Muer'Khista Ch 2.
Tre'Leigh learns more about her bloodline.
Mistress P’lara greeted Tre’Leigh with a smile. “I was expecting you little one. Please, come in so we can have a chat.” Tre’Leigh followed the Mistress of the Kuja to her study. Mistress P’lara lived in the largest and most ornate house in the village which was fitting considering her status. A small round mahogany table had already been set up with two upholstered chairs. Atop the table was a fine porcelain teapot with matching cups, and what looked like a saucer of delicious honey biscuits. The tea set was white with a blue band depicting constellations surrounding the widest part. Tre’Leigh’s mom had a similar set with a different pattern that she only took out for special occasions. Tre’Leigh sat in the chair offered to her. She had never known Mistress P’lara to be sociable and friendly. It made her feel a little unnerved. After Mistress P’lara sat in her own chair, she poured Tre’Leigh’s tea and offered her a biscuit which Tre’Leigh politely declined. She loved honey biscuits, they were a rare treat, but she was still lacking an appetite due to her shared experience with the great cat’s latest meal. As Tre’Leigh sat there nervously sipping on her tea, Mistress P’lara spoke.
“Your sister came to see me earlier. She is really excited and very proud of you. She told me everything. It must’ve been an overwhelming shock to awaken your Muer’Khista. How are you holding up?”
“Muer’Khista?” Tre’Leigh asked. “What is a Muer’Khista?”
“My apologies. These days, it’s known as a spirit walker, but in ancient times we called it Muer’Khista. Most of those who could spirit walk appeared as a form of themselves. That was the exercise Liandrin was trying to show you. But in very rare cases, and only found in a handful of family bloodlines, a spirit walker can sometimes project as an animal; Muer’Khista. It runs in your family as you now know, but before you only those with red hair have ever developed that gift. And then you come along. Liandrin has been unsuccessful in awakening her Muer’Khista. I never told her about it because your father asked me not to. I was hoping her exercises in spirit walking would help her find it on her own without me having to break my promise.”
“My dad says it’s a cursed thing that my great-grandfather used to kill a lot of innocent people.”
“Yes, that is true.” Mistress P’lara replied. A sad, far-off expression appeared on her face.
“Your great-grandfather was filled with seething anger and hatred even as a child. Before his Muer’Khista awakened, he was a bully. With it, he was dangerous.
Tre’Leigh lowered her teacup and stared at the Mistress of Kuja as if seeing her for the first time. Mistress P’lara seemed to know more about her own family than she did.
“Your grandmother Erille and I were friends you see, more like sisters actually. We were as close as you are with Yari and Shannon. Yes, very good friends. I was there when her Muer’Khista first appeared. We originally thought it was the ghost of someone’s pet ferret, which is the form it took.” Mistress P’lara’s eyes lit up as she chuckled. “Erille was so happy when she figured it out. She had a mischievous and playful personality. Which made her ferret Muer’Khita a perfect extension of who she was.”
“Your great-grandfather however was furious. He was from the old blood, a great client and had this great wolfen beast, but his daughter ended up with something vexatious that he saw as little more than a sewer rat. Your grandmother Erille learned to despise him. When your great-grandfather died, she didn’t go to the memorial, nor did she shed a tear.”
Tre’Leigh listened with fascination. These were details that her mom never told her. Until last night, Tre’Leigh didn’t even know her family carried a rare trait.
“Mistress P’lara, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I will end up like my great-grandfather and do terrible things.”
Mistress P’lara reached across the table and held Tre’Leigh’s hand. The expression in the Mistress of the Kuja’s eyes were warm, calming, and genuine.
“I won’t let that happen little one. You are not your great-grandfather. Where he was cruel and arrogant, you are gentle and kind. If you allow me, I would be honored to work with you to help you learn how to develop a better command of your great mountain cat for lack of a better term to describe it.”
Tre’Leigh hesitated a little, then smiled as she nodded in acceptance of the offer. They spent hours talking about Tre’Leigh’s family history and of each Muer’Khista. As she listened to Mistress P’lara describe the hysterical antics of her grandmother and her ferret Muer’Khista. She felt a connection with a woman who had passed away long before Tre’Leigh was born. During the conversation, Tre’Leigh’s appetite returned, and she helped herself to a few honey biscuits. Mistress P’lara would not discuss how Tre’Leigh’s grandmother died. Whenever asked she had to dismissed the question or changed the topic.
“As for you being reinstated. Let me think on it.”
Tre’Leigh looked disappointed. The Kuja Mistress could see this and wanted Tre’Leigh to go home with a good feeling.
“You give me a lot to ponder little one. Your skills really haven’t developed enough to move on in training under normal circumstances, but this awakened Muer’Khista is something that none of the others will ever be able to produce. Show up tomorrow. I have an idea that will help me decide what I should do with you.”
Mistress P’lara promised to guide her as new skills emerged from her connection with the Muer’Khista no matter what happened with her training. Based on what she knew from Erille, a Muer’Khista is something quite special.
The ability to see plant auras and know their meaning was amazing enough but sharing nourishment when the great cat ate meant their spiritual connection was far deeper than any recorded Muer’Khista before her. This was only the beginning. The Kuja Mistress wanted to be there when Tre’Leigh gained control. It would be something spectacular.
It was very late into the night when Tre’Leigh finally said their goodbyes and headed home. Tre’Leigh’s mom, dad, and her sister Liandrin were waiting up for her. She told them all about the visit. Her mom embraced her in a warm hug while Liandrin looked on proudly with a satisfied “See little sister? I told you it would be all right.” expression on her face. Her father decided this was a good time to celebrate and got his bottle of naye. He poured enough in a cup for each of them to take one swallow. He had an odd bitter-tart flavor that grew stronger, causing a warm tingling feeling with a touch of lightheadedness. This was only the second time Tre’Leigh had ever been given naye. The night before was her first. She was beginning to like it.
Despite the effects of naye, Tre’Leigh was too excited to sleep. The next morning and all through the day that feeling of happiness remained. When the others in her group gathered for their daily lessons, there was surprised to see Tre’Leigh standing nearby. It was a small village in the news of her being released from training traveled fast. There was a mixed reaction.
Yari and Shannon nearly knocked her over as they raced to hug her with condolences. Most of the others were very happy to see her, but were confused because once released from training, you weren’t allowed to be anywhere near the training areas. There were a few however who deemed themselves of a truer bloodline and seemed irritated at the site of her. Yari’s family, the Magrah’n, were one of the wealthier in the village and of the old blood. Yari never let her family’s position go to her head. She was very down to earth, and not one to stick her nose up at others. Yari was a reserved, she was the perfect third pea in the pod shared with Tre’Leigh and Shannon.
Fatme dal’Salatin however was the opposite. The dal’Salatin also hailed from an ancient line. Fatme was already very powerful in the kuja for her age as well as arrogant. She saw the Art’hehl and Yari’s family Magrah’n as superior to lesser Silen, especially those of tainted bloodlines such as with Shannon and Tre’Leigh.
When Mistress P’lara arrived, Fatme pointed toward Tre’Leigh and complained about her being there. Fatme crossed her arms and smirked with arrogance while waiting for Tre’Leigh to be sent away in shame and humiliation.
“Tre’Leigh Esha is here at my direction.” Pronounced Mistress P’lara.
She stared sternly at the now shocked and visibly angry Fatme, who could only mutter a defeated “Yes Mistress P’lara” as she stepped back.
“Everyone gather around.” Instructed Mistress P’lara. “I’ve decided that you will all play a game, a sort of fun contest.”
All of the trainees did as she bid them while they listened with anticipation to the rules.
“How many of you have been to the far side of Teal’aMoh Lake?” Mistress P’lara asked.
Several of the children, mostly boys, raised their hands.
“Excellent. And how many of you have been to the cave a few miles past?” She continued.
“I have.” Announced Jalahn, an elf boy with a fair complexion and long golden hair like Yari’s. It was a trait found in the old-blood elves. Jalahn had a crush on Shannon despite her low-born status and Tre’Leigh suspected that Shannon liked him back.
“Well then, Jalahn might have an advantage.” Said Mistress P’lara. “I placed something in that cave. The first one who can tell me what it is will win the contest and a reward.”
Excited voices erupted asking for the details of the contest, and what the reward is. Mistress P’lara let them have their moment before holding her hands up to quiet them down. On one of the very rare times seen in the group, the Mistress of Kuja wore a large grin and appeared to be enjoying the moment.
“Okay, the rules are simple. Use any means that you have, magical or non-magical to discover what is in the cave and tell me about it. The first one who can do this wins. As for the prize, well that will be a secret for now.” Mistress P’lara turned toward Tre’Leigh. “You are welcome to participate if you wish.” Mistress P’lara’s words weren’t spoken, but rather formed in Tre’Leigh’s mind. Mistress P’lara it seems didn’t want the others to hear.
She waited. The suspence was building. Mistress P’lara observed as each student worked out a plan of how they were going to do this. After a long wait she finally announced, “You can start… now!”
Several of the group took to flight. Some had wings while others didn’t need them. They headed off in the direction of the lake moving just above the treetops. Others including Jalahn turned themselves into various animals and raced through the woods at high speed. Jalahn chose an elk. Yari used her gift to step into a tree. She was able to pass from tree to tree to tree, allowing her to travel long distances in a short amount of time. It was something she had learned from mother last summer.
Fatme began moving her hands in a circular motion. A small orb of light began to form. Within that orb there appeared to be a shiny surface like a mirror. It was a scrying spell. Tre’Leigh had seen her use it before. She could look through it and view any place she had already been. As she had never been to the cave herself, Fatme would have to look as close as she’s been, look around, and reform her scry closer toward the cave. Shannon also used a scry, but instead of an orb, she gazed into a bucket of water that she drew from the well. The water took on a silverly glow like a moon at full circle. She stared at it intently.
“Some are born to be legendary, but on occasion the Legends choose one who is common and mold them to greatness.” It was Tre’Leigh who spoke. “It’s written on parchment.” She continued in a calm, matter of fact tone. “The parchment is tacked to a board, which is attached to a tripod made from everberry branches.”
Those who were still nearby stopped what they were doing and stared at Tre’Leigh in disbelief. Fatme protested angrily that Tre’Leigh was no longer in training and wasn’t allowed to compete. She looked like she was about say more, when her face suddenly twisted in horror. Fatme screamed while batting at the air in an attempt to fight off something that nobody else could see. Everyone but Shannon that is. Through her scry, she arrived moments after Fatme did. Shannon jumped back, but then quickly realized what was happening and burst into laughter.
The Muer’Khista had appeared on the north side Teal’mohr Lake, which was as close as Tre’Leigh herself had ever been to the cave. It was a large lake, several miles across, but you could see the other shore. The great cat vanished leaving a swirling mass of bluish purple residue then reappeared on the southern bank. It fixed its eyes on an object in the direction it wanted to travel and reappeared at that object. It kept doing this until it smelled the dank mustiness that must have been the cave. It only took a few moments. Once at the entrance, the Muer’Khista walked in on massive paws. In the darkness there was a small tripod made of logs that were tied with rope. Nailed to the tripod was a plaque. Tacked to the plaque was an open scroll with the words that Tre’Leigh had just recited.
A minute or so later, a glowing light began to enter the room. It was the other end of Fatme’s scry. Tre’Leigh could see Fatme’s face staring from scry, and decided to have some fun. Focusing on her connection with the Muer’Khista, she caused it to lunge at the orb. When it did, the orb vanished. Another scry resembling a silvery liquid full moon appeared just in time for its owner to see what happened. The second one belonged to Shannon.
Mistress P’lara didn’t say anything. She waited. As other students returned one by one to proudly announce what they had found, only to learn from Fatme and Shannon they were too late. Tre’Leigh beat them to it. Fatme claimed that she cheated. After the last of the students had returned, a barrage of questions came next. Tre’Leigh heard Mistress P’lara in her head again. She was told that she didn’t have to say any more than she wanted to about her Muer’Khista. Aside from knowing that Tre’Leigh could produce some form of beast and see through its eyes, courtesy of Fatme, the others were left to ponder.
Mistress P’lara who had to quiet a now hysterical Fatme with a hand gesture to stop her antics, explained to everyone that Tre’Leigh was invited by her and given permission to compete. Mistress P’lara presented Tre’Leigh with her prize. As reward, she was reinstated and would be allowed to continue her training. Tre’Leigh was overwhelmed with joy. Shannon, Yari and nearly all of the others congratulated her with hugs and words of happiness that she was back, but they wanted to know how she did what she did. Tre’Leigh whispered that she’d tell them in private. Fatme didn’t hide her emotions about losing. She seethed in rage and glared at Tre’Leigh with hatred and jealousy.
After things had quiet down, Tre’Leigh, Shannon and Yari made their way up to the thinking spot that until a few days ago when Liandrin found it, was their well-kept secret. They were careful not to be followed, especially by Fatme.
“Okay, why didn’t you tell us you could conjure animals?” Shannon demanded to know.
Shannon was very light skinned, pale in fact, with raven black hair that was naturally wavy. When compared to Tre’Legh with her dark skin and snowy silver hair, the two were like opposing game pieces of a board game. Many had commented on this in one form or another. The normally jovial Shannon appeared hurt at being left out of this marvelous secret.
“I didn’t know I could”. Explained Tre’Leigh. She told them about the lesson Liandrin shared with her. She told them everything and answered their questions as well as she could.
“So all this time, you were able to summon a beast and you never knew it?” Asked Yari.
Tre’Leigh nodded. “You two would have been the first I’d tell if I knew sooner. My sister was trying to show me how to spirit walk but triggered this instead. I’m still trying to get used to it. I’m still trying to get used to it.”
Shannon began to grin. Okay, now that I know you weren’t hiding this from us, you’re forgiven.”
“What’s it like?” Asked Yari.
“Well, I told you about the colors and swirls.” Began Tre’Leigh. “But it’s even more than that. When the trees move in the wind, when water flows, fish swim, and when you two or anyone moves, it blurs. I don’t know what that means yet. It sometimes makes my stomach sick.”
“Oh what I would have given to see your cat lunge at Fatme.” Said Yari.
“She had to be put in her place and you did it in style.” Added Shannon. “If it wasn’t for you, she’d have won that challenge. She never liked you, but I think her bad feelings went up a notch or two. It’s a good thing you have that cat, because knowing her, she’ll out to get even.”
Tre’Leigh went a silent a moment as if considering what Shannon said. Then she broke out in a huge grin. “Want to see it?”
Tre’Leigh summoned her Muer’Khista. It was as simple as imagining herself standing a few feet away. The air around the spot she focused on started to distort the way it does when water vapor rises from a hot surface. The rippled began to glow blue. It was faint for a few seconds, then became brilliant and formed into a massive creature with elongated canines.
Shannon had seen this before in the cave, but Yari stepped back. She almost squealed in surprised delight when the phantasmal form took full shape.
“Is it safe?” She asked cautiously, as she kept her distance.
“I would never hurt either of you.” Replied Tre’Leigh. “Neither will my Muer’Khista. That’s what Mistress P’lara says it’s called, a Muer’Khista. You can though it if you like. I don’t mind.”
Yari remained cautious. Shannon was as well, but less so. She slowly, and with the timidness of a rabbit sneaking up on a sleeping fox, she reached out her hand. It passed into the cat’s body, like placing a hand into a thick fog. She held it there, studying She felt a cool tingling.
“It isn’t solid.” She said. “That is so weird.”
Yari joined her and watched in amazement as her hand penetrated the great beast, and as Shannon described, it feel very cool and tingling.
The cat turned and pressed against her, pushing them both back as it did.
Shannon cursed something profane. Tre’Leigh burst into laughter.
“Isn’t that awesome. It’s like air if you try to touch it, but solid when it wants to touch you.” I discovered that when I pranked Fatme. I actually moved her scry circle when I pounced on her.
Tre’Leigh then had an idea. Her eyes lit up as she shared it with the others.
“What if I wait until Fatme is asleep, then use it to rearrange her room without her knowing. Yari can watch through your scry Shannon. It will be brilliant.”
And that’s what they did. For weeks, Fatme awoke with her room re-arranged, yet she never saw or heard what did it. Oh, she’d try to stay awake, but once she dozed, it happened again. They stopped it after a week or so when they saw how ill Fatme was starting to look. Tre’Leigh wanted to keep it up, but the others felt bad, even for Fatme and convinced her to stop. Although Tre’Leigh agreed, from time to time, she paid Fatme a nocturnal visit. Once she even left a dead rabbit on her bed. Fatme knew it was Tre’Leigh, but fear kept the golden haired elf from going to anyone. She was now afraid. Tre’Leigh like it.
There were times when Tre’Leigh wondered if she was becoming like her great grandfather. Tre’Leigh reasoned that her great grandfather was cruel even before discovering his Muer’Khista. She was just having some fun at Fatme’s expense.
The dead rabbit prank led to Fatme asking her parents to be sent to live with her aunt at the elven capitol of Silen. She claimed that Mistress P’lara lacked the skill to teach her properly. Cailan Ti was the Mistress of the Kuja in Silen. Fatme wanted to be trained by her instead. The arrangements were made using their connections. Once the winter snow melted enough to travel, Fatme left for Silen. Few of the students seemed to miss her. Tre’Leigh felt victorious.
About the author
My stories come in the form of vivid dreams. The challenge is putting them to words. I'm medically a retired navy veteran and nurse, world traveler, artist, lecturer, and past journal reviewer with 5 ferrets who keep me very entertained