds. Like a Purgatory or Valhalla or whatever you call it in your time, it’s a stop before eternity.’ James still looked very confused. ‘It’s hard to explain, like you know all those fairytales about mermaids and fairies and dragons and stuff?’
‘Yeah,’ he answered carefully.
‘Well, they are not fairytales, not completely anyway. Certainly there are as many bad fairies as there are good ones, it’s not the species that makes them nice or nasty, but their little dispositions. I had once run in run with a ten feet fairy with giant purple nose and a terrible temper, but she still was a fairy, wings and dust and very sharp claws,’ Cerridwen said slightly chocking on breath, as they went up the hill, the grass around them lost its color. Now it looked more like grey or pale blue, in some places there were still glimmers of gold, but even those looked as if covered in greyish powder.
‘Anyway, what I was saying. There are millions and millions of worlds around us, different dimensions and realms. Sometimes, very rarely and under very specific circumstances, someone from one world can escape to another one, this how legends of magical creatures are born on Earth. They are not magical, per say, for their worlds they are quite common and I can assure you that most of the time people see either their imagination or fears, not spirits, demons or…’
‘Fairies,’ finished James.
‘Precisely,’ answered Cerridwen excitedly.
‘I think you are wrong, though,’ said James. At skeptical look on Cerridwen’s face, he continued. ‘Not about fairies or mermaids. But about demons or darkness, my parents were killed by one of those things and I’ve been searching for the one who killed them for awhile. And I can assure you, whatever I saw was not nice. Not to mention that I met the guy who traded souls.’
‘No wonder you ended up here,’ she said very seriously. ‘When you are looking for darkness, at one point the darkness will start searching for you. Humans shouldn’t touch things they don’t and can’t understand. What killed your parents and what you were trying to find were not demons, the guys with horns and fire in the mouth do not exist,’ she thought for a second. ‘Well, maybe they do, but they are not evil by nature. What you encountered, were evil spirits of one of the Dark Realms, they are supposed to stay put in a special place, but since they are dark, they like to break the rules from time to time.’
‘So what are they then? Those spirits or whatever.’
‘Negative energy, thoughts, combination of all. A bad memory or a harsh word. Everything has its energy and when it combines we have poltergeists, spirits and stuff,’ she looked carefully at James. ‘Sometimes a human who lost his or her way can become an evil spirit as well, but it happens very rarely and usually not without someone’s help.’
James glanced away, pretending to be interested in colorless path in front of him, yeah, he thought, he was definitely one of those who lost their ways.
‘Anyway, the spirits are soulless, so to speak, their only purpose is to create chaos, to spread the negative energy and deeds, to transfer as many creatures as they can to like themselves and they are ready to do anything for that. And the only chance for them to do so is to corrupt people while they are alive, because as soon humans get here, they can not touch them.’
‘What do you mean? What about evil people, I am not an expert on supernatural stuff, but as far as I remember, my world is not full of puppies and unicorns.’
‘Puppies and unicorns, seriously?’ laughed Cerridwen. ‘And yeah, even people who were monsters in their mortal lives will someday be able to move on, eventually there will be no one here, everyone will go further. No one should suffer for all eternity for one short life, there is a hope for everyone. Of course,’ Cerridwen continued after taking a breath as they started to climb the grey stairs, ‘it might take a while and in some especially heavy cases, the spirit will be trapped in the In-Between-Worlds until the rebirth of the Universe itself. But still, it is better, than nothing.’
‘What about those who became dark spirits?’Cerridwen’s face darkened.
‘No, they can’t be helped. I don’t what will happen to them after the In-Between-Worlds is empty, but they can’t go anyway, they don’t have souls anymore.’
‘That what was going to happen to me wasn’t it?’ James grabbed Cerridwen’s hand and they stopped again, right in the middle of the staircase. She looked into his scarred face. The only two spots that still radiated signs of life were his ocean blue eyes. Even they were full of anguish and fear. She wanted to tell to him, to assure that he could not be sentenced to such a doom, but she wanted to be honest, she hated lies.
‘Yes.’ she said quietly. ‘Let’s go. We are almost there.’