Ogres and Ogresses Ch. 08bystubborn_dreamer©
"Why did you chose us!" Gharla shrieked. She grabbed her clothes and shook her violently.
"Why! Why didn't you leave us..." Her voice broke in sorrow. "W-Wh...y?"
Zyra peeled the sobbing woman's fingers off her clothes and gave her a tight hug.
"Because I made a promise," Zyra said, glaring at Rell and Hanto's grave faces.
"You made a promise to Kyzu too," Gharla moaned, tears wetting Zyra's skin..
"I know," Zyra declared. "And I intend on keeping it."
Gharla's red eyes went wide. "But you said."
"I know what I said, and I know what she said but I still have to try. That's why I told you my journey is a pointless one."
With that she started toward the clearing.
"Go home. If I do not return...tell Kyzu I am sorry."
For a moment she had forgotten that Kyzu was ill. If she did not return, she could tell Kyzu herself.
Zyra made it a point to look unfriendly and unapproachable. She didn't look back. A little after her exit she heard shuffling and footsteps. Beside her Gharla appeared, her eyes dry and determined. Enui was tied to Hanto's back and Rell was on her other side.
She didn't have time to try to convince them to go back nor the patience. The sun had made her skin untouchable and everything ached. She would reach the tree or die.
Time stretched on and on like a drop of water that would not break to land on the soft green earth. For a while all she could hear was the panting of her friends, then her own panting, and then nothing but the swish of her dry tongue churning the sand in her mouth.
Her legs were unsteady, her walk became more of a falling forward in the direction of the Tree than a walking towards it.
Enui had awoken and was going through some kind of withdrawal. She would cry, giggle maniacally, passed out or scream on Hanto's back at any moment. Her giggling was actually the worst sound, it made Zyra fearful of her return.She gave Hanto credit for being able to hold her up and keep going. Even so she was not shocked when he collapsed.
Rell followed a few yards after.
The tree was right in front of her, seamless and beautiful, a perfect centerpiece for hell. When she heard another thump she turned and finally saw Gharla. She was on her forearms and had tightened up.
"I can't go anymore," Gharla gasped. "Go Zyra, don't stop."
Zyra turned stiffly and walked on. She walked for forever when an unsteady step left her face first in the dirt. She wanted to lie there desperately. She closed her eyes. Nima's sickly face haunted the darkness.
No, she had to keep going.
She stood up and walked slower.
When her legs gave out she crawled.
Her knees were bloody and she drowned in her sweat. She remembered a story her mother told her. There used to be something called paintings in the Old World. One of her mother's favorite stories was about a painting of a man reaching out with a single finger to touch the hand of God.
When she reached for the cold white surface she could picture it clearly, perfectly in her mind.
The cold chill ran up her arm. She had done it, she had made it to the Marble Tree.
She placed a cheek against its surface and the darkness holding Nima, came. __________________________________________________
She awoke with a start. She was cold and in the dark, but she didn't hurt. Zyra touched a hand to her face and her knees. They were fine, the skin was soft and uninjured.
Had...had it all been an illusion?
The room had no door, no items, and no candles. Beyond the dark room was a dimly lit hallway. It resembled the blue ambiance of moonlight. A small black figure darted past the door. On her feet immediately Zyra ran after it.
The figure giggled and turned a corner. She followed, seeing it was half her size. A child?
The figure made a left and then a quick right down a set of stairs. Zyra slid a bit on the left but righted herself in time to run down the stairs.
She chased it all the way into a circular room. When she entered it was nowhere to be found and no other door remained. There was no ceiling in this room, the moon glowing over the Marble and making it shine.
In the room's center, glittering prettily was that accursed basin.
It was even colder here, she could see her breath. She stepped inside, but no further. She waited several minutes before taking another step forward.
Hearing amused laughter she saw the figure was on a balcony above. It pulled down the hood and she could see a fair faced little girl with blood red lips.
"Come down here right now," Zyra demanded.
"Why?" the girl said in a high pitched voice.
"You know why I am here," Zyra snapped. "Do not play games with me."
The girl pouted and jumped over the railing landing in a soundless black pile. She straightened nonchalantly and walked up to Zyra.
"Would you hurt me? I'm just a little child you know."
She gave her a sad look with her big doe like eyes. Zyra bent to her level and stroked a hand through the girl's silky black hair.
She smiled at her bitterly. "You are no child."
The child returned her look and began to stretch into the witch she knew from the field.
"How clever you are indeed...Zyra," the woman said, languishing in the pronunciation of her name.
"You're simply too clever for me. Perhaps I, Etaceh counselor of the first witch, writer of the seven scrolls and protectorate of this land should back down with my tail tucked firmly between my legs."
"Maybe you should."
Etaceh laughed and began to circle her with long even steps.
"You must think you're special. Even when you're lucky to be alive right now speaking to me when you were dying just a moment ago."
Zyra wanted to argue with her, to curse her for her tests and make her pay for what she was doing, but she could only muster up despair.
"Please," she pleaded. "You know why I'm here."
The witch rolled her eyes, disappointed that her fun was now over.
"Oh you're a mood killer aren't you? You think I can help you?"
Zyra nodded. "I know you can."
"And what can you offer me?"
The witch's face turned cruel and she stepped forward until her face was just above Zyra's. She took her chin in her hand and leaned in with her bloody smile.
"Anything? Or everything?"
The witch started to chuckle and pulled back from her like a retreating snake.
"Well, you're bravery is in vain," the Etaceh said throwing a nonchalant hand in the air.
She gave Zyra a small amused smile.
"The child is dead."
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-Sincerely, Ms. Stubborn