Icastar's Diary (iii)
9th day in the Shadow Garden
I found the edge of the Garden today, I didn’t even know there was one. I was out walking, as I always do of a morning, learning the ways of my new world, and I discovered a new forest. It wasn’t there yesterday, and I was intrigued. For one thing I didn’t recognise any of the trees. They were tall, broad leaved, with folds in the trunk and the hugest, strangest fruit you’ve ever seen.
I couldn’t help but be intrigued, so I went for a walk beneath them, trying to see the top. It was impossible, they were simply too tall. The trunks are the colour of coal dust, and the leaves shimmer with a green and azure hue. I think they’re beautiful.
Ever eager to explore the newest additions to the Garden, I headed into the forest, ducking beneath the star-shine webs of Maskaoí’s spiders. These are even stranger than the one I found in my room. They’re about the size of my hand, with a round, black body, and strange, spiky legs, more like the edges of jagged icicles, and about the same colour. Their webs are huge, and shimmer all the time beneath the shadows of the great trees.
I felt like I had slipped through an unseen door into another, magical realm. I know, I know, I have yet to accept in my consciousness that I live in a magic realm now. Maskaoí says I will adjust one day, but if it means I lose this sense of wonder, I don’t want to.
Still, beyond the spiders, still beneath the trees, I found small, stunted bushes and black squirrels with silver eyes. I was still staring at one when I stumbled out of the trees. It happened so suddenly I was barely aware of it, before something grabbed my arm and dragged me back.
“No, my stars.”
Maskaoí was out of breath, her eyes wide and silver, her hair black shadows that seemed to have lives of their own.
I was so surprised that I stumbled back again, and realised what I had done.
When my foot tried to step onto the ground and found nothing, I looked down and saw eternity.
There was nothing beyond the edge of the Garden, and yet there was everything. For the first time I understood what Maskaoí meant when she tried to describe what an Entity was.
Terrified, I fell forward and into her arms, and when I looked up she was my own sweet Kaia again, her hair a tumble of fiery red and gold curls, her eyes blue with hints of sun questing yellow. The other woman was Maskaoí, the Entity, and all she entailed.
“Come away,” she whispered, and I happily complied.
I looked my death in the face today, the ruin of all ages, and it was beautiful. I never knew terror could feel like perfection.
10th day in the Shadow Garden
Maskaoí is not happy with me. I think it has to do with what happened yesterday. I can understand that she is concerned that I almost destroyed myself, but I also think she’s annoyed with herself for not warning me.
When I tried to enter the Shadow Wood again today, she appeared with a snap, her hair writhing like a real fire, her eyes blazing with silver anger. Part Kaia, part Maskaoí. More beautiful terror, was all I could think, and she grabbed my arm hard.
“If you wished to die, you could have just told me and I would have arranged it.”
No, I don’t think she is very happy with me at all.