02-28 Wrecked

TGW-02-28-01a

The persistent shrill sound of the downstairs phone pulls a reluctant Taïga from her agitated sleep. She pulls her pillow over her head and finally it stops, only to start ringing again. Gaah… But where’s Granny?

TGW-02-28-01

Grumbling Taïga rushes downstairs and answers the phone a little out of breath, ‘Hello! The Grey residence… Linn!?! Are you crazy? Do you know what time it is?… Er… 7 a.m.? 8?’

Taïga sighs, ‘If you say so… Uh-huh. What’s so important? … Jayler? And what has Jayler got to do with you calling me this early? Did he break up with Tess and make a move on you after I left?’

She rolls her eyes. ‘Er… No… No, of course he hasn’t spent the night here.’

Slowly the smile vanishes from her face. ‘No… Well… We kind of split. I’ll explain later… At Treasure Peaks… Yes, I know… But… No. How could I know where… I don’t know… … Yes…. Uh-huh… I… I know you’ve got a car. Wait! I- … WHAT??? Ohmygod…’

TGW-02-28-02

Linn’s last words reverberates through her, conjuring up a horrible vision of Loki’s wrecked car and the receiver falls from her numb fingers.

‘Taïga!?! Are you still there? Answer me!’ Linn’s voice echoes in the dangling receiver, but Taïga is already rushing upstairs.

TGW-02-28-03

OMG! He must have tried to drive home and went over the edge!?! He was so drunk! What if he did it on purpose after what I said? Why did I get so angry – he was only drunk and desperate… I shouldn’t have left him like that… Not after everything that’s going on right now, first his dad cheating and the move far from his friends… then me breaking up… What if I never see him again? I know I said I’d never wanted to, but I didn’t mean for him to… To die! Thoughts are rushing through her head as she dashes back upstairs.

She throws the door to the upstairs study open so hard it bangs against the wall. She reaches out for the palantìr, but suddenly stops. She takes a deep breath and tries to calm down, Granny said you mustn’t be upset when you consulted the palantìr… She also said I shouldn’t be alone… But her mind is on a loop circuit – hearing Linn’s voice over and over again. Jayler said his granddad’s henchmen found Loki’s car crashed… Loki’s car crashed… crashed…

TGW-02-28-04

She dries her hands on her robe and concentrates on inhaling and exhaling slowly, but her hands are still slightly trembling when hesitating she touches the sphere. It comes to life immediately, lifting from its socket, smoke tendrils swirling inside, whispering her name. Something black starts to take shape… A… a bird? She closes her eyes and tries to concentrate on where she left Loki…

The sphere seems filled with water when she opens them again. The fog and the flapping bird have given way to an image that slowly form in the heart of the palantìr… She leans in to see better…

TGW-02-28-05

She can see two policemen looking over the edge of the cliff at something… something tiny and… and red… OhmyGod! She wills herself to stay calm. I have to get a closer look…

She gasps as the sphere immediately obeys and takes her down so fast it feels like falling. She almost screams out loud, but her chute stops just above the wreck. Dreading what she will find inside, she approaches…

TGW-02-28-06

The car is empty! She almost cries with relief and thoroughly starts scanning the surroundings. But there’s no trace of Loki anywhere on the tiny beach. Without hesitating, she lets the palantìr take her into the cold sea. There’s no sign of a corpse, and she gasps for air as she breaks the surface, clutching at the car, gathering her strength. She stares up at the tiny silhouettes looking down without seeing her… Far, so far, up on the cliff…

TGW-02-28-07

There’s a raven circling overhead. It lands on the sports car and hops closer to her, inclining its head and looking at her with a black unblinking eye. She tries to wave it away but it only hops back again. Leave me alone!

The sun’s rays is warming the tire, and she hugs it, feeling the soothing warmth of the black rubber and the waves’ rhythmic beating against her body. So peaceful…

Go away, she waves lazily at the large bird, but it comes closer, black eye unblinking, huge beak menacing. Closer. Closer… With a burst of energy she pushes away from the security of the warm car, threading water.

TGW-02-28-09

The sun isn’t shining anymore and the slate grey sea is chilly, moving, swirling around her, icy cold droplets spraying her face, hurting like thousands of tiny needles. Panicked she looks above, only to see a huge helicopter sweeping in with a stretcher suspended under it. The rotor blades turn round and round in slow-motion. Chop… chop… chop… Pushing the wind down against the grey surface of the Ocean and making her struggle frantically to keep her head over the water. A man in a wetsuit is crouching in the doorway, ready to jump and she’s dragged down with the impact of him hitting the surface.

TGW-02-28-08

She kicks vigorously with her legs towards the surface, but her wet robe is heavy and tangled around her feet. Out of breath she tries to unfasten the knot of her belt, feeling the panic rising in her. She breaks the surface just as the coast guards pass right behind her, sirens wailing. If she goes under again she won’t be able to get back up…

Her heart is beating fast, her eardrums are feeling like they are bursting from the piercing wail of the sirens. She covers her ears and opens her mouth to scream but the sound is muffled. Chop… chop… from the helicopter in slow motion, more divers falling backwards from the coast guard’s vessel… She tries to scream again, water bubbling out of her mouth…

With a last frantic effort, eyes bulging from the exertion, sound is finally bursting forward from her mouth. As her scream gains in power, the water starts swirling around her, lifting her up, turning faster and faster, until she’s lifted high in a waterspout. The sirens wailing all the time, transforming into a honking sound…

TGW-02-28-10

Her eyes snap open, and spluttering water she holds on to the edge of the table to keep her balance. The palantìr is placidly resting in its socket, but Taïga is out of breath, her heart beating wildly in her chest. Tentatively she touches her robe, but it’s dry. What the hell was that???

TGW-02-28-10a

The honking starts again. She gets up on wobbly legs and pulls aside the curtains. Linn! How long have I been sitting here? She pushes open the window and leans out, gasping for fresh air.

‘I’m coming! Just a minute, I’ll be right down!’

TGW-02-28-11

She stumbles into her room, discarding her robe. Yesterday’s outfit will do… She almost falls as she tries to get into her shorts all the while pulling the cotton sweater over her head, grabbing her sandals in the hallway and jamming a chewing gum into her mouth. No time to brush her teeth…

She whistles for Valkyria. A dog is surely second best after a Crystal ball and a locating spell… Well, third best…

TGW-02-28-12

Linn backs out of the driveway, throwing a concerned look at Taïga. ‘You look awful.’

‘Thanks. Considering my ex-boyfriend just went missing and is probably dead – partly thanks to me- I guess looking awful seems normal!’ She stares out the window as the car speeds forward. She almost feels nauseous and closes her eyes. ‘Sorry… I didn’t mean to be so harsh.’ She mutters, trying to focus on the road ahead.

‘It’s OK…’ Linn throws a worried glance at her friend and draws in her breath. ‘Your nose is bleeding!’ She fishes for a Kleenex and hands it to Taïga.

‘Thanks.’Taïga takes the Kleenex and closes her eyes, leaning back against the leather upholstery. Drained. Totally drained… I asked the palantìr the wrong question, and even if I had had the time to do a location spell, I wouldn’t have had the energy to go through with it… Would I have had enough force to summon the crystal ball to bring me back on my own? The prospect of being eternally trapped makes her shudder.

‘Are you OK?’

‘Yes…’

Linn hesitates.

‘Go ahead.’

‘What?’

‘I know you, Linn. You’ve got something on your mind so just get it out.’

‘No. Well… It’s just… Oh, the hell with it! What where you two doing on the Ridge? And why did you leave him there?’

‘We got lost in the fog…’ Taïga dabs at her nose and changes the subject, ‘Can’t you slow down a bit? Tell me what Jay- WATCH OUT!’

Linn swivels the car to her right and barely avoids the raccoon.

‘You almost killed it!’

‘I’m sure I didn’t touch it!’

Both girls are straining to see through the dust raised by the car.

‘There it is!’ Taïga points towards a shadow disappearing into the dry swamp grass behind them.

TGW-02-28-13

With a sigh of relief Linn puts the car in gear again, resuming their route – slower this time. ‘My teacher told me it’s better to run over a small animal than cause an accident for humans. Gross, isn’t it?’

Taïga just stares at her, ‘I suppose you’re right, but…’she shakes her head and takes up where she left it a minute ago, ‘Why did Jayler call you about Loki?’

Linn shrugs, ‘Well, he said he didn’t want to upset you and that you filter his calls anyway…’

Taïga snorts.

‘One of Don Moroni’s guys had business in the Bay – probably running drugs with one of those fancy speedboats if you ask me…’ She glances at Taïga who is staring at the route ahead, frowning slightly. ‘But you aren’t, so… Well. Anyhow he saw smoke but didn’t take a closer look. He had to get the hell out of there before the cops showed up-’

‘STOP! Here it is!’

TGW-02-28-14

They park the car at the base of the steep hill and start the trek up along the dirt track. Valkyria is happily running along in front of them, pleased with the unexpected walk in a new part of the forest.

‘Isn’t she supposed to help us track Loki?’

‘I thought she would, but I need something of his to let her sniff. Maybe he lost something up on the ridge?’

They step aside as a police car trudges past them. It stops, and the officer leans out, ‘Is it your car parked down there?’ he gestures vaguely with his head behind him, ‘a Prius?’

‘Yes?’ Linn looks questioningly at him.

‘You’d better go back and park it elsewhere, we need the space to maneuver. And this road is closed to public anyway.’

‘OK. Thanks.’

They turn on their heels and start walking back. ‘We were so close!’

‘Don’t you think we could sneak up through the woods?’

TGW-02-28-15

They stop on the side of the road.

‘There are probably cops all over the place.’

‘Or not. Maybe that was the first car!’

They don’t pay attention to Valkyria who has stopped and seems to be listening. Suddenly she barks, making both girls jump, and sets off following a faint track into the woods.

‘Valkyria! Come back!’

The dog comes back, barks and then runs away into the bushes again.

‘She wants us to follow her!’

The girls look at each other and sets off after the vanishing dog.

TGW-02-28-16

Valkyria leads them through the underbrush and stops, whimpering, by a big rock. Out of breath they join the excited dog. Something is stirring on the top of the large stone, gangly legs and a mop of ginger hair.

‘Loki!’

‘Thank God you’re safe!’

Taïga and Linn fall into each other’s arms, weeping and laughing, while Valkyria excitedly jumps and barks around them.

TGW-02-28-17

‘C’mon. Stop that noise, will ya?’

‘What?’

‘The nerve!’

Taïga calls back Valkyria and stoops to calm her.

‘What time is it? What are you doing here?’ Loki sits up and winces. ‘Ouch… my head…’

Linn and Taïga glances at each other, ‘Are you all right?’

‘What are you doing here?’

He looks around him, squinting against the sun. ‘I don’t really remember…’ He swings his legs over the edge and jumps down. Cringing he lifts his hands to his head as if to steady it.

TGW-02-28-18

‘What do you mean you don’t remember?’ Taïga looks questioningly at him.

He scratches his head and looks sheepishly at her. ‘I’m sorry.’

Sorry for not remembering or sorry about what happened between us?

‘Did you know your car’s wrecked?’

‘What?’

The girls look at each other. He must have had more than they thought yesterday.

‘You better call your parents. They must be frantic!’

He starts fumbling in his pockets. ‘Must have left it somewhere…’

‘Here.’ Linn hands him her cell.

TGW-02-28-19

Taïga sits heavily on a stone.

‘Are you all right?

‘Not really. I guess we’ll have to call the police…’

‘No, I suppose his parents take care of that…’

‘Yeah. Well. They’ll get here and ask me a lot of questions…’

Loki interrupts them, saving Linn from answering. ‘Mom and Dad were already on their way, they’ll be here in a couple of minutes. There are cops at the ridge, and firefighters… What the hell are we going to tell them?’ He looks at Taïga. ‘I guess I was pretty wasted last night, and the cops will probably get me for drunk driving…’

‘But you didn’t drive!’

‘And you don’t even have your driver’s license – yet!’

They stare at each other for a moment until what he means sinks in.

‘Oh, no, you’re not! You can’t tell them you drove. Your dad will ground you until next year!’

‘I won’t need my driver’s license then.’ Loki winks.

‘How can you laugh about it? You’re 16. They can send you to prison!’

‘I don’t think it will get that far. I’ve never been involved in anything “criminal” before and dad has got connections. You, on the other hand-’

‘He’s right!’ Linn interrupts, ‘Loki’s dad can get him out of trouble, he’ll probably only get fined for drunk driving…’

‘You forget about the car.’

‘Yeah… the car. What happened to it?’

‘LOKI!!!’ Erin comes running and hurls herself into her brother’s arms.

TGW-02-28-20

‘Loki! Everyone was so worried mom has been crying the whole way but not me I didn’t cry!’ She stops for breath, ‘Can I play with Valkyria?’

‘Sure.’ Someone should teach Erin the importance of punctuation…

It gets a little awkward when Loki’s parents show up. His mom is crying with relief and his dad is happy to see his son unscathed apart from a broken heart and a terrible headache. But you can see he’s holding back his fury – Loki was drunk and crashed a brand new sports car after all. But that will have to wait until they get home…

‘Can we have a dog in Starlight Shores, Mom? Dad?’

‘Sure.’ Mrs. Simmingway hugs first Linn and then Taïga. ‘Thank you for finding him! When the police called about his car…’ She breaks down in tears again, and Taïga pats her back, not knowing what to say.

TGW-02-28-21

They are interrupted by the police showing up, followed by the firemen. The officers start interrogating Loki, but as he’s underage, his parents put up a solidary front, assuring themselves about his rights.

‘Will he need a lawyer?’

‘Are you arresting him?’

‘No, ma’m. We’ll just take him back to the station for a blood test…’

‘We’re not accusing him of anything – yet, Sir. So there’s no need for a lawyer. Yet.’

TGW-02-28-22

‘Don’t stray too far away, young ladies! We have some questions to ask you.’

Taïga and Linn nods to the police officer. It has not been a year since Taïga got into trouble with the police and it has left deep scars…

Linn tries to reassure her, ‘It wasn’t your fault. When you left him he was all right.’

‘Linn… He wasn’t OK… He… He tried to rape me…’ She hides her head in her arms, trying to hide her tears.

‘What? Ohmygod, Taïga. Why didn’t you tell me?’

She answers with a muffled voice, ‘I guess I was feeling guilty about the whole thing… I said so mean things to him… What… What if he had gone missing? Or… Or-’

‘Shhh… We found him, and apart from a severe case of hangover, he’s all right.’ Linn reaches out and strokes Taïga’s hair, ‘It’s not your fault. He was drunk, that explains his move – I guess – but it doesn’t excuse him! No way!’ She pulls her sobbing friend against her shoulder. ‘Another reason to let him take the fall! It’s the least he can do-’

‘Ahem… I’m sorry… Are you hurt, miss?’

Taïga looks up at the tall firefighter and dries her tears, ‘No. I’m fine. It’s just…’ She shakes her head, blinking away those dang tears that seem to be menacing to burst forward again. She grimaces a little.

TGW-02-28-23

‘What time did you leave the party?’ ‘When did you notice your son was missing?’ ‘Is that your car on the beach?’ ‘What happened to it?’ ‘Did you drink last night?’ ‘Where did the alcohol come from?’ ‘Who was at the beach?’ ‘They are all underage?’ ‘When?’ ‘Who?’ ‘What?’ ‘Why…?’

Loki tunes out the questions, his parents are answering in his place anyway. His head is aching and he’s awfully thirsty. He squints against the sun in Taïga’s direction. He can see her crying, and his chest feels like it might explode. He’s the one who’s supposed to hug her and reassure her… Linn’s angry glances in his direction makes him uneasy. He can imagine what Taïga just told her… And who’s that guy talking to her? Oh, she smiles now… He can see Linn nudging her and how Taïga rolls her eyes…

‘Where you alone, sir?’

‘What?’

‘I asked you if you were alone last night.’

‘Er… yes. Yes, I was alone…’

TGW-02-28-24

‘…so I was just wondering if I could buy you a cup of coffee some day?’

‘Er…’ Taïga catches Loki watching her, ‘I don’t know. I-’ She glances at Linn. Get into BFF mode and please help me out!

Linn looks back at her, ‘Ahem… C’mon Taïga, I think we’re needed over there!’

Taïga sighs with relief, ‘Bye!’

‘Yeah, see you around?’

Linn throws over her shoulder as Taïga drags her away. ‘We’re at Björn’s every day after 4 – doing our homework!’

‘Got that!’

‘Linn!’ Taïga whispers, ‘Was that necessary?’

‘Absolutely. You need a rebound someone!’

‘No. I don’t. And definitely not someone as old!’

TGW-02-28-25

Both Taïga and Linn are interrogated.

‘Mr. Simmingway said he left Silver Sands around 10 p.m. Is that right?’

‘Yes. We all left around that time.’ Linn answers.

‘And he took his car?’

‘Well… He wanted to. But he-’ Taïga meets Loki’s eyes behind the officer.

He smiles grimly and walks up to her side, ‘That’s right, Sir. I’ve already told you she had left when I drove off. She was riding her bike and the fog was rolling in so she was in a hurry to get home while she still saw the road.’

The police man stops scribbling on his notepad, ignoring Loki he scrutinizes Taïga who blushes. ‘Was it so?’

Taïga hesitates, ‘Yes.’

‘Well. I don’t have any further questions, miss. But I’d like you to come down to the station and sign your deposition tomorrow.’

Taïga nods.

‘So we’re free to go, officer?’ Linn chirps in.

‘Sure. Have a nice day! School starts tomorrow, I believe?’

‘Sure does!’

Taïga nods to the departing officer before turning her full attention on Loki. ‘Why didn’t you tell them I drove your car? Don’t you understand you’ll probably have your driving license revoked?’

Loki looks contrite. ‘I know. But I guess it’s the least I could do, after what happened…’

They are interrupted by his little sister, ‘What happened, Loki?’

‘Nothing.’ They both answer in unison.

‘Mom and dad are waiting! Hurry! We’re going to the police station and the officer promised me he’ll take my fingerprints and I’ll ride in the squad car and do you think he’ll put the siren on if I ask him? ’

‘Well. I guess it’s time for me to leave… Goodbye, Taïga.’

‘Goodbye, Loki.’

He hugs her awkwardly and follows his sister.

TGW-02-28-26

Linn and Taïga spend the rest of the day together, talking about what happened with Loki, about Linn’s feelings for Rowan and Teddy, about the school start tomorrow and about the cheerleader try outs.

‘I was on the team last year, I aim for flyer this year! I think you’d like being on the squad too!’

‘Nah…’

‘C’mon! We have fun, we work hard and we’re awesome!’

‘I think I prefer to cheer from the bleachers, thank you.’

‘But you do realize it will be easier to get on the squad at University if you were already cheerleading in High School?’

‘I’ll find another sport at uni then.’

‘Please, Taïga. We’ll even go outstate supporting the team during the season!’

‘I know it sounds cool, but look at me! I’m hopeless in gymnastics, I can’t even perform a cartwheel… I would only embarrass you.’ Linn opens her mouth, but Taïga continues, ‘And don’t tell me I can just stand in the back waving with some glittery pompoms, because I won’t believe you! There’s no way you’ll see me standing on the shoulders of a girl, bearing the weight of another, stretching my leg in the air with the foot next to my face. Gosh! I admire you, but no thanks.’

Linn knows Taïga is right, she’s incredibly clumsy. Difficult to imagine she took dancing lessons when she was a kid… ‘OK. But please come and watch the tryouts?’

‘I wouldn’t miss them!’

‘Now cheerleading is out of the question, will you at least come riding with me?’

‘Taking lessons you mean?’

‘Yes – dressage, showjumping…’

‘I don’t think we have enough money for that. I overheard Granny talking to Missy the other day, and it seems we’re really tight…’

‘They are looking for grooms at the Kempinsky’s. Maybe you could get free lessons!’

Taïga ponders the question… Free lessons would be great, but she will also have to get a job bringing in some money to help Granny…

The girls continue discussing over dinner, until Viktor calls, reminding them both it’s a school day tomorrow…

TGW-02-28-26a

A light rain brings hope of the end of the dry period, but the air stays suffocating. Taiga can see the morning star glittering through a hole in the clouds and without thinking, she clasps her hands in prayer.

‘Thank you for keeping Loki safe… I just wish Derek is safe too… in heaven. Maybe he’s up there, looking down at us. At me…’

TGW-02-28-27

‘Taïga?’

‘I’m out here, Granny.’

With a last glance at the morning star, she pushes open the screen door and closes it rapidly behind her. ‘Dang mosquitos.’ She laughs a little.

Granny straightens the little pillow with Shasta’s blue wand. ‘Where were you all day?’

‘Oh, Granny…’ Taïga hiccups and throws herself in her grandmother’s arms.

‘Oh, my. What happened? Come here…’

TGW-02-28-28

She leads Taïga to the bed and sits down with her grandchild. ‘Shhh…’

Lying in Granny’s arms, with her gently stroking her hair brings Taïga back to when she was little. Granny just holds her the time it takes for her to calm down. The young girl takes a deep breath and straightens her back. Still gripping Granny’s hand, everything just pours out. She tells her grandmother all about her feelings for Loki, how scared she was to see him again, how she had hoped her feelings for him would still be there, but how her love had transformed into friendship…

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Granny just hums and nods and lets her grandchild talk freely. She doesn’t even say anything when Taïga tells about Loki’s dad and Miss Goodytwoshoes, about the party at Silver Sands and how drunk Loki got. When she comes to why she left him on the ridge, Granny squeezes her hands a little harder, but doesn’t interrupt…

She speaks about Linn’s call and how terrified she was and how the guilt came crashing when she thought about all the terrifying scenarios that her leaving him drunk and alone up at Golden Deer Ridge, facing their breakup and his parent’s eventual divorce all by himself, could have ensued.

‘Granny? It felt like it was my fault – I told him I never wanted to see him again!’

‘That didn’t mean you wanted him to put an end to his life. Sometimes we say things we regret under the influence of anger… But I can tell you that had I been there I would have spanked the hell out of him!’

Taïga laughs a little through her tears.

TGW-02-28-29a

Granny pushes a strand of black hair away from Taïga’s face and secures it behind her ear.

‘Do you feel a little better?’

Taïga nods and burrows her head on Granny’s shoulder. ‘There’s something more I have to tell you about…’

Out comes what happened with the palantìr. When Taïga has finished, Granny holds her at arm’s length and looks sternly at her, eyes brimming with tears.

‘You could have got trapped in there! Promise me you won’t use it on your own again!’

She hugs her granddaughter fiercely.

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After a little while she pulls out a handkerchief. She blows her nose and starts pacing the room.

‘I told you about how dangerous it is… And yet it has never let me come inside it like you described. Are you sure you weren’t just looking at images defiling in the sphere?’

She continues without waiting for an answer, ‘No. Of course you are sure.’

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Granny sighs heavily, ‘At least we know your kindred animal spirit… It must be The Raven. It wasn’t there to do you harm, but to bring you back. But you wouldn’t let it as you got scared… And I always thought your protector was The Cat!’

‘Why the cat?’

‘Because you already talked to them as a child, and Minuit is always around you. It’s also the most connected to witchcraft among the earth bound totems. I would never have thought you’d summon a protector from the air! Now The Raven is a bird, a bird equals Air, Air is a symbol of strength and sovereignty which are so important traits when you’re experiencing a transition.’

‘Transition?’

‘You’re getting full access to your powers at the next blood moon. That’s a transition of sorts.’

‘Oh.’ Taïga pulls the sheet away and lays down on her bed, ‘What is your animal spirit, Granny?’

TGW-02-28-30

‘Ahem. The Goat.’

Taïga tries to keep a straight face, ‘The. Goat?’

‘Yes, it represents faith, respect and balance. Just like a grey witch – nature’s balance is the most important for us.’ She stresses the “us”, and continues. ‘Us grey witches always have earth totems like the mouse – modesty, the rabbit – harmony, or the squirrel – prudence and balance… Missy’s animal spirit is the hedgehog – perception and fertility… Hmm… I’m not so sure about that one, she might have lied to us… Whatever! It’s not important now. What is important is that a Raven tried to connect with you!’

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Pensively, she taps her chin. The Raven tried to connect, but Taïga wouldn’t let him… Since when can you push back your own totem?

‘Granny?’

‘I’m sorry. Where were I?’

‘A raven?’

‘Oh, yes. A raven is not only a bird, but it’s a black bird!’

‘Er… Yes?’

‘A black bird is linked to the… dark, to alchemy.’

Taïga gapes, ‘Alchemy?’

‘Yes… the fundamental concept of alchemy is: Transition and Transformation.’

‘So you mean I’ll be able to transform things into gold? We’ll be super rich!’

‘Well, not exactly. Nobody can transform “things” into gold – not even a witch! Or we would all be –as you said- super rich! No, I’m talking about human transformation. A transformation of the mind.’

‘Oh.’ Taïga adds, a little disappointed.

‘Black birds symbolize higher intelligence, higher thought and higher ideals…’

‘That sounds good!’ Taïga smiles, but upon seeing Granny’s stern face her smile vanishes.

‘It sounds good, yes. But black birds are eternally linked to the dark. They don’t give up their messages easily, and if you can’t convince your guardian totem that you’re completely devoted to its dark ways, it won’t reveal its wisdom…’

Taïga yawns. Dark ways…

Granny continues. ‘The Raven is the only totem that stands for the unknown, for mystery, magic, and secrets…’

Taïga tries to concentrate on what Granny is saying, fighting sleep as her eyelids grow heavier and heavier. The day’s events finally get the best of her and she dozes off, her mind swirling with images of dark birds and swirling skies…

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Granny looks thoughtfully at her sleeping grandchild.

A Raven! No less… Taïga must be special, everything about her confirms it… A Raven would never come to a witch who is not mentally fitted out to read the deeper meanings behind its presence. Taïga would never have met it if she did not already know the answers… And the Palantìr let her inside it! The only witch she ever heard of being let in, was her great-great-great grandmother, and after what she knows, she’s still in there…

She shudders and plants a soft kiss on her granddaughter’s forehead, leaving the door slightly ajar…

TGW-02-28-33

She’s flying! Above are only clear skies and far beyond her she can see the glittering blue of the Ocean, reflecting the sun’s rays. The cool wind embraces her body and she flaps her arms to go faster. Arms? No, they are wings covered in jet black plumes! She isn’t scared, she knows she’s a raven and her strong wings take her higher, higher. She goes into a steep dive towards the blue Ocean, not spreading her wings out until she can feel the salty spray of the waves. Then up again. Her soul soars with the exhilarating pleasure of mastering the air, just like Jonathan Livingston the Seagull.

He was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all!”*

But she’s using up her forces, playing with the wind and testing her capacities. Her feather clad arms are starting to strain, her heart is beating so fast it hurts and she can’t seem to get enough air through her open beak. There’s no wind to glide on, carrying her, but instead she has to flap her wings continually. Panicked she looks around her. Water. And sky. And more water…

She’s incredibly tired… Extending her wings as far as she can, she slowly sinks down through the air towards the sea… Suddenly there’s a blur at the horizon. Something grey… Cliffs!

With a regain of energy she flies towards land. She soars over a ship anchored at the small port, and circles the tower of an old decrepit mansion that seems oddly familiar.

*Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

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Something pushes her to continue and she flies inland, following a river. The countryside is lush, and the few houses look like old peasant homes. A man is fishing from a stone bridge, and pulls up a fine rainbow trout as she flies past.

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She can see a castle in the distance and without thinking, she changes her direction towards the foreboding walls. She flies over the slate covered roof, scaring a flock of pigeons. Cawing, she circles a tower and there she is!

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A tall woman is looking up at her, raven hair and eyes mirroring her own. The woman lifts her arm towards her, and without hesitating, she dives, opening her wings and stretching out her legs at the last moment…

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Part II – End of Chapter 28

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