The Blue Woman and the High Wood
Book Two in the Nyla Series
(C) 2018 Adam Cole
Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC
To her dismay, the blue woman seemed startled and she retreated around the fire the other way. “Wait!” Nyla said. “I’m not gonna hurt you! I just want to…” But it made no difference. With each step she took, the blue woman skittered back to stay away from her. She seemed miserable now, full of longing and aversion at the same time, a kind of combined terror of getting what she wanted and not getting it.
“Well then why did you come here?” Nyla yelled at her. “What do you want?” Nyla felt the blood rush to her face. She had become angry. “Everybody else tells me what they want! I’m supposed to take care of everybody else! Obviously I’m supposed to take care of you too. But you won’t even say! What do you want?”
Why did you come here? She heard the echo of her first question in her head. Why indeed had the blue woman come? The question nagged at Nyla now, as if it had been the important one.
She seemed to be connected with the storm. They had first seen her then, though Nyla didn’t remember much about those moments on the ship.
Did the storm bring her? Was she some kind of goddess of the storm? A spirit?
It didn’t seem to fit. She had helped them get away from the storm the first time. Why do that? If she was the cause of the storm, or the power behind it, why not just stop it?
Maybe she couldn’t. Maybe the storm was just part of who she was…it came with her wherever she went.
“No,” Nyla said to herself, shaking her head. The storm had come first. The blue woman had only come after.
After she had played the Vie A’Lyn.
“Is it the instrument?” she asked, though the question was difficult. She knew where the answers led. “Is this what you came to…see?”
The woman’s face brightened up, but she didn’t nod her head. Getting closer, thought Nyla, wrong question. But she dreaded the answer to the right one.
“This…” she said, raising up the Vie A Lyn. “The instrument. You…want this?”
The woman nodded her head vigorously. She held out her blue arms, the palms open.
But Nyla hesitated, drew back.
Why, she wondered, should she give the instrument away?
It’s not the real instrument, she reasoned to herself. It’s just a pretend version.
But it was hers. It came to her. She could play it. The instrument loved her, and it was looking for her.
What would happen if she gave it away?
The woman, Nyla began to remember, wasn’t necessarily her friend. Yes, she seemed familiar. Yes, she had helped them once. But she traveled with this horrible storm. And many people that had helped her also turned on her.
And anyway, the instrument was hers!
Such a welling of selfishness and doubt overcame Nyla that she clutched more tightly at the instrument, forgetting that she wasn’t really holding it. Her hands passed through it and, to her horror it began to fade.
It was only by the greatest concentration that she found it again, went deeper into her mind to retrieve it. And it came back reluctantly.
The blue woman had watched the whole thing with a look of alarm, dismay, and her bright blue fingers clutched helplessly at nothing. Nyla scowled at her. In return the woman appeared so distraught that she seemed to wither, to disappear herself, and the wailing of the storm increased.
“I have to play it,” Nyla said to her. “I have to stop this storm.”
The woman did not reply, only looked at Nyla with fear in her eyes.
“It’s mine!” Nyla cried, over the wailing wind.
“It came to me,” she whispered. “I can change the world with it.”
But you didn’t want to do that, she reminded herself. You decided not to stay with Highboy. You decided that friends were more important.
She nodded to herself. Friends were more important.
This isn’t the real Vie A’Lyn, she continued to hear herself think. It’s just a shadow.
Give it to the shadow of a woman.
She felt her arms ache, resisting the act, slowly, unwillingly opening and extending across the fire, which she no longer felt, towards the blue woman. And even though she was never holding the instrument, it followed her hands as if she were, and went willingly to the blue woman, who snatched it suddenly with a gesture of utter delight. A silver bow appeared in the blue fingertips of her right hand.
And the music she played on it was unlike anything Nyla had ever heard. It was far more complicated than anything she could have played. Grown up music, and so beautiful, like the singing of a chorus of stars.
The blue woman danced with joy as she held the instrument in her arms, turning around and around, and Nyla found that the sight made her happy too, rather than sad. The instrument seemed to belong in the arms of the blue woman. It fit there, ghost to ghost, and was content.
The woman began to retreat with the instrument, back away from the fire, growing in size as she did. As the shore appeared in Nyla’s imagination, the blue woman backed into it, delicately fingering the neck of the instrument. The sound was growing louder and more dispersed, just as the woman was growing larger and less defined. And as the sound enveloped Nyla’s hearing, it pushed away the sound of the storm until it was a background of the music, then an echo, then perhaps a memory.
And the blue woman grew larger and larger as she backed away with the instrument until her body was as large as the sky and suffused Nyla’s vision with a blue translucence. Soon nothing could be seen of the woman but the blue in her body, stretching from the water to the end of the sky.
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More about The Blue Woman and the High Wood
Now that Veer Isle was secure, it was time for the hero Vival to take Nyla to see the Sand Witch. Accompanied by Chere/Sherluck and Tom the Incredibly Helpful Sword, Nyla and Vival board a ship bound for Zen.
But trouble begins as soon as the ship leaves the harbor. A terrible storm comes up. The sailors want to throw Nyla from the ship. And rising out of the ocean is the mysterious Blue Woman.
Adam Cole is an author and music educator in Atlanta, GA. He has written numerous books and stories for children, as well as a number of adult and non-fiction titles including Motherless Child and Seven Ways the World Can End.
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