You travel across a narrow gravel path that soon turns to dirt and eventually disappears into the grass as it enters the woods. Along the path is a scattering of trees, but carefully arranged along the path are a series of flowering bushes that act like toy guards. At first, the trees are scattered, but as you approach the forest that quickly changes. The trees begin to grow closer, knitting a canopy with their leaves. The path turns and disappears into the engulfing darkness of the woods. As you follow the path you find that you are suddenly in a gentle glade where a breeze rustles the emerald canopy above you. Around you, lies a serene field bathed in scattered rays. It is crafted in a spherical shape, drawing one toward the center. Through the canopy, one single beam pierces, only slightly touched by the shelter. It falls softly on the center of the glade forming a circle, with the other scattered beams seeming to dance around it.
It is a spring afternoon.
Mayala walks ever so softly in from the Crystal Bridge.
Linora is sitting in a shady spot, her knees drawn up to her chin and her arms wrapped tightly around them. Her eyes are open, but she's obviously not seeing anything around her, and in fact is seemingly oblivious to the light breeze which is blowing wisps of hair across her face.
A small crunching sound is heard as Mayala steps on a twig. She looks at her friend and becomes slightly concerned. "Hi Lin," she says softly as she takes a seat next to her.
Linora doesn't move at all, except for a slow blink and a barely perceptible turn of her head to look at May. "Hey," she says quietly, turning her eyes forward again and resting her chin on her knees. "How ya doin'?"
Mayala soberly looks at Linora, becoming more concerned by the minute. "I'm fine, but how're you? You're not your normal happy self." May says, her normal bright blueish green eyes becoming darkened with gray out of worry.
Linora shrugs lightly, again becoming aware that she's finding it more and more difficult to determine what 'normal' is. A vaguely concerned expression crosses her open face, then disappears. "I'm okay... I took a wagon back from the Weyr before, an' I guess I got a little travelsick." That's her story, and she's sticking with it. Regardless of the fact that she's been home for hours and still feels mostly the same. And so tired! She lets her eyes fall closed, just for a moment.
Mayala awwws and puts a light arm around Lin's shoulders, even though she's not sure if she should or not. "I took a wagon ride up to the Weyr and almost got sick myself. I'm ok now though, but I don't think I'll be taking anymore trips anytime soon," she giggles lightly, "But you're ok now right? I mean travelsickness doesn't last too long I don't think. At least it shouldn't."
"It... shouldn't?" Linora blinks again, then shakes her head. "Naw. I'm just tired and stuff." So she's looking a little pallid in spite of her tan. She picks at the grass absently, head tilted as she considers. "Maybe I been workin' too hard or something... I been kinda tired for a while now. Not even sleepy, just... tired." She drops her chin on her knees again, almost as if the effort to hold it upright is too much for her.
"You mean you've been like this before the wagonride?" Mayala says in almost disbelief. She wishes she would've listened to her mother when she tried to tell her about certain diseases. Maybe she should've become a healer. She had enough expierience from helping her mother in the infirmary back at Benden Hold. Oh well, too late for that now. "What else? I mean, what other symptoms have you had?" she asks, thinking that maybe something will trigger her memory.
Linora starts to look worried now. "Symptoms? No... I'm not..." She shakes her head. She can't be sick again. "I didn't do anyth..." Her voice trails off uncertainly, and her eyes grow round. "No." Her voice is firmer, but her complexion is ashen. She /can't/ be. Can she?
Mayala looks at Linora, her eyes almost completely gray now, "Come on, you can trust me. Any other symptoms? Maybe you remember eating something you shouldn't have?" May's flit begins to croon with worry now and stretches his neck out towards Lin. Giving her blue wonder a pat, she says, "I can help you if you tell me what might have caused your being so tired and then getting travelsickness so sudden," she thinks for a moment, "One thing, have you ever gotten sick on wagonrides before?"
Linora has already remembered exactly what it was she /did/ do, and her mind is churning furiously, counting sevendays and trying to remember things she's never paid any attention to before. Never had any reason to pay attention to before. But she manages to murmur a vague negative to May's question. About wagonrides. Not that she's had many, but she /hasn't/ been sick before. Not that she can remember....
"Well, if you haven't gotten sick on any other wagonrides, I don't know why you got sick on that one." She wracks her brain trying to think of something, systematically trying to link what symptoms Lin has to something that might explain the problem, "Is there anything you can think of at all that might have caused your sickness?" She unconsciously strokes her flit as he attempts to climb down her shoulder to her elbow, crooning as he goes.
Linora brings her hands to her temples, half-hiding her face, trying hard not to hyperventilate. "Oh, shells, May..." Her voice is little more than a strangled whisper. "It hasta be somethin' else. I can't be... " She can't even bring herself say the word. But now that her mind has gone there, she can't make herself think of another thing. Why hadn't it occurred to her that this might happen? To either of them?
Mayala tightens her grip around Lin's shoulders slightly, "You can't be what Lin? You can tell me. I'm not like those other appies. I don't gossip...well, not when it's important anyway," she giggles a little trying to lighten the mood. What could possibly have...as if on cue, her mind finds one reason that Lin could be sick like this, but she doesn't want to fess up to it. She has to hear it from Lin before she believes it.
Linora doesn't /want/ to believe it. She shakes her head slowly, feeling herself go numb. "No." If she doesn't /say/ she's ... *gulp* ... even in her mind, the word is whispered... then she can't really /be/.... "They'll make me leave. I don't want to leave!" She buries her face in her hands now, completely forgetting that only a few sevendays ago she'd /volunteered/ to leave the Craft.
Mayala's face goes pale and she gently hugs Linora, not sure what to say. She opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out. May now knows for sure that her friend is...well...should she even say the word? Can she say the word? "Lin, I don't know what to say." she manages to get out, "Can you tell me how this happened?"
Linora stops feeling sorry for herself long enough to stare hard at Mayala, her eyes wide and her jaw slack. "Whaddya mean? How /else/ would it happen?" If it happened. Someone please tell her she's wrong... She drops her head on her knees again.
Mayala sighs and says, "I don't understand. I thought Cress was so tight about the rules." She pauses, "It /was/ Cress right?" How could they let this happen? She at least uses an herb for some sort of protection. Another question pops into her head...what's gonna happen when others find out? They can't keep this a secret forever.
Linora lifts her head, quick to defend her friend. "'Course it was," she says, almost crossly. "And he is." She sighs softly. "He was." She shakes her head. "He's only here till the roads up north are passable anyhow. Guess he thought it didn't really matter anymore." She hadn't thought it mattered much either. Then a thought occurs to her and she turns wide eyes to look at Mayala. "You won't... tell anyone, willya? I mean, until I find out for sure?" As if she'd be able to hide it forever.
Mayala looks at Lin with her gray eyes, "Of course I won't tell anyone. You can trust me Linora, just like I'd trust you if I was in the same situation." She hugs Lin and gets up from the ground carefully so as not to disturb Zhaan.
Mayala goes home.