WHO: Sirikit, Nalini and Jadon WHAT: The shadow makes a second appearance WHERE: Outside the Wishing Tree WHEN: Oct. 26th, early afternoon RATING: TBD
She was angry with herself for having been absent when the shadow visited the Wishing Tree. It had only been for an hour, to explore the tower. She’d been gone far longer before. Forays out into the cirque grounds were not so scary now as they had been in previous years. At least they didn’t seem so. Perhaps that was foolish, if her absence allowed for creepy things to stalk the tree -her tree- unmonitored. At any rate, the ancient arbor was displeased.
As a means of reparation, Sirikit had spent the morning looping fresh silks and laundered satin strips around its boughs. Orange, red, warm browns and deep greens suited the season. Dozens of tiny electric votives were hung from the branches, radiating warm light. She had even left a note for the barstaff at V&V asking for empty bottles out of which she could craft new hummingbird feeders. With each new addition, lovingly applied, the Tree’s energy seemed brighter.
The back of her neck prickled, warning her of company. “Afternoon. If you could just leave the bottles there, I’ll get to them later.” Floating beside a gnarl a dozen feet off the ground, Siri knotted off an emerald silk, then turned her head to thank the deliverer.
Already semi-transparent, the misty image of the Nang Ta-Khian flickered uncertainly beside the garnished tree. The bottles had not been delivered. A looming shadow waited a few meters from the tree. Faceless, it stared. Although perfectly still its darkness seemed to spread around the tree. It dispersed, like an infection or a drop of poison swirling outward in a glass.
“What do you want? … I might be able to help you,” she tried, hoping kindness would soften a fellow spirit.
The shadow did not answer. It only hungered. The strength of its want felt constricting, choking, like vines around the neck. Siri’s eye widened, then blackened, the whites obscured by fear and the beginnings of anger. She did not like it when her tree was threatened.
Against caution, she swept down from the bough to get a closer look. She solidified when her feet touched ground. In that brief moment of transition the phantom had gone. An empty, gnawing malevolence taunted her for a moment in its absence.
“Come back! Explain!” Her now human voice echoed in the void of the room.
Looking for a trace of the specter, Siri rushed out into the hall tower. Her footfalls were silent on the stone, but she could hear someone else’s. “Hey! Did you see someone? Or something?” she asked, without greeting or stopping to see who she spoke to. Left, then right, then back again, she searched the hall outside the tree’s enclosure. “It was that shadow, the one Marlow saw. Help me look?” she begged. “It looked like … actually, I can’t remember.” Her forehead creased with concern.