Ivey stood there for the longest time, even after her parents' shadows disappeared over the horizon. The last of their words reverberated in her ear, causing an influx of emotions she couldn't name. Had her entire life had been a lie? Would it have been better if she didn't know what normal felt like and grew up with the expectation of becoming the Shaman Queen?
I don't know.
On the surface, she was still Ivey, but which one? Ivey Link, or Ivey King? And who...or what was she supposed to be?
Standing in the sun, next to a pool of water, it felt as if she was just on vacation. After all of this, she'd go back to her ordinary life as a police officer and try to find a nice guy to finally start a family with.
But—could she? After being around Seymour for so long, could she find anyone as captivating as him? And—would she? Was Ivey brave enough to just high tail it out of here and pretend that all of—this—never existed?
Her parents were right. Everything they’ve said sounded unreasonable—unbelievable. She’d never even heard of this Soul Calling Ceremony, much less seen it happen in person.
And this whole entire thing about the body being just a vessel? Was that even possible? Granted, she’d read and seen documentaries about reincarnation and such, but that was its extent. However, after listening to her parents, it sounded like the Soul itself underwent rebirth, moving from one body to another after it completes its life cycle. If that were the case, why didn't more people have recollections of their past—why didn't she remember her past?
Furthermore, who was the Soul living inside this vessel if she did not—could not—remember her memories?
Standing around here won't do you any good!
True enough. When did Ivey ever wait around for anything? With one last sigh, Ivey turned, taking off towards the pool of water. She tossed aside her bathrobe just before diving headfirst into the pond—SHIT!
The sudden frigid temperature of water against skin had Ivey choking. Ivey promptly re-surface with her head and shoulders above the water, and between catching her breath and coughing, she waited for her body to adjust.
"Cold. Cold. COLD!!!" She shouted, just because she could. A slow, relaxed smile spread across her lips. Life was full of questions, but right now, it could wait.
Troubles all but forgotten, Ivey leaned back slowly in the water until she was half submerged before gliding headfirst away from the river's bank. Slowly, floating above the surface on her back, using her feet as fins, Ivey stared at the sky. Her eyes drifted from one cloud to another, surprised. Was this another Realm that her parents spoke of, or were they in another dimension? Either way, it was beautiful and reminded her of Seymour's eyes.
Ivey lifted her head slightly to look around her. She'd forgotten about Seymour, all caught up in her own little world. Was he somewhere around here? Her eyes darted from one rock to another, and then to the surrounding trees, observing no one.
Close your eyes and concentrate.
The voice was quiet and fierce, more male than female, and somewhat annoyed. If Ivey hadn't been so relaxed, she probably would have turned over in the water from confusion. Luckily, the past few days had taught her a few things.
Ivey ignored the voice and lowered her head. At the same time, her body sailed across the water, going wherever the ripples took her.
Focus. The voice was right next to Ivey's ears now. It spoke clearly and distinctively despite her ears being underwater.
On what? Ivey was a bit annoyed herself.
On nothing! The voice answered her thought, and this time Ivey actually flipped in the water.
Sputtering, coughing, and struggling for air, Ivey raised her head up above the water. She swallowed some water in the process and was pleasantly surprised that it tasted very fresh and clean, like mountain water.
"Who's there?" Ivey spoke out loud once she regained her composure. She twirled in place, expecting someone to leap out from under the waters.
No one did. And no one answered.
Slightly bothered that even she couldn't have her privacy, Ivey grudgingly made her way out of the water and back to shore. If another voice decided on answering, Ivey would not be caught off guard again. She dragged herself away from the water and onto land, feeling fully rejuvenated. After a couple of steps, Ivey paused, looking down at her clothes. After everything, nothing should surprise her anymore. Still, apparently drenched clothes that were now suddenly, and thoroughly dried, did.
This is insane. I'm not, but this is!
Just to double check, Ivey jumped back into the water.
After confirming that her tank top and shorts were, once more, completed drenched, she stepped out of the water and onto land again. Sure enough, just a few paces in, and her clothes lightened as if never soaked in the first place.
"Magic," Seymour's smooth voice floated to her ears.
Ivey glanced up to find Seymour a few yards away, leaning against one of the many trees encircling the area. At his sides were two large plastic bags and her bathrobe.
The aroma of food drifted to her nose just as her stomach began grumbling. Ivey wet her lips hungrily as she made her way towards him.
He even knows when I'm hungry! Amazing! How does he do it?
Seymour handed her robe to her when she was within reach, but Ivey tossed it aside, "It's too hot to be wearing that."
"The robe will keep you cool in this weather," Seymour was already handing her a bottle of water from the bag.
Ivey glanced at the robe before taking a sip of water. It was sprawled out across the grass, no different than any other bathrobe. "Also, magic?"
His gaze penetrated hers, reminding Ivey of another time and another place, where the question about magic also came up. Her skin flushed, tightened as she recalled the way his hands felt. At the same time, her nipples hardened, stretching against the fabric to make themselves known.
Seymour's eyes skimmed, knowingly, down Ivey's throat and shoulders before settling on her breasts. His gaze darkened at the puckered nipples straining against the material. Ivey had a feeling he saw through the tank top to her bare skin underneath. Torrents of static and electricity scraped her skin, pulsing through her entire body.
Ivey exhaled and inhaled shakily.
Visions of them together played out in her mind. Seymour's lips grazing her neck. His mouth covering her nipples and whispering her name. Their fingers intertwining while he raised her above him—
"I think I'll put the robe on after all," Ivey coughed, turning away from him to grab the bathrobe, the last of the images dissolving. She settled it around her, taking deep, even breaths. The robe, true to Seymour's words, immediately felt crisp and refreshing against her warm skin.
So much for trying to clean and purify myself. I've just undone everything within the past two hours with those images.
Once more, the fragrance of food drifted to her nose, and Ivey completely forgot about being clean and pure. This time, she caught a whiff of chili peppers followed by roasted chicken and crab sauce.
Stomach grumbling, Ivey turned to see Seymour sitting underneath a tree with all the food spread out in front of him on top of a blanket.
"It's not much, but Marcelle said—"
Ivey didn't wait for Seymour to finish. She spotted her favorite appetizer—fresh Spring Rolls—and was already stuffing one into her mouth.
"Seymour, I don't know if you've ever tried this, but these are the BOMB!" Ivey exclaimed, her eyes rolling back in bliss. "I'll become this Shaman King, Queen, thing if it means being able to eat these Spring Rolls every day!"