Spirit on the Bluff (Spirits of the Land: )
Kija knew the moment she appeared in the morning mists. The silence of the snows, the quietude of the birds, and the stillness of the river told her something strange had appeared on their mountain. From beneath her, Shadow peered out to the slopes, looking for something amiss, and found it—a girl about her age, cloaked in black, standing at the edge of a precipice. There was something familiar about the demeanor and location; Kija shared the same sentiments at times. She wouldn’t stop them. The strange feeling, though…she needed to see how it ended. Something beckoned to her.
The school day went smoothly enough, now that she didn’t have to deal with preschoolers. Atlas was there to pick her up, as always, but she felt more rested than before. She climbed atop the beast and pet her mane of scales. “Atlas, someone wanted to know why my parents sent a horse instead of a dragon for me.” Atlas whinnied softly, clearly amused. She clearly had the wings of a dragon, despite her equine appearance. Her skin flickered and steamed like an illusion, and every now and then, Kija would see the sharp fangs of a dragon glint within her mouth. The dragon was simply contained in a form of her choosing; one which served them all well. But she said none of this aloud. It, and the assumption of parents, went as a humorous folly for the both of them.
In the evening light, as they approached the instance with Iapetus, she looked to the cliff again. Had the black-clad girl finished? No. She still stood there, her clothes lit blinding yellow in the evening sun. She turned away, but Atlas had already followed her gaze. The dragon squinted, then huffed. “You see the girl there, don’t you?”
Kija hissed softly. “What of it?” If she got in trouble for keeping quiet about the girl pondering a fall, she would sulk for days. Maybe weeks. “It’s not my responsibility to fix everyone’s problems. If she jumps off, it’s her business.”
Atlas gave a toothy smile. “She will not jump. Would you like to go meet her?”
“And skip lessons? Gladly.”
“Very well.” Atlas still shuffled towards the instance, but it was unlike her to joke about that sort of thing. Would she really get to skip? Kija grinned. When they arrived at the instance, Atlas waited at the entrance. She motioned at Kija’s things with her snout. “You still have gifts from after your performance, don’t you? Get something sweet to give her.”
Kija looked at her incredulously. “Sweets? You think she wants some?”
“It’s worth a try. The spirits of children usually like them.” Kija’s eyes widened. It was a ghost? “We aren’t skipping your lessons. This is simply a new one; we will calm the spirit. I believe that is Raen waiting up there.”
There was so much to say. The girl was already dead, and she was awash with relief. Ghosts were so much easier to talk to. But Raen? She recognized the name of the fallen dragon rider. Why was she even around? A ceremony should have been performed a long time ago to help her pass on. Did it fail? Why would Atlas be so calm about that? Then, most importantly, Atlas had called her a child. Raen was older than Kija, and Kija herself was not a child, so this dragon was clearly insulting the both of them. So many things to say, ask, speak on. Instead, she just grabbed a box of sweet bread and leapt back onto Atlas’s back. She could reprimand the dragon later. For now, it was time to speak to a ghost—a kindred spirit at last.
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