Episode 6: “Seers”
Episode 6: “Seers”
Written and created by Ingrid Díaz
The woman entered the room, her steps echoed with the rhythm of confidence. She wasn’t smiling, but her features were relaxed. Blue eyes focused, thin lips in a tight line; her hair, blonde, cut short around her ears.
Then it changed.
With each step, her hair turned a different shade of dark, until it was a dark brown that bordered on black. It grew out, long, past her shoulders. It framed her face perfectly. Then her features began to change. Where before she looked to be in her thirties, now she looked twenty. Her eyes, now violet, sparkled in the sunlight streaming from high windows. Full lips turned into a lazy kind of smile.
By the time she stopped walking, she was a different person altogether.
A young man stood in front of her, and beside him, a girl no older than seventeen. He bowed before speaking. “This is our new recruit. She claims to be a Seer.”
Amused violet eyes regarded the girl in question. “A Seer, huh? Why not claim to be a unicorn?”
The girl looked up, blue eyes defiant. “I only speak the truth.”
“We make the truth here, little girl. The Guardians have been the Keepers of the Truth for centuries.” She paused and stared into the girl’s eyes. “Seers are a myth.”
The girl didn’t answer. Instead, she lowered her gaze.
“What do you wish me to do with her, Zora?” the young man asked.
Zora narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. “Leave her to me. I’m sure the Master will want to meet our latest addition.”
“The Master sent word that he’s not to be disturbed,” he said. “Jael is making the rounds in his place.”
Zora smiled, looking at the girl. “Let’s go meet Jael, then. I’m sure the two of you will hit it off.”
The young man bowed and walked away.
Zora watched him leave and then sighed. “What’s your name?”
The girl looked up, brown hair falling across her face. “Larken,” she said. “My name is Larken.”
Azure opened her eyes, taking in the darkness of the room before letting out a breath. Another strange dream. Recently, they had taken the place of her nightmares, and for that, she was grateful. She was about to close her eyes when realized that she wasn’t alone. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the figure sitting at her desk, watching her. Fear gripped her and she sat up, clutching the covers as though they could protect her.
Ghosts … shadows, those she was used to. This was different. This person was really there.
“Do not fear me, Azure,” the voice said. It was female, older … kind. “I’ve not come to do you harm.” A subtle movement and the light came on.
Azure blinked, the light hurting her eyes until they adjusted. She looked at the woman once she could. She was in her late thirties, maybe early forties, Azure couldn’t be sure. The white hair made her seem older, but her face was still young. “Who are you? What do you want?”
Instead of answering, the woman closed her eyes. When she opened them, she looked sad. “So it’s true,” she said, almost in a whisper. “How did I not See it sooner?”
Azure swallowed and looked around her room for something to protect herself with. A potentially insane woman was sitting in her bedroom in the middle of the night. No good could come of a situation like this.
“The mark on your inner thigh is of what?” the woman asked. Then she laughed softly. “Forgive me. I’ve forgotten my manners in the shock of it all. My name is Larken.”
Azure instantly thought back to the girl in her dream. She looked up and saw that the blue eyes were the same.
“I am the High Priestess of the Order of Akasha,” the woman continued. “First Seer to the Goddess. My sister, Faedyn, is Second Seer.” She turned her head to the side, watching Azure intently. “I apologize for the intrusion, Azure. I don’t make it a habit of coming to young women’s rooms in the middle of the night.”
Then why are you here? Azure wondered, but didn’t verbalize.
Larken seemed to read the unspoken question in Azure’s eyes. “A great injustice has been committed against you. Well…” She sighed, and suddenly seemed tired. “I suppose everything has happened as was meant to. “ She said this more to herself than to Azure. She closed her eyes again and flinched as if something had hit her. Blue eyes were moist when she opened them. “You have suffered a great deal, and you don’t even know why.” She shifted, taking in her surroundings without really seeing them. “Please forgive me for asking, but the mark, what is it of?”
Azure thought of the scar on her thigh, the one she didn’t remember getting. She had always assumed her father had given it to her, like the others. “It’s just a scar,” she said, uncertain now. She looked around, trying to find elements that might give this away as another dream. But everything was as it should be. Everything but the woman at her desk.
“Is that what they told you?”
Azure didn’t answer. She thought of the scar. Pictured it in her mind. To her, it had always seemed more like a half-moon on its back, its ends pointed at the sky as if praying. Below it, three dots, like water droplets, or maybe tears. She had always wondered how she’d gotten it. Unlike the others she couldn’t recall.
Larken was smiling when Azure glanced over. “The symbol of blessing,” she said, nodding. “I always wondered what it would be.” She stood, and Azure drew in a sharp breath. “Relax, Azure.” She walked to the window and gazed outside. “We thought you had died,” she said softly. “Some thought you had simply never existed, but I saw you. I was there when you were born. “ She turned back to Azure. “I was there but I had no idea.”
Azure didn’t know what to say. She had long lost track of the conversation. Wasn’t sure she’d ever had it to begin with.
“I can see you’re not ready,” Larken said. “You’re still scared. Still resistant.” She nodded as if coming to a decision. “We will speak again soon. We have many things to discuss.” She stepped toward Azure, and gently touched her chin before Azure could move away. She smiled, albeit sadly. “You look just like her.” Her hand moved to Azure’s forehead. “Sleep now, Azure. Your dreams can’t hurt you now.”
When Azure opened her eyes again it was daytime. The usual shadows danced on the ceiling, the usual sounds drifted in. She glanced at the desk and found the chair empty. In the stillness, in the absence of proof, she could almost pretend that the woman’s visit had only been a dream.
The knock on the door was soft but audible, and Azure stared at the wall until the sound came again. She rubbed her eyes and yawned as she crossed the room. She guessed it was Aeryn. It was always Aeryn.
Except this time.
“Hi,” the girl said shyly, staring down at a pile of papers in her hand. “I know I shouldn’t be here. You were very kind to find me and take me to the University clinic. It’s just … I didn’t get a chance to really thank you. “ She looked up and bit her lip as she took in Azure’s attire. “I’m sorry. I must have woken you.”
Azure hesitated, feeling awkward in her nightgown. She had meant to wake up and take her usual four a.m. shower, but her alarm didn’t ring. At least, she didn’t think it had. “It’s okay,” she said. “Um. Could you just… wait a couple of minutes while I get dressed? I promise I’ll be fast.”
“I can just … come back.”
“No, it’s fine. Two minutes.”
The girl nodded. “Take your time. Really.”
Azure closed the door and rushed to her closet to pick something out. Without thinking she chose one of the outfits Aeryn had picked out. She had been meaning to return the clothes, knowing she felt uncomfortable in them, but now she was oddly grateful she had them.
She finished buttoning the jeans and regarded her reflection. She looked almost normal; a college girl like all others , and still anything but. Running a hand through her hair, she opened the door. “Sorry about that.” She let the door hang open by way of invitation.
“Don’t apologize. I’m the one that came unannounced.” The girl turned in the middle of the room, looking around before settling blue eyes on Azure. “I really appreciate what you did for me the other night. I don’t know how you found me out there. I don’t even know what I was doing. I got this checked.” She lifted a bandaged arm. “They said it was self-inflicted. They’re making me go to counseling, which seems like a good idea, except I don’t know what to tell them. I still don’t remember anything before seeing you there. Everything’s … “ She shrugged. “I don’t know. Like it’s not there. Like it never was.”
Azure leaned against the door, waiting patiently for the girl to continue. After a moment, she said, “You’re welcome to sit.”
The girl chose the chair by the desk, and Azure moved to sit on the bed. Again, she waited.
“They told me that my name is Kathryn. Kathryn James. They showed me my school I.D. They told me where I lived on campus. They assured me tuition had been paid for, but suggested I go home. I told them I didn’t know where home was. They looked up files. I had no emergency contact, no mention of a family. Everything was under my name.” She paused. “So I went to the room they told me I lived at. I opened the door and my roommate cursed at me. I tried to explain that I couldn’t remember anything but she threw a notebook at my head, and told me she was going to stay with her boyfriend until they kicked me out.” She looked at Azure. “I guess she doesn’t like me very much.”
Azure shook her head, feeling horrible for the girl. How awful to wake up and not know your own name. She almost wished they could trade places. There were many things Azure wished to forget.
“So what are you going to do?”
Thryn held up the papers she carried. “Well, after my roommate left I tried to figure out which side of the room was mine. And I found a bunch of papers with the name Thryn on them. I assume that’s me. They were mostly drawings and sketches of…” She looked down, shyly. “… of women.” She coughed. “Um. But I also found some things that were weird. The student name book was open to a page with your picture on it, and it was highlighted. That’s how I found your room, actually. And I remembered you telling me, that night, that I had followed you around before. I still don’t know why I would have done that. I almost don’t want to know, actually.” She drew in a breath. “Anyway, I started thinking what an odd coincidence it was that you’d be the one that found me. I was hoping you could tell me how you did. Maybe something might spark my memory.”
Azure sighed. She had feared this. She shifted uncomfortably on the bed, trying to conjure up a lie that was both believable and rational. She couldn’t think of a single thing to say.
And then there was a knock at the door.
Grateful for the interruption, Azure went to answer.
Aeryn looked her up and down with what looked to Azure as genuine surprise. “Wow. You’re actually dressed in that? I’m not hallucinating?”
“I was out of clean clothes.”
“Ah.” Aeryn smiled and nodded in understanding. “May I come in?”
Azure bit her lip, her relief at the interruption fading under what could potentially be a complicated situation. “It’s not a good time.”
“Oh I can leave.”
It was Thryn who spoke, causing Aeryn to lift an eyebrow. “Who’s that?”
“It’s … um…” This is why Azure avoided people. Anything concerning people only led to weird situations involving sleep walking and bloody knives and women passed out on the floor. At least, in her world. She turned around and regarded Thryn. “Could you excuse me for a sec?” And then she closed the door behind herself, and stepped out into the hallway.
“Do you have a girl in there?” Aeryn looked amused. “Is she naked? My, I knew you were naughty. Can I meet her?”
Azure sighed. “Look, it’s… complicated. She’s got amnesia or something. I found her in the woods…”
Aeryn was frowning now. “In the woods? What were you doing in the woods?”
Azure lowered her voice. “I can’t talk about this right now.”
Aeryn looked concerned, and before Azure knew what was happening, Aeryn had pushed her way into the room.
“You!” Aeryn said, staring at Thryn.
“I need to stop answering the door,” Azure mumbled under her breath as she followed Aeryn. She closed the door behind them. “Don’t pester her. She doesn’t remember.”
Aeryn was glaring. “Or she’s just pretending to forget to get close to you.”
Thryn was standing, looking petrified. “I-I’m sorry! What is it that I did?”
Aeryn crossed her arms and let out a breath. “Well, technically all you did was follow us around and compliment my butt.” Two pairs of eyes naturally drifted to the body part in question, and Aeryn frowned. “Hey!”
Thryn shifted her eyes. “I’m sorry. Uh. Okay. Well, I think that what I need to do is figure out what happened to me, and then maybe it will start to come back. I mean, already I am starting to think that … well…” She glanced at the two of them. “… that I’m gay.” She lifted her chin, aiming for a confident stance. Then looked uncertain. “I’m guessing I was proud of that, I don’t know.” She sat down, looking confused. “Maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was repressing it and it manifested into a creepy, stalker-like … thing.”
“Um, no. You seemed pretty gay to me.” It was Aeryn who spoke. “I’m going to have to see your butt. Drop your pants.”
Thryn stood up and backed away. “Look, I’m not really ready for a threesome or … whatever. Or… gay bashing. Oh god. You’re not going to kill me, are you?”
“What the hell are you doing?” Azure was mortified. “What is wrong with you? You can’t just … What is wrong with you?”
Aeryn stared suspiciously at Thryn for a long time, then turned to Azure. “Guardians have their symbol burned into their skin when they’re officially inducted. If she’s one of them, then there will be proof. If she has nothing to hide then there’s no reason not to comply with my request.”
Azure blinked. “Are you serious? You would just take off your pants if some random person came in and said, ‘I’m going to have to see your butt. Drop your pants’?”
Aeryn contemplated. “I see your point.” She turned back to Thryn, who looked like she was about to jump out of the window at any second. “Would it make you more comfortable if I took mine off too?”
“Aeryn!” Azure was staring at Aeryn incomprehensibly. Strange women visiting in the middle of the night was suddenly starting to seem far more believable than this moment right here. “Did you hit your head when you fell off your chair the other night?”
Aeryn frowned and touched her head. “Actually, yeah. I think I did.”
“Look, no one is taking off their pants,” Azure said, ignoring Aeryn. “We’re going to settle down and try to figure this out.” She paused. “With clothes on.”
Aeryn sighed. “What’s your name?”
Thryn’s back remained firmly against the wall. “I-I was told it was Kathryn … but I think I went by Thryn.” She took a deep breath. “Listen, I really don’t remember anything that happened to me before your friend here found me out in the woods. I don’t know what would have happened if she hadn’t. I cut my arm for some reason. Maybe I was depressed or something.” She sighed. “I have no idea. It’s all black. I can remember world events, things that happened to everyone else, but nothing about me. Who I was, what I did, who I knew…”
Azure noticed that Aeryn’s eyes were beginning to soften, though her mind seemed to still be processing the situation. Even if the girl was lying, wasn’t that a cry for help? And if she was telling the truth, shouldn’t they go out of their way to help her? There was a reason Azure had been led into those woods. She was supposed to find the girl. She was supposed to help her.
And she would help. With or without Aeryn.
It was the Christian thing to do.
Naia rewound the tape and played it over. Her face wrinkled in concentration as she stared into the monitor. “See, it’s weird. Where the hell is she going in her pajamas? Barefoot, even.”
Ry moved away from his place behind Naia. “Maybe she had to go to the bathroom.”
Naia swiveled around in her chair and shook her head. “See, I actually considered that, but it doesn’t make any sense. Her room is around the corner from the bathroom. And if you watch the rest of the clip, she clearly heads down the stairs.”
“Early morning booty call? Who knows?”
“Well, she knows.” Naia shrugged. “I’m just saying it’s weird. Earlier today I saw that girl that I’m pretty sure was following them around go into this girl’s room.” She shook her head. “None of it makes sense. I need sound. I need to bug her room.”
“That is so inappropriate.” Ry slid back on the bed until his back was to the wall. “Here’s a theory for you. Stalker girl has a crush. Follows them around to try and figure out if they’re a serious item before making an approach. She decides they’re not. She makes her move on the one you think talks to dead people. They hit it off. Ghost Girl invites Stalker Girl over. The Other Girl shows up wanting to hang out like usual, hears a voice inside, and bam! Instant dyke drama caught on tape.”
Ry sighed. “It makes perfect sense.”
“That’s the problem. None of this makes perfect sense. Life doesn’t make perfect sense. You can’t just attempt to make sense out of a situation that more than likely doesn’t have any.”
“So what’s your explanation? UFOs called to the girl in her sleep and she wandered out in her gown to meet them? The Stalker Girl is really an alien? What? What is your big theory?”
Naia frowned. “Well, I don’t have one yet. And there were no UFOs in the area the other night. I would have known.”
“I think I’ll go ahead and have a talk with the Stalker Girl, as you like to call her. I think it’s about time we compared notes.”
Ry nodded. “Great. It will be a New York Times bestseller once you guys team up and publish your findings.”
Naia turned her back to him, and played the tape again. Whatever it was these girls were hiding, she would find it.
Aeryn was looking in the mirror when the knock came. More specifically, she had been looking at her eyes, trying to determine whether there were any shades of black lingering in the green. She couldn’t find anything, and she was beginning to wonder if she hadn’t actually imagined the entire thing. “Come in,” she called, moving away from the mirror.
Azure entered, still dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt. She looked so different that Aeryn had to smile. “Hey, I was just wondering if I could get my notes back. I have class in a couple of hours.”
“Oh, sure, sorry.” Aeryn reached for the object and handed it to Azure. “Thanks.”
Azure started to walk out so Aeryn called out to stop her. “Can we talk for a minute?” she asked, hoping Azure was free.
Hesitantly, Azure closed the door and stepped further into the room. “Is this about Thryn? Because I don’t care what you think … that girl needs help. And it would seem to me that you, of all people, would be first in line, what with your superhero complex.”
Aeryn crossed her arms. “You think I have a complex?”
“Well you have something.” Azure sighed and dropped the notebook on Aeryn’s bed before taking a seat on the beanbag chair Aeryn had recently added to the room. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Thryn.” Aeryn leaned back against the edge of the desk. “One second she’s following us around, the next she’s got amnesia? And what was she doing in the woods? Better yet, what were you doing in the woods?”
“Since when do I have to answer to you?”
Aeryn frowned. “You don’t … I just … I want to help you.”
Azure rolled her eyes. “Why do you think I need help? You’re the one that was passed out on the floor the other night. And it’s not even the first time that happens. Remember that one time you collapsed in my room? And you’re supposed to be my bodyguard against the forces of evil? It seems to me like you’re the one that needs help.”
The memory of the other night flashed into Aeryn’s head. The pain. The helplessness. Was she fooling herself in thinking that she could protect someone? She couldn’t even protect herself.
“I’m sorry,” came Azure’s soft voice. “I didn’t really mean to say that. I’m just a bit …” She hesitated. “Do you know someone named Larken?”
Aeryn stiffened. “She’s my High Priestess. Why?”
“I don’t know what that means exactly, but okay. Anyway, she was in my room last night. She was talking about how she’s the First Seer and someone else is the Second Seer and she called my scar a symbol of blessing or something. It was all very weird and … is she always so cryptic?”
“Wait, Larken was in your room?”
“Intense blue eyes? White hair?”
“That’s her.” Aeryn’s mind tried to wrap itself around the notion that Larken would come to Azure.
Azure was still talking. “… and that woman that was in my room before … remember? When you … uh … kissed me? She was there—“
“Well, no Larken was with the guy—“
“Just how many people were in your room last night?”
Azure stared at Aeryn for a second, a confused look on her face. “In my dream.”
“Oh.” Aeryn decided to sit down. “So Larken wasn’t really in your room?”
A loud sigh, then, “No, first I had the dream. Then Larken was in my room.”
“This is all very confusing.”
“Okay, forget it.” Azure stared to rise.
“No, no, please sit. I’m just trying to get all of the facts straight. There was a dream. That intruder woman was in it. Larken was in it. And so was a guy. Got it. Go.”
Azure hesitated but sat back down. “It was really strange because the woman, they called her Zora. Well, at first she looked totally different. Then she changed. Her entire face became younger, her eyes turned violet, her hair turned dark. That’s how she looked when she came here. But in my dream, at first, she was blonde, and older.”
“Hm. Go on.”
“Well, there was a guy and next to him was Larken, only Larken was really young. Late teens, I’d guess. And the guy introduced her as their latest recruit. And then they talked about a Master. Wait, no, first Larken said she was a Seer, and the Zora woman was like, ‘There’s no such thing,’ and something about how the Guardians are the Keepers of the Truth. Then Zora said they should introduce Larken to the Master. Only, apparently the Master was unavailable, and Zora said …” She hesitated. “You’re not going to pass out again are you?”
“I might, once I make sense of everything you’re telling me, but continue.”
“Well, Zora said that she’d introduce Larken to … Jael.”
Aeryn shook her head. “But.. that was just a dream, right?”
Azure shrugged. “I don’t know what it was. When I opened my eyes, Larken was there. Speaking in riddles and telling me I’d suffered and I didn’t know why . And that they’d thought I was dead and that she was there when I was born… You know, the more I think of it, the more I hope it was a dream.”
“It had to be. I mean … Larken is the High Priestess of the Order. She couldn’t have been part of the Guardians. It doesn’t make any sense. And …” She decided to sit down on the bed, just in case the world started to spin. “I have to talk to Larken. There has to be an explanation.”
“She said I wasn’t ready. That we’d speak again.” She paused and looked worried. “Aeryn? You’re not going to tell Braeden about this, are you? I don’t even know why I told you. Maybe I shouldn’t have.”
Aeryn glanced at Azure, taking in the worried expression, the fear in the brown eyes. “I won’t tell him. And … thanks for telling me. Though, unless Larken asked you specifically not to tell me, I kind of feel like she wanted me to know.”
Azure stood, and at first Aeryn thought that she was going to leave. Instead, Azure came to sit beside Aeryn. “The other night, I woke up sometime before dawn, and I walked out of my room in my nightgown. I walked down the hall, and out of the building, and I kept on walking until I found a girl in the woods. Don’t ask me how or why I did that. There were no visions, no voices guiding me. It was more like someone was holding my hand and leading me to that place, except, I didn’t actually feel a hand on me. I recognized her, but I could tell she didn’t recognize me. She was covered in blood, holding a knife, surrounded by black candles—”
Aeryn flinched. “Did you say black candles?”
“Yeah, they were all around her.”
Aeryn stood and began to pace. “So it was a spell. How many candles?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t count them. Five or six.”
“Okay. We have to go there. You have to take me to the place you found her.”
Azure stood too. “I don’t remember where it was. Like I said, I was walking in a sort of trance. It’s a miracle we even found our way out.”
Aeryn was shaking her head. “My charms must have reflected it. Whatever she meant to do to us she did to herself.”
Azure blinked. “So you think she’s dangerous?”
“Let’s just say, I hope she’s not faking that amnesia.”
Thryn sat down on the chair and folded her hands over her lap. The woman on the chair across from her stared amiably in Thryn’s direction. Expectant brown eyes blinked patiently behind a pair of black glasses. Thryn swallowed.
“I’m Doctor Brustle. I’m told you were sent here because you’re suffering from a certain type of amnesia, is that correct?”
Thryn nodded. “They couldn’t find anything wrong with me so they had to let me go. I guess they figured if it wasn’t physical it was psychological.”
The Doctor nodded and wrote something down. “And what do you think?”
She lifted the arm with the bandage on it. “Well, I seem to have cut myself on purpose. I guess that doesn’t bode well for my mental state.”
“Did you find any other evidence on your body that suggests this was something you were in the habit of doing? I’m assuming you don’t recall how you came to have your injury.”
Thryn shifted in her seat, feeling uncomfortable under the scrutiny. She couldn’t remember the her that came before three days ago and talking about her felt strange. As if she was betraying someone else’s confidence instead of her own. “I found a few scars, yeah. I don’t know how I got them. Maybe I liked to cut myself or something.”
The scratching of pen against paper filled the silence between conversation. “When you came across these scars, how did you feel about them? Were there any in particular that conjured up a specific feeling for you, or even a memory?”
“No. I just thought …” She sighed. “I thought I must have been a really fucked up person.” She flinched. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to curse.”
“Did it feel natural to do so? Like it’s something you’re accustomed to doing?”
Thryn shrugged. “I think most people curse from time to time. It’s possible I did a lot of it. Everyone I come across, who knew me before, seems to hate me. So, odds are I wasn’t a saint.”
“How does it make you feel, when these people, these strangers to you now, approach you with hostility?”
“I feel scared. And guilty. And … like I’m sort of glad I can’t remember what I’ve done because then I’d have to face myself, and those things. Whatever they are.”
The pen moved quickly against the notebook and Thryn watched it with interest .She wondered what conclusions the doctor was making about her already. They’d told her that part of the counseling was meant to determine whether or not she was psychologically fit to continue her studies. Thryn hoped they’d let her stay. She didn’t know where to go otherwise.
“It says here that the people at the clinic were unable to reach your family. Is that still the case?”
Thryn nodded, feeling suddenly depressed. Was it possible that she didn’t have a family? Even if she didn’t, there had to be a guardian somewhere. Someone had to have paid her tuition for the year. “I still don’t know where they are.”
“In your dorm room, do you have any letters from people outside of the University? Emails? Maybe some pictures. Evidence that you led a life before you came here?”
Thryn shook her head. “No. Just my books, some notebooks filled with drawings.”
“So you draw?”
“I guess I must have.”
The doctor capped her pen. “When you get back to your room, try to draw something. Whatever images pop into your head. It might be a good exercise for freeing your subconscious. If you feel comfortable, bring one or two in so I can look at them with you. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want me to see them. My feelings won’t be hurt. Just try to look at what you draw and see if it brings anything back for you. If you get anything, write it down, and bring that to me.” She closed the notepad on her lap and placed it and the pen on the glass coffee table between them. “I think it’s important that you stay close to what’s familiar to you right now. Attend your classes. See if the routine of it comes back to you. If doing something doesn’t feel right or normal to you, don’t do it. Aim for the things that feel natural, and hopefully memories will start to come back to you.”
“Do you have a roommate?”
“Yeah, but .. she threw a notebook at my head and said she refused to come back to the room until they kicked me out.”
The Doctor frowned and reached for the pen and notebook again. “Did she say why?”
“Uh, well her parting words were, ‘I refuse to spend another minute in the company of a fucking dyke,’ so … well, it seemed pretty clear.”
The pen uncapped, the notebook opened. “Did you report her to an R.A.?”
“No, I … I don’t know. I was too frazzled to think clearly.”
The doctor was nodding as the pen danced frantically over the page. “And your roommate hasn’t been back to the room?”
“Some of her stuff has moved, but I haven’t been in the room to see her move it.”
The Doctor frowned. “I’ll be honest with you, Kathryn. This is a very complicated situation, and if your family had appeared to claim you, I’d be telling you to go home to them and come back next semester. It’s clear that the University environment hasn’t been healthy for you. Perhaps you had a hand in that, perhaps you didn’t. I don’t want to assume anything. For now, I think that the best thing for you is to find a comfortable place to get your thoughts in order. If I put in a request to have you moved to a different dorm, would you find that too disruptive?”
“No, not at all. It’s mainly the people in my dorm that have made me feel uncomfortable.”
“Do you have any friends? Anyone that has come forward since the incident? Someone you feel comfortable around?”
Thryn instantly thought of Azure, though it felt wrong to call the girl her friend. “There’s a girl … the one that found me. She’s been kind to me.”
The Doctor nodded. “I’d feel more comfortable if you had a roommate for the duration of the semester, if not the year. I think you understand where I’m coming from in saying that I’d rather you weren’t alone.”
“Sure.” Thryn felt the cut on her arm ache by way of a reminder.
“If your friend … or your acquaintance is willing, we can arrange to have the two of you in a room. If that’s something you’d prefer. Otherwise, Housing will find a roommate for you.”
Thryn shook her head. “A random roommate is fine. The girl … well, she’s not my friend. Just a nice person and I don’t want to disrupt her life any more than I have. Plus, she has a single room. I’m sure she’s happy with that.”
The Doctor nodded. “Very well. I think our time is almost up, so unless there’s anything else…?”
“No, nothing. You’ve been very helpful, thank you.”
“It’s my pleasure. Someone from Housing will be in touch with you about the move. These sort of things take time, so don’t worry if you don’t hear back right away. Remember what I said about the drawings and trying to find your routine. I will see you back here on Friday. Same time okay?”
Thryn nodded and stood, extending her hand to the doctor. “Thanks again.”
Outside, the University campus stretched out before her, and Thryn removed the campus map from her back pocket. She stretched out the paper like an accordion and regarded the maze of paths and buildings. She couldn’t imagine knowing all of this by heart. She was in the process of figuring out where to go, when the map flew out of her hands.
“What the..?” In front of her, a black girl stood, staring at her with caramel eyes and a blank expression. She wore a black t-shirt with the words ‘The Truth Is Out There’ printed in white across the chest.
“We need to talk.” The girl placed a piece of paper in Thryn’s hand, and the map in the other, then began to walk away. “Meet me there tonight at eight o’clock.”
Thryn looked at the girl’s retreating back, then down at the paper. It turned out to be a business card.
Editor in Chief , The Daily Bizarre Newspaper
Expert in the Supernatural
Mercury Hall, room 213
Thryn arched an eyebrow in question, then looked up again.
But the girl was gone.
“Thanks for seeing me, High Priestess,” Aeryn said, her hands behind her back. She wore her cloak, hood down, as she stood before Larken’s desk.
Larken smiled and sat back, her chair emitting a soft squeak at the weight. “I can see by the look on your face that you’ve spoken to Azure.” She nodded and pointed to a chair. “Please sit.”
Aeryn obeyed silently. She had asked for a meeting with Larken the moment Azure had departed from her room. The trail of confusion she’d left behind needed clarification. “I’m sorry if it’s not my place to be here asking questions. I thought perhaps you not asking Azure to keep things a secret was a sign that … in some way … you wanted me to know.”
Larken raised an eyebrow. “And what is it you presume to know, Aeryn?”
Aeryn lowered her head. Larken’s presence always made her feel small. “I’m not sure.”
“It is up to Azure to decide what she reveals and to whom she reveals it to. She is not a part of the Order. She knows nothing of our rules. For me to demand silence from her would be inappropriate. I spoke to her as a friend, not as her leader.”
Aeryn swallowed, feeling foolish and somewhat embarrassed by her own presumptions. “I apologize, High Priestess.”
“Understand, Aeryn, that what Azure told you is but a fraction of the truth. She is not ready for the complete picture. For that matter, neither are you.”
“I understand.” Though she didn’t. What was the point of continuing with only half-truths and broken pictures? Why not be honest from the start?
Larken was watching her intently, a smile flickering at the corner of her lips. “You think that I am the architect behind all of this, that it is my vision that guides you all. I am but a messenger. We must all follow the path that was designed for us, long before we were even born. The Goddess has her ways and we must respect them.” The High Priestess stood and walked to the window. She spoke quietly when she turned. “The day is fast approaching when you will face who you really are, Aeryn. There is a fork in the road of all of our futures, and there will come the day when we will have to follow your lead.”
At this, Aeryn frowned. “Why mine?”
Larken offered a wistful smile. “It is the way it is.” She paused and closed her eyes, then opened them. “You were right about Azure.”
Aeryn’s heart sped up at the admission. “So she is a Seer?”
“She is much more than just that.” From the bookshelf behind her, Larken retrieved a book so old that the pages were no longer glued to the spine. Small chunks of brown dust fell to the ground as Larken walked over. The High Priestess placed the book on the desk, facing Aeryn, and she opened it to a marked page.
The language was familiar to Aeryn, but she wasn’t fluent. She spoke many ancient languages, but this was not one of them. She stared at the calligraphy of letters, and managed to make out only a few words. “The Third Seer,” she read.
Larken only nodded.
“What does that mean?”
“As far as we know, the Third Seer will one day be called upon restore the balance between good and evil.”
“But I thought that was our job?”
“It is … until it’s not.” Larken closed the book, and dust floated over the object , catching in the light. “You are wrong in assuming that I have all of the answers, Aeryn. This is not my master plan. I am but another servant to the Goddess’ vision. As are you. Remember that.”
“But Azure doesn’t even believe in the visions she sees. She is afraid of herself, of me, of the world at large. How could she be called to anything?”
Larken fell silent for a long moment, her eyes distant. When she spoke, her tone was reserved. “She has already been called. It is how I realized who she was.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Why do you think you’re meant to?”
“How can I help if I don’t have the answers.”
“What makes you think you need answers to help?”
Aeryn sighed. Azure was right. Larken was cryptic. Purposely cryptic, which made things worse. “I fear the Guardians have infiltrated Merfolk.”
“That a spell was cast, perhaps reflected by my protective charms. I suspect a girl named Thryn of being one of them. She claims to have amnesia, to not remember who she is. Azure is insisting we help her, when all I want to do is pin the girl to a wall and demand answers.”
Larken considered Aeryn’s words. “And if she were to tell you that she is a Guardian. That she attempted to put a spell on your town … what would you do?”
Aeryn hesitated. “I would fight her.”
“And if she didn’t put up a fight?”
Aeryn frowned. “But why wouldn’t she? A Guardian facing an Akashan… it is what we were trained for.”
Larken breathed audibly, a sound akin to a sigh. “You can’t know what a Guardian is going to do. That is what we trained you for. Expect the unexpected. That does not necessarily mean expect an unexpected attack. The world is not black and white. This girl, this Thryn, could very well be a Guardian, but if her spell was reflected it was not without consequence to her. It was not without consequence to that which reflected it.”
“I tested the charms. They were all intact.”
Larken closed her eyes briefly. “I see,” she said, as she opened them.
Aeryn suddenly felt frightened as a different truth pressed at the edges of her consciousness. “It was me, wasn’t it?” she said after a moment, remembering the black of her eyes. “I reflected it.”
Larken didn’t answer right away. She studied Aeryn’s face as if debating what to say and how much to reveal. “Yes,” she said finally. “It was you.”
Aeryn tried to wrap her mind around the possibility but failed. Nothing she had ever learned allowed for something like that to happen. She had somehow called the entirety of a dark magick spell into her being and expelled it without a protective ward, without even knowing it was coming. She wasn’t trained for such a thing. Nobody was. “How is that possible?”
The sound of the clock on Larken’s wall ticked away the seconds of sudden silence. When Larken spoke it wasn’t without a trace of fear. “I honestly don’t know.”
Thryn glanced down at the number on the card, then up at the door just to verify one last time that she was in the right place. She had debated strongly whether or not to come, then decided to follow the doctor’s advice. If this person had any ties to her, then maybe she could help her fill in the dots. It was worth a shot, anyway.
Behind the door, Thryn could hear jazz. The music stopped abruptly. “Identify yourself,” came a voice from within the room. “Human? Alien? Other?”
Thryn frowned and seriously contemplated turning around and walking away. Instead, she said, “Uh… it’s me … Thryn …” She hesitated. “Human…”
A second later, the door opened just enough for an eyeball to peek through. “Wow, you came?” The door opened all the way. “Can’t believe that actually worked. I’m going to have to try that again. Come in.”
Thryn cleared her throat and stepped inside, nearly slipping on a magazine on the floor. She glanced down and tried not to look horrified. The floor was covered in newspapers, magazines, papers, and other assorted items. It looked like a landfill.
“Close the door, please.”
Thryn did as she was told, and stood perfectly still, afraid to move.
The girl, whom the business card called Naia, reached for a legal pad notebook and pushed the contents of her desk onto the floor. They joined the pile of mess already there. She sat down on the surface of the desk and began to write on the notebook. “Please state your name.”
Thryn tore her gaze from her surroundings and focused on Naia. “Uh… you mean you don’t know me?”
“Should I know you? Are you someone important? The daughter of a senator, perhaps? If so, I wouldn’t know, nor care. What is your name?”
“Kathryn… uh, Thryn James.”
“Please take a seat on the table there.” Naia nodded with her head at an empty table at the center of the room. It faced where Naia was sitting.
Despite the strangeness of the situation, Thryn decided to comply.
Naia slid down from the desk and placed a photograph on the table top. She slid it toward Thryn. “Do you recognize this person.”
The picture, Thryn easily saw, was of Azure. “I recognize her, yes.”
Another photograph flew in her direction. “How about her?”
Thryn recognized Aeryn and nodded.
Naia placed a sheet of paper on the desk, placed a finger on it, and dragged it toward Thryn. “On the dates and times listed there I caught you following and otherwise spying on Subjects A and B. Please tell me why.”
Thryn sighed. “Are you a cop?”
Naia laughed, somewhat oddly. “A cop? Do I look like a cop to you? No. I am a journalist.”
“Ah.” Thryn shrugged her shoulders. “I’m sorry, I really can’t help you. I came here hoping you had some answers.”
“Answers about what?”
“Who I am. I had … an accident, I guess. In the woods. I can’t remember anything about myself.”
Naia narrowed her eyes. “The woods, you say?”
“I cut my arm.” Thryn raised her arm as evidence. “On purpose, it seems like. I must have passed out. I came to and … nothing.”
Naia sat back down on the desk. “Could you describe the place where this occurred?”
“It was a clearing in the woods.” Thryn tried to think back. “There were candles on the ground.”
“Candles?” Naia looked interested suddenly. “What color candles?”
She was on her feet at once. “Were there any dead animals?”
Thryn frowned. “No… no dead animals.”
“How about a symbol, sort of like this.” Naia drew something on the notebook and turned it around to face Thryn.
Thryn took in the upside down star within a circle and shook her head. “I didn’t see that, but I was a little distracted.”
Naia was nodding. “You were a victim of a Satanic ritual.” She said this with such conviction that Thryn froze momentarily. Naia pulled at the chair on her desk, dragging it through the piles of junk of the floor until it was close to the table. Then she turned it around and straddled it, pushing her weight forward until the back of the chair touched the edge of the table Thryn was sitting at. From her pocket she withdrew a small tape recorder, which she placed before Thryn. The wheels on the tape were already turning. “Tell me everything you know.”
“The Third Seer will have her hands full with that one,” a voice said before its spirit form materialized in Larken’s office.
Larken was still staring at the spot Aeryn had occupied during their talk. She looked at the spirit with tired eyes. “Her powers grow stronger by the second. While Azure’s …” She sighed softly. “Azure is haunted by a past she should never have lived through. I can see her suffering so vividly.” Her vision blurred with tears. “She belonged here. All of this time. She belonged here.”
“You said it yourself, everything happened as was meant to. The Goddess makes no mistakes.”
Larken tightened her jaw, having no argument.
“You will have to teach her, Larken. You will have to guide her toward her destiny. She answered the Goddess’ call to aid the young Guardian. Her spirit is willing, even if her mind isn’t. You need to make her see.”
“She needs more time.”
The spirit shook its head. “Time is not in our favor.” The spirit paused, its tone shifting to one of understanding. “You have done well, Larken, all of these years. The Goddess knows of your sacrifices. I am confident that the balance will be restored.”
“Even I don’t know that.”
Larken grew silent, her gaze falling on the sky beyond her window. “The Elders are getting restless,” she said at last. “They want Aeryn pulled from Merfolk. They fear Jael will double his efforts now that one of his Guardians has fallen. Undoubtedly, he’s caught wind that her spell was reflected. It must be driving him insane not knowing how.”
“He’ll figure it out sooner or later.”
“Yes.” Larken nodded. The tears returned to her eyes. “He’ll figure out that our daughter is still alive.”
To be continued…