Once in her room Aisling lights a candle and sits on her floor . On the small chest is a silver cross surrounding the cross are small stones . Some are crystals while others are stones each have a specific alignment . Touching the obsidian around her neck Aisling takes it off. Going over to her window she places the stone in a glass of water. Placing it on the outside of her window to cleanse it from the negativity it encountered . Going back to sit on her floor facing the chest . She begins to say the Lord's Prayer.
Across the hall Astila is sitting on the floor facing the window . The window is open to allow the breeze and moonlight to bathe the room. He begins his nightly meditation focusing on cleansing the house and occupants of the negativity of the day. The calming effect of the two working together to bind the negative energy is found in the room at the end of the hall. Debra who had not been able to sleep for weeks was sound asleep nestled in her husbands arms.
The next morning just after breakfast the sheriff shows up to talk to them.
" Good morning sheriff would you like a cup of coffee or camomile tea?"Aisling is throwing chicken feed on the ground near the barn behind the house. When she sees him pulling up.
" coffee would be great . I need to talk to the gentleman that I met yesterday. I also need you to tell me about what happened here yesterday as well." He walk with her inside greeting everyone as they are about to sit down for breakfast. Aisling walks over to the counter to pour him his coffee. She also get him a plate so that he can join them for breakfast.
Looking at the table Astila sees an array of delicious food. She has made buckwheat cakes with eggs and a side of chipped beef with fried potatoes. He can't wait to eat. As they sit Aisling holds out her hands for those on each side of her. Everyone holds hands as she says a blessing over the food. The sheriff decides to ask a few questions while they eat.
" we found a total of 4 bodies by the river they have been sent for analysis. We won't know if the bone you gave me belonged to any of those bodies till a proper examination has been completed. What I need is an exact description of the man who was here yesterday ?" He takes a bite of his food . Closing his eyes as if the food is pure pleasure to eat. Aisling gets up and goes to the other room . She comes back with a piece of paper. On it is a drawing of the man from the forest. She hands it to the sheriff. Not saying a word she goes back to eating .
" thank you this will be a big help." The sheriff looks at the picture. Studying it to see if he recognizes the man.
" we also need to look on the trail to try to find signs of him. Will it be ok if we start with here on your property?" Looking at the two girls waiting for an answer.
" that's fine by me . Aisling is the one who lives here so it is her decision." Debra speaks up right away . Hoping her sister will not mind having so many people on the property. In a quiet shy voice never looking up Aisling speaks up
" that is ok but I ask that they not trample my flowers or come into my house. I don't like to many people being around unless I invite them. " she gets up and starts to clear the empty dishes.
" I have one other request. Do you mind if Mr People along with your family stay here with you till we find this man? I can have a patrolman stay here but I know you do not like strangers around." The sheriff stands looking directly at Aisling. She raises her head to look at him. Nodding in agreement. The sheriff nods acknowledging her agreement. He turns and motions or the two men to follow him .
Once outside he shows the two men the drawing that Aisling gave him. They both looked at it and agreed it was the man they saw the day before.
"Terry we have known each other our entire lives. Do you really think she is in danger ??You and I both know that she can't hurt anything. That she doesn't do anything to anyone but care for them." Sam looks at his friends worried face . Hoping he will tell him the truth.
" you know that I would never ask her to have people around if I was not worried. If everyone had not agreed I would have insisted that I stay here. At least that way she would be more comfortable with me than one of the other deputies. I believe this guy is trouble and until I'm sure he is either gone or I have him in custody I don't want her to be alone. Not after before." The sheriff looks down at the ground and then back at the stranger beside him.
" she is withdrawn and shy. She was not always like this. She used to be the light of everyone's life. Her smile and laughter is contagious when she opens up. We all grew up together and were the best of friends. She is more like my sister but now at times it's almost like she is a stranger. I don't know why you showed up when you did but I am telling you . If anything or anyone hurts her there will be hell to pay. I'm going to be up front with you . After I went back to the station I did a check on you. I know you are a Dr in Tennessee and that you were here on business at John Hopkins. I also know that you are a member of the Cherokee nation council. Your record was completely clean. That is the only reason I suggested you stay with them. She doesn't seem to mind having you around. " the sheriff looks at Astila with determination and concern on his face. Astila can see that this man truly cares for the girl. He can understand for he was drawn to her the moment he saw her. Not just because he saw the spirits or because the eagle led him here. His heart raced the first time he saw the sun glinting in her hair. He also has no urge to leave her. He wants to protect her. Taking the sheriff's he looks him in the eyes so that he can see he is being sincere.
" to be truthful I don't know why I'm here. I have always followed my instincts. They brought me here. I feel drawn to that little lady inside and want to protect her even though I know nothing about her. Feel welcome to check up on me or ask anything I am an open book. " Astila and the sheriff stare at each other both silently acknowledging that they both not only want the same thing. Aisling sage but that they both want her. They make arrangements to start the search immediately. Having the search team arrive within the hour now that they have permission. The ladies inside start to prepare food and drinks for the team to keep them hydrated and nourished through the day . The three men sit on the back porch discussing the plan of action with the search leader. After all preparations were done Astila goes to fund Aisling. Finding her near the lavender garden just past the barn. He watches her as she gently clips a few sprigs. He hears her talking to the plants as she tends to them. Looking up when she notices he is there. Giving him a small smile she waves at him.
" sorry I was so engrossed with my plants I didn't notice you there." Walking towards him . She looks up noticing the soft yet chiseled line of his nose and chin. He sits on the bench she has next to the garden. When she stands next to him. Without even thinking she reaches her hand up to gently touch his cheek. She is mesmerized by his dark eyes . The texture of his skin is soft as silk. She loves the feel of the softness of his cheek and the contrasting hardness of his nose and chin. Running her thumb across his lips. he opens his mouth slightly so that he can get a small taste of her skin. The smell of the lavender on her hands is intoxicating to him. Astila holds his breath as his heart is pounding like a water drum. Not wanting to scare her nor wanting her to withdraw from him he just sits there . Letting her explore the lines of his face. The urge to kiss her pink lips is overwhelming.
Aisling eyes meet his when her thumb feels the moistness from his mouth. Time seems to have frozen around them as they just gaze at each other. Aisling closes her eyes as if to break the spell.
" Are you still willing to go with me today?There is a place I want to show you. We can actually leave now if you like. " she turns from him her face feeling warm from how intimately she just touched him. She hopes he doesn't think her forward. He stand up and takes her hand.
" just lead the way my lady." Astila hopes that she will let him continue to hold her hand even if for just a few moments. She smiles and hands him the basket she has beside the garden. The head out walking on a small dirt path beside the garden. Listening to the nature around them as they walk. The trees shade the path keeping the area cool from the sun overhead. He hears water running. They come out of the trees and there is a small waterfall with a pool . The creek runs through to the river. Aisling takes the basket and takes out a blanket spreading it on the ground . Taking out a few covered dishes as well as a few shallow bowls. Placing a different stone in each of the bowls she makes a circle around the edge of the blanket. placing some stones on one in the center of the blanket. she goes to get some water from the waterfall. Coming back to the center of the blanket she pats the Space beside her. Astila knows she wants him to sit with her. He goes over and sits. She takes a small bunch of sage and lavender from her basket and lights them placing a few leaves and sprigs on each plate with a stone. Aisling sits and begins to chant
" show me the path we are to take
Take us on the journey we must make
Show us the evil forbidden
Help us to find what is hidden. " she softly rests this seven times . Astila finds himself sinking into what feels like a fog. Inside the fog Aisling is holding out her hand. They are floating above the forest. They see a over grown area at the top of the mountain over looking the river . You can see the town across the river from the vantage. They hear a rustling in an area behind them. Stepping back on the earth feeling the coolness of the soft forest floor. They walk slowly towards the sound. Aisling covers her mouth as if she is about to retch. The smell of death and decay is so pungent that their eyes are watering. There is a cave behind some over grown foliage. Hiding it's entrance. Slowly going inside they see the man they are looking for. There is two dead bodies in the corner. On the cave wall are photographs of Aisling . Not just of her now but also as a child. In one photograph is is standing between three boys. Just then a loud noise breaks their journey . They are back on the quiet creek bank . Aisling looks at Astila tears running down her face.
"I know who he is. We have to hurry back. " she quickly starts to gathering everything taking special care with spreading the flowers and herbs in the wind .