Image by Natalie Pearl Wunn
After being celebrated as the great warrior J’nah, Gina was exposed for the accidental charlatan she really was.
Gina rubbed the little dragon’s soft, drooping ears until he drifted off to sleep; he was exhausted from his first two days in the world, especially from the traumatic events of an hour ago. She kissed Puff’s inflamed horn nubs, then went and found a quill and parchment. She was tempted to tour “her” palace one final time, but decided not to torture herself. The note she left beside the sleeping dragon pup said simply:
Please take care of Puff.
Rennou’s high street was mercifully empty, and she made it to the Mill in half an hour. The only creature that saw her was a large crow circling overhead. Is he following me? No. Absurd. Why would a crow follow me? Physically and emotionally spent, she considered sleeping in B’frona’s bed until sunrise, but that felt like a double betrayal, so she walked along the river until she reached the stone bridge. Why did it look different from before? Probably because she was seeing it in the grey pre-dawn light.
Where was she going anyway? To find her brother Zack. But where was he? Gina had no idea. He could be anywhere, a mile away, or ten thousand miles away, and in any direction. “I just want to go home. It’s the only place I have left.” Maybe Zack’s already there, she thought, and it cheered her for a moment. But then she thought, What if he’s not? What if we can’t go home ever? What if we never find each other?
Rhema’s words came back to her: “You will be able to return to your home…when it is time.” For once she found the Faerie Queen’s words comforting. Only, “when it is time”—what did that mean? It might not be “time” for another ten months…or ten years! “I have to get back to the Sacred Circle.” The moment she said it, she knew she could get home from there. If I can only find it.
Just before she entered the Light Forest, she spotted a crow and couldn’t shake the thought that it was the same one she’d seen earlier. She entered the Light Forest.
Only then did she remember there was no path—B’frona had made his way by memory through the dense, glowing woods, and they’d walked several miles before coming to the edge of the forest.
Two hours later, even though she was miles from Rennou, she heard the little dragon’s song. He sang, she knew, in the hopes she would hear and return to him.
After a long agonizing hour, Puff’s tone grew sadder and lonelier. It was no longer a chanson of joy, but a dirge of desertion, and its anguished tone pierced what was left of the night. Now hopelessly lost, Gina lay down and sobbed. She’d been cut off from everyone she loved and, at least in part, deserved it. “But Puff doesn’t!” she sobbed.
And then the crow landed beside her.
Thoughts: When we celebrate, the world celebrates with us, but when we’re ashamed we bear it alone. Or so it seems.
To read the next episode, click here.