Out of the castle
A girl named Aurelia falls from the real world into a parallel.
Getting into various adventures she decides important task and defines its place and purpose.
Out of the castle
Aurelia was standing on the edge of a large, sunlit glade, in the center of which there was the waterfall of the stunning beauty, with crystal clear flowing water sprays. It was falling from the top of the hill there were neat rounded gray stone steps to that top. Green juicy grass was like a soft carpet underfoot, tall trees were around the glade like impassable wall, but it caused a sense of security more than the limited sense of freedom.
With a running start Aurelia dived into the waterfall, the water in which, as she expected was icy, but at the same time gave an unprecedented sense of purity and freshness. Dabbling, diving and swimming she felt joy and lightness, which had not been felt for a long time, surrounded by weird people and immersed in saturated freak accidents days. After long swimming, Aurelia came out of the water and wandered around the meadow, where among the lush grass she found many beautiful fragrant flowers. The mood was good, flowers developed in a colorful wreath, birds invisible to a look filled surrounding space with modulations of the voices. Having stopped twining a wreath, the girl set it up on her head and felt taste of flower bitterness, beauty and marvelous aromas somewhere in herself, and her consciousness responded with recognition of reflection. After, she rose came up the hill, and rather a curiosity, than conscious pushed her. On top of a hill in the land she found a hole, like a small volcano muzzle of steaming. Kneeling down on the grass next to it, she held out her hands to the center in a vain attempt to feel the heat, but, as already guessed Aurelia, instead of the heat she felt cool, which filled the girl with power and energy. The girl felt as if there were no sleepless nights, exhausting maze of unanswered questions, there was not dying, whom she was giving, for some strange reason, her life.
* * *
– I had to bring you here before.
Aurelia shuddered and opened her eyes; she still stood in front of the fireplace, stretching her hands out towards it in a futile attempt to keep warm. She turned around and saw the executioner. As usual, he was looking at her without a shadow of a smile, but only as a scientist watching the unknown little animal and who does not know what to expect from it in the next moment.
– You can no longer help. For some time. You have no shades.
– What shades?
– Shades of colors.
– What colors?
– So shades of colors or feelings?
– Is there a difference between them?!
The dialogue seemed kind of weird; such answers were more suited a teenage girl, who is doing her best to look like as enigmatic person, but not a man of forty. Moreover, it was quite strange to hear about feelings from the emotionless executioner, who not so long ago absolutely calmly tortured his next victim. However, the executioner answered in all seriousness, he believed in what he was saying and hoped that the girl can understand his words. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Aurelia felt that answer is here, but she cannot formulate the right question. As a chain of words chosen intuitively in which each next word leads a researcher further and further, and one wrong word can turn that chain in something that has a completely different meaning.
– Where am I? – Aurelia asked, trying to ask questions that she prepared earlier.
– You had better ask who you are! – answered the executioner without any changes on his face.
«Seems like a series of platitudes» – the girl thought. She was silence and did not say these words, however, her facial expression betrayed her – she had a look of frustration on her face.
– Reflects only what others have to see, – the executioner said, – you have to hide the extra rays, let them shimmer only in your eyes…
The girl felt absolutely confused, she simply could not understand what that gloomy man was talking about. But when he started talking about eyes, the girl took a closer look at him, after what she could not take her eyes off the executioner. His eyes were shimmering with the all known and unknown to her colors; colors changed drastically after each flicker of eyelashes, and in between they smoothly flowed into shades, blinks, and a whirl of sparks. «Maybe it is just a flame reflection» – the girl thought. Sparkling eyes on his deadpan face looked quite strange. The executioner had a hard-featured face; however, very romantic personages would consider his face as a strong, and perhaps quite an attractive. But Aurelia was difficult to see in him something attractive, image of that same man in a long black bloody apron made from leather, who was holding bloody knives in his hands, put into the shade any other view.
– Cruelty – it is also a color. It is deep, cold and heavy, and it has metallic taste.
– Who am I? – The girl asked, wanting to stop the senseless, as she thought, conversation, and fostering a vague hope to understand more fully her present location. She got no answers and added: – Am I your prisoner?
– You are a healer and your duty is to give, to heal, to be there, where other people need you, and to give a hand to those, who need it.
– You locked me up here. He did not ask me about anything!
– Are you sure?! – His voice was calm and quiet, he hardly moved his lips, however, it made her skin crawl, she already knew, what the executioner says next: – And how, do you think, you got here then?!
The girl felt the dawn of some understanding, she understood that all events that take place here are correct, but in the same moment she intentionally suppressed all these feelings. Previously, she was not able to stop so quickly the exhausting internal monologues. Usually thoughts were sliding in her head against her will, taking her with them to exhausting trips that were a sheer waste of time. Again she missed something. The girl felt again the same feeling of frustration and tried to get under control her facial expression.
– I said to hide rays, not to extinguish them.
– What? – A frustration quickly changed to a strong irritation.
– A frustration – has a sound of a weight fallen on the stone floor, loudly and unpleasantly, continues increasingly with a long echo, it is mud-colored and has bitter and astringent flavour. An irritation – a buzzing sound of mosquito, sour and taints readily, shades of swamps with stagnant water. All these colors are in your eyes. The sense – the sound – the taste – the color. Furthermore, everything has its own shape, manifestation – but we'll talk about it later. You still have neither understanding nor feeling, without them it all makes no sense. But you need to get the fullness of life. For that you need to remember too much… Or get to know… Or understand what you already know… It is your choice. But you have a little time. Return the soul into the body is much more difficult than to heal the wounds.
The girl still couldn't understand. She was already close to despair, when suddenly she sank down on the floor near the fireplace with a cold white flame and burst into tears. A state of helplessness, confusion, illogicality and unreality filled every nook and cranny of her mind.
– You have to accept it. As long as you are empty inside, you will have nothing to give others…
He calmly went across the large dimly lit hall towards the big wooden table, which was covered with plain linen tablecloth. On the table were standing candlesticks with burning candles, bowls with hot porridge, fruit on trays and polished gleaming silver cutlery.
«I need coffee… What am I doing here… How did I get here… Where am I… – the girl thought, sinking deeper and deeper into the smoky bitterness of her own powerlessness, – I need coffee so much…».
* * *
The present time. Winter. Cold winter evening. A broad empty street, lightened by few timid street lamps. The sound of walking in crunchy icy snow could make one think that spring will never come. Tall, dark-haired young woman is slowly walking down this street. She is deep in her thoughts when hears a low whistle. She recognizes that something is falling from the sky, and rather senses than realizes that it is falling right upon her… Instinctively she sits down and hides her head in the hands. Right beside her lands a metal ball; it is a size of a feast and has a shiny surface. There suddenly appears another person on the street. This man throws something at her, but she is not fast enough to catch it. There is a similar ball, just slightly bigger than the first one, which lands in the snow right beside it. Young woman bends down, she picks up both metal balls; that is when they turn into either human or monkey skulls. She does not have enough time to get frightened; instead, she curiously studies her finding. The man approaches her and asks if she has found any metal balls. She replies that they are not balls they are skulls. He smiles back at her and adds, «Remember, Aurelia, these are reflexive verbs. The fact that you could see the skulls means they belong to you. You have to bring them to the castle and give them to…»
The young woman was following the man down the street. She tried to remember whom she was supposed to give the balls to, but at the same time, it was clear to her that it would be impossible to remember all the names she got. Everything she could think of at that moment was the mysterious man’s eyes, which did not seem to blink even once during the whole conversation. His eyes appeared to have the power that pulled her into some hypnotic gray abyss, which was impossible to resist. When the man took the skulls from Aurelia’s hands, they turned into stone plates with engravings on them. He carefully wrapped the plates into the leaves that came from nowhere and gave them back to her. While carrying the plates in her right hand she rather felt than knew their significance. Lost in the labyrinth of her hazy thoughts and sensations, she did not notice that she was again alone on the street.
The road was long and tiresome despite that it went downhill. The street was not deserted any more: there appeared several equestrians every here and there. Aurelia noticed only now that she was wearing a long puffy skirt and a corset, which made it difficult to breathe when walking fast. Besides, the epoch she found herself in was definitely not her own, but rather somewhere in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. When reached the tavern, she stopped, looked up at the lightened windows and the stairs that led up and in, but she did not feel a desire to come inside, so she continued her journey. Her only thought was reaching the castle and delivering the plates for which she had become responsible.
When she reached the castle, she also reached far beyond the limits of exhaustion. She meekly followed a guardian in, when suddenly realized that the plates, she had been carrying so carefully all this time, vanished. However, her mind confronted with hunger and overtiredness, refused to think about that problem that moment. She was shown to a small dark room; the walls there were dull and wet, lit with only a hint of a candle light. In the center of this room, there was a table with a body outstretched on it. An executioner towered above the table. The inquisition seemed to use this castle for its own stealthy purposes. Aurelia looked like entranced at the tools that were cutting the legs of the poor human on the table. For some strange reason she saw everything with the victims eyes. At the same time, she clearly cognized that he felt no pain. Not a single sound came from the lips of this still alive person. In the corner to the left stayed the executioner’s servant and read aloud from some document. The executioner took an axe. Sweep. From the fainting consciousness Aurelia heard a thundering voice, «A little longer and I would cut his face off! You should have predicted me earlier!» And one second from oblivion she realized that the victim was innocent.
When she came back to senses, she found herself sitting beside the young person lying on the table. She had an urge to put her right hand on his head and the left on his chest. Therefore, she does just that. Aurelia hears her own voice from aside, «Sleep, sleep, hush, hush» together with the light mourning of a dying person. However, she feels that if she gives her strength to this person he will continue living: she realizes now that she has a gift of healing. In order to be able to provide her warmth to him, to save his life, she must feel a high level of intimacy with him, or may be even love. Young woman desperately tries to wake up a warm feeling, a feeling that could safe him, in her soul by studying this man’s exhausted face. She does not even try to understand what is she doing and why is she doing that… The only thing she feels sure about is that his wakening is enormously important, and not for herself only. In the deepest of her soul, there is an understanding of the situation born: that all this must have gone wrong, that this man must live not die, that he is meant to do something so important that her powers and even her own life mean nothing compared to it. Vanished in the labyrinth of her new feelings and thoughts, she falls asleep still pouring her strength into him.
Being asleep, she lost sense of time. The anticipation of an acute danger woke her up; she decided to trust it and jumped from the table with plenty of torture tools laying on it, to hide herself underneath its surface. Already from there, she saw an axe landing on the exact same spot that she occupied just a second ago. The servant who held it screamed, «If not killing him, then at least you!» The wave of hatred hit the torture chamber, and the young woman was thrown into another dark room. Having opened the door, she found herself in the huge bedroom, which apparently belonged to the executioner. That big table in the torture chamber on one side and the wardrobe in the executioner’s room on another appeared to be the two ends of one teleportation portal, in which the innocent young woman found herself. The executioner was performing not a wholly holy duty with his female guest when he saw Aurelia’s scared face in front of him. He hurriedly sent his company away, gripped Aurelia by the sleeve and stepped into the darkness.
They came out of the portal just in time to grab the servant’s hand, which held the axe above the dying man on the table. The servant was imprisoned directly. The executioner pulled the cover away from the dying man, having seen the victim’s mushed limbs, he began to press them in order to stop bleedings. He demanded from Aurelia to save the man on the table; it was vital to save him. The executioner’s face looks serious and concentrated. It did not show a sign of fear or doubt, no mercy either, only the determination to revive the man. Aurelia was thinking that only a while ago he had been just as resolved to kill the person he tried to save now. Another thought was that this gloomy man seemed to know how exactly she could help the dying man, but did not bother to explain it to her. Besides all that she realized that it was short time ago, she simply went along the street, yet by now she tackled the whole range of strong emotions – fear, compassion, intimacy, anxiety, exhaustion, fear again – and even managed to fancy for a while the executioner’s gloomy face features, which so painfully reminded her of the victim’s.
Still drown in her thoughts; she lifted her head to see the hole in the ceiling and the two balls falling through it, the balls that she had lost some time before. They hit the floor voicelessly. Having lifted them, Aurelia saw that these were two small skulls. At that moment, she realized that these things belonged in her hands, but she still did not why.
The executioner took her by the elbow and put her at her earlier place and she automatically stretched her hands towards the dying man.
Aurelia continued holding her hand on the head of the dying man, despite that she was on the edge of fainting of exhaustion. The executioner saw it, took her by the elbow and led her to his own room. There he unceremoniously opened her tight dress, took off the corset, lifted the young woman who could not walk because of the long loose underdress from the floor and put her to bed, he peculiarly carefully wrapped her body in a blanket. He left her there and went towards his roughly made table in the corner that had some writing materials on. He made himself comfortable by the table, which had a lit candle on, and started scribbling a letter. The pen squeaked when scratching the rough surface of the paper. However, she did not hear it anymore; she fell into a deep sleep of a weary wanderer.
* * *
Winter, lonely girl wandered through the snow by a large number of small round lakes, plunging into some of them and feeling hot water, she came out of the water completely dry. Around one could see the snow-covered forest. Coming to one small lake, she wanted to enter the water, but something stopped her. She looked into the water, she saw through the murky ripples sharp stick sticking out of the bottom just in the place of entering the lake, if she went into the water, it would certainly get hurt. Aurelia thought that the water was muddy, and most likely cold, but it took the attention of the girl and brought her into the open ocean.
Having regained consciousness, the girl understood she was standing on a raft, among the same frightened and confused people. Storming waves knocked them down, but they desperately were trying to resist. Water was cold, deep and muddy. The ice wind was penetrating. There was fear and despair in the air. And suddenly an echo said: «Water of life…». The fear became more tangible, and Aurelia saw the huge predatory wave ahead which was coming closer to them. With some detachment the girl understood that they had no chance to escape from that huge wave. That was the wave which for continuation of existence needed to eat. And that day it had lonely souls of the travelers who had not found love for lunch. She saw a stroke of hope in the eyes of those who appeared near the soulmate there, and suddenly understood that there was not love in her heart. It was empty, and that tasteless lunch for certain would be pleasant to the devourer of empty hearts. At the same moment Aurelia gave up because she understood that she really didn’t care…
* * *
To rather real atmosphere Aurelia was returned by very notable jolting. Already waking up, she was thinking that thought about need of love stuck in her mind, but she was living somehow without it before. Up to her age of twenty two she had been in love– had fallen out of love– had been disappointed-had taken offense and had not forgive… And actually she didn’t really suffer from her freedom, more precisely even opposite, she liked not to belong, not to depend, not to miss… However jolting was getting stronger, and Aurelia understood that for her own safety she had to open eyes. At the very same time jolting stopped. The silent servant in a gray loose overall pointed by gesture to a table there was a soup plate with the food which distinctly reminded to the girl of an empty stomach.
«I definitely miss coffee – thought Aurelia, eating the last spoonful of some hot porridge– coffee taste would be understandable and familiar.»
* * *
In the executioner's castle Aurelia spent seven days; each of them was painfully similar to the previous. After awakening and a poor tasteless breakfast the silent servant saw her off to the torment room where she spent the whole day at the prisoner's headboard, she was unable to take away hands and a look from his face. Physically he was quickly recovering, vital forces of the girl, flowing in almost breathless body, recovered his health. However Aurelia felt that something wasn't enough for her because for all that time the prisoner hadn't recovered consciousness. She peered at features on which only the intolerable fatigue imprinted, and it was visible, what even the deep sleep wouldn't help him to restore his strength. In the evening, almost fainting for fatigue, she with the help of the executioner reached a bed and failed in a chasm without dreams.
In the morning of the eighth day the silent servant who was shamelessly shaking her for a shoulder didn't show as usual on a table with a plate, and by gesture specified to follow him. Aurelia had already got used to silence in those walls and didn't try to find out from servants where she had got, all questions she decided to leave for conversation with the unfriendly castle owner. Gray gloomy confused corridors weren't going to come to an end; she was glancing with the missing look on walls there was nothing to catch a look. The same gray figure of the servant faceless and silent was sliding ahead, carrying a torch – the only sparkle of the real life in lifeless labyrinths.
Monotonous movement ended in an inconspicuous side door, there was a spacious room with a burning fireplace behind it. The idea of heat, which she had already missed, brought Aurelia to the fire without looking around. Silent servant disappeared, silently closing the massive carved door. The girl went to the fire and held out her arms forward. She did not even realize at first what was wrong. Only later she felt the searing heat instead of tingling coolness that turned into a prickly cold and sucked the girl, depriving the ability to pull out her hands from the cold embrace…
The cold moved the girl to the glade… cold, snowy, filled with the sunlight… in the center of which there was the waterfall of stunning beauty…
* * *
Aurelia spent another three weeks in the castle of the executioner. During this time, she learned that his name was Borg and that his emotions were expressed only through color of his eyes, changed frequently. She also learned that the executioner loves to be silent and especially appreciates the silence during the meal. They always ate meals together, enjoying every flavour of dishes, carefully prepared by somebody. However, none of these dishes had nothing in common with a tasteless porridge, that girl had to eat at the very beginning. This time they as usual were sitting at the table in silence. Candle lights were trembling, producing barely noticeable crackling sounds, reminding just a little about their real power and drawing the bizarre figures on the walls. The fire sizzled with white pure flame. Cold stone walls kept the echo of the distant events, Aurelia had already learned to catch their shades, however, sometimes it was quite difficult for her to understand them, and even if she was able to recognize, she didn't always like them.
– Where are my skulls?
– Your… what?
– Well… Metal balls, which later turned into skulls, and then – into stone tablets!
– So skulls or tablets? You should be clear about what your need…
– Are you making a mock of me?
– What color are my eyes right now?
– Golden. Light.
– What does this color remind you of?
– It is laughter!
– What color is a mockery?
– Golden with red and green flashes!
– Than tell me, whether I am laughing now or making a mock of you?
This form of dialogue was a bit embarrassing for the girl, she always had to look narrowly at his eyes and often she saw there something that she could not explain, shade of something hidden, but still very important, something that was a major component of his essence. However, Aurelia didn’t want to think about it for a long time, because after this feeling always came an endless falling into the strangest depths of the unknown world of the executioner.
Not only at the table they talked a very rarely, if Borg did not consider necessary to explain to Aurelia about his world order, then, perhaps, she would never get answers to any of her question. However, the responses also rarely satisfied the curiosity of the girl, though they significantly increased her understanding of the existing laws. Borg never asked about the world, from which Aurelia came. All his questions were only intended to verify whether the girl understood all aspects that he explained earlier to her or not. Sometimes she wanted to share her thoughts, her memories, her dreams, and, finally, to tell about her reality. But the executioner never asked the girl about her world. Aurelia remembered one article that she read one day. This article was about a certain phenomenon – emotional affection that prisoners begin to feel to their jailers after some time. She could not remember the reasons caused this certain phenomenon. Maybe – every living creature has the need to feel such affection to somebody, and, since there are no other candidates, the prisoners are guiding it to their jailers. Maybe, scientists have another explanation. «Interesting, – Aurelia thought somehow, – whether the jailers themselves began to experience something similar to the feelings of their prisoners?»
At that moment the girl heard a hum of disapproval of the executioner, although he said no words. However, it was enough to interrupt the flow of her thoughts and gave the girl the opportunity to focus on food.
* * *
Time passed. Over the past three weeks Aurelia had visited the prisoner, who was lying motionless, only for three times. She noticed that after those sessions, his skin got its pinkness living, breathing which was heavy and hoarse became pure and deep facial features became softer, and lifeless fatigue left them. However, he never opened his eyes, Aurelia thought more than once about the color of his eyes, but did not dare to look.
* * *
Big hill. On the one hand it was covered with green plants, grass, trees. On the other there was a wasteland – a lifeless land, frozen with waves like lava. In her dream, Aurelia saw that hill from the side. That wasteland as if had a contour shaped like a circle superimposed on the slope. Suddenly, the girl happened at the center of quite large circle. There was grayish-brown soil underfoot; it was like dry, lifeless dust. She looked up; there was gray heavy sky. And nearby there was some large man in dark gray, almost black raincoat. The girl saw with a lateral sight two big black spots above them in the sky one of which was moving down as though it was big burned black piece of a dense cloth. And she understood that it was falling on the man standing near her, and he had to be warned about it, but suddenly the girl felt detachment, hopelessness and full humility, and the only thought was in her mind: «Let it be». Aurelia saw that big black piece of cloth was falling lower and lower, and understood that it was not a cloth, but a big black dead bird with huge wings. It was falling sprawled the wings, and therefore before the girl thought it was cloth, which was planning in the wind. Bird scribbled the back and left hand of man and fell at Aurelia feet. The man turned to her and said, «Didn’t it stain me?». The girl was looking at one more black bird flying in the sky above them, and she barely managed to look up from it. Aurelia touched his forearm with her left hand, and saw under her hand bloody round spot on the raincoat. She took back her hand, looked at the palm and saw her fingers in the blood. Aurelia wiped them on her clothes, thinking at the same time that she stained herself.
* * *
Waking up, the first thing Aurelia felt was an urgent need to go to the torture room, to touch his forearm, see the trace of bird. Hastily giving herself up, she tried to calm down and convince herself that it was just a dream, but the feeling of a true trouble did not leave her.
Passing the huge hall, she raced along the corridors to the basement. Pushing open the door which suddenly became weightless, she flew into a little familiar room with a table in the center. Nothing had changed inside. There was almost alive prisoner, he was breathing quietly, peacefully closed his eyes. Candle on the window had already melted more than its half illuminating a small room. Echo of the corridor almost caught up Aurelia with endless repetition of steps approaching and departing, getting tangled in the hallways and hiding in dark corners. Catching her breath, she looked under the table and in the closet, inspected every corner. There was nobody. Tension did not go away, though, it seemed there was no reason for it. However, there was nothing to do anymore, and after standing for some time in silence and hesitation, she went to have breakfast.
Something was definitely happening in the castle. Aurelia was having breakfast alone, for the first time the owner didn't honor the guest with the presence. Silent servants, as usual, didn't give any explanations. The girl started suspecting them of inability to produce any sounds. Extinguishing the irritation, she nevertheless decided to concentrate on food. However the bitterness of disappointment was added to all tastes, spoiling general impression. She didn't even suspect as far as their joint silent meals had become important for her. The mood was heavy as though the thick heavy, cloth with the smell of dust and time was put on her shoulders; it smothered, pressed shoulders, making to stoop a back, and didn't leave any forces for release.
The girl quickly finished a meal and decided to go into the garden which was behind the castle. She wanted to add ease and freshness which only clean air filled with gentle flower aromas, a smell of the ripening fruits and a new-mown grass could give.
Carefully interweaving flowers into a magnificent wreath, she admired the world around filled with sounds of the wind rustling in leaves of trees and talks of the birds and insects hurrying on the urgent business.
Aurelia as though saw herself from outside: the thin girl in carelessly belted dress from softly falling cloth, with the warm dark brown raincoat on shoulders, with the dark hair hardly braided to the spit the girl who watchfully and delightfully was catching, absorbing and becoming the storage for a huge number of feelings and perceptions, filling herself with beauty and catching each slightest shade of the world, new to her, developing and living under own laws. Just then the girl got an idea that she had changed for that short time. Also she was surprised that even in that gloomy castle with silent servants, the executioner and his victim she felt easily and quietly.
However, dramatically darkening sky threw her out of the appeasement, pulling flowers out from just made wreath. The wind was so strong that Aurelia opened her hands and a wreath crumbled beneath her feet with untidy heaps. Dense cloak didn’t let the cold in, but she felt a growing chill somewhere inside, and she realized that she would not be able to keep warm. Sun hastily hid behind a heavy cloud, not wanting to see what was happening on under it. And with the cold an anxiety crept into the consciousness of girls, making all other sensations fade and filling the whole of her soul.
Obeying some internal rush, the girl ran through a garden and stopped at the last tree. From there she could see the landscape around. Nearby on the hill there was the burned spot with the charred land, in the center there was a man, and in the heavy gray sky rapaciously stretched wings, huge deep black bird was flying over him. But Aurelia wasn't near…
* * *
He was weak. Shoulder and back were ripped to shreds and ached unbearably. Periodically Borg sank into the dark sticky abyss, sometimes got out briefly on the surface, and again went to the bottom. Acute pain from bandages brought him back, filling his whole being with rage, anger and irritation.
He tried not to open eyes so as not to show his condition, his weakness and fear to the girl who silently and diligently was giving him her power. Only now, a man was thinking about what she felt when life was flowing from her into another person. What was the feeling? Did Aurelia feel the pain of those who had been returned to that world? Who would carry an exhausted girl to bed? Who would control the process and stop it in time?
Gleams of thoughts his own and at the same time others, were formed in his head and were scattered on the sounds and feelings absorbed by black emptiness.
Quiet moan took Aurelia from stupor. She had been sitting for two days near the wounded body. As though she was repeating unlearned lesson. The first was almost live in a small little room of the torture in the basement; the second was almost live in a huge light bedchamber upstairs. Woman had the feeling that she didn’t understand something. Would she be able to revive life in the second if the she could not do it for the first?! The fear sticky paws stirred her soul, nestling there, apparently, for a long time. Tears were falling down like lonely drops, without stopping in the sparkling, changing color eyes. «I wonder, what is the color of my eyes at this moment?» The thought which arose from nowhere, left in the same direction… She was very sorry for both the executioner and his victim.
But she was not sorry for the fallen wounded, jet-black bird lying at Borg's body. Before Aurelia dragged him in the castle, she burned the bird, without waiting for its death. It was cruel. Cruelty was color too, a sound, feeling, and the picture which was always on the mind in which the shouting huge black bird dying on fire and the girl with a gleam of steel in the eyes.
Over the next week Aurelia learned a lot of different feelings, from hope to hopelessness and despair, from anger to self-pity, and others, from a strong fear to indifference. There was such a palette and nobody to share with. Even the silent servant ceased to annoy woman, they aroused in her silent gratitude when, after sleepless nights, she fainted at the bedside of the dying, and woke up in her room in a soft bed.
Nobody shook her shoulder in the mornings, but every time waking up, she saw a fresh breakfast and clear water on a table. For that period Aurelia forgot about her questions who was the executioner and who was his victim? As well as why Borg treated him so cruel? Why was he attacked by a black bird, and where did it come from? There was the only question how she would be able to recover two people? What she would need to do, understand, learn? But there was not the answer, and the girl continued to do what she was able to do best of all – to give the life to another people, those who silently asked her about the help.
* * *
The story repeated, wounds healed, but Borg didn't recover consciousness. Staying with him day after day, she understood that she couldn’t give him anything anymore. His body was completely cured and filled with own vital forces. Even scars didn't remain. The pacification on a man's face bewitched, the smoothed lines made him younger and softer, but eyes remained closed. By that moment Aurelia had spent, without a sound, twenty days.
The late fall gave all the fruits, covered with yellow leaves the yards and the woods, and promptly was going to say goodbye. There, in other world, she would have a birthday with a pie, guests and the stories of the childhood repeated and learned by heart with laughter and pleasure, ease and some grief of one more passed year. Though 23 years, in general, were not so many. The university was graduated, the specialty was received. Though, however, the journalism probably could not help her in the world where she was. Unless to become the troubadour, to wander around the world and to compose ballads.
Self-pity and poignant sadness swept the girl who would have to meet his birthday in unknown place, in quiet solitude, and she burst into tears. It was strange that thought of a birthday party, but not the memory of all the events experienced there had caused such a storm in heart of Aurelia.
– Borg! Booorg! Boooooorg! Wake up, please, please! – Aurelia did not even understand why tearfully was asking to wake up the one who probably did not even hear. She desperately wanted to hear his voice. Putting her head in her hands, she sobbed quietly, rather because of pity to herself than from any other feeling.
– Veres! – was the quiet reply.
Aurelia was silent, tears dried up instantly, and she listened to the uneven breathing of man.
– Veres! – he repeated slowly and opened his eyes.
Leaning over him Aurelia froze, absolutely different person was looking from the deep inside of the familiar eyes, as if he had been hiding at the bottom, and finally decided to appear.
– Veres! Call! – his eyes closed and breathing became smooth.
She rather thought of what she had to do than understood, Aurelia ran to the basement, where was a prostrate body with almost native person whose features were so much like the features of his executioner.
– Veres! – still poorly believing in success, Aurelia decided to try nevertheless. – Veres! Wake up! You are alive!
Aurelia put habitually hand on a body: one on the head, another on a chest. Also she looked into face. The same eyes were looking at her. The one who was hiding at the bottom of foreign soul, responded, returned, smiled… He simply escaped from tortures, from pain, for fear, from bitterness of defeat and treachery. He escaped in the blood on native hands, in foreign and uncomfortable soul, in crude gloomy fall and eyes without smile – in the brother who became his murderer. So it happened – the executioner performing the work with feeling of a burdensome debt, and his victim silently accepting the sentence executed by one who was always present at his life… To the death…
* * *
After recovery of brothers, Aurelia spent in the castle some more time. She came back to the torment room several times.
Every time after her visit, Aurelia saw the same dream. Some person brought her on the huge square paved by a cobble-stone and, having left in the center, left. She didn't see his face because she didn't look at it, lateral sight caught only a silhouette, which was the round-shouldered large man.
She remained on that big square, looked around and saw the herd of horses rushed towards her. They were very large, beautiful, strong and fast. When they came nearer, Aurelia understood that her growth hardly reached their back. Inside there was a fear that they would trample her, the girl presses the head in shoulders more strongly, but didn’t move. Horses rushed by, bent around a lonely figure and move further. She saw how the sea of gray and brown backs parted, without concerning, without touching and without injuring the girl because all of them – each of them – saw her. Some horses were with equestrians on backs, some were with empty saddles. She looked at them and thought that she had to jump in one of saddles and run together with them, but for some reason she was standing and waiting for that person who had brought her on that square.
When the herd passed, there was the person on the edge of the square, he brought a horse for her. It was small (the back hardly reached to the girl’s waist), thick and clumsy. When Aurelia sat down on it, she fell together with it and understood that horse didn’t suit her absolutely, and the girl didn't want to go on it. The man insisted, and Aurelia started arguing with him, refusing to sit down on it. The only thought was in her mind why he was making decision for her and gave her the ugliest, weak, fat horse? It was offensive, annoying and the rage arose in her soul. The girl understood that she had missed many good horses. But during the next instant she calmed down, understanding what horse she precisely needed. So, the girl would have it soon.
And now she woke up with the idea that she knew what to do, and in the final awakening experienced a desire to tell about the dream to Borg, and hear from him the explanations, as if he knew about her own dreams much more than she. Faceless silent servant dutifully stood beside the bed, holding a pitcher and a towel. After her awakening he slowly and ceremoniously put the jug on the bedside table, covered with a clean towel and left.
* * *
The table had been already laid, two men when she appeared, silently rose from their seats and fell down. Two pairs of colored eyes were showing the same thing. Aurelia had not learned how brothers made peace. As usual in the castle was silence more often than talks. And Aurelia decided that time not to ask questions but enjoy delicious dishes…
– You, at last, understood. There is no power of one more feeling inside you, it is the strongest, and with it you will become the great healer. You will find other shades in a way. And now you have to go. – The silence was scattered on splinters from the sound of voice which suddenly became so close.
– I thought, you would let me go.
– I let you go!
– Home! – confused Aurelia could tell nothing more…
– What have you got there, in the place which you call home? – Borg said.
– Well… Life… – Aurelia suddenly caught herself thinking that she began to forget that she had had there. The word «home» didn’t mean anything to her but only the memory of a gloomy castle, where she had spent the last few months: – And where do I go now?!
– Not you alone! Both of you! – Borg looked at his brother for a long moment, and added a little quieter, referring to the Aurelia – He needs you!
Aurelia remembered the words he had said at the very beginning of their acquaintance, «You are the doctor and your duty is to give, to heal, to be there where people need you, and give to those who ask.»
«Here again, I was asked not by someone who needs me» – sadly thought Aurelia, and felt the sudden lightness, as if unclenched long coiled spring, as if now she had a meaning, purpose, mission… She and small skulls which were reflexive verbs, and returned by her actions two important lives for her. After waking Borg and Veres they turned into plates and crumbled into dust. She saw a man with unblinking eyes in her dream, and he said to her, «Thank you.»
– Ok! – Aurelia answered and hid the pleased smile and a sigh of relief behind a glass of sweet young wine …
Travel arrangements took the whole day. Servants silently moved around the house. Brothers were also silently sitting at a fireplace; cold white flame seemed to become silent too.
Aurelia was dressing for a dinner in the room, glancing at traveling bags and thinking of, whether she had taken everything. In addition there was a set of different thoughts in her mind as though they urgently needed to be collected and laid in the correct order, but they ran up, leaving the hostess to stand in confusion. Many questions of Aurelia remained without answer, and it was unclear, whether the younger brother would be more talkative than the elder. She still knew a little about the place where she had got, even less she knew about where she was going to. It awakened curiosity and some anticipation. She didn’t really know whether she said goodbye to Borg forever? That thought was hiding all day on a background of her consciousness and then came out, demanding the answer, but nobody hurried to give it.
Aurelia titivated and went down for a dinner. She was wearing light blue floor-length dress, it was low-cut and cool for that season, shoulders were hardly covered by almost transparent shawl from the thinnest wool. With the hair up she felt herself very womanish. The next day she had to put on a men's suit for rather long time therefore today she decided to remember about the grace. Two men, as usual, rose at her emergence and in silence waited for her coming. Aurelia approached a fireplace and gave hands to fire, remembering the vision of a place in which she derived power, being filled with energy, pleasure … and cold. However, she had stopped being cold long time before. That day, she for some reason, was especially hot an easy flush on usually pale cheeks was a proof of that.
– You do not necessarily need this fireplace. You can get on your glade and fill in finding any source of fire. The main thing is to be calm, relaxed and a bit aloof – it seemed Borg continued to feel as if he was her teacher.
However, Aurelia liked the information itself, because it was good to give power, if you knew where you would be able to get it.
They silently settled down at a table and started having a dinner. The girl was waiting for new advice, lectures and preventions, but there was not any. She got a thought that, probably, Borg was glad, at last, to get rid of her and return to the comfortable lonely silence. However, that thought unexpectedly upset the girl, and furtively glancing at the castle owner, she started looking for its confirmation. Borg, seemed to direct all the attention to a dish with meal, having slightly inclined the head forward, and color of his eyes remained hidden from Aurelia.
After dinner, everybody located near the fire, listening to the familiar hiss of fire and plunged in own thoughts. Girl desperately wanted to interrupt long-running silence, talk about their experiences, discuss the future, say some important words before perhaps forever parting. But Borg was sitting with the same stone face, and only his eyes constantly changed its color, though, maybe it was just a reflection of the fire in the fireplace.
Veres seemed to be not very comfortable, so he soon said goodbye, referred to early rise and went to his room.
At that moment Aurelia suddenly thought about the hall where they were sitting, it was really large, she was far from Borg and the silence bothered her. Convulsively trying to think up a question, the girl with surprise saw that he rose from a chair and approached the fire. «Won’t he leave now?!» – the girl thought, being confused. Least of all she wanted that moment to stay alone in that gloomy huge hall, there were long corridors with a booming echo behind its closed doors. Without turning to Aurelia Borg asked: «Were you thinking what is waiting for you outside?».
– I was … – the girl answered quietly after a short pause.
Actually she was often thinking of it, and her thoughts were generally interrogative. Because there was no matter of time in which she got though some features of life obviously told her that time from which she had arrived was far ahead. She thought that even in 15-16th century people, probably, didn't heal with hands, didn't give the life with a smooth stream, didn't pass through portals, didn't travel through fire to any special places of power, didn't realize so literally the dreams … and didn't change color of the eyes according to emotions …
– Do you want to stay?
Aurelia froze, and every single word flew out of her head. Had she ever thought he would offer it to his guest? At some moments, maybe yes… Why now? Why so? As whom? For what period of time? Why does he offer it to her? What will happen if she agrees? And if she refuses? All questions at once returned to her head and made a mess there. All studied and not studied colors and feelings flashed before her eyes: hope, surprise, confusion, doubt, joy, fear, curiosity…
– Good night – without turning a face to her, Borg left the room, interrupting long pause, and she remained sitting in a deep armchair, feeling stupid and lost.
* * *
Aurelia went up to her room, sat on the bed, looked around, she had to have a good night's sleep before a long journey, but she didn’t have any desire to go to bed. And she had no forces to undress. It looked like the last night in that castle… The next morning after fast morning meal she would leave and no more return. The girl felt the joy and anticipation, which mingled with some slight sadness with a strange aftertaste of uncertainty and strange desolation. How did it all fit in her at the same time, she didn’t know and she didn’t worry about that. Aurelia did not want to analyze, understand… and think… Fire was burning in her room with the same white flame like downstairs, but it reminded somehow only the silent figure in front of it. What did he mean?
After some time, there was knock at the door… There was Borg as usually calm and quiet, he came inside. Confused girl was standing in the middle of the room and did not know where to hide trembling with excitement fingers. She did not know what to expect and what to think. Coming closer, he silently took her hands.
– Take care of him, please, – Borg said, – you are going to have a long and difficult road ahead, but he knows where you have to go. You just be near and do that you consider correct.
– Why I don't know where I am going and what for? You didn't answer any of my questions. Why?
– If I answer that you know everything yourself, you will think that I am banal. I know only that you and Veres have the same way. For the present you have the same way. If ever you feel that it is not so … do as you consider correct …
– Will I be able to return? Or to stay?
– You're always where you want to be… If you wanted to stay, you would have stayed. – After a brief pause, he continued: – But if you ever want to come back, you should know you are always welcome. Probably, it is not the time yet.
He leaned slightly forward and gently kissed her cheek. Aurelia even could not imagine how gentle his lips were. Instinctively, she touched his cheek in return. Only now she noticed a thin scar on his cheek. It was going to the temple with almost indistinguishable pattern. Aurelia skimmed gently along it with her lips to the end and stopped. She pulled away. But not because she wanted to pull away, she stopped only to explore her feelings and colors, as he had asked her before. To study.
– It's almost red – the color of passion. You somehow slipped color of tenderness – his eyes from russet suddenly became pale golden, and as she knew, it meant smile, changed into laughter.
– And there is scarlet – he kept laughing with eyes. – I'm surprised you do not know it.
– Probably, I learned it in the place where were not many colors… – Aurelia smiled…
– Take care of yourself and remember that your dreams are also a gift as a medicine. Do not neglect them. But even better, write travel notes, may be after you will give them for me to read.
He put on a bed of one more gunny bag of average size.
– There are coins, note paper, a pen and some herbs. You will determine them by taste. You are able to use them already; you will learn the rest on the way. Good night, – the last he told already in the door, and, without turning back, easily and silently left.
«Probably, everybody can move silently and live silently here. Everybody but me. Could I live in such silence? – Aurelia tried to distract herself with such thoughts from some vague feeling of disappointment which arose in her. – Perhaps, it is time to sleep!»
* * *
Early autumn morning greeted travelers with first frost. Winter was coming. Girl thought it was not the best time to start the journey and covered shoulders in the warm heavy woolen cloak. However, her opinion was never asked, and she did not want to say it without need.
Their company headed by Veres consisted of fresh horses for riders, a couple more for luggage, and a couple of servants. Face of Veres that early morning was absolutely devoid of any emotion, and, after looking at him closely, Aurelia realized that the brothers, despite the 10 years difference in age, were similar much more than she had previously thought, especially when they were silently standing next to each other, watching the final preparations of servants.
«It is going to be a funny way» – said Aurelia to herself and let horse quiet step. All in all, they seemed to be not in a hurry.
… The Reapers see the time and possible options of sequence of events, as a web. They make it in cocoons, in each of them new life is starting– the person who is able to operate others threads. The past and the future, probable events intertwine and create the unique pattern for each person in all variety of its embodiments. To collect a cocoon Reapers take away options of sequence of events from many people who, however, never learn that they could have new meetings and new opportunities, and live further in a quiet current of own only reality. The child is in this cocoon for seven years. During this time threads of a transparent web are absorbed by his skin a layer after a layer, remaining on it with strange hardly visible pattern. By the time of the end of this period almost all layers are absorbed by the child's body, becoming his part and forming his abilities to exist out of time. The world which is created and changed every second obediently by the will of the people who were living in it, demanded stabilization for preservation of its integrity and lives of the beings in it. So The Timeless appeared. However, despite a name, time was the only master, the only truth and the only meaning of life of such children. Growing, they spun their own webs, repaired the existing web of the general current of time and watched its continuous existence …
Nobody knew how the children appeared in a cocoon, what seed created that new life. Some of those few who knew about existence of such people, considered them as aliens, others considered them human beings from the future, and someone confidently claimed that they were ordinary children of our time, who were placed in infancy in a cocoon, and got necessary qualities in it. However, it was not important. For most people occupied with the daily cares they simply didn't exist …
* * *
Aurelia was sitting at the wooden rough almost clean table in a small room of an inn, inclined over the book which pages were lit poorly by the smoking candle. Borg continued to carry out functions of the teacher and after her leave. In couple of days after departure, during the rest break Aurelia found in the bag which was carefully packed by the castle owner, the thick book in leather cover with the name «Creating Beings». On the first page there was the message written with the sprawling handwriting: «You wanted to know about this world … Read and remember … And when you start understanding and accepting, you will become its part …». Lines seemed to her a little pompous then, however the further Aurelia went deep into the pages which were accurately covered with small roundish handwriting, it became more clear to her that it was only the beginning of her studying … She could not trust in everything at once. And that moment, she was reading about The Timeless like about some nonexistent monsters, and didn't even try to imagine how they looked … Not to mention an assessment of reality of their existence.
«However, – Aurelia thought, – some don't believe in opportunity to treat by the vital force, and I, perhaps, for someone is simply the fairy tale …». The girl was lost in contemplation of a candle, and her thoughts habitually began to flow on the course which was already laid by the equal read rows: «So, perhaps, the people who are living only in the past were simply deprived of the future by some not really patient Reaper, who does up a baby in a cocoon?»
… After seven years this child appeared in very thin cocoon from one layer of threads. The Reaper met The Timeless, accurately untangling the remained threads carefully to return them to owners … In old age such people have light regrets about the lost opportunities which weren't recreated up to the end …
Aurelia wondered how The Timeless feel the time … Why all of them have the same names, why not to call the child, for example, Timeless Bern or Timeless Turan? How do they distinguish each other at a meeting? The following question arose from the previous one. How does she feel the time? Sometimes Aurelia had a strange feeling inside as though she appeared out of time and space. Places and faces of people around seemed unfamiliar. At such moments surrounding voices sounded in her head as a thick background, the removed echo, and she tried to tie her to reality with routine tasks. A daily routine – as the scheme, as a skeleton which fleshed out with events, everyday clothes in which pockets sometimes one could find bright, unexpected, and sometimes inexplicable and unclear thing to the owner.
The candle burned down, and Aurelia with regret thought that despite the love to the reading, nevertheless it was necessary to go to bed. Crude and cold bed. It was strange to pay for spending the night in not heated crude room on an attic, and to spend the night free of charge downstairs– in the huge heated and lit hall … However, today Aurelia was glad to a privacy, she desperately didn’t like to be among crowd of drunk, talkative and not really familiar with hygiene people.
That night Aurelia hardly managed to be warmed, and she fell asleep only towards morning. During the short dream which didn’t give any freshness she saw the man with an unwinking stare. He offered her two metal balls. She obediently took them, having habitually seen in hands medium-sized skulls. She looked up from them making in the head a question, but as the girl could guess, there was nobody any more next to her. She was standing alone on the snow-covered street, flakes of snow were covering her skin, falling on her face, and Aurelia, for some reason, desperately wanted to cry.
* * *
Sense of danger woke Aurelia. It wasn't clear who was in danger. Did it again affect brothers? Veres had to sleep peacefully in the next room. Borg was sleeping in the gloomy castle. May be he could not sleep? Wiping a face, wet from tears, Aurelia tried to prolong short moments of rest and privacy. However persistent knock at a door didn't leave any chances for this.
The five-year-old fair-haired girl was crying at the door. Her face was amazingly familiar, and Aurelia, wiping own tears, tried to think jerkily how to calm the child.
– Mamaaaaaaaa! Maaaaaaaaaaaaama! – the girl outstretched hands to Aurelia and got claws into her foot.
Aurelia fell on knees and froze. Looking at the small copy of her own self, she tried to lay the events in her overwrought consciousness. As though one more thread which connected her to the reality broke, and she again didn't understand, where she was and what was happening around. It seemed the ground gone from under her feet and there was no opportunity to find a steady support.
The child, meanwhile, continued to cry, and there was nothing for Aurelia but to embrace the girl and press to habitually responded heart.
* * *
Having screamed, Aurelia jumped up on a bed and jerked to a door. She stopped and listened. It was silent. She looked out the door and didn’t see anybody. Aurelia sat down on a bed. It was a dream. It was a dream. It was a dream. Only a dream. The full reality of feeling of presence of the native little person was so obvious that now Aurelia's half-asleep consciousness refused to accept the reality surrounding it. The day broke, the first roosters were going to announce about it to all this world, and strange tired girl was sitting on a bed, trying to restore own borders of consciousness and listening to internal feelings.
* * *
She saw Veres downstairs. He was as usual thoughtful, and that thoughtfulness and reticence reminding Borg slowly started to irritate Aurelia. Behind it the consciousness reduced in a point fixated on the injuring experience was felt. He had no Borg's ability to rivet on himself attention by one phrase, to force him to understand, having appeared at once in the center of your own life. Aurelia suppressed the flashed irritation, and reminded herself that few time passed for Veres to become the same he was before – the cheerful and self-confident young twenty-nine-year-old man. However, it was difficult to girl to imagine him like that, and she rather simply trusted words of his elder brother. The early gray hair on temples reminding about endured events, didn't add the age, but made his features more finely-cut. Aurelia caught the thought that as soon as she ceased to be irritated, involuntarily was fond of examining and solving his features and character, allowing thoughts of him if not to appear in the center of her own reflections, but very close to it. Having a little been confused by own attention, she sat on a bench opposite to Veres and silently pulled the plate with the steaming porridge and to a mug with hot broth.
– Good morning, – the girl said with a little delay.
– Good morning, – he answered without looking up from a plate.
Exactly that day Aurelia desperately wanted to share the endured vision with someone alive, for some time it was not enough for her just to write down everything in a notebook, imagining that it was read by Borg.
There was some fuss at the entrance, several new guests, quietly exchanging words, slowly settled down at the table, next to an exit. The hostess was flying around the counter, pouring beer. Sometimes it seemed to Aurelia that from all the beings living in this world, the feeling of curiosity is inherent only in her and that, probably, because she was born in other place. Though at that moment even she didn't know why those men in usual dusty raincoats took her attention.
Four large men of uncertain age with tired faces slumped on the benches. Trying to listen to their monotonous voices, Aurelia suddenly caught herself that she didn't understand the sense of their speech. As though she heard half-known foreign language, words were familiar, and the essence escaped. Having suppressed the irritation which already became habitual, Aurelia paid after all the attention on rather cooled-down porridge. Realized that cold porridge was as tasteless, as hot, she looked round the hall again. That time her attention was drawn by the lonely traveler sitting in a far corner, he was dressed in the same raincoat, as newcomers. The man diligently hunched shoulders, and it was obvious that most all he wanted to remain unnoticed. Aurelia looked closer at him. His age was about forty, he was large with a craggy face. He hasty ate up a piece of bread and without having drunk up beer, threw a coin on a table and began to make the way quietly to an exit. Trying to have a good time somehow, Aurelia imagined the course of events: would anybody notice him or not… and if noticed, what would it be? Making the way by a table at which Veres and Aurelia were sitting, the man raised eyes and stopped dead, having met the eyes of the girl. Aurelia was confused by such focused attention, the question in her eyes lit up with curiosity shades, pushing aside the flashed irritation sparkles on a background.
– Have you remade the reality? How?! – He stared at Aurelia and she felt absolutely uncomfortable.
– I made nothing, – the girl answered in embarrassment, and for some reason repeated, – Nothing …
– And who has made it for you?
– I don't know, – the confusion was growing, filling Aurelia with easy unpleasant concern.
Veres turned to the man and quietly said something to him, Aurelia didn't catch a word, but the man probably understood everything well because he sharply turned pale and accelerated the movement towards an exit. Veres, without having found time to explain something, started to drink beer.
– Did Borg teach you as well? – Aurelia muttered irrelevantly just to talk though about something if only to get rid of concern. The speech was a contact, and it, in turn was a binding to reality from which the girl again started escaping promptly …
* * *
Aurelia suddenly saw herself in the house of her parents, heard voices of the numerous guests who were in different rooms. But she was alone in the kitchen. Aurelia came to a veranda; the door to the yard was open. She for some reason didn't want to go to guests, and she decided to be alone for some time. Having stopped on the top step, the girl was lost in contemplation of the sky with true deep blue, of the sun which seemed to stand in the center of the Universe. Some steps led down, but she didn't go down, enjoying fresh air and a cup of fragrant hot coffee in her hand. The easy breezes was fanning shoulders, and right that moment she felt peace and homely joys which appeared when the one came to the parental house after a long absence. The little girl was playing in the yard, Aurelia didn't remember whose child was it, but the face seemed to her surprisingly familiar. The girl was wearing a pink dress and a light jacket; she had light ringlets which were dancing on a wind in time with her ringing carefree laughter.
The sudden strong flaw tried to close a door, and it seemed to the girl for an instant that it would break it from hinges. Suddenly the wind became weaker, and, having looked to the yard, the girl saw that the girl as a balloon was hanging over the yard, and every instant she was getting more and more transparent, and some invisible force pulled her up. Aurelia suddenly understood that she could take her. She dropped a cup with coffee at a step and seized her by the small hand, trying to hold. Aurelia was pulling her down, and suddenly understood that girl felt a great pain because of it, and the force which was dragging her up was much stronger than the young woman …
… Suddenly she saw herself in her apartment standing in a doorway on a balcony. She was still holding the girl who was hanging as a balloon under a balcony ceiling. Aurelia understood that it was not enough to pull her hand, it was necessary to clasp her with both hands and land without having injured. Taking the child closer, the girl saw that suddenly the baby became a white rag doll as though it was wetted and frozen. Aurelia felt the dragging pity to the child took and put her in the bed, having carefully wrapped up with a blanket to warm …
… Sometime later she came up to a bed again; the child was laying with opened eyes on a pillow and looking at her. Having stroked her on a cheek, Aurelia felt the girl got a great pain because she touched her icy cheek with a hot hand. The girl started crying silently. Aurelia lowered a blanket a little below than her chin and saw the deep section on a neck from which the vital forces of the child were following out, turning into the clear transparent water. Aurelia understood that it was possible to cure the girl only by her own vital forces and, having wetted cotton wool in that clear water, wiped a section on the child's neck. After a while the wound closed, the girl was warmed and smiled. Having seen her pink face Aurelia understood that she was rescued.
– What is your name? – Aurelia asked quietly with relief, palming the girl’s light ringlets …
* * *
– … But, once long time ago and …
Aurelia understood that she was sitting before Veres who was telling something to her with enthusiasm. It took some more moments finally to understand where she was … and a couple of minutes more to understand what her companion was telling to her, he even didn't notice that the girl was somewhere very far.
– Should I repeat? – he asked coolly, without changing intonation and without doing a pause between the question and story he had been telling before.
– Sorry. I digressed from … – the girl answered, without deciding to devote him in the last strange visions about the child, having managed to notice, however, that the younger brother as attentive as the elder one.
– Your visions are getting more and more frequent, and you still don't tell anything about them. It isn't correct. They are not only for you, it is first, and secondly, I can help you to understand them.
Aurelia, without having managed to recover, properly, from surprise after vision, was surprised once again with Veres behavior. Having looked closer, she saw concern on his face, and there was genuine interest in his eyes.
«How long was I away?» – the girl thought.
– For some moments … If I start answering not asked questions, you, at last, will understand, that I don't need to ask you for speaking?
Suddenly the girl felt discomfort as though she had made some nonsense and wanted to keep it in a secret, but suddenly she realized that the whole world had already known about it. She remembered all the moments when she felt irritation and rage because Veres was not similar to Borg, disappointment because she got such a boring and uninteresting companion, rage because she was like the little child going where others told her to … But stop. She wasn't ashamed of that fact and if Veres understood her so well why he didn't give the answer to that vexing question?
– Because you made the question incorrectly. The point is that we are going not «where», but «why»?
– Well, he is starting again … – the disappointment strongly took the positions in soul of the girl but, however, it didn't bother her to peer at Veres's eyes which were sparkling with the gold. And that color warmed, dazzled and entrained somewhere more deeply, and it seemed that there, in depth was a source of that light which was reflected with sparks in a surface. However, Veres smiled at that moment not only with his eyes, and his smile appeared to be not less attractive, than the laughing eyes. Aurelia even forgot what she wanted to ask.
– Well, it is time to go, – said Veres and, having easily picked up a big leather traveling bag, headed to an exit.
* * *
Thoughts of the girl got stuck in the head of Aurelia. The road was smooth, landscapes around looked like white winter canvas. Travelers were lost in reverie, and the fact that nobody could see her eyes, gave the feeling of some privacy. Servants silently were walking at some distance, and Aurelia liked the feeling that she was not alone on the road, but at the same time nobody disturbed her with the attention. Aurelia still didn't learn to hide the play of her eyes which were giving out mood and shades of thoughts and feelings. However, now it disturbed her a little because the vital strength of the girl which got on Aurelia's fingers in vision continued to burn down her skin intolerably.
«I wonder who she is to me. Or who she could be? Or who she was to me before?» Having listened to the feelings, Aurelia understood that it was extremely important to her to understand that this child was alive even if the destiny of the girl would never intertwine with her own. Even if she was one of the possible ways of Aurelia life. The girl smiled. The only article about Timeless and Reapers turned a stream of her thoughts in absolutely different direction. There was no destiny or inevitability for Aurelia any more. Strange visions and strange events caused alarm not because of singularity of events but because she was afraid to lose the value of her own choice and own life, but at the same time Aurelia distinctly realized that it would be easier and more correct to accept such state of affairs, than to oppose to them.
The road was gradually covered with lonely travelers, vehicles and … noise. Probably somewhere nearby was a market and people from neighboring villages were in a hurry walking there. Aurelia thought that she had already forgotten what the vanity was. Choosing solitude roads, Veres was right that people were able to do you up even with the existence in the field of vision. However to quicken the pace, having already appeared in a human stream, was impossible therefore they with identical hopelessness continued the movement with the slow speed imposed to them.
* * *
– You after all know, what it isn't enough for saving her life?
Aurelia gave a start of surprise. The person she had seen in the inn was riding a black large horse next to her. His heavy dusty raincoat on the shoulders for some reason caused unpleasant memories of a big black bird. Having taken away them by effort of will, she said quietly: «Who are you talking about?»
– I am talking about the little girl with light ringlets. Have you noticed how much she was similar to you?
Aurelia stood for a moment and tried to find Veres's eyes, but he was deep in his thoughts and was riding a little behind. Servants lagged behind but even if they were near, Aurelia couldn't imagine how those silent creatures could help her.
– Who are you?
– The one who sees your probabilities! Do you want to know about the missed chances?
– No, thanks, – conversation was getting more and more unpleasant, but it seemed there was no chances to interrupt it.
– Don’t be afraid, ask! – the sharp unpleasant voice reminded croak of a bird more and more, – Don’t you know that your existence changed this reality, however, as well as that from which you were taken away? It is possible that your life somewhere still flows on the old course, being reflected in your head by echoes of images? And you still have a choice?!
– What a choice? – Aurelia suddenly felt strong fatigue.
– The choice to help me and to rescue the daughter!
– I have no daughter! – Aurelia started to lose control. She felt as a doll in a show-window, the frozen doll covered with hoarfrost and the last vital forces were leaving her again …
– Or yourself…
– Myself?! – the consciousness decided not to resist any more and abandoned the girl. The limp body fell off the horse which continued the slow way.
* * *
Aurelia was swimming in the small decorative lake near some castle. Between the building and a pond she saw a beautiful well-groomed green lawn with a fresh-cut juicy grass. The beautiful small castle which was made of light pure stone was seen in the distance. The bright, but not hot sun hurt eyes a little. Stones of the different sizes picturesquely laid on the bottom of the lake, multi-colored medium-sized small fishes floated, water-lilies and fallen leaves softly waved on a surface. Aurelia felt that she was having a rest, it was quite cold outside, but she for some reasons went to swim. The lake was too small for that purpose; clear water in places became rather turbid because of the timid small fishes who were promptly escaping from the uninvited guest.
Aurelia looked at a bottom and saw that flocks of the little birdies similar to tiny black-and-white penguins were walking on a bottom; they funny fussed below under the girl and a little ahead. Some man came up to the lake and said: «You must not swim, get out of water». Aurelia raised the head and asked: «Are you speaking to me?» He answered: «No, not to you».
And at that moment little birdies from a lake bottom one by one began to come up from the water, turning into huge black birds. They promptly jumped out of water, took the air and disappeared. There were too many of them, the strong movements of their wings created waves on the lake, splashes flied extensively, and the girl got panic because they took off literally from under her body. Aurelia remained in water, distinctly understanding thus that she shouldn't be in that decorative lake. Through an instant after the last bird crashed out, the surface of the lake calmed down, and water became crystal-clear.
* * *
Having opened eyes, Aurelia felt she had a real rest. Considering the long road, it was surprising. Having looked round, she understood that she was laying in a bed in the unfamiliar room, however she didn't have time to be frightened, as she heard the voice of Veres which had already become almost darling, he was talking to someone in a far corner quietly. The girl caught the thought that his voice for her was also a kind of binding to the reality, and smiled. Eventually, he was becoming a part of her life.
– Perhaps, you are right, – hardly familiar sharp voice reminding croak of a bird forced Aurelia to prick up the ears. Only now she sat up on a bed and tried to look closer at the speaker. Almost without having been surprised, she saw the stranger whom she had already met twice on the way.
– Where are we? – Aurelia asked quietly.
– Woke up? It is good! Good morning!
Veres still didn't answer the questions, but such form of communication stopped to irritate the girl and gave her the chance to use the same tactics in reply.
– Here is List, he is The Reaper.
– Aurelia, – the girl gave her name.
– I know who you are, – the croaking voice answered.
– He asks you to help him to cure his son. He was bitten by wolves. He is in the next room. Will you try?
Together they came in the next room. The child of seven-eight years was lying on the bed. However before Aurelia came closer to him, she understood that the child was dead. In embarrassment the girl stopped near a children's body and looked at Veres with a question in her sight, then she shifted a glance on List, she saw a quiet expectation in both in reply.
– He is dead!
– I know. Try.
Without any hope the girl approached the child, put hands on a body and… didn’t feel anything. Her vital energy had nothing to join.
– He is empty. He isn't a vessel anymore!
The Reaper came to the girl.
– You know, your girl doesn't exist as well! But he has not already existed and she does not still exist.
– I still don't understand you … – dizziness began along with an easy attack of nausea …
– Don't escape. I will explain to you.
She caught herself practically on reality border and forced herself to listen attentively to his words.
List was The Reaper. The Timeless who had to leave a cocoon was his son Vaya. To be more exact he could be his son if The Reaper had placed him there in time. However he didn't make it and let himself be tempted by his beloved spouse who mourned loss of the first-born all nine months being pregnant, after all such children were initially deprived of a choice and couldn't live, without having incorporated a set of others threads. As a result, the newborn was hidden from Guards who watched all carried out the missions assigned to them. They managed to hide the child, having only given him some of own threads, and taken also some chances of the close relatives. But they didn't consider it was a big price for the child's life. Everything was normal until the moment the child had to leave the cocoon. But the cocoon from others probabilities was empty, threads were gradually alloyed in one hard lump, becoming impregnated in themselves. And the child was living quietly, without knowing about his mission. Everything was good up to the seventh birthday of Vaya when the spider line of reality started cracking slowly. The Reaper could do nothing with it, and The Timeless instead of sliding on lines of probabilities, started failing slowly from this reality in the unknown. As a result, having appeared at night in the wood, he got to teeth of wolves who with all passion of a predatory animal tried to clean the Earth from the nonexistent boy. List found him following the torn-off others threads which couldn't weave the new reality for the boy and brought him home. For him rumours about the girl – healer and the strange young man who were round there became a gift, and he decided to catch them. Aurelia listened to that rather short story and couldn't understand only two things: at first she didn’t see how she could help to the child and second what was the role of nonexistent blond girl who had already been in her visions twice?
However, List didn't hurry to give answers, and, maybe, he didn’t have them at all. He just asked about the help.
* * *
It seemed nobody was going to hurry the girl up, Aurelia was given a time to think up a way to rescue the child and she had a tasty dinner. She had almost got used to eat fresh porridge or tasteless soup in inns, so that time the girl, at last, had a square meal and got warmed. Nobody asked her about anything, but the child's mother who was silently looking at her with entreaty nevertheless didn't allow Aurelia to relax. Feeling full of strength the girl, however, didn't find any ideas concerning rescue of the child. But all people around, obviously, didn't have any doubts that she would return him life. Aurelia was confused by another fact, touching him she felt emptiness, cold, something without bottom. As though any quantity of her or somebody else forces would not be enough to fill bottomless silence in the child. It had to be something different for that purpose but what exactly it could be escaped from her understanding.