Not The Tree – part 2 : A Bleak World

Posted: October 6, 2014 in Alfar & Duergar, Stories
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Vivian Goodwin, spiritual troubleshooter (phone number)

One does not simply walk out of Alfheim…

I knocked on the door and waited, snow crunching under my feet as I shifted, and stared at the little cardboard sign over the doorbell: “BUZER NOT WORKING, KNOCK.” Running steps were heard before a middle-aged woman with overly large glasses and short mousy hair opened the door.

“Hello!” she said, “I’m Susan, you must be Vivian Goodwin. Please come in.”

“Thank you”. As she took my coat and led me down the corridor to the small living room, I asked: “Is she here at least?”

“Oh yes, just in the bathroom, she’ll be joining us shortly. Won’t you have a seat?” she said as she gestured to the white futon. It was a poor choice of color, judging from the black cat hairs lining its edges, and from its lumpy worn-out appearance I guessed it was a hand-me-down. Fortunately, I was wearing black jeans and a black top so the fur wouldn’t show much.

“Hmm, yes.” I said as I sat and put down my bag. There was a lot of ice rimming the pane of the old wooden guillotine window, I noted. No insulation. This wasn’t a new apartment, and my hostess’ floral print shirt seemed threadbare in places.

“I’m so glad you agreed to come!” she said, “And I’m sorry I had you drive all the way here but it was hard enough just getting her to my place. She barely goes out anymore and we’re really concerned about her.”

“So tell me more about the situation. What makes you think you need my services?”

“Well,” she said as she sat next to me, uselessly brushing cat hair off her brown broomstick skirt, “she suddenly stopped coming to our Monday night coven meetings, saying she was tired and not feeling up to it. Then she started missing work, taking sick days left and right. We asked what was wrong, she said it didn’t seem that important anymore. You have to understand,” Susan added, wringing her hands, “Melissa’s always been the cheerful bouncy one in our group, a real keener. For her to change that much without a reason really worried us, so I went to her place and asked about when it all started. It was right after she did a guided meditation to visit the World Tree Yggdrasil.”

“I see,” I said, cocking my head. “Do you have the book she used?”

“Yes, it’s right here, the page is bookmarked.” She picked it up from the coffee table, cluttered and stained by many empty mugs.

I took it and read through the meditation. Visit the Tree, feel its power fill you, make your way back. It seemed straightforward enough, and I knew the author was fairly competent. Nothing overtly dangerous here, unless you did something unusual.

“Could you please clear the table so I can lay out my divination tools?” I asked.

“Of course!” She took off with an armful of mugs just as the toilet flushed.

I was unfolding my sky-blue casting cloth, having brushed off unidentifiable food bits as best I could, when Melissa joined me. She just flopped herself into the single seat sofa to my right and gave me fish eyes. Her long brown hair was tangled, various stains were visible on her grey sweat pants and shirt, and she didn’t smell too fresh either. We kept looking at each other silently until our hostess returned.

“Shining Song, have you introduced yourself to our guest?” Susan asked, speaking gently and slowly as if to a slow-witted child.

“Don’t call me that,” muttered the sullen young woman.

“All right. Melissa, meet Vivian, Vivian Goodwin. Vivian, this is Melissa. Shining Song is her Craft name, but she’s refused to be called that since the problems started.”

“Is that right?” I said as I leaned forward with a raised eyebrow. “Melissa, why don’t you like that name anymore?”

“Is not my name. Don’t like it. Feels bad,” she said as she looked away, doing a very good impression of a sulking teenager.

“Susan, I take it this isn’t her normal behavior?” I asked.

“Oh no, she’d usually be talking your ear off, asking you all sorts of questions or telling you about her exciting adventures of the day. Something’s really off.”

“m’ right here you know. It’s not like I can’t hear you.” Melissa squinted at me then and added: “Your hair is red but your eyebrows are blond. Yer not a real red-head.”

With a bemused smile I responded: “You’re right. I just think red hair is cool. It goes nicely with black too.”

“I suppose,” she shrugged.

Life had briefly flickered back in her eyes, but soon she returned to glassy-eyed boredom. Something about her was creeping me out but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I didn’t smell the nauseating miasma of a curse, and I couldn’t sense any troublesome spirits attached to her aura, so what was it? It might simply be depression, but mental illness didn’t normally happen so suddenly. In any case, I’d find out soon enough.

“Melissa,” I said, “may I do a reading about you?”

“Don’t care.”

“Please?” said Susan, “Please let us help you? We’re really worried.”

“Okay, whatever. Sure, I don’t care,” Melissa said as she stared at the ceiling.

I had consent. Consent isn’t absolutely necessary but it does make things easier. I’d rather not break down doors if I don’t have to. “Susan,” I turned, “may I light a candle and burn some herbs?”

“Sure!” she said brightly, “I really hope you can help her.”

I pulled out a candle, holder, smudge stick and pouches to lay on the table, then devoted a minute to meditation before flicking my lighter next to the wick.

Eldur,” I said, “Helgur Eldur. Brennith innra meth oss.”

The candle flame flared and I used it to light my herb bundle.

Gemyna thu Mugwyrt…” I started chanting as I lit the herb bundle, continuing the chant while fanning smoke over the cloth and myself. From a red silk pouch I pulled colored glass stones, one at a time, laying them onto each of the white embroidered symbols. The last stone I drew was smaller than the others, and I bit my lower lip, staring at it for a moment before putting it down with a frown.

“Crap,” I said, bending down to snatch the red leather pouch of apple-wood runes from my bag. “Crap, crap, and double crap,” I hissed. I’d need a lot more information before taking any action.

“What’s wrong?” asked Susan, concern creasing her brow.

I sighed before looking up into her eyes, rune pouch still in hand, and said: “Her soul is missing.”

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Comments
  1. Teka Lynn says:

    Welp, that would do it.

    Like

  2. sonyjalerulv says:

    Good and noble and trustworthy…. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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