The first thing I notices was that there was a blue light and a red one and a black and a purple and a yellow.
There was a light of every colour flashing in my very existence. I could feel the colour like never before like a whirpool drowning me.
Then came the shock back to reality. It was Zephina who pinched me. No-one seemed to be affected like I had been, all the guards, even Elias remained with a blank expression on their face. It scared me how sensitive I was to the simple witches charm and door they had used to trap the Xana’s inside the land.
I shaked off my facial expressions, and took a step forward and another and another- followed on either side by two equally quiet friends- until the General and her army were simple dots in the distance.
We were in a forest and it was night. Time must be different here. Wherever we were, the trees were visibly more spindly, shaking heavily with the frequent breaths of the wind. The bits of the sky that where visible between the gaps in the towering figures, was like a dome, though perhaps that was my own mental capacity and knowledge that we were trapped.
There was a hand reaching in from the sky and waving causing hurricanes of wind, biting against my bare skin. I huddled against my arms, wishing that the blue gown I had sown was made of a thicker material. Elias obviously noticed my shivering, as he passed me a deep black shawl from the bag he was carrying.
I wrapped it around myself, though I was still not warm enough. The cold always seemed to stay with me.
Elias silently led us forward, taking one careful step at a time through the mushed up leaves and broken twigs, jumping occasionally at the untimely sounds of the forest. He probably knew the way, didn’t he. All of this, the entire irony of this situation, frustrated me and I was finding the incessant frustration very hard to keep in.
He nodded from ahead.
“How much longer is the walk?”
“I don’t know. They change the layout every so often, to prevent the xana from entering. It could be hours or a single minute away. Xim..” He stopped, probably unable to speak about his wife, or perhaps he just did not want to. I coughed, trying to break the silence. I didn’t like the silence. Silence was way too silent.
Zephina noticed too. “So... Ice. Ice palace right?” I was tempted to laugh.
“No. No. Not ice palace. We are not in a book Zephina..”
“Book? WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK,” she said enthusiastically, finally finding something to talk about that didn’t end awkwardly. I paused.
He nodded, obviously not having been listening. The cook always seemed to be in his own little bobble, never really standing on the ground.
“Your favourite book?” I said, near missing a particularly nasty looking puddle that would have ruined the boots I was wearing. The bottom of my gown was now stained brown, mud covering its seames and thorns having picked at it. It was a shame but it was inevitable. It was going to happen. Oh well.
“Oh. I cannot read,” he mumbled as If it was the simplest and most unimportant fact in the world.
“How old are you?” I said.
“Younger than you. 70. 70 years.”
“And you’ve never found the chance to read,” snapped Zephina.
“I’m more of a dreamer,” he said and just as Zephina was about to snap something else, I grabbed her arm and tightly squeezed.
“OWW.” I raised my eyebrows.
“Well. I don’t have a favourite book. Each book I read is different. Each book is a different whisper, a different story. You can’t compare the life of a baker to the life of a blacksmith. They are completely different. The same can be said with books. I like fast paced contemporary novels as much as I may like the fairytales of the dawn of time,” I finished, realising that I was boring the two of them with my explanations. The trees didn’t seem to end though. It felt like we were seeing the same bird over and over again, the same crumpled leaves passing under the souls of our feet. Like we were going in circles. I decided not to think too much of it, it was probably just my exitemement. Elias would know the way.
“You know, I have a funny story,” Zephina begun to laugh, “A very funny story.”
I picked up a sharp looking rock and threw it at her long thin legs. She furrowed her eyebrows.
“Fine. Basically, I have only ever read one book. Not like you two, you have both had an eternity to read. I read one book. Too busy in my own story. But I like stories. They are good,” she babbled, losing the laugh as her explanation deepened.
“What was the one book?”
“The complete religious works of Faechman by G.H. Landwere,” she said looking up at the sky as if in rememberance.
“Oh.” I said, rather surprised by her choice of books.
Elias coughed (I don’t know whether from the bitter cold or to gain attention). I jumped when he spoke, forgetting he was just as capable of listening and taking part in conversations as us, “You are religious?”
Zephina laughed again, to herself. “No. No... No. It was the only book in that cheap orphanage of mine.”
This was when I stopped and so did Elias and Zephina to match. “How long have we been walking for?”
They both shake their heads. I gestured towards the sky, now a pale pink of skin forming over what was once black. When we walked in, the sun had just set, it was dark but the remnants of the day still splatteded over the night sky. It implied, it had been a very very long time. But neither where my feet tired, nor were my eyes sleepy.