Circles of Separation: Snakes and Bitches

This is the second last part of Circles of Separation (Book 2 of Waldmeer). One more to go until the story is finished!

Chapter 73: Indra

Although the Borderfirma Mountains covered a vast area, Lady Faith’s palace was at the Borderfirma Lowlands end of it. The only thing separating the palace and the Lowlands was the Great Valley. That is why Odin and Nina lived there.

This is a very long dream, thought Gabriel as he pushed on through the Great Valley after choosing his path at the fork. There were no more decisions to be made about which way to go because there was only one road through the Great Valley. By now, Gabriel was suspecting that there was more to his journey than a dream. For one thing, he was really hungry. As he felt he had no hope of knowing what to do if it wasn’t a dream, he kept acting on the premise that it was.

Quite a way into the Valley, Gabriel came to a river. He spotted a boy and girl, about eleven-years-old, playing on the banks. Thank God, thought Gabriel. Civilisation. He was about to call to the children when he noticed that the girl had two cobras around her neck. He panicked and thought he would have to do something to save her. Then he noticed that she wasn’t at all worried about them. In fact, she was playing with them. If they got snitchy and snapped at her or each other, she hit them and told them to behave. They didn’t behave. They were snakes.

The boy saw Gabriel and called to him in a friendly, open way. Gabriel immediately liked the child. “Hello,” said the boy. “I’m Aristotle and this is my friend, Indra. And, oh yes, these are her pet snakes.”

Gabriel took a step away from the snakes but said, “Nice to meet you all.” He felt that he should include the snakes in case they were the vindictive type.

“Don’t worry about them,” said Aristotle.

‘I wasn’t,” said Gabriel but then he felt foolish because the boy had the sort of eyes that could read minds.

“Of course not,” said Aristotle in a manner far too grown up for his age. “Indra is staying with us for a holiday,” said Aristotle. “She lives in the Lowlands with her father. He is the best snake catcher in the land.” There were way too many snakes in the Lowlands and expert snake handlers were a necessity. Not all the people in Evanora’s land were like her. There were pockets, usually semi-hidden, of good people. Indra and her father were part of such a group. “Indra likes snakes,” said Aristotle. “They don’t like anyone, even her, because… well, they’re snakes and they can’t.”

Regardless of Indra’s devoted care, the snakes sometimes bit her. They were highly venomous. Her father used a recipe that was handed down to him to make medicine from forest herbs. He also rubbed the bite with black pepper and Neem leaves. Indra had a biological tolerance for cobra bites. They made her sick but with her father’s care and her unique tolerance, she recovered relatively quickly

“Why don’t you come home with us?” suggested Aristotle. Gabriel eyed the snakes that were now coiling around Indra’s waist. “Don’t worry,” said Aristotle for the second time. “My mother doesn’t trust them either. They have to stay in boxes when they’re at our house.”

“I’m with your mother,” said Gabriel. He then added a little embarrassed, “I mean your mother’s approach to snakes.” Both children laughed and they all made their way to Nina and Odin’s cottage.


Chapter 74: Round-Earther

Lady Faith and Gabriel couldn’t have been more surprised and delighted to see each other. It was a loud, happy gathering that evening with many tales being told. Lady Faith could see that Gabriel had told himself that he was in a dream. She thought it was a manageable way for him to slowly come to terms with his current reality. It also gave her the idea to talk to him honestly about all the things she had always wanted to tell him but couldn’t. Anything she told him which was too difficult for him to process could be relegated to the status of – It doesn’t matter. It’s just a dream. Between her new found freedom and Gabriel’s great relief at being found and at finding Amira, the next few days were full of laughter, long conversations, and unmarred enjoyment.

Although all the children and baby Lentil thought Gabriel was the best thing since sliced bread and even Nina laughed at all his jokes, Odin was not at all impressed with Gabriel.

“He doesn’t have the right respect for her,” said Odin one evening to his mother. “He’s too familiar. I think it’s inappropriate. He doesn’t even call her by her correct name. He calls her Amira as if she is a common round-Earther.”

“She enjoys him,” said Nina. “Let her laugh for a while. She has so many responsibilities.”

“It will all end in tears,” Odin grumbled. “Mark my words.”


Chapter 75: Nasty Bitch

On the fourth evening, Gabriel decided to ask about the elephant in the room. “So, Amira, who is the father of the children?”

“Zufar,” said Lady Faith. She explained, as briefly as possible, about Zufar’s background, his esteemed reputation, and the Advisors decision that he would be a suitable father of the royal children.

“Where is he now?” asked Gabriel.

Seeing Gabriel’s concern, Lady Faith said, “Oh, he won’t come back. We don’t even know where he is. He’s somewhere. Doing something good.”

“I’m sure he is,” said Gabriel a little tersely.

“He only came,” said Lady Faith, “to, ah, help with the children…”

“Yes, I get that,” said Gabriel. “A one-night stand.”

“Technically, it was a three-night stand,” smiled Lady Faith trying to lighten the atmosphere.

Gabriel turned away. “What if he does come back?” said Gabriel determining to sound as casual as possible.

“He won’t,” said Lady Faith.

“How do you know?” said Gabriel.

“He can’t,” said Lady Faith.

“But what if he does?” persisted Gabriel.

“I don’t know, Gabriel,” said Lady Faith. “Things are different here.”

“I noticed,” said Gabriel suddenly feeling like he needed to find out how to wake up.

When Gabriel was hurt, he could turn into a particular version of himself which was Amira’s least favourite Gabriel. It was a cross between a bitchy gay guy and a nasty cool girl. The offspring wasn’t pretty. Gabriel sometimes became that character when he was with certain company back in Waldmeer. As Amira didn’t keep that company, she generally didn’t have to see that behaviour. However, if he was especially hurt by something Amira did or said, the nasty bitch could make its appearance with her.

The following morning, the less-than-pleasant and less-than-welcome “visitor” was there in fine form. Odin overheard a few of Gabriel’s comments and was busting to intervene. Nina looked at him, as only a mother can, to remind him that Lady Faith could handle it herself.

“You have to learn how to deal with being hurt in a better way,” said Lady Faith to Gabriel when they were alone.

“I’m not hurt,” said Gabriel, “What would I be hurt about?”

“That’s the start of the problem right there,” said Lady Faith. Gabriel looked like there was no way in the world, or any other world, that he was going to tell someone who hurt him that they had done so.

The next day, Odin, who could no longer restrain himself, said, “Ain’t no nasty bitches around here, Gabriel. You’ll have to go to the Lowlands with Indra for that.” Indra was packing up her few belongings and her snakes to make the trip back home.

“Alright,” said Gabriel. “I will.”

Odin groaned to himself that he should have kept his mouth shut because now he would have to watch over Gabriel as well as the two children on the way to the border. However, the long walk through the forest had a calming effect on everyone. The children were peaceful. Gabriel started to forget about what had previously seemed so disturbing to him and Odin synced with the rhythm of his beloved forest. When they got to the border, Gabriel said that there were too many snakes for his liking in the Lowlands and that he would return with Aristotle and Odin to the Great Valley.

Later, Lady Faith and Nina saw Gabriel and Odin talking quietly as they crested the home hill.

“Looks like the nasty bitch was left at the border,” said Lady Faith.

Nina smiled and said, “Yes, both of them.”

Read/listen to more of Waldmeer/Circles of Separation

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