Conversations with Christopher: Map Part 3

Christopher: Why wouldn’t I change? If I keep losing myslf in the Shadow Forest, wouldn’t parts of me fall away? Devoured by other shadows.

Map doesn’t answer for a long moment. The two of them sit at a round table in a warm kitchen, blue and white curtains drawn. 

It’s a safe place, a quiet place. At least it should be. Except Christopher can see the ruined tower, perched on top of the hill. 

Something looks back at them from that tower across the distance. Somehow seeing them through the glass. Seeing him. 

Christopher: You can feel it, too, can’t you? Something watching?

Map: It feeds on attention. The more you give it, the stronger it grows. The hungrier it becomes. Pay it no mind. 

Christopher: Does that really work?

Map shuts her eyes and presses her lips together.

Map: We’re able to live quietly in this cottage because of Leiwell. Because of what Leiwell does. (She gestures to the books on the shelf.) Everything we have is because of Leiwell.

Christopher: You’ve lived here longer than you’ve had Leiwell. 

Map: Aye, and I’ve been watched that entire time. I try not to look back, but when I brought Leiwell home, well, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to keep him. Just as I’ve a feeling I won’t be able to keep the twins. 

Christopher: What are you afraid of, Map?

Map: (shivering) Something happened to me beyond the Door. No. Something happened to me years ago, before I came to Omphalos. I let something free inside of me. It took on a life on its own. It stalks me, watches me, resents me. It wants my sons. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Map: I shouldn’t mean anything. Just talking about it gives it more life. Only he’s already loose in the world. He walks in the guise of a man, a lord.

Christopher: He?

Map: The one I didn’t take home. The one I turned away from. He’s been many people. I think he’s even been part of your Gardens of Arachne. 

Christopher freezes, thinking of a smiling youth with silvery-moon pale hair and glacier-like eyes. A youth who defied the rules of the Garden as Damian did, becoming a young man. Even though he should have been a statue, standing amidst the flowers. 

Christopher: Dyvian. You’re talking about Dyvian, aren’t you?

Map: Is that his name? I never asked. He never told me. Leiwell only refers to him as his lord. Somehow he’s become the lord of the land around this cottage, which includes this cottage. 

Christopher: How did he meet you?

Map: (shutting her eyes) He wouldn’t exist if not for me. He was born of my anger, my hunger for love, and rage at being denied it. 

Christopher: He was a lot more than that when I met him. He was capable of gentleness, and more than willing to follow the ways of the Garden. At least he seemed to. 

Map: He’s capable of being many things if people wish him to be them. He’s willing to be whatever Leiwell wants to be, if Leiwell will serve him.

For a moment an image of brilliant green eyes looking back at him from Damian’s face comes Christopher. He shuts his eyes against the vision, biting his lower lip. 

Christopher: Leiwell already serves Dyvian. Dyvian feeds him. 

Map: (gives Christopher a sharp look) How do you know that?

Christopher: I don’t have the connection with Leiwell I do with the twins, but I did have a strong bond with one of his victims. 

Map: Victims?

Christopher: Map, you know what I am. You know what Leiwell and the twins are, yet you still took us in. 

Map: It seems to me you’re all victims. You create more victims if someone doesn’t take you in, show you a better way. 

Christopher: (pauses, thinking of Damian and Gabrielle) That’s true. 

Map: Whatever Leiwell did in the Shadow Forest, he’s a part of this world now. I’m making him a part of it.

Christopher: What if Dyvian…his lord…wants him to be something else?

Map falls silent, gazes at her hands on the table. She won’t look at Christopher or the window. 

Map: Every night Leiwell disappears. He won’t tell any of us where he’s going. He returns in the morning. Often bearing gifts.

Christopher: Only he’s listless, pale. Like he’s still wandering in a dream or part of him is missing?

Map: You think he’s going to the Shadow Forest. Feeding that creature. 

Christopher: I don’t know. If his lord is being what Leiwell wants him to be, it’s possible Dyvian is feeding Leiwell, too. 

Map: Feeding him so he can feed off him. 

Christopher bows his head, thinking of Damian, of looking at the sky while listening to the dance of Damian’s brush, the soft sound of Damian’s movements. 

Christopher: This may be what Leiwell wants. 

Map: Leiwell has no idea what he wants. He’s an innocent creature, only too receptive to anyone who’s willing to love or guide him. 

Christopher: Aren’t we all at first?

There’s another long moment where they gaze at each other over the table. 

Map: You should go. 

Christopher: Why did you lead me here, Map?

Map: I wanted to see you, to talk to you. Even if you’re as big a danger as your lord.

Christopher: You’re living with dangerous creatures, Map. You’re a dangerous creature yourself, even if you try to live quietly. 

Map: Get out.

Christopher: How long do you think you can hide? Look the other way while someone is watching you? While he’s watching your children?

Map: Get out!

Christopher gets up and walks to the door. He opens it, turns around. 

Christopher: The next dangerous creature you invite in may not be as willing to leave as I am. 

He steps outside where the mist is rising, waiting for him. 

Map gets up and shuts the door behind him. She goes to the window and draws the curtains. 

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