Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Long Night (continued)
Previously: With the Questing Beast vanquished, Gina was finally able to sleep.
⇔ ⇔ ⇔
She was in a lovely semi-coma when a voice called:
It filled the space around her and within her, just as it had the first time she’d heard it. “Not now. Now isn’t a good time.”
“Now is always the best time.”
She wasn’t going to win this one. “OK.”
“You showed great courage tonight.” There was tenderness in Rhema’s voice.
“A courage you did not know you had. A courage you did not, in fact, have before tonight, and one that you will need in the future.”
“Your desires, on the other hand, nearly destroyed you. It is from these that the Beast took its greatest power.”
“My desires? But how—”
“I told you that the sword would show you your true enemy—”
“Well, yeah, it showed me the Questing Beast, but then the Questing Beast turned into Puff. So how is Puff my true enemy?”
“It showed you the things you desire.”
“What? That doesn’t make any sense. I mean, OK, it showed me Puff, but then it showed me—”
Gina’s face contorted. “Oh, so now I’m my ‘true enemy?’” She waited for a response, but there was none. “And anyway, whatever it was, I killed it!”
“What? Yes, I did! Well, OK, me and Zack and B’frona.”
“The things you desire have much more power over you than the things you fear. They are the hardest to kill. It was your brother’s love and your love for him that saved you. For now. But that which threatens to destroy you is far from dead.”
“Holy…! When does it end?”
“Not in this life.”
“Look, I’m just a kid, OK? Do you get that? I mean, do you know what I’ve been through? If Momandad knew, they’d go ballistic! I mean, they’re always going on about how it’s their job to keep me and Zack safe, and—”
“It is true that they love you, as much as any human can. But Uol loves you more, too much to allow you to be merely safe.”
“What? I wasn’t talking about Uol.”
“Well, I’m just saying.“
“You ‘just say’ a lot of things. Only occasionally do you actually mean something.”
Gina was offended. It suddenly struck her that she cared deeply what the Queen of the Fae thought, though she didn’t know why. “So how come Zack and B’frona were able to help me? You said no one could help me.” It was a lame gotcha, but the only one she had left.
“No. I said only you could smite the Beast. It is always best to face monsters in the company of others.”
“So…it was OK for B’frona and Zack to help me kill it?”
“You did not kill it, you smote it.”
“No. The Beast is not dead.”
“What? You are seriously cryptic, you know that?”
“I do not speak cryptically. You hear that way.”
“So you’re saying I’m stupid?”
“No, merely human, and a particularly bright one at that.”
Gina smiled. Then her mouth twisted.
“Yes, your life has a purpose.”
“It is what you wanted to know, and the answer is yes. But you must understand, and you must promise to tell your brother, that the purpose of your life did not begin with you, and it will not end with you.”
Gina pondered this for several minutes. For the first time she almost believed Rhema loved her. And then she asked softly, “Why didn’t you give me the same tea you gave Zack?”
“But I tasted it, and—”
“No. You never tasted it.”
“Yes, I did. You gave me the cup and…” She recalled the moment in the strange little house.
“You’re right…I didn’t.”
Thoughts: Yes, your life has a purpose.
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