She wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when she looked in the mirror that morning. “Oh, nothing unusual!” -she thought. “Same old me, same sleepy eyes and messy hair…” she sighed with à tad of disappointment. She grimaced at herself and laughed off the twinge of regret.
“What were you expecting anyway? A pair of horns?”
She splashed a generous amount of icy water on her face to get back to reality. She had too many things to do that day; there was no place of aimless dreaming and fantasies. She scrubbed her face with the towel and combed her hair, leafing in mind through her daily chores. One final trust of the comb and she was ready. She checked again her image in the mirror and froze.
-Hello, stranger!-she said. Though not so obvious for others, the changes were there. After all, she had already lost two layers of her daily armor. There was a new light in her eyes, a playful easiness in her expression and her hair was wearing the loving touch of an invisible hand. She tilted her head, assessing the changes. Tam-tadam….something…someone was beating inside her chest. The echo of a mysterious heart.
– Hush, hush, my heart! Not now!-she whispered and hurried to dress up. Reality was claiming her for now.
I landed at dawn, exhausted from the lengthy flight. All I could see from above was a green patch of grass. The space around was filled with a gold tinted, pink mist. The sun was greeting à new day.
-You must be tired and hungry-said the pleasant mezzo-soprano voice and a tall woman emerged before me. And you need a pair of shoes too-she added with a smile, looking at my bare feet. Come, let’s go inside!
Inside? I followed her through the door, the one that was opening in the wall of haze. It was leading to a cozy room and I slumped in a comfy chair. Moments later, my host returned ,carrying à small tray with what looked like breakfast.
-Hot chocolate and brownies for you! And these- she said, handing me à pair of shoes-I think they belong to you. Our mutual friend, the Magician left them yesterday- she added with a smile.
-By the way-she continued, I am Joren. You’re Kai, isn’t it?
-Yes…-I mumbled. Are you….like the Magician?
My question sounded utterly stupid but couldn’t find a better way to put it. Was she another “piece” of that core he was telling me in the forest? She felt so different! She was à tall and majestic woman, with long, raven-black hair combed into an elaborate coiffure. Her skin was tanned and her high cheekbones were hinting about Native descent. She had the same dark-brown eyes as the Magician but her gaze was somehow different. Joren’s appearance was that of à protective goddess and in her eyes I was reading benevolence and wisdom.
-I am the Guardian of the core-she said simply. You can always call me when you need. Now, take your time ! I’ll be back.
For a moment I felt like à schoolgirl and hid my embarrassment in the cup of hot drink. She left and I must have dozed off because when I woke up, the light was turning amber and I had a blanket on my knees. Then à sharp cry tore the silence, making me jump from my seat.
The girl stormed out of the room, looking for the source of the angry, loud shouts. Who was shouting and where was Joren? She ended up in a narrow corridor. The noise was coming behind the door of the room at the end of it.
-No!!!I am not listening anymore! Leave me alone!! This is me! This is who I am! I am not you! I am not what you want me to be!! I am who I say that I am and I had enough of you smothering me!!!
The owner of the powerful voice was clearly upset. Joren’s calming, soft spoken words followed the shouts.
-She’s not here, my dear. You can relax. See? It was just a bad dream.
-No, no, no!!! I saw her! She was pointing her finger at me ! She was trying to bring me to my knees as she always does! But I won’t wait till she’s catching me!
The final sentence was shouted in thunderous voice and the door opened with à loud bang. À fiery creature rushed in the corridor, stopping before the stunned Kai. The bulky man was almost ceiling high and with his glowing, weavering contours he was the embodiment of anger. An all consuming fire was burning inside his dark-brown eyes; he looked at the girl and smirked. The flow of pain mixed with rage coming from him was overwhelming and Kai felt the hair rising on the back of her neck.
Oh! The pain, the burning pain oozing from each crack of the shattered soul! The bitterness thickening into bile, rushing through his veins, pushing aside the warmth of the blood….She stood there, in the eye of the emotional storm emanating from him, trying to find strength and support inside herself, in that deep hidden sunny smile…He bent over her, sneering:
-So…You don’t remember me, ha?!
À wave of dark madness rose from behind him, like à shadow, ushering away the light. Kai gazed in the eyes of the raging man, her hand pressing upon her heart. For à moment, she felt like crying, screaming and running wild but she swallowed down everything.
-If I remember someone, it’s not you!-she said .
He growled and pushed her aside, leaving the place. Kai turned to Joren who was quietly closing the door behind her.
-What ….Who was this?
-He was the embodiment of the inner demons. He is emerging each time nightmare visits the core. He’s its reaction of defense but we must bring him back before he hurts our host! I need your help, Kai! I must stay here, trying to keep the core asleep until you bring back its fears. But be careful! He is dangerous!
She embraced me, whispering in my ears:
“ Use your imagination and let your heart guide you!”
She slipped back into the room and closed the door.
“I will-I thought. My heart is my only compass.” I felt my armor crack, leaving another layer of my insecurities behind. I hurried to the entrance door. I had an emergency to solve.