WHO Adam Parrish (and Cabeswater), with appearances from Ronan and Gansey WHERE Deep inside Cabeswater, on the Barns property WHEN Early Monday morning, September 7th WHAT Adam ties himself to the sentient psychic forest again STATUS Narrative, complete! WARNINGS Lightly spooky involving trees. Also, lots of Latin, hover for translation.
→ NOTES For those who opted-in, here's the plot narrative! You're now good to go with your characters' spectral familiars for the day (or permanently if you were one of the lucky winners!)
Adam stood barefoot at the edge of a pool in Cabeswater.
This was not the first time he stared at his reflection, but this was the first time he remembered thinking: after this, things will be different. I will be different.
Around the pool was a white line, made from chalk of ground bone. The note from Persephone about bringing extra did not go to waste. On one side of the circle was an empty bowl, for the scrying world to fill. On the other side, one full of water, to see into the scrying world. These were all the objects, as outlined to his friends. There was no pentagram. There was no blood to be spilt.
The air was balmy in the forest, the sun shining at the perfect height—it hadn't moved for hours, minutes, Adam didn't know. Time was a tricky thing here, and he had hardly noticed it slipping away. He spent so long setting and resetting the bowls around the pool; redrawing the line around the bottomless pond as the morning dew tried to wash it away. When he stared into the watery abyss now, it shot straight down into Cabeswater's heart. Adam knew instinctively where this body of water was when they entered Cabeswater, and the branches had parted to show him that this was it. The place where it needed to happen.
He had asked permission from the forest to do this, and the excited cacophony of Latin that had followed from the trees, was the agreement. His hand curled briefly around the dream-key-made-into-protection from Ronan, warm in his palm. The nerves that had plagued him seemed to settle into something gentler, knowing that Cabeswater would not turn him away from this attempt. It was the only first step, though.
Adam bent down and grabbed a handful of soft, loamy dirt from outside of the circle. "For grounding," he explained to Gansey and Ronan. He almost seemed embarrassed as he talked it out, as if the ritualistic nature of it was excessive. But Whelk's persistence and Neeve's darker psychic needs made even the set up of the ritual feel evil last time. Adam only wanted goodness, only wanted help, only wanted more.
It was also Adam's way to hopefully ease the building apprehension and concern as all three of them stepped up to the unknown void that was bonding himself to Cabeswater in Vallo. Even with all of Adam's preparation, and his confidence, there were still problems unaccounted for. There was no way to solve them without doing it.
There were no glances of goodbye, no words that felt final. Adam couldn't bear to cause that fear or grief to rise up inside of them or himself. So instead he tipped his chin up to them and nodded. I'm ready his expression said. And readiness involved filling himself with the reminders that he was with the two people who mattered the most, love and friendship, comfort and home. Nothing bad would happen. Nothing could go wrong. He was safe.
Ut salvum vitae.
He offered a fist, bumping knuckles with Gansey in solidarity. He leaned in and pressed a kiss to Ronan’s lips. Those, too, were for grounding of a different sense.
"Whatever you see, don't freak out," Adam said, first to the canopy of trees, and then to Ronan and Gansey, "And don't come inside the circle."
With his back to them, Adam stepped across the threshold. All the ambient noise stopped, like a rush of a vacuum, startling in its immediacy. The silence was in both his ears and fundamentally alarming, but Adam couldn't linger in it. Focus, focus, focus. Instinct nudged him back toward the water. Adam closed his eyes, and held the dirt tighter between his fingers as he dipped his toe in first. And as he broke the surface of the pond, sound returned—birds chirping, leaves rustling, and Cabeswater's low grumble, salve, magus.
The silt floor of the pond rose up to greet him, where ground didn't exist before. The water was cool, cold, but the warmth of the sun kept him from shivering. Half above, half below. All of Adam in equal balance to what the forest provided. That was always how it was supposed to be.
Adam could feel the anticipation of Cabeswater, waiting for what Adam had to offer. While the psychic energy was ancient, and the forest's generosity overwhelming, there was a certain naivety that came with it—Adam remembered how they had to guide Cabeswater's first death into a resurrection. How much Cabeswater didn’t know what it meant to be contained as a person. Much like scrying, the whims of humans and the matters they brought with them were underwhelming or caused gross curiosity. Adam had to keep Cabeswater in check, and Cabeswater had the same responsibility to Adam.
Patience, though, was never their forte. Manibus et oculi demanded the forest. His hands and eyes. Adam shook his head. Not this time.
"Ero praesidium tuum." Adam offered, and Cabeswater answered back. You are.
"Ero magus tuum." Again, Cabeswater responded, You are.
What did it mean to be those things? It was more than a title. It was a task, self-appointed, bestowed upon Adam because he requested it. A job that required repayment. But that’s not why Adam wanted this. And more importantly, did Cabeswater need it? Maybe the forest wanted those things because it had always had them—protection, its magician, even its greywaren—in every iteration, but this wasn’t about wants anymore. Adam asked himself: what did Cabeswater need?
Adam took a deep breath, and exhaled into the scrying world, into Cabeswater, offering something that was more than just him. Something that held more meaning than being Adam.
"Ero amicum tuum."
To be Adam Parrish's friend was sometimes an uphill battle. To gain his trust required commitment. To gain his love required vulnerability. To gain his respect required humility. But Adam was committed, vulnerable, humble. Offering friendship was like putting his whole self out for judgement—waiting for rejection, waiting for someone to find him unworthy, waiting for someone to see all the ugly parts of him and be found wanting.
Adam sacrificed himself last time to Cabeswater, a shell of a person unaware of his significance in the world. This time he was giving himself to Cabeswater, to deem whether or not his greatness would be enough. Not as a servant, not as less. But evenly, as peers, as friends. An extension of one another, all the deep dark parts brought to light and made whole. Giving and receiving without a cost attached.
"Dictum meum pactum, Cabeswater." This is how Adam sealed his promise: when stripped down to his barest forms, free of otherworldly needs and desires, his word remained.
The water started to glow, a neon blueish-green bioluminescence spiraling out from around Adam, rippling across the water, across the ground of the forest, and out, out out. The pulse of Cabeswater expanding like a wave of magic into the world.
Distant and garbled, he heard Ronan’s voice—a shout and a curse. He knew Ronan would step in, come closer. Adam could feel the shift in the ground as Ronan tried, a familiar spatial awareness taking over. He knew Gansey would grab for him, to hold him back just a little longer. Adam wanted to tell them it was okay, he was okay. Cabeswater wouldn’t hurt him. Trust me. Trust us.
An electrical crackle splintered through the air, the sharp scent of ozone filled his senses. His breathing was fast, faster now—was that panic setting in or excitement? Adrenaline or fear? A flock of ravens took off from the north of the clearing, a storm rolled in from the south, and a branch snapped, then another.
No, not branches, roots, pulling free from the forest floor and the low underbrush where they had been hidden and nestled for hundreds of thousands of millenia, asleep. Not anymore.
The roots crawled and surged from every direction, climbing down the carved out walls of the pond, slithering through the dirt, filling up the water, wrapping around Adam's ankles, his legs, his waist. They inched up and over his shoulders, wound around his arms toward his center, toward a singular purpose.
As the clouds opened up above him in a torrential downpour, Adam held the handful of dirt aloft, fist trembling. His eyes were now a pair of incandescent lights, shining out into the sunless sentient forest. His body was glowing from the inside out like a beacon against the darkening skies. And as the first tip of a root made contact with the soil in his hand, Adam spoke—sure and steady, full of intention and unflinching with conviction.
"Do et des."
He spread his fingers wide, tipped his palm, and let the earth fall.