20 juin 2015

Chapter 16

            “It’s called a Lume. It’s our main means of communication between Spaces. And you just got one, personally addressed to you. Do you realize what that means?” Peter explains with patience as distended as a heavy water balloon.

            Three pairs of eyes ogle at me as I try not to let my blushing reflexes kick in. What have I done to cause this? My mind quickly goes over everything I’ve said, seen and touched since I got here, and I pathetically worry about having broken one of the local codes – codes that I have no knowledge of whatsoever. This is bull! I haven’t done anything!

            “Yes. It means someone knows I’m here. But if you’re insinuating, in any way, that I…” I choke.
            “Okay, let’s go about it differently. Vlad, Nirav, has any one of you sent a Lume before or after our trip?”

            The two Elves shake their heads adamantly, and all eyes veer back to me.

            “This is just… beyond ridiculous! Who could I possibly have spoken to?!” No blushing yet. This new skin seems much less revealing, which makes for a good change.

            “Not ‘spoken to’, but connected with on some level,” Vladimir interferes, sounding diminished relatively to an obviously furious Peter. “Have you dreamt or thought of anyone that didn’t look familiar to you?”

            “Huh?... You guys ever heard of Freud?” I throw, with aligned eyebrows. Okay, maybe it’s a bad time for fresh jokes, but I’m just trying to keep up with the absurdity of it all.
            “Lily, please!” Peter says, huffing and pressing the heel of this hand against his forehead. Hello drama queen!
            “First, NO, I haven’t. And second, if you could ‘connect’ like that, why need Lumes?” I ask with genuine curiosity.
            “Erm… we can’t. But since we each have a particular skill, we’re still waiting for yours to manifest…” Vlad admits. 

Well, they can wait. 

            “And in the meantime, it sounds like you’re reaching. You know I can’t possibly have provoked this! You know it,” I insist, throwing a pleading glance at Peter. He looks me straight in the eye, which seems to be the habit with him whenever he needs to know what’s going through my mind.
            “Lily,” he says in a slow whisper, “soon you will get the hang of this world, and you will start recognizing the sender through the aspect and sound of a Lume. And this one, white, clear, and perfect in its silence, is very distinctive…”

            “It’s from Danielle,” Vlad states gravely, as if that says it all.


            “In human terms, she’s our regent. Our queen, if you will,” Peter utters distractedly, as if already thinking of an escape strategy.

            Wow… I have a message from the Elven Queen herself!... To my name… And I really don’t know what to make of that, or how scared I should be right now.

No one can know! he’d said, perhaps to avoid the news getting to her, ultimately. And if it has, then she knows about me: a Human, out here, that seems to be undergoing some radical “changes”, harbored by three subjects that really should not meddle with the Affairs of the Garden. In other words, if I’m in trouble, then so are they. All three of them. 

Hm… I now see exactly how screwed we are.  

“Wait… we haven’t even read to the message yet! This could all be a… coincidence or something,” I try, feebly.

The three look so grim that I start to seriously feel the fear, deep in my gut. The first to straighten his shoulders is Peter, who seems to have come up with a plan.

“Lily and I will face her alone. And whatever happens, I’ll take all the blame. You guys never went there with me, and Nirav, I basically threatened you into teleporting me. Is that clear?”

What?! No! Him taking the fall does not sound like a solution!

With a perfectly neutral face, Vlad and Nirav lift up their right hand, bending down their index and middle finger, like we humans would to mime quotation marks.

“Is that a solemn vow gesture?” I ask.

“Um… no. They just flipped me off,” Peter states bleakly, as the others fight off a smile. “So that’s a no then...” He lets out a heavy sigh, then grabs my hand and raises it up to the Lume, still floating carelessly near my temple. “There are two ways of reading this. If you want to listen to it privately, you’ll need to direct it gently towards your ear, and then usher it in.”


“Focus, please… If you want others to hear it too, you’ll need to make it come to you, and then press it against your forehead, like that.” 

He mimes encircling the speck with his palm, but the second he does that, the strangest reaction occurs. The Lume starts shivering uncontrollably, and suddenly seems to let go of my magnetic field for Peter’s.  Its entire gravitational powers just change focus, and it starts following his movements.

“What the…?!” he frowns.

It takes a few seconds for it to click in my head.

“Wait, that’s great! It could mean it was sent to you instead of me, couldn’t it?” I speculate, finally feeling a modicum of relief.

“No… I don’t believe so. A Lume is intended for the one it reaches first… but it could simply mean that some of my Energy has gone on to you!...” Peter reveals with the shadow of a proud smile, before locking eyes with me in one of those heart-stopping, meaningful gazes. 

He then seems to pull himself together, though I can still see his weakly concealed delight. How can he look so thrilled when the thought alone makes my hairs stand on end? If my energy was passed on from him, wouldn’t that make him my… genitor of some sorts?!... That’s just twisted on so many levels! Erik and Oda did that job well, and I would under no circumstance perceive Peter as a father figure! 

            “Here…” he whispers cluelessly, as he guides the Lume back to me. In a fraction of a second, the same quivering reaction takes place, and the light dot is back to its former orbit. 

“So… will it be private or shared?” he pushes.

I choose forehead. Besides, if it’s not addressed to me after all, everyone present would witness it first hand. So, as I shove the speck against my forehead, Peter warns, “Now, this might be a bit intense the first time…”

ARGH!!! Ow ow! My brain whistles sharply like an earsplitting Larsen effect, as the Lume disappears completely; and in a swift second, a loud, hollow voice fills my entire being. 

The language is completely unknown to me, but it sounds so airy and elegant that I hold my breath and listen, absorbedly. The message ends after a few seconds, and I quickly look to Peter for a translation, with ears still ringing like the Angelus bell. 

“It says, ‘I am Danielle. Whoever you are, and whoever your maker, you are both expected very shortly. I look forward to knowing you’.” 

A very heavy silence falls, none daring or knowing how to react. 

My first thought is: she doesn’t know exactly who I am… which might be good news, right?

But did she really say “maker”?! This is an absolute nightmare!!!

On the other hand, the invitation did not sound hostile… Then again, how would I know?... The look on everyone’s face is as reassuring as a looming thunderstorm. 

I try to break the graveyard quiet with more annoyingly inquisitive questions. “Erm… how come you guys speak our language so well, when you have your own?”

“We’ve actually created your languages. Or at least the root ones,” Vlad explains, not resisting the history trivia. “Aber wir können Deutsch sprechen, wenn Sie möchten. Cela ne nous pose aucun problème en fait. [1] 

Wow. He so would’ve gotten his butt kicked in school. 

[1]  « But we can speak German if you like. (German) It’s no problem at all actually. (French) »

“Oh… That figures. English is good, thanks…” I then warily turn to a furrowed-browed Peter, “So… This all seems inevitable, doesn’t it? I have to go see her… She will then notice I’m some weird hybrid and terminate me, and then no harm would be done to the general equilibrium. A very straightforward, basic prospect…” I ramble on, noticing that deep inside, I still haven’t comprehended or believed any of this, and that my brain is still waiting for me to wake up eventually, and find myself in that hospital bed. The pain felt real. This doesn’t. Not in the least, especially now that I’m kindly invited to my own potential execution. 
“Hey, no, don’t say that!” Peter objects, then throws an awkward look at the others, as if pleading for something. Vlad nods, and they both turn around and slowly walk away, as if giving us some privacy. While carefully keeping an eye on them, Peter puts his hand out sideways, for me to take. I’m thrilled, although it oddly feels like he’s about to do something he shouldn’t.

I lightly touch his fingers, only to feel them grab on to my hand, and fiercely twirl me around until my face slams against his chest, then his arms enfold me as fiercely, and lift me off the ground. I’m suddenly like a little girl, carried as if I weighed nothing at all. He buries his nose in my hair, although I can feel that he hasn’t lost sight of the others for a second. My heart embarrassingly pounds against his torso, and I can’t seem to de-goggle my eyes. I wrap my arms around his neck, not daring to jinx any of this by asking questions.

He whispers very lightly and almost too fast for me to grasp everything, “If you knew just how heartbreakingly beautiful you are right now, and what a radiant being you’ve turned into, you would understand what I’m about to say: Nothing will happen to you. Nothing. One look at you and everyone will know your reason for existing. And if they don’t, I’ll be there to show them…”

And just as brusquely as it started, the hug is broken with an almost violent yank. Peters puts me down exactly where I was before, and draws his arms so quickly it’s hurtful. I simultaneously notice that the other two have stopped and turned around at nearly the same second. I narrow my eyes at Peter. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to comprehend that for some very serious reason, he and I are not supposed to be seen having any physical contact.  But… why not?!    

Peter nods once, all business-like, and the two walk back towards us, carrying a curious-looking, oval-shaped device. Its bright golden surface is mesmerizing, but not as much as its mind-boggling intricacy, which reveals itself with every step closer. 

“It’s a Pathavane,” Vlad answers my unasked question. “We use it to clear a specific itinerary, and we’re going to need that–” 

“No, you aren’t, because you’re not going!” Peter commands, but no one gives his tantrum much importance.

“As I was saying,” Vladimir resumes with almost Rickman-like phlegm, “this will help us get clearance for the Spaces we can cross to get to Danielle’s, based on what is currently going on in each, and how… ‘welcome’ we might be there,” he winks. 

“But… can’t Nirav teleport us directly?” I ask, peeping apologetically at the tall Elf.

“No, it’s not the same thing,” Peter interferes. “He only does, erm… FM to AM jumps,” he explains as if to a five year-old, while the other two raise a quizzical eyebrow.

I choose to ignore the patronizing, and swerve my attention back to the Path-thingy.

It looks like a series of concentric, Penrose-stair-like oval rings, each shaped differently from the next. And in the middle floats a glistening golden sphere. The whole device seems like a much more complex version of a gyroscope.

 Vladimir lets go of the Pathavane, which, like most things – and people – here, doesn’t obey the laws of gravity. It merely hangs there, awaiting its orders. Peter advances and slides his index on one of the loops, which causes the entire thing to collapse horizontally: all the circles join in at the middle, forming a ring system around the sphere, as if it were their Saturn.   

He then delicately presses his finger against the sphere, and draws a very strange, slender symbol. The second he steps away, the loops pop back into position and gradually start spinning, each in a different manner and direction. Slow at first, the rings progressively speed up and, like a very cool science experiment, light symbols appear on the sphere, one after the other. The rotation gets so fast that the rings almost disappear, and the symbols inside get clearer by the second.

I, of course, have no idea what they mean, so I observe everyone’s reaction in the hopes of getting some sort of clue. 

The group doesn’t even wait for the Pathavane to stop before they start discussing the suggested route.

“Whatever the order, I’d like her to pass by Sam’s first,” Peter requests, and the others seem to agree. 

“Dem and Indya should be free at this time, and they won’t give us any trouble. Better yet, they might teach her the basics…” Vlad ponders, and everyone directs considerate glances my way. 

Thanks for using the third person when I’m standing right here, guys. 
"But unfortunately, if we headed in that direction, we’d be passing by Corb…” Vlad suddenly bites his tongue and gives Peter an apologetic look. 

Peter brushes it off with a headshake and a swift change of subject. “Either way, we’d have to go through mine, but before that, Pi’s… and I really think it’s too soon for that,” he muses, as Vlad unexpectedly beams at me, playfully. 

“Don’t look at me,” I throw with a hardly concealed pout, “you lost me at ‘Pathavane’!” 

And with their usual tact, they all snort. Loudly. 

“Okay then,” Peter eventually adopts a leader’s voice, “if any one of you needs to prepare for the trip, go right ahead. We don’t have much time.” 

He then turns to me and ruthlessly eyes me from head to toe, with a little more than mere interest. “As for you, young lady,” he puts on a mischievous smirk, “let’s get you out of that shapeless, human dress.”

My eyebrows almost reach my hairline.  


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