By: Brynn Parker
The moment I touched Silvana's face, a rush of emotions that weren't my own engulfed me, and darkness took over my vision, the sights and sounds of my world fading away as I was pulled into another. Everything was different; I was surrounded by a dense forest, fir trees all around, and my feet were covered in snow, my skin numb and most of my body encased in warm fur blankets. I quickly realized that I wasn't in control of my body - and that I wasn't really me - when I started walking without putting forth the effort to. I could still feel the bite of the cold on my face, and I could still tell what my mind was thinking, but it was evident that I wasn't telling myself what to do.
It was also evident that I was lost in a blizzard.
I trudged through the snow, my throat too dry to call for help anymore. The only life here was the evergreens, their shadows making my vision darker and darker as the sun dipped below the horizon.
An image of what how haggard I looked flashed through my head, and I got a quick glance at what whoever I was at the moment looked like. Pale blonde hair and skin almost as white as the snow, but raw from the ice and snow. I recognized the image from somewhere...but I couldn't remember what it was from. I felt disoriented, and longed to be back in my own body. But it didn't look like I was going anywhere soon.
I felt like everything was over when a silhouette loomed in the distance, a shadow of something that resembled a large house. My eyes widened and I staggered closer, a new sense of hope in my mind as white pillars started to form, a smile appearing on my face as I reached the outer walls of this shining palace, the gates open wide as if to welcome me. I struggled to remember that I was Kagome, but this girl's joy at finding shelter was overpowering, and I started to lose track of my own thoughts. She was thinking of someone... I have to get back to him...
While the girl was simply thankful that she had a place to stay, I was starting to get suspicious. Of course, after my adventures in the Feudal Era, I knew that big fancy houses in the middle of nowhere were usually no good, but my attempts to warn the girl were futile. She was intent on getting to safety, and in this case, I doubted that we would have survived in the snow. We finally got to the door and she knocked quickly, her thick fur gloves muffling the noise. When it swung open, I knew we were in trouble.
The woman in the house smiled, her dark pink eyes glistening and her silver hair falling down to her ankles. This woman was older...I could tell from the hair and eyes that this was Silvana...but she seemed kind. I could see with my miko powers that there was a divine aura around her, of safety and comfort.
I didn't have time to think about it. Silvana beckoned us in, and although the girl was thinking along the same lines as me - that this woman was strange - the hospitality was welcome. "Welcome to my home," Silvana said kindly, pointing towards a chair in front of the roaring fire in the hearth, "Please, have a seat."
I sat down in the chair, looking around in wonder. This place was beautiful, surrounded by whites, pinks, and blues. "Who are you?" I asked, looking back at the old woman.
"I will not lie to you," she said, smiling, "I am Duscha, the spirit of shelter from the storm. It seems it is not your destiny to die in the snow, little one."
What? Duscha? Then why did she look like Silvana? The silver hair and pink eyes couldn't be mistaken...right?
I stared in awe for a long time, and then Duscha laughed, shaking her silver mane. "So what's your name?"
"Uh...Nadia Anielka, my lady," I said, jumping up and curtsying.
"Oh, sit down, Nadia," Duscha said, going to another chair next to mine and sitting down. "Please...tell me about yourself."
A rush of words gave me a lot of Nadia's background information. She was from a nearby village outside of the Silvana Forest...this name gave me a chill, but I repressed it and continued to listen, trying not to delve too deeply into it...and she'd been gathering wood in the forest when the snow storm suddenly struck. "You're in love," Duscha said, smiling. "You are a beautiful girl. Who is this lucky man?"
"Dmitri," I said, blushing, "He lives in the village...we're to be married."
"I don't know when you'll be getting back to him," Duscha responded, "But you will stay here until it is safe for you to get back through the forest and to the safety of your own village."
I let out a long breath, and Nadia's thoughts about Dmitri drew me further into her mind. The feelings she had for him were the same as mine for Inuyasha, so I knew that they were in love. Nadia already missed him...she drifted to sleep with his face starting to drift into view, and a flash of recognition went through my mind before I fell fast asleep.
The next day, Duscha clothed me in a light blue gown, giving me a blue beaded chain to wear as a necklace. The clothes were beautiful; Nadia didn't really understand why the spirit was so kind, yet it was obvious that Duscha was what she claimed to be. She could make meals appear in a moment, and managed to maintain a beautiful home in the middle of a forbidding forest in midwinter. Nadia was amazed, but there was a slightly disturbing feeling always in her mind, telling her that there was something that Duscha still wasn't giving her that she wanted very badly...not even I could identify what it was, but I knew that it was bad and that it didn't quite belong in the innocent girl's conscious.
Nadia had stayed with Duscha for almost five days. Tonight was the night of the fifth day, and I was heading up to bed when a strong gust of wind whipped through the house, sending the white drapes flying around and putting out the fire. A strange feeling suddenly came over me, filling Nadia's soul with the same feeling that I often got when another girl would get close to Inuyasha...primal...demonic...
That's when I realized the thing that I had been missing before.
Nadia was a half demon.
I turned towards Duscha, and her rosy eyes widened. "Nadia, my dear..."
I jumped off of the steps and was suddenly clinging to the ceiling. My mind was quickly spacing out, joining with the primal and domineering aspect of Nadia's. I tried desperately to tell her not to do this...I knew what she was planning...
One of Nadia's parents drew power from other living beings. And this creature that she was becoming...if she drained Duscha's most powerful life force, it would certainly turn her into something that could be very deadly.
"Nadia, calm down..." Duscha said, backing away slowly as I cocked my head at her. Things were getting blurry...everything was turning strange colors, my head swam with the sudden burst of sound and smell from my heightened senses.
There was nothing I could do as I jumped off of the ceiling and to right in front of Duscha, and laughed a surprisingly innocent laugh before grabbing her shoulders, closing my eyes, and breathing in a white mist that seemed to emanate from Duscha suddenly. The old woman went limp and fell to the ground as I stood there, letting the power fill my veins and go through my body. When I opened my eyes again I saw that the house was withering to a castle of ice right in front of me, the flame in the hearth gone forever. The power was so much...and I could feel the presence of now three souls in Nadia's body: her own, mine, and a hybrid of the spirit of shelter from the storm.
I staggered out of the door quickly, still clothed only in the blue gown that Duscha had given me and lacking proper winter clothes, before the palace collapsed behind me, now just a pile of blocks of ice.
I looked around, lost in the snow again, with nowhere to go...but now there was no feeling in my skin, just an electric feel as power shot through me. It seemed like there was some other conscious nagging at my brain, but I pushed it away, feeling that it would only do me harm and get in my way as I tried to get back to the village and Dmitri, out of the accursed Silvana Forest. A voice whispered across the back of my mind, another name in a strange and foreign language.