“Pool of Spirits”
A slit of golden light sliced the air vertically and pealed back to create a door filled with brilliant light.
The wooded area around the door went still.
At a sudden ruckus rattling beyond the light, curious life mulling about the door scattered, feeling a tremble hurtling to the quiet sanctuary.
Birds took flight on hurried wing beats.
Rabbits hurried to holes and undergrowth.
Squirrels scurried up nearby trees.
Then Cecilia threw herself through the door of light. A human had arrived in the spirit world.
Sweat dampened her brow. Heavy breaths threatened to collapse her chest. She tripped over a root. A rock. Something. She was in a hurry. Running from something. Someone.
She fell to a bed of grass with a cushioned thud that regardless bruised her upper right arm.
She rolled to her back. Sat up. Extended a hand, palm up, fingers splayed, and concentrated with an effort of will at the door.
Shouts threatened to follow her through the door. Heavy boots. Pounding. Coming.
Her pulse quickened. Cecilia shook off her fear.
Warmth spread throughout Cecilia’s chest. Right at the center. Beating like her desperate heart. She reached for her clamoring spirit, gathered the magic from there, and extended that magic from her heated chest, down her arm, to her outstretched hand. Heat pressed against her eyes. Her mouth burned, filled with a too hot sensation.
She felt her spirit reach out to the door she’d opened, take it, and crumble the frame. Snap the magic propping open the way.
The golden light shrunk, falling in on itself, just as the tip of a cudgel forced itself through the way. The closing door snapped off the tip and the thick business end of the bludgeoning weapon dropped to the grassy floor.
Cecilia collapsed backward and sucked in a long breath. The warm of her stirred spirit cooled. Become like ice. In such a cool down state, she could feel the little hole where she’d taken the power to open and then close the door. She clutched at her chest, at sacrificial gouge, and after several breathes could feel the spirit re-growing what she’d used up. An itching.
She propped herself up on her elbows and with an effort normalized her breathing.
The wooded area of the spirit world seemed to respond to her gradual calming. Wind brushed against her face like a comforting hand rubbing her back. It’s alright. She recognized the sounds of the animals returning, chattering with comfort and security. A deer tentatively came up to Cecilia. Sniffed her. Licked her salty cheek. She laughed. Tickled. She put a hand against the animal’s snout. Her hand drifted through the body of light and the deer, a spirit itself, shivered. Cecilia gathered her spirit, just a small bit, and brought that magic to her hand. That glowing hand she placed against the deer’s snout again. This time her hand touched the incandescent animal and it felt her touch, felt her spirit. It nuzzled her, setting its nose into her palm.
The deer bounded off then.
Cecilia brushed her hand against her face, wiping away the deer’s saliva where it had licked. She pushed strange of loose hair from her short platinum cut out of her eyes. That’s when she caught sight of a spirit rabbit sitting on its hind legs at her bare feet, front paws in a pseudo-prayer position. It sniffed her toes. She giggled despite the recent terror that lingered and left goosepimples across her flesh.
More of her spirit moved to her feet. The pale flesh lit up, bright across her soles. Satisfied, the rabbit went away and returned to its herd to report about the safety of the human.
Not just a human…
The wooded area in the spirit world seemed to exhale in relief. A mage.
Rising to her feet, Cecilia became aware of the weight of her coat. She was soaked through with sweat. Her chase and eventual escape had brought a sea’s wave of perspiration slipping down her back. She undid the buckles on the straps keeping her coat closed and slipped out of the heavy leather, tying the arms securing across her waist.
Upper body free of constriction, now wearing only a thin sleeveless shirt, Cecilia raised her arms and stretched, drawing herself up on to her tiptoes. The spirit wood’s breeze felt good against her slick flesh. Her flesh prickled.
She let her arms fall and swing at her sides.
Around her the spirit world felt alive. The sky a harmonious day and night, constantly in transition. Life pulsed with spirit energy, taking the form of animals familiar and not.
Nearby was a shallow pool that swirled with a multitude of life colors. From that of nature–the earth, air, and water mixing in a swirl–to the animals.
Cecilia walked to the pool. Her toes sunk into the grass, caressing, wetting, comforting.
The end of the pool turned to sand briefly before smooth stones led her into the water. Her toes needed to grip the rocks firmly or else she’d slip. Cecilia carefully made her way ankle then calf deep into the pool’s depths. As she went she reached down and cuffed up her loose pants to just below the knee.
She found a large stone sticking out of the pool’s surface, a mixture of colors lapping at the sides but the top dry and grey.
She sat on the rock. Kicked at the water. Ripples disturbed the surface in expanding rings.
Underneath the water fish swam toward the source, seeking the the source of the sudden vibrations across the water.
An entire school leapt from the water. Light trickled in ribbons behind each one’s rear fins. United in dance, the school swam in around Cecilia. She felt little nibbling at her spirit, which she’s called to the surface of her skin.
She reached down and cupping her hands dipped her hands into the water. She brought her filled hands over her head and spilled the water down her back and over her warm flesh. She shivered at the cold. Refreshed. She sighed deeply. Around her shoulders the spirit fish pressed close, kissing her gently, and then scattered.
With a sense of contentment and safety Cecilia leaned back on the rock. But the inevitable kept her grimly cold. She couldn’t stay her forever.
But for now, she told herself, this is nice. I think I’ll stay a while.