There was a haze over the rising moon.
The slightest misting of dew slicked the grass under her feet, and drifted through the air. The moisture collected on her skin in tiny shimmering droplets as she moved easily through the woods. It wasn’t a difficult terrain to maneuver, really. If anything, this forest, she found, was relatively dead. The widespread canopy of pine, oak, maple and birch prevented much undergrowth from flourishing, choked as the forest floor was by dead needles and leaves, fallen logs and fungi, weeds and moss. Barren trails, perhaps walked by deer and rabbits, squirrels, maybe. Humans… humans, perhaps. But little foliage.
No morning glories.
Taaja bristled and hurriedly swiped her hands down her pale, bare arms, ridding herself of the feeling of dripping moisture down her skin. It was bloody blasphemous, she told herself sternly, to pretend even for a moment that she was anything more, and more human than what she actually was. Even now she felt the delicious pull of stolen energy, and enormous well of raw power, the lust to use it, fast, now. She could run. Run, like she were flying. But Taaja didn’t run. She walked slowly, slowly. Yet another one of the ways she could fool herself into thinking-
If she admitted that she was fooling herself, was she indeed fooling herself?
No. Not at all.
Soft deerskin shoes made hardly a sound on the dead leaves and needles beneath her feet. Dead earth. Dead Taaja. Living blood lurking in her veins. She smiled wryly at the thought. Pausing in her travel, she took a moment to lean against the trunk of a slim birch tree, the white speckled bark peeling off it in curling ringlets. Taaja broke off a piece and turned it thoughtfully in her hands.
Three years. Three years and a few weeks now, that she’d left life, left love, left family, left everything behind for… for what? This? What was this, exactly? Did it matter what it was, just that it was? Taaja didn’t quite know anymore. The years were a constant. Three years, she knew, had passed, and many more would come and go. Like the tide. She’d seen the sea, now. Seen the deserts. Amazing, how far one could go with a thing like time on their side.
Memories, too, could fade. Taaja crumpled the round of birch bark in her hand and let it sprinkle to the ground at her feet. She was close to home. Closer than she’d been in those three years. Miles away, still, but close nonetheless. If she traveled any further east she might eventually come to the lake where she’d last seen---
Pain spread like wildfire from her chest, ripping through her core until she was forced to kneel at the side of the tree, steadying herself with one hand lest she topple over completely! She groaned once, and then quieted, swallowing back the agony before it had the chance to rip through her for a second round. Swallowing hard again, she passed a hand over her eyes, and then tucked a strand of dark hair that had fallen loose back into the braid that wound across her scalp. Emotion was a strange thing, now, in her state of being. Either it ran rampant, or it vanished entirely for months at a time. Now, being so close to where she’d once lived, the pesky emotions appeared to have come back with a vengeance after a three month hiatus during which time nothing, nothing obstructed her path to her own admittedly sick methods of personal justice.
This sudden onslaught of memory and emotion was not a good sign of things to come, Taaja told herself brusquely, brushing her palms off on her tan pants before she habitually adjusted her dark blouse. She would stay in the area long enough to feed and perhaps catch word on the whereabouts of Damien. No more.
And then she would leave once again.