Chapter Forty-Five –Stream

I followed the stream believing it would eventually lead me to the ocean, where I needed to go. Furthermore, there was a greater chance of meeting someone because the waterwheel had to have been made by somebody nearby. It would make no sense if it wasn't. Then again, few things were making sense to me.

The sun was starting to annoy me, and I feared getting sunburn. Though the light usually has no real effect on me, my partially renewed skin must have still been too delicate to resist the harmful rays. I could feel my whole body getting warmer from it, and if I remained in the sun for a longer period of time, I would not be surprised if my body burned up from inside. Walking along the stream, I constantly splashed the cold water onto my body to alleviate the burning, but this was only a temporary solution. I needed to find shelter until the sun set, or I needed to find something to cover my skin. I toyed with the thought of patching leaves together to make some bit of cloth, but I had neither the skill nor the patience to do so.

Curiously, my feet did not burn as much as the rest of my body, and I thought it must have been from all the dirt that collected there. Realizing it was acting like a sunscreen, I hastily scooped up handfuls of mud by the stream and rubbed it all over myself. The mud felt very soothing, but I must have looked quite the mess. This was another temporary solution, and much like the water, I had to reapply, though I could go for much longer periods.

While I knelt by the stream to gather more of the mud, I felt the most curious sensation. My body felt disturbed, as though the very air had changed to something disagreeable to me. I wasn't at all familiar with this feeling, and I assumed it was my body telling me something awful was happening in the world around me. Perhaps it was a storm looming away in the distance? I heard nothing to prove that theory, but there wasn't any other evidence pointing to something extraordinary. I disregarded this as a strange quirk in my resurrection.

Due to my vampiric nature, the sun took its toll and forced me to find a place to rest. Having found no human settlement all morning, I could afford taking a quick nap before resuming my travel. I spent some time in search of a suitable place to lay down, for the sparse leaves of the trees offered little protection from the sun, and found a little nook in which to hide myself. I wasn't all concerned about its cleanliness, only the shade it provided, and once I found it sufficient enough, I sprawled out on the ground and closed my eyes.

The sound of a crackling fire aroused me, and I suddenly feared I had set the whole country on fire from the funeral pyre I had erected earlier. I sprang up to determine the location of the fire in hopes of extinguishing it with the stream water nearby.

"Are you awake?"

The voice surprised me. It came from virtually nowhere and left me unprepared.

"Can you hear me?" It was the voice of a small girl, no more than ten years of age.

"Yes, I hear you," I replied.

"Where did you come from?" the girl asked.

"Where did I come from? Where did you come from?"

"I live here. And I don't recognize you at all."

"Where is here?"

"Before."

"Before?"

"Yes."

"What a strange name."

"You're strange."

"How so?"

"You just are."

I probably did look very strange to her. I had no idea what my body looked like, and I was becoming embarrassed of my physical appearance. I hoped she didn't notice much as she didn't seem the least bit afraid.

"Where is that fire coming from?" I asked her.

"What fire?"

"You don't hear it?"

"Not at all."

I could still hear the fire, but when I tried to smell the smoke, I failed to find it. Was the fire somewhere else? Very strange.

"So what's your name? I'm A—Lily."

"Kathy."

"Kathy, do you know how far Sefate is from here?"

"Why do you want to go there?"

"Well…I need to because…I'm blind, and I need to get my eyes fixed there."

"Oh."

There was a brief period of silence, only broken when I nudged her, "Well?"

"Well what?"

"Do you know where Sefate is?"

"I think it's near here."

"In what direction? Could you show me?"

"I suppose you could get there by following this stream. I've only been there once, and I went by going down the stream. I didn't like it quite that much."

"Oh why is that?"

"It's too noisy," she said. "I couldn't sleep at all."

"I suppose it would be noisy compared to here."

"Indeed! It's very nice and quiet here. Unlike there."

"Do your parents know you're out so late?"

"I think so, but they don't care."

"I don't think you should be out here by yourself. There are wild animals and such."

"I'm not afraid of them."

"If I was your age, I probably would be."

"If I was blind, I probably would be too."

"Well, I wasn't born blind…and they could be scary."

"How did you get that way?"

"I don't know. It's a long story."

"You do look like you have a story to tell. But I don't really care."

I wasn't quite sure what to make of this girl. She seemed somewhat peculiar.

"I wasn't really going to tell you anyway," I said. "You should go home before your parents worry about you. I know mine would if I was in strange place like this."

She didn't answer.

"Are your parents nice?" I asked.

No reply. From her silence, it appeared she wasn't at all anxious to get home to them. Were they abusive parents? It was hard to say, and I didn't want to look insensitive by asking that outright. Still, she must have been very brave to venture out here. The light seemed to be fading, and dusk was probably approaching. Though she seemed like she didn't want anything to do with me, I wanted to see her home safe and sound.

"Kathy, why don't I walk you home?"

She wasn't talking to me anymore, and it took me a moment to realize that she was no longer here. She practically vanished without me knowing. To further frustrate me, I could not detect any trace of her being around, so I had no way of tracking her. I feared for her safety, but there wasn't anything I could do to help her. I called out to her but received no response. It made me feel rather sad. Despite my vampiric strengths, I couldn't do anything to help a little girl. Utterly confused, I started walking towards the stream to clean the grime off of me. It did little to help my senses, and if she had left me, she was now long, long gone.

She did tell me that I was in the right direction, but alas I could not thank her. I hurried down the stream to get my mind off of her.

I knew now what Valerie must have felt when she ran—I was able to cover rather large distances in a short time, but weariness settled in just as quick due to lack of blood. Whatever blood I took from the wolf was fading, probably because of my lengthy exposure to sunlight. If I had my wings, it was probably easier to fly.

I wondered whatever happened to Shiela. If she had left me, she should be at least no more than a day ahead of me, if she was going the same way I was. She was nowhere to be found, and much like that girl, she seemed to have vanished. Maybe she went back? I hadn't thought of that, and that would explain it all. Should I go back as well, just to find her? If she was important to Valerie's plans, then I had no choice. Yet I knew nothing of Valerie's plans, other than me getting the Isis ring. The ring and I were the only important parts. So why should I try and find Shiela? I did miss her a bit, and I wanted to thank her personally for getting me this far, but that wasn't really essential to my goals. I could always thank her later after I get the ring.

Thinking about the ring reminded me of the ring I still bore on my left hand. I had no memory of where I had gotten it from. It seemed stuck on my ring finger like a wedding ring, but it definitely wasn't that. Even when my skin was withering, it fit just as snug as it did now. No amount of pulling made it come loose, and the only way of getting it off was probably to rip off my finger. The crystal still felt warm to touch, but it no longer burnt my skin like it did before. It obviously had some magical value, but whether it was made by nobles or humans, I did not know. Regardless, it was the only item on my naked body of which I was very much embarrassingly aware. I had no qualms of going about nude in some other body, but when it was my own, I wanted to at least cover up some parts of me.

A noise arose somewhere in the distance down the stream. It was hard to make out, but it seemed like the ground was rumbling. I hoped it wasn't an earthquake because that was the last thing I wanted. As I hurried along even faster, I noticed that the sound seemed to be coming at a fairly predictable rate. I counted the seconds between sounds; the interval was roughly thirty minutes. The presence of a predictable interval told me it was a manmade sound. A bell? I couldn't tell.

Eventually I came to a bridge. I couldn't feel any happier. Bridges are for frequent use, and I was much closer to people. More importantly, I was seemingly moments away from leaving this crazy island. A whole new land lay ahead, and within that land lay the Isis ring.

I lost track of how many days it has been since Valerie first proposed this quest to me. Was I any happier now compared to then? I doubted it. Before I was indifferent to everything, and the events leading up to the present gave me a slight bout of depression. But I should be happier because the chance of changing everything was within my grasp. Everything I do now shouldn't matter later because it's all going to be changed anyway.

It shouldn't matter.

Well, what's stopping me from indulging myself before then? Besides my own conscience. Probably my own hatred of myself, my demonic self.

I sighed. But that can be changed.

I just had to do whatever I needed to do here in Sefate and then go off to Lantis. My eyesight was a priority, and if human blood didn't fix it, I would not know what to do. Would I have to go find a doctor? I laughed at the thought. If Valerie was there, which I am sure she would, then perhaps she could help. If I was destined to be blind forever, then I wouldn't hesitate one bit to find a new body. But having my own body is a nice feeling, and I wanted to cure it of everything that plagued it. Even its vampirism.