"This... isn't my garden."
Khaleera got up off her knees, still holding the trowel in her left hand. The sun was setting. Ivy was nowhere to be seen.
"How long have I been working a garden that isn't mine?"
It was truly a challenge to pick out what had changed. That row of irises were a slightly different shade, and this grapevine was tangled around the tree in a barely different angle, and those daffodils were slightly further along in their blooming cycle... It was like looking at her garden, but in a dreamscape, where things are just a little unfamiliar.
Of course, the garden itself wasn't hers, she was just the caretaker. Was she expected to take care of this one, too? Was this some sort of trick of Lord Varius, some little game? He wasn't usually the sort to play games, at least not with her and... okay, maybe a little with Ivy.
She brushed long dark locks from her face and looked around again. This didn't feel like Varius' doing, anyway. The sorcerer had a strong hold on them as it was, there was hardly a need for tricks like these. He already had what he wanted from them—two devoted and careful gardeners—and they had what they wanted from him: fulfilling work, and each other.
"Ivy?" Khaleera called, not really expecting a response. She brushed soil and some loose grass from the knees of her canvas pants and took a few steps. The walls she was expecting to see weren't there, just more garden.
"Ivy, are you here? Answer me."
If Ivy had heard those words, she would have been compelled to obey, but receiving no response, Khaleera could only conclude that Ivy wasn't in earshot.
Motion caught Khaleera's eye, and she turned to see what it was; perhaps it was hallucination born of stress, or an aftereffect of too much sun (Ivy was always after her to wear her hat while she worked), but there seemed to be something glowing that had darted behind a large maple tree that should have been a large willow tree. Curious, she moved to investigate as the clouds in the sky lit up with the reds and purples of the setting sun.
As she rounded the tree, another blaze in another direction made her swivel to see it, just as it dipped low into a raspberry bush. This time she saw enough of it to be sure that she wasn't hallucinating, but wandering into a thorny hedge seemed like a poor idea. Fortunately, another drifted past, this one seemingly in less of a hurry, and Khaleera was able to follow it a few paces before it darted away like a lightning flash come to earth.
This was not a part of the garden Khaleera recognized. Had she been in Lord Varius' compound, she would have run into a wall a few steps back. Instead, garden gave way to deeper forest.
In the fading light, Khaleera decided to explore. Besides, the darkness made finding the little darting lights easier. She saw another two as she walked down the trail, but they vanished too quickly for her to track them. Another flew across the path in front of her and she nearly managed to grab it, but it zipped out of the way of her hand at the last moment.
As the sun set, the number of the small flashes increased, until there was seemingly always one in sight. Khaleera lost track of how far she'd come, wandering forward, deeper and deeper into the woods, following the traces that the dancing glow left behind in her vision, walking faster and faster, deeper and deeper, ever onward. The trowel fell from nerveless fingers as all she could think of to do was to keep going; even holding the small implement was too much effort to imagine.
Varius, Ivy, the garden, her life, all drowned out in a symphony of light. She put one foot in front of the other, and watched the dance of the lights before her.