The floor of the werewolves’ basement had been cleared, everything shoved to one side to create a large central area.
In the space a circle was drawn as large as possible in chalk, filled with markings and runes that shimmered gently in a way that hurt the eyes to look at.
Cherry sat comfortably in the circle, a huge pile of pillows and cushions and a giant bean bag making a cocoon around her. She had one hand stuck through the walls of softness, holding onto Trina’s own hand. Both hands had been tied together with ribbon to keep them from falling apart by accident as Cherry went into her trance and Trina fell asleep (because there was little else for her to do until it was time to pull Cherry back).
Trina herself was likewise cocooned in whatever soft items Cherry hadn’t needed. She also had a large stack of drinks, snacks and sandwiches in a bag next to her. She also had her phone, in case she needed anything else, but for now it was set to Do Not Disturb, and she was to refrain from touching it for the same reason she had no other entertainment. Nothing to read, or watch, or do. She was the anchor, and that meant she had to sit and wait for as long as it took. Sleep was not only inevitable, it was encouraged. So long as her conscious mind wasn’t being burdened by something else, she would be ready to pull the moment Cherry gave her a tug.
Trina looked at their entwined hands, the only part of Cherry she could see, and began the waiting process. It wasn’t long before she fell asleep.
Cherry felt Trina slide into the first level of sleep, and smiled to herself. She was already detached, but the feelings of anxiety Trina was–unintentionally–putting out were too dangerous to venture out to. Once sleeping, though, Trina loosened up, and Cherry turned to the gentle vortex of time and space.
Despite the dangers she faced, the vortex never struck her as inherently evil, or good. It existed, for those like her, and gave reward in exchange for risk, but it wasn’t sentient, it had no mind, it just…was, and gifted folk such as herself could attempt to ride the eddies and undulations to where they wished to go.
First, she sent herself out to find Cobalt. What would her former commander be planning, in the near future, she wondered? Immediately she felt the tide begin to guide her.
Staying balanced was the difficult part here. Not allowing herself to be pulled too fast–as she might never be able to stop. Not allowing herself to be pulled too slow–as she might never get anywhere.
Even more than the speed, though, the direction was crucial. The swirls of the vortex could take her anywhere, anywhen, far from where she needed to be. Staying on course, when she had no fixed point, required focus and fast reactions as events flew by.
But Cherry had everything needed for a successful journey, this time at least, and soon found herself hovering in the top corner of a tent. Below her, there was a bed and a pack, and a table with various bits of paper weighed down by still-muddy rocks.
Beyond this, there was a fur rug, on which two people sat, deep in conversation.
Cobalt and Onson.
Cherry edged closer, wanting to hear their chat.
“Wait, so you bid a fond farewell to Deserina after you delivered my message? I know you said you would be staying out of things, but…” Cobalt trailed off, holding her hands, palm up, in a shrug.
Onson sipped from his tankard of ale, “While I was there delivering your message, I simply realised that the best way for me to remain out of things was to not be there. So, I packed what I could carry, and told Deserina that, due to personal reasons, I would be disappearing under mysterious circumstances. When she asked what the hell that meant, I remembered how much she loathes poesy and just told her I was going and didn’t know when I’d be back.”
“Damn. If anyone else had tried that they’d have been flattened!”
“There are many perks to being the only (known) living necromancer. One of them involves being able to piss people off and not suffer consequences. Even Deserina, far gone as she is into the Breaking, knows better than to mess with someone who can do fun things with the dead.”
Cobalt took up her tankard and raised it to Onson in a small salute, which he returned.
“Back to the topic, though, your message has been successfully delivered. Understandingly my knowledge spooked them a little, and I am not privy to the I was not permitted to know the contents of their reply, I merely waited until a meeting had been called and a reply argued out, written, and then sealed. This is for you, and I have no idea what it says. I hope it brings good news,” Onson took out an envelope, closed with a wax seal that was, unusually, not augmented with a stamp.
Cobalt took it, nodding approval, knowing the same careful anonymity would continue within.
“It looks like a goodly number of your troops have stayed to follow you into the scrum, when it begins,” Onson said, relaxing now his duty had been completed.
Cobalt nodded, smiling, as she put the letter within her jerkin.
“They’re good folk and well-trained. Even though all this stuff about the Breaking has come as a shock, most of them have been at least peripherally aware of Deserina’s…issues. They want us solid again as much as I do.”
Cherry filed all of this away, concentrating on suppressing her emotional reactions–she could emote as much as she needed to later, when it wasn’t a dager to both herself and Trina–and moved on.. She saw Onson visit the werewolves, the beginning of the coup, and the death of Deserina, and again had to force down her feelings. But she still wanted–needed–to know more about the Breaking. Where could she go, that might show her what she needed? The rebels remained anonymous to her–and she doubted that would change with the letter. But who, other than Onson and she was in no way sure enough of him to ask, might know, or be able to find out?
Not being able to find the information she needed frustrated Cherry. But she had seen a lot that would be of use. Perhaps this piece of information could be found another way, or even left until later when the dust settled.
She tested her strength and decided she had time for one more stop, something to calm her mood and return her focus.
She moved forwards–only forwards until she returned, she had learned the hard way that swimming against the tide was too dangerous–beyond the end of the coup, she moved herself through space to her bedroom, and to a time of peace. She and Trina lay together after making love, entwined and sweaty, both of them falling asleep in that comforting cocoon.
The visiting Cherry closed her eyes and smiled. This did more than give her peace: it also told her they lived at least that long.
But she also knew the dangers of looking further along one’s own timeline. So, casting another smile at the two of them in bed, she returned to the vortex and sent a tug back down towards Trina, ready to go home.