This is a transcript of a brief scene that takes place immediately after the most recent scene of The Boiling Earth (part of Chapter 4), where the troupe had just come from meeting with Solomon Wright. It focuses on Linda and Amrita.
* * * * *
Aladdin pulled up at the Seneca Motel in Chester. It really was a bargain basement sort of a place, but on the plus side they didn’t ask questions when Linda came in with blood on her jumpsuit the day before.
Linda clambered out of the vehicle and uttered a slight gasp. “Oh, ah almost fergot… Am? Ah still got that present fer ya.”
Amrita’s eyebrows arched delicately, and she nodded. “Now? All right.” She held back as the others approached the motel room door, watching Linda with curiosity.
“Ah wanted t’give it to ya afore we got ta Steve an’ got all entangled up with them wolves, if’n ya folla,” Linda said softly, slipping up close to Amrita. “Ah’d just as soon Guillermo an’ them don’t know Ah c’n make these jus’ yet.”
“All right,” she repeated, clearly mystified now. “What have you done, Lin?”
She reached a hand into one of her coat pockets and drew out what looked like a chip of gnarled wood bark, perhaps two inches across. it had a little leather thong looped through a hole in it. It looked entirely probable that Linda carved this thing out with her claws. On the smooth inner portion of the bark there were carved a couple of sigils that Amrita had never seen before. It was clearly some sort of talisman. She offered it to Amrita with a nervous but endearing smile.
Amrita’s elegant hands cupped the thing, turning it over to examine it inquisitively. “What an extraordinary thing. Linda, what is it, other than the obvious?” As Linda pressed it in to Amrita’s hand, Am felt a slight warmth, as she detected the spiritual power within the humble object.
“It’s called a Wyrm Scale. It’s ta help ya pierce th’ illusions an’ deceptions’a th’ Wyrm… ..er.. Asuras.”
A quick smile. “No, use your terminology, please. I need to learn it.” Her thumb brushed over the sigils thoughtfully.”How is it used?”
“It’s purty simple… Ah carved this outta th’bark’a one’a them corrupt tree spirits, an’ bound a Bane inta it. He’s bound ta betray his own kind when ya concentrate on this thing an’ press onnat sigil. It’s sorta like a prayer. Y’ask Gaia in yer mind ta unveil the lies, an’ the Bane strips ’em away. When it happens, this thing vanishes in a puff’a green fire, but that Wyrm bastard that was hidin’ his real form from ya gets revealed fer ever’body ta see.”
Her eyebrows came up again at this explanation. “Dead useful, that.”
“Yeah… it’s one use, but that one use c’n go a long way.”
“Indeed. How very remarkable.” Amrita smiled then, and leaned over to kiss Linda’s non-bandaged cheek. “Thank you, Linda. It’s a practical and very thoughtful gift.”
Linda blushed, a rosiness that was more prominent than it might otherwise have been because she had so very little pigmentation in her skin. “Ah wanna keep ya safe, an’ Ah know how crafty Wyrm things c’n be fer hidin’ what they are so’s they c’n get close an’ do a body harm… after all… A’h’m one’a ’em.”
Amrita smiled. “Only part of you is. I refuse to believe that’s all of you. Call me naïve if you want, but it’s true.” She put the talisman in her pocket, then reached up to remove one of the gold chains from her neck. On it was a gold pendant in the shape of an ancient sigil – the Sanskrit letter for the sound OHM. “I’d like it very much if you’d wear this for me. It’s not magical, like your gift – but maybe it will remind you that there are things about you that are just as precious as the metal itself.”
Linda’s eyes went wide and she accepted the gift with trembling hands. “Thankya… we ain’t known each other long, but ya’ve been so kind t’me… Ah’m glad we bumped inta each other… it was fated, Ah reckon.”
“Me too,” Amrita smiled. “You’ve been a big help to me, the past couple of days. Funny, I don’t see that changing anytime soon, eh?”
The young blonde blushed again and turned the pendant over in her hand, examining it with curiosity glimmering in those strange eyes, “What’s this character?”
“It is the Sanskrit symbol for the sound that is the beginning and end of all things. You may have heard it: OHM.” When she says it, it resonates in her mouth and chest slightly.
She breathed in and her eyes half closed when she heard it. “Ah’ll wear it an’ keep it safe.” Gnawing on her lip, she reached around and put the chain around her neck, admiring the way that it hung against the indentation in her collarbone. “Th’ characters on that thing Ah gave ya? Them’s Pictish. It says truth.”
The redhead grinned. “Good choice, then. I’m sorry it will vanish after use, so I’ll try to use it wisely.”
Linda smiled gently. “Maybe when we get some time Ah c’n make ya a piece’a proper jewelry as won’ burn itself up, fer ya ta remember me. As fer this little thing… Ah c’n make more Talens – spirit talismans like that’n – when th’time comes.”
“Is that the name for them?”
“Yeah… they’s made when ya cut a deal with a spirit ta inhabit an object fer a while, an’ lend ya its powers fer one use. There’s all sortsa stuff y’can get ’em ta do.”
She nodded. “I’ve… done this. With plants, waking up their spirits. I used one on Steve yesterday, a comfrey leaf. I’ve another, in the trunk of my car. Not for healing though.” Amrita grinned. “There surely are some interesting plants in this part of the world. Deadly, under the right circumstances.”
“Ah was wond’rin’ if that was whatcha did there…” The young woman brushed her hair behind her ears, “Ah love makin’ these things… most spirits, Ah ask a lot nicer’n Ah did them Banes a’course…,” Amrita could tell that Linda found shamanic dealings very exciting and engrossing. “We gotta talk more ’bout this when there’s more time.”
“I’d like that. I may not have much more to contribute, though.” Amrita glanced at the door as she spoke, “We’d better get in there. Steve seems fairly unpredictable, at the best of times.”
“Yeah, we best…,” Linda looked towards the motel again. “When there’s a minute, Ah gotta do a tarot readin’ fer ya too.” She gave Amrita a hug and reluctantly released her, then started going towards the motel.
“A what?” Amrita shook her head. “Seriously? I didn’t know you knew tarot. Okay, never mind. Duty first. Then fun stuff.”
“Ah’m a mystic, baby,” Linda winked and twined her fingers through Amrita’s as they walked towards the place together.