8.4 – By the Past. From the Now

Her journey into this cave certainly hadn’t turned out as she had expected. But then again, what had she expected? A legendary fight for the ages against the fearrowing in its lair, armed only with a ski pole? It is at this point that Brittle realises that her potential weapon is gone. Probably lost to the fearrow depths. Well. She is most definitely not going back there. Turning her attention to her curiously fluourescent friend, she approaches him softly, saying „So you were my guide, dearest. Like I guided you on the bridge of dreams. I remember that now, even more clearly than before. Grandmother Eight-legs helped me.“

She scratches the clump of increasingly shaggy fur around his throat, just where the naval cord had protected him from the monster’s sting. Bridge doesn’t react in the slightest. Brittle wonders. Maybe he is lost in Grandmother’s web too, in his own way? This cave, with an entrance that used to be covered in sprit creepers, is supposed to be close to dream, after all. Though like Brave in her blood memory, Brittle has no idea of the nature of its proximity.

Dark red are the leaves that covers the Seer’s hut, for it is closer to the future of the dream. White are the leaves that surround Ghost Hill, for they are closer to the returning to the dream. Golden were the leaves that adorned the dream tents she would visit with Briar in her first life, for they were closer to the present of the dream, to its eternal unfolding and remembering. Today the dream tents of the holds were replaced with Seer’s huts. Today the dream tents of old found their Mirror in the eternal schiil, though no spirit creepers grow there, as far as Brittle can recall. Anyway, blue creepers signify a space that is closer to the past of the dream, though she had never seen any in either of the lives she remembered. And, of course, draped around the lintel of the midwife’s hut were the tiniest of all types, the black creepers with their intricate greyish patterns, not one leaf alike. Hardly noticeable, almost forgettable, marking the emergence from the dream.

But violet creepers, like the ones Brave had seen, which had been made properly forgettable by the merest brush of a fearrow? If Seers knew of them, they never included this colour in their teachings. Lost in thought, her wandering hand has scratched its way on to Bridge’s face, more for her comfort than for his. The room suddenly goes dark, and it takes a brief moment of terror before Brittle understands that she has briefly covered her only light source with her petting palm. She removes it quickly, returning light to the crystal cave in an instant. Bridge is still unmoving. His forehead still beaming, just where she smeared Grandmother’s remains. Blue light. Blue. Like Grandmother’s eyes. But also the colour of the past.

Her gaze is drawn to the central prism. It seems strangely familiar. Fuzzy-edged light rivers flow from its seven faces. All of them blue, but of different shades, from a light summer sky to a dark winter lake. The rivers break against the crystalline walls, creating a tinkling waterfall of blue light, mirrors upon mirrors. „Is there something you’re trying to show me?“ she whispers, kneeling down beside her companion, hugging his side.

Slivers of dawn’s light. Just in time, as Bridge has returned wholly to the waking world, his forehead gone dark. A small exit, covered in creepers.

The luminous dance seems random, but there are patterns. Like shapes.

Gently, she pushes them aside. They are violet. Steep snow-covered slope. Far below she spies Bray’s Wound.

Cubes. Triangles. Interlocking structures. Waves.

Brand is here. He is covering his face.

„What does this all mean, Bridge?“ Shapes upon repeating shapes, singing a song without tune or tale.

Two leftover streams of salt mark his marked face. „I remember, Brittle. I remember it all. Grandmother showed me.“

Bridge bleats. Even his sound is filtered by the gem, reemerging as a seven-layered chorus of grown stags braying.

She helps Brand to his feet. „That lies in the past. You are already remade. We are here now. And I know where the now wants me to go.“

„Ah,“ gasps Brittle, eyes filled with terrible beauty and beautiful terror.

„Where?“ asks Brand, every imaginable emotion carved across his face. „To my grandfather’s home. To the city of the Rukar.“

„To the Crystalline Council.“

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