Lyrissa blinks owlishly. This wasn't on the list of questions her mind concocted during her two and a half day vigil by Daystorm's bedside. She cocks her head to the side, brows furrowing.
Is this a game? Some sort of ploy - feigning innocence in order to gain their trust? She found no evidence of brain damage during the examination with her healer's sight. It's quite possible the woman's delayed somehow, a birth defect her gift wouldn't show as abnormal. Though, if she were to judge from Day's expression, complete with wide eyes and panicky breaths, the woman truly doesn't know what she is.
She resists the urge to ring her hands together. Now isn't the time for an outward showing of concern. Years of being a healer taught her to stay calm in situations which would drive a regular person insane. And this isn't one of those situations. No one is bleeding or holding a severed finger up for examination. There's only one confused hybrid fairy who apparently doesn't know she's a hybrid fairy.
Fox will probably want to be here for this conversation, but Lyrissa isn't about to ask the stranger to wait a minute while someone fetches him.
Oh and please, ask him the same question the exact same way for added effect when he gets here, ok? Nope, not happening.
"Well Day, if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say you're a hybrid. One whose part fairy, part insect."
Lyrissa travels the forests of Argentgrove on a regular basis. She's met fairies whose hybrid lineage continues to produce some strong features considered exotic to those outside of Greythorn. Someone fully half and half will have a difficult time inside the city. Who's she kidding? Any outsider, hybrid or not, will find the citizens of Greythorn as unyielding as stone.
Day returns to her self-examination, clawed fingertips tracing the edges of the black exoskeleton hugging her body. This, more than anything else, reinforces the impression that she isn't pretending or playing stupid, she honestly has no idea she's different.
"How in the world is this possible? I mean, the wings... I never thought everything else would be different too." Day whispers. Long fingers brush against her face, gauging her features through the sense of touch. Fingertips follow the outline of long ears, brush against full lips, and pull an antenna across her face for closer examination.
Day's bright emerald eyes shine upwards once more. Lyrissa startles at the mixture of wonder and distaste warring within. She's obviously struggling to consolidate who she thinks she is with what her eyes show her.
"Where am I?"
Finally a question I can answer! Lyrissa perches on the small cot next to the hybrid. "Well, for starters, you're in the fairy city of Greythorn situated in the realm of Argentgrove." The answer forms deep furrows on Day's forehead.
"Ok... So I'm obviously not on Earth. What planet is this?"
Goodness, the woman doesn't know what planet she's on? What rock has she hid under all her life? "You're on Caliah. Day, I think it's time you start at the beginning, like how you got here."
The stranger's double pair of wings twitch against the wall. Day sucks her bottom lip into her mouth, the sharp point of her teeth worrying over the delicate skin as she considers her answer. She's silent for such a long moment Lyrissa's afraid her curiosity will remain unsatisfied. Forest bright eyes gaze off into the distance, fixing on a point above Lyrissa's head.
"Well, I don't know if I can trust you, but you did heal me and I'm grateful. Know that I have no reason to lie, no reason to make up this story, though I'm not sure if I believe it myself." Day presses tight fists onto her lap. "Maybe I'm really dead, crushed in that cave, and this is where my spirit wandered off to. I guess that's always a possibility."
Now Lyrissa wishes she had summoned Fox for this conversation. At the very least he'd know if Day tells the truth.
"In any case, I'm from a planet called Earth. I've had nightmares for a while and decided to go on a hike to clear my mind. I managed to get myself good and lost when I was caught in a freak storm. The only shelter available was an odd cave." Day swallows hard. "I think the cave collapsed, maybe the hillside got hit with too much lightning. There was light, I couldn't block it out. Thunder crashed and the stone gave way."
Lyrissa can't make any sense of the hybrid's words, but doesn't interrupt.
"When I woke up I was surrounded by giant bugs. I don't mind bugs, but these ones were seriously trying to get up into my personal space. Then the horned beetle thing came around. I... I've never flown before, Lyrissa. It was exhilarating and scary as hell at the same time. I bounced off of a branch or ten before finally emerging into the open air. I didn't know where I was going. The wind was at my back, pushing me forward. I didn't know how to stop. I couldn't stop." Day stares at her hands. "Then he was there, the man with the blue eyes. Scared the shit out of me. I fell, and, well, you know the rest of the story."
"I see." Ok, so the woman isn't slow, but it doesn't mean she isn't lying. Although, there are easier lies to tell. Something as simple as her family was destroyed by goblins and she escaped into the forest/plains/mountains. She spent all her time alone, no one around to tell her she was different. Those theories are entirely more plausible than the actual tale. She's from another world? She's never flown before? Doubt suffuses Lyrissa's thoughts.
There has to be more to it.
Day remains silent, likely memorizing the details of her fable so as not to get her fanciful lie tangled the next time she tells it. Lyrissa's always one to give people a chance and this stranger will be no different, but if she continues spinning such impossible tales as if speaking to some easily impressed youth, the woman has something else coming entirely.
Lyrissa's heard enough for the time being. Perhaps a touch more sleep will help Day clear her mind. She reaches inside for her healer's energy. A familiar warmth bubbles eagerly to the surface at her deft touch.
"You don't believe me. I'm not sure I believe me." Day's tone is free of any accusations. She speaks in such a matter of fact way Lyrissa almost reconsiders her decision.
She pats Daystorm's leg while transferring the flow of energy it requires to make the woman drowsy. "I'm not sure what to believe yet, my dear." Day's head bobs. A yawn stretches her mouth wide, revealing sharp canines. The woman curls up on the too small cot.
"Don't wanna dream again..."
"What's that supposed to mean?" A gentle snore answers Lyrissa. This woman is great leaving behind more questions than answers.
The healer leaves the curtained off area of her stillroom seeking the comfort of the familiar setting. Carefully crafted beakers and tubes clutter the surface of a table, three of which contain liquids heating over a small burning magelight. In another hour or so she'll transfer the liquids into three small bowls and combine them with herbs to create a salve meant to aid sore muscles. With so many soldiers training here it's always in high demand.
Bookshelves, filled with a combination of her own research, decades of information gathered by her predecessors, and jars containing common ingredients for her work, line two of the walls. A large window opens onto a balcony facing the training grounds, a way to keep a watchful eye on the trainees below. After all, not all of them have the good sense to keep their limbs intact, or even attached, while sparring.
This is the space Lyrissa loves the most. The tasks performed here follow a formula. Ingredients are measured exactly and heated to the proper temperatures. Her days are often filled with emergencies and demands which pull her in one direction to another. This room means routine. This room means calm. Customarily.
Try as she might, Lyrissa's unable to find her peace of mind. Her heart thuds an irregular rhythm as the stranger's words replay in her mind. Have the Gods truly conspired to bring this woman to Caliah from another world? Or is this an elaborate ruse disguising darker intentions? Whatever the case, she wonders what Daystorm's arrival means for them.
"Oh Fox, I hope you know what you're doing."
YOU ARE READING
The Paths of GreythornFantasy
The dream paths, accessed by a chosen few, reveal the most likely future following any given choice. Unfortunately for the human dreamwalker Daystorm, the decisions made by the fairies of Greythorn make her long for the simpler days of sweat-induced...