She Dishonors Her House - Part 4
Content Warning: Hallucination, animal abuse
She had woken early the next morning, and each morning after that, to sit beneath the Tree, her palms against the great trunk. The accumulated might and wisdom of its many long years flowed up her arms, soothing the tumult of her mind, but she had gained no other insight until the fourth day of their sojourn. The sun had risen high overhead, and she was just preparing to rise and return to the cool of her tent, when she felt that ebbing away of her own consciousness that signaled the advent of a vision.
At once she was standing on a road, a long, straight track disappearing into the horizon. The sun hung low in the sky, as at mid-morning. For a long time (or so it seemed), she waited, and the sun waited with her. No breeze disturbed her garments, and even the dust lay still about her feet. She saw no living creature—neither bird nor beast nor creeping thing—and she would have gone mad with the silence if her mind had been her own.
At last she saw, at the very limit of perception, a tiny flash of light away down the road. As she stared, it appeared again, and now she saw that a figure was coming toward her, flickering on the horizon. She blinked, and when her eyes opened again the figure had drawn closer—now less than a mile distant—and she knew that it was a man, a soldier clad in richly-ornamented bronze armor that shone in the sun. He walked as if incredible weariness was on him, but he covered a great distance with each stride nonetheless, and soon she could have seen his face if his head had not been bowed toward the ground.
Suddenly another movement caught the edge of her vision, and she saw that a small, rail-thin dog was approaching the road and would soon cross paths with the soldier. It limped along, favoring one leg as if injured or lame, and it whined when it caught sight of the soldier, looking up at him with an expression of pathetic hope. The soldier noticed it then, and aimed a kick at its head as it drew near. It dodged back, then leaped upon him with sudden ferocity, and as it did so, shifted and changed before her eyes, growing to three, four times its original size. Its jaws widened, its body lengthened, and the fur around its head and neck sprouted outward, and she saw that, where before had cowered a pitiable stray, a mighty and terrible lion now savaged the soldier. He fell under it with a cry before it tore out his throat, and she came to herself, hands still resting against the great oak and breath coming in short, needle-sharp gasps.