Monday, January 23, 2017

Ghosts (Part 8)

Assignments had been given out that morning. Just as she had expected, Nadia had fallen back under the command of the two men she had joined in retrieving the witch. There was no surprise to be found in the matter, considering that it had likely been recommended from the top. She had convinced the witch to come aboard their little operation. Why shouldn't she continue being strapped to her, in some terrible attempt at keeping her on a leash?

Yet despite their time tables being firmly set, she hadn't seen the witch for nearly an hour. Given that they were due to depart in the next few hours, and that there was still much prepping to be done, that didn't really bode well for their schedule. Under her breath, Nadia cursed out whoever had decided to put that Dathomirian on the clock. The woman probably had little concept of such matters outside of the sunrise or the sunset.

Having covered the entire interior, she had been forced outside, to search through a forest full of trees. She had almost given up and returned, before passing by some clearing and noticing a fire. Stepping carefully over stones and climbing up on a small ledge, drawing closer to the flicker of its flame, she found herself stepping into a clearing.

The witch had piled up enough sticks and branches to make herself a small pyre, and was meditating in front of it, arms raised upward. Nadia couldn't help but allow her mouth to drop open somewhat as she watched. Regardless of whatever rumors had floated around, she had hardly considered the woman some sort of 'witch'. In all but perhaps a nickname. Sure, she was 'the witch' when being discussed, but that was hardly to be taken literally.

This seemed to indicate otherwise. Head tilted towards the sky, eyes rolled backward, the woman's arms seemed to sway with the breeze. Her mouth moved in what Nadia first thought was silence, until a quiet chant hit her ears. Whatever tongue it was in was beyond Nadia's knowledge, but she could only assume it was something Dathomirian in origin.

She stood there, watching for a long time, perfectly dumbstruck. After something like twenty minutes Gwynara's arms dropped and her head and body fell limp as she slumped forward. Holding her breath, Nadia slowly approached the woman, every motion tense. Once she had drawn close enough to be an arm's length away, the witch appeared to gain some sense of sturdiness, turning her head to stare at Nadia.

Biting her tongue, Nadia stared down at the woman for another long period of time. Once she had determined that there wasn't much of a simple way she could think of to breach this matter, she opted for the more direct approach in her words, "What exactly are you doing?"

As expected, she received that long, hard stare she had come to know from the woman. It seemed to be her natural way of looking at people, somewhere between disgust and curiosity. Apparently the latter of those two feelings won out in their little competition, though, as the woman spoke. It was in a surprisingly quiet, almost shy tone, but she spoke.

"I am communing with the spirits."

Nadia blinked, turning to look at the pyre, "Oh." It was the first thing the spring to mind at such an idea.

"It is a good way to build courage before we strike in battle." Gwynara stared up at her, expecting her to agree with the notion. Nadia allowed her head to bob. Returning the nod, Gwynara inched somewhat to the left, motioning to the space she had just opened up. With great hesitation, Nadia took it.

"Are we ah," she caught herself, trying to not talk before she thought herself through what she wanted to say, "Are we seeking to communicate with anyone in particular?"

A dark look passed the woman's face, "I always attempt to speak to my mother. She was a brave warrior. Her blessing is one that I treasure carrying into battle." She paused, frowning, "Is there anyone you would wish to commune with?"

Nadia stared at the woman, unsure of whether to consider her as mad as one could possibly be, or simply misguided in beliefs. Either way, she felt that the wrong response to that question would leave her filled with regret. "I knew a man once, who was a strong soldier," she finally said, with nothing short of hesitation.

The pale woman nodded, motioning for Nadia to follow her motions. While Gwynara closed her eyes, Nadia's remained open. Out of politeness, she followed through the various movements of the arms, but did not even try to follow along with the woman's rapid chanting. Nadia's gut clenched as she saw the woman's eyes roll deep back in her head, shifting rapidly as though looking at something she could never even hope to see. Once her chant had ended, she fell limp again, eyes falling forward.

Again Nadia wasn't sure if the woman was actually alright. She brought a hand forward to prod her, and after a few tries the woman did stir. The look she gave Nadia was one of disappointment. As she shook her head, she quietly murmured "I do not believe I could contact the spirit you may have sought. Perhaps they have not joined the rest."

A terrible feeling fell over Nadia, as she watched the woman stand and put out her fire with a simple wave of her hand. Though she followed the witch back to the base to resume their preparations, she couldn't escape that feeling. It followed her in from the forest and clung to her, like rain after a storm.

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