Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The air was warm, filled with summer’s fragrance, and the grass cool on Wichapi’s feet. She stepped into the night, masking her six black wings. Shaking herself, dark eyes searched the area. No one.

A peasant dress materialized on her form as she folded her wings. She felt it with her fingers, thinking of the soft buckskins she used to wear as a child. So much had happened since.

To the right, barely peeking over tall spire-shaped trees, hung a full moon. My friend, you comfort me no matter where I go, she thought as she gazed at it. In other realms there were moons, but they were small and uninteresting, especially those in the night sky of Hala. She never got tired of an earth night lit by the great shining orb, telling her the time of month, the season of harvest.

She walked toward the main house. Someone was awake; she sensed a woman. Quickly, she seized her mind. As Wichapi walked toward the back door it opened, and the young woman bowed slightly as Wichapi walked inside. She took the seat offered at the worn kitchen table as the woman laid bread and butter before her. She liked butter, so sweet, smooth.

Cow-like qualities

Brenzel, what am I going to do with you, she wondered as she spread a little more of the creamy substance on another slice. The servant woman, silent, stood looking at nothing. She’d been starting the kitchen hearth only moments before, but now her will was buried somewhere far below Wichapi’s iron control.

Wichapi wondered at the feeble, cow-like qualities of the woman’s submerged consciousness. Not that it mattered, everything obeyed her every whim anyway, even dragons of Hala.

Brenzel told her all about her daughter Iris on the mountaintop as they embraced. She’d wept and shook with longing in her arms relating how she’d been so close to her, but she was made to leave by a man named Joshua at the last moment. How could he do that? Doesn’t he understand the love of a mother? Her need to see her child? The whole situation angered her.

The woman poured wine in a cup and handed it to her. She hadn’t liked wine, it tasted terrible and made her careless. The first time she tried it, she drank too much, waking groggy the next morning. Now, though, she only drank a little to calm her nerves. Like the moon, wine seemed to be one of the few constants in her explorations.

Why hold you back?

Why hold you back? You act like you are okay my dear Brenzel, but you’re not. Sighing, she stood as the woman pulled back the chair. “Go back to bed. You will remember nothing.”

Without a sound, the young maid turned, exiting through the kitchen door which made a loud creaking sound as she passed. No matter, truth was, you could have fired a cannon in the manor and no one would stir.

Wichapi followed her, but turned left rather than trailing the maid further. Walking into the main house, all it’s English finery on display, Wichapi sneered. Away from nature, men’s hearts always grow hard, she thought. Nothing white men had interested her other than blankets, which she sometimes took, or a pretty knife here or there. It had taken years to find Iris, even though she knew approximately when and where she was. She was sick of the white eyes and their big boxes in which they scurried around like rats. She hated they way the kept animals, too, especially horses. Often, she let horses out of their small prisons, sometimes even burning the barns down, watching flames devour the empty stables. Horses deserved to be free.

At long last, she had gotten a break, overhearing a chance conversation of one of the lords of the house where she served, who mention a woman named Iris who was about to marry another lord. One of the maids filled her in on the particulars of her whereabouts. It had been a lucky break.

Tonight, she reached out with her powerful mind, and she had found Iris, but not in the house as expected, not sleeping.

Ghost

She walked through the house, into rooms, out again, pushing candle sticks over, looking into cupboards and closets, leaving drawers and doors open. Eventually, coming back downstairs, she found the front doors. Back outside, listening carefully, she heard music in the distance. Again the grass, so alive and cool on her bare feet, felt wonderful. She missed home, and she promised herself a visit to Lakota soon. But first things first.

Silent through the country estate grounds, her movements figures of shadow and grace, the Lakota princess walked among large oak trees, so strong, so deeply rooted. Someday, my friends, Wichapi promised, this will all be yours again.

Music flowed from a small building with a pointy roof. She saw two doors, one ajar, tops shaped like parts of a half circle. Notes sounded so melancholy, they apologized to her ears for the sorrow they carried. What’s wrong with her? Brenzel said Iris was in a good place, happy.

Standing outside the open door, Wichapi heard a young woman sing in a contralto voice as she played a stringed instrument,

In darkness let me dwell; the ground shall sorrow be,
The roof despair, to bar all cheerful light from me;
The walls of marble black, that moist’ned still shall weep;
My music, hellish jarring sounds, to banish friendly sleep.
Thus, wedded to my woes, and bedded in my tomb,
O let me living die, till death doth come, till death doth come.

Peeking inside, she saw the young woman. What is wrong? Did someone die?

My dainties grief shall be, and tears my poisoned wine,
My sighs the air through which my panting heart shall pine,
My robes my mind shall suit exceeding blackest night,
My study shall be tragic thoughts sad fancy to delight,
Pale ghosts and frightful shades shall my acquaintance be:
O thus, my hapless joy, I haste to thee.

Unable to stand it any longer, Wichapi’s hand pushed the heavy door open further, walking in to the small room, lined with a few benches. The young woman, though she must have noticed, didn’t turn around from her seat, but remained silent in the moonlight, holding her instrument.

You’re so like your mother, Wichapi thought, marveling at how much she looked like Brenzel.

Hair, long and muted red in the moonlight, Iris sat for a long while, then said, in a clear, resigned voice, “Have you come to kill me, too?”

In Darkness Let Me Dwell by John Dowland

SEOIB.