Just how much my world was changing, I was about to find out. The world was starting to tip sideways and I wasn’t quite ready for what transpired next.
You’ll recall I had mentioned that Jig was going to be leaving us. This is where I’ll continue my tale, the night before we arrived at the Phoenix Tree. I went in search of Jig and found him at the fire. I sat beside him for a couple minutes in silence, allowing us to simply sit in each other’s company. He asked me if I understood why he was leaving. I told him I understood, but I didn’t like it. I told him that Grimm would be proud of him and what he was doing. I told him I was proud of him. He gave me the amulet after he had killed Arklet and I knew that I would treasure it. I had been trying to figure out since then what I wanted to give him. Earlier that day I had finally figured it out. I asked him if he had any ink and he didn’t. So I went in search of Kiira, knowing she would have some. She let me use it and I returned to the fire. I asked him if he would let me put a tattoo on him to remember me by. He seemed very pleased. After some talk he decided what he wanted. On one shoulder he wanted a lute to symbolize Kiira, but he wanted it to be black on the outside so that it was inverse colors. Then he wanted the symbol of Ashleigh on his lower spine with an infinite symbol beneath that. Finally, he wanted my face on his chest since it had given him good luck in the tournament. I agreed and started to heat the ink and needle. Jig went in search of Kiira to talk to her since she was not alright about Jig leaving our party.
Jig and Kiira returned to the fire and I started to tattoo his arm with the symbol of Kiira. Kiira healed it and it turned out quite nicely. I then did the symbol of Ashleigh. I asked him to do the symbol of the Clan of Dragons on my shoulder. He seemed unsure, but I wanted him to do it. I wanted this to remember him by. He did it and I felt a joy at having that there. I agreed to do his chest the next day while he was walking in the ethereal plane under the influence of the herbs. He would seem asleep on this plane but his soul would be in the ethereal plane.
The next day, Jig traveled to the ethereal plane under the herbs. I did the tattoo and did a good job at it. I wanted to because I felt that it meant a lot to do a good job. I made it so that it faced upside down so that when he looked down he would see me, silly as that was. I felt my heart hurt as I made the tattoo, knowing our time together was all too short before we had to say goodbye. I forced myself not to cry and to focus. Finally, the tattoo was finished but he was still asleep. When he awoke, he returned to this plane alone without Jericho or Logan.
After discussion and thought, it was decided that Jericho and Logan should try to take the herb on the ethereal plane to bring them to the material plane. This part of the story is a long one. It involves lots of trial and error, lots of time, and an upset Kiira. She was worried about Jericho and I understand that. I can’t imagine being that close to your lover and not being able to touch them, to hold them, just watching them flicker in and out back and forth between the planes. I could almost feel Kiira’s agony as she waited and hoped and prayed, helpless to do anything but wait.
When Jig returned and told us that Logan and Micah were injured after taking the herb, I decided to go to the plane with Jig so I could administer the flask that Micah had given me. It had helped Kiira, why wouldn’t it help them? But something went horribly wrong. Everything was blurred. Kiira started coming onto me, telling me she wanted to be with me and she wanted us to be together, that she didn’t care about Jericho. I kept telling her to give me some more herbs; I wasn’t able to see Jericho. She refused. She tried to kiss me and I kissed her. She wanted it; I wanted to help her, to make her feel better. Then she changed into a drow and I started. She didn’t know she was changing. The change happened again and she changed into a monster. I screamed and started running, screaming, trying to escape. But everyone was monsters. They were talking about eating me and devouring my flesh. I tried to escape, to run away, but it did no good. I was caught by a large monster who wanted to eat me. I struggled and screamed. He put me in a hold I had seen Jig do on his enemies and I cried out for Ashleigh to save me. I wanted him, I needed him. As I screamed for him, I fell into darkness.
When I awoke, all was right with the world- or so I thought. I looked over and saw Kiira asleep on Jericho’s body. It was evident she had been crying. I moved her and examined Jericho. He was still alive and breathing, albeit shallowly. I emptied the flask from Micah into his mouth and cast a heal spell on him. Kiira awoke and started sobbing hysterically and told me that he was dead. I tried to convince her otherwise but she was irrational. I finally told her that he was not dead and that she needed to cast some healing spells on Jericho or he would die. Finally, she started casting and he came to. She was beside herself with relief and joy. He was fading in and out, not quite here. I gave him some of the herb, although he had nothing to put it in. He had the books that Kiira wanted to give him as well. I swallowed around the lump in my throat as I started to take out the items in Ashleigh’s bag and transferred them to my own. I handed him the bag and told him to use it, in case he didn’t stay on this plane so he could have the herb and books. Kiira gave him the music box as well. He said that he recognized the bag. I told him it was the one that Marius gave to Ashleigh. And when he asked the inevitable question, I explained that we thought him dead, lost while saving Grimm and Micah. After that, I left them alone, not wanting to intrude on the time they had.
Stepping outside the tent, I felt the pang of jealousy and anguish in my chest and my eyes blurred with tears which I quickly wiped away. He had returned and I was overjoyed for them both. I was jealous of their happiness, of the joy they found in each other’s arms. I missed Ashleigh so much it hurt. I longed to hear his voice again, to see him smile at me one more time. I held his necklace in my hands and reminded myself of my path, of what I had to do. Things were not finished. There was no time for weeping, no time for tears. I smiled as I thought about the love on their faces, the way that Jericho held Kiira like he never wanted to let her go, like he was afraid he’d lose her. It was beautiful. Maybe I’d find that someday, maybe I’d be able to move on and love again, open my heart to someone again, be held and cherished and loved. Maybe…
Jericho continued to fade in and out of this world. But when he faded, he didn’t see the ethereal plane or Logan. Logan was unable to try again yet, but the ethereal talker of the tribe was able to send a message to Logan and tell him to meet everyone in Sabwa, telling him where that was.
Jericho continued to flicker and an idea occurred to me. If I killed him on this plane and then resurrected him, perhaps he would stay on this plane. I suggested this to Kiira who adamantly said no. But I told her that we had to ask Jericho as well. He wanted to do it and they agreed to try it, although Kiira was grudging about me doing it. I understood that, but if she wanted to be with Jericho, she had to let this happen. I took a few minutes to go pray to Ashleigh and then returned. After arguing for a moment with Jig about doing it and Kiira about being there, I finally did. I slowly, ever so slowly, took my time and said a quick prayer over the dagger. I plunged it under the ribs and into the heart. I watched as his eyes went wide and Kiira looked at him as if her whole world were falling apart. I forced myself to remain calm. I watched as he slumped back and died. I forced myself to wait a moment then told Kiira that she needed to move back a bit, as we had agreed on. I waited a few more minutes, making sure he had been dead for a bit. Then I used the staff and watched as he sat up and opened his eyes. I watched the joy on Kiira’s face and felt pride through me that it had worked. I watched his body, waiting to see if it continued to flicker. It did not and a smile crept to my face. They could be together at last. The world was as it should be. I cast detect magic on my staff and saw that the charges to resurrect were gone. I had used the last of it on Jericho. I felt an extreme sadness fill my heart as I realized that even if I found Ashleigh’s body, I could not bring him back. I forced myself to start moving and think about how we could save Logan. Now was not the time to weep. I had done enough of that.
After the resurrection, we started our journey to the beach where we would part ways; Jig establishing his tribe on the beach to protect Sabwa, and us continuing on to Sabwa. I summoned the horses. Jericho and Kiira rode together and Jig told me that I had to ride one. Not wanting to argue I did, with a child in front of me. I imagined the child was mine and we were out for a ride, enjoying our day together. It reminded me of the rides I had shared with Annabelle.
After 6 days of travel, riding through a battle which was not our own, we arrived at our destination. It was then that Kiira told me something that tipped the world. When they went to Sabwa before, they had found Ashleigh’s body. He was still alive, but unconscious. Micah had tried to heal him, but he was not conscious before they left for Jigston. I felt such a range of emotions, it took me a moment. I felt my head spin as the words sunk in. I couldn’t respond and walked away. I felt my insides raging. Why hadn’t anyone told me? A sense of betrayal filled me as I thought of all the people who told me, of the golden opportunities that were there to share with me. And yet, no one cared to share this with me. I swallowed my anger and betrayal. I was numb. I didn’t dare hope he would be alive. I couldn’t allow myself that. It had hurt too much losing him before. I couldn’t allow myself to lose him again. I refused to hurt that much again. Besides, it was time to say goodbye. I decided to deal with this news later.
I said my goodbyes to Jig, hugging him tightly and kissing him deeply. He joked that it was too late to have him now, but I could come back to tribe and stay later. I smiled at him. Oh, how I’d miss my friend.
I summoned turtles for us to ride on instead of buying a boat. We set sail and I watched as Jig faded out of sight. I felt tears fall as I waved goodbye. Goodbye, Jig. Goodbye.