Estes

2.7.16 Illuminating Yellow Sun Wavespell, Red Castle

Esme walked aimlessly with her bundle of goods for what felt like ever. Her mind was too busy with thoughts of the day’s events to take notice of her surroundings. She let her sandalled feet walk her of their own accord through the familiar streets and avenues and eventually she came to herself with a start when her feet began to ache on unfamiliar lumps. She stopped where she stood and saw that she had left town behind and was on a road pockmarked with ditches and rocks, with grassy embankments on either side. She hiked up toward a magnolia tree bearing glossy leaves that swirled all the way up toward the top and created a marvelously shady space at the bottom, where she plonked herself down gratefully. She leaned back against the trunk and nodded of to sleep for a while.

When she awoke it was to the sound of wheels grinding to a screeching stop and a door slamming shut. She opened her eyes to see a man with bells knotted into his braided beard, a red and black checkered flannel shirt, torn scruffy jeans, and a red baseball cap embroidered with the words s.e.a.l in yellow on it standing by the vehicle. The vehicle was of indeterminate color, as it was completely covered in stickers, had magnets and bric -a -brac ranging from plastic dolls heads to metal chickens to broken arrows and rocks welded on, and any bare spot that may have been was painted with butterflies and caterpillars. The man had taken his cap of his head, which was covered in tattoos of dragonflies and butterflies, and was wringing it between his hands, finally throwing it to the ground and kicking it. He then raised his arms up, stretched, let out a bellow, picked his cap up and crammed it back on his head, and turned to where she was sitting.

“Hola! Got any water to spare?” he called.

“Hullo,” Esme replied, “No but water sounds lovely! Let’s go find some, there’s bound to be a spring or creek near here.”

She got to her feet and leaving her bundle by the tree, she began walking about sniffing at the air.

The man stared after her as she disappeared from sight then quickly climbed up to join her. It didn’t take him long as she called out in triumphant tones, “There’s a spring here! Come see!”

She was drinking from cupped hands that were filling clear bubbling water where it was gushing out of a pipe emerging from a slope, puddling into a ditch that led to a creek. She splashed water on her face and stepped aside to make room for him to drink. And drink he did!

“Ah, that feels good! I’m going to fill the empty bottles I’ve got before heading out,” he announced.

The woman followed him back to his car and began carrying bottles back up to the spring with him. It didn’t take them long to fill the dozen or so bottles he had and get them packed in the back of his vehicle.

“So where are you headed?” He asked.

“Wherever you’re headed,” her eyes twinkled.

He pointed at himself, “Where I’m headed?”

“Yes, don’t you know where you’re going?” she asked with a chuckle.

She ran up to fetch her bundle and was in his car before he could register what was going on. She leaned out the open window merrily and called out, “Come on, it’s getting late!”

He shrugged, got in the car and began driving.

“I’m Estes,” he said.

“You can call me Esme,” came the response after a few moments of quiet.

Estes drove away from the town she’d left behind. He kept glancing in the rearview mirror from time to time, accelerating as he did so.

“Expecting someone? Esme asked.

“Hmm, thought I was being followed, but it seems all clear now,” came his reply.

“So where are we going?” she asked.

He glanced in the rearview mirror and pulled off the road suddenly onto a side road she hadn’t noticed for it was overgrown with wild rose bushes that hung out in front of the narrow entry, completely hiding any signage that indicated there was a road this way. Thorns and vines scraped at the vehicle as it passed by, scratching marks down the sides like claws.

“We’re going to get donuts,” Estes announced.

“Yummy!” said Esme.

They drove down the tight road for over an hour, through more vines and thorns and overhanging branches from bushes in the hedgerow, until she saw a small trailer off to the right, parked by an elderberry bush. Estes screeched to a stop and got out. She followed suit. They walked up to the trailer. It was a grey color and hooked up to a grey pickup truck. It had a closed window on the side facing them and behind it, in the trailer, was a chubby creamy cheeked blonde woman. She had headphones on and paid them no heed. Estes knocked at the window with his hat.

“Brandy, hey Brandy, come on, open up!” he hollered.

Brandy looked up eventually and opened the window.

“Hey there Estes, the usual?” She asked.

“Yep, and one for her too,” he said, looking over his shoulder toward the road and back again.

Brandy’s eyebrow lifted and she said to Esme, “Better watch out with this one, he’s Trouble with a capital T.”

Esme grinned and winked at Brandy, replying, “Ah, excellent! That’s my cup of Tea, with a capital T!”

Brandy laughed and disappeared below the window. She reappeared and passed them each a donut. They thanked her and Esme bit into hers, delighted by the taste of apple and cinnamon mixed with crunchy bits of something unidentifiable, along with swirls of gooey caramel. She shut her eyes and enjoyed the sweetness; it was delicious and filled her with a dreamy liquid feeling that made her see stars swirling all around her.

“Betcha never had one of those before, enjoy it, can’t get these at any old donut shop,” Brandy chuckled, turning to Estes who was rummaging in his pockets.

He handed Brandy a wad of cash and began munching at his donut quickly till it was gone.

“That’s for both of them and a little extra for you Brandy, take care of my ride will you?”

“Sure thing Estes and don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she said to Esme who was still nibbling the delectable donut with a giddy expression.

“C’mon,” said Estes giving Esme his hand, “Finish up, we’ve got to go.”

Esme took his hand and ate up the rest of her donut sadly; she wanted it to last forever. Estes led her around the elderberry bush, which turned out to be a thicket. The branches seemed to be moving out of their way as they went deeper and deeper for what felt like hours into the heart of the grove.

Estes stopped and offered her his second hand, she took it and they stood in the center hand in hand then she felt something snaking around them. It was the branches. They were closing in a circle around them and then suddenly she saw more of the stars swirling everywhere, glowing brighter and brighter, until that was all she could see. She closed her eyes and felt the warmth of Estes’s hands, the scent of apples and cinnamon, and the sound of elderberries dropping like beads onto her cheeks. When she opened her eyes, she and Estes were holding hands and their faces were covered in purple juices. Esme realized she had no idea where they were. The thicket was gone. She looked at Estes with sparkling eyes and excited flushed cheeks, he squeezed her hands and grinned at her.

“Well now little lady, this is going to be a fun trip!  I sure am glad to have found you,” he declared.

“Now that would be a matter of perspective,” she said roundly.

 


2.12.16 Exploring Red Skywalker Wavespell, White Castle

Esme heard whirring above her and tilting her head saw a plane fly overhead. She watched as it began its descent and there in the field ahead of them it landed on a thin strip.

“Estes, we’re in an airfield!” she exclaimed, tugging his hand, “Let’s go see what’s going on there.”

They walked through the green and purple grasses, brushing past red clovers, Queen Anne’s Lacy parasols, and clusters of pink milkweed. Yellow, pale blue, and white butterflies flitted about with the occasional honeybee buzzing beside bumblebees, their legs in stockings of rusty pollen. Ants marched up and over stalks, and a streak of red with the thrumming of wings bespoke of Cardinals in flight. Presently their feet found their way to concrete and they walked on to where they saw a building with planes parked around it denoting a small airport.

They passed through the sliding doors and stepped inside onto veined marble tiled floors that shone with brightness from the light that came in from all directions through the walls, comprised mainly of clean glass windows. In the center of the large room was a big desk with a dark haired bespectacled man in a grey suit behind it. All around the sides were black leather couches arranged so each couch had a table in front of it and two matching chairs on either side. The tables had assorted magazines strewn on them, National Geographic, Earth First!, Tulpa’s Chronicles, She, This Amazing World, Birds, Healing Daughters of the Great Waters, and Green Food caught Esme’s eye as they walked past to the desk. There were a few people seated on a couch here, and others on chairs there. A young boy was hopping from marble tile to marble tile.

“How can I help you?” The bespectacled dark haired man behind the desk asked. He wore a nametag that had Hermes printed on it.

“Well Hermes, we’d like to know when the next flight leaves,” Esme replied.

Hermes consulted a screen and said, “Next flight to Lemur leaves in fifty two minutes, and it has two seats available, though I won’t be able to seat you together.”

“We’ll take them!” Esme announced.

Hermes busied himself at collecting data from them, which he entered into the screen, and quickly presented them with tickets.

“Have a good flight and journey well,” he stated, handing them the slips of paper, “There’ll be an announcement when it’s time to board the plane, the gate is right through there.” He gestured behind him to a passageway.

“Thank you,” said Esme smiling happily.

She and Estes went back outside and walked around, circling the building, which was in the center of four runways. The runways had been made within the field, four long grey lines running straight through unmowed green, almost hidden by the tall stalks with blue chicory and startling yellow crowned evening primroses that rose up toward the sky. Geese flew overhead and they saw a flock of gold finches land in the growth, vanishing from sight; the only indication of their presence in the slight movement of the stalks. Something small and round caught Esme’s eye below.; bending down she saw it was a piece of smooth tumbled carnelian. She picked it up and rubbed its soft curved sides holding it in her hand while Estes picked flowers and braided a wreath of blue and yellow, placing it on her head.

They returned to the building and looked at the big circular clock on the wall behind the desk. It was painted yellow and had rays swirling out around it. The plane would be ready soon. Turning they saw a tiny old woman with a wizened deeply lined face in a long oversized red coat, a red felt hat set at a jaunty angle on her head, looking at them. She had a polished maple stick that she used to walk toward them, stopping directly in front of Esme.

“Have you found the Lord?” she asked in an unexpectedly deep voice.

“Why indeed I have!” replied Esme, “We walk side by side, with one another all the time!”

“Have you been saved?” boomed out the little old woman.

Esme leaned her head forward until they were nose to nose, the two eyes in the wizened face combined into one, and she said, “Hallelujah sister, hallelujah!”

She was given a papery thin skinned bony hand, a bird like hand that felt fragile and breakable, yet when she held it in hers there was the force of steel in those fingers. Esme was reminded of how the minerals that grew and formed, going into the making of steel, took years and years in their creation until they were fired and tempered and turned into sharp blades with keen edges; imbued with longevity they couldn’t be tossed into a fire and burned, like a club or a staff, for they had already entered the fire and grown stronger with each licking of the flame.

They held hands, the two of them and Estes began humming.

The old one began singing, “Fly fly away, glory fly, fly away . . .”

Esme joined her voice to the song, “I’ll get up and fly away, fly away . . . .”

And the room reverberated as others added their voices, with a communal refrain of “Hallelujah!” closing the song at the moment that the announcement from Hermes wove its way in, “All passengers to Lemur begin boarding now.”

Esme pressed the carnelian into the old ones hand, their eyes shone at one another, then she turned and began walking with Estes toward the passageway and the waiting plane.


2.26.16 Liberating White Worldbridger Wavespell, White Castle

All charged up and nowhere to go. That’s how Esme was feeling as she sat down on her seat in the plane. Oh she was headed for a place called Lemuria, this much was true, but still, she couldn’t shake the feeling that crept up on her suddenly while walking down the corridor toward where the plane was waiting. They had given their tickets to Giselle, a smiling young woman at the door, who had directed them to their seats. Estes had walked jauntily toward the back of the plane, the bells in his beard jingling, and she toward the front. Her seat was on the edge; the one next to it was on her left by the window. It had a wide brimmed brown felt hat placed on a folded brown leather jacket on it; the kind that had an oily sheen and light grooves marking it as well worn and aged. To her right were the indigo-carpeted walkway and then the next block of seats. She sat down with her bundle in her lap and gazed out the window blankly. It had been a busy few days since she had rushed out of Bibi’s compound. She’d dived into what had come and now, sitting alone, the memory of her departure returned to her. Why did it have to be this way, she wondered, why did Bibi have to be so difficult? She shook her head at the futility of such thoughts, recognizing them as at once charging her up yet leading nowhere. Unexpectedly laughter bubbled up and the next thing she knew she was feeling mirthful, giggling and chuckling out loud until salty water streamed down her cheeks from her eyes.

A cough interrupted her reverie, the sound of a man clearing his throat. She turned her eyes from the window and beheld a portly gentleman, silver hair cut shoulder length, curious blue eyes under bushy white eyebrows, a craggy forehead, nose slightly crooked as though it had been broken long ago and set itself back slightly off course from its point of origin, with straight middle teeth and the ones on the side overlapping slightly, stained ochre in the places between where each tooth stood shoulder to shoulder with the other. He pointed to the vacant seat and Esme scooted her legs over so he could pass through and seat himself, placing his jacket and hat on his lap. He wore faded blue jeans and a crisp cream shirt with the sleeves rolled up. She noticed a copper bracelet shining on his left wrist. It was delicately etched with two different patterns that looked like scales halfway and fur on the other; the ends were open. One resembled a snakehead, the other a cat; they were facing each other. The details were intricately rendered to the point of movement, and the longer she beheld it the livelier the bracelet appeared. When she tore her gaze away she saw the man was smiling at her where they faced each other.

“You wear The Dragon and the Tiger,” she stated.

“I do,” he affirmed, “It’s a piece I commissioned for myself. The union of opposition, with space in between; that’s how I think of it.”

“It’s beautiful,” Esme acknowledged, “And also mesmerizing.”

“Didn’t mesmerize you though; I’m Bob by the way,” he remarked, offering his hand.

“Esme,” she returned, shaking hands with him. His hand enveloped hers in a firm grip; their palms pressed together sent a jolt up her arm and with it a vision.

A storm was brewing. Thick grey clouds were rolling in at a tremendous speed. The wind was rippling over the surface of a pond, water swirling in curves from one side to the other without bouncing back on touching land. The wind was dancing on the ground; picking up a wheelbarrow here and moving it there, sending dry leaves up from where they lay under trees. The wind was rushing through branches, which were swaying from side to side. The wind swept up Esme’s skirts and tossed them about, flirting with her legs. This was a high low wind that sang, a rushing coursing hollow sound, a blowing music that filled itself as it billowed through bringing a darkening canopy of clouds above. Esme heard a thundering noise join in and she scanned to see where it was coming from. A white horse rode toward her, the wind at its back whirling all around it till it seemed inseparable from the wind propelling it onward. There was a rider on its back, Bob. He reached out a hand, she gave him hers and he pulled her up behind him and rode on swiftly. They rode for what must have been hours, past the pond and into the woods behind it. The horse seemed to know where they were going. Bob held the reins loosely and the horse unhesitatingly galloped over branches, fallen hemlocks and oaks, skirting spicebushes and pines, leaping over the creek while it took them deeper into thick stands of old poplars, locusts, maples, and hickories. It tirelessly climbed slopes that switched back and forth, round and round, until at last it stopped in a flat clearing. Bob got off the horse’s back and rubbed its long, shiny mane, kissed its nose. He gave Esme a hand and she stood beside him in the clearing.

“This is Starseed,” said Bob, introducing her to the horse, “She’s brought us here and now we must get to work.

“Hello Starseed,” Esme said in greeting, extending her hand toward her.

Starseed nuzzled Esme’s hand with her nose and rubbed it with her forehead. Then she raised her head and nickered, motioning them toward an enormous gnarled oak in the middle of the clearing. Its branches were knotty and extended in many directions, curved and intertwined, rising so high that Esme had to lean her head far back to appreciate the fullness of the tree. There were lichens and moss growing on the branches, hanging off in clusters and making fine hairy silhouettes in the muted light. The ancient tree wore a skirt of thick-knotted roots that circled out all around it.

Esme heard a rustling sound from where a sleek tawny lioness was emerging from the woods. Her eyes glinted golden green and she approached the oak, circling the tree while humming from deep in her throat and rubbing against the tree trunk. She strutted over to Bob and pawed his thigh lightly, Bob scratched her head until she nudged his hand off and walked over to where Esme stood. She prowled around Esme slowly, sniffing the air, her tail curled behind her. Esme felt like she was being stalked, the lioness’s head and tail kept going around and around with increasing speed and Esme felt slightly dizzy. The lioness began to blur and it appeared that she was a woman with shield and sword charging around her, sometimes here and sometimes there. Esme could hear her approach from one direction only to find that she was in a different location than where the sound had come from. At times she moved with such speed there appeared to be more than one of her; making it increasingly difficult to know which form was an illusion.   Esme realized she was using the shield to project images and reflections. She stopped abruptly in front of Esme and lay her big front paws on Esme’s shoulders, standing up she looked Esme in the eye. Esme held her gaze. The lioness had a steady unblinking stare and she scrutinized Esme for a while, scratching Esme’s head gently with her left paw in spirals. Esme felt a tingling on the left side of her head where she had experienced pressure that came and went in the same spot repeatedly, a spongy swollen feeling that hurt in a damp way. The lioness’s claws suddenly speared this spot, skewering something on a sharp tip that she brought back out. Esme’s head felt clear and unencumbered, and she could see a rubbery, stretchy substance dangling in the lioness’s paw on her shoulder. It began stiffening and drying up, shrinking to a light green form with hairy thread like branches tipped with hairy discs that extended out. The lioness lowered herself back on all fours and suddenly reached out toward Esme’s hand with her head and purred at it. Esme extended her hand and the lioness nipped her palm, drawing a line of beaded blood. She licked the line and nodded her head, seemingly satisfied, then she turned and walked back to the oak tree, taking the dry green material with her, where she took her place in the west.

Now Esme saw the roots writhing at the base of the great oak. They came alive and twisting and stretching slithered away from the tree toward her in the form of a giant cognac and golden serpent. Her sinewy muscles undulated elegantly and she coiled herself around Esme, her body stacked in coppery loops all the way up to Esme’s belly. She lifted her head and rose up until she and Esme were face to face. Her eyes locked with Esme’s and she began to sway gently from side to side in a fascinating rhythm. Esme began to feel lightheaded and euphoric, and the serpent appeared to be a copper skinned woman with scales tattooed on her face and body, with shiny brown curls arranged in snaky braids that formed a crown around her head. Her lips were moving but Esme couldn’t hear a word she was saying, she began to feel cold all over and willed herself to stay focused. The serpents coils were tightening around her, she could feel bands holding her in a strong grip. Behind her right thigh, above her knee, there was a clot that had been there for longer than she could remember. Now it was pulsating and vibrating, she could feel it throbbing before dissolving and entering her bloodstream. She stood still and stared into the serpent’s eyes, keeping her breath even, as the head came closer and closer to her face until they were nose to nose and the serpent had one swirling eye that Esme was gazing into. Suddenly the head reared back and darted with incredible speed toward Esme’s hand, where a long tongue slapped her palm where the lioness had nipped her, flickering as it licked blood. With a hiss she reared back and waved the forked tongue at Esme, who could see a dark blob on the tip that wobbled and coalesced into a dark green stone with red streaks in it. She knew it was the clot that had been behind her thigh, which felt light and unfettered. The serpent began uncoiling, releasing Esme from the bands of her body. Then she stretched out sinuously and slithered back to the oak tree, taking the bloodstone with her to her place in the east.

Esme stood stock-still and turned only her head. Bob was standing beside Starseed except now Esme noticed he wore different garb. He had a cloak of furs and pelts that were white and grey covering him from head to foot. They seemed to be a mixture of bear, wolf, rabbit, and raccoon skins. The longer she observed him, the greater his girth grew until he was no longer Bob but a white bear of considerable stature. He threw his head back and shook it, lifted up his shoulders and extended furry arms with paws at the ends toward the grey sky above. He growled softly then dropped to all fours and lumbered over to the oak tree and began climbing up the trunk, pulling himself up the branches easily.

Esme was absorbed in watching Bob and now she became aware of something scuttling up her body. Before she knew it there was a tiny grey mouse on her head. It stretched down over her forehead and she was beholding a pair of upside down glassy black eyes that were grinning at her. Esme grinned back and the mouse climbed down onto her shoulder where she began gnawing at Esme’s clothing. The next thing she knew her clothes had fallen apart at the seams and she stood naked. The mouse was busy scampering up and down Esme’s body, her little feet tickling Esme under her arms, on her belly, in the curves of her waist, up and down her spine, between her toes. Esme collapsed to the ground laughing until tears streamed down from her eyes. The mouse was zig zagging back and forth over Esme’s body from side to side, tickling her under her nose with her tail as she ran about before seating herself on Esme’s throat, which she began licking and nibbling and gnawing at. She gnawed and scratched and worked at Esme’s skin, then she dived in head first and disappeared into Esme’s troat where she did somersaults and cartwheels and flipped over nine times. When she emerged it was out of Esme’s palm where the lioness had nipped her. The mouse came out slowly, wispily, she squeezed herself out as a ribbon of smoke that she held in her teeth and pulled through the bleeding line with her.   Her face was not mouse any longer; it was a grotesque masked face frozen in a mocking smile. She was ageless and leathery grey skinned, a hideous shriveled hag with beady black eyes that felt like they were devouring something inside Esme’s throat. Esme continued laughing to the point of hysteria, then to the point of nausea. She groaned and held her heaving belly, while the hag’s mouth kept working a pantomime of voraciously gobbling. Esme suddenly shot up on her feet and opening her mouth began to sing. A big furball came flying out of her mouth, which the ghastly apparition pulled with curled nails on paper thin veiny hands, then licked blood and dissolved back into mouse form in a puff of smoke, taking the furrball with herself to the oak tree, where she settled down in the north, gnawing it till it turned into a silky bitty fluff of grey fur.

Esme sang on. Her throat felt free where the furrball had unlodged from where it had been stuck and wrapped around inside her throat, where she had often felt strangled, dry, like something had got hold of her tongue and was keeping it still. Now it was loose and she set fly songs into the wind, which was rushing into the clearing. The songs came, warbling, trilling, cackling, mocking, sweet, cooing, the songs came swift and sharp, high and low. And where she stood, singing, feathers began to grow from her naked body. Russet hawk feathers with black stripes and tiny flecks, jay feathers in blue with round black dots and white splashes, crimson feathers from cardinals, tiny yellow and grey goldfinch feathers, brown and white v-patterned turkey feathers, silvery grey heron feathers, there were feathers Esme didn’t recognize in bright greens and blues and reds, miniscule emerald green feathers, orange ones and purple ones; there were feathers from all kinds of birds fair and fowl, big and small, water loving and ground nesting, and they were sprouting up in arrangements on Esme while she sang the entire time. When the feathers ceased to sprout, Esme knew without having to look that she was Bird Woman. She dipped her own beak in the line of blood that the lioness had nipped in her palm, and dropped the fluid on the earth below. It disappeared in the dirt then it surfaced as a small mushroom, curved and flexible, elegantly ringed with blue, cream, lavender, grey and orange rings. She picked it up and took it with her to her place in the south in front of the ancient oak tree, who creaked and lowered her branches around the circle on the ground by her bottom, forming a protective roof above them.

The ground began to shake and rumble. Starseed was galloping around the circle, snorting and kicking up dust as she made her rounds. Thunder growled, lightening flashed and crackled, rain poured down from the storm, which had arrived with a crackle and pop. It raged and roared, sizzled and streaked, and Starseed galloped on in a whirling tornado of wind gusting all around. At the top of the oak tree a great bear stood and shook his head at the storm, he growled and slashed at the air, grabbing lightening and throwing it out in different directions. The serpent was drinking up the rain and swelling where she was holding all the water in her body, which stretched and expanded until she sent out a savage jetstream of water that followed the pattern of lightening that the bear was grabbing and throwing. The cat was everywhere and nowhere at once, she was lurking and skulking at top speed weaving smoke and mirrors that she was catching from lightening and storm in her mouth, changing it as she ran stealthily around and around, reversing direction at times, leaping at others, she knew the trail but left none behind. The mouse was scurrying about gathering up bits of rock, twigs, and rolling them up with fur, dung, and smoke then slinging them out with her tail in arcs that curved above the trail of bears lightening and serpents jet, thundering and roaring as they crackled and exploded at their points of destination. Esme hopped about on the ground from one foot to the other, flapping her arms, she pecked at the ground, scratching at the damp earth, boring holes into it, then began walking elegantly around the circle with one leg straight and the other stretched up and out before screeching and flapping her wings, jumping up and flying on the currents spiraling around the tree to where bear was flinging lightening, she let out a high pitched keening note then corkscrewed back down, landing gracefully and folding her wings. Then it was quiet. In the stillness the oak lifted up her branches, revealing a clear blue sky.

There came a buzzing sound from overhead and a swarm of bees descended around the tree, enveloping it completely. The branches of the tree were dripping honey in beaded drops and ribbons and swirls, cognac tawny and liquid light. The bees settled on all the branches and hummed happily, their song weaving a basket that gathered the honey. The great bear gave a content growl and climbed down, lumbering back toward Starseed. The lioness purred and flexed her claws, then she leaped off into the woods and vanished. The serpent arranged herself around the ancient oaks roots, shut her eyes and basked in the sunlight. The mouse squeaked and disappeared under the roots. Esme let out a hoot and flew up to the top of the tree, from where she saw the lioness had left the bloodstone in the west, the serpent had left usnea in the east, the mouse had left a patch of grey fur. She dove down and gathered each gift in her beak. The last of the honey filled the basket and as the bees alighted and swarmed into the hive suspended from the giant oak, Esme landed in the south and shaking off her feathers she opened her mouth and received the final drop of honey that slid down her throat and rested in her heart. She joined Bob by Starseed and they mounted the horse’s back, galloping back the way they had come.

Esme felt a jolt and blinked. The plane had landed. Bob released her hand and smiled at her. She smiled back at him and prepared to enter Lemuria. In her palm were a piece of usnea, bloodstone, a grey patch of fur, and a turkey tail mushroom.

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