This is the continuation of House Under Leaf It will probably help a little if you've read that first, but it's not strictly necessary.
The Rock in the Sea in the HatEdit
She closed her eyes and shut out the world. Pressing her hands against the bark she focused on the tree and reached out with her mind. It was difficult, but not as difficult as it had been originally.
The sounds disappeared first, then the feel of the rain on her skin was gone. She could still taste the air and the few drops of water that trickled past her lips but soon that too would be gone. The smells were all that remained and most of all the scent of the tree.
The troll's hat smelled of many things, like the scent of a fine whisky hints at dreams of pleasure and adventure so did the scent of the old tree hint at memories of people and events long gone. It was a rich and complex scent, full of more subtle undertones than Yalinea knew to tell apart. She recognized traces of elves and humans, of magic and of steel. There were scents that hinted at death; violent death and death of old age. In the same way there were also the scents of life; the pain and blood of birth, the joy of love and of living and the peace that comes with being safe and at home.
The troll's hat smelled of all that and more and as her mind reached out for the Idea of the tree the scents enveloped her and swept her away. They mingled with her memories and her sense of self until she could no longer tell quite where she ended and the scents began. She was no longer an elf; she was a being of memories and aromas and in this state she reached out further, trying to approach the Idea of the tree.
No matter how much she wanted to find the Idea it was always a terrifying experience when it finally happened. In a state where the only sensory input was that of smell the Idea of this tree was completely and utterly without scent. Like there's no wind at the eye of the storm there were no scents within the Idea. She stumbled into it and suddenly all of her senses were completely disabled; the only sensation a vague feeling of how she was no longer alone. She was blind and utterly helpless and had she been able to she would have screamed in terror. Incapable as she was she couldn't even shiver in fear.
She had no idea how long the sensation lasted. It could have been a moment and it could have been hours. She had no sense of time and there was no way to tell. When it finally ended she was in the Idea of the tree. Her mind had melded with the tree and she was part of it now. She was the Idea. She saw the tree, herself, as the tree saw itself, herself. It was nothing like it seemed to her own eyes back in her own body.
She was a rock jutting out of the raging, chaotic sea at the edge of the world. In front of her wave after massive wave, in endless succession, came charging furiously. They threw themselves against her, crushing down and spraying up and finally disappearing over the edge into the endless nothingness behind her, never to return. This was what she was. This was where she stood and that was what she did. A lone guardian on the edge between all that could be and all that which would never come back.
For a tree, it was very philosophical, very symbolic. Yalinea hadn't encountered anything like it before. She'd only recently learned about Ideas – the part of a being that exists between its mind and its soul – and her experience with them was limited. For the most part the Ideas of the plants and trees she encountered were similar to what they'd once looked like in real life; younger versions of themselves, formed while in their prime and growing at a much slower pace, if at all.
In this way, the troll's hat was different. For a tree it was very old. Older even than she was and it could be that the passing of time had affected the Idea. She knew from personal experience that she'd had to reevaluate who she truly was several times already and then she'd not even seen her first millennium.
As wave after wave washed over her she focused on herself and on what she was. She focused on the rock and on the cold salt water that exploded over it time and time again. She was a rock. Somewhere deep inside her was a thin thread woven of old memories. She wasn't entirely sure where it lead but she had a notion it was important and that she mustn't let it go. Then again, how could she, she was a rock and she didn't move. She didn't drop things.
She had no name. She was a rock and rocks need no names. She didn't need one to fulfill her task. Her task was simple. Stand there. Don't move. Break the water before it falls away into eternity. That was it. That was all. Stand there. Nothing more. Nothing less. Be a rock. Be still. Wait. Don't drop the thread. What thread? The thread. The thin thread of memories. Don't drop it.
She studied the thread where it wound into her and away, wondering where it went. She traced it back inside of her and saw it was tied tightly around a small part of herself she didn't recognize. She felt alarm. Was she no longer herself? Did she not know herself? Were there parts of her that weren't her? That could not be. She was a rock and she was only herself and she was not anyone else and she must stand there and break the waves and she must not drop the thread and she must not move.
The little part of her the thread was tied around moved.
She must not move. It moved. She must not move. The little part of her the thread was wound about was no longer part of her. She was no longer part of it. Yalinea fell. Still and blind in the dark senseless space she drifted and the Idea sped away into emptiness and void.
A roaring, raging sensation completely unlike anything she'd ever experienced in the past suddenly coursed through her entire being. It overwhelmed and frightened her until it drove her mad with fear. The madness brought clarity and reason into the chaos and where she clung to the thread of memories she realized the sensation that overwhelmed her was that of hearing sounds.
Hear ears were functioning again and with that discovery the awareness of the rest of her senses and her body came rushing back. She opened her eyes to incredible brightness and with her heart beating furiously she gasped for air like someone emerging from along swim under water. The peaceful and friendly scent of the nature around her mingled with the odor of the city far of in the distance. The roaring, raging sensation that had overwhelmed her turned out to be the soft patter of raindrops on leaves. As her eyes adjusted to the light she saw a squirrel starring at her before it scampered off further up into the tree.
Once more she was Yalinea; a living, breathing, moving being with her own soul and her own mind. Her memories were her's again. Stretching arms and legs she both felt and heard her limbs creaking. More time must have passed than she'd thought and she realized she was both cold and stiff. Tilting her head back she looked up at the sky high above the tree. It was the same grey it had been all morning but now it was early afternoon. The rain had finally made its way down through the foliage and she was soaking wet.
It wasn't a cold day but she'd sat still in the rain for too long and she wasn't wearing very much. She toyed with the idea of heating up the air around her but soon decided against it.
Experience had taught her not to try weaving the aether when she wasn't perfectly calm and centered. While her channeling was strong and solid her weaving was at best unstable and at times like this downright hazardous. She needed time to calm down and to focus and prepare before even starting to do magic. It was best to avoid it now. What she really wanted was to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and her favorite blanket.
Yalinea got to her feet and started the descent down to her house. She would put on music, brew tea and then not move for the rest of the afternoon. It was a good plan.