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    Cia
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Broken Path, Starless Tail - 12. Chapter 12

“What do you know?” Valrinda asked.

Beckett thought hard. It was only… yesterday? How could it only be yesterday with all that had happened? He’d been in the bathroom with Parallax in his arms, then in a freezing cold forest with that same cat, but somehow, he’d been completely different. “Well, Parallax said he was the embodiment of the Cosmos, not it’s guardian,” he pointed out.

“And you think that the very fabric of space and time needs a physical being to not protect it?” One of Valrinda’s eye ridges went up.

“Okay, fair point.” Beckett tried to think back to that hurried conversation when he’d been in shock and so confused—not that he wasn’t still confused—and frowned. “He said I wasn’t all human, and he was going to help me help him.” He snorted. “Telling me to find his star by following the path and that he asked someone to help me wasn’t much help if you ask me.”

Valrinda cocked his head to one side, moving to hover over him. “Not human?” He sniffed, his nostrils flaring wide. “You smell human, but then to use the portal there must be something in you that isn’t human,” he muttered. “And follow… the… path….”

He gasped in a big breath, the air moving so fast that waves skipped across the pool and splashed Beckett in the face. “I’ve got it!”

“Got what? And could you move back, I’m getting a crick in my neck looking up.”

“We follow the path,” he said with excitement as he shuffled back a few steps and curled down to the ground to look closer at Beckett’s eye level.

Beckett groaned. “Seriously? How is that helpful? There are all sorts of paths that go places. How will we follow the path and go the right way? How do we find the path that the thief or thieves took if we don’t know which one they took? He didn’t even tell me who took his star!”

“Maybe he didn’t know?” Valrinda shrugged again.

“He had to know! It’s on his tail!” One time Gael Waters went to flick Parallax’s tail from over the back of the couch and his hiss had scared him so bad he’d nearly pissed his pants, hell they all had before they started laughing at him.

“Magic? And that’s how we’ll find the path. If Parallax said to follow the path, then the knowledge of where to go and when is inside you.”

“Knowledge is learned, buddy, not just known.”

“Not when it’s part of your magic.”

He countered, “Parallax said I wasn’t a witch.”

“Not a witch, those are always bad magic, but he didn’t say what wasn’t human wasn’t magical.” Damn, Valrinda had him there. And, apparently, they didn’t have any good witches. He was glad he wasn’t one then.

Try as he might, Beckett couldn’t think of any way to discover the path Parallax and Valrinda seemed so sure he knew how to find. Sinking into the water, he took a big breath of air, and then dunked his head so he could at least rinse out his hair and get rid of his bed head.

The water wasn’t quiet like he expected. Shouting on his left startled him, and Beckett opened his eyes. There was a city, teeming with beings great and small, that milled all around the red sandstone buildings. A desert surrounded the oasis seated high on a cliff top, a brilliant blue sea just beyond, and a black stone road lead right to it.

He was striding up that road, dressed in a robe with people all around him and Valrinda draped in chains above their head.

He surged to his feet, exploding out of the water. Beckett gasped for air, clinging to Valrinda who was over the pool again.

“Why did you stay down there so long?”

“It… was only a few… seconds.” He panted for air, patting Valrinda’s snout when he pressed it to his cheek.

“No, it was for many long breaths. I got worried when you didn’t come up.”

“Really?” His breath slowing, Beckett shook his head. “It felt like only a second or two, but… I think I saw the path.”

“Ahh, a vision-seeker. That is what you are. Please don’t do that in the pool again. It could be dangerous.”

“I didn’t seek a vision in the pool! I just wanted to wet my hair.” It was lying in limp strands, dripping in his eyes, so he’d gotten that done. “Whatever. Do you want to hear what I saw?” He shuddered, still not sure of everything he’d seen.

“Yes.” Valrinda nodded. “Do you want to get out of the pool?”

Bathing in just his underwear, he was feeling chilled so Beckett got out of the pool. He yanked his underwear away from his skin, flushing, but sighed at the warmth of the sun on his skin. The grass was warm and soft against the soles of his feet, so he sank down lay on his back. A shadow fell over him. “Hey!”

“Sorry.” Valrinda curled up on the ground near him, his whole body also radiating heat and his slightly smoky breath blew across Beckett’s chest and face. “Better?”

“Mmhmm.” While he warmed up and tried to relax after his shock in the pool, Beckett was feeling out the bond he felt to Valrinda. Overwhelmed, he gave in to everything and just let his mind and body drift until he started talking without thinking. “There was a city built out of red stones between a desert and a sea. We were on a black stone road.” The vision seemed to be fading in details. “We weren’t alone. I was surrounded by people of some kind, and you were flying above me with metal chains on you.”

“We were prisoners?” Alarm deepened Valrinda’s voice.

“I-I’m not sure.” Why did he feel embarrassed? He didn’t even know if this was real!

“I won’t let anyone capture you, don’t worry.”

Copyright © 2023 Cia; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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On 5/25/2023 at 12:36 AM, CincyKris said:

Oh, that makes much more sense!  I can’t imagine Beckett being the protector!

I also thought it was Valrinda reassuring Beckett, although it is the last sentence of the conversation and is not attributed to either one.  Let's hope @drpaladin's reference to Glinda doesn't foreshadow a poppy field along the black road.  The one thing I did like about Valrinda is that he wants to work with and share his ideas with Beckett.

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