“The Knight of Xeo” – part 49: “A Woman in Green”

by Brianna G. Harte

The last stretches toward the branch were agonizing. My forearms were about to give out, and my fingers trembled. Each heartbeat rang in my head. Holding tight to the tree, I took several breaths. I heard tiny scratching sounds by my right foot and glanced down to find a couple of squirrels chasing each other. They circled the trunk with such ease. Moments later, I found them close to my face with their glossy black eyes staring at me.

“I’m trying, okay!”

They exchanged glances.

“I guess you don’t understand me.” But why can the snakes and the gryphon?

Were you talking to us?

I think she was.

Why can a human talk to us?

You think she’s human?

Well, she looks like it!

But the other one looks like her too.

“What are you talking about?” I asked. “And yes, I was talking to you.”

What?

“Seems that you’re fairly comfortable doing so as well, despite not remembering anything from your past.” I peered upward to find a woman, clad in a green mesh fabric dress that reached her toes and reminded me of fresh moss, above on one of the close branches. Her dress was split from her upper thigh down to the hem, revealing loose cotton pants beneath. A pendant around her neck reflected the sun, making it difficult to see. I couldn’t make out her face because of the lighting through the leaves.

“Are you the one who has been talking to me in this reality? Did you send Torret to me?” I looked down toward the gryphon below, not daring to let go of the tree bark. I didn’t trust in the tree and my skills that much just yet.

The woman seemed to ponder the questions. “What do you think?”

“I have no idea what to think anymore,” I sighed. “These two realities I keep jumping back and forth from and the constant resistance to answering anything for me has not helped me form an idea of what could be. I don’t even know which of them is supposed to be real.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I don’t know why you would say that.” Not really wanting to continue with that conversation, I began to climb again although my arms were about to fall off. I was closing the gap. Seeing the distance dwindle down until I could touch the top of the branch was a relieving feeling. “How do I get on the branch?”

The woman chuckled. “Can you not figure that out?”

I tried a few times, but with my arms as exhausted as they were, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could even hold on.

“Just give me your hand then.” Her tone seemed rather light. Even when I could not see her face, I could swear she was smiling.

My heart fought with my mind. I wanted to trust her, believe that she would finally be someone who I could rely on. Despite this, everything I had ever known since I woke up on that table has been anything but kind. Distrust ran its course through my blood.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

Previous (Part 48 – Onward)

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 48: “Onward”

by Brianna G. Harte

I simply stared at his feathered neck. Torret, that makes no sense! How does just knowing her location translate to the world ending?

The gryphon’s muscles shifted as we began to circle a location close to an odd assortment of trees. They weren’t of a variety that I could recognize.

Knowledge can sometimes be a key to safety or destruction.

After the third time around the same location, Torret began to slowly descend, having to keep his wings spread wide open, though they skimmed the branches all the way down. He settled on a patch of dirt sitting among weeds that surrounded the area just big enough he could comfortably lay down with wings mostly folded in.

Well, go on.

Carefully, I dismounted. Where do I go?

Torret nudged his head toward the treetops.

I’ve never climbed a tree before.

If you are Kasha, then you’ll know how to get to her.

I sighed. Getting some information for once would be nice. Might as well try to talk to her. As I walked toward the base of the tree, the overwhelming height of the tree awoke nerves inside me that I wished would go away. There were no branches that I could reach, not for at least 30 feet. I circled the tree and several times, I gripped the hard bark. Torret’s curious eyes weighed me down. Sighing, I took a firm grip on the tree. I can do this, right?

I started to ascend but only a few feet up, I slipped and fell to the weeds. I shook my head and tried again only to have the same result. Come on tree. I just want to get up there, I thought as my head bent down. Alright. One more time.

My gripping seemed to improve as I began to scale the tree. Whenever my footing could not be made and my fingers would slip, I would manage to find a holding. I found out very quickly that my strength in this reality, and maybe in the other one as well, was non-existent in my arms. Each grasp at the bark made the muscles along my forearm and fingers want to give up. They tightened immensely, begging me to release them from torment. My breathing grew heavy. My throat pleaded for water. I was not going to stop when I made it so far, though. My head turned toward the canopy, and a sigh of relief passed through my lips. I was so close to the first branch. Once I could get to it, I could finally rest before continuing.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

Previous (Part 47 – No One’s Safe)

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 47: “No One’s Safe”

by Brianna G. Harte

PREVIOUSLY, ON “THE KNIGHT OF XEO”

The dwarves must have captured you at some point during the war, thinking you are the princess and hoping to gain information about the kingdom from you. All that they could gather could tip future battles in their favor. As for other xeonians, they would be all too eager to call any child without a home their young lady.

Torret began to tilt toward the left, letting the wind push against his soft brown and black feathers. Beneath my hands, I felt his neck muscles shift enough for me to readjust my hold or else I could have fallen off. The land around us was no longer a blur, and my senses took all of the beauty of nature that surrounded us with relief. Woods lined the edges of the shore as clumps of long plants jutted out of the water along its edges. Creatures of the forest chatted away to their young, with the birds singing songs of friendship and love. Several animals swam at the water’s surface while others busied themselves on the dry land. Not as many people were around this area, and it seemed that those that were nearby didn’t notice Torret flying so close by.

You don’t sound too convinced.

I have been disappointed by far too much in my lifetime, Torret explained sullenly. Sometimes, it is better for me not to get my hopes up.

If you think I’m no one special, why are you flying me around? I would have figured out something eventually to get out of that hospital. How I would do that wasn’t developed before Torret arrived, but I didn’t let him know these thoughts.

Someone else thinks you might be something, but would like to see the truth personally.

Is this the person who’s been speaking to me in this reality?

It is the same one who asked me to get you and guide me to her.

Her? I thought the other person was male. The voice, or at least the voice I interpreted, seemed like a man’s. Then, I recalled the first time I awoke in the underground cavern, surrounded by snakes. Thinking about them gave me chills. When they had attempted to communicate with me in the first place, I initially felt them come in as, what, clouds of thought? I guess all sounds coming in seem like clouds of thought and I’m just interpreting them as some voice or another. The funny thing is that it just feels right to imagine your companion as a female. In this reality, it just always seems to be the other.

She does something in order to deceive those trying to determine who she is. The easiest of deceptions is change of sex.

But why would she want to or need to do that in the first place?

Remember how I said that the dwarves trying to learn anything from the princess could give them an upper hand in battles? It is similar for my companion. If they discover her location, a downfall for the other world would be eminent.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

Previous (Part 46 – A Missing Princess)

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 46: “A Missing Princess”

by Brianna G. Harte

PREVIOUSLY, ON “THE KNIGHT OF XEO”

Torret laughed, I think. Like my companion, you can gather energy from nature, store it within your body, and release it on your will. It is similar to the way plants gather energy from the sun to then make sugar for them to use for later. Since you already gather energy to breathe with food, you can use the energy you stored for other purposes.

Can all xeonians do that?

No.

Why not?

Put simply, you and my companion have capabilities that are beyond most of your people.

As I mulled over the creature’s words, my curious eyes fell toward the ground, which was zipping by in a blur. Most of the colors that meshed together were of the grey and black hues of buildings and paths constantly being traversed. Only small portions of the palette seemed to be reserved for bright colors.

Torret?

Torret turned his head to partly face me. What is it, young lady?

I was just wondering. . . Why is there so little nature here?

I have heard from those that came before me that the land used to be covered in dense forests, lush fields of wild grass, large wetlands, and animals filling areas now taken over by humans. He faced forward as he paused. They do not feel the land and creatures weep as we do while claiming ownership over what is for all to share, young lady.

The land weeps?

How is it that you do not know? As a xeonian, you should know this intuitively.

My memory is gone. I’m guessing that the dwarf Ad’juk somehow stole it from me in the other reality. It’s why I don’t even know if Kasha is my real name, even though everyone keeps calling me that. You seem pretty confident that my name is Kasha. Can you tell me who I am for once? Who was I?

In the distance, a light blue began to consume the land. As we flew onward, it grew until I was convinced I was seeing water. Who do you think you are?

I wouldn’t have asked you if I knew!

What do you know or think would set you apart from townspeople, xeonian or human?

I sighed. Other than the dwarves and other people who talk in nature-speak calling me “young lady,” I don’t know. It’s hard for me to figure out what townspeople can do that is different from what I can do when I have no memories.

Now, below us lay a large water body with no end that I could see. The water shimmered in the sunlight, which would soon conceal itself behind light grey clouds. I wished I could jump off Torret’s back and plunge myself into its depths, just to see how far down I could go. The murkiness from the forest-green algae and clay made it difficult for me to tell from the height we were at.

You are suspected to be the only child of the king and queen of Xeo.

Suspected?

Everyone has long awaited the return of their lost young lady, Kasha. The dwarves must have captured you at some point during the war, thinking you are the princess and hoping to gain information about the kingdom from you. All that they could gather could tip future battles in their favor. As for other xeonians, they would be all too eager to call any child without a home their young lady.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

Previous (Part 45 – Taking Flight)

Next (Part 47 – No One’s Safe)

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 45: “Taking Flight”

by Brianna G. Harte

PREVIOUSLY, ON “THE KNIGHT OF XEO”

I gulped as a realization dawned. I would have to jump. Peering over window frame, I noticed the ground being quite far away. Trust. Oh okay. I took a deep breath as I shakily climbed upon the window sill, grasping onto the frame for dear life. I’m going to die. With that, I leapt into the air with as much force as I could muster.

As soon as I left the sill, my eyes shut. Thoughts of death ran rampant through my mind. After several seconds, I still didn’t feel fur or even feathers. Maybe I was just too scared for my mind to process anything. All I saw through my eyelids was the glowing stone from the other reality. I willed myself to open my eyes to see the creature, though I didn’t expect him to be behind me. However, I did fully expect to be quickly falling toward the ground. Nevertheless, I screamed loudly while my heart pounded ferociously as I pummeled toward the earth.

The bird-like creature dove faster than I imagine most birds could. Just before I reached the treeline, I landed on his back with a large thud. Pain jolted quickly all over my body. The creature reared up and began to gain altitude until he was in the clouds.

I couldn’t concentrate enough to communicate with the mysterious man. As my hair whipped across my face, my arms held onto the creature’s neck, and I refused to fall again. The feathers made it very difficult to have a decent grip, and it didn’t help that his neck was too thick for me to wrap my arms all the way around.

I’m sorry, I thought as I held onto a bunch of feathers. I just don’t want to fall.

I’ve been through worse than a child grabbing onto my neck. And when we level off, you won’t need to hold on so tight. I don’t intend to let you die. The voice was unlike the other voice I had been hearing. Instead, it was smoother and lighter, though certainly a male’s. It wasn’t as deep, but I didn’t mind it at all.

I’m guessing. . . you spoke to me, Mr., hmm, what do I call you?

The creature turned his head toward me. Yes, I did. You can call me Torret. Now, I must know. Do you call yourself Kasha, the young lady?

I don’t even know.

Interesting. I can tell that you are xeonian, or else you would not have been able to speak to me or my companion in the first place, Torret mused. On top of that, you jumped farther than any human could in their short lifetime.

I would have shaken my head, but we were flying so fast that my head was forced to stay straight. This must be a dream if I can leap so far. That’s not possible.

Torret laughed, I think. Like my companion, you can gather energy from nature, store it within your body, and release it on your will. It is similar to the way plants gather energy from the sun to then make sugar for them to use for later. Since you already gather energy to breathe with food, you can use the energy you stored for other purposes.

Can all xeonians do that?

No.

Why not?

Put simply, you and my companion have capabilities that are beyond most of your people.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

Previous (Part 44 – A Gryphon? Why Not?)

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 44: “A Gryphon? Why Not?”

by Brianna G. Harte

PREVIOUSLY, ON “THE KNIGHT OF XEO”

It was getting harder to think again. Each passing second, my mind drifted off more. I turned my head, trying to focus on something. The door would have been my first choice, but the glowing stone caught my eyes first.

What do you do anyway? Do you simply exist to emit light? With this world or reality, whichever it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if you do something more. This feeling I get when I am in the other reality, and even now – is it from you? Or do I keep on hallucinating? My thoughts progressively made no sense. I was thinking about a stone. Even as I fell asleep, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t simply a rock.

Slowly, I opened my eyes. Light streamed in through the window, whitening the already white walls. No one was present in the room. To my left, a line was continually drawn by a computer, crossing a middle line constantly. Close by it, a bag hung on a metal hanger, with a long tube leading down to my forearm. I didn’t care what it did in this reality, but I was not going to be manipulated with those things any longer. I ripped out the needle and anything else that was attached to me. Well, most things. I couldn’t seem to get a little plastic band on my right wrist off.

I tried to ignore the fact that my forearm was starting to feel sore as I leapt out of the bed. How much time has passed since I was last here? Then again, why does that even matter? Where to go? My mind knew, but my legs definitely had no idea. Remember, you’ve never been outside of this room. What are you going to do?

Only in a light robe, I stood by the door and peeked out. Two people were down the hallway, but they seemed occupied. I quietly made my way toward the opposite end of the corridor, trying to not draw attention to myself. Where do I go?

As I made my way down another hallway, I noticed more people through glass. I was unconvinced that I could get by them with ease. Instead of try my luck, I dodged into the first room I saw and shut the door. One elderly woman was there. Her locks had gone white and her skin wrinkly. She too wore a light robe and had several tubes linking her body to machines and bags of sorts. Her eyes were fixed on a screen on an opposing wall, but they did not seem to react to anything they might have seen.

I closed my eyes, believing that she would not harm me. Think. Can someone help me? I just want to get out of here!

Almost instantly, someone responded. Young lady?

Will you help me?

I can, but you must trust me.

In all reality, I had no reason to trust him. He helped me once, maybe twice, and never before had I seen him. And yet, he was one of few that did not cause me harm in either reality. Okay.

Open a window.

Just like the room I had just been in, a window had been on the end of the room. A large cloth had been pulled over it, hiding the light. I pushed it aside and only with the man’s instructions could I actually open it. Otherwise, I would have stood clueless for a long time.

Just wait a few moments.

I looked over my shoulder at the old woman. She had shifted her head to look at me. Her mouth moved, though I understood none of what she said. Instead, I could feel her emotions. Though weak, a deep sense of feeling lost radiated out from her. Along with that came a frail pain that she seemed all too accustomed to. She gave no indication on her face of anguish.

What can you do? You’re just a young girl. No matter what reality you are in, you cannot make the pain go away for those you meet. You can’t even help yourself. I shook my head. No. I will help myself. I will escape into the air vent. I will figure a way out.

The old woman and the countless people and creatures in the other reality stuck in rooms or cages also had problems. I had no plan to help them. I probably deserved freedom less than them. I was only a girl without memories. Perhaps they had a purpose or even a plan in place. But if they did, why hadn’t they escaped already?

If you are ready, get on his back and hold on tight to his neck.

I looked outside the window to find an extraordinary bird-like creature flapping its wings. Smooth light brown and black feathers covered most of its body with the exception of its hind legs, where fur of the same light brown was. Not talons, legs. Why not? A tail flicked around as though impatient. The largest obstacle wasn’t even accepting that this creature existed. I wasn’t sure what to expect anymore. In order to stay in the air, the creature flapped enormous wings that almost scrapped the building. Even with its hind side facing toward me, it wasn’t close enough for me to simply climb on. Do you mean this bird?

He’s not really a bird, but I’ll explain later.

I gulped as a realization dawned. I would have to jump. Peering over window frame, I noticed the ground being quite far away. Trust. Oh okay. I took a deep breath as I shakily climbed upon the window sill, grasping onto the frame for dear life. I’m going to die. With that, I leapt into the air with as much force as I could muster.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

Previous (Part 43 – Mystified)

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 43: “Mystified”

by Brianna G. Harte

PREVIOUSLY, ON “THE KNIGHT OF XEO”

“Stop being cryptic and tell me what it’s doing!”

“If I told you, it would not be as interesting, young lady.”

I began to ponder over his words. It didn’t make sense for him to say that I’d shown much fighting spirit at all. If I had much to spare, I surely would have tried to flee more than once before now. What could he have meant?

“It is important for you to focus and tell me all you know,” Ad’juk urged. “Time is short, and yours may be even shorter.”

I wanted to find out where he was so that I could glare at him. “Is that a threat?”

“It all depends. Now, cooperate.”

“I already told you that I don’t know.”

Ad’juk didn’t speak for a short while. In the meantime, I tried to refocus on escaping. Since I had no idea of what the vents were like, I would have to improvise as soon as I jumped up into the vent. It seemed straight-forward when looked at that way. No sense in planning for the unknown. I tried not to think about what would happen if I was caught. If I did, I probably wouldn’t even try.

“There are other ways to find out if you won’t tell us directly.”

The air vents above began to roar. As I looked up, hot air mixed with mist began flowing into the room. Ad’juk apparently did not want to waste time. The mixture came in a gust rather than a nice breeze. My hair flew around like a wild horse, making me wish I could simply move it to the side. In a few minutes, I could feel a thin layer of water accumulate on my face. It wasn’t enough to start rolling down toward my chin, so it remained a constant tingling that I could not forget about. I was blinded by the whole purpose. If he thought that making the air humid was going to make me talk, he must be insane.

Ad’juk had fallen silent. What is he up to?

Time passed by and the humidity continued to increase. Strangely, my eyelids began to feel heavy. My face was numbing to the water mask. Even the irritating noise of the vents became white noise. What is in this air? Sleeping gas? I couldn’t smell anything out of the ordinary. Then again, it was possible that the air was never my kind of ordinary in the first place. It was getting harder to think again. Each passing second, my mind drifted off more. I turned my head, trying to focus on something. The door would have been my first choice, but the glowing stone caught my eyes first.

What do you do anyway? Do you simply exist to emit light? With this world or reality, whichever it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if you do something more. This feeling I get when I am in the other reality, and even now – is it from you? Or do I keep on hallucinating? My thoughts progressively made no sense. I was thinking about a stone. Even as I fell asleep, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t simply a rock.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

Previous (Part 42 – Suspicion)

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