Hey all! This is the place where I will post chapters of my story. I don't always get the time to write so please have patience if you are waiting for the next chapter. It's a work in progress so critiques are welcome!
Chapter 1: Autumn Apples
As it grows cold our hearts grow warm. As it gets dark our hearts get light. Our spirits are forever entwined by a power greater than us. I sit on a park bench near the old colonial. The orange and red leaves fall from the maples. The dirt roads are dry and the wind blows the dust into the air making a gentle tornado. I hold the letter in my hand from the only person whom is true and loyal. I can see his lit up face in my mind with his bright penetrating eyes which can see through me. I can hear him whispering in the wind, "everything will be fine".
The letter has the red seal of the elves of Apple. The wax seal has an apple on it and vine-like leaves wrapped gracefully around two hearts. The elves of Apple are know to be true loves but I need not know how true until I met David. David Huckabee where art thou? Why can I not see you with my minds eye? Have you gone that far into the dark? The letter tells me that the elders picked him and two others to keep the elves of Grim from spreading black magic over a human town. This magic would cause disease that would wipe out the population. Elves are usually a peaceful people but pollution from the human realm has created a dark force destroying the natural beauty of this world. This negative force also sucks the warmth from the heart of any person or creature in its path. Elves who would otherwise solve the pollution problem with peace have gone mad from the darkness. Made blind by the darkness they would choose death as a karmic solution to their trouble. This is a sense of karma oppressed upon those who are ignorant of the elves pain.
Now David is alone with only a protection amulet to keep his heart from turning cold in that dark cloudy place. His two friends have been drained of all emotion after their amulets were torn from their necks while fighting the elves of Grim. David narrowly escaped and is now wounded in his arm. The same arms which held me in a time that seems like only yesterday when love and light filled our days. In his letter David says, "Don't worry. I'll be fine. I'm most worried about my friends and the people who are unknowingly going to be attacked. I just pray I will never see the day that both the human world and the elf world is destroyed. I still have hope that day will not be soon.". That's David; never thinking about himself and always thinking of others. I cannot stand the thought of him alone surrounded by danger. I must go to him. I must find him. If he dies then I don't want it to be in vain. I must be there to complete his mission. I do not fear death or darkness. What I do fear is a life without my beloved David. I must pack up what I need and find him. In the envelope I find a protection amulet. In the letter he writes, "P.S. I have enclosed a locket so you can be kept safe. I could not bear the thought of you being in danger.<3"
Chapter 2: Preparing to Leave
After thinking for too long about the letter, I stand up and say in a soft tone to myself, "It’s a time for action, not thought". I put on the amulet and quietly start to walk down the dirt road when I hear rustling in the large old maple. I turn around sharply and start scanning the tree. Suddenly a person comes tumbling down from the tree and lands on his back. He then stands up wiping the dirt from his chest.
"Warren, were you watching me?", I say irritated.
"Don’t be blaming me. Blame me parents for namin’ me Warren da watcher." ,Warren says in a higher tone with his Irish accent.
"It’s true I suppose. You can’t help the nature of your name. Still I don’t understand why you can’t fulfill your name at afar ", I said plainly. I continued walking and Warren started walking with me.
"What’s wrong, Rhoswen? You don’t have that usual light glowin’ about ya" ,he said with a small brow furrow showing his concern.
" I just got some bad news from David." , I said quietly looking down as if the answers to all our problems were on the ground.
"and...", Warren said with a calmer, lower, tone of voice.
"And he’s alone in the land of Grim with a wounded arm. Now do you understand why you peeping on me bothered me." I said sternly. I watched as our old friend’s face turned pale. He is quiet the whole way back to my home. My home is lovely with a large garden filled with flowers including roses of all colors. I keep a medium sized herb garden too. Roses climb up the rock walls and around the round light wooden door. I unlock the door with an old key and walk gently inside. Our gray cat comes jumping from the round table in our warm kitchen onto the floor. I swoop her up in my arms and cling to her tight.
"Oh Onyx.", I say with a sigh and start to tear up a little but held in my sorrow.
Warren enters behind me and closes the door lightly.
"What we gonna do?", Warren says.
"We? No I am going to find David. You are staying here and keeping my house safe and Onyx too.", I say sternly.
"Oh no. no. no. I’m not gonna just be sittin’ here while ya put yourself in danger.", He says with a shake of his head.
"I’m not such a delicate little flower you need to protect.", I say raising my voice a little.
"Am I mistaken that your name is Rhoswen the white rose? I’m comin’ with ya and ya can’t do nothin’ bout’ it.", Warren says decidedly.
Knowing that when Warren decides something there is no possible way to change his mind, I agree that he could come with me. We start packing. I pack my staff which had a slot for my wand. Warren packs his wand and puts on a protection amulet. We also pack necessities such as food, water, and many herbal remedies and potions. We decide to spend the night at my home and leave at dawn.
Chapter 3: David’s Story
I kneel before my king. There is a crowd in the Wisdom Building. They stare in awe at the counsel of elders and I. I am a bit embarrassed. I’m not used to such attention.
"Will you, David of Elves of Apple, take this challenge?", He says with a golden handled sword in his hands pointed down to the ground.
"Yes. I will try my best sir.", I say.
He raises the sword slowly with his left hand and taps my right shoulder and then the left. Light streams through stained glass windows casting a golden glow about everywhere. The windows show the many colored flags of all the groups of elves.
"It’s a sign from the heavens!", one man exclaims.
"It is a sign from God for sure.", says my king contentedly.
"It is quite strange isn’t it. The sun has not shown so boldly in days.", I say wonderingly. I hope it is a sign of good blessings on our journey. I am not going to be alone in my journey. Elvy and Kalen, who are both strong warriors, will come to protect me. I have only heard tales of them and have not had a chance to meet them. They are best known for saving our lead elder when he was kidnapped by the elves of Grim. When they saved the lead elder, he warned them about the curse the elves of Grim are planning to conjure. Apparently he overheard them talking about it.
"Elvy and Kalen, please provide protection for this young lad", says our king.
"We won’t take him out of our sight sir", says Elvy.
"It’s our honor sir", says Kalen.
We were off to the land of the Grim. I would be a liar if I said I was not scared. As I look over at the faces of Elvy and Kalen, they show no fear. I suppose they are used to riding into danger.
We ride on wolves. The wolves we ride on are of the element fire, providing us with strength and courage. They have long legs so they can cover distances faster. They are as tall as a horse but have more bulk. We often telepathically tell them where to go. Their usual color is gray but they may camouflage with the environment, disappearing from view. This will be helpful because they can camouflage us along with them whenever danger is near. Their behavior can prove unpredictable though, because, instead of hiding, sometimes their fur will turn bright red which means they are about to attack.
I have no idea why the elders picked me for this journey. I am no warrior. I’m as skilled in magic as any other and although I may know a few things about herbal potions, nothing that could help me eliminate or stop a curse. I again look over at Elvy and Kalen. They have been silent and watchful. I often see their eyes moving, looking through the woods. We are not even out of the Elderwood and they are already on guard. They seem to know what they are doing and I am comforted by it. Then it dawns on me, maybe they know why the elders sent me on this quest.
"Do you know why they chose me for this?", I asked.
"The lead elder had a prophesy about you", Kalen says shaking his finger at me.
"what was this prophesy about exactly?", I say inquiringly.
"He didn’t tell us about much of it. He only said that you were our only hope.", says Elvy.
"You know prophecies...they are hard to make clear and are easily changed.", says Kalen matter of factly.
"Yes but there hasn’t been a positive prophecy since the darkness came. I suggest we keep our hopes up. Young David here may have some tricks up his sleeve yet", says Elvy grinning.
"I still don’t know how I could possibly help", I remark.
"No one knows anything about the land of Grim because no one dares journey into it.", says Kalen plainly.
"Except for us of course. It’s another journey to be embraced. It’s another fight for the common good.", says Elvy enthusiastically rushing ahead on his wolf.
"We must stop now and set up camp before nightfall" says Kalen.
We got off our wolves and set up camp. We made a fire just in time for the sun to fall and the moon to rise. We ate dinner and decided Elvy would keep watch for the night. I have a hard time falling asleep. I had a bad feeling. I did not want to fight, even if it was for the common good. The elves of Grim were elves like us once. I did not want to fight against my own kind. There is a certain honor to holding a sword. But how can that honor outweigh the burden?
I suddenly hear footsteps. Though I am afraid, I open my eyes to see who or what is there. I assume I will see Elvy on his guard but am shocked to see him asleep. The energy potion we gave him must have worn off. I then realize he is not asleep at all when I see blood staining his collar. He is dead. Then I see four figures emerging from the darkness.
"Shhh", a voice says behind me. I come to the realization that it’s Kalen. He starts rising up on his elbows and I hear the smooth sound of wood on wood. He is shooting an arrow. I hear a quick release and then a groan from the darkness. The arrow has hit one of the Grim. The figures start quickly moving toward us.
"Get on the wolves", yells Kalen.
I start running toward the wolves that are wild and trying to break free of there bonds. I suddenly feel a horrible stinging pain and feel blood dripping from my arm. I have been cut by a sword.
"Kalen!", I shriek in pain but still running.
I look behind me to see him on the ground and three figures coming toward me. They move quickly and smoothly like ghostly shadows. One wolf breaks free and comes running to me and I quickly get on top of it. I ride away from the figures. I suddenly see two more figures join the three figures. Could that be Kalen and Elvy? Impossible! Then a beam of moonlight shines across two all too familiar faces. It is them. They have both rose again after dying. I came to a horrifying realization that the elves of Grim are not elves at all but dark immortal beings. I told the wolf to camouflage and we became invisible to the Grim. They stopped chasing us and started retreating back.
Chapter 4: Dreams and Divination
Warren and I awoke early today. Although I do not think either of us got any sleep. I get on my good brown boots, blue jeans, and a light brown shirt. I walk through my wonderful home. I open the door and walk outside. The air is misty and feels fresh on my skin. I walk across to my friends home. I go to knock on the door but then hear her voice.
"Rhoswen, dear, come in! Come in!", said Acheyla.
"Oh Acheyla, my dear friend, how have you been?", I said.
"I have been well. Now come here child and let us talk about what is on your mind.", she said sweetly. Acheyla is very perceptive and can pick up on what people are feeling and thinking. She even knows if someone is there and who they are. She is warmhearted and kind but if you rub her the wrong way she can have quite a temper.
" It’s David. He is in the land of Grim." I said as a tear started to roll down my cheek. There was no concealing emotions when you were with Acheyla.
" I see but it will also help you if I told you how much I see.", she said.
"Whatever do you mean?", I said.
" I had a dream last night of him. I dreamt of him in a warm place with many people. I dreamt that he was safe but shaken. I also saw a man and woman in this dream.", she said.
"Well. That is comforting to know. Do you know where this place might be?", I said.
" I don’t have the faintest idea but all I know is it might be a tavern.", she said.
"well...I should be getting back home and Acheyla can you do me a favor?", I asked knowing she would.
"Well of course sweetheart. Anything for you.", said Acheyla.
"Will you take care of Onyx while I am gone?", I said.
"well of course! I love Onyx dearly.", said Acheyla.
"and Acheyla, take care of yourself and if I don’t come back I want you to know you are the kindest person I have ever known. I love you dearly.", I said with big tears rolling down my cheeks.
"My dear, my dear Rose, oh don’t cry! This will not be the end. You will always know me and I will always know you. And whatever happens we will always be connected through the love we have for each other.", she said now crying too. She started to hold me. We cried for a little while and then I finally knew that it was time to go. I said farewell to my dear friend and went back to the stable where Warren was waiting for me.
"Are you ready to leave?", Warren said. I shook my head yes. We got up on our horses and started to ride out of our little town. I watched the sky knowing that where we were going the sky would not be as light. The sun was starting to shine through the clouds a little but did not break through.
"Warren. David is in a tavern.", I said.
"Well that’s good news.", he said.
"How are we going to find him?", I said with a slight falter in my voice. I looked in the distance and wondered where he could possibly be. It was a great comfort to know that he was safe but how long would that last?
"Hey. Look at me.", he said. I look at him with weak eyes. I can contain my emotion no longer.
"We’ll find ‘em. You’ll see.", he said.
We ride quietly for a while until we get to the bridge over the pond of premonition. The pond is rather small and has a few lily pads. It has rocks and plants all around the edge. Dragonflies flit around us. In the pond there are a few small fish and a mermaid named Selena. She dreams of the future and is the teller of fortune. She is one of the light mermaids and had to move to the pond after the lake she lived in was taken over by the darkness. She was never as light as she is now though. Once she was very self centered and obsessed over having everything she desired. She would collect treasures and jewels. She would not share anything. She would give people false fortunes and mess with peoples lives. Then the darkness came and when her waters became polluted with bad energy she got a bitter taste of her own medicine. She was saved by a fellow elf who was helping evacuate the lake and fight the Grim. She was changed forever and cleansed herself of her destructive ways.
"ay, Rhosewen. Maybe Selena knows where David is.", he said.
"Yes. Let’s go talk to her.", I said with a stroke of hope in my heart.
"Hey Selena! Come an’ up here.", said Warren gleefully. The water started to move a little and then suddenly bursting forth from the water was Selena. Her white hair flowed over her and her dark blue eyes fixed themselves upon us.
"Rhoswen and Warren, ask of me what you are seeking and I shall let the truth shine through.", she said.
"Selena we wish to know where our friend David is.", I said looking into her intense eyes. She picked up a lily out of the water and whispered our question to the flower in an ancient mere-people language. The flower started to glow with light and she looked deep within it. Her dark eyes grew wider and then suddenly the light became darkness trying to choke her. Warren held out his hand in order to use light energy to overpower the darkness.
"No! I must see what is presented to me!", She said. The darkness spiraled out toward her until suddenly the light shut it out. Selena breathed heavily.
"You must find him quickly. There is much dark forces coming to destroy him. Although I also feel strength around him. I saw a black carriage speeding through a forest with darkness following behind it. There was a man on the carriage with dark eyes, a pale face, and a scar on his right cheek.", She said dreadfully.
"Oh David! We must find him!", I said.
"Thank you Selena. Now let’s find David.", said Warren with determination.
"Warren do you have a map?", Selena said as she picked up some sand.
"Ya I do. I’ll get it out.", he said and put the map on the ground. Selena then took the sand and put it on the map. She then chanted in her language and the sand started to form a line on the map. The sand then blew away in the wind leaving a line drawn on the map.
"There! We found em’ Rhosewen! We found em’!", he said excitedly.
"Thank you Selena! Oh bless you!", I said crying tears of joy.
"There is no need to thank me. I am simply helping any way I can.", Selena said and then retreated into the water. Warren and I set out on our horses. This map gave me hope and returned some light to me. I all ready felt closer to David but I also knew that he was in danger. It was still in the back of my mind that perhaps we were too late. The Darkness moves in mysterious ways and often leads you astray.
Chapter 5: Tavern Trust
I am hiding in the bushes with the wolf by my side. I am afraid the Grim will come back. I lean up against an old maple tree and hear the wind blowing through its leaves. My arm is stinging and bleeding heavily. I decide to write a letter to Rhosewen, my true love, in case I die from this wound at least she will know what happened. I suddenly hear music carried by the wind; a little bit of fiddle in the gusts. I decide to communicate with the wolf who carried me from danger and saved my life.
"Hello. What’s your name?", I thought to the wolf.
"My name is Jet. And you are David.", the wolf thought to me.
"Thank you for saving me Jet. Can you help lead me to where that music is coming from?", I thought.
"Well I smell smoke and cooking. I can track it back to its source. Get on my back. We’ll camouflage to be safe.", He thought back to me.
I jumped up on Jets back and he started running through the woods. I could feel his strong legs going at top speed. Jet must have known my arms condition was getting worse. I could hear his nails digging into the ground as we swiftly past trees. It gave me an entire new respect for my new friend. Jet was a powerful yet graceful being whom could sense more than I could. We came upon a tavern. I got off Jet.
"Wait here.", I said starting to tie him to a post.
"Please. I can not help you or hunt while I am tied up.", He said.
"Oh. Okay. Of course.", I said realizing how irrational it was.
"I will be here at sunrise.", Jet said.
I go into the tavern. It has a warm atmosphere. Upon entering I see people dancing, drinking, eating, and talking. Elves are eating fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains. Some other people are eating meat but not many. A fireplace sits across the room from the bar which is on the left. In the back there is a music group with a singer, fiddlers, and a guitarist. They are playing an upbeat tune with the fiddle playing high and the guitar strumming fast. I go to the bar for a drink and a hot soup. I must have look bad because everyone has begun staring at me and whispering amongst themselves.
"May I have beer and your best soup please.", I say to the bartender.
"Hey how about we get this lad some help over here. Edana how about you come and look at this wound.", He says ignoring my order for food.
Edana looks up from a table and gets up. She walks over slowly. Her brown eyes, which looked up with such glee, I could see now were intense. Her black curly hair fell gracefully around her shoulders. She took up my arm gently and inspected my wound.
"This is one nice slice you have there. Dale do you have some chamomile for a compress?", Edana says. Dale apparently is the bartender. He hands her some dried chamomile and a water dish. She dips it in the dish while pulling out a cotton cloth from a sack she is carrying. She puts the now wet herb into the cloth.
"Ay Dale, do you have some witch hazel on hand?", She asks.
He looks around for a moment and then pulls out a bottle of it which was made into a solution. Edana pours it over my wound. It burns and I clench my teeth. She then puts the compress on my wound. She says a short healing chant and my wound begins to feel a bit better. I notice a red dragon tattoo on her right arm.
"You’re a Fire Heart aren’t you.", I say looking at the tattoo.
"Yes. My brother is at the table over there.", She said pointing to the table from which she came.
The Fire Hearts are a group of elves who are friends with and live with dragons. They form special bonds with the dragons they know and ride. They move with the dragons if needed. Some dragons pick a person to guide even when that person is still a baby. Fire Hearts usually have aspects of the element fire. They are strong, warm, and wild. Of course not all Fire Hearts can be classified this way but in general this group of elves are like this. They are strangely gregarious for people who live isolated in the mountains with the dragons.
"There we go. We’ve got you all fixed up. Do you want to join us at the table? Dale how about you get him something.", Edana says smiling.
"Yes. I’ll Join you. And may I have soup, bread, and beer please.", I say.
"Right away sir.", Dale says and starts getting what I ordered.
"Come here and meet my brother Broderick.", Edana says as we walked over to the table.
We both sit down. A man looks up with green eyes that show awareness and energy. His light brown hair falls around his face in waves. It was short but shaggy.
"Hey. I’m Broderick. And you are?", He says smiling with his lips.
"I’m David. David Huckabee.", I say.
"David. May I ask how you got cut.", He says.
I tell him the entire story about where we were going and the fight that happened with the Grim. Broderick sits forward and looks into my eyes.
"I am not surprised about what happened to Kalen and Elvy. From what I hear they have protected the King, gone on journeys, and fought in wars. That is all very impressive but they have never encountered the Grim before. You must have heard what they have done in the East. Burning towns and poisoning the lakes. There is not much to see there now but ashes. Edana and I know. We’ve seen it.", He says this intensely.
"I am aware of what happened there. In fact Rhosewen and I know a mermaid from the lakes over there.", I say.
"Oh Broderick. Why do you have to immediately start talking about such a terrible thing? And David who is this Rhosewen girl?", Edana says.
"Well he needs to know what he’s up against.", Broderick says quietly.
"Rosewen is my true love. She is back at our home in Morna.", I say.
"You’re one of the Elves of Apple. You’re a long way from home. The King is a fool for sending someone from a sensitive group of Elves out here.", he says shaking his head from side to side.
"Believe me I think I’m as unfit for this as you do. The King only sent me because he had a vision of me.", I say.
I am served my meal.
"There you go sir. Anything else?", Dale says.
"Thank you very much. Nothing more thanks.", I say pleasantly.
"Well I trust the King to do what is right but we are also running out of time. We have seen what the Grim are doing. We have fought them. In fact we are here for the same reason as you. We are trying to stop them from hurting that town. But they are also making something out of rock. We’re not sure what it is but we intend to find out.", Edana says.
"I also have a love back home waiting for me. Her name is Leane.", Broderick says while his eyes spark with a glow. He has obviously been thinking about home after I mentioned mine.
"Edana here doesn’t have anyone with her. She’s too wild.", He says grinning and looking at her.
"Well it’s not my fault that no man can handle a little bit of fire.", She says raising her drink to her mouth. Broderick laughs and I start to smile.
"A little fire! You’re a blazing sun!", Broderick says smiling. Edana now starts to laugh. There is silence for a while as I eat my food and they drink their beverages. We watch the band as they play music. Suddenly Edana looks at me with a gleam in her eye.
"David. How about we dance a little.", She says.
"David there is one thing you should know about Edana. She never does anything a little.", Broderick says like a warning.
"No I’m too tired for that right now. I’m going to go to bed.", I say.
"Oh well. It’s your loss.", She says and runs off to dance with someone else.
"David there is something I have been meaning to ask you. Will you join us to help stop the Grim?", Broderick asks me.
"Can I trust you to not turn against me? Can you trust me?", I ask back.
"Whether you can trust me is for you to decide. I know I can trust you. I can see you are just another person caught up in this mess. I can tell you I am much the same. I am just another person trying to stop darkness from taking control.", he says looking into my eyes.
I can tell there is nothing menacing in his eyes while saying this.
"Okay. I’ll go with you. But shouldn’t we talk to the counsel first?", I say.
"No. We don’t have time to travel to the Counsel of Elders. I’m afraid we are alone in this.", Broderick says shaking his head.
I nod understanding his point.
"Well I should get to bed. Dale! Can I get a room to sleep in for the night?", I say.
"Why sure. Of course.", Dale says.
Dale leads me to a room and opens the door with a key. I enter the room and go to bed. I fall asleep quickly because I am so tired. My last thought was about Rhosewen. I wondered if she was asleep and how she was feeling.
Chapter 6: Elderberry Tea
Warren and I are riding through the woods. The sun has risen high in the sky which is strangely clear. We ride with determination and speed as we follow the map. I stop my horse and look at the map to make sure we are on the right course. Warren also stops.
"Are you sure this map is right Warren?", I ask.
"Of course it is right. Don’t you trust Selena.", he says.
"I trust her. It’s magic which I don’t trust entirely. She made this right after she saw all that darkness.", I say.
"Why do you doubt it in the first place?", Warren replies.
"It just seems too sunny here. The woods are beautiful.", I say.
"Rhoswen. Don’t you realize where we are? We are in the Elderwood. We are on sacred ground with old and pure magic. Of course it is beautiful.", he remarks.
"I’ve been riding too fast obviously. Maybe you should have the map.", I say.
"You look tired. Maybe we should rest a while.", Warren suggests.
"No. Absolutely Not. We go on.", I say sternly.
"Rhosewen, don’t be daft. You need to rest some time.", he says.
"Fine", I say grudgingly and leap off my horse.
"Well. Don’t be happy about it or anything.", Warren says sarcastically.
I sit down on the ground beneath a gigantic old oak tree. I lean against it and close my eyes. I hope Warren doesn’t see a tear roll down my cheek. I wipe it away quickly. Then I feel a wonderful energy of the tree hugging me. It’s trying to heal my heart. Warren holds out a piece of bread and looks me straight in the eye.
"Eat. I know you must be hungry.", he says very directly.
I take the piece of bread and bite into it. It’s a rich slice of corn bread and I realize how far we are from home. I look up and see gray clouds rolling into the sky. I guess the light doesn’t last long these days. Only a quick snack and then back on the road I think to myself. I look over at Warren who is walking around and seeing what there is around here.
"Hey. Rhosewen. I found some Elderberries so we can make some tea.", he says as he walks over to me. I don’t hear him because I thought I saw shadows moving in the clouds but they disappear.
"What are you looking at?", he asks as he looks at the sky too.
"Nothing. Do you want me to make Elderberry tea for us.", I say as I get out a brown container full of water.
"No I’ll make some.", Warren says.
Warren makes tea and we sit quietly and drink it. Very dark clouds start to cover the sky. What on Earth is happening up there?
"It’s starting to look really nasty up there. Isn’t it.", Warren says staring into the sky.
"A storms brewing and we are heading straight into it.", I say and take a sip of tea.
The fire sparks a little. The flames dance and spread their warmth everywhere. My face is still cold. The tea is starting to warm my chest as it slips down my throat.
"Rhose. It just occurred to me that I have no idea how to fight.", Warren said wonderingly.
"me neither", I say and the fact starts to haunt us.
It starts to rain. Then the rain turns into buckets of water rushing down on us. The fire was out in a flash and nothing but wet coals was left. We just sit and let the rain wash over us. We were all ready soaked and with no shelter or fire there was nothing more we could do. All we can do now is sit, wait, and drink elderberry tea.
Chapter 7: Sparks Ignite
I get shaken awake in the middle of the night. A candle glows in my face and I see Edana’s face lit up behind it.
"Get up! Now. The Grim are here!", she whispers in a hurried way.
"How? I thought we were safe. I thought they disappeared.", I say suddenly very awake and shuffling out of bed..
"They must have followed you or us but that’s beside the point. We need to go.", Edana says.
Broderick enters the room.
"How bad is it?", Edana asks him.
"At least ten shadows and one other who arrived in a carriage.", Broderick says.
"Shadows? Carriage?", I say confused but my questions aren’t heard.
"We need to call Darius and Inna.", Edana says.
Broderick and Edana close their eyes. I hear them whispering to themselves and outside the wind rises. I look out the window and suddenly see large shadows moving through the sky. They come closer until I can see that the shadows are two large dragons. Their wings flapped the air with enormous strength. Edana grabs me by the arm.
"Come on. I’ll take you.", she says.
"What about Jet?", I ask.
"What? No time for questions.", She says.
"Shh.", Broderick says.
We listen and hear a slight whooshing sound from the door and large boots walking on wood floors. Edana and Broderick look at each other with fear on their faces. They run fast toward the dragons and I am pulled along by Edana. I am tossed on the dragon by her and she gets on behind me. We take off into the air. I look back and see Broderick on his dragon taking off too. On the ground I also see a young elven man with pale skin and long black hair. His eyes were fierce and dark with thick eyebrows growing wild above them. A scar runs across his right cheek. He has a black walking stick that comes to a large diamond shaped point at the top and a blood red stone is placed in the center of the diamond. There are ten black figures around him. He raises his staff and pounds it powerfully against the ground. A large energetic pulse pushes through the air.
"Oh. You’ve got to be kidding me.", Exclaims Edana.
"What? What is it?", I say very confused.
Then above us swoops something very large and dark. Under us I see the same dark flying creature. They make a loud and unusual clicking sound.
"Bats.", Edana says.
We are going through clouds at top speed and it is difficult to see. Behind us is a large bat with one of the ten shadows on it. Suddenly we see a bat directly in front of us. The bat has a brown face with white sharp teeth and black bead like eyes. It’s ears are large and it’s shriek is high pitched and hurt my ears. We go up and over them quickly and are moving even faster than before. I see something large come up beside us but can not tell what it is because of the clouds.
"Don’t worry. That’s Broderick. I can sense his energy and Darius.", Edana says.
I was relieved to know that he was okay. Then I got an idea.
"Edana. I’m going to try something.", I say.
"Don’t do anything stupid but whatever it is you better do it quick.", She replies.
I close my eyes and try to absorb as much good energy as I can from the area. I then try to transform it with my hands into a tangible light.
"Is that it?", Edana asks.
I open my eyes and I see it did not work. I try again but only this time I use my heart and think of the people who mean the most to me. Then Rhosewen comes into my mind and suddenly I am with her. I am home and the sun is shining. I feel this vision fill me up and this energy flows through me and out of my hands. I open my eyes and the clouds are gone. The full moon shines bright upon us. I night is clear and stars are out. The mountains are ahead of us and are cast in a dark blue.
"David. I didn’t know you could do that. That is the most powerful magic I have ever seen.", Edana says astonished.
"What happened?", I ask.
"You made them go away with the light.", Edana says smiling.
"Really?", I say in disbelief.
"Well no one else did it.", Edana says.
Chapter 8: Into the Grim
A woman with long straight red hair and pale skin leans over a grave. It is dark, misty, and cold. She wears a dark gray cloak with its hood over her head. Her dark brown eyes are weak with weeping as she clutches the grass covering the grave. The grave stone reads Donovan Emmett: Good Husband and Father. Time passes rapidly and later the woman returns to the same grave. This time it is at night and black candles are around her. She kneels holding a black bowl with a carving of the symbol named Hecates Wheel. She raises an athame toward the sky and brings it down toward herself. She takes its blade and slices her palm with it. She puts her hand over the bowl as the red blood drips from it. She takes the bowl and puts herbs, ash, and grass from the grave into it. She uncorks a bottle filled with a potion and pours it into the bowl. She then grasps her bloody athame, raises it up, and drives it into the earth. She rises on her feet with the bowl and pours the mixture on the ground in a circle around the athame. She raises her hands to the sky.
"Oh Hecate goddess of the underworld and crossroads hear my plea! May this blood offered become life for the dead! May blood run again through buried veins! Birth your son Donovan from the ground!", she screams and looks crazily up to the sky.
A dark mist rises from the ground where the potion was poured and begins to circle around rapidly in a counterclockwise direction. It rises up in a column as the wind rushes toward her. Then she begins to feel as if all of her energy is being pulled from her. She grunts and falls on her knees dropping the bowl. She feels the same sensation only stronger and screams in pain. She collapses on the ground and dies. The column of black smoke twirls down slowly to the ground and in its place lay an elven man with pale skin, long black hair, and dark eyes. Then he woke up.
"Father. Are you all right? You must have had a bad dream.", says Melvin.
"Get away from me! You foul scum! You are not my son!", Donovan screams as he throws Melvin aside.
Facundo walks in the room.
"I thought I told you to go make me my breakfast. Go. Now!", Facundo says.
Melvin exits the bedroom with a disdainful look on his face.
"He’s weak but I am strong. With me by your side we will bring this world to its knees. People will quiver beneath us like beaten dogs.", Facundo says smiling.
"Yes. They will. I think we should tend to the bats. They are thirsty and have a big day ahead.", Donovan says grinning and laughs a little while his eyes look off into the nothingness.
Donovan is still fully dressed as always because he passes out drunk too fast to change into night clothing. He gets up and walks with Facundo, his son, down the five flights of stairs. There is no windows and therefore no light to penetrate the walls of stone. As the staircase spirals down the walls only have weapons placed upon them. They come to a black door and Donovan opens it with a key carved from bone. There are nothing but prisoner cells and a gigantic bird cage with three large bats in it. The room is large and round with a high ceiling. Donovan and Facundo walk over to the bird cage and do not notice that Melvin is over near a jail cell. In the cell is an elven woman with a brown dirty dress on, an angular face, and short straight blonde hair.
"What are you doing?", she says to Melvin.
"I’m going to get you out of here.", he says.
"Why do you stay here? Why don’t you run away when you can?", she asks him.
"What if I get caught? This he will not kill me for but if I ran away I don’t think he would show mercy.", Melvin says and he unlocks the door to the cell.
"Hey! What the hell do you think your doing!!", yells Donovan as he stomps over to them and throws Melvin against the wall and starts to beat him. The woman runs toward the door but is stopped midway by Facundo. Facundo squeezes her arms as she struggles to get away then he drags her to the bat cage. He opens the cage and throws her inside it. He shuts the door and the bats swoop down and pick her up in their mouths. She screams in horror and pain as their sharp teeth rip into her sucking her dry of blood. Finally one bat latches onto her neck snapping it and putting her out of her misery. Meanwhile Donovan is beating Melvin in the face with his fist. Melvin now has a black eye and his face is swelling. Then Melvin does something out of character. He catches the next punch to his face and hits Donovan in the face. Donovan falls down because of the powerful blow and Melvin runs fast out the door. Facundo is too absorbed with watching, grinning, and chuckling at the bats feasting on the woman’s body to notice what has happened. Melvin runs through the field toward the mountains in the distance. As he runs he puts his fingers in his mouth and whistles loudly. On the gray horizon a brown horse comes racing into the field and soon runs next to Melvin. As the horse is running, Melvin jumps on top of it and rides off toward the mountains. In the castle, Ciara, Donovan’s mistress and Facundo’s mother, walks into the Cage room. She then runs over to Donovan who is still on the floor groaning.
"Who did this?", she exclaims.
Facundo turns around and is astonished to see Donovan on the ground.
"That bloody boy did it and ran off.", Donovan mumbles.
"Filthy maggot. What joy it is to know that traitor didn’t wriggle from my body. His dead mother had to suffer that. Facundo, my dear sweet boy, you I am proud to know as my flesh and blood.", Ciara spits these words out like a poison.
"It’s all right mother. We’ll find that creature and put him down like the animal he is. He won’t get the chance to even say a word to those human sympathizers.", Facundo says with a sneer.
Chapter 9: Fear & Courage
The heavy rain eventually stopped. Warren and I are soaked and it is getting cold. The wind seems to seep into our bones. The sun is just beginning to set as usual in Autumn. The sky is still very gray and dark. The Elderberry tea was all gone and I thanked nature in my thoughts for the little bit of nourishment and healing it gave me. Warren gets up off the ground and starts packing up the camp we have made.
"Well we should probably find an area which is less wet to set up camp.", he says.
"Do you think we have enough time before night sets in?", I ask.
"I don’t know but I don’t think we should stay here. I don’t have a good feeling. Although that’s probably because I’m cold.", he says smirking.
"I know it makes my senses go numb.", I say and smile too.
I look up at the sky and I see the shadows again. This time they are flying around in the same general location. I decide to let Warren know what I see this time.
"Warren. Do you see those shadows moving around up there?", I ask and point to where I’m looking.
"Yeah. They look pretty big whatever they are. It makes me think of those legends back home about large creatures and powerful magic.", he says with wonder and excitement.
"Yeah right. All of that is just a bunch of stories which were told to us to ease our child like fears. The real monsters can not be seen and are inside us. There is nothing concrete about true evil.", I say to Warren intensely.
"Uh. Rhose then what the hell is coming toward us.", he says with a look of fear on his face.
I see one of the dark shadows dipping down from the sky at an almost vertical angle and then begin to level out. Before I knew it a giant bat is flying over us. Warren grabs my arm and starts to run. I run with him. The bat follows us and two others join it. As we rush through the forest, I look back at the bats and see them crashing into trees. I hear whispers fill the air and the wind starts to rise.
"Do you even know where we are going?", I ask through rushed breathing.
"No but I’m sure not staying", he says also breathing heavily.
There are two very large boulders up ahead with a small space between them. We slip into the space which is big enough for both of us. The large bats try to fly into it but do not succeed. They snap their jaws and try to reach us. I look through an opening which goes out to the other side of the rocks. I see our horses running away from the danger. They scare easily and are not meant to fight. Suddenly I hear a terrible shriek come from one of the bats and a growling sound. Through the crack I can see bits and pieces of a fight between the bat and a new creature. The bat is on the ground with the other creature on top of it. I hear barking and then a little whine as the creature is tossed off the bat. There is a loud growl and the bat abruptly stops moving. The other bats fly off into the sky and out of sight. After a long silence, Warren sticks his head out of the crack and looks around.
"I think the bats are gone.", he says and walks out into the open. I follow behind cautiously.
"I take back what I said. There is a face to true evil.", I say. Warren is visibly shaken.
I look over to my right and see a tall muscular wolf. It lifts its leg and licks at it. I see it is a bit bloody where the wolf is licking. The wolf puts its leg down and stares at me with icy blue eyes. Warren comes beside me and looks at the wolf. The wolf starts to move toward us a little. Warren pulls me in closer to him try to protect me as we back up a little. The wolf stops as soon as it sees we are frightened.
"Ay! Go! Off! Get away from here! Go an’.", Warren yells.
"Wait Warren. It saved us. Maybe it’s of the light. Perhaps we should try to communicate with it.", I suggest.
"You mean animal telepathy. Rhose I’m sorry to tell you this but that’s a skill I don’t possess and I know you aren’t very good at either.", He says.
"It’s worth a try. Maybe this animal is skilled at it.", I say. Then I realize that the animal is gone.
"Look what you did. You scared her off.", I say.
"Well Warren does it matter what gender it is?", I say a little annoyed.
"What are you talking about?", Warren says.
"Didn’t you say that?", I ask.
"Say what?", Warren inquires.
"I’m not a her! I’m a him. Jet is my name. May I ask what is yours?", a voice says as the wolf slowly appears from the woods.
"Rhose?", Warren says.
"The wolf is talking to me in my head. His name is Jet.", I say looking at Warren and then looking back at Jet.
"My name is Rhosewen and this is my friend Warren. I’m sorry if Warren scared you. We are a bit nervous after that attack.", I say out loud.
"No harm done. One can never be too careful these days. He did not scare me. I thought it was a wise choice to camouflage. I do not want to enter into more conflict when wounded and with my energy spent.", says Jet.
"Yes. That is a wise choice. Especially a conflict with him.", I say a bit sarcastically.
"What’s a wise choice?", Warren asks.
"Nothing.", I say and smile. I look to my left and see the corpse of the bat. It’s neck is covered in blood.
Then I hear an odd noise in the distance but moving closer. It is many thumping sounds and a sort of rumble.
"What is that? Thunder?", Warren says looking at the sky which is now clear and dark blue with stars.
"No. It sounds like it’s coming from the ground.", I say.
Then out of nowhere many wolves surrounded us with riders on their backs. They formed a circle around us and pointed their arrows.
"Woah. Wait. Let’s just calm down.", Warren says holding his hands up.
"Who are you? What business do you have in our woods?", a woman on one of the wolves asks.
"Jet. Are these friends of yours?", I think to him.
"These are strangers to my eyes.", Jet thinks back.
"Speak!", the woman says.
"I am Warren and this is Rhosewen. We are here trying to find a friend.", he says.
"Excuse me for asking but why do you call this your woods? The Elderwood does not belong to one group alone.", I say careful not to offend them. The woman nods and the elves around her lower their bows.
"This is not the Elderwood. You have stumbled into the Terestai. We should get you to safety. Follow us on your wolf friend. What is his name?", she says calmly.
"His name is Jet.", I say.
"Get on my back and hang on tight.", Jet thinks to me. I grab Warren and lift him on Jet and then mount myself in front of him. In my heart I could feel a new strength awakening. How can a stranger like me feel so familiar in a foreign land? The wolves start to run through the forest with their riders on their backs. We follow them at the same speed. Their powerful yet graceful legs pound on the ground. Their voices rise to the ghostly shadows and the wind rises. Somehow I understand their message.
Chapter 10: Fire Hearts
We landed softly on a large ledge of the mountain. I am still not entirely sure what happened and have not even begun to think of why. I have heard tales of wizards with incredible light conjuring powers but never of my own people being able to do this. Edana gets off the dragon and lifts me off too. I am amazed by her strength. Broderick walks over to us. I look behind me so I can see our dragon friends in better detail. The dragon we were riding is bright red like an apple or rose. It’s scales shone in the moonlight like polished gemstones. It’s eyes were golden and seemed to hold secret wisdom. Edana joins my gaze.
"This is my friend Inna. She is my guardian through this life and has taught me more than I can say.", Edana tells me with passion.
"She is beautiful", I say and look over to the other dragon.
This dragon is green with icy blue eyes. It folds it wings gracefully and begins to look at me with inquisition.
"And this David is Darius. He has also taught me much but his biggest lesson has been the power of the mind. He encourages me to be curious and question what’s around me.", Broderick says plainly and pointing to his head.
"Come. Let us show you our home.", Edana says invitingly.
"I thought Fire Hearts don’t have homes.", I say.
"You thought wrong. We reside in these mountains. The only reason people think we move so much is because we fly all over the land. They just assume we have no home and that is how we want it. We want it kept secret so we will not get attacked. You will find that what you hear about the real world and what is actually true are very different.", Broderick says.
"I don’t doubt that. It just makes me realize how much I don’t know.", I say a little discouraged.
"That’s all right. There are many questions I have as well. There are many things hidden by time or space. One of those things is what just happened.", Broderick says.
"Come. Whatever you need to learn we will teach you.", Edana says, smiling, taking my hand and leading me closer to the stone wall of the mountain.
She puts her hand against the stone and I watch in awe as light outlines it. She then begins moving through the stone and then before I know it I move through it. On the other side of the wall are many elves crowded in a large room. There is dancing, drinking, and eating. Fiddle music, laughing, and the aroma of food fills the air. A fire roars in a fireplace straight ahead and the large wooden table in the center of the room is cast in an orange glow.
"Is Broderick coming inside?", I ask.
"He will. I think he is attending to the wound Darius got from the bat.", Edana says.
"Why are there so many people here? Do any of you sleep?", I ask.
"This room is our meeting hall. It is where we gather for celebration. Tonight we celebrate the return of our king from the Elderwood.", Edana says.
"The king of the Fire Hearts. He was there when I was knighted.", I say hopefully.
I may be able to gain some guidance from him. I look over to see a man whispering something in Edana’s ear. At first I think he is flirting with her until I notice she isn’t smiling but looking at him with a grim expression. I see her quickly rush over to a door which I realize is in the spot we came in. What is happening? I decide to let them tell me later. I refocus my attention to their king whom is sitting in a throne at the head of the long wooden table. I decide to approach him and tell him who I am. I walk over and stand in front of him awkwardly. I am unsure how to start the conversation. The king puts his gaze onto me and after a long silence opens his mouth to speak.
"My good sir. Is there something you want to ask me?", he says in a kind jolly voice and laughs.
This breaks the tension and I now feel at ease to say what I want to express.
"I am David of Morna. My king knighted me in the counsels presence. I was sent to infiltrate the Grim and stop them from spreading disease on a human town. I wish to ask for some enlightenment on recent events.", I say.
"I know who you are and what you were sent to do. I am glad to see you safe. We received news that you and your kings warriors were missing. I will inform your king that you have been found.", he says.
"I am sad to inform you that those two warriors are dead. They were killed by the shadows. And—if I tell you something will you promise to not laugh but take it seriously?", I say.
"It is unfortunate about their deaths. As for not laughing, I am unsure I can keep that promise. I love to laugh.", he says and smiles.
"That is very funny but the topic I am about to touch on is quite serious.", I say as respectfully as I can. The king leans his elbow on the table and touches his chin with his hand. His eyes become intent on me. I sit down in a chair by the king.
"After I saw them killed, I was fleeing from the shadows when I looked back and saw something I once believed to be impossible." I look up at the king and see he is still listening. "I saw the warriors bodies rise up and become animate again. This is not the only odd occurrence which has happened. Only a short while ago I tried to make an energy ball in my hands but instead all of this light came from them. This light repelled the bats which were chasing us.", I say.
The king sits back. He becomes very thoughtful for a moment and glances at me a bid hesitantly.
"No. It can not be. Perhaps the old crone was not crazed after all.", he says to himself and then leans in again to talk to me.
"You must come with me. I need to show you something.", he says standing and starting to rush off. I follow him with interest. A crowd forms near a large stone wall and starts to applaud and cheer as the large flag of the Fire Hearts unfolds after being hung. The flag is dark red with golden lace around its edge. In the center is a heart outlined in gold with blue flames coming straight out of it. On top of this symbol is the Elven Star with its seven points. The flag not only represents the Fire Hearts but it represents the unconditional love and universal strength they give us. The king ignores this excitement and I follow him into a doorway. He continues to move down a flight of stairs and I follow. He stops at the bottom of the stairs and turns to face a wall. I watch as he puts his hand against the wall and whispers something I do not hear. Before my eyes I see a wooden door appear in the wall. The king takes a key from the red robe he is wearing and opens the door. We step inside of a pitch black room and the door slams behind us.
"May sun shine upon secret shadow and lift the veil of night.", the king says.
Soon after a ball of light forms in the center of the room in a large crystal sphere which is placed upon a table. The room is circular with many shelves filled with books. The air is quite musty and though there is light now, it is still a bit dim. There are many scrolls laid around on tables. The king begins to look around.
"Recently I had a strange encounter with an older woman. She was cloaked and I did not see her face. After some incoherent babbling, she gave me a scroll with slender fingers and said something about the moon and sun making the rose grow from ashes. She went away, talking to herself, without another word for me. Ah ha! There you are.", the king explains.
He picks up the scroll and opens it for me to see. I read it out loud.
"The dark one will rise and spread his unnatural essence by his blade. The moon will shine through the darkness with its power from the sun but only the sun can eliminate it all. The rose will sprout from the ashes.", I say and then become a little confused.
"I thought what you told me seemed a little too close to this to be overlooked. The part about the dark one spreading something unnatural and the light shining through the dark is what made me think of the scroll.", he says.
"Well. As usual I am left with more questions than answers. Thank you for showing this to me. I should get back to my friends. They are probably wondering where I am.", I say.
"Just a moment. Before you leave I wish to give you some tools you may find useful.", the king says and opens a box which is on the table in front of them. In the box is a sword with unusual symbols of which the meanings have become lost in time, a necklace with a gold sun shaped pendant with an amber crystal, and another necklace with a silver moon pendant with a moonstone. I am stunned by these gifts. He takes out a belt with a sword sheaf and gives it to me. I put it on. He then hands me the sword and I sense a very old and powerful magic about it.
"Woah.", I say in response to what I am feeling.
"It is quite something. Isn’t it.", the king says.
I put the sword in its sheaf. The king hands me the amulets and I feel power in them that goes beyond even the sword. This time I am speechless but my eyes widen. I put them gently in my brown pouch and tie them to my belt.
"I feel you will need all of these items. It is no light quest we are sending you on. The Grim go beyond anything we have ever encountered. The lines between good and evil have become blurred. The lines between life and death have been crossed. It is unlike any war we have ever fought. It is a force which can not be fought by weapons alone.", the king says to me shaking his head with a sad look in his eyes.
"Sir. You should know that I want to do this now. No. Not just want but need to. At first I was unsure about fighting but now I feel different. I thank you for these gifts and ask if I may leave to join my friends.", I say.
"Yes. Go join your friends and enjoy the night.", the king says still lost in thought.
I leave the room and travel back to the crowd in the hall. I decide to keep what just happened to myself. Edana and Broderick are sitting at a table. I walk over and sit down. They are very quiet.
"We just got word that Leane, Brodericks love, is missing.", Edana says and sighs.
"Should we look for her?", I ask.
"No. There was search parties sent out on an all day and night mission. They will find her.", Edana says plainly without lack of hope or with it.
"How could I have not known this happened. How could I have not felt her fear.", Broderick says trying to keep his voice from trembling.
"Perhaps she has none. She is a fearless warrior. I dare say she is the bravest of us all.", Edana says.
"No. She was strong but in truth the darkness still pained her. I would say you are the bravest my sister.", Broderick says.
"I may be ignorant about the world but I do not think you should use past tense yet Broderick. There is still hope of finding her.", I say trying to consul him.
"David you must know from the recent experience with the bats that the darkness here is spreading. Often times when people ride off on their dragon we wonder if we will see them alive once more. There have been many disappearances. It is a wonder our king sends people looking anymore.", Edana says.
"Yet you still hold on to hope.", I say.
"Not hope. I am simply waiting for whatever news may come. I do not assume anything.", Edana says rationally.
I notice Broderick has his eyes closed. He is probably trying to find her and sense her state of mind.
"I can’t sense her. Either she is very far away or has all ready joined the spirit world.", Broderick says and opens his green eyes which have become a bit foggy.
Suddenly I see Edanas’ eyes widen. She gets up from the table and rushes out of the door to the outside.
"What was that about?", I ask looking at the door.
"I have no idea. That woman is a mystery.", Broderick says a bit tiredly.
We sit quietly for a time. Edana suddenly comes rushing in through the door with someone around her shoulder.
"Somebody help this man! He is wounded!", Edana yells across the room.
Everyone starts to gather around. A woman rushes over and starts to mend the wound. Edana backs away and watches her. Broderick and I quickly come over to Edana.
"How did you know the man was here?", I ask.
"Inna told me. She spotted him at the base of the mountain.", Edana replies.
I look around at the crowd in the room. It dawns on me what a dangerous life the Fire Hearts lead. They live on the very edge. The warm nature of their home is concealed by stone. The wild way they soar through the air is complete freedom and exposure. It’s a life of extremes. Facing death every day makes them more alive than anyone I have met. I am afraid that I am not like them at all.
Chapter 11: Tree Tribe
It is night and Warren and I are at a camp in the Terestai. We are greeted by drums and a large fire which is warm against our cold skin. Now we sit by the fire next to our new friend Jet who is sleeping. The woman whom we encountered comes over with food for us presented in a large woven basket. She sits down next to us and watches us as we eat.
"Thank you. This very tasty.", I say. She is silent for a moment
"Now this is the part where you say ‘your welcome’ and ask us many questions of what happened and why we are here.", Warren says jokingly but with a tone of annoyance.
"It is not my place to ask questions. I am not the high priestess. I will not bother in your business because that is impolite. I also will not take thanks for providing something you need because that is very self-centered.", She says very seriously.
Warren looks a bit humbled and then looks up at her with a furrow of puzzlement upon his brow.
"If you do not get to know anyone then how can you trust anyone?", I ask.
"I trust our tribe and our pack. Outsiders pose a great threat, especially recently.", She answers quickly.
"I feel a bit offended that you judge us so harshly before giving us a chance to show our worth.", Warren says.
"You are not from this area. Are you? If you were then you would know the reasons why our people have become so weary of strangers.", She says.
"You are right. We aren’t from here. We come from Morna and I can prove it.", I say glancing over at Warren.
"Okay. How will you do that?", She asks not very convinced.
"Do you get many apples here? In Morna apple trees are abundant.", I say knowing what I’m about to show her.
"No we don’t get much fruit here. We only get fruit on market day in the Elderwood.", She says a bit perplexed by the question.
I take an apple from my brown pouch and hand it to Warren.
"Warren. Why don’t you peel this apple for her.", I say glancing at him.
He smiles and gets out his knife and starts to peel the apple from the top. The woman watches in amazement as Warren peels the entire apple in one long strip. I take the apple and present it to her. She takes it while staring at me.
"One only learns to peel apples like that in Morna.", I say.
She is silent for a moment, smells the apple, and then takes a large bite of it. She looks up with her eyes wide and her mouth full and smiling. She continues to chew as juice trickles down her chin. I offer her a cloth to wipe her mouth. She takes it and continues to eat.
"How did you know we were here?", I ask her.
"The trees. They told us. They sent us a message you were here by the wind.", She said.
"You are the Tree Talkers. I thought your existence was a myth.", Warren says abruptly.
"Tree Talkers. Wolf Walkers. Moon Gypsies. We are called by many names but we call ourselves simply the Tree Tribes.", She says.
"Speaking of names. What is yours?", I ask.
She is finished with the apple and throws it into the woods so it can decompose. She then looks into my eyes and I feel as if she is staring into my soul.
"My name is Keita and I am the lead warrior of this clan. You have proven truthful. I will allow you to stay with us. Do you need help finding your friend? What was his name?", Keita says a bit softer tone.
"David. His name is David. And yes we do need help finding him. I gladly accept your offer.", I say trying to express thankfulness.
"I should get some people to put up a tent for you.", says Keita as she gets up slowly and leaves us.
Warren watches as she walks away and into a nearby tent made of branches and other natural material. She comes out of the tent with two people and they start in on the project.
"You like her.", I say.
"Her. No. She’s a bit....odd and too serious. No. Definitely not.", Warren says.
"You like her.", I say in a teasing voice.
"Well your spirits are lifted.", He says smiling.
"Do you want to know why?", I say.
"Please tell me. I’m tired of mysterious women.", Warren says.
"Oh please. You love mysterious women. Back home you can never keep your eyes off Selena when we see her.", I say.
"Yeah but I think the tail would get in the way. Besides mermaids are beautiful.", Warren replies.
"Uh-huh. Anyway while riding on Jet I felt something odd. I felt like I was somewhere else. A place which is warm and friendly. I saw this place through someone’s eyes and could feel how they were feeling. Guess whose eyes they were?", I tell Warren excitedly.
"Whose?", Warren asks.
"It was David’s eyes.", I say gleefully.
"David! He’s safe. Oh. Thank the divine for that.", Warren says happily.
I now see that Jet has been awake while Warren and I were talking. Jet looks at me with an odd expression.
"What is it Jet?", I ask.
"David? Is that who you are looking for?", Jet says.
"Yes. What of it?", I reply.
"I met David. He rode on me. I saved him from the Grim. You must have a connection with him through me.", Jet says.
"You were there when he got hurt. You took him to the tavern. Why are you here now and not with him?", I ask surprised by this realization.
"He told me to meet him at the tavern by sunrise. When I came back, he was not there. I waited and he still did not show. I decided to go back into the forest.", Jet tells me.
"Well. He is safe but I wonder where he is. Maybe someone at the tavern knows.", I say.
"I’m sorry. But what is happening?", Warren asks.
"It’s going to be a pain to explain to you everything which Jet and I am talking about.", I say.
"Well I don’t see any other way.", Warren says.
"Maybe there is another way. You can read human telepathy can’t you?", I ask him.
"Yeah a bit. Why?", Warren replies.
"Let’s try something.", I say.
I put my left hand on Warren’s head and then my right hand on Jet’s head.
"This is ridiculous.", Warren says.
I take a moment to close my eyes and open myself up to transfer this energy. I then tell Jet to repeat what he told me. I feel the thought pass through me. As I do this I hear many whispering voices. I feel Warren pull away quickly. I open my eyes and see him standing beside me.
"Did it work?", I ask him.
"Yes. I heard everything Jet said. Rhosewen. I think you have some abilities which we never knew about. Do you think you can channel things?", he says astonished.
"Maybe. I’m not sure. That would explain what happened.", I say.
"Well. I’m tired. I’m going to sleep.", I say and get up to go but wait for Warren.
"You should go ahead. I think I’ll stay here by the fire for a bit longer.", Warren says.
"Okay. I’m sure you want to watch Keita more.", I say teasing as I walk away to our tent which is makeshift but will last the night.
"For the last time I don’t like her.", Warren says.
"Yeah. Yeah. Whatever you say.", I say entering the tent.
I make a bed and lay down. I quickly fall into a deep sleep because I know we are safe for now. Still I wonder how long until that safety wears off.
Chapter 12: Honest Men
The man Edana carried in on her shoulders was swept off to a bedroom. He is being treated by the medicine woman. She said that he is going to be fine. Everything happens fast here. It’s like a fire is constantly moving the events which happen. I stayed in Edana’s home in the mountain. She told me that I can stay here as long as I wish. I woke up today wondering from where this man came. Who is he? I am unsure what the day has in store for me but I’m prepared for anything. I hear a loud knocking on the bedroom door and Edana calls in to me.
"Hey. David. Are you up yet? We have someone we want you to meet.", She says.
"Oh really? I was just about to come out there.", I call back.
I walk over to the door and open it. The bedroom leads immediately into the kitchen. I am surprised to see Edana and the man sitting at the round kitchen table.
"Breakfast foods are here if you want to make yourself something.", Edana says.
"I saw you last night. Why were you wounded? What’s your name?", I ask.
"My name is Melvin. I was wounded by the Grim.", he says.
I notice his face, especially one eye, is black and blue. Broderick walks into the kitchen from the main door entering the home.
"Hey. Edana I got those carrots you wanted from the garden.", he says looking down at them as he walks into the room. When he looks up Broderick immediately stops.
"I see we have a guest. We should talk over some tea.", Broderick says.
Broderick puts on a kettle of water on the fireplace which is in the back of us. Soon the tea is ready and we all sit down to have some breakfast.
"I still can’t believe you live inside the mountain. Not just under it but in it. How is it possible?", I ask.
"Well. No one really knows. No one is left who remembers how this became our home. We are just glad that they were able to find a way to live higher on the mountain. We are safe here.", Edana says.
"There must be some papers left explaining it.", I say.
"No. They probably were burnt.", Broderick chimes in a little sadly.
"Yes. They probably were burnt. Not too long ago the Grim raided the library under the mountain. There were too many for the dwarves to fight off and it was done when most of them were sleeping. They took some of the books and some they burnt.", Edana explains.
"That seems too close for comfort.", I say.
I decided to ask the king if he knew how their home was created.
"It was too close.", Edana says.
"I didn’t know that happened.", Melvin suddenly says.
"He speaks. So where do you come from Melvin?", I ask politely.
"I uh. Umm.", he says looking at me hesitantly.
"It’s all right. We’re all friends here.", I say.
"Promise you won’t hurt me.", he says looking down.
"What are talking about?", I say.
"I...I’m from the land of Grim.", he says.
I gulp the tea in my mouth down my throat and look at Edana. Edana is surprisingly calm.
"I am the son of the man who is causing all of this but I don’t think he is my father anymore. His name was Donovon. He was a hard working blacksmith and loyal to his family. He died and my mother went insane because of it. It saw her raise him from the grave. Now he lives with his mistress and my half brother.", Melvin says trying to hold back tears.
Melvin is young. In human years he would be about 18 years old. In elven years the number of years would be much higher.
"My Goddess. I’m so sorry.", Edana says.
"Yes. That is terrible.", I say.
I look over at Broderick and he seems a little suspicious. He gets up and starts to wash the dishes ,used for bread and fruit, in a large stone sink in front of us.
"I was trying to help a prisoner escape. Donovon caught me and started to beat me. I punched him and knocked him down.", he says.
"Who was the prisoner?", I ask.
"I did not catch her name. She was an elven lady with short blonde hair.", he says.
Broderick suddenly is very anxious and interested.
"Did she have light blue eyes?", Broderick asks.
"Yes. Facundo, my half brother, killed her. He put her in the bat cage.", Melvin says.
Broderick’s face turns pale and he drops the plate in his hands. It is made of metal so it does not break but makes a loud clang as it hits the ground.
"You’re lying. That can not be.", Broderick says with watery eyes.
"I’m not lying. I’m an honest man.", Melvin says.
Broderick quickly walks out the door slamming it.
"What’s wrong?", I ask.
"The prisoner was Leane.", Edana says softly and takes a sip of her tea.
"I’m sorry.", says Melvin looking down in shame.
"You do not seem sad Edana.", I say surprised.
"I cry dry. I must stay strong for Broderick. Death is simply another phase of existence. I just wish I could heal the grief of honest men.", she says with the last part more directed at Melvin.
"Yes. I suppose we all do.", Melvin says thoughtfully.
"Melvin. Why didn’t you run off a long time ago?", I ask.
"Truthfully. I was afraid to run off but most of all I knew I would feel guilty for doing it. You see Donovon isn’t always evil. During the night of the new moon, when the moon energy is for banishing, Donovon returns to normal. He returns to the age he should be instead of the young age he is while under the spell. This happens during the night and he spends most of this experience crying because he remembers everything the demon inside him has done. I could not bring myself to leave because of this.", Melvin says choking up.
I notice that tears are rolling down his cheeks now and Edana is crying too. The fire glows softly on their faces. I get a little choked up and feel my eyes get watery. Melvin wipes the tears from his eyes and we are all quiet for a while.
"I know you have been through a lot but maybe you can help us. You must know what Donovon has been doing.", I say breaking the silence.
"Donovon is very secretive with what he does but one night when the moon was new. He kept talking about building a doorway.", Melvin says.
"A doorway. To the other side of the veil which separates our world and the human world?", Edana says.
"Yes. I think.", Melvin answers.
"That explains how they intend to poison the town. But how is this possible? The reason we can’t break through is because of human disbelief in us and magic.", Edana says.
"He must have found a weak spot in the veil and is trying to gather enough energy to make a break.", I say.
"That sounds very possible.", Melvin says.
"Well. We need to stop it. Melvin do you know any more?", Edana asks.
Melvin looks down and shakes his head. There is a depth in his eyes filled with sadness and pain.
"You shouldn’t feel guilty. Not many men would stay in a situation like that as long as you did.", I say.
"I know I shouldn’t feel guilty but I do. Nothing can be done about that. All I can do is wait. All we can do.", Melvin says.
"I don’t believe that. There is always a way. Nothing changes unless there is an action taken. The question is whether we have the courage to take a step.", Edana says putting on a light coat, "which brings me to tell both of you that a fight is coming. You either learn to fight or go home."
"Well. You know I’m here to do that.", I say.
"I have no home and I don’t think I can ever get my father back.", Melvin says.
"Good. We have some training to do.", Edana says.
Chapter 13: Tribal Trust
I feel a soft nudging on my face and open my eyes to see Jet over me.
"Morning Jet", I say groggily.
"Good morning Rhoswen. The breakfast today is a choice between oatmeal, oatmeal, and more oatmeal. With elderberry tea as a beverage.", Warren says sarcastically as he comes into the tent holding a bowl of oatmeal which he hands to me.
"Wow. People out here really don’t get much fruit.", I say scratching my head. I can tell my hair is a mess and could use a good brushing.
"It is all woodland out here. The tribe needs to keep what preserves well in the winter. During the summer it is mostly scavenging and hunting."
"True. Rhose, remind me when we get home to sent a bunch of apple preserves to them."
"Warren. If we get home. Also since when can you hear what Jet is saying."
"Oh. Keita gave me a talisman which allows me to hear him. And Rhose....we’re going to get through this.", he says looking straight into my eyes.
"You can’t know that."
"But I can believe it."
"So..You were spending a little time with Keita this morning?"
Warren ignores me and walks out of the tent. He looks annoyed. I smirk happily.
"Fine. Are we going to the tavern today?", I say following him.
"Keita said she would bring us there"
"Good. Let’s get going", I say starting to move toward Jet.
"Woah. Woah. Slow down. The world isn’t on fire.", Warren says stopping me.
I try to go around him but he ducks in my way again. I start moving in the other direction. He again stops me.
"Sit down by the fire. Eat your oatmeal. And calm down with a spot of tea. Hm?"
"You’re intolerable.", I say rolling my eyes.
I sit down and Warren pours me a cup of tea. We eat for a while in silence. Keita walks over.
"You must come with me. I need to take you to the high priestess.", She says.
"Can this wait? We are eating.", Warren says.
"You can join the tribe as they feast around the great fire. That is if the high priestess approves of you. Come."
We start following her as she walks away.
"Ooooo. The great fire", Warren says.
I slap him on the back of the head.
"Ow! Hey what was that for?"
"For being so annoying today."
I run ahead to catch up with Keita.
"Hey wait for me.", Warren says.
Jet walks up beside Warren.
"You know you better start acting more respectful or else the tribe is not going to approve of you. They are a good ally to have. Keita needs to have approval of your stay with the tribe or else she would be punished greatly if they found her harboring you."
"Punished greatly. What does that mean?"
"Exile. It would be seen as a betrayal."
"I don’t understand why they are so skittish about this in the first place."
"You don’t? Their tribe lived near the towns in the west. They lived in the forests there which burnt down. Their tribe was much larger than it is now. Many people were slaughtered. Including my rider. Now you know."
"After my rider died, I could not stay in the tribe. I felt out of place. I went to the elders in order to serve them as a warrior. That is how I came to meet David and you know the rest."
"Was your rider a good man?", I ask.
Warren looks at me surprised that I was here the whole time.
"I thought you were up ahead of me"
"I was waiting for you. When have I ever left you behind?"
Warren looks down, smiling, and shakes his head.
"Yes. He was that and more."
We enter the site where the clan is having a bonfire. The aroma of food is in the air. People are sitting on the ground along with many wolves. People are eating oatmeal with maple syrup, dried berries, and wild plants like dandelions. These collected edibles are put in beautifully woven baskets. People look at us with suspicious faces marked with weariness. I see people with bows and arrows. An older woman appears wearing a gray cloak with the hood down. She has a triple goddess sign tattooed above her brow. The triple goddess sign shows the phases of the goddess: the maiden, the mother, and the crone. She is a lady of the moon and therefore of power. Everyone rises when they see her. Keita starts moving forward and the crowd spreads making a path. We follow her bashfully except of course Jet who is right at home. Beside the woman is a white wolf with ice blue eyes which show intensity and wisdom. The woman has a staff made of wood with a white stone glowing on the top secured to it by a root like structure. Everyone is quiet.
"What do you think of these two Aurora? Do you think they will pass the test?", I hear the woman whisper to the wolf.
"Me too", she says apparently agreeing with whatever the wolf said.
We stand before her and she looks upon us and smiles. She closes her brown eyes.
"Please. One of you step forward and take my hands.", She says.
I step forward first. I want to meet this lady who has so much power but seems kind. She is very protective of those she loves. I can relate. I take her hands.
"Oh my. The lady has stepped forward first. What soft and warm hands you have. You have energy rushing through you like fire. You have a strong heart filled with love. Yes. You will need that strength sooner than you think.", she says and then releases me from her grasp. I move backward watching her with interest. Warren steps forward anxiously and awkwardly takes her hands.
"My goddess. What are you so afraid of? Why won’t you let me in?"
"Well. With all do respect. Everything. I am afraid of pretty much everything."
"Not everything. You are not afraid to believe in a better future. You are not afraid to watch as the world changes and to watch over your friends so you can help them see what you see. I consider this a great gift. But it is not enough to convince me. You are still hiding from me.", She says.
"I will let you in but you need to promise me that what you see is kept private.", he says.
She concentrates on what Warren is letting her see.
"Oh. I understand. Well that certainly proves you’re a good man."
I look at Warren as he steps away from her and looks down at the ground. What was he hiding?
"Brothers and Sisters let us welcome our new friends with warm hearts beating like ours drums and wolves riding across the plain.", she says and the crowd cheers.
Drums begin to beat and a flute makes music fly through the air. People begin dancing to the music’s soft yet steady sound. We drink and talk for a while. Faces which were once stone cold begin to warm with red cheeks. The flames of the fires danced and I knew in my heart that David was safe. He was probably among people like this. As the wolves howled with glee and people jumped through the air, I could feel myself more content. I may be strong enough after all. I don’t need to pretend to be anymore.