It was incredibly awkward, eating lunch surrounded by a bunch of chattering birds that I knew were actually sprites, and sitting across from Nolan, the only person I could actually see but also someone I’d just had a horrible fight with. So as I ate roasted squirrel as fast as I could, I made sure to keep my eyes firmly fixed on an inchworm working its way through the grass beside me, just so I wouldn’t have to look at anyone else. I could feel Nolan’s intense stare burning a hole in my forehead, but as long as he said nothing, I was content to let him stare.
I finished eating before he did and excused myself to go saddle up Faith. Nolan thankfully didn’t follow, leaving me to work in peace. Once her saddle and bridle were properly adjusted, I set about putting on my armour. I’d taken it off to eat lunch, out of courtesy for the gypsy sprites, but had been itching to put it back on ever since. I now felt my discomfort ease as I settled the pauldrons on my shoulders and felt the press of metal against my ribs. I put my sword on, too—there was no way I was going for a ride with bearskins nearby without bringing my sword.
I put my foot in the stirrup and pulled myself into the saddle, settling easily and picking up the reins. I nudged Faith forwards and she went willingly, picking up a trot when I asked for it. I posted instinctively, rising and falling in the saddle in time with Faith’s steps, and for a time there was no sound but the steady thump of her hooves and the groan and jingle of her tack.
After a while, we veered from the riverside and towards the forest where there was a path wide enough for me to ride along it comfortably. I asked Faith to canter and she sprang into it eagerly. Her hoofbeats grew louder as she picked up the pace and I felt our connection, as her strength surged and carried her forwards and my muscles worked in tandem to keep me secure on her back. We cantered quite a distance till she decided she’d had enough and I pulled her back to a walk.
Everything was so quiet around us. The sunlight was dappled on my face and the ground as it filtered through the still leaves high above, and there was no wind to stir the air or undergrowth. It was peaceful, except that I had never before been in a forest so calm. Usually, it was bursting with life, bursting with Small Folk, and it was nearly impossible to find such quiet. That was the way it was supposed to be. This was wrong.
The word hung over my head like a curse. Accusing me. Telling me all my faults.
You did this to yourself, and now you can’t undo it.
When I first realized I was deaf and blind to the Small Folk, before I’d been given a reason for it, I never would’ve guessed that I’d done it to myself. Why would I? I didn’t want to lose my magic. I’d been able to blame my disability on some unknown power, something I could probably attack or confront or at the very least hate.
The fact that that power was myself, and that I didn’t even know how or why I’d done it… I had betrayed myself. And now I was supposed to trust that I could handle fighting the bearskins?
I now had my doubts. With the anger in my chest, and the resentment I’d been living with… I was suddenly afraid that I wasn’t prepared for this fight.
Faith tugged at the reins and I realized I’d been clenching them tightly. I loosened my grip and gently steered her back towards the gypsy sprite camp. I didn’t want to go back there, surrounded by people who didn’t understand, but I didn’t want to stay here, either, in this hollow forest that was too quiet. I didn’t really want to be anywhere right now–I just wanted to stop, to curl up and sleep, and wake up when the world had righted itself and I felt like I could be a part of it again.
The thought was terrifying and I felt a momentary breath-stealing flash of panic. I wanted to pull Faith to a halt, to stop her moving forwards because I couldn’t. I couldn’t fight the bearskins. I couldn’t overcome my anger. I couldn’t get my magic back. I just couldn’t deal with everything right now. All I wanted to do was cry, but I couldn’t let myself do that either. If I cried, people would see. They’d see me as weak.
But I was weak, wasn’t I?
As Faith brought me closer and closer to the camp, closer to a battle I couldn’t fight, to people I couldn’t face, to a world I couldn’t handle, I felt my panic grow.
What was I getting myself into?
More LotSF, finally. I take a very long time to update, don’t I?
I have not had a good couple days. Frustrating stuff has happened, and though some of it is my fault and some of it isn’t, I’m in that state of mind where I assign all the blame to myself. I know that isn’t true, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve done everything wrong.
I don’t mean to write LotSF only when I’m upset, but that seems more often than not to be the case. I guess that’s good, in a way… I mean, this is supposed to be a personal journey.
I felt that more back when I was sick, but I’m still feeling it a little bit right now. I can’t handle everything on my plate right now. I can’t live up to the expectations I’ve given myself and others have given me. I can’t do everything I want to, everything I need to, so why even bother?
Hm. Life is presently kind of sucky, but this is when I need my Faith. I will be okay. I can do it, whether or not I necessarily want to do what it takes. I’ll be fine.
How are you?
May you approach every challenge riding on the back of faith.