Sadja did not know what to think of this place. She stood on an endless, glass-smooth plane, the sky as vast and dark as an ocean of ink. No stars, either new or old, streaked its smooth surface. She looked down at her body and could perfectly see her hands and limbs and her clothes (sans her boots), and her tail, standing straight with unease.
No sound reached her ears; her nose picked up only a faint scent of fear from her own body. What was this?
“It’s the inside of my mind,” said Elissa, walking next to her. She had appeared out of thin air. She wore the same clothes as her live version, looking as weird as ever. One of her pale fingers reached for her hair and coiled a strand around her index. “You can still feel my hand against yours, can you?”
“Uh?” Sadja looked down. She saw nothing, but if she focused on it for a moment, she was in fact able to feel a slight, warm pressure against her palm.
“Yes. That’s your lifeline. As I told you, if you want to go back… when you want to go back, just squeeze my hand. I will be there for you.”
“Alright.” It did feel strange, as with any other experience involving the redhead, but she now distinctly felt her fingers twinning her own, and that meant she held a solid grip on her lifeline. Admitted the Vestal did agree to pull her out.
But at this point she had to trust her. At least enough for this. The Hunter did seem to hold her in high enough regard, so she might as well trust him as well.
“So… this is your mind? It’s a little empty.”
“Point. It works as a base.” She took a step and from the nothingness the walls of a hallway emerged, rising from the endless pavement into a row of columns and arches. Each of them depicted a swirling circle of meaningless colors and shapes, echoes of words and noises too mixed up to pick up echoing from them. “We have been trained to show it bit by bit. Like when you try to say too many things at once, compared to speaking clearly and slowly.”
“I don’t know if I have much experience with that,” sadja replied scratching her head. “I’m not one for long talks. I prefer to take a nap. Or read, ever since I found out how to do it. Or walking through the forest, possibly without Eerie snapping at my heels.”
“All lovable past-times.” Her smile dried up. “Now, I am going to show you a few of my memories. You might find some… distressing. If you do…”
“I have your hand right there.” She held up her palm. “I can leave at any time, right?”
“At any time.”
“… thanks. I felt Verna’s mind against mine all the time. This is the first time something like this happens… it’s weird. But nice? I guess? You have a very… uh, clean mind. I hope. It’s the first one I visit, I wouldn’t really know…”
Elissa warmed her with another tender smile, then, hesitating, held up her hand.
“Care if I guide you?”
Sadja put her left in her right. This way she wouldn’t get confused on which hand to squeeze, she guessed.
“Thank you. I really appreciate the trust you are giving me. I promise I will do my best to cherish it.” Then the Vestal guided her towards the first arch.
There, the swirling colors and shapes and sounds settled down into a clearer form, showing two young girls, one of them sporting wolf legs and ears, holding onto the other one, who wore a dirty grey tunic and held her red hair in a ponytail.
“These are…” Sadja’s eyes grew wide as she took the scene in. “You are not making this up, are you?”
“Lying to you would be lying to myself,” Elissa replied. “I already made you a promise about it. I will just show you how my memories went down.”
Speaking of which, the redhead girl… did not have eyes. Or rather, a wriggling patch of blinking grey sparks wavered where her orbits ought to be.
“What… what’s that? Why are your eyes like that?”
“There are a few things I prefer not to completely remember.”
“But then you might be showing me stuff that’s not true.”
“I show you how I remember them. I’ll make no changes. That’s all I can do.”
The two smaller girls under the arch shivered. The redhead pulled the other one closer and began to rub against her, trying to warm her up. When that wasn’t enough, she went to the corner and picked up a blanket, draping it over their bodies as she lulled the other back to sleep. Her eyes still covered by the glitchy sparkles, she sighed and only when younger Sadja finally relaxed a tiny smile spread over her lips.
“That’s all I could ever do,” Elissa whispered.
“I don’t remember any of this,” Sadja muttered, walking closer and touching her younger self. Her hand felt only a weird mixture of cloth, hair and warm skin, one that did not relate to how the girl laying there actually looked or should have felt. “What…?”
“It’s an old memory. You feel how I would feel it. It’s vague and mixed up. Certain details get lost to time, even when you try your hardest to hold onto them.”
“I should remember it if it were true. How can I know you are not making any of this up?”
“Doubt is your friend, I guess. Why not try a more credible memory, a more tangible one, to better fool your senses? Why one that’s so partial and incomplete? It wouldn’t make sense.”
Sadja leaned forward, taking a sniff. All she got was a tiny hint of her smell and another kind of sweat, the same she felt from Elissa’s skin. It was a little different, and like she said, incomplete, but it was there. How could she recreate her smell if she had never seen her before? Plus, the feeling was hardly as potent as when she felt it. So she couldn’t have… copied it from her own mind, could she? Then again, Vestals and their powers…
“I really don’t know what to think anymore.”
“That makes two of us,” Elissa replied sadly. She also walked up to the wriggling image, she also put her hand through her old self’s hair. “It’s been a long long time.”
“Can I see anything else?”
“There’s always something else to see,” the Augur replied taking her hand once again. “We have all the time in the world here.”
Pic by AnachronAuthor’s Notes: another new fun chapter. For the time being, I’ll keep try to publish them every day. I’ll have to think how to deal with potentially extending the challenge past 100 days. For the time being, thanks for reading. I hope you liked this foray into Elissa’s memories.