“Evil never sleeps,” Helia laughed. “Well, I’m practically nocturnal.”
“Huh.” Ristle was fighting to stay awake now, despite the biting cold. “So how come not many people know about the vision stones? How come people don’t make them all the time?”
“Eh… It’s like a lost art kind of thing. A lot of people don’t know about the quest, think we’re crazy, or just don’t care either way. It’s mostly adventurers, dragonslayers, wise guys, and tied people who come looking for them with us. Only when all the vision stones are united can all of them be destroyed. It’s a magic thing that shaman did to the stones. He must have been one creepy old guy!” She laughed.
“Yeah, like, people who are in some way tied to the vision stones. People like you, or Elidia, or Rokudo… you know.”
“Oh, yeah…” Ristle remembered Elidia’s words: But that isn’t all they do. If you scream loudly and desperately in their presence, you’ll become trapped in limbo between all of them. If you laugh and say someone’s name, they will become cursed with a curse of your choice.
“Yeah. You can bike pretty good.”
“Oh? Oh yeah, I guess I can. We learned at school.”
Ristle and Helia fell silent, looking at the dark trees around them, as they had driven into a forest. It was cold, and still, the only disturbances in the air were the soft breeze, the rustles in the bushes, the cricket’s chirps, and the rattle of the cart. Finally, Helia spoke.
“Well, Ristle, that Tiger really has a thing for you.”
Ristle didn’t know what to say. He decided on the truth.
“Yeah, well, you seem to like Elidia enough. I hated boys at your age.”
Both of their attentions wandered back to the road. There was a soft rustle in the bushes, and a tiny, green spook emerged onto the dirt road. It had a round body and head, two, huge blue eyes, and tiny horns poking from its head, along with two clawed feet and a long tail.
Ristle and Helia coasted to a stop as it scurried across the road. It looked at them with its huge, blue eyes, then darted into a large, purple bush.
“I wonder where it was going.” Ristle thought aloud, staring after the spirit as they started moving again.
“To a well, to collect water.” Helia was quiet and subdued, rather than loud and nonchalant.
“How do you know?” Ristle sounded a little more startled than he felt.
“I know because I know.” Helia answered sharply.
There was a flapping noise behind them, and Ristle could tell it was Rokudo.
“So, how are things?” the “chicken” asked.
“Meh.” said Ristle.
“Well, we should rest soon, as soon as it is dawn.”
“When’s that?” Helia sounded like herself again.
“Soon, very soon,” he paused. “Would you like me to take over with magic? My powers, and dexterousness, are limited as a chicken, but I enjoy having wings, and, certain exclusive skills.”
“Sure.” Ristle was glad for an excuse to get off his bike, but Helia only shrugged.
They both lay down and watched the stars speed by as Rokudo closed his eyes, using some sort of telekinesis to propel the cart. Helia stared up at the sky with a distant, almost strained, and yet relaxed expression on her dark face. Ristl tried to sleep again, unsuccessfully, so he sat up at the front of the cart with Rokudo
“Where are we going?” Ristle felt the wind on his face.
“Hmmm… I suppose I should be able to answer that. We’re going to see a dragon.” Rokudo’s eyes remained closed.
“Dragon?” Helia was sitting up straight now. “A dragon? A real, living, talking dragon?” There was both fear and strange hunger in her voice.
“Well,” Rokudo sighed. “If the spirits let us pass.”
“Spirits? You mean like spooks and sprites?” Ristle inwardly hoped it was nothing more.
“Yes, and a few yokai. Maybe even a small god, or some ghosts.”
“Gods? Are gods spirits?” Ristle had never seen or worshipped a god, but he knew of their existence.
“Yes, I guess. Gods are a type of spirit, but only exist when there are people to worship them.”
Helia had layed back in the cart, her eyes still fixed on the heavens.
There was a melancholy feeling in the air.
“Ristle, go to sleep.” Rokudo’s eyes remained shut.
Ristle lay back, next to the figure of Elidia, whose eyes were half open.
“Rokudo, I can take over now.” she whispered.
“With who? Emerald and Mark are much too small, and everyone else has had their turn.”
“Okay, sure.” she layed back down. “I’ll just go back to sleep.”
“I have a feeling you will be needed more later,” Rokudo opened his eyes slowly. “Just sleep now.”
So Elidia closed her eyes again. It was a few moments before Ristle finally sunk into sleep, and a few more before he was woken.
“You aren’t welcome here.” a voice boomed menacingly.
“We must speak with Kadelvesi, and it is important.” Rokudo sounded frantic, but kept cool.