“Of course, sorry,” Beth said, despite her curiosity.
Storm shook his head. “It’s not your fault; I brought it up.”
He was feeling around in his pockets for something. He scowled, pulling something out.
“Papers but no bloody weeds,” he muttered, putting the little box away.
He mumbled something to himself and swung down through the tree, landing on the earthen ground and unfurling his wings a little before settling them back in place. Storm pushed at the undergrowth with his foot.
“What are you looking for?” Beth asked as she slipped off Thail’s back, walking beside him.
“Anything, really,” he said.
“Doesn’t tell me what it is you’re looking for.”
He smiled slightly. “Something I can smoke. Aprioris, anomalat, whatever,” he shrugged.
“How many different drugs do you actually take?” Beth asked.
He was quiet for a few moments. “Regularly?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Eight?” she asked disbelievingly. “And how many do you take occasionally?”
“Four, five, I don’t know,” he said with a shrug.
“And how old are you now?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Four-thousand-and-something, I suppose.”
“Do you not think that, as a guard, you need to be able to respond quickly to danger at all times?” she challenged him.
“I only take depressants when I know nothing can happen,” he said, still looking down at the floor as he walked.
Beth narrowed her eyes. She could see that argument wouldn’t work.
“Most of the drugs I take heighten my senses and awareness of my surroundings.”
“They help you?”
“Why do you think Evil chose me as his guard? I’m psychotic, remember? Apparently I have a self-destructive personality; I would happily give my life for anyone in my charge. Ah, here we go.”
Storm stopped, crouching down and pulling out a knife. It seemed to glow with a blue hue, though that simply could have been the light of the moon reflecting off the blade.
In one hand he was holding a plant off the ground so he could cut it as close to the soil as possible. It had slightly purple leaves and small pure white flowers.
Storm straightened up. He plucked one of the little flowers and held it gently between his index finger and thumb.
“This plant apparently has the sweetest smelling buds in this world,” he murmured. He lifted it to his nose and sniffed. A small smile formed on his face. “My sister loved these flowers. Want a smell?” Beth narrowed her eyes at him. “It’s not addictive, don’t worry. It’s the leaves, not the flowers, which cause addiction.”
She still hesitated for a moment before leaning over. He lifted the flower and the scent quickly reached her nose. Its smell was indescribable, a mixture of everything that Beth had experienced on Earth. It reminded her of fresh rain, a field in midsummer, the twilight ocean, and a fragranced candle. She simply couldn’t find the words to explain, even to her own mind.