Darkness covered the sky for as far as the eye could see. Not a single star in the sky could pierce through the murky haze. All over the land people stood outside their homes and watched as the sun disappeared behind clouds thicker than oil. Everyone knew that war was upon them but none of them knew how bad the world had grown over the years.
Sitting to the north of the once great land was a massive castle made of pure black granite. The spires seemed to scratch the sky with their height, and the halls could take days to walk. Nothing seemed normal within the walls of the fortress. Walls moved, halls disappeared, people went missing, and doors opened to nothing. But within the castle one thing stayed constant, it wasn’t the steady stream of people, or the fear that seemed to emanate from the very structure itself, but instead was one solitary man who was forever bound to the stone the walls were made of.
This one man was as normal as could be or at least he would be if it wasn’t for the power he possessed. No one knew how he came upon the power he held over the land, they just knew it was dark. For as long as anyone could remember he had always been there. Watching, waiting, and causing destruction where he saw fit. Anyone who stood in his way perished at his hand. His word was law, and to break those laws was to die.
Today was just like any other day, or at least it seemed that way. Once again another person was brought to his feet by the Knights of Glore. These Knights were not like any other, they were made whole by the power he wielded. They were nothing but armor, and a fiery glow behind a slit in their black helmets. Air was of no use to them, neither was food or water, they did not sleep, and they followed orders better than any human could. Some called them Spirit daemons, while others called them hells guards, but no matter what they were called every person in the land was scared of them. To come across a Knight of Glore was to visit death himself.
Crying could be heard coming from the corridor leading to the Great Hall where he himself sat upon his throne. Metal clanked and screams echoed along with the cries of a child. The main doors swung open with ease and grace that seemed impossible for doors that big. Within seconds the sounds grew louder and grated on everyone’s ears within the hall. A young woman and her small child no older than 4 were escorted into the room much to the annoyance of this powerful man. He knew any moment now the woman would start begging but it wouldn’t help her cause if anything he would make her death more Painful as punishment for his annoyance. Instead, much to his surprise it was not the woman who screamed and cried but the child at her side.
This young woman was like nothing he had ever seen before; she was the epitome of beautiful. Long golden hair flowed down her back to end just below her hips, she wore a well fitted emerald gown with golden trim spun by the hand of an elf, no slippers adorned her feet, or jewels her fingers. These facts alone surprised the man into silence. A woman of her stature was sure to have many slippers, and of course a pile of jewels to wear to the finest ball. As he tried to calm himself and remember why she was here, he was instead taken again by her eyes.
Never once did she falter, continuously staring into his eyes as if she could read his soul. At her side the little child continued to cry and cling to the woman’s skirt. Neither this nor the fact that she was surrounded by a dozen Knights seemed to faze her. As he stared into her eyes he realized that her eyes were not of a single color, but always changing. The colors swirled and flickered as if they couldn’t decide what shade to be that moment. After what seemed like an eternity and an awkward silence did he realize that he had not spoken. Trying to gather his thoughts he noticed that her eyes finally started to settle into a rich green color almost matching her dress perfectly.
Taking a deep breath and steadying himself upon his throne he spoke for the first time. “You are aware of why you are here?” As if he had not spoken at all the woman just stood there staring deep into his soul with her piercing eyes. The hall was eerily quiet and the child had finally stopped weeping. Unable to control himself any longer he stood from his seat and stepped down to stand directly in front of her. Without missing a beat the woman took a step forward placing herself between him and the child. But not once did she look away from him. It was as if she did not fear him one bit.
“What is your name girl?” Again he was met by silence. Becoming a bit flustered he decided that he would try a different approach. Glancing down he noticed the child looking up at him from behind the skirts of her dress. Smiling softly to the child he began to stoop down to the child’s level, but quicker than he anticipated he was on his back with the woman’s foot on his chest. Never before had anyone moved that quickly, nor had anyone taken him down unaware like that.
After staring at the foot upon his chest for another moment he looked up at the woman. No longer was she just a beautiful creature but now she was fierce and filled with a fire he had not seen before. Her eyes were no longer green but instead a dark brown almost red color. For the first time since seeing her he finally noticed that both her wrists and ankles were in shackles. Managing a move like that had to of been hard while chained. Regardless of her skills or why she was here he was starting to like this woman, now if only she would speak.
“Will you remove your foot from my chest or must I have my guards remove it for me?” For reasons unknown to either of them none of his Knights had reacted to what she had done. The woman removed her foot and took her place in front of the child again. Getting to his feet he walked back to his throne and took a seat again. He would have to think much about what to do with this woman, she could prove to be very valuable or she could cost him everything. But at the moment he wanted nothing more than to remove her chains and clear the room of only him and her.
“You do now know who I am do you sire?” The voice so familiar to him, but so foreign was another shocker for him. He did not like surprises at all but this was turning into something so much more than just a simple surprise. He would know that voice anywhere but the fact that he was hearing it again after so many years was too much to take in. It was impossible; he would know for he was the one who killed her.
Fear started to replace infatuation as he studied her all over again, so much mystery in one little woman, how could he have missed the one thing that should have given her away. “Angelic?” That one simple question came out as a squeak as he gripped the arms of his throne. “I don’t understand. It’s not possible.” Silence filled the hall as every person stared on in confusing. Never before had they seem their ruler overcome by so much emotion. To see him afraid of a woman no less was terrifying in its self.
Starting to Panic he did the only thing he could think of. Slowly he got to his feet and walked to the nearest Knight and took his keys. It seemed the only calm person in the entire room was the woman, but behind the folds of her skirt sat a child watching and waiting for the right time to act. No one noticed as the child got to its feet and waited just as calmly behind the woman. Not even the King himself seemed to notice the child as he undid the shackles binding her arms. As he stooped down to remove the bindings on her ankles the young child stepped forward and quietly and for the first time spoke. “She will be the death of you, not once will she run for the time for running is over. The truth will break free the bonds and hell will rain upon this earth and rid it of its tyrant. You will know the Pain you have caused. One such as she will break through and cure this world of the evil you have raised. Beware for the child is one of elf blood, one of human blood, one of daemon blood. The blade will drive deep your wounds and destroy you and those you create.”
“The prophecy child. She is yours.” Angelic’s words came to him as if from a distance. Their meaning clear but filled with riddles. He had never met a prophecy child or a child of prophecy for that matter. Neither did he care to, but this was a changing time and changing times called for actions. Removing the shackles from her ankles he got back to his feet and took his place once again upon his throne. Whatever she came here to say would have to be said in private. Regretting his decision before he even opened his mouth, he went ahead and gave the order. “Clear the room.” No one in the room moved, it was as if he never spoke a word of his order. “I said CLEAR THE ROOM!” The floors shook, doors rattled, armor clanked, and chairs buckled. The impending blast sent every person in the room flying, everyone except Angelic, the child and himself.
Once everyone was cleared from the room he made his way back to Angelic. He knew the only way to end this and to stop the prophecy from ever happening was the stop it before it started. “You will not touch her.” Again her words made him come up short. “If you wish to harm her you will have to go through me. This time I will not hold back.” He reached forward and placed his hands carefully upon her shoulders and stared into her ever changing eyes. Before he could stop himself he wrapped his arms around her and began to weep into her golden hair.
“Where have you been love, I have missed you.” The words came out as croaks in between his sobs, but he did not care. For the first time since her death or the death that he thought he caused, he was happy again. And then the pieces started to fall into place. Taking a step back he looked down at the girl at Angelic’s side and held his hand out. The young girl looked up at angelic and then back down at him and lightly placed her hand in his. What happened next not even he expected.
Pain like nothing he had ever felt before consumed him. Light filled his eyes as what felt like swords pierced every inch of his body. He could not scream, nor could he move as images flashed across his eyes; a young dark haired girl playing in a river, a young light haired boy stalking a deer with his father, and finally two young children with red hair playing tricks on their older brother. And then all at once it was over, the Pain the light, the children, all of them gone. As the young girl let go of his hand, he collapsed into a heap on the floor. She looked up at Angelic with fear in her eyes. “Did I do good mommy?”
“Yes dear, you did wonderful. Now let us leave while we still have a chance. He could wake up before we know it. He is much stronger than anyone you have ever met.” Stepping over his body Angelic took the young girls hand and made for the door. What neither of them could foresee was what he would do with the information he had just received. So many possibilities, so many outcomes, for now all they could do was hide and wait. Their chance would come to finally take their Part in the prophecy.
That night they hid in the darkest cave they could find, a place where not even his power could reach, the only place across the land that he had not been able to touch. They hid among the dwarves, the only creatures to fully withstand his wrath. As they hid in the tunnels deep within the earth among the dwarves, he changed the world for what they hoped was only a couple years. But if they lost their war they would never be able to stop him.
Twelve years later:
Sitting along the shore of a small creek was a young woman no older than sixteen skipping rocks and waiting for a fish to catch on her pole. Today was a day of remembrance, not that she could really remember what the fuss was all about, she just knew that she had to sit outside and enjoy the little light that they were offered. It had already been over a decade since anyone had actually seen the sun. But every once in a while there would be a day or a week or sometimes a month where the light would peek through and warm their arms and touch the crops they could grow.
As time Passed their food had dwindled. Now they were lucky to eat what they could grow. No one knew how much longer they could last with the haze covering them, but she had hope. Somewhere inside herself she knew that one day the sun would shine again. She didn’t know how she knew, she just did. And today she was happy that the fish that did still live within the creek were biting, hopefully she would have enough to bring home to mama and Pa for fish stew that night. At the very least it would be better than some of the stuff they had been eating.
Getting caught up in thought she almost didn’t notice the pull of her fishing pole. Almost dropping her pole in the water she jumped and quickly got it before she lost the pole and the fish hanging on the end of her line. Stepping away from the shore she pulled her line farther out of the water to get a better look at what she had caught. Luckily for her this fish was the biggest she had seen in quite some time. This one fish could feed them for at least a week. She giggled with happiness as she watched it wiggle and squirm on her hook. Oh how mama and Pa would be happy. Looking to the sky to get some idea of how late it was getting she was shocked to find a large bird circling overhead.
The last time she saw a bird she was a young girl, it also happened to be the last time she saw the sun, and the only time she could remember seeing it. A flock of birds flew over her head in the shape of an arrowhead; off to the west the sun shone brightly coloring the sky with an array of colors. It seemed like such a beautiful day filled with laughter and love until a single bird at the edge of the arrowhead fell to the ground. Off in the distance a scream was heard, and then another bird fell, and another until every bird in the sky fell to the ground. Fear stole into her heart as she watched the poor birds fall from the sky. To the north screams could be heard louder and louder almost as if they traveled across the land growing as they Passed. Finally she looked to the north and saw the most terrifying thing she could imagine. A cloud as black as death rolled across the sky, not a single ray of sunshine could pierce through its haze. Mama pulled her into the house and lit a candle as Pa grabbed his sword and stood at the ready between her and mama. No matter how much she wanted to cry for the little birds she was too afraid for herself.
The memory struck her harder than anything she could ever recall and all at once she found herself lying on the ground with tears streaming down her face as she watched this enormous bird circling overhead growing ever bigger. Wiping the tears from her face she got back up and gathered her fish to take home to mama and Pa. She never understood why that memory affected her like it did, but she did know that she could never forget.
By what light that was left drifting through the haze she made her way back home. They lived in a small cottage on the outskirts of town just inside the forest. Pa was a farmer and mama was a tailor. She was the only one in town so everyone in town came to her with their needs. Mama always tried to get her into the family business but she just wasn’t interested, she wanted to be a hunter. Pa didn’t think it was very lady like, but she didn’t care.
When she got back home Pa was sitting on the porch drinking his homemade ale. Dropping her satchel by one of the available rockers on the porch, she sat down with a sigh. Many nights had been spent just sitting on the porch drinking ale with her Parents. No one out here ever bothered them and they liked it that way. On occasion there would be a traveler or two and her Parents would put them up in one of the spare rooms for the night.
“Did you catch anything good?”
“Yep, got a couple smaller fish and nice big trout that could last us at least a couple days.”
“Why don’t you bring those in to your ma and I’ll join you both in a min.”
“I will Pa, but I got a question for you first.”
“Well spit it out.”
Taking a deep breath she leaned forward in her seat. She wasn’t sure what she was trying to ask exactly but she had to say something. “Why did the birds fall out of the sky Pa?” Pa took a swig of his ale and sat for another minute before he decided to reply.
“Well I don’t rightly know, Em. I think it has to do with the haze. Do you remember the day the sun disappeared?”
“Yes, Pa. I remember it.” Sitting back in her seat she did her best not to let the memory surface again.
“That was the last time anyone has seen a bird in the sky. Why do you ask dear?”
“Well after I got done fishing at the creek I saw a bird in the sky.” She glanced over at Pa to gauge his reaction. He usually took things in stride and rarely over reacted, but this time things were different. A bird in the sky for the first time in twelve years, that was pretty incredible.
He didn’t look very surprised; in fact this didn’t seem to bother him at all. Taking another swig of his ale he got up and made for the door. “We better get inside before mama comes looking for us.” Well this was new, since when did he avoid something like that.
“But Pa, what about the birds?”
“Not here Emily, inside.” Pa held the door open as she picked up her catch for the day and made her way inside and towards the kitchen to drop off what would soon be dinner. This wasn’t like him, at least not the him she was used to. Dropping off the fish in the kitchen Emily went looking for mama; maybe she would say something about the birds.
On her way back to mama’s work room she found Pa waiting for her in her bedroom. He was standing in front of the window staring out at the garden that lay just outside her room. “Where’s mama?”
“She will join us in a minute. We need to talk dear.” Turning, he took a seat in a small wooden chair beside her bed. “Was this the first time you have seen a bird since the haze came?”
Taking a seat on her bed she thought about it for a moment. “Yep, it was huge too. Don’t think I have ever seen a bird that big, not since before the haze anyways. What’s going on Pa?”
“That wasn’t a bird you saw.” Standing in the doorway to her room was mama. “Tell me what you saw.” Coming over to sit down on the bed next to Emily, mama laid a hand on her shoulder and waited for her to recount what she saw. Starting with her catching the fish she told mama and Pa about what she saw in the sky and what she remembered about the day the haze came.
“It was so weird mama, the bird was so big and as it circled it got bigger and bigger, I couldn’t tell if it was getting closer to the ground or was really just getting bigger. And it had to be a bird I could see its wings and its head. It definitely looked like a bird to me.”
“We will save the explanation of the bird for later; right now I have to get dinner ready. We will talk more after we get some fish stew in our stomachs.” Mama and Pa shared a look before they both got up and left her room. Left to her own devices she wasn’t sure what to do. She thought about reading or going out to the garden but she had too much on her mind.
She knew they were hiding something but wasn’t sure what it was. Just then a knock came from the door to their cottage, jumping off her bed she hurried into the family room to see who was there. Unfortunately for her Pa was already at the door. With only a crack and a little bit of light seeping out she couldn’t see anything so instead she sat on the floor in front of the fireplace, which was already going for the night.
Trying as hard as she could she listened in on the conversation her Pa was having with the visitor. Only a few words here and there could be heard, and just when she began to wonder if Pa was going to let them in he did just that. Stepping back he let a very tall and very handsome man in. Well he wasn’t from town not that was for sure, she would have noticed if he had been through here before.
“Thank you Gerald, I swear I’m never going to get used to this weather.”
“Ah my boy it could be worse.” Pa said with a wink. “Marilynne is in the kitchen getting dinner ready why don’t you make yourself at home and I’ll get you a pint of my ale.”
“You still making that old crud of yours? Is it still as harsh as ever?” Their visitor who hadn’t seemed to notice Emily just yet was taking off his cloak while trying to find a place to set his bags.
“Harsh? Ha! Emily doesn’t seem to mind it.” Pa looked pleased to see whoever this man was; he was having a very hard time wiping the smile off his face. She was just glad to see him happy like this again. “Do ya Em?” For the first time since arriving their visitor turned and noticed Emily sitting in front of the fire watching them. Being as lady like as she could possibly stand she got up and did a half curtsey just so Pa wouldn’t fuss over her being rude.
“No Pa, you know I love your ale.”
“See I told you I make good ale. So, Emily this is Jason, Jason this is my daughter Emily, the one I have told you about.”
“It is nice to meet you Miss Emily, your father has told me a lot about you; it is wonderful to finally meet you.” Jason leaned over and kissed her hand just like a perfect gentlemen, well she thought so anyways, she hadn’t met very many men that were very gentlemen like.
“It is nice to meet you as well sir, how do you know Pa and mama?”
“Straight to the point she is, well that is a long story that shouldn’t be told on an empty stomach. I’ve been traveling for days and living off of dried meet and fruit. How about we recant you with that story after dinner?” Jason turned to Pa and they shared a hug like long lost old friends.
“Em, why don’t you go see how mama is doing with dinner and get the table ready.”
“Yes Pa.” Emily curtseyed again and headed towards the kitchen. She was too excited not to walk a little faster than normal. They had company and he was handsome. Mama was just pulling a pot of fish stew off the fire when she made it to the kitchen. “Mama, we have a guest and he’s gorgeous. Pa wanted me to see how you were doing with dinner. Need any help?” Bouncing on her toes she watched as mama got an extra bowl from the cupboard.
“Sure sweetie, why don’t you go ahead and get the table set I’ll bring dinner in in a second.” Grabbing up the bowls, spoons, and napkins Emily turned to leave when mama stopped her. “Wait, visitor you say?”
“Yep, his name is Jason and Pa acts like he has known him for ages. Did I mention he was handsome?” Mama nodded her head in recognition.
“Oh I was wondering when he would get here. And yes Pa has known him for ages as you say. I’m sure you will find out soon how. Go ahead and get the table ready I’m on my way.”
“Ok mama.” Turning again Emily left the kitchen and went to set the table. Jason and Pa came into the dining room just when she was done setting the table; mama came in just a moment later.
“Jason, what a pleasure to see you again.” Mama embraced him just like pa did just a few minutes ago. “How long has it been thirteen years? How is your sister? I heard she got accepted into the tower, that’s just wonderful. I wish she could have been here to I miss her so much. Honey you met Jason didn’t you?”
“Yes mama.” Emily was just a little shy around strangers, plus mama tended to ramble when she was nervous. She was getting very curious as to what happened thirteen years ago, not that she could remember anything that far back. Jason looked to be a couple years older than she is so he might have been six or seven.
Jason chuckled a bit before throwing an arm around mama’s shoulders. “Right you are my good woman, thirteen years it has been. But it only feels like five. And Andrea is doing wonderful; she’s loving the tower and can’t wait til she is done with her entry training to come visit. She sent me a letter to give to you, she misses you very much. Oh and in two months she gets to find out her classification. She’s hoping to be an elemetist but she’s ok with druid magick as well.”
“That’s wonderful, but dinner is getting cold we better eat. We will talk more after dinner.” Pa jumped in before the conversation could go any farther. Everyone nodded in agreement, grabbed a bowl and started digging in.
After dinner everyone gathered in the family room. Pa brought in some more wood from the barn, while mama brewed a pot of something she called coffee, apparently an old farmer found some beans while out tending his farm and somehow came up with this new drink. So far it was pretty popular, and Emily could tell why. The rich taste was wonderful and it was strong enough to wake an ox up in the morning to help tend the fields. But it was also a nice drink to have when sitting in front of the fire at night.
Everyone sat in silence for a few moments before pa spoke up. “Well, what have you been doing these past years; we haven’t heard much from you since the Darkonians invaded Entranda.”
“Mostly traveling, after the army released me about two years ago I headed to Nadra, I heard the islands out there are very beautiful during the summer. I stayed there for a couple months then there were rumors than elves were since in the Eldoran forest, so of course I had to go check that out. After the last elf was seen at the castle twelve years ago there have only been rumors of where they have gone to. There was a party of about eight of us that went scouring the forest, three of us made it back. We got attacked by trolls. But you won’t believe what we found!”
“Well boy spit it out, what did you find in the forest?” Pa was on the edge of his seat, while mama sipped quietly at her coffee and smiled pleasantly. Emily on the other hand was lying on her stomach with her hands on her chin and her feet in there air. Traveling was a dream of hers, so hearing about all the places he had been in only the past two years was pretty amazing.
“Dwarves. We found dwarves, they aren’t gone, they have just been in hiding. When we got attacked by the trolls we happened to be by one of their hidden entrances to their caves, so while we were fighting the trolls the dwarves ran out and laid waste to what was left of them, which was more than what was left of us. They led us to their caves and pulled as many survivors as they could find, most of which died from their wounds. I was one of the lucky few that made it out alive.” Pausing to take a sip of his coffee, he stared off into the distance almost as if he was reliving the experience again. Shaking himself out of his trance he cleared his throat and looked around the room.
“Well, after that I haven’t really done much at all. Didn’t find the elves like we wanted to but that’s ok. I did make it Delanor though; I have been there up until I got your letter. Speaking of which, have you heard any news yet?”
Pa shook his head and glanced over at mama before looking back down into his coffee. “No haven’t heard anything, it looks like they are either dead or in hiding. No one has heard anything or seen anything. Sadly to say, it looks like we have to continue on this road without them.”
“If they disappeared then how did the story get told? There were only three people in the room right?” Mama and pa both nodded their heads before Jason continued. “If he didn’t tell it which we all know isn’t going to happen, then it had to be one of them.” At this point Emily was completely confused. Mama and pa were looking for something? And who was this He they were talking about. Just as she was about to ask mama stood up cutting off her question before she got the chance to begin.
“It’s getting late and if we stay up any longer I’m going to need more than just coffee to keep me going. So why don’t we get to bed, we have any early start tomorrow.”
“Right you are dear.” Pa stood as well, followed by Jason. Emily continued to sit on the floor waiting for an explanation. All day long they both had been avoiding her questions. She was starting to get frustrated with both her parents.
“Pa…” Emily stood up and tried to catch her pa before he left the room, but it seemed he didn’t hear her. To her surprise Jason was the one who stayed. He waited at the door with his cup in hand facing her.
“Your parents are good people. I trust them with my life you know.”
“You never told me how you met them.”
“That’s a long story, I’ll tell you tomorrow.” Jason turned to leave but paused with his back to her, looking over his shoulder he spoke one last time before walking out the door. “Long story short, they saved me and my sister from the Knights about a year before the haze. Both my parents were killed and Gerald and Marilynne just happened to be passing by when it happened. Andrea almost died that day as well.”
Emily stood staring at the spot Jason had just vacated with her jaw almost on the floor. There were stories about how bad the Knights used to be, most of them were of people being slaughtered. No one could fight them, no one was strong enough. But to be the one that rescues someone from a Knight was incredible. She couldn’t believe that her parents came face to face with one and survived.
Sitting on the couch for a while she thought about what it would be like to lose her parents at such a young age. A year before the haze she was only three, she wouldn’t even remember them. Before she knew it she was asleep on the couch dreaming of men in black armor with glowing eyes and marks of battle on their armor.
The Haunting Past
The next morning Emily awoke to the smell of food and voices coming from the kitchen. Sitting up she found that at some point in the night she got covered up and had her boots removed. How that was managed without her knowing it was a pretty impressive feat, especially since she usually woke up with the lightest of touches.
Putting her boots back on she got up and followed the smell of food and the sound of voices. Through the window she could tell that it was still early, even with the haze it was obvious that the sun hadn’t quite risen yet. Emily was rubbing sleep out of her eyes as she walked into the kitchen. It appeared everyone was awake. Why in the world would anyone want to be awake at this hour? It just didn’t make any sense to Emily.
“Good morning sunshine, there’s coffee on the counter.” Mama was cheery this morning, which only made Emily scowl in response. She really needed to get out of her clothes from last night. Grabbing a cup she poured herself some coffee and sat on one of the chairs facing the island. She really hoped they didn’t make this a regular occurrence. “You would still be asleep if you had slept in your bed instead of on the couch Em.”
“If I was still asleep then I would miss out on all the excitement.” Emily rubbed her eyes once more and finished off her coffee. “Did I smell food or did you guys already eat all of it?” Looking around she didn’t notice any food sitting out but she could still smell eggs and bread.
“It’s on the table, help yourself. And after you have eaten get yourself cleaned up and out of those clothes.” Pa was leaning against the wall talking with Jason, and chose that moment to speak up and mention her appearance.
“Yes pa.” Emily went off in search of food. After she ate she got cleaned up in the washroom and then found a clean set of clothes. She thought about wearing a dress but thought better of it. Instead she grabbed a pair of soft leather pants and a black shirt. Grabbing her boots once again she noticed a small hole forming in the sole of one of them. Hopefully they would go to town today so she could get herself a new pair of boots. Sighing she grabbed her long coat and went in search of more coffee.
Mama and pa were still in the kitchen when she got there. Noticing that Jason wasn’t there she realized that this would be the perfect chance to talk to her parents about what he told her the night before. And maybe she would get some answers to the questions they avoided the day before. After pouring herself another cup of coffee she turned to her parents, who hadn’t spoken since she came in the room. And now they were staring at her, which just made her even more uncomfortable.
“What do I have something on my face or what?” She inspected herself to make sure nothing was showing or that she hadn’t spilled anything on herself and didn’t know it. Looking back up she caught them sharing a look. “Ok mama, spill, what’s going on?”
“Oh it’s nothing dear, just wondering what you have planned for today that’s all.” Emily was very skeptical about that statement, she knew her parents better than that, but maybe three people could play at this game.
“Oh you know maybe doing some fishing; I might try and see if I can get anything in the forest, thought about finding out why you guys are avoiding my questions. You know the usual.” Grinning Emily took a sip of her coffee and waited while her parents squirmed. They knew that she knew something was up. But she still wasn’t sure what it was that was up.
Just when she thought her parents were going to actually tell her something, Jason walked in the room. Cursing to herself she turned back towards the counter and tried to find something else to focus on. Damn guys always coming in at the most inopportune moment, if only he would have waited another five minutes maybe then she would get some answers. Turning around she saw her parents whispering quietly to themselves as Jason made his way over to her.
“What did I miss? Anything good?” He smiled as he took a drink of his coffee. Resting up against the counter beside her, he leaned over and quietly asked, “Do I have to pay a toll for coffee or is it free around here?”
“Sorry go ahead, and no you didn’t miss anything, just trying to get my parents to talk which seems to be an impossible achievement at the moment. Go anything to add to what they aren’t telling me?” Emily looked up at Jason who stood a full head higher than her and noticed that he had chocolate colored eyes. Deep dark chocolate eyes that someone could get lost in for days, but not her, she made sure to look away before he noticed her gawking at him. She decided that she would get answer whether or not he was in the room, so she left him to get his coffee.
As she walked over to her parents, they both got quiet again. “Why won’t you guys talk to me? Is there something going on that I should know about or are you purposefully hiding stuff from me?” She was tired of playing these games. Standing there with her hands on her hips she waited for one of them to speak. But the response she got wasn’t the one she expected.
From behind her Jason spoke up, “You have to leave.” Bewildered she spun to face him, ready to tell him off and to stay out of their conversation, but the look on his face stopped her before she even got a chance. Sadness was all she could see on his face. Looking at her parents she realized that the same look of sadness covered their features as well.
“Why? What’s going on mama?” Mama took her hands into hers and walked her over to one of the chairs lining the island. “Please tell me mama; I want to know why I have to leave, if I even have to leave at all.”
“Oh honey, sadly you do have to leave, and there’s nothing we can do about it either. We wrote Jason about a month ago asking him to help us. He came only because he feels he owes us a debt, even though we have told him over and over throughout the years that there is no debt to be paid.” Mama looked up at Jason with a sad smile tugging at her lips. Emily could tell that she cared very much for the man. She supposed that when someone saves a child from mortal danger they will then have some sort of connection with them. In this case it seemed mama saw him as a son that she never got the chance to get to know.
“We happened to be passing his home thirteen years ago when we saw a couple of Knights attacking this helpless couple. We didn’t know they lived there we didn’t even know that there were children inside. The law is, if you go against the word of a Knight, fight back, or even attack a Knight your punishment is death. We never found out what they did but when we heard Jason and his sister screaming from inside. You were only three at the time so we had to tell you we were playing a game and convinced you to hide in the wagon. You didn’t like the screaming so the chance to play a game was appealing to you.” Pa stepped in and picked up where mama left off. He dropped his head and let a moment of silence pass by before anyone else spoke.
Emily was speechless again she didn’t know what to think of her parents. Something seemed off about the story but she just couldn’t place it. After another moment Jason finished the story, “Mother and father were trying to get away from the Knights when your parents came in. Andrea is just a little older than you are so she was maybe four at the time. She says she doesn’t remember much, but I know better. The Knights had blocked the door from outside so we couldn’t get out. Mother was screaming for us and trying to get away while father was trying to get to her. There was a struggle and I remember a knight falling and his helmet rolling away…”Jason shuddered at the memory and shook it off by taking a drink of coffee before continuing. “The next thing I know is this man comes bursting into the room telling us to run for the wagon on the road, which at that time seemed to be a million miles away. But I grabbed Andrea’s hand anyways and we ran. I couldn’t see anything that was actually going on, but I could hear everything. Screams, and shouts, and what sounded like explosions surrounded us as we ran. The only things that I saw were the bright flashes of light. It was everywhere and every color.”
For some reason Emily couldn’t help but look at her mother whom was looking down at her hands as she wringed them together. It had been in front of her all along, and she never even saw it. It made so much sense now. But why didn’t they tell her before. “Mama?” She looked up at Emily with a guilty smile. “You’re a mage, aren’t you?”
“Yes, honey. I’m a mage.” Mama looked over at pa and out of the corner of Emily’s eye she could see the small nod he gave her. “We couldn’t tell you because I’m not trained. I never went to the tower; I never went to any kind of school. If the wrong person had found out by accident then we could have lost you. And not the same way I fear we are about to lose you.” A tear hung from the corner of her eye as she lowered her head again.
“Ok so let me get this straight, Mama you’re a mage who helped save Jason and his sister thirteen years ago from the Knights, in other words you attacked them. And you’re still alive, I don’t know if I should think either of you are crazy or just plain amazing. I mean why would you do that? Completely risk your lives and possibly mine to save a complete stranger? I understand don’t get me wrong but I was only three, what if something had happened to me? Or worse what if I lost both of you just like Jason lost his parents. No offense Jason.”
“I just don’t understand.”
“Well, because that’s what we did honey, we are a part of the movement, or at least we were. You’ve heard the tales haven’t you about the renegade warriors who fight against Him? The ones that have watched over the prophecy child and her mother, and the ones who look for the spoke one in the prophecy.”
“Yes were, after the haze covered the sky, or I should really say when the haze covered the sky that was the last time either of them was seen. There are stories about who the woman is and where she came from, not to mention her daughter. No one has ever heard of her or has seen her before she showed up at the grand chief’s door step about seventeen or eighteen years ago full with child. One of said stories was about how she was His concubine and she left him after he tried to kill her. Another says the prophecy child is actually his and the prophecy she spoke of is about his own flesh and blood killing him.”
Sitting on the chair next to mama he draped an arm around her and continued where she left off. “There’s one more story that either everyone knows and just doesn’t speak of or hardly anyone knows and choose not to speak of it. It was said a long time ago a beautiful woman with golden hair and changing eyes fell in love with a very terrible man who had no remorse for the things he did. But somehow she saw something in him that she thought she could change. As the years went by she began to realize that she didn’t love him at all. She began to hate him with each passing day, what she didn’t know was as she started to hate him more and more he started to love her more and more. One day they got into a terrible fight and he used his power against her. He believed that he killed her, and he just might have. She disappeared that night and no one saw her again not even he until she showed up at the grand chief’s door.
“She stayed in one of our hidden compounds for roughly four years then she just disappeared. Two weeks later the haze came. There were rumors coming from the castle that her and her daughter went to see him. He made everyone leave except her and her daughter, and days later the words of the prophecy child were starting to circulate. We know they originated in the mountains running along the north side of Eldoran Forest. And that’s all we know.”
Jason stood frowning at Pa as he listened to the same story he had heard hundreds of times. But this time something was off, it wasn’t the details of the story but something instead that struck him as odd. “North side of Eldoran Forest? I know where she is.” Excited he nearly dropped his coffee cup as he tried to put it on the counter while running out of the room. Everyone else stood staring at the door for a moment before sharing confused looks. A minute later Jason ran back in the room with a stack of folded papers. “Do you remember what I told you last night about traveling to Eldoran Forest to find the elves? Well I know where she went.”
He rifled through the papers spreading the across the counter a he did so. Drawings of what looked like maps took up every piece of paper. It almost looked like he could map out the whole world with as many maps as he had. Emily reached over and picked up one that she couldn’t take her eyes off of. “Where is this?” She asked holding up the map for Jason to see.
He glanced up at it quickly before scanning the papers that were left in his arms. Suddenly he stopped and looked back at the map she held. “Could it be?” He whispered to himself, almost quiet enough for the others not to be able to hear. But luckily for them the only sound came from the fire blazing in the corner.
Mama and Pa leaned around Emily to get a better look at what she was holding. In her hands she held a very detailed map of the very forest they were speaking of. “Isn’t this the one you’re looking for?”
“Yes but I didn’t draw this one.” He took the paper from Emily and just walked out of the room. Not missing a beat her parents followed him out of the room.
“Damn it.” Emily slid off her chair and began to follow her parents, but decided that they might need the other maps. Then she remembered that they never told her why she had to leave. She got caught up in the story of how they met and what they used to be that she completely forgot what the point of this was. Gathering the maps she followed parents voices until she found them in the dining room with a huge map spread out in front of them.
“This was the first place the prophecy was told, and here is where the dwarves helped us. About a mile north, here, is where the entrance to their caves is. Oh and right over here is where the sightings of the Elves were. We never made it, but at least we know that the dwarves are still here. Emily, give me the map just to the east of the forest.” Jason held out his hand for the map. She just stood there staring at the papers she hastily grabbed in her arms.
“Uhm, I don’t know which one that is, I don’t even know what’s to the east of the forest.” Emily looked at her feet in embarrassment, well she tried, there were too many papers in the way but she did her best anyways. Jason looked back and forth between her parents before walking over and gathering the maps that were in her arms. Her dream was to travel; the only thing was she didn’t know where anything was. She didn’t go to school in town so mama taught her at home and she never wanted to teach her where things were. It was the one subject she wanted to learn but never had the chance to.
“You never taught her geography? Mari I thought you of all people would at least teach her that. “Mama stood with her arms crossed and stared defiantly at him.
“Don’t you patronize me young man, I know what I’m doing. If I thought it was necessary to teach her where things were then I would have, but up until recently there was no need for it. If you think it’s so important then you can teach her, you will have plenty of time for it.” Mama spun on her heel and left the room in a huff. Pa knew to stay out of it when mama got upset so he left her alone so they could continue with their current project. At least that’s what Emily saw it as.
Emily walked over to the table and sat down beside pa, making sure that she wasn’t left out of whatever it was they were about to be talking about. “So since I’m still the only one left out of the loop, can we get on with what it is that IS going on?” She looked back and forth between Jason and Pa until one of them answered.
“We think the prophecy child and her mother are staying with the dwarves to the north. There has been an increase of Knights in that area in recent years, also rumors of dwarven, elven, troll, and other creature sightings have increased as well. Plus ever since the prophecy was told He has been looking for the one she spoke of. We have a very good idea of who she is, but we won’t know for sure until we take her to the tip of the Marlay Mountains.”
“Why there? I always heard that the cold air on top of the mountains could kill a person.” Emily glanced over at pa and smiled innocently before adding, “I’ve been reading, don’t tell mama.”
“The oracle lives up there, she’s a little like the prophecy child except she’s more of a seer. If we are right and we take the girl up there then she will be able to tell us how to stop Him. Right now we can only assume who she is. The Knights have been searching for her for twelve years now and they are getting closer.” Jason said.
“So you’re a part of this group of theirs as well?”
“I am. I have been since your parents rescued us. So has Andrea, but she chose to use her powers to get from the inside. That’s one reason why she chose to go to the tower.”
“Ok, so now what?”
“Now we get our things pack make for the compound before the Knights show up.” Mama said from the doorway. No one had noticed her return but all eyes were on her now. Apparently she had gotten over what Jason said. Mama wasn’t the type to hold a grudge and Emily could tell that she loved Jason.
“Why would the Knights show up here?”
“Because dear, the child from the prophecy isn’t the only one they are hunting. Since the night we saved Jason and Andrea they have been hunting us as well. Apparently it’s nearly impossible to kill a knight, until we came along that is.” Pa said as he stood up and walked over to mama.
“You killed a knight?!” Emily knew it was nearly impossible to do, she had never heard of it happening before. She was beginning to realize that her parents weren’t as ordinary as she thought.
“We will talk more once we hit the road, pack what you need not what you want. Jason can you get the horses and the wagon ready? I’ll pack some food for us, Gerald find our weapons I think we are going to need them,” And with that mama left the room once more. Pa got up and headed out the door leaving Emily and Jason alone.
“Better get ready kiddo we have a long ways to go.” He smiled up at her as he gathered up his maps and walked out as well.
“Oh joy.” She said to no one in particular.
Chapter 3 (untitled)
Emily hated having to pick and choose what she was going to take with her and what she had to leave behind. Her whole life was in this room. Standing at the end of her bed she looked around trying to decide what would be necessary and what wouldn’t. Down the hall she could hear pa packing whatever weapons they had, which she didn’t use to think was very much, but now they could have a wagon load for all she knew. Once mama was done with packing food she would most likely be helping pa pack their things as well.
Taking another moment to look around the room she decided that she would just fill her bag with whatever she could. Grabbing clothes, and anything else she could think of, she stuff her bag as full as she could. She made sure not to pack any dresses since she most likely wouldn’t need them on the road, besides if there was ever a reason for a dress she could pick one up when they got to wherever it was they were going. After pilling all the clothes onto her bed to see if there was anything she missed, she noticed a bright green dress sticking out of her wardrobe. Emily didn’t own any green dresses like that, not that she knew of.
From the door way mama watched as Emily pulled the dress out and held it out in front of herself to inspect. Turning towards her full length mirror she pressed the dress up against herself and studied it once more. Mama couldn’t help but smile as she watched her daughter twirl around with the dress. She knew she would like it; it was just too bad that she wouldn’t get a real chance to wear it.
“Why don’t you pack it?” Emily jumped at the sound of mama’s voice and spun towards the door. Surprised and embarrassed she laid the dress on her bed. “Sorry honey I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“It’s ok mama, I forgot that I left the door open. But either way I don’t have room left in my bag. I already have all my clothes pack and an extra pair of boots even though they have holes in the bottoms of them.”
“And that is why I brought you this.” Mama held out another bag, only this one was newer and it looked to be much sturdier, which was a good thing because hers was starting to fall apart and it smelled like fish. And that was when she realized that she forgot to clean her bag after her fishing trip the day before. Emily took the bag from mama and started to shove the dress into the bottom of it. “Oh no Em, don’t shove it in there! That’s an expensive dress, you will ruin the silk. Here let me fold it.”
Mama took the dress from Emily and began to carefully fold it. Pacing the room and looking at all the things she was leaving behind she started to think of what life would be like if she had been able to travel the world like Jason did, or even if she had powers like Andrea and mama. Pausing she stopped at the small table next to her bed. She wasn’t sure what it was she was looking for but she knew there was something there that she should take.
“Don’t forget to pack two blankets a pillow and your fishing pole, a sword isn’t very good at catching fish.” Mama said from over her shoulder. Emily nodded but continued to stare at the table. Then she saw it, a small emerald necklace hung from a dragon carving on the corner of the table. She carefully picked it up and cradled it in the palm of her hand. Mama looked over Emily’s shoulder at the necklace she held. “My mother gave it to me when I was just about your age. It is truly a magickal little necklace.”
“Will you help me put it on mama?”
“Of course dear, here let me see it. Ok, now turn around.” Mama took the necklace and placed it around her neck. As quietly as she could, she spoke a few words and watched as the ends of the necklace fused together. “There, let me see you. Oh you look so beautiful; you are going to make a wonderful man so happy one day.”
“Thank you mama. But I have to finish packing and don’t you have to pack as well?”
“Ah yes, I better get to it before your pa packs all the wrong things. Never trust a man to do a woman’s job.” Mama said with a wink and a wave of her hand as she left Emily’s room.
Emily looked down at the necklace once more before tucking it into her shirt for safe keeping. Remembering what mama said, she went about packing the last things she thought she would need. Almost forgetting one of the most important things, she went back to her wardrobe and pulled a coin purse out of a hole in the bottom of it. Grabbing her bags she headed towards the door when an explosion and a scream pierced the air from the front of the cottage.
“Mama!” Emily yelled before running for the hall. From the other end of the cottage pa came barreling out of the bedroom with a bow and arrows strapped over his back and a sword in his hand. Pa stopped himself before he ran Emily through. Realizing that mama wasn’t going to come out of the room as well Emily turned towards the direction of the scream and began to run with pa hot on her heels. “Mama!” She yelled once more as she ran into the family room.
Wood and furniture was strewn all across the floor. Black spots could be seen below a few beams of burning wood. Pa scanned what was left of that part of the cottage before he ran out the door. Once outside Emily could hear pa screaming for mama as well. Close to tears Emily collapsed onto the floor and held her face in her hands. Trying hard not to cry when she didn’t know what had happened, she took a deep breath and looked around the room once again. A pile of smoldering wood next to the fire place began to move. Afraid mama was trapped under all that wood, Emily jumped to her feet and sprinted across room.
She grabbed boards and pulled as hard as she could. From underneath the wood she could hear a slight cry. Yelling out she grabbed a still hot piece of the ceiling and pulled as hard as she could. Losing her balance she landed right on her but. Once the piece of ceiling was removed Emily had a better view of what was underneath it all. Black armor was visible under a piece of the couch and a helmet was skewered by a particularly sharp piece of wood.
Screaming, Emily scampered away from the pile of armor and wood as fast as she could. Once she thought she was at a safe distance she went to jump up only to be caught by the glove of another piece of armor. Trying to pull herself free she realized there was another Knight under the wood she was sitting on. Looking up to judge if she could get free in time, she saw that her time had just run out.
In front of her stood a man taller than anyone she had ever met, except that he was no man at all. Black metal from shoulder to toe covered him; the helm still sitting on the floor where it got skewered. The one thing that proved to her that what was standing in front of her was not human was the fact that it had no head. There was no body inside the suit of armor. No blood marred the surface of the suit and not a sound emanated from within.
Once again Emily screamed as loud as she could in the hopes that someone would be able to help her. The possessed suit of armor started walking towards her, and she fought even harder to be free of the second suit. Finally after what she thought was her last chance, her shirt finally ripped. Emily fell flat on her back and quickly rolled away from the Knight in pursuit. Getting to all fours she crawled as fast as she could to the door all the while the Knight followed.
As she reached the door she jumped to her feet only to lose her balance once again, but this time it wasn’t from the wood on the floor. Rolling onto her back she looked up into what should have been a face and braced for what she knew would be the end. “You have been charged with crimes against the crown how do you plead?” A hollow voice spoke from the inside of the suit. Trembling, Emily didn’t know how to reply. No matter what she said, she knew she would die.
Frozen to the spot she decided not to say anything, instead she put on the most determined face she could muster, took a deep breath, squeezed her eyes shut and screamed as loud as her lungs would let her. Laying on the floor screaming her lungs out, Emily started to feel something inside of herself. At first it was a tingling sensation that only continued to grow stronger with each passing second. Finally after she ran out of breath did she open her eyes. Inches from her was the glove of the knight ready to grab hold of her, but it wasn’t moving. At first she thought mama had come to her rescue, but then she realized that the Knight wasn’t moving at all, neither was anything else in the room.
Scrambling away from the Knight she got to her feet and looked around the room. Everything was completely still even the fire. Taking her chance she made sure she had her bags and ran out the door as fast as she could. Much to her surprise everywhere she looked everything was frozen just like inside the house. She took a moment to catch her breath and then surveyed the scene outside.
A dozen Knights or so were all over the road in front of the cottage. A wagon was parked just north of the Knights with four horses and two mules. That’s when she spotted Jason; he stood next to the wagon fighting two Knights while a third charged at him. In his hands were two long curved daggers with runes along the edge of each one. Praying that whatever caused this frozen moment in time would stay, she went off in search of mama and pa.
She ran to the south end of the house where she could see the reflection of another fire going. Skidding to a stop she looked around until she saw pa nearly being pulled apart by two Knights trying to keep him from mama. Mama Stood about twenty feet from pa in the middle of a fiery blaze with arms held high and a scream on her lips. Not knowing what to do for any of them she did the only thing she could think of. Emily ran over to pa and grabbed hold of his arm hoping to pull him free of the Knights that held him. All of a sudden he started yelling and struggling against the arms that held him. Jumping back she tried her best to avoid Pa’s thrashing.
“Pa, it’s me! Stop pa I’m trying to help. Dad! Listen!” She screamed hoping to get his attention before he hurt himself or even her. After a moment of screaming and thrashing he stopped and gazed at Emily with tear filled eyes.
Running over she wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed as hard as she could. “I don’t know what happened Pa, I was so scared and then everything stopped. Is mama ok?” Pulling away she looked up into his face, eyes matching his.
“She will be if I can get to her before the spell wears off. How long has it been since it began?” he asked while trying to figure out how to get loose of the hands the held him tightly.
“Only a minute maybe two pa, I came looking for you and mama as soon as I realized I could.” She began to reach out and attempt to help him get free but was stopped by a clipped no from pa. “Why not pa? I can help.”
“If you touch them they will wake up like I did. Go find Jason and be sure to stand clear of his blades before you touch him. He should be able to help me get free.”
Emily nodded once before running off in Jason’s direction. Trying to stop before she got there, she nearly ran into the pointy end of a slowly moving blade. Dropping into a roll, she went right past him and jumped to her feet right behind him. She looked down at herself, not even knowing how she did that, but disregarded it as soon as she realized that nothing was frozen anymore. Jason was slowly spinning towards her while fending off one of the Knights. Trying to determine where his daggers were going to end up she moved to the left of him and dropped down so he wouldn’t try to attack her.
She reached out and touched his leg and almost immediately he returned to normal. As quickly as he started moving he stopped again. Tucking her knees to her chest she wrapped her arms around her head and waited.
“Emily?” He asked. She peaked up through her arms and saw him standing in a ready position watching the slowly moving Knights.
“Thank god, I thought you were going to kill me. We need to hurry pa needs your help and I can’t touch anything without it moving again.” Emily jumped to her feet not wasting any time and took off in pa’s direction. Running to behind her Jason scanned the area trying to take in what he was seeing.
“I don’t know, I was being attacked and then everything just froze.” Jason said nothing in reply and just ran a little faster to run alongside her. They ran around the corner of the house and watched as pa continued his struggle. The Knights at his side were moving just a little faster now. He had one arm free but the other was still stuck in the grip of one of the Knights. Jason increased his speed and reached pa just moments before Emily did. Sliding his dagger under the hand that was still holding pa, he pushed down and pried the fingers off of pa’s arm.
Pa now free sprinted towards mama followed closely by Emily and Jason. Upon reaching her he stopped to inspect the situation. After a moment of looking mama over he stepping forward and carefully put his hand in the flames. Emily was afraid that the fire would burn him and started to jump forward and stop him when Jason grabbed her arm and shook his head before pointing at mama. She looked back at mama and saw her hands flickering along with the flames. Pa stepped further in the flames and took hold of mama by the arms and lifted her over his shoulder. The flames started to die as soon as mama left the center of the blaze. Pa turned around and scanned the area until he spotted the wagon.
“Make sure you didn’t leave anything behind and get to the wagon. Don’t touch anything at all Emily.” And with that he took off for the wagon with mama bouncing around over his shoulder. Jason ran towards the cottage while Emily stayed put just so she could get one last look at the only place she called home.
Checking her body to make sure she had everything she needed she glanced around one last time before following pa to the wagon. As she ran she began to notice that everything was almost back to normal. The Knights didn’t even seem to notice they were gone yet. When she ran past the front door she stole one more look inside just as Jason was running out. And that was the moment the spell decided to end. As Jason ran past the Knight that had attacked Emily it reached out and attempted to grab him before he could get away. In a display of athleticism, he spun away and rolled out the door right past the Knight. But he was a moment too late, at the arc of his roll the knight struck out like a snake and cut Jason along the lower side of his ribs. Jason didn’t take time to worry about his wound, instead he kicked out his feet catching the knight square in the knees knocking him over and propelling himself right out the door.
Coming to his feet he grabbed Emily’s arm and pulled her with him as he ran for the wagon. At some point during the quick peek inside she had stopped to see if Jason would make it. Luckily for her none of the other Knights had seen her. Catching up to the horses that pa had left behind in his rush to get mama away from the knights, they both jumped on. Jason grabbed the reins of the other two horses and threw one of them to Emily. Catching them they both took off at a gallop. It seemed the horses were scared of the Knights as well. They didn’t even hesitate as heels were dug into their flanks.
After only a few minutes they caught up with pa, and an unconscious mama in the back of the wagon. Pa had the mules going as fast as they could go, so they slowed their horses down to ride even with pa. Emily looked behind them to make sure they weren’t being followed and much to her surprise there was no one behind then, just a light cloud of dust left behind from their horses. Turning back she brought her horse even with the wagon and after handing the reins of the two horses over to pa jumped into the wagon with mama. Moving bags and equipment aside she settled down next to mama.
“Is she going to be ok?” She asked moving hair away from mama’s face to see her almost translucent skin. Mama’s breathing was erratic and sweat covered her face.
“Yes, we need to find a place to stop with a river or a stream of some sort.” Pa said from the front of the wagon.
“What’s wrong with her? I’ve seen spells go awry before but this has never been one of the effects that I have seen. It’s almost like she is sick or something.” Jason spoke up from behind the wagon. Emily looked up with a contemplative look on her face before turning to wait to see what he would say.
“She over did it, well technically she didn’t. She was in the process of a very powerful spell when the other spell took place, and since I interrupted it by interfering with her it drained her completely. Let’s just hope she packed the right herbs or we won’t be able to get her back until we get to the next town.”
Emily looked back down at mama and kissed her forehead before grabbing a blanket out of one of her own bags and covered her up. Taking the reins from pa once more, she did her best to get back on her horse without falling and getting trampled. Once she was in place she looked around to get her bearings straight. She knew they were headed north but she didn’t really pay attention to how far they had gone in the short ride they had just taken.
“There’s a stream just past those trees ahead on the right side of the road, there should be an area we can make camp for the night.” Nodding his head Jason handed the reins to the extra horse over to Emily and took off in the direction Emily had pointed. Soon he disappeared behind the tree line, only to emerge a moment later waving them on. Clicking the reins to the mules, pa did his best to get them moving faster. Emily dug her heels into her horse and pulled on the reins to the other two as well, and soon they were riding at almost a full gallop again. A minute later they reached the tree line. Pa slowed down to let Emily go between two rather large trees first before coaxing the mules in as well. Much to his surprise they didn’t hesitate to get into the forest and off the road.
“The stream should be right over there and there’s a clearing not far from here. Will the wagon make it pa?” Emily asked turning in her saddle to look back at the pile of wood that he had to maneuver.
“Aye, Em. You just mind your own and show us how to get to the clearing as quickly as possible.”
“Yes pa.” Emily conceded turning back around to show the way through the trees. Jason held back to help pa with the wagon in case he needed it. A couple of sharp turns and a huge fallen tree later Emily brought them into a rather large natural clearing place right next to the stream she spoke of. Hopping down off her horse she looped the reins of the three horses over a branch of a tree. Jason did the same for his and they went to help pa carry mama out of the wagon. Once they had a blanket and pillow down they gently placed mama on the ground. Pa began throwing out orders for both of them to do and they each ran off in separate directions to fetch the items pa needed.
Grabbing a pot from the back of the wagon Emily filled it with water and brought it to the fire that pa was working on getting started. Jason came back with a large wooden case, a cup, and a mortar and pestle. Emily wasn’t quite sure what the latter was, but she had seen mama use it a couple times when she was sick.
Pa went to work on the herbs he found in the wooden case while Jason and Emily stood by watching him work. No one spoke as they waited to see what he would need next. But the wait was pointless; pa waved for them to sit down as he ground up herbs and heated the water over the fire. Emily started to get bored so she went in search for something to eat. Glancing at the sky she realized it was just about lunchtime anyways.
Thinking over the events that had just occurred she stood frozen realizing that everything that just happened wasn’t as long as it had felt. Things were beginning to sink in for her, the stories she had heard last night and this morning, the knowledge about mama and the prophecy child and just everything else. She wasn’t sure how much more she could take in in one day without bursting, but she hoped that this was it. She was done with new information. Climbing up into the back of the wagon she laid down on a sack of flour that mama had conveniently thought to bring.
Staring up at the sky she watched as a small part of the haze parted to let a beam of sunlight peek through. For a moment she thought she saw another bird but decided it was just a trick of her imagination.