The Circle and The Stone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 5 (v.1)

Submitted: January 24, 2012

Reads: 133

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Submitted: January 24, 2012

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Chapter 4

 

Chevis.

 

“Now that she’s back in the atmosphere,

With drops of Jupiter in her hair,

She acts like summer and walks like rain,

Reminds me that theirs a time to change”

Train.

 

It was a wonderful morning she thought to herself, as she quietly strode along the cart path, uninhibited and tame, breathing in the wafting scents of the primrose growing in the small yards that she passed. The lilac smells from the bushes that lined the way gave her a feeling of contentment and normalcy that she knew would shortly end; for him anyway. To her left, there were tiny homes each unique in their own right, carefully maintained and manicured, yet all constructed from the simple fieldstone and basic timber that surrounded the haven. She traveled along the path for some time, wandering in and out of thought and clearing her mind of the trivial, until she reached her final destination: another stone and timber cottage lying quietly and unobtrusively at the edge of a gentle meadow.

She paused for a moment and composed herself, as only she could do, and proceeded up the flagstone walkway towards the small dwelling. It was in its average state of disrepair as the rough perimeter fencing, as always, needed care and the cedar roof, shaky at best, and was still short of the several slats needed to maintain the integrity of the roof structure. She sucked in her temperament, for the moment, yet hoped the missing pieces of the roof were directly over his head on a rain laden day. She noticed the grasses around the slate on which she walked were perfectly manicured, not one single blade crept on to the stone its self, and for some reason this annoyed her to no end. She approached the ancient oak front door, which she thoroughly believed was older than her, and sat firmly on its tiny stone porch. There was no reason to knock or announce her presence in any way, as she knew that he was aware of her, and just as she was close to running out of her very narrow patience, the door swung violently open.

He filled in the entire large entrance with his body, as he was well over 3 chords high and as a thick around as his height would allow, and dressed in a simple hand woven dark sweater and the hide of large forest creature, skinned and tanned, covered his massive legs and torso. The skins of several unfortunate rabbits who had managed to cross his path were now tightly bound around his feet with criss-crossing thin leather straps. He stared down at her with cold grey eyes through a furled and un-kept brow and his face looked as though it had been carved from the very stone of his small porch. He was an extremely large and imposing man and he lived here, in this place, alone. He continued to stare at her with a sense of contempt but said nothing, no invitation inside was offered and none was asked, but he knew she was coming in whether he liked it or not. And like it he did not. 

“Well Thom, today I believe I’m being rather polite” she said “after all, I could have been inside a moment ago” she finished as she grinned a cat like grin.

He stood silent in the doorway, his distaste for her was obvious, but the inevitable even more so as she rose up on all fours, brushed past his legs, and entered his home. 

His world inside was modest and simple at best, yet carefully kept clean, as their really was no room for a mess. Off to one side was a tiny cooking area, enough to sustain one with basic meals and a set of hand made chairs graced a solid old ash table, long since worn, but still functional. On the opposite side of the room, a large stone hearth enveloped the fieldstone wall, slowly burning enough maple to give the space a warm scent that kept the morning chill at bay. It was in this direction that she immediately turned her attention to. It wasn’t the fire or the hearth itself that drew her interest; it was the large creature lying prostrate on the hard wood floor, wide eyed and shaking uncontrollably that brought her across the room.

It was just a dog, but it was in a state of pure terror and when she began to approach, it slowly closed his eyes and attempted, in its simple mind, to just sink through the floor and vanish. It normally feared nothing, as it was the master of the yard and the guardian of the warm place in which it slept. It ran off the others like him that dared tread on his territory, and yet it knew his place amongst the one that fed him, as the one that fed him could one day not. It was these simple concepts it could understand, but it was this thing, this misplaced thing, that it couldn’t understand. It somehow sensed that it was certainly was not natural, and it learned early in life, that it was also quite dangerous. Thom always knew when she was near, as the animal would raise his nose to the air and bolt in any direction, under something, over anything and through everything to escape her, but not today, as she caught him inside and with nowhere to run. She approached the dog, almost prancing across the floor at her good fortune, and sensing its fear, she stood beside his massive head. It was almost the full size of all of her, and not so gently, she began to pat it.

“What’s the matter beast, you have nothing to say to me today?” She queried as it began to violently shake harder. She continued to pat its head and the animal became on the verge of a complete breakdown.

“Well I guess the cats got your tongue” she spat out at it, and with her last phrase the animal immediately stopped shaking and became limp.  The confused and simple thoughts of the Beast shadowed themselves deep into its limited mind, and she became amused at the idea that she actually caused the poor creature to drift into unconsciousness. Thom closed the door behind them and took a seat at his table, his powerful arms were folded over his chest and he just stared a black stare at her, as blood began to dribble from the beast’s snout from its fainting spell. He knew there wasn’t a lot he could do about her as she had been alive since he was a child and when his father and grandfather were children; she was there. Nevertheless, today she was here, and in his home and whatever the reason was for her deeply unwelcome visit, he just wanted to get the entire episode over with. She averted her attention away from the Beast, as she was done tormenting it for now and actually, she thought to herself, perhaps for good. She looked over at Thom and focused her attention on him, as it was time to speak of the reason for her visit.

“Why do you have to be like this Chevis?” he finally spoke in his deep gruff voice.

“Like what Thom” she replied with a false sense of astonishment.

He continued to stare at her not necessarily expecting a true answer but perhaps a reasoning of some sort. She proceeded across the floor, jumped upon the weathered unused chair at the table, and with this as her springboard; she gained the necessary momentum to propel herself onto the pocked and scratched surface of his table. She sat across from him, momentarily ignoring his presence, and groomed the fine white fur of her left paw. He knew her history, yet she always gave him an uneasy feeling, and although he was far from a simple- minded man; the pure nature of her existence gave him the chills. She was unnatural in his world and yet she was no secret, and the very nature of her life was unquestioned in their community, and this unquestioning “don’t ask, don’t want to know” view of her that prevailed around him, perplexed him. She was a 157 year old talking cat with an odd disposition, and no one seemed to care one-way or the other. The general attitude of the haven sometimes maddened him, especially at the only pub in the hamlet, and the one in which he spent far too much time in. At the times when he brought her into a conversation, they would just shake their heads and say, quietly and out of his ear shot of course;

“Hear he goes again with Chevis, he just can’t let it go”

“You tell him,” another would pipe in,

“No, I want to go to home to my wife in one piece” the other would say laughingly, as they were all aware of his notoriously short temper. She was simply explained away as the greatest mistake nature ever made or a very unfunny practical joke from god himself but regardless, she was a part of an unknown puzzle and some in the hamlet actually liked her. She was from the woods at the edge of the New Forest where the “others” lived and within these woods, were the Covens. It was also the Covens that had become another bone of contention for Thom. He didn’t like the idea of magic, and the Craft in general, and he wished he simply could dismiss it all as folklore, but it was the other aspect Chevis’s existence that didn’t allow him that luxury. It was the one that sent shivers up his spine and caused the hair on the nape of his neck to stand on end. She had certain abilities, and he’d witnessed them on one more than one occasion, and he also knew it made her quite dangerous when she was provoked. He had himself pushed that envelope with her on more than one occasion in the past, but now she was sitting on his table and doing of all things; grooming herself.

She really was a beautiful creature, her tanned cream colored coat shone with a natural brilliance all the way down to her gentle paws, where it blended and shifted to a lighter shade, until it encroached on the pure white of her toes that housed her deadly claws.  She had an exceptional face with long strands of light cream hair that draped off her ears until they met with the slight mange that graced the back of her neck, and her large bright blue eyes were complemented by a tiny nose, surrounded by full set of finely manicured whiskers. Even Thom would admit, after many hours in the pub of complaining about her very existence, that she we was extraordinary creature. Of course, as he was fond of pointing out to anyone who would listen; until she opened her mouth.

“What do you want today, Chevis” he patiently asked her.

She stood up all fours and carefully paced along the very edge of the perimeter of her side of the table, digging her claws into the wood for balance. She again reached the spot where she had originally started from and sat down again facing him. Now she was ready to speak.

“Thom,” she began “you and I haven’t spoken an honest word to one another since you were a child” she said as his arms remained folded about his chest and he quietly kept eye contact with her, but with a small nod of acknowledgement from him, she continued

“That has to change,” she bluntly stated.

“There are certain things about me, you don’t understand” she said, and with that simple statement his blood immediately began to boil, as he truly thought this time he might actually attempt to kill her. If her pure arrogance of his comprehension of her wasn’t enough to push him over the edge, the combination of her physical presence and the fact she was under his own roof, made matters almost intolerable. She looked into him and sensed his anger as it approached a blind rage, but she also knew there was nothing he could physically do to her, and on their previous encounters she would tauntingly dare him to attempt any such irrational action and of course he wouldn’t; he simply knew better. 

“No wait and let me finish” she interjected into the very emotion he was feeling,

“There are also things about you that I don’t understand” she said with one paw raised up in an attempt to deflect any verbal attack. His animosity towards her didn’t subside, but his immediate temper did, and she sensed in him almost the half interest in not attempting to kill her.

“Honest words, Thom, honest words” she reiterated, and with that statement she raised her other paw, exposing her soft pink pads, and with claws withdrawn she broke eye contact with him momentarily and focused down upon the old table beneath her. She soothed his anger by her non aggressive actions, and it was replaced by a sense of slight confusion at her sudden, very unlike, Chevis like behavior.

“All I’ve ever given you is reason after reason to loathe my very existence, and that’s quite fine, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our banter over the years” she said with sly grin “but you’ve only put up with what you’ve had to from me, and nothing more” He was honestly puzzled at this point, but he was also sure she was up to something. She stared at him and said nothing further, judging his continence and waiting for a response.

“Okay, go on” he said with a suspicious tone, and she did.

“You can dislike me all you want, you can even hate my very being” she said to him dismissively “but it’s going to be imperative that you don’t fear what I am” and she accented the word fear. His temper again began to rise, and he quickly grew impatient.

“What’s this all about Chevis, because I don’t fear you” he countered. This was a half truth of course, because although he really wasn’t afraid of her per say, he certainly didn’t ever want to feel the full wrath of her abilities.

“Not fear me personally, I never said that, I meant a fear of what I am and where I come from,” she very calmly and patiently said. Thom adjusted his massive frame in his chair, unfolded his arms, leaned forward on the table and with a slight laugh and said,

“Fear of what, folklore?”

“Folklore is sitting on your table Thom,” she countered. “And so is your past”. He knew she was correct, but he still had a difficult time accepting it. She looked down and began to groom her paw again, as it was a natural reflex for her, and she was rarely ever aware that she was actually doing it. She looked back up at him and continued.

“I’m here, and I am what I am, and you have to accept it,” she said

“Whatever that is” he said “and I personally don’t have to accept anything, especially from you” he finished with a slightly raised deep voice, and pointing a large finger directly at her nose.

Normally she would have blown off the handle at the pure arrogance of his statement and the complete lack of respect of actually daring to point in her face, but today was a different day, a far different day and a very important one at that. Thom pulled his finger back from her, refolded his arms around his chest and leaned back into his chair, he said nothing and just continued to stare, waiting for a response. She very coolly returned his gaze and with much difficulty, she maintained her composure.

“Yes you do Thom, but not for me” she slowly and deliberately said.

“Chevis, I have a hard time believing that you would do anything that’s not completely self-serving, and in the interests of no one but yourself, you proved that once before” he returned, as she sat in silence.

“Honest words, Chevis, honest words” he finished with a smug tone in his voice. She knew he was correct to a degree as she was only concerned with herself and no others, in the Haven anyhow, and it was this particular character flaw that had actually put in her in his house, on this day, and at this time.

“Thom, I’m not here to debate or defend my ways,” she said to him with almost a tone of exasperation in her voice,

“But you’re right” she continued “and I said it, honest words, and only honest words and what did you expect me to do all those years ago. You were out of control even as a child” Thom sat quietly at her acknowledgement of their past and suddenly found him slowly becoming interested in what ever it was that brought her here, and although he sensed somehow that she wanted something, she was still not even close to her normal arrogant behavior. The exception was with his dog of course, but not with him, and that intrigued him more than anything else.

“Okay, what do you want and why are you here” he simply asked.

She wondered for a brief moment if this was the right choice; however she also new it was the only choice, the only way, and the one possible saving grace. She knew the truth.

“How far into the forest have you actually ventured,” she asked

“What does it matter” he responded with a smile and in an artificially disinterested tone

“It matters in more ways than you can, at the moment, possibly comprehend,” she said, dismissing his obvious attitude and realizing he knew she needed him.

“I’m sorry Chevis for not being as enlightened as yourself, however you always tend to remind me of that don’t you?” he said as he shifted his attention towards the Beast, now in a deep sleep in front of the hearth with a pool of dried blood under his snout. It was dreaming of chasing the creatures of the forest, the small ones that scattered in his presence the large ones that would challenge him when necessary. He dreamed of the other creatures that treaded upon his territory and forced him to bare his teeth in anger, but this was a good place for him, because he was no longer even remotely aware of the thing on the table. She quickly understood his point and said;

“It’s just a dog Thom”

“It’s my animal Chevis” he replied,

“How far” she bluntly asked again ignoring his response, and yet maintaining her patience

“Days on end” he answered in a matter of fact way.

“What about moons Thom, have you ever traveled through in moons?” She asked further. She knew he had at one point, seasons ago, when she didn’t see him or the beast in the hamlet for quite awhile. No one really noticed his absence, except her, and certainly no one cared and if one did; they didn’t question it.

“Yes, and the reason you ask?” he queried,

“How far?” she asked again, ignoring his question.

“Again Chevis, why?” he said with a tone in his voice that annoyed her beyond annoyance, and she rapidly began to lose her patience.

“Thom” she stressed, with her soft voice now showing the very signs of her mood “Please answer my question” He almost fell of his chair at the word “please”, as he had never in his life ever heard her say please, or let alone a simple thank you, but it was the slight hint of desperation in her voice that completely drew him into the conversation.

“All right, I’ll play” he began, when she immediately interrupted,

“I’m not playing any games with you, not this time, this is too important”

Her eyes shifted a half shade of color, and her face had a serious look about it that again was something he had never saw in her. He remained still and with a steely glare in his eyes, he continued.

“Three full cycles” he finally answered.

“And did you see anything of any interest” she asked,

“There’s nothing in it, just endless forest, if there was something of any interest; I would have found it” he answered.

“There is, and obviously you didn’t find it” she quietly stated

“Find what?” he asked

“The center” she simply said.

The center of the forest was an old legend, and Chevis had carefully discredited this myth through out the last century as the truth of the squirrels and their world, she vowed, would remain a secret.

“Folklore” he said with a laugh,

“Again Thom, I’m sitting on your table” she said with the most honest face he had ever seen in her.

“What are trying to say, Chevis, that now there really is a center to the forest?” he blandly asked, but inside he was now very curious.

“Yes” she simply answered

“You’re serious aren’t you,” he skeptically asked

“Yes, I am serious, and I’m going to tell you that it’s very defined, and things there are quite different than what you may think, even within the lore that’s been handed for years” she said, and then continued “As a matter of fact some of the stories of the center are just that, folk and legend, the others are simply lies and many of which I’ve propagated myself over the years” she finished.

“Why are you telling me this?” he asked

“Because it’s important you know the truth,” she answered
“Again. Why?” he asked

“Because it’s your past Thom” she answered.

“Oh come on Chevis” he said in an exasperated tone.

“It’s true, face it, you know your bloodline” she pointed out.

“What do they have to with any of this” he scoffed.

“They have everything to do with what I’m about to show you” she again answered.

He looked at again with suspicion as she rose on all fours and approached.

“You have to trust me this time Thom” she said as she closed in on him. When she reached him, she rose on her hind legs and put her face to his and slightly dug her claws into the tattered collar of his sweater. He said nothing, although he was uncomfortable at her proximity, and as her tiny snout became only inches from his nose a gray smoke began to cloud over her blue eyes. Her face changed its continence to one of concentration and an odd calmness completely enveloped him. His shoulders slumped back and his entire body relaxed as she maintained a light grip on him, and he found himself completely helpless as she moved closer to his face so all he could see was her large clouded gray eyes surrounded by cream colored fur. The clouded gray was quickly replaced by a dark smoke that danced and swirled about, fading in and out of an inky blackness, until it was replaced by a darkness that was so deep and pure that he could see the reflection of his own eyes in it. Slowly a tiny speck of light began to emerge, so far into the darkness that he had to squint to see it, and it rushed forward at him at a phenomenal rate of speed, growing in size as it approached. It began to consume the black around it until it arrived in a violent white flash that completely enveloped him. His head instantly jerked back, and his eyes grew wide as the scene before him began to unfold: The center of the New Forest began to emerge.

At first, all he could perceive was the familiar flora of the dense bush its self, quietly existing alone with the vastness forest of the canopy continuing on in all directions, but as the vision became clearer he saw something he had never saw before; the clearing in the center and a tree that was so immense and overwhelming that it was simply an impossible sight. He looked at the Great Tree, questioning the very validity of the sight when he began to see the tiny gray creatures milling about its massive base. As they became clearer, he could see that they were squirrels, but there was something different about them, as he could swear they speaking to one another, and he then realized they actually were. He watched as they laughed amoungst themselves, swatting at each others tails while the young ones chased themselves across the clearing, and he saw their hand woven mats and the buttercup leafed goblets they drank from. He watched as they glided from the trees and into the clearing below and more than anything; he sensed there presence. He now saw the world only Chevis knew of, and the world she had hidden the truth of for over 150 years.

The vision in her eyes slowly began to fade to black, and Thom felt like he as traveling backwards through an abyss until he saw only the gray smoke in her eyes and he started to become once again aware of his surroundings. Her eyes cleared up, he found him staring only into the blue of them, and she gently retracted her claws from his collar and stepped back towards the center of the old table where she sat down and subconsciously began to groom her left paw. Thom sat back stunned trying to take in what had just happened, and what she had done to him. His suspicion vanished as it was replaced by a sense of awe at what he had not only just seen, but experienced, and how she was capable of allowing him to see it. His mind was swimming with questions, but he couldn’t yet put together one cohesive thought, and she just sat quietly, grooming, completely unaffected by the whole experience. She put her paw down and looked up into his awestruck face and spoke,

“Well Thom, there you go,” she flatly stated, but he was still without words.

“That’s the truth of the center, that’s its reality, no folklore and no tricks” she finished.

“Who are they?” he finally managed to ask.

“They’re called Sentient's” she began “They’re thinking, speaking creatures not unlike myself, but I’m far different; they don’t posses magic nor do they live exceptionally and unnaturally long lives. They live the life cycle of any average squirrel and they’ve existed alone in the center of the forest for to many generations to mention” she explained “They’ve created an entire community and all the while completely oblivious to the outside world”

“And now your telling and showing me of all people about them” he said.

“They have a life and death problem that I have to find a solution to” she flatly stated.

“And that is?” he said.

“All in time” she said “Honest words, Thom, only honest words”

“You need me to find them don’t you” he said.

“No, not really, I need you to protect them” she finished and she was also finished with him for the day. She rose on all fours, turned from him and quickly found herself on the cottage floor.

“What do mean protect them, protect them from what?” he asked, but he wouldn’t get his answer today.

“Again, all in time” she said as the front door quietly opened, and she stepped out into the cool morning. He sat alone for awhile, replaying the images over and over again in his head, and remembering his time as a child. The world she allowed to see wasn't the whole truth, not even close, that much he sensed and knew. He finally rose up from his chair at the table and moved towards the dog which was only now beginning to awake and realize that the strange creature he deathly feared was now gone. Its head rose off the floor and saw the dry pool of blood that was under the beast’s snout, and he stared in further disbelief. The blood had soaked and coagulated into the porous old floor creating pattern that forever burned into his mind, it stood out in a reddish brown hue against the worn floor boards and formed the perfect print of a large cats paw.

Thom left his house that morning, leaving the “beast” to quietly rest and relax, alone and in a tranquil state of mind, sleeping by the hearth. He slowly walked up the cart path towards the tiny hovel in which he lived, his mind was drifting in and out of thought at what Chevis had done to him, or for him, and that very decision was one he still couldn’t make. She gave him some truth and she succeeded in drawing him into a tiny piece of her world, whatever that truthfully was, and she gave him the realization of what was deep into the flora and fauna abyss of the New Forest. As he approached the small haven, any eyes that happen to glance his way immediately turned their gazes elsewhere as they new of his generally dangerous disposition. No one in there community would challenge him, and they left alone, which was just fine by him because he had come to the conclusion early in age that he simply didn’t like anyone. A few small shops lined the cart path through the middle of haven that led to the only business he would frequent; the pub. Here there were a few exceptions to his rule, and not that he would ever say he had friends inside, but he would admit that the conversation was tolerable, atmosphere was somewhat comfortable and more important; the ale always flowed.

He rounded the last corner of the path, where it abruptly ended square on the doorstep of his second home. The building itself was almost in the same state of disrepair as his first home was, and constructed from stone and timber just as every else was, but it made no difference to him as ale tasted the same regardless of where its served. He approached the large oak door and grasped the old worn brass handle, swung it open and entered. It was dark and dank as usual, and the few old worn tables were still empty with one exception, the old man who lived at river bed was dead asleep in an alcoholic stupor at the far end of the room, to drunk from the night before to crawl home. Ansil, who was the proprietor of this fine establishment, would often let the old man stay the night and sleep it off, and he was also one of the few people who could talk Thom out of proving one of his boasts: that he could throw the sleeping drunk clear across the room to the door with out the old mans feet touching the ground.

He quickly realized the place wasn’t open yet, but walked across floor anyway and sat at the bar. Ansil heard the door open and came out from the small back room and seeing Thom sitting at the bar this early in the morning, he surmised that there was something not quite right in Thom’s world on this particular morning, and he really didn’t want know what it was. He was not a large man, but he was well versed in his business, and he was the only one in the haven who didn’t have to put up with Thom’s attitude or his nasty moods as he knew one simple thing; he controlled the ale.

“Good morning Thom” he said to him with a subtle tone of suspicion as he approached the bar.

“Hi Ansil” Thom replied, and that was all he said.

“I’m not open yet Thom” he said and he now knew for certain that something was amiss, and he did something he normally wouldn’t do, “but I’ll pour you a pint anyway” he finished.

“Much appreciated, thank you” Thom responded as he looked directly at him. A thank you from Thom? He realized “amiss” was not a strong enough word. He reached under the old and haggard bar for a glass and began to pour him a pint as Thom reached into his pocket, fished out a large coin, and slid it across the surface.

“Give me a minute, I haven’t opened my change box,” he said

“That’s all right,” Thom, said as he flicked the coin closer to Ansil “Keep it”

As he placed the ale in front of him, he was becoming truly perplexed by his behavior.

“Can I ask you something Thom?” he queried, as he wiped the excess ale from the bar. Thom just looked at him and said nothing, and Ansil took this as a yes

“Is everything all right?” he bluntly asked as he stopped wiping.

“Every things fine” he coolly responded as he took a large gulp from his pint.

“All right” Ansil said, slightly lifting his palms upward “Just asking”.

He finished wiping down the bar and went about the business of opening his establishment for another day. 

The beast was lying quietly on the floor, on guard as always, diligently shifting his attention through one open eye from the front door to his master, dead asleep in front of him. The beast liked it when his master joined him on the hard wood flooring, it gave him a feeling of safety and security, and he would never sleep while on this particular duty as someone may come around and dare enter the small cottage. Thom on the other hand really didn’t enjoy the floor, it was just one of those things that occasionally happened, and he certainly didn’t enjoy it after he finally awoke, still half drunk and definitively hung over. He stayed at the pub through the day and into the night, eventually closing the place with Ansil keeping a very close eye on him. The bar owner fed him pint after pint, which was nothing new, but his demeanor on this day was subdued, as he just sat at the bar and continued to quietly drink himself into semi consciousness. There were no arguments today, no drunken rants about any superficial issue that one may raise, no threats were given to any one and no mention of Chevis and the Witches in Rowsom Woods, only a strange continence about him as he would occasionally slightly shake his head in disbelief at some unknown deep thought.

No one in the establishment paid much attention to him that day and night as he simply sat alone, quietly involved in his own world and none questioned or really cared much for that matter about his odd behavior, as he finally wasn’t bothering any one. He was left alone, and he left all of them alone. Ansil however was paying a stealthy attention to him, he knew from experience that a shift in a regular patron’s demeanor, good or bad, could somehow spell trouble, and trouble from Thom was the worst trouble of all. But his concerns never bore a poisoness fruit as he never wavered from his self imposed social exile, until the pub was empty for the night, and Ansil was closing up.

“Is it time to go Ansil?” Thom managed to say barely half coherent, as he almost fell off the bar stool.

“Yup Thom, almost time” he replied as he continued to place chairs in there proper place and wipe the old table surfaces half clean.

“Okay I think I’ll go now” was all he muttered as he promptly fell backward, chair and all, striking the floor at such a perfect horizontal angle that the energy of the weight of his massive frame went directly in the old floorboards. The pub literally shoke to the rafters, and several pint glasses that were hanging above the bar, fell from their already precarious perch, shattering to the floor. Ansil was just turning to Thom to acknowledge

his incoherent words when he witnessed, what he would always say with a laugh from that day forward, was the most spectacular dead weight drunken fall he’d ever had the pleasure of watching.

“You should have seen it boys” he would often say pointing to cracked floor boards “flat dead on, it was a thing of beauty” he would still chuckle long after Thom and the beast had mysteriously disappeared.

“Thom!” he shouted, instantly stopping his work and bolting across the bar floor. He was conscious and stunned, but for all immediate observation, he appeared unhurt.

“Thom are you all right” he asked as he approached the huge man and leaned over him. Thom didn’t immediately respond he just stared straight into Ansil's eyes, not having a clue of what just transpired.

“Thom!” he shouted at him again, now trying to stifle a good laugh.

“What happened” He slurred at him with a child like wonderment.

“You fell” he answered now desperately trying not burst out laughing.

“Are you all right” he questioned as Thom came out of his shock and rolled onto his hands and knees.

“I’m fine”

“Come on, it’s time” he said with a chuckle as he reached down, and with all the strength he had, he seized the large man under his shoulder and helped him to his feet. He staggered a little, still slightly stunned and fell towards the door as his legs weren’t working the way they should. Ansil immediately darted aside as large man nearly bowled him over in his drunken stagger.

“Hold up, I’ll get the door” Ansil offered.

“Yeah Ansil, you get the door” He said in a fog.

The barkeep swung the heavy oak door outward, and allowed Thom into the cold night.

He was dreaming of the massive tree that Chevis had allowed him to witness, and the creatures that inhabited that strange land. All she had given him was glimpse into that world, but in his dream, he was shown much more. He was close to the tree, almost directly under it, and standing in the clearing he took in the overall sight. It was a very odd place, and he could sense it was from a very old time and the simple ability of feeling something that was not tangible, disturbed him greatly. The squirrels paid no mind of his invasion in their territory; on the contrary it seemed they couldn’t see him at all. They playfully milled about one another, engaging in casual conversation and light grooming, displaying a general social presence of which he was far from familiar with. The voices of the impossible creatures began to grow louder, and as he approached unseen he began to discern the various conversations.

They called the tree the Great Tree and they spoke of a flight from it, and as this began to confuse him, he caught movement from the corner of his eye. He looked up to his left as one of them jumped from a tall oak. He stood in awe as the squirrel opened its skins and stopped a dead fall, transforming it into flawlessly peaceful glide into the grasses below. He now stood close to them and his attention was drawn to one he believed was female, and he could he feel her sadness although she didn’t show it. There was a male at her side, her mate, and near them was another, his brother. Her mate had a sense of foreboding about something in the conglomeration and he knew his brother could sense that in him. Thoughts and emotions, history and conditions, flooded his mind and overwhelmed his presence, shaking him into consciousness.

He awoke with a large eyes and deep breath, and immediately bolted upright on the floor. The suddenness of his arrival back to this world startled the beast, and it scrambled from the floor and dashed to the other side of the cottage, more in confusion than anything else. Thom’s chest was violently heaving as he attempted to catch his breath and prevent himself from having a heart attack. Their thoughts and emotions quickly began to subside as he began to calm down and attempt to make some sense of the dream. He continued to just simply sit on the old hardwood, and give a glance over to the beast that was now lying prostrate near the corner rapidly wagging only the tip of his tail. The beast was almost confidant in the idea that his master wasn’t angered with him, though he had no idea what he would have done to deserved his wrath, of course he never really did know at the times when he experienced it. The beast’s relief however was only a temporary emotional reprieve, as his instincts began to speak to him that way that always signified that the thing was near. His nose grew clammy as the fur on his back began to rise and the panic that always preceded her arrival swept over him. He immediately rose on all fours and shot under the only safety he had; the small bed in the other corner. This didn’t go unnoticed by Thom and he instantly knew she was coming up his path.

“I don’t need this right now” he muttered to himself as his brain grew sore from his night at the pub. He put his head into his hands as the cottage slowly door began to open on its own, and she sat for a moment in the entrance.

“You need this more than you actually know” she said in a matter of fact tone “Did we have a pleasant dream?” she finished. Thom looked up at her and saw the sly cat grin on her face. She walked across the floor and took a seat on his table, noticing the bed was slightly shaking and her last thought the last time she was here came to mind: No more tormenting the dog as she suddenly sensed that somehow the beast was a part of the puzzle. Thom was coming around to some shape of coherence, but he still felt he had to stay on the floor.

“Why are you doing this to me Chevis” he asked in defeat.

“I’m not doing anything to you, not this time, but what I believe is happening is for everyone’s good” she simply answered.

“And that is?” he muttered

“Change” she answered as she shifted her position on the table, and began to groom her paw. “Tell me about your dream” she asked.

He said nothing as he attempted to rise from the floor, but it was no use his legs were still weak from the nights alcohol consumption. He fell back to his original position and put his hands back to his head. Chevis began to climb off the table and walk over to him on the floor where she proceeded to sit directly in front of him.

“All right” she began “first of all I need you coherent”

She reached a tiny paw over and gently placed it on his knee. At first he felt an ice cold feeling swarm into the area she was touching but before he had a chance to flinch away, it transformed itself into comfortable warmth that permeated his entire body. A feeling of calm and healing chased its way through his body eliminating any defects that would cause his present condition, and within seconds, the after effects of his long day at the pub were just a memory. He looked up at her in astonishment as she removed her paw and proceeded back to the table. His head was clear and his thoughts were precise and he easily rose off the floor and stood in the middle of the room.

“Feel better?” she asked from her seat.

“Yes actually, a lot better” he said in wonderment. His mind raced with the idea that she had actually done something for him, again acting very un-Chevis like.

“Good” she said “Now sit down and tell me about your dream”

He took his seat at the old table, the same seat in which he occupied the previous day during her visit.

“I was there, in this center that you showed me, surrounded by them at the bottom of that tree” he said as he stared into her face “what’s happening here Chevis, I want an answer, now” he sternly finished.

“That’s why I’m here Thom” she said, again attempting to deflect his temper. She was asking a lot of a man who basically loathed her very being, and she knew it. It took her well over an hour to tell the tale and all the while he sat in silence, taking in all in, and when she finished he again sat in amazement. His dream slowly made sense and the insight that it had given him put in all into focus.

“I’ve seen the brothers that are coming” he said.

“Obviously from your dream” she asked.

“Yes, but there’s another one, the youngest brothers mate and I think she the one whotakes care of the young ones” he said.

“I actually don’t know of that one myself” she admitted

“Chevis, again, why are you showing me this. We can’t stand one another” he said, pointing out the truth.

She rose up and stretched her legs on the table; it gave her a few moments before she answered his question.

“As I said I need you to protect them, and I need you to return to the center with me and with the brothers” she flatly stated.

“Why? What does any of this have to do with me?” he said.

The small room grew silent as Chevis began to again groom her left paw in slight contemplation.

“Are you aware at all of who your Great grandparents really were?” she asked and he was. The anger began to boil in him at the pure notion of dragging them into this; they were many years past and a sheer embarrassment to the family of which he was the last of the blood line.

“There dead and long forgotten” he answered with scorn.

“They are dead, that’s not in dispute but there importance is. At least to us”

“Not to me” he continued in the direction of the conversation he certainly didn’t want to go.

“You don’t know the truth Thom” she said.

“I know enough” he countered

“All you know is that your great grandmother was a Witch” she began.

“All right Chevis, enough!” he interrupted “fine, you want to know what I believe?” he said as she sat perfectly still and continued to listen. “They were insane, and the whole haven knew it, and they lived in Rowsom Woods along with the others like them” he finished as he sat back and folded his arms. She continued to hold his gaze and countered his claim.

“They were far from insane…”

“Oh come on Chevis” he said as he threw his arms into the air.

“Listen to me!” she returned as she interrupted what was about to be a mindless rant. “They were not ill, I knew them” she said almost exasperated. Thom knew of the past connection between them, and this fact had only served to cement his belief that they were truly insane, after all; what rational mind would want to deal with Chevis if it didn’t have to.

“They came from a land far to the north. She was the High Priestess of a witch’s coven” she said. “And she wasn’t just a witch Thom; she was the most powerful one that ever existed”

 He sat back in silence and momentarily contemplated her words before he spoke.

“Chevis I’ll accept the fact that you have certain abilities, and I have to accept the fact that you exist, as impossible as it seems, but I am sitting here talking to you, a cat.” He said with a chuckle. “I don’t know how you’re possible but none the less you’re here, however I don’t believe in witchcraft. Period” he finished.

“Then who’s in Rowsom Woods?” she asked “and why are they to this day still there?” Thom shifted uncomfortably in his seat at her question.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know and I don’t care, they’re your friends not mine” he retorted.

“Like it or not, they’re your history” she countered.

“A part of my history or not Chevis, they have nothing to do with neither me nor I with them. I’ll help the two brothers, that’s fine, but I’m not dealing with them”

“That’s funny” she said with a laugh “they said the same thing about you”

“You’ve talked to them about me?” he cautiously asked.

“Well, I mentioned you, and it was not to well received” she answered

“Good” he said with a smile “let’s keep it that way”

“I can’t, Thom, I just simply can’t” she began “In order to save them, and their society, I need the coven in Rowsom  to recreate the magic that created them which is the same magic that created me” Thom rolled his eyes at the idea of magic as Chevis continued “Look at me I’m a Sentient cat! How can you possibly believe that magic doesn’t exist! It’s preposterous what do think, that I’m some freak of nature? Come on Thom, really think about it, I’m sitting on your bloody table!” she finished as she slapped her paw down on its surface.

 Thom face grew serious and he leaned in closer to her.

“What exactly are you” he quietly asked.

“That’s complicated Thom” she said as she calmed herself “but I don’t mean that you’re not capable of understanding it, it just that you need some knowledge of us, all of us, that’s all”

“Enlighten me” he suspiciously said as he leaned back into his chair. Chevis took this as her cue to finally reveal the truth about herself for the first time to a non witch.

“Okay, I guess if you’re going trust me and what I’m telling you, you have to know. 200 hundred years ago in a land to the North there were many similar to me, as I explained with the squirrels, but they came in all animal forms, birds, horses and even the occasional squirrel. You see at time the land was scattered with different covens but only one, The Coven of the Black Oak, had mastered the magic necessary to bring thought and spirit into these animals the problem was they were all far to young and too powerful for their own good, Your great, great grandmother being one, and in time their little secret was exposed, and it was then that they came after them” she paused for a moment to allow Thom take this in.

“Who’s they?’ he simply asked.

“At first it was the other Covens in the area since they refused to share their new talent with them, and this caused a rift within the community as a whole. You see, the Covens at the time were left alone in the land that they occupied, as the governing powers of the day were leery of them, especially Black Oak and with good reason: They were not the gentle girls that now live in Rowson Woods. They were dangerous. The other Covens loosely banded together in a vain attempt to stop the creation of any further Sentient’s s they decided that if they couldn’t have the same ability, no one would. Fortunately for me they weren’t successful”

“Unfortunate for me however” He lightly interjected. She looked up at him and simply gave a sly smile and continued on.

“They decided the only course of action was to go to the Governing Council of the land and expose the Black Oak Coven. They used the argument that though they themselves may be witches, they never practiced any magic that may be “Godlike” in accordance to the religion of the land. This was of course a lie, as it was simple petty jealousy with in the Coven community as a whole and a good form of revenge against Black Oak. The Council took the threat to there beliefs seriously a decided with the Coven Community on their side they could eliminate Black Oak. Again it didn’t happen. The community quickly became divided again, all from the act of approaching the Council, as they were after all; outsiders. This was a Coven Community issue, and several Covens began to believe the whole issue was going too far. The rift never did heal, and it was cemented by the attack on Black Oak by Council Soldiers, all with the quite backing of five Coven Communities. It was the high priestess of the Coven of the Ash that exposed the Community plans to Black Oak, and they prepared accordingly. The soldiers never had a chance. They were never aware of how many Sentient’s were created or of what caliber they were. By this time they had given life to the most dangerous creatures of the forest, and they were more than willing to protect the Coven at all cost. And they did”

She paused again for a moment and than continued.

“They not only devastated their enemy, they sent their shredded a mauled bodies back to council. This in turn started a Holy War and The Time of the Sentient was here.” She stopped again as Thom’s continence became confused.

“Why is none of this in known history?” he asked in disbelief.

“It is, just not to the general population of New Forest” she answered “The New Forest Coven of whom you despise are really the Coven of the Black Oak, who in turn are the Original Thirteen and two of them, Maggie and Portia, are actually direct descendants” She paused and than spoke again “And so are you”

“What’s the Original Thirteen?” he asked. Chevis smiled to herself as she knew he was becoming quite curious about the whole story.

“The first group of witches, as I said, that together discovered the magic necessary to create me. They were the original Black Oak coven, but now there simply known as the Original Thirteen” she answered.

“And my great, great grandmother was the High Priestess?” he asked

“Yes, Brianna was her name” she confirmed.

His mind raced back to the time of his youth and the short lived torment that his peers had inflicted on him. He was known, as a child, as a relative of the crazy witches in Rowsom Woods and all because of his grandparent’s affiliation and he began to recall the first time he spoke to his long since dead father of them.

“You won’t speak of them again!” the Old Man screamed as rose of his old and battered kitchen chair and violently cuffed him across his head. He reached down for Thom and clutched his throat in a death grip.

“You’ll never ever speak of it!” he continued as he lifted the boy off his feet and threw into nearest wall. Thom crashed almost through it and collapsed in a heap on the dirt floor. He was a large child for eight years old, stones more than the rest and well over five feet tall, but he was no match for his drunken fathers brute strength and brutal mind. The Old Man lumbered across the cabin, reached down and picked him up by the hair all the time ignoring the child’s pleas to stop.

“Get out!” he screamed as saliva poured from his mouth. He dragged Thom across the cabin with a one hand and thrust the old door open with the other.

“You’ll forget them or as God is my witness I’ll take your life!” he warned as he ejected the young child into the wet afternoon. The door slammed shut leaving him alone and afraid, lying half dressed in the wet grass. He slowly raised himself from the ground and lumbered, bruised and battered, to the small shed beside the cabin. It was here he found himself, more often than not, when his father rage came to the surface. The shed was not really a bad place for him; he had over time stolen the basic necessities to survive a night or two outside. A dusty old blanket lye in a heap in the corner and he had hidden a flint and some kindling behind the old wood stove. The shed was never used by his father, as it was once a place for work. Several shovels lye abandoned and rusted in another corner, and over the only shelf in the place was a small box with dried meat and hard bread for a desperate meal when necessary. Thom moved to the corner with the blanket and planted himself on the damp ground. He covered himself with the old rag and quietly cried himself to sleep.

“It wasn’t your fault” Chevis said stirring him back into reality.

“I know that” he said in a dismissive tone. “But he blamed me for Mimi’s death”

“I know, she died giving birth to you and that was an important event Thom” she said.

“How does that mean anything” he asked.

“Powerful witches are rarely born without the death of the mother and those witches rarely ever reproduce. The mothers are only a conduit for Her power” she began to explain “As I said there are only two female descendants of the Original Thirteen and in that alone, the odds are incredible. But your great grandfather was one of the greatest Protectors of all and married to Brianna. They had one daughter who had one daughter and that daughter was Mimi. Mothers also die giving birth to those who would become Protectors. And that’s you” she finished

“You’re telling me I’m a witch” he said in tone that denoted a level of cynicism.

“No Thom, you’re not a witch and neither was Mimi” She said “But you are a Protector of the Sentient’s, and I believe you’re the last one”

Thom sat back again, looking suspiciously at the whole tale.

“Why didn’t you tell me all of this when I was a child?” he asked.

“I should have” she answered “I could have saved you a lot of grief by having you raised by your own people and not by that animal”

“I don’t know about that or any of this for that matter” he said.

“Regardless” she resigned “I should have done something about it, I knew what was happening”

“I know you did” he said as he gave her a cold stare.

“Well I didn’t help you, and that’s something I’ve had to live with” she said as she looked down at the table

“Is that an apology Chevis?” he said as his eye brows furled.

“If you wish it to be, then it is” she said as she looked back up to him.

“Well, I didn’t need your help, I took care of him myself” he stated. Chevis recalled the moment when at fourteen seasons old, Thom beat the old man to death with a shovel from the very shed he was frequently banished to, and she also recalled it was at that time the trouble between them began to brew.

“I know, I know” she said as she raised her paws in defeat. “But we have to put all that in the past, honest words Thom only honest words”

“That fine Chevis” he said “It was along time ago, but it doesn’t change the fact you still annoy me no end” 

“Well that has to change also” she said in acknowledgement.

“Fat bloody chance of that” he muttered and she slightly smiled.

“Listen you’re not innocent either” she pointed out but Thom just shrugged his shoulders and returned her smile.

“Oh and I’ve done so much to you, I was always happy to leave you alone but no, you’ve had to provoke me at every opportunity” he said.

“Give me a break Thom” she began in half disgust “First, the trouble we’ve had in the past, and we should stress had, is simply because you can be a drunken idiot. Face it” she bluntly stated. Thom eyes grew slightly angry but he knew that there was some truth in her statement. “You’ve attacked the males in Rowsom on more than one occasion for no reason and these are a gentle


© Copyright 2019 chris r adam. All rights reserved.

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