Chapter 3: The Vanishing Steed
Life was the path we chose for ourselves, it’s said that at any given moment anybody can change their life entirely by making a single choice, by merely just taking a step in a different direction. But are we not happy, with our own problems and convictions we create for ourselves? How can one just drop everything they’ve built and start upon a new path?
I woke up to the ticking of an old grandfather clock, tick, tock, tick, tock, the back and forth movement softly pulling me from slumber. My vision came into focus, I noticed I was lying on a strangely baroque sofa, soon I began to sit up. Then noticing a tiny women standing close by me, it was clear to me this was not the same woman as before, who had called herself my aunt. The small woman who stood before me, I could tell was much older. She was smiling from cheek to cheek gazing at me, as if waiting for me to awaken. “Hello dear, you seemed to have knocked your noggin pretty good. When you’re ready drink this, you’ll be good as new!” she said softly. I attempted to stand up but the woman insisted that I didn’t, handing me a finely decorated teacup. My head was pounding relentlessly, I reached up to touch where I’d felt the pain and I flinched from how sensitive it was. I then reluctantly took the teacup and held it in my hand for a moment, as to let my hands soak up the warmth of the liquid inside it. Then I put it to my lips and took a sip, it tasted almost like green tea but slightly more bitter than expected, with a subtle scent of lemon.
“What is it?” I asked, the women replied, smiling cheerfully, her cheek dimples apparent every time she did. “Oh its my own concoction, I made it especially for head injuries my dear. The little sprites will fix your head right up and when they are done, they’ll fly out right through your ears.” She said, gleefully. “That’s Interesting” I responded with a nod, not fully understanding what she was saying. But I immediately assumed she must have been an accomplice, to the crazy woman from before, because this sweet old woman’s crazy chatter, was clear to me whether i hit my head or not.
“Where am I?” I asked, trying to recollect what happened. She noticed I was trying to think too hard, gesturing with her hands for me to continue drinking my tea. “Drink, drink now, so the little ones can be in and out.” She said again cheerfully. I motioned, lifting the teacup up as to agree. I took another sip and asked if I could go home, but was told I could not until I spoke with Emily, the woman left the room as I sat and drank my tea, I had really been starting to enjoy the flavor. The room I was in looked like an office, except without bright fluorescent lights and white walls everywhere, it was darker and a decorated with mostly wood, a bit dreary but still warm and I had a safe feeling. This was an odd feeling given my current situation. Which I assumed was a kidnapping.
Moments later I noticed my head felt immensely better, I felt nearly ready to get up and start looking for a door, or window, to get an idea of where I was. This is when Emily appeared, the lady from before who called herself my aunt. “Are you feeling ok, Ellie?” she said softly, “yes” I replied, followed by “my head hurts a little still… And how did you know my name?” I was coming to my senses, the events of the night before started to come sharply into focus. Now that I thought about it, my head seemed to be feeling entirely better also, I reached up to touch it again, this time no pain. It began to improve immediately once I started on the tea.
“Great to know little one” she said, then holding up my phone, setting it on the table next to her. For a moment I wondered if James or Rose had text me, but then i realized my head must still be broken. “You were loosing it back there, I’d felt as if you would take the entire building down in your anger!” She said, in a not as sarcastic manner as I would have hoped. When someone says something like that you’d expect a laugh afterwards, but Emily seemed serious. I studied the woman’s face for a moment. “yeaaahhh” I said, I paused “what exactly happened back there, I’m having trouble remembering?” I lied, starting to remember what happened. “I’m sorry, I had almost forgotten you hit your head. Your temper is the exact same as your mothers I tell ya!” she replied, a little smile crossing over her lips as she studied my face now. My eyes darted down.
I had been trying to make sense of the events I remembered. The directions of my thoughts wavered now, “my mother?” I asked, Emily nodded, “yes you are so much like her, Ellie.” An unexpected smile crossed my lips, though I still thought this woman was a crazy old bat, I remembered the building around me was shaking in response to my anger, I clearly remember that I had been floating, struggling to escape and I remember clearly how the woman’s small gesture muffled my angry screams like magic. Then my thoughts started back to what I’d seen, I started to speak, venom in my voice. “Did you know they were in there? Is that why you did that?” I asked in anger, Emily gave me a look then reluctantly nodded as if to say yes. “I’m sorry but I just did what you asked,” she answered, “I didn’t ask to see my boyfriend fucking my best friend!” I shouted in response. “You would have seen it anyway, you’re just lucky I happened to be there!” she said, “why am I lucky?” I asked, “because you would have brought down the whole building, like i said” she replied,
I glanced down at my phone on the table then back up at Emily, she looked at me as if she knew it was all flowing back into my memory. “I was making everything shake?” I asked, Emily nodded then quickly picked up where I left off. “Then ya went and knocked your self silly hun!” she said with another comforting smile.
I stood up quickly only to be sat back down by Emily. “Sit, sit,” she said, putting her hand on my shoulder to make sure I did. “The sprites should be almost done fixing up that little head of yours, and when they are we will talk more.” She paused, gazing at me studying my face, “Wilda” she then shouted. Not even a second later the kind old lady from before entered the room. She must have been waiting just outside. Turning towards her Emily asked. “Please check on the sprites.” Then turning back to me, “and when she’s done, you may come right out into the parlor, I’ll be waiting. We need to talk about what you” she paused “ are”. Emily had left the room and the nice old lady named Wilda, grabbed a strange device as she walked up to me. She then stuck it in my ear, peered through it then repeated this process on the other ear.
“Ahhh they’ve all gone but one straggler! Just give me a second.” She said cheerfully, reaching over her shoulder for some fine tipped tweezers. Then reaching them into my ear, with a quick plucking motion she pulled something out. She then adjusted her glasses and peered at the end of the tweezers “yep the little guy got caught in some earwax,” she paused “when was the last time you cleaned your ears dear?” she asked, I answered by giving her a shrug. To my surprise when she opened the tweezers as to let what she had caught go, I’d visibly watched this ever so small something buzz off and away. I was surprised for a moment but chalked this up to my head injury, though I knew now it was completely better.
“Hold still!” Wilda had said, as I tried to stand up. She then took her hands and ran them over and through my hair shaking it out a bit. “None in your hair either, looks like they’ve all found their way home.” she quipped, followed by “ok dear you’re free to go”. I got up and stood there for a moment, making sure I had my balance then walked toward the exit. As i walked by the table with my phone i casually grabbed it, slipping into my back pocket. The first thing I noticed was a large Victorian window, outside I seen a green field edged by dense green woods, it had come off as strange to me, as it was the middle of February and looked nothing like winter in New York, I was pretty sure at this point that I was definitely kidnapped. But before I’d even let myself think, my eyes had found the front door, sirens started going off in my head, and I decided to run.
I looked all around me, the woman who called herself my aunt wasn’t anywhere to be found, I wasn’t stupid and I definitely didn’t want to become a prisoner locked in this house. I imagined myself chained up in the basement, dressed in children’s clothing calling the woman auntie as I shook my rattle. No matter what I had thought or known I had to get out and find my way home, I began running towards the front door, my bare feet crashing on the old wooden floor each stride I made. I definitely wasn’t making a quiet exit.
Before I knew it I had burst out on to the front porch, it had been covered in dangling vines of which danced as I ran past them, I noticed a pigeon perched on a swing within these vines, it watched me as I darted by. I leapt over a small set of stairs that led off of the porch. I was now upon a green lush yard of tall grass and flowers, something rarely ever seen in the city. It had felt oddly warm as the suns rays kissed my cheek. I was sure we were somewhere tropical now, though i had no idea where i could be. In front and around me only trees towered above my head. The usual landscape of cold concrete skyscrapers had all but gone, vanishing somewhere over the horizon, all I seen was green kissed by golden rays.
I started quickly down a thin path in the trees, looking like it may lead to a larger road somewhere ahead. I was at speed now, running along the cleared dirt path. Protruding tree limbs brushed me as I flew past, a warm breeze caressed my skin as it weaved in and out of the surrounding branches, throwing the leaves into a glamorous dance. I had been running for minutes now, my breathing just began to get heavy, tension grew in my lungs, as they strained to feed my blood with oxygen. I began to slow down to a walking pace, pulling my phone out i opened it up. No Service! it said, ugh, i knew i was on my own. Then lifting my head an gazing around to make an assessment of my surroundings.
Then what I’d seen next stopped me dead in my tracks, this was the moment i knew everything had changed for me. In my soul i felt this, my useless cell phone fell from my weakening hand. Standing before me was a creature, large and white, it glimmered beautifully from the light of the sun dancing through the treetops. A pale white steed stood tall and fierce grazing on the patch of grass ahead of me. Much larger and more majestic than any horse I’d seen before, even those that gave carriage rides throughout the city streets. But no, this was no average horse, it was a true beast unlike any I’ve seen before. And in this moment I knew everything in my life had changed, because protruding from this beautiful yet superb stallions head, was a long pointed horn, reflecting iridescent in color, as would a beautiful seashell. I knew without question, in front of me stood a unicorn.
I was frozen standing as still as possible, the acceptance of everything that had happened hit me right here, in the presence of this creature. I had felt something when my charm burst under the water, I’d known but ignored it, I had been making strange, unexplainable things happen at work. Then after when the apartment was shaking, I knew I had caused it. I knew now something had awoken in me, and in this moment undoubtedly and wholeheartedly I accepted it, though I didn’t know what it meant. All within the presence of this majestic beast, that until now I only believed lived in that of a child’s fairy tale, but now i gazed upon it with weary eyes. I accepted everything.
Minutes that felt like hours passed, I watched the steed in silence, using it’s horn to nudge the tall grass as to fluff it, then it would graze upon it. Suddenly my moment became interrupted. I heard a familiar voice behind me “Rare to see one in the woods, rarer to even see one ever” the voice said, “usually they graze the great planes to the south” she added, I knew it was Emily who called herself my aunt. I couldn’t speak, I stood as still as a statue still mesmerized, the creature reared its head up to see where the voice had come from. Looking right at me for all but a moment, without hesitation, i seen a soft glow from it horn, the steed vaporized into glimmering golden dust. I froze in astonishment. “Don’t worry, that’s a thing they do when they’re spooked… Ellie” I heard the woman’s voice say.
“How” I responded, the words barely choking past my lips. “Well…” she paused. ”You’re not in the big apple anymore.” She said. I took a moment to contemplate these grave words, I clearly knew I wasn’t in New York, but what I wanted to know was, how was this all possible? I mustered the will to speak, “so you’re really my aunt?” I asked, “yes” she answered, “what is this place?” I added, “this is where you’re from, Ellie, this was your mothers home and her mother before, and it is your home now.” She added. Neither of us said anything for a moment “Why didn’t I know about it, and why did you come for me now?” I asked.
“I had only just found you the other night, I’d felt something” she paused, “a burst of life that felt like that of your mothers, I haven’t seen her for many years so I came as fast as I could. But what I found was you, a young girl with a familiar face” my aunt replied, “why” I said turning to her, tears now filling my eyes, the wonder of the world around me overwhelming. “I don’t know,” she answered, I thought about this for a moment, remembering back to the charm of my necklace, as I watched it explode I felt something. “My necklace, I watched it explode into pieces under the water, I think that had something to do with it,” I said, the woman seemed deep in thought now.
“I believe it may have been a talisman, used to suppress what’s inside of you, though I don’t know why it burst. Conjured up by your mother no less.” She paused, “but I’m sure she had a good reason for binding it to you, whatever that reason may have been.” She added, again I paused saying nothing for a moment “to suppress what’s inside of me?” I then asked, my voice shaking the welling of tears in my eyes was apparent, but not from sadness or happiness or fear, from a new feeling entirely, one I hadn’t felt before, something in between. The thought of the stick my aunt was holding struck me, was it a wand i wondered? “Am I a witch? Or something?” I asked with a shaking voice.
With happiness in her voice, my aunt said “Oh, hun those terms are only used by old timers now. A witch is an old hag with a pointy hat and a Wizard an old bearded man in a silly robe, the trendy word the kids are using these days is sorcerer, or in your case a sorceress!” she responded, i tried to force a smile, my head dropped, my focus now on the soft grass below me. I stared at my broken phone as it lay in the grass beneath my feet. “I’m a sorceress?” I repeated this a few more times, as if I needed to continually remind myself why this was all happening, staring at my hands and then glancing back and forth at the ground, then all around me, the whole time whispering under my breath, “I’m a sorceress”. A few moments passed as I ran it all through my head. My burning question was on the tip of my tongue, “So i can do magic?” I asked, she seemed embarrassed by my question, she looked around us as if to look for others. “Don’t get caught dead using the word magic, you’ll sound like an old timer” she laughed, “Sorcery is the word you’re looking for, i do miss the old days when new fads didn’t take over every other month. Probably because all the kids are tethering these days, everything moves so fast” she said bitterly “theres more you need to know. Like why you’re a sorceress. Why the sky angered the moment you were revealed.” Emily said softly, i looked up and my eyes met hers, i must have looked confused. “Well here we go i guess,” Emily said, taking a deep breath. “You’re a descendant of the gods child. Like everyone here, and your presence in their realm was not welcomed, but i don’t know why, i only just noticed the storm brewing when i came for yoy. So i had to get you out of there before the deliberation was over, I only had little time.” she paused, more confusion swept over me.
“But most important of all hun, you’re my niece,” she added. Now embracing my quivering body in her arm. “Please lets go back before nightfall, your old aunt Emily will make you up something good” she said, I paused for another moment, unmoving before I started back with her. I felt warm in her arms, a feeling i had never been used to. I gazed at my cell phone sitting within the grass as i began to make my way off, i didn’t need it, i knew id never need it. So as we walked together, her embrace unwavering the entire time, i thought momentarily of an old place and life i would be leaving behind forever.
We walked through the woods back to the house, we didn’t talk much until we got closer. “Now I can tell you’re a fighter just like your mother, you’ll be just fine hun.” She said, ushering me up the small set of stairs and through the hanging vines, then on in through the front door. She led me to a doorway that opened into a large bedroom, bigger than I had ever seen. It fit a bed, two dressers, an ornate wooden vanity and even a large closet. I’d noticed once we entered, all my things were filling the space in the room, and the opened door to the closet revealed my nicely organized wardrobe, hung up neatly with no wrinkles. “Come out when you wish.” Emily said, she finally let go of me as a reluctant mother bear releasing her cub for the first time.
I had sat down on the bed, scanning the room for a few minutes. Then I slowly curled up and snuggled into the soft comforter for a while. I was trying to completely come to terms with what was happening, running all that i heard through my head. I knew there was no option but to accept it, not after seeing what i’d seen and feeling what i’d felt. Eventually after hours had passed I stood up, I seen on top of one of the dressers neatly folded, were my favorite sweats, as if she’d known I’d be longing for them. I made my way out of the bedroom, down the hallway and around the corner, here I had seen the flickering glow cast by a warm fireplace. Only to find Emily standing in front of a large cabinet filled to the top with pictures.
“I know you have a lot of questions about your mother, Ellie, i’m ready to answer them all” she said then pausing, the creaking wooden floor must have given warning to my presence, “you look so much like her, I noticed her gazing at one old picture in particular. The women in the picture had long brown hair similar to mine, stunning green eyes as deep as a forest. She turned to me and smiled as I examined the photos up and down. “Her name was Milena, Milena Frost but I had called her Lena for as long as I could remember, she was my older sister and quite a wild soul.” Emily said, this made me smile wide.
I couldn’t believe this was my mother I had thought, as I gazed upon the pictures in the cabinet, I immediately noticed we had the same face shape and lips, but she was strong and beautiful, far more stunning than I could have imagined. This moment felt surreal, I’d never thought I’d see or know anything about my mother. I had searched, there were no records, no DNA matches, nothing anywhere except the story of how I was dropped off at a hospital entrance, covered in blood. Unwanted by the people who had left me there. “Why did they leave me there, if I’m from here. Wherever here is?” I asked, uncertain of what i was actually asking. Emily looked at me with sadness in her eyes. “I don’t know the answer to that hun. But I do know Lena always finished everything she started, she wasn’t a quitter or someone who ever ran away. So whatever reason she had, it must have been important.” She answered.
This answer I’d accepted, feeling some fullness within my chest. My eyes leaped to another picture within the cabinet, I noticed my mother standing next to a man, “is this my father?” I asked, with a smolder in my eyes “no I’m sorry” Emily responded, followed by “ this was our cousin Donovan… Don Trisk” she added, my initial excitement diminishing. “The truth is I never knew or met your father Ellie, all I knew is that your mother was seeing someone new for some time. By the gods, I’d never even known about you! The other night I had felt you was a shock, that explosion of energy that echoed through me, I felt it immediately. It had felt exactly like your mothers so I came swiftly.” Aunt Emily cut herself off, pausing. “But it makes no difference who your father was anyways, you’re a Frost no matter what. And you’re my family!” she said intensely, a look upon her face to match.
“A Frost?” I asked, meeting my aunts gaze. She nodded and i understood. “I wish I could have met her.” I said, assuming by my aunt’s reaction, that my mother must be gone. “It’s ok Ellie,” she said, placing her hand on my shoulder, I always have hope, maybe she accidentally walked through the wrong door to somewhere, on her way back to us at any moment. I knew my aunt didn’t believe this one bit, but the thought seemed to give us both comfort. We’d spent a lot of time sitting in the room, basking in the light of the fire. I was listening contently to stories of my mother and Emily growing up, the times they shared and the games they played along with a few pieces of lore sprinkled in about the world we lived.
Emily told me we lived in the outskirts of the city of Citrine, within the greater land of Orean. In order to get back to my world, I only need find one of many doorways there. I learned that this was a place of magic, oh sorry, sorcery and beauty intertwined with my world, and that our worlds were connected by doorways, scattered about, readily available to travel to and from with. I found that Emily continually referred to where I came from as simply nowhere. It sounded strange for me to hear it called nowhere, as the word seemed to mean something different to her than it did to me. I noticed this often through the stories she told, she would use a word in strange context I wasn’t used to.