...Into the pitch of the woods Peat Moss carried the unconscious monk, Jess Bethel. Into the pitch of the woods followed every manner of spirit and phantasm, their cries of anger growing louder in the monster’s ears. He tried to block the wretched noise, covering one ear. In doing this, he let drop Jess’ legs so that now the monk was being dragged through the forest. But Peat Moss was not about to let go of his prize. He still held him in a constricting grasp.
It was the appearance of a very real form, not an apparition, that halted the Passion’s trek. In front of him stood Grit, arms treading the air as if it were reeds she was searching through. Her face was vexed; she knew she was right upon it. That scent, that wisp of treachery she had been following stood directly in front of her now. The sense of danger she had felt that morning by the river, indeed, the sense of dread and grief that made up her very being, had never been stronger than it was at this moment.
Peat Moss watched, Jess now being held by only one arm, as the blind sprite edged toward him. At the sight of her, he felt a curious kinship. He had known there was something of him in her. He felt her pain as an extension of his own self. He ventured forward, attempting to gain a close enough proximity as to touch her.
Grit was immediately aware of his hate, his impending icy admiration. Peat Moss’ shadow crawled over her like a glacier imposing itself on an unsuspecting landscape. Grit recognized the scent of Jess, the pressure of his self in the air. He was not well. Her reaction was swift to this knowledge. With a cry that pierced through the spirits in the air, making them flee in fear, she shattered the frigid darkness that Peat Moss’ shadow cast.
At once, he stepped back. Grit’s shrill aching cry made him double over. He dropped Jess completely to the forest floor, clasping his ears. Grit lurched and stammered over her own fear as she made for where she knew the monster to be. Her cry of anguish continued, and she reached for the Passion with long fingers that could rip a whole in the atmosphere. He had never seen such ferocity, not even his own when mirrored in the river could compare.
Forgetting the monk where Grit now stood in some grand protective stance, Peat Moss fled into the woods with the spirits. He bellowed as his ears bled from the pain. Grit would have followed but he had fled too quickly. So, she returned her attention to the unconscious monk.
As soon as he heard Grit’s wails ripped through the valley air Honeysuckle was racing to her. Dust and long grass flew in his wake. He felt a sudden guilt for having let her go alone into the forest. What if she had wandered into a cleft or a hunter’s trap? But then he realized the cry issuing forth from beneath the canopied hillside was not one of pain or fear. No, her wailing was like that of an animal on the hunt; an animal which, upon having caught its prey, was proclaiming victory before descending upon it. It made Honeysuckle shiver and he ran all the faster. He could not even feel the slight breeze, the flood of scattered spirits, as he ran through them on his way to find Grit.
At last, he found her. She sat on the ground, holding Jess’ head in her hands as she moaned. Once understanding Honeysuckle was near, she reached for him pleadingly and he ran to her side and sunk to the ground. He feared Jess was dead, and quickly felt for his breath.
“He lives!” Honeysuckle cried in relief. He kissed Jess gently on the forehead where honeysuckle-scented tears had fallen. Grit clung to Honeysuckle’s arm, her grip loosening once he had diagnosed Jess’ condition.
Honeysuckle knew without asking what had happened. Only one thing, one force of nature, could cause him this kind of grief. He kissed Jess once again, but this time with adamant force on the mouth; a gesture like a promise. The young monk’s dazed eyes opened. Honeysuckle handed the care of Jess back to Grit.
“You stay here, Grit,” Honeysuckle demanded. “You watch after our Jess.” He stood with as much purpose as he had ever done. “I have something to take care of.”
Grit jerked as if she understand what Honeysuckle intended to do. She reached for him in an effort to stop him, but he was already gone.
As he tread downhill, Honeysuckle Sycamore made the forest supplicant. His determination, his anger, his will, made every bow bend. Honeysuckle Sycamore was set to destroy Peat Moss once and for all.