Continued from Church chapter 2, part 1 and also the first chapter of Church in the November archive. https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/church-part-1/
I stepped from under the archway and into a paradise garden. Five long stone steps led down to a rolling landscape covered in a carpet of lush emerald grass, sprinkled with brightly coloured English meadow flowers. A few small red and yellow acre trees were spread out, creating another level of colour at the eye line.
Cutting its way through the centre, a babbling stream twisted like a serpent with the water rushing over or around shiny stones. The stream came close to the steps, then turned a sharp right and rushed off to the side. Also dotted about where large moss rocks, which I quickly realised were actually fallen and displaced parts of the cathedral.
Glancing up, I saw shafts yellow sunlight flooding through the high arched empty window frames. Above them, the roof stretched up in classic gothic ribbed vaults, which were painted to look like a summer day’s sky. Further along to the right side was a balcony, which seemed to run the length of the room. On the other side, I could see empty niches and towering columns.
My other senses became assaulted too, as I suddenly noticed that the garden was teeming with life. Small birds, butterflies and bees roamed the air, their voices and wings rang in my ears alongside the stream’s bubbling. The wondrous scents of midnight jasmine and lavender filled my nose, mingling with other flowers and fresh air. I just couldn’t take it all in and yet…the more I looked the more it seemed to be unrealistic.
I stepped down into the soft grass and swept my fingers over the top of the blades. They felt real enough to me. Moving to the stream, I did the same and dipped my fingers into the clear water. They came back wet and I pressed them to my lips and tasted a few drops of cool sweet water. I walked slowly through it all and found Rain waiting for me on a small wooden bridge going over the stream.
‘Is all this real?’ I asked as I joined her and waved my arm around.
‘Yes and no,’ she replied with a little smile darting on her lips, ‘we are on a different plane and I created this area, but it’s not truly real.’
‘But it seems it,’ I replied.
She nodded, ‘because I will it to be so.’
I looked around again and watched two brown rabbits appear from behind a rock and start nibbling at the grass. I felt oddly relaxed and calm, all my worries had slipped away and I had this faint recall of being back home. I turned to Rain and found her removing her black mask.
‘I’m going to get changed. There are rooms up there,’ she said, pointing to the balcony.
From this angle, I could now see four white doors and as Rain moved off, I followed her to an almost hidden staircase which was joined to the wall.
‘So, the ruins of the cathedral are not real?’ I questioned.
‘They are real. I wouldn’t have been able to make it so stable otherwise. Tourists sometimes stubble on here, but they normally can’t see any of this. I made it well protect from everything and only those I let in with me can stepped through the portal.’
We had climbed the stairs and come to the top. I looked out and saw an even better view then before. Rain turned her back on it and indicated to each of the doors as she told me what lay behind them.
‘The first is my room, the second is the bathroom, the third can be yours’ for now if you want and the four is locked. So, you can’t go in there and don’t ask what’s there because if you thought all this was a bit mind blowing, well!’
Rain tossed her hair over her shoulder and smirked. I nodded, never having been one to probe further into such matters. Rain straightened from her slight lean on the railing and walked to the first door.
‘Do whatever you like and we’ll talk whenever you want. Time is permanently frozen here,’ she called over shoulder as she opened the door and stepped in.
I nodded as it closed behind her and stealing a last look at the view, I walked to the third door and stepped inside. The room was large, with bare stone walls, dim lighting from a small modern chandelier and no windows. A double bed was before me, freshly made and there was a desk opposite with a wardrobe beside that. I walked over, opened the doors and saw an array of clothing neatly hung up. I pulled out a simple, long white cotton robe and got changed into it.
Leaving my other clothes, armour and my sword on the bed, I inspect the bedroom more closely, but there was nothing else. Leaving, I went into the bathroom and found it very modern with its bright white and sliver sink, toilet and shower. I ran the sink tap and water gushed out. I drink deeply, before turning it off and drying my hands and face on a soft white towel. The idea that none of this could be real was far from my mind.
Walking out, I went and looked over the rail. Resting my arms across the cool marble, I tried to get my mind thinking about Rain. I really wanted to know who and what she was. However, I didn’t seem able to grasp or follow any trains of thought. It seemed that every few moments, no matter what I had been thinking, my mind went blank and the paradise garden filled my thoughts. Shaking my head, I wondered if she was a powerful witch, or else something along those lines that I’d just not heard about before. That didn’t feel right though and as I struggle to think deeper, the garden rolled across it and I couldn’t help but admire it again.
I went down the staircase and wondered through the area. The beauty of the flowers and animals was beyond description as well as the aromas, which were sometimes different in certain areas due to the clustering of the flowers. I have no idea how much time passed before I saw Rain again, but as I walked up a spiral staircase at the far end, I came on to a platform and there she was.
She was sat in a large chair that had been shaped inside the trunk of a living oak tree and there was another one opposite. A table gently shaped into that form from a very low oak lay between them, with a large basket of fruit on it, which Rain was eating strawberries from. She indicted to me with her head and hand to help myself and I gladly selected a red apple. I sunk into the other tree chair, finding it soft and cosy, then began eating.
‘How is everything?’ Rain broke into conversation and it seemed to dispel my constant thought problems.
‘Fine, thank you,’ I replied.
‘There’s a spell on the garden. I forgot to tell you before, though you’ve probably been feeling the effects all ready.’
I nodded and bid her to carry on.
‘It doesn’t affect inside the rooms or in this spot. I come here to clean my mind and soul, so part of the spell so to stop thoughts and memories from developing,’ Rain explained, she rubbed her left wrist on the edge of the table, ‘this is the only place I can find peace now,’ she sighed softly.
‘What?’ I asked.
‘No. I want to hear your story first.’
‘Yes. Who are you and want are you doing here?’
‘Well…I’m Blaze,’ I answered then stopped, realising she hadn’t known my name this whole time, ‘I probably should have told you that before.’
‘You were districted and sometimes withholding your name is a good thing. Your enemies could use it against you,’ Rain said, pointing a watermelon slice at me, ‘it’s nice to meet you Blaze. I’m Rain,’ she added and held her hand out.
I went to give her mine then realised the table was too long for our hands to meet and shake. Rain laughed and threw a grape at me. It struck my chest and bounced on the floor. I looked down in shock at where it had hit and then back at her.
‘Saving your life makes us best friends,’ she responded in-between giggles.
‘The Demigod bear,’ I muttered as it all came back to me.
Rain fell silent and nodded.
‘I don’t think I thanked you probably for that…’
‘It’s fine. Go on, I really do want to hear all about you.’
‘All right,’ I replied and finished off the apple in a few quick bites, ‘I guess we should start at the beginning.’
To Be Continued…