(This is first-person narrative, from Mataoka’s perspective. This is not the human speaking: I am merely her servant. I pay the electric bill.)
There are two, only two, that when I see them from time to time, my tongue becomes so thick and wedged between my teeth I can barely speak. One a dear friend I helped when needed, a paladin named Althen, and one protective but elusive friend, like death itself. Me, a silver-tongue, known to coax the rains from the heavens, or blast a mountainside with fire! And I realize my pride is stronger than friendship, stronger than love. I will never ask them what I really want to know, never ask because that would make me weak.
But I would ask them if they remember why they know me.
And in my time in this world, seldom, if ever, have I asked for help. Give help–willingly. My greed stems from neglect. I feel useless without offering guidance. In fact, these years feel diluted because I cannot seem to find souls who need me. Nobundo shakes his head at me, sighing, “Mataoka, patience. Just…be. Listen.” I am beginning to think the drunken fish and Nobundo must be hanging out in taverns together, their philosophies are starting to sound similar.
Once or twice I did ask–I asked for faith. I asked for time. All I got were conflicted mumblings and shirked shoulders. Or did I miss it? Did I miss the signal? It’s humiliating to be put off, to be delegated to “not now.” So I won’t ask anymore.
And at this moment, I am an ice rune, in stasis. I draw down the rain, stir the pot, and fan the flames, all on my own. My sisters manage very well without my interference: Luperci is content to to bide her time until…what the hell is she waiting for? And Zeptepi, sweet priestess, I’m sure is healing the world without concern.
Something is happening, though. I will be needed. There are nightmares. I see a woman who looks like me. She wears outdated robes, so I can’t place the time. She clutches a baby and runs from red wolves. The wolves grow in number, and breath fel flames. Just when they are about to rip out her throat, I wake up. What is odd is I never hear the baby crying when I’m in the nightmare, but only after I wake up. It dissipates quickly, so I know it’s not a real baby. Hard to tell the waking from the dream some nights. The cry makes me ache, and I can’t shake the feeling I’ve lost something. More than once I’ve held my pillows so I can fall back to sleep.
I don’t need anyone though. I have my spirit wolves, and elementals, and all the power in my totems anyone could ever need. I am grateful for the blessing bestowed upon me, upon my people. The Light doesn’t offer everything: I shall help the world with solid footing on the earth. I don’t need anyone.
At least that’s what I tell myself.
And try to forget how it feels to be pulled in close.