Title: The Quest for Óg
Author: Camille Caliman
Genre: YA Fantasy
Sadira awakens to her caravan being clutched by flames, with her in it. She manages to escape, only to be stared down by a giant. In Sadira’s mind, her day is going to end horribly before it even starts. To her surprise, the giant puts out the fire. However, his heroism doesn’t come without a price. As a favor for putting out the fire, he asks her to help him revert back to the human he once was.
This task doesn’t faze her until he utters one word…Kappa. A word she never thought she’d have to hear again.
In a world that blends Celtic and Japanese myth and culture, Sadira and Óg face their pasts while trying to reclaim the lives they once had. When evil fueled Kappa are pulling the strings, who knows what troubles they will uncover.
Something large and wet drops down onto my head. Then another. And another. I furrow my brows with annoyance and open my eyes reluctantly.
Looking up I discover the source of the disturbance. Tears are sliding down Óg’s cheeks, with his eyes closed and his hands still clasped. I look closer and see dried tear streaks.
The poor thing has been crying alone while I’ve been sleeping. I get up and walk over to the nape of his neck. Standing on my toes, I plant a soft kiss on his cheek.
His whole cheek lights up with a blush tint and I giggle at his cute reaction.
“I’d wipe your tears if I could, but I’m too small. Stop crying as if you’re alone, because you’re not.” I whisper.
I know it’s extremely rude to talk to someone while in the middle of prayer, but I felt those words needed to be said. I hope whomever he’s praying to understands and doesn’t punish Óg in my stead.
The gentle sound of sand moving radiates from the stone tablet and Óg opens his eyes. His hands fall into his lap and a blue spirit walks out of the stone tablet.
His air of wisdom and regal gait commands the utmost respect. Upon taking a closer look at his dress, I realize that he is not just a spirt, but a kami in spirit form. I brace myself for the fall once Óg bends down to bow, but it doesn’t happen.
Instead, he picks me up and sits me gently on the ground before deeply bowing with his palms placed on the ground. I worry that this act might have offended the kami.
“Worry not your mind, young Sadira. It pleases me that he treats you with such respect. Shamefully, many a man go against the virtue of respecting women. It’s nice to see that inside the giant, is the young man I talked to years ago. You may rise.”
Óg lifts his head and stays in the kneeled position. The kami smiles fondly at Óg before speaking.
“Usually, it is prohibited for you to be accompanied on this mountain. However, I acknowledge that she is a necessary part of your path. I heard your earnest prayer and I must admit I still have a soft spot for you. Don’t speak of it to the others, they might get jealous.”
Óg smiles in return. “That pleases me more than you can imagine, thank you. I won’t tell a soul.”
“Indeed. Your color has come back, but your voice needs some work. I’ll bring you some tea.” Haygarth adds.
He gets up and leaves the room. Brennan smiles and holds Sadira’s hand.
“You gave us quite a fright dear.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have run out like that. I don’t know where my mind was.”
“That’s neither here nor there now. What’s important is you getting enough rest before you continue on your journey.”
Haygarth returns with the tea and I help Sadira sit upright. I sit next to her so that she has something to lean back into. She takes the tea and starts drinking immediately.
She downs the whole cup and leans back onto my shoulder.
“Thanks everyone. I think I’m going to go back to sleep now, if that’s alright.”
“Your voice is a little raspy. Also, I think you should drink some broth first.” Haygarth suggests.
“Good idea, I’ll make the broth.” Brennan says proudly.
Brennan gets up happily and walks out the room. Haygarth and Sadira look at the doorway with wide eyes.
“What’s the matter? Was it something she said?” I ask.
“Brennan is not a very good cook. At all. She’s more of a baker.” Sadira explains.
“You should’ve seen her attempt at making broth the last time.” Haygarth shudders.
“She made some for my parents. They both got sick, then Haygarth had to nurse them for days. Ever since, she hasn’t been allowed in the kitchen to cook.”
“Thank goodness I don’t get sick often. Otherwise I’d never get better.” Haygarth says.
As if on cue, the sounds of pots and pans falling echoes through the house. Haygarth gets up and sprints out the door. I laugh a little.
“I wonder if she ever tried to get romantic and cook him a meal.” I laugh.
“She probably did try in the beginning. Obviously, he learned his lesson.” She responds.
She sits there and teases me about how she’s never seen me cook. I move my head to flip my hair when I remember that I don’t have hair.
I haven’t had any in a long time. I can’t wait to be my old self again. I feel like I’m living another life. Different name, different body, but I still feel like me…I think.
I start staring at Sadira. When she sees the real me, if she sees the real me, will she still view me the same way? Will she ever see me as myself or will she still see me as Óg?
“Don’t worry, I’m not sad. It’s just your ochazuke reminds me of home. My athair used to make this for me. I haven’t had it in years.”
“Oh, thank goodness. I thought I did something wrong. Being compared to your athair is a huge complement.”
I place the chopsticks on my lap and drink the broth, finishing with a satisfied slurp. He takes the bowl away and smiles gently at me.
“I don’t recommend lying down after eating, so I’ll sit here a spell and talk to you. That way your food will be good and digested by the time you lie down.”
We talk for a long while. Talking to him makes me forget all my aches and pains. I tell him about my situation just like I told the other brothers. He seems in thought for a few moments before gently pushing me down onto the bed.
He covers me up in the blankets once again and tells me that I’ll need more rest. Not only so I can have a full recovery, but also because I will need my wits about me.
The thought of even more trials makes my head hurt. Thankfully, I fall asleep before my worries can really take hold.
The next morning, I wake up and there’s no smell of cooking, or the turned back of the old man. Blankets folded neatly on the sofa tell me that he’s already awake, but where is he?
I look around the cottage and realize that the back door is open. I climb out of bed, fix the blankets and grab my bag. Walking out the door, I see him sitting on a tree stump.
Without turning around, he pats the other stump next to him. I silently sit down next to him and wait for him to start talking.
“I know my brothers have given you advice thus far. Although, I don’t know what they have told you. What I can tell you is that I know the truth, but it can’t be spoken.”
“I understand. There are just some things that cannot be said.”
“However, I shall say this and let this guide your heart.” He turns and looks me in the eyes. “A pawn is a pawn all the same, a foolish pawn however is a pawn who doesn’t know a game is being played.”
I am the quirky author of Nefarious Creatures and The Quest for Óg. When I’m not swinging wildly between asking androids for directions on the south-side of Mars or training with elves in the forest, I’m playing video games and enjoying walks among the trees.
I also write poetry on my WordPress blog called Rainy Day Cafe.
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