A/N: Hey, TwitchSpider, interesting new name... Souls and Turkey, yum. You two Roc!
Anyway, thanks for reviewing one and all, and all those readers who don't review, for shame. Everyone knows how reviewing brightens up someones day. Do you hate people? Are you antisocial? Review anyway, Damn it.
Anyhoo, onto the story!!!
By Lupine Eyes
I watched them part, however unwillingly, a smile working its way onto my face. I couldn't help thinking 'Finally'. After all this time, all this heartache, it was about time something good happened to her. Especially after Silvanus.
I shuttered. Silvanus. That name gave me the creeps. But, before, the name sent feelings of warmth through me. I didn't understand it. Whenever he was around me, it was like I was in a haze. I remembered a sort of crush. He was handsome, and sure I could understand being infatuated with him, and perhaps the feelings of jealousy I felt when he was with Lana… but the almost homicidal feelings… how could I possibly explain that away?
I didn't know. It was as if I was… under some sort of spell. Or something.
I shook my head, loading the last of my things onto Cerberus' back. He wuffed softly, wagging his tail as if he was happy to see me. "Hey, Cere, baby." I scratched him behind his ears, and his tail wagged faster, kicking up a little dust storm with its movements.
"Yeah. I know, you're ready to get moving too. Ready to kick some bad guy butt?"
He closed his eyes in a doggie smile, panting ever so slightly as his tail wagged faster and faster. As far as I could tell, he was as impatient as I was to get going.
Lana walked towards us at a brisk pace, her duster falling behind her like a cape, a dreamy far-away look in her eyes as she carried her things.
"So Lana…" I said, leaning against Cerberus' flanks, the picture of relaxed carelessness. She blinked, coming back to the here-and-now with a start. She gave me a coy glance as she put her bags onto Cerberus' back and I continued. "How nice was it?"
At that she blushed, and she gave me an annoyed look. "Eavesdropping can be hazardous to your heath." She said matter-of-factly.
"That doesn't answer my question!" I stated impatiently, enjoying how flustered I was making my old friend.
"I don't want to talk about it." She said wryly, and I grinned. There must be something going on if she was being so uncommunicative. I gave her another look and she sighed, relenting. "All right. I'll tell you later." I smiled, as Nathan walked toward us, the same dreamy look on his face.
"Hey." He said, his eyes only for Lana. My smile grew into a knowing grin. Lana ignored me, turning to face him, the same shy smile that was on his face gracing hers.
"Hey." She replied. They stared at each other for a long moment, the silence palpable, thick, so thick in fact you could 'cut it with a knife', or the sword hanging off Lana's belt.
"Do you guys want me to leave?" I asked, and they blinked, coming out of their trances, and they looked at me, as if seeing me for the first time. I suppressed a giggle.
"No." they answered in unison, and I laughed.
"Whatever." I said under my breath, still laughing.
Lana rolled her eyes. "Nathan?" He nodded to show he was listening as he loaded his bags onto Cerberus. "The fate said that you would be able to find the castle, that it would both 'Attract and repel your power, that you would know it when you felt it.' Or something like that. And she also said it was defiantly on this level. So, are you up to… putting yourself out there, metaphysically speaking, and finding it?"
"Yeah, I'm up to it. Stand back everyone." He said. Then he took up his staff and drew a circle and some symbols in the dirt. When he closed it, it glowed, a quick pulse of purple light before going out. It was a protective circle, to prevent anything from getting to his body and possibly harming it. I recognized it from the books Mother had me study, in preparation to become a Head Priestess some day.
It was to prevent some ghost, sprite, or demon from coming along and taking control his body while he was gone, using it to get to the world of the living, or they from just trying to harm it, jealous that he was still living and breathing, that he could walk around freely, unhindered by the laws of nature, or the veil between the worlds…
To be perfectly honest, I was kind of hurt that he didn't think me and Lana were enough to protect his precious body. We weren't, but still…
Then, he started to chant something under his breath, almost impossible to hear. I could make out the language, Latin, of course, but I couldn't make out the words. Something about "freeing his spirit from his body," or something like that. A spell for astral projection. Lana didn't have to use a spell, or a circle. No one, and nothing would dare to try and take control of a godling's body, not to mention, her natural shields are enough to stop almost anything, her spirit and will strong enough that she didn't need fancy words and languages to free her soul and mind, to go the metaphysical realms. I couldn't help but feel a surge of pride at that fact.
I looked over at Nathan, and suddenly he was paler then usual, if that was possible. The guy looked like he had never been outside in his lifetime. But, he wasn't just paler, he heart rate slowed, and his breathing was even, as if he was sleeping. You could tell just by looking at him that his mind was far away.
I turned to Lana, one eyebrow raised. "Is it later yet?"
My spirit was in an ethereal form, incorporeal, intangible, even in the world of the dead. And, I didn't walk, I flew, or levitated. Kind of… floating over the dusty plain of this Purgatory, this mildest of hells.
I searched, putting my feelers out for that feeling Lana described, for anything really. I was sure Aldoria would be putting out a signal, or something, because she wanted us to arrive on her doorstep, but try as I might, I couldn't feel anything.
I floated over the dusty plain, my third eye open as far as it would go. And still, nothing. I was just about to turn back, when… I felt something. Something that both attracted and repelled. It was a good feeling, but laced with something else, like water mixed with oil. Or, like seeing a wild animal, like a tiger, in the wild. It's beautiful, graceful, and you want to get closer, but you are very aware that at anytime, without warning, it could kill you. Exhilaration laced with fear, and danger.
I wanted to run towards it, to marvel in this thing's beauty and power. But, I also wanted to run screaming as fast as possible, and return to my body and get the hell out of this World of the Dead.
I swallowed, awed by the ferocity of these conflicting emotions.
I floated towards this thing, throwing off magic like a beacon. It was a castle, made of gray stones, with parapets, towers a draw-bridge, complete with a moat, like a true medieval castle. But instead of sentries patrolling about, there were harpies, half woman, and the other half bird.
They had very human and feminine faces, beautiful faces, big eyes, sensuous mouths, long flowing hair. And their chests were human, and erm… uncovered. And they were all well-endowed. But, the rest of them, below the waist was bird feet, perhaps a raven's, as they were all black, and large, razor-sharp talons on all of them. And instead of arms were two, humongous raven wings, that flapped as they moved, so instead of walking, they sort of levitated across the stone walkways.
I did a little more recognizance, but I found it impossible to get inside, and whenever I got close, one of the harpies would turn, as if sensing me, searching for me. I was too scared that they would find me to learn anything useful.
I floated back lazily, luxuriating in the feel of the flight, of the air moving all around me, hoping what I had learned would be enough.
Where was he?
That's the thought that kept running through my head. He had been gone for a while now, hours and hours. Okay, one or two. But everyone knows the longer you stay out of your body, the harder it is to get used to being corporeal again. And if you stay out too long… well… the body needs a spirit to live, something to 'drive' if you will. The body can't last on its own for two long… sooner or later… the heart stops beating and the body dies.
So, where on Aradia's hallowed green earth was he?!?!
I watched him intently a few minutes more, waiting for some sign … but still nothing.
"Takin' his sweet time, ain't he?" Norah said under her breath, scratching Cerberus behind the ears.
"Isn't he." I replied as Norah rolled her eyes. "And yes, he is."
Suddenly, ever so slowly, the light filled him again, and he looked alive. His heartbeat started to quicken, his breathing shifted ever so slightly, so I knew he was awake. Finally, he opened his tri-ringed eyes. They met mine, and my chest tightened, I almost couldn't breathe.
Then he blinked, and he stood up, stretching. I found my line of sight traveling over him, and I found myself noticing the way the material of his black shirt tightened over his chest, how gracefully and lazily he moved, like a giant cat waking up from a nap.
He stood up suddenly, rousing me from my… ogling session. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Yes, I was checking him out.
He took up his staff and erased most of the circle he had drawn, before stepping out. "So." I said, as soon as he was out. "What did you learn?"
"I learned…" he started, leaning against a stunted and leafless tree as if tired. "I learned that they are hiding your father in what appears to be a castle, crawling with harpies. I couldn't get into the building; there was some sort of aura around it that kept me so far away. But, I know where it is. We can leave any time."
I nodded, and Norah gave him a puzzled look. "What are harpies?"
"Greek Mythology." I said flatly, starting to pace. "They are predatory monsters with the head and chest of a human, usually female, and the wings, legs and talons of a bird. They attacked a king- I can't remember which one- but whenever he sat down to eat, they would swarm around, and then descend upon his table, eating as much as they could and befouling the rest. I believe because he'd offending a god. If I could just remember the whole story…" I sighed, stopping suddenly.
"Are we all ready to go?" I asked, looking between my two traveling companions. They nodded simultaneously. "Then let's go."