As I drove home from a bookstore today, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. When I turned, I saw Zaira the Chronicler waving at me. She told me that she was ready to tell the next "installment" of the Wanderlust Chronicles. I told her to wait until I reached home and she did. When I arrived home, I made a cup of saenggang cha, or Korean ginger honey tea, as she sat next to me and talked while I typed.
I hope you enjoy the words, as I feel her tapping on my shoulder again . . . . .
Zaira walked on, not caring that both Julie and David watched her. She had to reach the city, or else face Iardin's wrath. She hefted her pack on her shoulder as her feet made no sound on the concrete road.
“I thought I saw it,” she murmured to herself, only to smile as the bright sliver of light flashed again. She glanced behind her shoulder and noticed that they were gone. Zaira turned back to face the light that now pulsed and walked faster towards it. Just as the scents of cinnamon and turmeric enveloped her nose, she grinned as she jumped through the light . . . and into the middle of a marketplace dressed with colourful scarves, flags and people selling and buying wares from all over this and other planes. Zaira dusted herself off and checked her bag. Yes, she thought. It was still there. She set the bag on her shoulder again and made her way towards the tall thin white tower that stood in the middle of the city. Hopefully, Iardin was in a good mood today. Hopefully. Just then, She felt strong winds fly around her and soon, she found herself in the middle of an ornately decorated waiting room. She looked around then sighed just as she heard the words, “I saved you the trouble of walking,” flow like silk behind her. She turned and watched Iardin, the Eater of Dreams, saunter towards her. His long and thin bare feet did not make a sound yet the bangles on both his arms jingled softly like a trained Wind Dancer during one of their performances. Zaira's eyes always focused on his long white blonde hair that trailed down his naked shoulders and back in the form of braids and strands. He wore his traditional indigo coloured wrap skirt, or gojika, past his knees as it complimented his pale and luminous skin. His hair always reminds me of a dream, she thought, only to frown as Iardin caught her thought and smiled deliciously. “You always loved my hair, Zaira, fairest of all Chroniclers. Tell me,” he said as he stopped a foot away from her and held out his hand, “do you have what I requested, or perhaps you were too busy thinking of my hair?” He shook his hand, causing the bracelets to jingle again. Zaira crouched down as she set her bag on the floor and opened it to pull out a small wooden box. She glanced at his expecting eyes then stood up and handed it to him. He covered his hands over the box then cradled it to his chest like a child going to sleep.
“Shall I go now?” she asked in a neutral voice, hoping that he would quickly send her away so that he could have time to enjoy his latest “acquisition”. She hoisted her bag on her shoulder and made as if to leave, yet noticed that his eyes never left her face. They bore into her as if searching for something as he took a step closer and sniffed the air around her head.
“You smell . . . different. Why?” He raised a hand and placed it over her chest. Instantly, warmth spread throughout her body, causing her to feel slightly drugged. Zaira felt her eyes droop yet widened them and tightened her grip on her bag, causing Iardin to lower his hand with a chuckle. “I see. Food with someone. A moment of caring. How delightful.”
“She saw me on the street and offered me food. She thought I was a beggar or something.”
“And did you happen to tell your new little friend about you and just what you had in your bag?” He shook the box gently and Zaira swore she heard a faint voice moan from inside.
“She asked some questions yet I refused to tell her everything. I had to return to you, of course,” she said with an added bow before him. The Eater of Dreams laughed as he turned and walked towards a large blue and white cloth chair that sat on the other side of the room.
“Come, come, Chronicler,” he purred as he walked, “surely you don't mean to leave so soon? Not when you have made good on your promise.” He sat down in his chair and stroked the box in his lap like a pet as he watched Zaira walk towards him. “You still have not received your payment. I have yet to meet a Chronicler that refuses to take their payment, no matter how . . . complicated their errand may be.” He reached down on the right to open a large jewel encrusted box and pulled out a small bag. “Ten gold, as promised.” She walked up to him and looked at the bag in his hand then slowly took it from him. She refused to count it front of him for fear that it would upset him and that was the last thing she needed at this point. Zaira placed the bag in a side pocket of her pants and nodded.
“May I leave now? I need to return home and rest.” She felt her body begin to sag as the tension flowed from her like water. She needed her bed and soon.
“Go and get rest.” Zaira turned quickly and made her way to the entrance in unmasked relief. “However,” he said in a voice that made her stop and freeze on the spot, “return in three days. I may have another errand for you, Chronicler.” Zaira nodded her head without turning around then left as quickly as possible.
Iardin watched her leave with renewed tension and chuckled again. Chroniclers are so predictable, he thought as he opened the lid on the box and surveyed its contents. There sat a transparent form that resembled a small cloud yet it was far from that. He gingerly poked it, causing it to emit a low and faint moan. He slid another finger inside of it and watched as the cloud thing began to take density.
“Such is the price for one such as myself,” he whispered as he lifted the cloud thing up with his finger. It felt warm and thick now; just right. He lifted it towards his nose and sniffed. Faint hints of perfume, spices and anxiety. He sniffed again. Depression, despair. A willingness to die. He opened his mouth and let his long serpentine tongue gracefully flick against the warm blob. Yes, he thought as the blob shuddered with every touch of his tongue, you know, don't you? You wanted to live when no one else wanted you to. When you died, no one believed you. No one rescued you. A small room covered in shadows. Hair falling across your face as the pain left followed by increasing warmth.
“Warmth like this,” he said as he placed the blob in his mouth and swallowed it whole. He felt the blob utter one last scream as it faded away, then licked his finger clean of the residue. “That suicide was delicious,” he sighed as he slowly got up and made his way to his resting chambers. Such a meal like that would give him lovely dreams for a week. Dreams of her raven coloured hair, distant eyes and how much she desperately wanted to be loved.