Mistica Chronicles

Welcome to Issue 47

Lugia Winning Entry

She was by no means super, and for some reason this diner seemed bent on making it clear to the whole of Darkwood Hollow.

"Did I ask for sauteed mushrooms?" the hot-headed Lirionox was demanding a second time, in a voice no lower than a roar. "No. What I asked for was scalloped -- there's a difference."

There really isn't, Myst might have said, but she knew that would only get her fired, and as things stood she was in sore need of the steady pay Gordon's Gourmet offered. "My apologies, sir," she consoled instead, snatching the still-warm dish from the tablecloth. "I will prepare another plate. Scalloped this time, I assure you."

"No," he said, "not you. I want Gordon to make my meal. He's at least decent at what he does."

Myst's brow twitched, but she made a curt bow, trying her hardest not to cast the mushrooms full in Sir Scalloped's face. Good as that might feel, keeping her apartment doubtless felt better.

In the kitchen, she found Gordon hunched over a saucepan of green liquid, mumbling to himself in tones he only adopted when in the throes of culinary genesis. Myst knew better than to break into his trances, as they always yielded new items, but she worried the Lirionox would start breaking things if left unmonitored for too long.

Taking a breath, she tapped his shoulder. The Obsideon jolted most unexpectedly, wheeling on Myst like a startled Shyre. When he saw her his expression slackened, and the semblance of a smile crossed his face...

It fell when the pan exploded its contents on the back of his legs.

Another Obsideon would have wheeled on Myst before the sauce even had time to settle, eyes ablaze and temper flaring, ready to deliver her a round of cold-tongued invective.

But Gordon's face was so somber he looked half a phantom. In the moments following the incident he did no more than stroke his jawline thoughtfully, as though the growing pool of green behind him was more a joke than a costly wastage; he was so calm the Myst wondered if the genuine product was, in truth, hiding just an arms-length away, perhaps in the pot his tail hadn't brought down in turning.
And then she saw his eyes. From a distance they might give the impression that in their owner nothing was amiss, glimmering green beneath a cover of bleached bone, but this close at hand they betrayed all that Myst needed to know she was no longer an employee at Gordon's Gourmet.

Her apartment might have been no further from the restaurant than it was the day before, but all the same Myst found the walk there toilsome. The path was rocky, every turn errant roots threatened to trip her; they had succeeded enough times in the past for the Cheran to know each's location.

But more troubling than that were the trees. At some point the path had taken her from sight of the Hollow and into the deeper reaches of Darkwood Forest, where trees stood packed around the trail thick as a winter coat. Vines coiled about each trunk, and at their tips soft red blooms were just beginning to peek at the wooded world beneath them. On any other day Myst would have stopped to marvel at the flowers' fortitude -- their will to grow was admirable, she thought -- but all she saw in them now were Gordon's sad, sad eyes.

She met the Anya some time later, at a wellhead set by Driftwood River. She'd stopped for a drink, and was drawing up the bucket when he leapt nimbly up beside her. It only occurred to Myst that there was someone else present when he offered to help her with her task, and at his words she'd started, released the handle, and watched it circle around backwards dumbly. Her fur was on end, bristly.

"I'll take that as a yes, then," the Anya chuckled, hopping over to catch the handle before all Myst's work was undone.

"Thank you," the Cheran ventured when she found it in her to speak. All the times she'd walked River's Path it had been bereft of other travelers -- she'd put it down to the general offsetting feel of the road -- so to so suddenly have company was quite astonishing indeed.

The Anya favored her with mismatched eyes, one red, one blue. "No worries," he said after a moment, pushing the handle up and over, up and over. The bucket would be near enough to grab soon at the rate he was going.

Myst watched him for a moment, debating whether or not she should break down the path for her apartment while she still had the chance. The Anya was quick, judging from the alacrity with which he'd caught the well's handle, and doubtless clever for succeeding in sneaking behind a sharp-eared Cheran. After weighing these odds and coming up dissatisfied, Myst settled to take a gamble with the strange Anya. He seemed kind enough.

It occurred to her that she should help with the hauling of the bucket when she saw the handle reach the extent of its turn. By now she had taken up a wary seat on a felled log, listening to the river gurgle behind her in its passage, but she rose quickly and said, "Would you like some help with that? The bucket's like to be heavy."

But the Anya was already bent over to snatch up the bucket, securing the wooden handle with one paw. He was dangling quite precariously over the wellhead, so Myst moved to his side, unsure of her ability to check him if he fell.

To her great relief, he didn't give her reason to test it. As he straightened, bucket to hand, a smile upturned his lips. "I'd need a drink too, after contending with a rogue Lirionox."

"Lirionox?" Myst searched the Anya's face, trying to see beyond the smiling eyes and strangely smooth skin, but she came up empty-handed. She sniffed, still apprehensive; the last Lirionox she'd seen was... "The restaurant!"

"Is that what you call it?" He looked almost amused, cocking his head to get a better look at Myst. "Sounded more like a fencing match from where I was sitting."

Myst had to bite her smile back. At the time, she hadn't the bearing to pay attention to anyone else but the raging diner, but once brought to light it only made sense that there should be onlookers. "He was upset about his mushrooms," she blurted, unable to conjure a witty response. "I mean, it's not like I can read people's minds."

"Perhaps you can."

The answer was so strange Myst had to take a moment to wonder at it. What if she could read others' thoughts, and they just weren't thinking anything? There were certainly stranger things in this world. "And perhaps I'm Pandoria herself."

The Anya gave a shrug. "Perhaps you are," he agreed. "Or perhaps I am. Who can be certain of anything?"

Myst didn't know what to make of that, so she resolved to puzzle it out later. For now, though, it would do best to retreat from the topic. She had never been one for philosophy. "I'll be sure to check myself for godly powers when I get home," she said, affecting a glance at her nonexistent watch. She hoped the Anya would catch her meaning and let her loose without too much fuss; judging from the darkness the path had taken, it was nigh on dusk, and once night fell her apartment would be a blind stumble through the woods away.
He scratched at his cheek, thoughtful. After a moment he said, "I wouldn't say godly. More super-like." But he set the bucket at his side, unquestioning of Myst's sudden urge to depart without a drink. "And you'll want to check in the morning, not right when you get back."

Is he serious? The sincerity with which he addressed the topic was most unsettling, but Myst did not think to voice her misgivings. Instead she wrenched her lips up into the semblance of a smile. "And why would I need super powers?"

"I've a gift, and I thought to share it," said the Anya simply. "My brother did the same, and I hope you will too, someday." He turned, to look at the river.

And then he was gone.

Myst didn't see where he went, but she had grown to expect odd things of this Anya. Glancing at the bucket, still brimming with water painted pale by the first strands of starlight, she wondered at the events of the past day for longer than she could say.

Finally she put the tip of her foot to the bucket and tipped it over. Super powers, huh?> As the water sloshed and spread over the stone like so much green sauce, Myst turned and continued down the path. It occurred to her that she should look back, perhaps to catch view of the strange Anya a time more, but in the end she decided better of it. Wonder what that'll be like.

She supposed she'd know in the morning.