Ascentia and Stella knew that the time had come. They placed Bran's sleeping body on a cot and carried him to the spring while the moon was still high. Slowly they lowered him into the water and together with him they all three submerged.
Bran opened his eyes. The walls of his stone and wood room were gone. Laying on his back he looked around. The tall green grass, the sun dappled redwoods outlined in brilliant blue, the sound of bird song everywhere, the soft dry munching of grass. He slowly turned his head to his right. His horse, was there, eating. Always eating. He smiled, sat up, saw the river, the sun like diamonds dazzling the surface of the slowly moving massive body of water. The continuously changing lights, the cool breeze, the sound of the birds, the rustling of the trees, all of these things were causing him to become very fond of this place. He thought of Stella. As he was thinking this, a bird, a small finch came from the tree on his left. He landed on the rock in front of him. The finch stood still while staring at him. Perfectly still. This bird felt familiar.
He sensed he wasn't alone.
He turned and saw a spotted leopard laying a bodies length away. She closed her eyes and then opened them. It was a greeting. He stood and noticed that his own feet were paws.
She spoke, "Yes, Bran, you are a cat. Just like me. Look around. You remember this place, right?"
He looked around again. This place, this conversation was familiar. He had been here before. But like a dream, the memory of it came in bits and pieces.
She went on. "My father taught me that every healer needs a secret place, a secret garden in her mind. A place in which everything in that world is a friend. That world must be a place made of memories that cause one to feel happy, safe, and strong." She continued as he shifted her gaze to his left, looking at the river. "Do you remember this river? We bathed in her waters. The branches of the tree here," she returned her gaze overhead "is the place we dried off and laughed as we watched the stars move through the branches. This place is located in our thoughts. Yes. But also it is a real place. In our memories, I re-created 'our' tree as a refuge surrounded by our river, as a kind of mote, a garden wall, so that I could always come here when I needed to figure out how to solve particularly difficult problems. Like now. This is where I went to last night while you were sleeping under the light of the full moon. It was here that I found the source of your wound and also the cure.
All this occurred while you slept.
Now it is time for us to do the healing work.