Chapter XXXII

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"Remember to never look back, never."

"Okay, just... give me... a minute." They said sitting down on the ground.

"Wiese, the shadows are the less dangerous thing in here," I told them when I walked to them, "and they will give you a minute after you're dead. You stop, you die."

"I know, I know, but... this is just training, right?"

"Yes, but..."

"So I can stop for a minute, there's nothing wrong with that."

"You're a lost cause, you know?" I smiled when I caressed their hair. "Just a minute, okay?" They answered me with a nod, and that's all I needed.

The weather was still fresh, cool, calming. There was a cold, bearable breeze in the whole place, a clear we had found in the forest after walking for a long while. Gail and Pandora were still sleeping under the bushes, perfectly hidden in case someone or something came to us, and Wiese and I had been practicing their fighting skills.

They really wanted to know how to defend themselves and I could see how much they was trying to do it as perfect as possible since the first time, that was why I pushed them so much. The very idea of...

"Nothing will happen, Alynne." They said all of a sudden, making me jump.

"You have no right to make that, you know?" I said sitting beside them

"Yes, but I'm still learning how to control it, my mind, I mean." While they talked, Wiese played with the grass on the ground.

"Is that one of the abilities you have as a jackalope?"

"Yes." They said after a second, suddenly tensed.

"Hey, remember what I told you when you first told us about you and who you are?" Nod. "This is just like that day, and also, you cannot expect me not to say anything about, I'm curious!" I hugged them with one arm and tried to tickle them with the other.

"Sure, sure, but let me breathe!" The poor child was almost convulsing while laughing. They took a couple of seconds to calm down and take a deep breath before speaking again. "Is something from the jackalopes, but only those of my kind. Remember I told you I was something, like ... especial?" This time, it was me who nodded while they looked at me. "I can almost always hear what other creatures are thinking, but the legends say that I can ... Um ... Change them, alter their thoughts."

"What do you mean?" I tried not to sound bitter, but the sole question was intimidating enough.

"I can .... Mess them ... their minds, I mean, if I practice, I cannot do it, I don't want to do it, it scares me."

"Hey, hey, come here," I hugged Wiese as soon as they started to tremble and shake. Heaven knows what your parents did to you to leave you like this.

"That's the reason I escaped, they were mad at me."

"Why? You said you are like this since you were born, why would they...?" I looked at them strangely. Such an idea didn't fit my head.

"They used to tell me that ... It was my fault, that I, that I've chosen this," they started to sob, but managed not to do it.

"Listen to me carefully, Wiese. There's only one, single thing you can choose about this that is you." I looked at them right to the eyes. "You can either deny it and hide it forever, or embrace who you are and be free of whichever secret it could be. It's only up to you, and no one, not even your parents, Pandora, or I, can tell you which you have to take, it's only you. Unerstood?"

  We remained like that for a moment after they nodded, still shaking, maybe remembering whatever their parents told them when they lived with them. It was one of the things I couldn't understand, because even in Sel there were some people judged because of who they were, their skin, their education, their choice of love. It was something I wanted to change. 

"Do you?" Asked Wiese, trying to stop the tears.

"Listening still?" I raised an eyebrow at them.

"It was an accident, I promise."

"I know, Wiese. And yes, I want to. I cannot bare the thought of someone feeling like this just because of who they are." I got lost on my mind for a moment, but came back to the real world, if that was what I had to call Dreamare like while I was in there. "I think we had enough practice for today, Wiese. Go sleep a little before the sun comes up again."

"What? I still can practice a little, really."

"I'm sure you can, but I think that we had enough practice already. We can start again after a good rest."

"But promise me you'll wake me up if I oversleep, okay?"

"Of course I will, now go with the girls and sleep a little, I'll go after a minute, just want to think a little."

"Okay, maybe I could rest a little." They said nothing more and started to walk to where Pandora and Gail were sleeping, many meters in the distance.

I felt bad for lying to them, Wiese deserved better, but I really needed to think, to focus on something important, and I think this could be the only time I would have before all hell broke loose again.

I lay on the floor and closed my eyes, trying to forget everything that was happening, everything that had happened, everything around me and what could be near me. I only focused on my breathing, on the air that entered my lungs and how, slowly, it made me really breathe.

I remembered the sun on my skin, the wind, the sound of the leaves in the wind, my steps through the palace, the smells of the kitchen, the comfort of my bed. I remembered the safety of my room, the books I read, the games I played as a child. Something started tickling my skin, a sensation so tiny but intense that it confused me.

A corner of my mind reacted, bringing back the feeling of a hug, warm, strong, so full of energy and security. Only someone gave me that feeling, only one person was able to make me believe that everything would be fine as long as he was with me.

Then came that soft, light hand, always ready to comfort me, the one that was always there to dry my tears and give me a word of encouragement, a pearl of wisdom product of experience, and I knew perfectly well who it was from.

Something in my chest trembled at the sound of their voices, barely murmurs, far from wherever I was, but I could not be wrong. It was them, it was them, it was them.

I got you.

It was no longer a whirlpool. Suddenly, it was a hurricane, it was a thousand stones falling on me, daggers that cut my flesh and hands that squeezed my neck, suffocating me and preventing me from screaming, waking up. Frosty hands, long, bony, hard as steel. I could feel them freezing me with every second that passed, every moment my skin kept in contact with them, and I knew it too. I knew perfectly well the legends about the deadly touch of The Tenth.

Pandora. I had to go back. I fought, I tried to think on her, screamed her name in my head, tried with all my might and will to reach for her. Pandora. Pandora. Wiese. They needed me too. I couldn't just go, I had to be with them, I promised them. I made a promise. I never broke a promise.

There is always a first time, little princess.

Alynne! I heard them, but then I fell into the black.

Alynne! I heard them, but then I fell into the black

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