“Bloom” & “Wild” (pt.i)
It feels as though years have passed, I know better. My olfactory senses detect notes in the air, rock-salt slugs, fresh-cut amethystles and thyme. Creature always brings me the best munchies.
“What do you think of the Panacea? They’re an interesting sort… are they not?”
“I hadn’t really thought about it, Creature.” Which ones are the Panacea?
And I hadn’t. I was too busy trying to forget the last four days, Baska and I had spent in the woods, trying to find this place.
“And I’m sure you’ll appreciate the tenacity of the Barren, they remind me of your last travelling companion.”
“You wanted our help, Creature? Forgive my bluntness, I’m anxious to get back to the wager when we’re through here.”
Creature stands an impressive seven measures and a piece– towering in height above any of the others. His stature doesn’t intimidate in quite the way one would think it might. Neither the Panacea nor the Barren are particularly tall, but they amble about him quite cheerfully as they tend to their duties.
“I’ve a favour to ask, yes. Do you suppose Baska would prefer to be present?”
“Baska’s just being Baska. She thinks she’ll terrify the locals. Don’t worry, it’s always in my best interest to keep her apprised.”
Creature nodded. There was a peculiar glint in the corner of his eye, it looked as though he was wrestling with something, but decided against it at the last moment.
“I know you have your own mission, but these woods need a guardian.”
“You know I’m always on the look-out for warm bodies to fill seats. I’m sure we’ll find an appropriate candidate in due course.” A guardian? What an unusual choice of words.
He nodded again in agreement, this time I was sure I glimpsed a measure of distress. I began to worry that perhaps Baska should have been present after all. It would help to have another pair of eyes.
“With regard to ‘due course’, have you learned anything new?”
“Not yet… I don’t want to rush anything. Number six is more than likely on his way to these very woods as we speak. I’ll know more then.”
His dull, pallid complexion, deeply weathered by the passage of time, made it very difficult to tell if he looked concerned; made worse by the prospect that he might be hiding it from me.
“I’ll trust your judgement, and I’ll trust that your little care package will serve as adequate payment for your assistance.”
“What exactly are these woods under threat from? I wouldn’t want to assign anyone not properly versed for the situation–at–hand.”
Before I could react, the wizened old buzzard threw his enormous arms around me. And I’m not entirely certain, but it was as if in that moment, the very woods had began to sing. It was at that point the hood came down over my head. Damn you, Creature.
“Not anything for you to concern yourself with, number six.” –End