Andrea Novis Episode 21
Copyright © 2016 by Michael Litzky
“Andrea!” Sandia Belin whispered, the first time in twenty years she had not called her sister “Novice.”
She had felt something surge through her when she first touched Andrea Novis and had seen a confused vision of Father and Mama Mystia and Markul the Malignant. She shook it off as nonsense.
“We have only another moment. Let me pull you out of this madness.” She reached over and clasped the hand which clutched her well-muscled arm.
Andrea Novis sat slowly, as though she slid through webs which held her tightly and started the deep steady breathing which drove Sandia Belin mad with impatience.
“Commander!” Tupela’s voice was sharp with enchanted worry. “Ye’ve gone the wrong way! Cassie lies back the other way along the track.”
Dimensions were all wrong in here. She had touched down in the dark (the rope had been more than long enough) and walked as quickly as she could to the trail of light left by her sister, and then along it to where Andrea lay. But Tupela and Ralph would haul the rope up in another instant.
Andrea’s eyes had the wandering look of a helpless dreamer. Sandia Belin resigned herself to knocking her sister unconscious and scooping her up.
And then three things happened at once. A silver ball in her sister’s other hand pulsed with rebellious light. The rope around Sandia’s waist tugged at her as Tupela and Ralph reeled it in.
And Andrea Novis, in the quietest of calm voices, said words Sandia Belin had not realized she longed to hear.
“Sandia. You have succeeded. By your very presence you have helped me to what I needed. Leave me now to do my work.”
Sandia’s shoulders twitched, as if to let slide the load of shame at leaving her sister in Markul’s dungeon. “Truly, Andrea?” she asked quickly, as the tug at her waist became insistent.
“Truly. This is what I choose. Go and pull Cassie back to the real world. And Sir Robert, he is dead but remove his body and … and send it back to Markul with the message that his last words were ‘his hands brought light.’”
Sandia Belin shouted up to Tupela and Ralph, “I see which way to go, no need to pull at me like an errant child!”
Then quietly to Andrea, squeezing her hand, “I still think you mad, sister, but I can do no more.” She stood with a jerk and strode angrily but lightly off before she was pulled from her feet.
Andrea Novis looked again at her hands and began to weep.
The lines of force which had held her were still everywhere but she no longer fought them. She saw now that those spider lines were not cruel or harsh but were so heavily complex and carefully crafted that she had to breathe carefully, fighting off the feeling that her smallest movement would bring the world crashing down around her, like a small boy tripping on his way to the border.
She gathered a few of those lines of force into her faery hands and instantly saw a vision of herself shaping rivers and streams into pleasing curves, flinging sparkles into ordinary water, smoothing rock into sinuous canyon walls and spicing ordinary mint with touches of cinnamon, chocolate and even subtler things like summer afternoon and frosty winter morning and rainy spring lake.
Then she looked at the ornament. Its energy was subtly different from that of the webs which had held her tight. The ornament had magicked and whispered and cajoled to get her here as she was now but it wanted her to free the land while the webs of force did not. The webs were the binding force, the ornament was the rebel.
Ramsey Longbottom – her father – had taught her much. What had he known of the prophecy? But she was content now to slip into the meditative trance he had shown her how to reach, held softly in her mother’s arms, and do the work of bringing back this land for people to love.
As she touched and touched, her hands appeared to her in altered vision. Those hands had memorized every grain in the walls of her cell, brought her own body exquisite pleasure, stroked Amber’s silky brown coat, smacked the prominent cheek of her older sister during many of their endless fights and squeezed her sister’s hand just a short time ago. Those hands appeared to her now as faerie hands, the hands of the Goddess, soft as Mystia’s, rough as Kathleen’s, vibrant as a row of grassy downs under a blue sky.
The dusty coating of dried blood was not visible in this transformed vision.
Breathing excitedly, she rubbed her fingers together, then felt one hand with the other. The Goddess hands performed the same movements, like a dancer interpreting the flowing of a brook or the falling of a leaf, lovely and strange.
Then she looked down at her own body. She saw her precious body as a pine forest surrounding meadows rich with apple trees beneath a summer sky decorated in creampuff clouds.
She was ready now, in her full power, to be naked. Naked she had mastered the darkness of the cell and naked now she would master this much bigger darkness. In a small glade she undressed with calm delight, and dropped to the ground. At the glorious feel of the earth against her body, she laughed the merriest laugh she had let forth since a snowball fight with Sandia Belin in the back yard of the cottage of Mystia and Kathleen when she was ten.
And then with her faerie right hand pressed unapologetically against her heart, she set about her task of cherishing the land of Elemar exactly as it was.
Much time passed. She emerged from her trance now and then to feed herself on the fruits and vegetables and the fabled mint of Elemar, to drink and bathe in one of the countless cold pools. Once she found that she had cut her foot on something; she washed the cut, rested until the bleeding stopped, then she sank back into transplendent joy and wandered on, her eyes seeing everything, her hands or feet or naked body touching everything.
Without her knowing it, people climbed the small mountains to watch her, wearing ropes carefully tied to trees beyond the edge of the sands. To her, the sky above was still perfectly black but to them, the toy land below was a set of isolated dots and webs of light which grew as Andrea Novis walked on.
Cheers and a few derisive catcalls passed over her like rain. Sandia Belin marched up to a rogue who had called something obscenely suggestive to the naked figure far below and smacked his face, then stood watching the small dot that was her younger sister with fierce affection.
As the months passed, Andrea Novis came to see the sleeping child more and more clearly. He held a ball for Tricky but he was so cozy and sleepy that he couldn’t throw it. It wriggled and fretted in his hands, wrinkling the land into tight mountains.
The ball had suddenly slipped like a watermelon seed from the boy’s grasp. Now the boy could sleep! He stretched himself as wide as pie and as thin as air and became a ring of silver sand as the ball, trailing blue lightning, flashed through the night, searching without conscious will for … something.
Not a miner broken by hard work and poverty. Not a nighttime reveler for whom the dark was a delicious wickedness. Not a prisoner in a dungeon, surrendered to madness. It cracked off rock walls, wedged into crevices, was found and lost and found again, found at last by a jolly scholar named Jenna Ramsbottom who had a son who would one day have a lover…
All of this she saw as time passed and passed. The strands of light she wove thickened, growing towards each other.
Between one instant and the next, the pools of darkness that she had not touched yet sprang into light on their own, swept along by the rejoicing everywhere.
With a solid feeling as of the last bite of a perfect meal filling the last corner of hunger, Elemar was restored.
Andrea Novis stood on a prairie which swept to the unbroken horizon. A river a quarter mile away curled lazily through scattered trees. There was no sign of the mountains which had ringed and hidden Elemar for five generations, nor of any palaces or gardens. A light breeze touched her under a high, stately sun.
She carried in her thoughts a map of everything she had touched. The land she now saw was much bigger. She closed her eyes and saw the land she had met so intimately. Compact, well-groomed, with cropped grass, trimmed rose bushes, finely crafted cold pools and guided streams. Her hands (which, she blinked her eyes open to see, looked just like normal hands now, though weathered into timelessness) held the memory of the special rich aged smoothness of marble. She even remembered the smell and taste of the prized Elemar mint.
She opened her eyes again, confused and yet comfortably at home in this land which did not match that inner map.
As she hovered on the verge of understanding, she walked toward the spot where her clothes should be, marveling.
To be concluded…