As soon as she could walk she was on the move, she walked well into the night. She did not dare stop until she had enough magic to create a shell of ice around her still from. With her magic so depleted she could barely walk, and it took her nearly four days to get back to camp. When she got back Ivy was waiting at the entrance, her eyes were rimmed and red, she look as if she had not slept in a long time. Thalia collapsed into Ivy's arms and had to to be carried into the camp. She slept for three days. Ivy did not leave her side once, every herbal remedy she had was used. When Thalia woke up Ivy looked like she had traveled all the seven layers of hell.
"Ivy?" Thalia asked.
"Yes Thalia?" Ivy murmured exhausted. Thalia stood up, and Ivy smiled. "I'm... going to go... go sleep," Sylvia helped her to the garden.
"You know she was there the whole time, she never slept she never left," said Amber.
"When I was sleeping?" asked Thalia.
Amber shook her head, "Not just then, when you left, for the first three nights she stayed in her garden and wouldn't eat or talk to anybody. Then she left and sat down by the entrance. She barely ate, and she wouldn't sleep at at all. She wouldn't leave, she was starting to fade away by the time that you got here, then she went ahead stayed by you the whole damn time, and was fading away when you finally woke up, I hope she will sleep for a while," sighed Amber.
"She waited for me? That whole time?" Thalia asked.
"Yes," said Amber, "So don't ever do anything like that again, its not fair to Ivy. Two weeks, don't ever do that again, It would break Ivy's heart." She shook her head angrily and walked away.
"The whole time?" Thalia repeated once more. All of the girls were gone and Thalia felt like a stranger, and she had this horribly feeling that she had just murdered someone. She look at the garden and sighed, she couldn't talk to Ivy right now.
Ivy slept for the whole day and most of the night, it was a couple hours past midnight when she roused herself. She looked at herself in the steamy pool of water and sighed. Her hair was tangled and everywhere and the rims around her eyes were still very prominent, her eyes weren't puffy or red anymore but her cheeks were tear stained. She slipped softly into the water and completely submerged herself. She came up to the surface gasping for breath, then pushed back down under water and washed her hair, coming up every so often for breath.
Once completely under the water, Ivy felt like she had a second skin. She washed of all of the dirt and grime off her skin. It was a sulfur spring so it was hot to the point of almost being scalding, it was also very therapeutic. Once she was completely clean she crawled out of the water and stood dripping wet until the air dried off her skin. She felt cleaner than she had in a long time. But the bath could do nothing for her empty stomach, or bring the color back to her pale face.
Then she bound up her hair with her ivy vines. The scarlet hair seem to stay in that messy pile on top of her head as if by magic. She donned the armored tunic and gloves as well as the leather leggings and tall leather boots. The clothes hung loose on her gaunt body. Her whips were hung from her large griddle. Her bags of herbs and her bottles of potions were also hung upon that belt. Ivy stretched and moved a bit to get her muscles warmed up and then walked out into the main camp. She had taken several hours to get ready and bath and Sylvia and Saffron were ready up.
"Hello," Ivy saluted them.
"Good to see you somewhere other than the entrance of the camp," said Sylvia kindly.
"You look a lot better than you did Ivy," remarked Saffron.
"Thanks, I feel a lot better," said Ivy casually. She sat down and Sylvia handed her a chunk of a white mastodon on a stick. Ivy tore heartily at it with her teeth. It was the first real food she had in two weeks. When she was finished she licked the juice off her fingers. Sylvia raised her eyebrows and gave her a loaf of white fluffy bread. Ivy devoured that with the same enthusiasm. Wiping her mouth she laughed, "Thanks, I needed that," Some of the color was starting to return to her cheeks, and she didn't look nearly so gaunt.
"You want something more to eat or?" Saffron trailed off. Ivy nodded emphatically. Saffron handed her another piece spit roasted white mastodon. This time Ivy was able to restrain herself and eat slowly. "How long have you to been up?" she asked in between bites of meat.
"As long as you have, as a Star devil I have strengthened scenes, and so does Saffron, so as soon as you woke up we started the food for you," Sylvia explained. "You want anything else to eat?"
Ivy thought for a moment, "No I think that's good for now." Eventually the other girls started filtering in, every once in a while Ivy would grab another mastodon kabob, or tear off another chunk of fluffy bread. Thalia was the last of the girls to wake up and it was awkward when she came in. Ivy turned and made polite conversation with Amber. Thalia bit her lip, she felt like an outcast, but as always Silvia welcomed her with a smile. As soon as she could, Ivy excused herself saying that she had neglected her plants and that they needed her attention.
"You and Thalia have a rocky relationship," meowed Iris.
"Tell me about it," Ivy said flopping down over dramatically.
"Well, you two go from being mad at each other to..." Iris started.
Ivy cut her off, "silly cat, we already talked about this, that is an expression, I already know about our rocky relationship,"Ivy laughed.
"Well cats are literalists," Iris mewed feigning hurt feelings.
"And I'm not, and you know that, so you should try to remember that," Ivy persisted. Iris turned away pretending to be hurt and padded off. Ivy waited a few minutes and tended to her plants pretending not to notice. Then she called, "Iris? Are you coming out.
"Iris you big kitten, are you going to come back?" asked Ivy.
Still no answer.
"I have some dragon for you," called Ivy.
"Dragon?" Iris poked her head out from around the tree.
"And to think, most cats like mice and fish, how boring it must be," laughed Ivy.
Iris licked one of her indigo paws trying to indifferent. "You go get that then, I'll wait here."
"Sure," Ivy smiled and left to get some dragon "to think, most cats like mice and fish," she murmured. Iris was waiting for when she got back, obviously trying to look dignified, but unable to restrain herself, and she tore the piece of dragon to bits in her hurried eating. "You look like you're starving," Ivy laughed.
"I am, you didn't pay any attention to me for weeks, so I barely had enough food." Iris meowed looking up from her bloody meal. Ivy looked away guiltily. Iris finished her meal with relish, there was blood dripping down her muzzle and all around her face, then she looked at Ivy's sad face. "You didn't pay attention to anybody," she mewed trying to console Ivy, "Least of all yourself."
"Like that's an excuse," Ivy muttered bitterly.
"Are you just going to feel bad for yourself?" Iris asked matter of factly. "Because that's not like you Ivy, you haven't cared for anybody in a long time, and you haven't cared about yourself in a long time either, now all the time you're just feeling sorry for yourself!"
Ivy turned tears in her eyes. "Oh," nodded Iris and her voice and exression softened "I understand, You're not feel bad for yourself, you're feeling bad for the people around you." Ivy nodded wordlessly. "I'm sorry, I was harsh." Iris licked the blood off of herself and rubbed up against Ivy's legs. Ivy let herself fall down to her knees and curled up on the soft moist moss and sobbed herself to sleep.
She slept all day and all the night, it was dawn before she woke up. Every once in a while one of the girls would come and check up on her, but mostly they just let her sleep. When she woke again she bathed then ate with Sylvia and Saffron again, she still felt awkward with Thalia and avoided her with a passion. When forced to interact with her the conversation was as short as possible, lasting only until Ivy could think of an excuse to get out of it. Thalia was upset by this change in her friend, and upset because she knew that she caused it.
As Ivy was returning to her garden after a long day she saw a piece of paper propped up against the juniper. "Thalia left it," Iris explained.
a frosted snowflake
a glittering icicle
a world of fragile things
a cold wind
a mild sky
a place where winter sings
Ivy smiled and held it in between her hands then she blew on it and it disintegrated into dust. She picked up a floppy quill pen and wrote in the air.
something that can never quite be mine
a sharp knife
the limbs of a bow
things I will never quite know
a cutting edge
a dark style
something never is quite worth your while
When she finished writing the words in the air turned into a piece of paper and fluttered down into her hands. Then she blew on it and it turned into a white peacock with black writing on its large flamboyant tail. The bird lifted into the air and glided to Thalia's water house. Then Ivy curled up with Iris and went to sleep. When she woke up the peacock was back and on its wing was written
Can you hear the sirens sing?
past the black were the water begins
pick me up on silver wind
drop me down were the waterfall ends
pull me into the dream below
then when you are ready let me go
Ivy laughed and knew her troubles and tenseness with Thalia were done for now. She picked up the skirt she had began to work on. It was made of green leave and when she spread it out it was huge, she could pick up the two ends and bring them up far above her head, and the rest of the skirt would still reach down past her ankles. It would brush the ground as she walked, but as soon as she started dancing it would spin and twist with her. She took the weapons and potions off her belt and let them fall to the ground, the she replaced her weapons with castanets. She had not danced while Thalia had been away, and she made up for it now. The brass castanets rang in her hands and the skirt twisted and moved with her. The she picked up a crystal ball, she slowly set down her castanets. Then she set the ball rolling along her skin.The ball seemed to be a part of her. At first she could just barely control it and some times it went flying, but as she practiced the art she thought she had lost the ball rolled smoothly, and she controlled it as completely as she controlled her hands. She passed it effortlessly through her hands and up her arms then across her neck.