Zig thought about what his home might have to offer a traveling scholar. Quite a bit- enough that he couldn’t think of where to start. While he was still considering, movement in the doorway caught his eye.
A little girl entered the kitchen and stared at Taliana. Her eyes were bright, but nearly colorless, and seemed to be fixed somewhere far beyond this room. And indeed, the girl herself seemed to be from another time all-together. The ribbons and lace and many petticoated layers of her dress didn’t match the room at all, though somehow, in Zig’s arms, she seemed right at home.
Zig scooped her up without a thought, even though Delphi was getting a wee bit too big for it. Still, he propped her on his hip and kept stirring. “What is it, Del?”
“The Spider is hungry.”
He handed her a piece of cheese off the chopping block, knowing it wasn’t unusual for her to speak in the third person a bit, if a particularly stubborn vision had her. She took it and nibbled at the corner, but she shook her head.
“Not me, Daddy. Her. It’s hungry for her.”
She leveled a tiny porcelain hand at Taliana, and her book.
Taliana raised an eyebrow at this and hugged the book a bit closer again. She didn’t quite understand how the threads looped around the girl but she didn’t sense any sort of real danger to herself — or the book. She looked to Zig for some sort of explanation.
Del squirmed back to the floor, and Zig thought about going after her, but Seven appeared in the doorway and caught his eye. The pale young man scooped Delphi back up as she exited the kitchen, giving Zig a small nod as they passed. Relieved that the little oracle was back with her usual caretaker, Zig turned his attention to the victim of her latest prophecy.
“I’m sorry about that. She’s young, and uh, gifted.” He tapped the corner of his eye out of habit. He hadn’t yet explained to their strange guest about his own erratic Sight, but the ragged pupil was hard to miss.
Taliana let her gaze drift to the doorway for a moment, following the threads of Del. They didn’t bind directly to the Book of Evegran, but there was an interesting interplay between them. Shaking her head slightly she turned back to Zig, “I have so many questions I don’t even know where to begin… but I also probably need to get moving soon. I know from experience that even places where rules of time and place don’t apply still have their own rules, and I am afraid I’m working on limited time.” She spoke calmly and evenly, still trying to take in all that she could, “So I suppose I should start with the most important question, should I be concerned that ‘The Spider’ is ‘hungry’ for me?”
“I uh…” Zig nudged the beef around in the pan, trying to settling himself in the mundane task. Visions of any sort always made him uncomfortable, but even more so when he couldn’t make heads or tails of them. Finally, he gave up and moved the pan off the burner.
“Honestly, I don’t know.” He pushed the meat to one side to drain, wiped uselessly at the counter, then pulled up a chair and gave his visitor his full attention.
“Delphi’s a Seer, an Oracle, like the Greek ones or whatever.” He hated when things got all serious like this, but he would do what he could to help. He just wasn’t sure what help he might actually be.
“We’re not really sure yet of how her gifts really work, or it they’d even apply to someone from …out of town, such as yourself.” He scratched nervously at the back of his neck and shrugged in apology. There wasn’t much else he knew to say.
“Very interesting,” Taliana smiled at him, “a seer, hm.” She closed her eyes a moment in thought, “I have to admit, I kind of want to stay and find out more. It seems like there is so much to explore here, so much I could learn though,” she laughed, “I’m not sure how actually relevant it all would be and what I’m trying to learn here,” she tapped the book, “has something of a sense of urgency so….” Taliana shrugged, “So I suppose I should take my leave and continue on. I can see the threads here and think I understand… well, something.”
Taliana stood, nodding her head to Zig, “It was very nice to meet you. I hope that we can chat again some time.”
Zig shot to his feet, moving with less grace than he’d have liked to try to beat her to the kitchen archway. That was one of the Underground’s less reliable “doors”, but it was likely to behave if he encouraged it to so.
“Let me show to the door- well, the most likely door anyway. It’s kind of trial and error sometimes, but the one at the end of this hall is usually the most agreeable.”
He was babbling. He hoped it didn’t show. But he was nervous as hell about where the doors might lead her, having pulled her in so randomly. Not to mention Del’s “spider”. Zig kind of wanted to go with her, to help her somehow, but what good could he do?
“Actually,” She grinned, a sparkle in her eyes, “I don’t need a door.” Her eyes focusing on the threads Taliana selected the one she was going to follow next. Taking a deep breath she took a step.
He couldn’t process what he was seeing, or if he was seeing or Seeing, but that moment’s hesitation was enough to cost him the chance to act.
What had been a vague fuzziness before shimmered to life into a full blown web, strands upon strands of magic and meaning. And in the heart of the web sat a pit of darkness.
It was more than shadow, it was absence, and suddenly Zig knew exactly what Delphi had meant about hunger. This nothingness was hungry, and it was hunting.
But Taliana was gone before he could blink. He stared at the spot she had stood in, hand still stretched uselessly out as if he could pull her back.
Finally, lamely, Zig dropped his hand to his side. He slumped back into his chair, brain refusing to kick into gear. Duke trotted in and nudge at Zig’s hand with a whine, and Zig patted him absently. The touch helped ground him in the here and now, but he still couldn’t wrap his head about the strange girl that had come and gone in an instant, or the Spider that Del had seen stalking her.