Chapter 12


Chapter 12: The Who & The What

The sun had barely come up, but the three of us were on the road. Norio decided that Nyah and I would ride on Norio’s horse while he walked alongside of us. We’d all agreed to head for Igole to rescue my sister Zola. We had to get there before King Dorieus did. However, my thoughts were all over the place. I couldn’t stop thinking about what Norio had said to me last night. My heart hurt, and I’d never felt anything like that before. It was, awkward and depressing. I was so caught up in my own head that I hadn’t realized Norio had been talking to me in a hushed voice.

Norio- Malaika? Are you…ignoring me?

I was in such a daze I hadn’t realized that Norio was speaking to me. He was almost whispering so I assumed he didn’t want Nyah to hear us.

Malaika- Sorry, I was miles away…

I lowered my head towards him and whispered back. Nyah probably could hear us, but she was being polite and pretending not to hear.

Norio sighed but his eyes held a look of concern. He looked away from me and back to the path ahead of us. I couldn’t read his expression at all.

Norio- Is there something wrong?

Malaika-…Not particularly…

He shrugged with a heavy sigh. Maybe he did sense what was wrong, but I doubted. I was sure he hadn’t thought of last night’s conversation at all. To me, Norio just seemed like the quiet, withdrawn, distant type. The type who could never tell if a woman was angry at him. I looked down to see Norio with a defensive look on his face like I’d reached down and hit him. I must’ve been glaring at him while I was deep in thought.

Norio- Why are you looking at me like that all of a sudden?

Malaika- I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…

Norio- Are you sure you aren’t mad at me?

I simply nodded, looking away from him. I couldn’t talk to him about matters of the heart right now. He shook his head at me before looking ahead once more.

We continued on through the mountainous valleys until we began to see a forest treeline again. We walked for a while under the cover of the trees. We were soon met by a suspicious looking woman leaning against one of the large old trees. Norio stopped walking and the horse stopped in sync with him.

Norio- Wait here…

He said before walking towards the mysterious woman. She was dressed like a noble from Raythe, the land in which  Fa Palace resides. She was wearing a beautiful, black & gold Cheongsam Dress and a fox fur drapped around her shoulders. Her shoes were black flats with gold lace designs at the toes. I had no idea who she might be, but she was very beautiful. Jet black hair came down to her shapely hips, and you couldn’t help but admire her modelesque legs below. Her lips were a little on the thinner side but she put in the extra time on her lip gloss to make them ‘pop’. Her nose was cute and small which matched her round, dark eyes. Judging by the way she smiled at Norio, they knew each other. I was curious as to how well they knew each other.

Nyah- He’s getting more and more interesting. I wonder who she is…

Nyah sounded as if she was trying to solve a complicated math problem. I kept my thoughts to myself, as I happened to be thinking of some pretty morbid things at the time. After a brief exchange of smiles and words, Norio and the mystery woman came over to us.

Norio- Ladies, this is Ligeia. She’s an old partner of mine. Ligeia, these are the two I needed you to help. That’s all you need to know.

Instead of pushing him on the matter, she gave a firm nod. Smiling at Nyah and I, she stepped closer to the horse.

Ligeia- Nice to meet you both.

She said in a surprisingly high pitched tone of voice. Nyah and I nodded at her while smiling. My curiosity continued to grow and my imagination was running wild. Who is she really?

Norio- She has similar gifts to the two of you, only she has full control over them. Ligeia is here to pass on her skills and knowledge to you both. With your permission, of course.

I looked from Norio to Ligeia a couple of times before I answered him.

Malaika- Yes. I gladly accept your help.

Nyah- So do I. We need as much as we can get.

Norio- Great. Now that that’s all settled, I have to discuss another matter with Ligeia before she departs.

Nyah- She won’t be traveling with us?

Norio slightly laughed before he answered her.

Norio- She’ll be close by, but you’ll never even know she’s there.

Ligeia- Think of me as your guardian in the shadows.

The thought should have been comforting but it wasn’t. She was another stranger coming to our aide. I didn’t know enough yet to trust her with my life. Then again, I didn’t know much about Norio either. I just didn’t feel the need to suspect him of ill intent since he’s always been upfront with me. He’s also dedicating his time and life to me without asking for anything.

Which was more concerning? The fact that Norio, is a complete enigma? Or Ligeia, because there was suddenly another woman who wasn’t my sister traveling with us? These were the questions I thought of while I watched the two of them conversing amongst themselves. They seemed to be talking very deeply about something because Ligeia suddenly touched his arm.

I waited in silent suspense as I watched that small gesture. Both of them suddenly started laughing and I realized, it was the first time I’d really seen him smiling. He seemed like a totally different person in that moment. Not the silent, serious, and teasing Norio that I knew. This whole time he never spoke with me as he was with her in that moment.

I began to wonder…Was Ligeia the reason he shot me down before I could even ask him how he felt?