Weekly Wednesday Serial: The Memory Book

Here I am, apologizing again for missing my posting last week. But I am today posting from a high desert vacation, and just witnessed two red-tails and one raven fighting over a dead gopher. Pretty cool! Photos on the About Jill page.

Rosemary makes a new ally

The Memory Book, Scene 54

The Demi-phim

[Dear readers, I have taken a liberty, that of writers-into-the-dark, to change Lobelia’s sex to male. It is my liberty to take, as this could be, we writers think, a way to increase a certain tension. I hope you agree.]

He is a demi, Leo tells Rosemary as they roam the mountainside collecting medicine for the pegasus. Leo could easily, Rosemary thinks, pass for mortal but he is half angel, half mortal, a demi-phim. By-blow of angel and human, likely during the Painter’s War, he descends from a long line of beings produced when the divine of both sexes intermingled heavily with human beings.

“I didn’t believe the rumors,” Rosemary comments as she points to a dark fuzzy-leaved plant and gives Leo a quizzical look. Leo shakes his head.

“No. What I need now is a certain mushroom.” Leo has a way of sharp side-glances, quick and piercing and unnerving, Rosemary thinks.

She asks, “How many of you live on this island?”

Leo hunches over a low-running plant with tiny orange flowers. “100,000 or more, on several islands here.” Pinching off a flower, sniffing it, he gathers the entire plant and shoves it into his bag. “Probably more.”

One sharp, quick look and he continues, “I’m not surprised you mortal servants are taught to deny us. The Imperium is not very fond of us but as long as we stay quiet, living in the dark, so-to-speak, they feel it’s prudent to leave us alone.”

Rising, he stretches to his full height, unnaturally tall, for a mortal. “But we take nothing for granted. One day, they will wipe us out. Or try to.”

Rosemary does not doubt this. “How is it, back there, that you knew who I was?”

A smile lifts the corner of Leo’s mouth. “Everyone knows you, Mayor Place. Your fame as a custodian of Imperial political prisoners spreads farther than you know.” He pats his bag. “We have enough, now.”

With that, he turns and trudges upward, toward the hollow where Peria patiently waits.

Following, Rosemary wonders what the demis think of her; do they view her with infamy or as an ally. “I have heard stories about you, too, the demi-phim,” she tells him as they walk. “Baby tales. Your sort were always enemies of the divine, killers, fiends. Always pursuing divine martyrs, particularly female ones.” She laughs. “I was so afraid of your sort. It was a relief to hear, in the academy, that you never existed.”

She sees Leo glance over his shoulder. “We prefer it that way. I seem to be lucky that you haven’t killed me yet.”

“I need you to help me get off the island.”

Stopping, Leo stares back at her. He looks as if he’s smirking. Cheeky bastard, she thinks. He says, “And I need you to help me find her Excellency.”

“And why would you be so interested? Is it just you, or all the demis?”

“Let’s just say I have a personal interest, as do you.”

Rosemary hears the faint condescension in Leo’s voice. Careful, Rosie, she tells herself. Remember he’s half angel. “If I am to accept our partnership, I have to know what that is.”

His smile vanishes, and Rosemary feels the power shift back to her. “Of course I’ll tell you, ma’am. But the reason may surprise you.”

“I’m all ears.”

“It will take some time. Please, ma’am, let us make Peria comfortable first, and then I will enlighten you.”

Rosemary wonders if she could take him now, but she doesn’t know his strengths—or weaknesses-yet. She nods and resumes climbing, bypassing Leo as he waits under a thick-rooted tree. Although he is behind her now, she senses that he is no threat to her physically. Her worry now is how powerful an innate allure these demis have, and how she will resist it.

© Jill Zeller, April, 2020

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