I don’t remember falling asleep, but that’s what must have happened. When my eyes open they meet dull, brown ones hovering six inches from my face. “Crap,” I yelp, rolling backward and onto the floor with a thud. “Ouch.”
Heart pounding, I glare up at Cadij. He smiles, and as I watch he transforms into Cadi. My mouth drops open as she crosses her legs at the knees and makes herself comfortable on my bed. She’s clad in soft, green pajama’s that engulf her small frame. She grins at me. “Sorry. Just having a little fun.”
“Fun? Oh yes, that was loads of fun. Next time could you just say my name, or tap me on the shoulder?” Getting up, I rub my sore butt before climbing in next to her. It’s weird, sitting together in my bed like this, but I’m glad she’s here. I have too many questions for an hour a day.
“Go ahead, Althea. Ask away.”
My brow scrunches and I nibble on the tips of my fingers. Cadi snuggles into my pillows and waits. I want to know everything, but don’t want to leave Aimery out. “What are you, are you an Other?” It’s the first question I think Aimery won’t care about the answer. He doesn’t care much about Cadi.
“What am I? All this time in the dark about your own history, and your question is about me?” Her eyes well up with water again, and she looks at me like my fake parents do. With love. Whatever she and Koj are, the fact they care about us is clear. I just can’t figure out why.
“What’s the water in your eyes called? I get it, and Aimery got it before, but no one else does.”
“The humans call them tears. And they all have them, but tears are brought on by emotion. You and Aimery – and your counterparts – are the only humans with access to your emotions right now. When they come it’s called crying, or weeping.”
“Tears.” I try out the word, happy to have a name for the water. Also, a definition for one of the words in the strange, haunting book. “Okay. Now, what are you?”
She thinks about it for a minute, and when she meets my eyes Cadi tries to explain. “The gulf between our languages is vast. Your vocabulary is quite limiting.”
She shrugs. “It is not your fault, Althea. The Others do not wish you taught Language or History.” She searches her mind another few minutes while I practice using patience. “I am an Augur. It is the closest definition. I am not wholly Other, but I am not human. I am from a planet called Sprita. We are not unlike your humans. We have emotions, the primary one being love. Our planet is…was peaceful, full of respect and happiness. No one stood to fight the Others, fighting is not in our nature. The Other’s spent many years on our planet before moving on. No one survived their habitation. Except those they brought with them when they left.”
“They took you with them,” I squeak out.
“Some of us, yes. My people have…had talents the Other’s wished to copy. We have a special relationship with the powers that grant Magic. They took a dozen of our women when they left and bred with them. Experimented with controlling our Magical genes. It worked, to an extent. I am an example. So is Koj.” She watches me through sad, resigned eyes. “Do you understand?”
Do I? “Not really. I mean, I understand what you are saying but not how it works. Could you show me Magic?”
“Sure. Let’s see…” Cadi closes her eyes and me heart speeds up in anticipation. She opens one eye, brilliant blue. “Close your eyes, Althea.”
I snap them shut at her request. Unsure of how long to remain that way, they stay closed until she asks me to open them. Cut off from my vision, the first thing I notice is the smell. Jasmine, fresh and in bloom, wafts beneath my nose. Honeysuckle. Roses. Next, a warm breeze tickles my cheek, a satisfying temperature. I hear water lapping gently, rhythmically. My insides turn liquid in the comfort and calm envelops me.
I feel a small hand on my arm. “You can open your eyes.”
When I do, the scene that greets them nearly knocks me off the bed. Wait. Looking down, I see that I’m no longer sitting on a bed, but in a boat. The floor is replaced by greenish blue water, and in front of me the sun sets on the horizon. Cadi and I drift lazily near the shore of a lake. The foliage is blooming, and the yellows, reds, pinks, purples, and blues dazzle me just as their scents do. The trees are green and lush, like the grass covering the ground underneath them. Amazed, I turn to Cadi. “What is this place?”
“It’s not an actual place, Althea. It’s summer. I thought you might like to see it?”
“How did we get here?”
“You asked me to show you Magic. We aren’t here, we are still sitting on your bed. I’m making it up. This is Magic.”
“I belong here,” I breathe out.
Cadi studies me with a sorrowful stare. “Yes. Yes you do.”
As I watch, she raises her hand and snaps her fingers. In the blink of an eye, summer disappears and we are back in my room. The air worming it’s way under the windowsill makes me shiver, and I climb under the covers next to her. “Cadi, why are you and Koj helping us? Why not just let the Other’s find us?”
Her eyes close, and a tear slips from underneath her eyelid. “You remember what I told you, about Sprita? About what happened there? We wish a different outcome for Earth. You might be the answer.”
I feel safe, and love flows off of the strange woman and wraps its way around me. Whether she loves me, or just loves, is anyone’s guess. My eyelids grow heavy as she picks up a piece of my hair and twirls it between her fingers. Though a million questions still wait to be answered, fighting the drowsiness is useless. Cadi’s voice lulls me further away from consciousness. “Sleep, girl. You need your rest.”