Forget Me Not

Earth and Years Numberless

Solstice and Lilybaeum made an oddly-matched pair. As a newborn, Lilybaeum was too diminutive to keep up with a spirit of Solstice’s size, and the kitten could hardly be expected to scale roots thrice her height. Because of this, the wolf spirit helped her onto her grassy back, and a couple of vines were grown from her fur to wrap around Lilybaeum and secure her to Solstice’s back. Though the sight was certainly worthy of a chuckle or two, the method was effective and allowed the wolf to jump roots and run at a moderate speed without fear of dislodging her passenger.

Their goal was fixed but destination unknown. Solstice thought it her duty to introduce the newest member of the Fair Wood to the other residents; however, not everyone was prone to staying in one place or being in predictable locations. The best way to find others was to wander around until you happened upon someone. Still, the Fair Wood was a small region in comparison to the whole of La’syrus, and if one knew the territory, as Solstice certainly did, finding spirits wasn’t so much chance as it was skill.

“Are we going to see Coromell too?” The wind sang in Solstice’s ears, but Lilybaeum’s voice probed her mind. The surprise was handled in stride, the wolf spirit mentally marking the unspoken communication as a manifestation of the newborn’s powers.

Solstice didn’t answer as she bounded atop a fallen tree with ease. Ahead of her loomed a ravine whose waters gurgled dozens of feet below. Rocks jutting from the cliff-face on both sides presented themselves as footholds to anyone brave enough to accept their challenge, and vivid, beaming flowers defiantly clung from cracks in the cliff. Above, sun dappled the living bridge that Solstice navigated with ease. The three, which had fallen some hundreds of years ago and whose roots dangled limply in the air on the other side of the ravine, sported branches in full green. They stretched in all directions with ripe, red fruits hanging from their boughs, but Solstice only stepped around the protrusions as she passed across the bridge and safely jumped once more onto grass on the other side.

“We might run into him,” the wolf spirit at last allowed. “I was hoping to introduce you to some of our neighbors you don’t know yet though.” A generous number of spirits had claimed the Fair Wood as their home, and Solstice would only be able to introduce Lilybaeum to a fraction of them in the day they had allotted the task.

“What are they like?”

“That depends on who you mean, young seeress,” said a deep, gravelly voice that sounded so near and close that Solstice was startled into hopping back. The disembodied voice chuckled warmly. “Look closer, little sun.”

At first glance, it seemed as if only trees occupied the forest, but the familiar nickname perked Solstice’s ears and narrowed her gaze. What she had first taken for a large hill transformed in front of her. Though grass grew on it, it was more mossy than anything else, its shape a little too perfectly oval, and what she had taken for a tree stump was a leg. Even the small tree sitting up top seemed to prove its existence as a hill, but in place of leaves were thousands of flowers, each petal as bright a yellow as the sunlight slanting through the trees. Before them was not a hill but an ancient spirit whose age had been lost to legend.

“Ghomorin!” Solstice bounded around the hill, careful not to climb atop it, and around front where she could barely make out the giant turtle’s head laid across the ground. “When did you come back?”

The turtle spirit at last lifted his head, which seemed to be crafted from bark and moss and whose eyes were a bright, moon-like silver. “Only a couple of days past, little sun. It may be for good that I’ve returned this time. The older I become, the more unwilling I am to part with the peace of this forest. Even rambunctious children such as yourself can’t seem to keep me away.”

I haven’t been trying. I like you too much,” Solstice countered warmly, recognizing the teasing for what it was. She stepped forward to press her nose to his, but when she retreated, she felt movement at her back and remembered her passenger. She quickly lowered herself onto her stomach and loosed the vines that held Lilybaeum to her back, letting the newborn down onto the ground. “Lilybaeum, this is Ghomorin, the oldest and wisest spirit in the Fair Wood. He has the best stories and is almost always willing to share them. Ghomorin, this is Lilybaeum. I’m sure you felt her creation yesterday.”

Solstice paced behind Lilybaeum’s tiny form and gently nudged her forward, guiding her to touch noses with the great turtle spirit as well. The blind newborn seemed nothing short of bewildered. “Why did you call me seeress?” she asked, no sooner than there was space between her nose and his.

It would’ve been a good question were Solstice not already familiar with her friend’s nature. He was a reader. Without ever laying eyes on a person, he could sense their intentions and the state of their personality. He could tell their mood, the flowers on his tree actually changed colors according to his readings of the spirit he was focused on, and he could read the nature of others. He knew the powers of any spirit he came across without them divulging a thing to him, and Lilybaeum was no exception. The nicknames he assigned those he met were individual to abilities, personality, or both; Solstice had never heard him call two spirits by the same name. She left him to explain what he wanted to the newborn though.

“Is that not what you are?” he rasped, his bright eyes fixed on the blind spirit seated before him. “You are one of the Great Mother’s Named, so you should know.” As he spoke, his exuberant yellow flowers began to wilt and fall from the tree, the petals withering into nothing before they ever fell to the ground below the tree, and just as rapidly, more petals replaced the first, these a deep, alluring purple. “A seeress is she who is able to see into times she does not actively inhabit, whether these times be past or future.” His sure voice lowered then, becoming softer. “It is a terrible gift the Great Mother would put upon none but those she deems strongest. You are unlearned and afraid of your visions, but once you are able to control your gift, you will find it to be a great asset.”

“I’m not afraid.”

Solstice pricked her ears at the assertion, aquiline eyes settling on the tiny spirit standing before her with ears flat against her skull and tail lashing. It was such a long time ago, but she remembered experimenting with her abilities for the first time too, how they’d acted if she were too excited or upset, and how scared she’d been at the lack of control she’d felt in those moments. Was it possible that Lilybaeum had been experiencing the same thing since yesterday and simply hiding it? Slowly, Solstice approached the newborn and laid herself down in grass beside her, tucking her legs underneath her body so that her head laid down beside Lilybaeum. In this prone position, Solstice carefully nudged her head over until her muzzle brushed against Lilybaeum’s flank. Lilybaeum started but didn’t pull away, so the wolf allowed her eyes to drift back to Ghomorin, in whose old eyes she saw sympathy and understanding.

“Then I’m happy to be wrong,” Ghomorin chuckled, and the sound was full of earth and years numberless. A shadow passed overhead, accompanied by the flapping of wings. Whoever it was, they didn’t enter Solstice’s field of vision with her laid pressed against Lilybaeum’s flank, and they didn’t speak, so she returned her attention to Ghomorin as he continued, “You aren’t the first seer I’ve met, and I’m told the gift is overwhelming in its infancy.”

“Seering?” Solstice’s head snapped up in response to the familiar voice. “Well, if she doesn’t want it, I’ll take it!”
♠ ♠ ♠
Ghomorin: A name made up by my best friend. He also made up the appearance and the changing colors of the petals.