Chapter 3 – Cursed part 3

The last part of Chapter 3.

Shanor arrived around midday to find his son deathly pale, laying on the cot with his leg wrapped.

“What happened?”

“He’s alive thanks to Nyri,” Qhanna said,” but you may want to have Quosia remember where her poisoned traps are in the future.”

It had been several weeks since the incident.

He sought her out in the cave in the woods being careful this time to watch where he was walking. Small shadow creatures danced along the cave entrance disappearing as he approached.

“You still have a limp.” She noted, without looking up.

He nodded, “But it is a better than what could have happened. Thank you for rescuing me.”

It was her turn to nod.

“I know it was foolish to follow you, but I wanted to see for myself how you rid the borders of the villagers.”

“Are you satisfied now you know?”

“Yes. I see why they fear you.”

She smiled knowingly, “They only fear what they cannot understand. The creatures you saw a moment ago are nothing more than an illusion.”

“But seeing them come alive is frightening.”

“Only if you let it be.”

He paused as if wanting to say more, and then stopped himself. She gazed at him with curious orange eyes. As if she was trying to probe his very soul for the question he left unspoken. He quickly decided to change the subject before she found out his true question.

“I am going to GoldenCity to trade soon if you would like to join me.”

“I will consider it.” She said returning to drawing  figures on the sand floor of the cave, with a slight movement of her fingers they came alive in the sand and then stretched to the cave walls moving.

He left as silently as he had entered.

The next day she appeared at dawn waiting at the outside of his hut.

“Ready.”

“I didn’t think you would come.”

She shrugged.

As they walked he made small conversation,”“Quosia was duly scolded as was I for tracking you. Qhanna commended. How did you know?”

“She a healer’s apprentice in her village, she has patched me up a few times.”

“You got injured?”

Her lips crackled into a slight smile, “I am not as immortal as Shanor believes me to be.”

“He fears you.”

“And you?”

“I know better than to track you.”

“Good. Qhanna is quite taken with you.”

He blushed.

“As you are with her.”

“She would be a good companion,” he admitted.” Since I have been refused twice, I now understand why, please forgive my foolish advances, you nor Kiera were meant for such things.”

“Qhanna has agreed?”

“I have not yet asked.”

“You should, your father would be pleased.”

There not was not a cloud in the sky to shield them from the heat radiating from the sun as they reached the stone walls of GoldenCity’s entrance. They walked along the cobblestone streets getting a few glances from some of the villagers, others simply went out of their way to avoid them. Shenlaer lead them into the heart of the city and there they came to the marketplace that was bustling with merchants, the carts and temporary stands filled with various baked and homemade goods. The air was filled with noises mostly of merchants advertising their goods. They headed towards the corner of the marketplace where a large wooden cart filled to the brim with bags of spices and piles of baked breads stood a hunchback of a man with beady eyes leaning heavily against his cart. A large nearly toothless grin appeared on the man’s face upon seeing them.

“Well, well, if it isn’t my favorite suppliers of animal skins.  What have you go for me today Shenlaer?”

“Skins and meat as always.”

“Trading for spices and breads again?”

Shenlaer nodded.

The merchant busied himself with opening various bags of fragrant spices, skillfully scooping measured amounts into small pouches which he placed in a bigger bag.

“I see ya brought a companion to-day.” He noted looking up with a crooked smile at Nyri.

The leader’s son blushed dispute himself.

The man chuckled, tying up the bags putting them to the side of his cart and then began to load loaves of bread into another bag. As he was handing over the bags of spice and bread loaves he saw Nyri’s eyes.  The smile disappeared instantly and he turned pale.

“By the Goddess.”  He whispered, crossing himself quickly, grabbing the skins from Shenlaer putting them on top of his cart and pushing it away from them, moving at such a clip that he bumped into a few other customers who expressed their disapproval loudly. He said nothing to them and continued on his way hobbling off as he went.

Nyri pulled the cloak over her face as they headed out of the bustling marketplace and into the city square. It was there they saw a familiar figure who was been sitting at the edge of a ruined stone water fountain in the city square. Upon seeing them the woman turned and approached.

“Nyri?”

“Kiera.”

“What you are doing here?”

“Trading.” Shenlaer supplied without being asked.

The former native scowled at him.

“Please accept my apologizes for being so forceful with you.” He cast his eyes down as a sign of submission.

A look of guilt swept across her features,” I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.”

He looked up hopeful, “Then all is forgiven?”

“Yes.”

“What are you doing here then?”
“I was hired as a bounty hunter for a pirate down at the docks. The pay is 75 gold.” She shrugged.

“More than you can make trading.”

“and with less effort. I see your arm is healing well.”

“Thanks to Qhanna.” He said blushing.

Something caught Kiera’s eye. “I better be off. I think I’ve found out where he is hiding.”

Dusk was falling in GoldenCity  basking everything in an orange glow. As they neared the city gates Nyri paused sensing something was amiss, the air was completely still and almost stifling.

“What is it?”

She frowned, sniffing the air. As if to confirm her suspicions, a sudden pungent smell hit them at full force. It was the stench of decaying flesh and old magic. Shenlaer gagged loudly covering his mouth with his hand.  She drew her sword and poked the air around her, the krisna were here, but they were cloaked. She muttered a quick spell of uncloaking and one of them came into view, it shrieked upon realizing it was seen drew its sword to block hers. She heard footfalls behind her thinking they were Shenlaer’s she turned slightly there were only more krisna coming towards her. She fought the first off, releasing the magic that held it to this world, its spirit returning to peace in the heavens. There were now five surrounding her and more coming from the direction of the marketplace, one of which was carrying something as they got closer Nyri saw the figure of a woman with golden hair. Suddenly her limbs grew heavy dropping her sword she was powerless to defend herself against the skeletal warriors that enclosed around her chanting. The last thing she saw was Shenlaer limping off into the woods.

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Chapter 3 – Cursed part 2

Chapter 3 – Cursed part 2

 

Daylight was fading by the time Nyri return. Stepping into her hut she found Kiera sitting on her cot with her arms crossed over her chest.

“Y’elt told me I was spared from a fate worse than death. What does that mean? And don’t tell me that being a H’enigh makes up for it now because it doesn’t.”

“You were a survivor of a massacre. What happened before that I cannot say.”

“You don’t know or are you keeping that from me as well?”

“You were nearly dead when we found you. Krisna were collecting souls of the dead and yours was next. I had to kill you to spare you from becoming one of them.”
“You killed me?!”

“I had no choice you would have become one of them.”
“Why didn’t you leave me?”

“And become a meal for them?”

“They eat the dead?”

“yes, they grain strength from the dead. I had seen enough of that for one night and brought you back. The unfortunate side effect was you losing your memories of your past life.”

“They couldn’t have just disappeared.”

“Nyri? Are you in there?” a timid male voice asked from outside the hut.

She opened it to find Shenlaer.

“My father wishes to speak with you.”

She nodded, noticing that the man cast his eyes down instead of looking at Kiera.

“I was just leaving.” She brushed past her mentor and elbowed Shenlaer’s good arm in passing him.

“What’s wrong with her?” he asked rubbing his arm.

“Bad day hunting.”

“Oh.”

She let herself be led to the leader’s hut and he parted the animal skin that hung in the doorway to letting her through first.

“Please come in, sit.” Shanor greeted

Shenlaer filed in behind her, taking his place next to his father.

“If only you had been born a male, I would have given you leadership of the tribe. But the tribe cannot be ruled by a sole female much less a non-descendant. But that is not the reason I summoned you here. There have been reports of a village that has recently started expanding into our lands; they need to be dealt with.”

She nodded and left slipping silently into the forest heading towards the cave. It was there she found Y’elt stroking a fire. Noticing the bandage on his leg

“You should stop going after cattle. We have enough sheep skin for the winter and beyond.”

“I was tired of deer.”

“Perhaps you would like to hunt a cow next time? I need to replace my boots.”

“Why not just go to the marketplace?”
“I would rather make my own. “

“kiera asked about her past.”

“What did you tell her?”

“The truth.”

“How did she take it?”
“As well as could be.”

“Did you give her memories back?”
Nyri was silent, focusing her attention on unraveling the cloth that covered her lower arms revealing the black writing that covered them.

“you didn’t tell her the truth.”
“She didn’t ask.”

Y’elt signed, glancing at the markings, “There seem to be more of them.”

“It just looks that way. Shanor has asked me to lead a raid in the early morning.”

“That is not the way to redemption.”

She shrugged.

“Signess will come for you soon at the rate you’re going.”

“You sound concerned.”

“I am. You can save yourself from you own fate.”

“Not much can save me at this point,” she tilted her head as if listening to something,” Kiera is packing up now to leave.”

“Aren’t you going to stop her?”

“No need. We’ll see her soon enough.”

She got up without another word and slipped into the dark forest.

 

Soon the dim light of the village campfire shone through the trees. When she was close enough to hear hushed voice she stooped down to the forest floor drawing in the ground with her finger and whispering. The drawings came to life and began to creep through the trees and into the villages. Screams and shouts soon followed. She turned away knowing her shadow creatures would die off soon, but horrors they brought would cause the villagers to leave that morning. Her skin stung suddenly she knew more markings were being added to the collection already on her arms. She waited a moment for the feeling to subside before pressing on.

She frowned catching a familiar scent; surely Shanor would not be foolish enough to send his son to track her. No, it would have been his own idea and a stupid one at that, she knew the woods as well as any forest animal. She threaded carefully while he stomped across the forest floor. He had narrowly missed a snake nest a moment ago and would soon be coming upon a trap a tribe member had set and forgotten.

Rusty metal creaked and a very inhumane scream was heard scattering the birds that had been rest in the trees nearby.

Pausing for a moment she considered leaving him there but in thinking the better of continuing she headed towards him .He who was struggling that had his shin firmly in its metal grip.

He tried to back away from her but the chain pulled taut and yanked on his leg.

“I will leave you here if you don’t stop struggling.” She whispered fiercely.

He froze as though a deer, letting her pull the metal pin that released the metal jaws to free his leg.

He immediately tried to stand up heavily favoring his injured leg..

“How did you know?”

“I was with Quosia when she laid out the trap. You’re lucky you didn’t fall into her sister’s pit traps. Lean against me, I’ll look at the wound when we get back.”

Reluctantly he did so, she seemed unfazed by his weight. The throbbing in his leg had steadily grown worse and had become unbearable by the time they cleared the forest.

“Stop.”  His teeth gritted against the pain. The full moon shone down on them she eased him down on a patch of grass and pulled a knife out from the side of her boot and cut the fabric of his pant leg off at the knee revealing the angry jagged markings from the trap. His leg had begun to swell grotesquely.

He tried to read her features, but found that her hooded cloak hide her face as well as her eyes.

“What is it?” He tried to read her features but found it impossible.

“Nothing you want to see.”

“Can you make it to Qhanna’s?”

“I think so.”

“Good.” She pulled him up, he was sweating profusely by the time they made to the Qhanna, the healer’s hut.

“What in Zoriena’s name-?” the woman asked, as they walked into her hut, but  upon seeing severity of the wound she immediately went into action, “let me guess another one of Quosia’s poisoned traps? That’s the second one this week. ”

Nyri nodded

“On the cot.”

Both women helped Shenlaer on the cot, propping up his leg which was now turning dark with slight hints of purple, the man’s lips were turning blue.

“I need that bowl near the table,” Qhanna said to Nyri then turned to her patient, “this will hurt.”

She took her dagger and poked the swollen skin around the knee pus began to drain from it, Nyri brought the bowl just in time to collect it.

They worked past sunrise applying pressure to drain the poison from his leg. Thankfully after about the fourth time, Shenlaer had passed out.

Chapter 3 – Cursed part 1

Cursed

Nyri’s dragon companion, Y’elt had grown to his full adult height of 12 feet with an impressive wingspan of 8 feet. In his years with Nyri two strange things happened; his human companion never seemed to age and he had learned the art of shape shifting taking the shape of a human man. He blended in fairly well save for his unnatural citrine eyes.

As for Nyri, she was  in charge of new captives converting them to the ways of the H’enigh and preparing them for their initiation. The latest of which she was watching her carefully as the woman took  up her bow and arrow targeting a squirrel. A branch crunched beneath a foot and the arrow was now aimed at the branch cruncher.

“You of all people should know better than to sneak up on someone like that.” The woman said annoyed.
“I want to speak with you in private if I may,Kiera.”

“Isn’t it bad timing to ask right before the ceremony?” her companion asked once  the leader’s son and Kiera were out of ear shot.

“To him there is no such thing.”

Nyri shot the arrow nailing a squirrel to the tree. Walking over to the tree she pulled the arrow out of the animal cleaned it off and was about to toss the squirrel when she saw the look in her companion’s eyes.

“Still not above eating squirrels are you?”

“They make a good snack between meals.” He shrugged.

With a sigh she handed it to him, “Don’t  let anyone catch you eating it in your current form.”

He nodded, taking the squirrel from her.

She headed back to the village where she found a very amused Qhanna who was preparing cloth bandages outside of her hut.

“Better watch out. Kiera’s in a mood.”

“Oh?”
“Apparently Shenlaer thought she would make a good wife and didn’t quite understand the word ‘no’.”

“I will talk to him.”

It didn’t take long to find him as he was attempting to clean his sword one-handed as his right arm was self-bandaged and bleeding.

“Allow me.” She said, taking the weapon from his hand, cleaning it and sharpening it against the sharpening stone.

“Did my father send you?” he asked suspicious.

“No.  He would be disappointed you are proposing to initiates.”

“The ceremony is tonight, I thought –“

“She has not yet been branded so even if she accepted by law you would not be able to ask until she is.”

“I didn’t want to wait.”

“Obviously. Your bandaging skills leave a lot to be desired. You will attract predators if you leave that be. Let me re-wrap it.”

He nodded, holding still as she expertly unraveled the cloth and re-wrapped his arm. He opened his mouth as if to speak but she stopped him.

“You know I cannot marry you. We were raised as siblings.”

“Who is the one that has your heart then?”

“There is no one.”

“Is it the one who follows you around with strange eyes like yours?”

Her eyes flashed dangerously, “There are others more eligible to be your wife than myself and Kiera. Perhaps you should ask them.”

Kiera lay on her cot in her hut fuming about Shenlaer’s audacity to propose to her.

“It is time.” A voice cut through her thoughts.

She turned seeing Nyri standing at the doorway to her hut.

She got up quietly and followed the woman to the outskirts of the tribe’s territory.

There stood seven other initiates, most of which were children there was another about her age a sturdy young man who stood facing the crowd of tribe members and their leader, Shanor who was holding a red-hot branding iron.

“You are all here today because you have been chosen to become a true H’enigh. Your  last test is to bear the scar of the tribe on your right arm. The right side of our bodies is the source of our strength. Not all of you will pass this final test. To cry out in pain is a sign of weakness we are the H’enigh, we do not show weakness even in the face of death. “

As the iron dug into her skin a memory surfaced, a city burning the smell of burnt flesh screams, destruction everywhere and someone pulling on her arm trying to drag her away from it all but there was something in the burning ruins of a castle she wanted to see…she blinked and the memory faded just as quickly as it had appeared.

Shanor’s gravelly voice brought her back to the present, “You are now a H’enigh. May your enemies tremble in fear for the Goddess of Death Herself will protect and guard you.”

As he moved to the next initiate, she looked down at burnt skin and saw the insignia of a bird; it was a hawk that symbolized the quickness as well as deadliness in which the tribe embodied.

She heard someone cry out, her attention turned to the small boy who was holding his arm where the hot iron had touched him tears streaming down his face.

The leader’s voice thundered, “If you cannot bear the pain of the brand then you cannot bear the pain of death with dignity. You have no place in this tribe.”

She saw movement in the corner of her eye, it was the boy’s mother who tried to move towards him to comfort him, but it was Nyri who held her back shaking her head slightly.

“Leave this tribe for you will disgrace us all.”

The boy turned to look at his mother one last time before two warriors approached him armed with spears pointing him towards the woods. He wiped his face with the back of his hand and walked out of the view of the tribe into the forest.

“Isn’t it a bit harsh to exile a child?” Kiera asked after the ceremony was over as the healer, Qhanna was bandaging her arm.

“It is punishment for showing pain.” She said softly, pulling the cloth tight and tying it off under her arm.

“He was only a child.”

“To be a H’enigh is to show no weakness. In showing weakness he proved he could not withstand a raid or grueling hunts and now has to survive on his own.”

“You can’t possibly believe he would last a day in those woods.”

The healer looked around quickly to make sure no one else was around and whispered,“No, there are others who have been exiled that live in the nearby villages. They will come and take him to safety to Noam.” it was then she straightened up and in her normal voice said,” your wound has been bandaged warrior, now go.”

She went to the cave that was a sacred place for her mentor. There was nothing but drawings on the floor and the smell of a spent fire. She bent over to get a closer look at the drawings hoping they would lead her to Nyri’s whereabouts when a voice broke her concentration.

“Looking for Nyri?”

She nearly jumped, looking up, it was Y’elt.

“Yes.”

“She’s out hunting. You seem troubled.”

“I want to know where I came from. “
“Does it make a difference to you? You are a H’enigh now.”

“I could have a family out there would you deny me knowing that?”

“You were spared a worse fate than death.”
“What do you mean?”

“That is all I am permitted to say. Talk to Nyri if you wish to know more.”

Chapter 2 – Fate Sealed part 3

Part 3 in all it’s glory.

“Where was she?” Aquil asked panicked.

“She was at a stream not far from here.”

“You told her not to control it and look what happens.”

“I told her not suppress it. She was not born a shapeshifter, Nae created her.”

“How?”
“Nae came upon a sickly child that was abandoned by villagers, both healers had tried to cure her, but the girl was dying. Instead of giving up, she merged a panther cub with the human baby creating Morishta as she is now.”

“Is that way she struggles with the panther side?”
“Perhaps,” Aeji said thoughtfully then noticed Morishta’s uneaten food,” she has to eat to keep up her strength.”

“She’s afraid that one day the panther will take over completely.”

“I believe that day will come soon if she gives up.”

“She won’t.”

“I would not be so sure of that.”

Determination crossed the young man’s features.

“How could she have gotten marked?”

“There are several ways to become marked by Signess. The most common is eating a tainted animal.”

“She doesn’t eat meat.”

“The panther must to survive. Unless…” he took a closer look at the markings on her arms following them up to her upper arm. She stirred watching Aeji as he checked the markings.

“Unless?” she asked

“You were using dark magic.”

“I used it only in the hopes that it would help separate me from the panther.” She defended

“You could have endangered the whole tribe.” He chided

“I was outside of the borders near the lake.”

“Even worse things lurk in the darkness of those waters. Signess’ servants are everywhere.”

“You don’t know what it’s like to be weak and sick your entire life.” She snapped, snatching her arm away from him.

“Is being an outcast worth it?”

“Death would be worth it.”

“You may very well get your wish.” He said returning to the woods.”

“What has gotten into you? He is just trying to help.”

“By treating me like a child? I don’t consider that helping. I’m tired of the lectures about how I should learn to coexist with the animal. I want her gone.”

He sighed, “Get some rest you’ll feel better in the morning.”

He settled into an uneasy sleep.

Aeji was just about to drift off when he heard an animals cries, running to the source he found the panther attacking an adult deer. The animal tried to kick away but was no match for the feline as it tore into skin. The very sight of this mindless butchering would have easily sickened his human form, but the wolf found it normal and stood in the shadows watching. The animal was gorging itself on the fresh kill when it bent down as if it get another mouthful when it began to shimmer turning human. The woman found herself encircled by the carcass and screamed. The wolf howled its ears hurting from the loud noise.

Aquil came running finding a horrific sight before him. In the middle of it was Morishta who was loudly throwing up chunks of raw meat as well as blood. He stepped closer to collect her. It was then he noticed the markings on her arms were to her upper arms now, darker and more of them.

“Morishta.” He said softly, trying not to spook her.

She looked up and him, her eyes rolled into the back of her head and he caught her just before her head landed. Gathering her up carefully and taking her back to camp. Laying her near the fire and covering her in a fur. It was then he spotted Aeji .

“She’s lost to us.”

“Why didn’t you stop her?”

“She can’t be stopped. We should leave Signess will soon claim her.”

“No, I am not leaving her in this condition. She needs help.”

Morishta began to twitch murmuring in her sleep.

“What’s happening?” Aquil asked frightened.

“Signess is invading her mind, causing her worst nightmares to come true. “

“Can we stop it?”

“No, she must fight it alone.”
“What happens if she doesn’t?”
“She turns to Him quicker.”

Aquil took her pale clammy hand in his as if to try to pass his strength to her. He whisper to her trying to calm her.

Aeji turn away with a heavy heart, “Do not lay too much faith in her.”

“Do you not trust her?”
“It is not her I distrust, but the panther. Signess is relentless and will break her.” He walked towards the woods then pausing as if an afterthought,” There is a cottage half a day’s journey from here.  She may be too weak to walk there herself, you may have to carry her. But you are both expected.”

“You’re Leaving?” he asked in disbelief.”

“ Yes, there is nothing more I can do here. You have crossed into Hagemage. You have made it this far, the rest is up to you.”

It was midday when she woke herself up crying, tears streaming down her cheeks her heart was racing. Aquil calmed her down, easing her into a sitting position.

“Hungry?”

She blanched at the sight of the bread, shaking her head.

“Where’s Aeji?”

“He left said there was a cottage not far from here.”

She looked into the horizon, tears started forming again.

“I can’t make it.”
“No, you won’t. If you fall in the snow, I’ll pick you up. I’ll even carry you if I have to.”

She looked at him, his face was sincere. The drained of the past few days crept into his otherwise young features.

“I’m sorry.”
“For what?”

“Putting you through all this.”

“ You didn’t put me through anything. I volunteered to go with you.”

“You could have stayed with the tribe.”

“I didn’t want you to be alone.”

“Thank you.” She took his hand in hers and squeezed it gently.

A moment later she was on her feet unsteadily using a nearby tree to regain her balance and they began a slow but steady trudge through calf deep snow.

They are almost at the cottage when Morishta drops down sweating despite the cold.

“I can carry you.”

“No.” He tries to reach for her but she pushes him away.

Her face twisted with anger , “I don’t want your help or pity.”

“It’s not pity I just want to help you. We’ll rest here then and when you’re ready we’ll continue.”

Her black hair hung low covering her face an evil laughter come from her,”You fool. Don’t you know it’s already too late?”

“What do you mean?”

Silence, he dared to step closer to her, gently lifting her head to his and brushing away the hair from her face. The dark circled were again under her eyes,  green eyes were slightly clouded.  They almost rolled back into her head, he shook her violently.

“Morishta, stay with me. We’re almost there.”

“ I’m sorry.” she whispered.

“It’s ok. We’ll make it.”

“No, you don’t understand, I can’t stop her this time. Save yourself. .”

And with those word Morishta’s eyes rolled into the back of her head and she fell backward into the snow. Her body began to shimmer taking the shape of the panther. Aquils’ heart thumped against his chest as he realized what she meant, he turned and began to run. Knowing full well the panther could outrun him and tear him to shreds, but the cottage was so close if he could just make it to the door.

His thoughts were silenced as he came upon a larger than normal grey wolf staring at him just before the walkway to the cottage.

“Aeji?”

A split second later his world went black.

Chapter 2 – Fate Sealed part 2

Fate Sealed part 2

Part 3 will be tomorrow and next week we’re moving on to chapter 3.


A scream pierced through the night startling him awake without thinking he jumped to action running out of this hut into the moonlit autumn night.  It was a few feet away that he  found the source of the scream it was Hazel who was being dragged out of her hut by the black panther. The woman tried to get away but it only enticed the animal to pull harder. He had to get the animals attention away from the healer.

“Morishta.” He commanded with as much force as he could muster to get the animals attention.  The animal stopped it’s attacked turning to him, it crouched down and snarled, leaping into the air. He closed his eyes readying himself for the worse, he heard a thud of something hitting the ground. Opening his eyes he saw the panther shimmer and turned into the familiar human form that was Morishta. The auburn wolf that had attacked her also shimmered, turning into Aeji who bent down and picked up the unconscious woman.

“Aquil,” a voice drew his attention away, it was Kai who was bending over Hazel trying to pick her up.

He obediently went to help getting her standing, inadvertently looking at the wound the panther had created, flesh hung loosely covered in blood and dirt.  They slowly walked her into the hut, easing her onto a cot.

“It’s not infected yet.”  Kai noted softly as she was cleaning the wound gently, washing the dirt away leaving only the skin and exposed muscle and bone.  Hazel gasped as the water touched the wound. Aquil looked away, it was then he met the eyes of Nae.   He walked towards her, knowing she wanted to speak with him.

“What provoked the attack?”

He shrugged,” I haven’t seen Morishta since last night, she mentioned going to the lake for a swim this morning.” He glanced at the woman in question worriedly, “What’s going to happen to her?”
“It is too dangerous for her to stay here. The panther has tasted human flesh.”

Looking at the unconscious woman in a mixture of guilt and pity he noticed black archaic writings on her arms.

“What are those markings?”

Aeji and Nae both examined them, sharing a glance.

“She has been marked by Signess.” Aeji said gravely.

“What’s going to happen to her?”
“Signess will claim her as a servant, the writings will cover her entire body and she will turn into a krisna.”

“Can she be cured?”

“There is rumor of mages in Hagemage  powerful enough that can possibly pull the darkness from her.” Aeji said.

“I will take her there.” Aquil volunteered.

“The journey is dangerous as H’enigh warriors often trade in Hagemage.”

“I do not fear them.”

“That is not the worst of it, the human will grow weaker with each passing day. The panther will no longer recognize friend from foe.”

“I will go with them, to make sure they reach Hagemage’s border.”
“Aeji-“

“It is the least I can do.”

The sky was an unnerving shade of red when Morishta finally came to after being out the entire day. She sat up slowly something felt wrong she couldn’t quite put a finger on what it was. In looking around she realized where she was and it was when she saw the healer laying prone on the cot beside her, she paled.

“What have a done?” she whispered to herself, putting a hand over her mouth.

“The panther attacked Hazel.” Nae stated watching the younger woman carefully.

“I thought it was just a nightmare. Will she be okay?”

“For the moment she is but she does not have the strength of the panther to aid in her recovery.”

Tears leapt to her eyes,”I didn’t mean to-“

“I wish I could believe that but you lost control of the animal and are a threat to the tribe.”

“Where will I go?”

“We are going to Hagemage.” A male voice said.

At the doorway stood Aquil with a bag slung on his shoulders holding another one.

“But-“

“There may be a cure there,” he said,” and I’ve already packed you.”

“It is a four-day journey from here, Aeji will follow you should you need him.”

Aquil helped Morishta off the cot leading her outside. There was a small crowd that had gather she could feel their accusing eyes on her. Her fists clenched in anger, how dare they judge what they don’t know. Aquil took her hand in his as they walked through the crowd and out of the village.

Aeji kept behind them in wolf form for the rest of the day, it was when they made camp he changed and assisted in getting the fire started while Aquil went to get firewood.

“Life is not that hard.” The kyti leader said upon seeing the old self-inflicted scars on her arms.

“It is when you can’t control the animal within.”

“But to injure oneself is going against the Goddess’ wishes.”

“The Goddess has forsaken me and my kinsmen exiled me.”

“You live because Nae nearly sacrificed her life for you, you should not be selfish in you suffering but selfless in it. You were created unlike the rest of us but that does not make us immune to the animal’s needs. We struggle but learn to control it, as you should have. She is a beautiful wild creature not a thing to be tamed and controlled.”

“I never asked for any of this.”

“No one does but we make the best of our fate.”

Aquil came back with more firewood piling it carefully onto the small fire. Once that it completed, he sat down and began to dig into his pack for some food. Handing Morishta two small rolls, she ate half of one in silence, giving him back the other and the half.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m tired.” She says then goes to one of the furs and wraps herself in it falling asleep.

Aeji watched the young warrior’s eyes follow the woman.

“Get some rest. I will take first watch.”

He nodded and settled on the furs close to Morishta.

At some point in the night Aquil awoke to soft fur and a low rumble of a purr, it lures him back to sleep. Aeji caught the sight of movement in the corner of his eye and followed as the panther slipped into the surrounding woods. He kept a safe distance between himself and the animal watching from the nearby bushes as it stalked and killed a rabbit and then took a drink from a newby stream. The animal shimmered turning back to hits human form.

The Kyti leader stooped down and picked her up, wrapping her in a fur and taking her back to the camp.

Chapter 2 – Fate Sealed (part 1)

Chapter 2 – Fate Sealed (part 1)

Fate Sealed

A figure hidden by the morning fog slipped into the woods leaving nothing but footprints in the dewy morning grass. The early morning sun peeked through the leaves and small branches of the forest as the figured moved on to its destination. The air was fresh and heavy from the previous night’s rain.

Her ankle length cloth dress soon became heavy with  dew as she crept past the other huts of the village that made of her home, escaping into the forest that was at the edge of her people’s territory.

She moved swiftly across the forest floor into the thicker part of the forest, through the thick branches that would have caught a normal person’s clothing. Heading toward the sanctuary she often went to as a child, a place only her and one other soul knew about.

Parting the branches of the trees, she revealed the sparkling waters of the lake that was the very cornerstone to the survival of her people, the Rothous.  It provided water for the plants and for the people, food and on this slightly chilly autumn morning it would give a relaxing bath.

She shimmied out of the dress, hanging it on the one of the branches and took a tentative step forward dipping her foot in. The water still held the chill from the night before, but to bathe in the fresh rainwater from the night before was worth it. She waded slowly into the water, a presence stirred in her mind it was the panther who rose for a moment and grumpily went back to sleep. A few moments passed as she moved further and further away from the land until she was neck-deep and  a ways from the bank where her dress hung like a cloth flag.

Disappearing beneath the water for a moment and coming back up her black hair plastered to her face, she brushed it away pulling it back and twisting the access water out of it. The sun was fast rising and soon some would come to collect water for the morning. She waded back to the shoreline reaching for her dress when a shimmer caught her eye. Looking down she saw a snake slithering slowly towards her. Normally she would have stepped back away from such a creature and let it continue on its path. But this one she felt was different as it was a dark purple almost black, she watched it wrap itself around her left ankle and climbed up to her calf. Its tongue sticking out occasionally feeling around its new-found territory.

The snake had a firm grip on her left leg and slowly reared its head and struck her with sharp fangs. The bite broke the trance and she kicked her leg up with all her might send the snake flying. She dared not look where it went for she was too busy trying to regain her balance and stumbled backwards for a moment. She grabbed  the nearest thing she could find to steady herself, it was her dress tearing it as she pulled it down with her.

The world seemed to slow down suddenly as a presence came forward from her mind, annoyed and awake the panther came forth and the human woman saw only darkness…

 –

As the afternoon began to fade into early evening, a tall broad-shouldered tan skinned man shifted his weight from one foot to the other in front of Morishta’s hut, it wasn’t like her to be late for the ceremony. The beat of drums and happy chanting filled the air. The sun’s orange rays were fading into the horizon of trees as the music and chanting grew louder.

“Morishta?” Aquil asked tentatively, daring this time to poke his head into her hut.

It was empty, stepping inside he found her blanket crumpled to the side of her cot. He frowned he hadn’t seen her since the afternoon before. Surely she wouldn’t have gotten lost unless she ran into trouble. He left her hut and went in search of Hazel the healer to see if maybe she had seen her.

He found her near the center of the village at the heart of the celebration. She was surrounded by eight wolf cubs who were playing with each other as well as the folds of her skirt. Noticing him she looked up and smiled, a fluffy grey cub growled at her and went for waist length brown hair, grasping it with tiny razor-sharp teeth and tugging.

“Ow.” She said, turning her attention to the cub, picking it up gently she and managed to get it to let go of her hair. The cub yipped in protest; she wiggled a finger in front of it.

“No hair pulling.”

It snapped it’s little jaws trying to catch her finger in its teeth without much success. Discouraged it wiggled itself out of her hand and landed with a soft thud on her skirt where it scampered off to fight with other one of its siblings.

“That one’s fiesty.” He noted, unable to stop himself from being amused.

“They slept most of the journey here, so they’re all full of energy now.” She supplied watching them play fight with each other.

“Have you seen Morishta?”

“I thought she was with you.”

His worry grew.

“I’m sure she’ll turn up.”

“I hope so.”

He glanced up from the wolf cubs and Hazel, looking across the large flames of the fire and saw his tribe leader with that of the visiting tribe, the Kyti. The two leaders were an odd contrast to each other, Nae with her small slim figure and long thigh length black hair and Aeji the leader of the Kyti, with his tall and muscular figure topped with ear length auburn hair. Their fingers entwined and she was leaning into him as though whispering.  He smiled at her and responded positively to whatever she had said.

Aquil felt a something tug at his pants, turning back to his surroundings he saw an all-black cub trying to get his attention.

“What is it little one?” he asked, bending down to its level.

The cub yipped and ran in a little circle in front of him. He sat down before it and it climbed into his lap curling up.

“Apparently that one likes you.” She noted.

There it stayed for most of the night until the fires had all but died out. He had kept a watch for Morishta  in case but gave up once the fires were out. He took the sleeping cub and handed it to  Hazel. She took it gently and led the others to her hut. He went to his passing Morishta’s one more time, peeking in to see if maybe she had slipped in during the ceremony.  The cot was still empty with a sigh he went into his hut and settled in for the night.

Prologue – Fire Child

as part of my new year’s resolution to finish a full story.. I present the prologue of book I of my story… it’s still untitled as of yet, but grab some coffee and enjoy! Let me know what you think.

=^.^=

Fire Child

She heard voices outside; they were unfamiliar speaking in gruff tones in a language she didn’t understand. Then she heard several footsteps several of them going around the cabin that was her home. She was too frozen with fear to get up from her bed to warn her parents. A knock on the front door and her parents whispering curious about what was going on , she placed a hand over her mouth to stop herself from screaming a warning for them to not open the door, but it was too late.

The following events seemed to happen near slow motion. The sound of the door opening, her father question the person as the door, her father’s voice being replaced by a startled gurgling noise, her mother screaming and it too was soon replaced by the same noise her father had made, shortly after that there were two dull thuds. She knew they were dead. A wave of nausea came over her. The footsteps came closer; she tried to move but found the muscles in her body unwilling to obey. Merely staring wide-eyed into the darkness, knowing that it would be her time soon to join her parents in the afterlife.

The footsteps stopped, turning and leaving. She inhaled sharply, knowing she had to get out of the house as soon as possible, unsure of when whoever it was would come back to finish the job with her.  Sliding out of the bed, her bare feet touched upon the bare ground, opening the door just  a crack she peered out, the front door was left open and with good reason as a figure came into view briefly, tossing a fire lit torch into the house and saying something to his companions.

The entire cabin was made of wood and it would not take long for everything to catch fire, she heard the fire crackling as if it was right next to her and could feel the heat of the dancing flames, turning she realized it was in her room as well. The intruders must have known she was in there and threw torches onto the roof.

She opened the small door to her room all the way and moved into the main room of the cabin, trying not to look at the faces of her murdered parents. As much as she wanted to stay with them and mourn, she knew her survival was more important otherwise she would be as good as they were, dead.

Tip toeing to the window she peered out carefully and saw with horror that the other cabins were on fire and saw the other intruders rushing by with torches, while others rushed by with their hands full of things she couldn’t make out in the darkness. But she knew it was from the village.

These intruders had come into her village and had ransacked and had every intention of building all the evidence along with all the people.

Anger filled her little body and she was determined to survive this, even if it meant cheating death itself to avenge her people’s death.

Distracted in her thoughts she didn’t hear the creaking of the roof as the wood gave way to the flames but felt the brunt of one of the beams as it hit the back of her head knocking her unconscious.

A male voice in her head awoke her, “Your death is not here little one. No, you shall have the revenge you seek. Fire cannot harm you, let the hatred consume you and be one with the flames. “Her eyes opened slowly and found herself surrounded by the fire, she shrank from it scared.

Fire cannot harm you. The voice repeated.

She mustered the courage to reach out to the fire, touching it. There was no pain. Only thoughts of vengeance filled her mind.

She pulled herself up and carefully made her way out of what the still burning remains.  The night was filled with smoke and flames; she ignored it moving unwillingly towards the top of the hill where she somehow knew the intruders were.

They were talking amongst themselves, sharing the spoils of what little treasures the village did yield. All but one, the silent warrior who sat on look out, he watched the hill quietly unsettled by some presence that lay in the village.

The girl smiled slowly, it was not the smile of a child but the smile of pure evil that would send a shiver through the spine of the most hardened warrior.  She paid no attention to her cracked and blistered lips knowing that her revenge was coming and she would be aided by an unknown force. A force of hatred and darkness that she had summoned after witnessing what these men had done to her home.

The warrior on lookout out held his spear close, knowing that something was approaching. A shadow of a figure was cast in the moonlight. It silenced the other men as they looked towards the hill crest, grabbing their weapons ready for whatever or whoever would soon crest the hill coming towards them

He caught a glimpse of the figure before the others did, but that didn’t settle the uneasiness in his stomach, something was wrong. It looked like a little girl, a possible lone survivor of the village they had just razed but before he could stop the others they rushed upon her. He could only watch in horror as they were all set ablaze. Screaming and hollering for mercy, trying to put their burning selves out not noticing that the girl had slumped into an unconscious pile.

That was when the warrior knew whatever power the girl had wielded had subsided leaving her nothing more than a lone survivor of the raid. He approached her while the others running around trying desperately to douse the flames. Bending over the girl, he noticed immediately the markings on her arms. Scooping her up in his arms, determining there and then she would be taken in by his tribe. This girl would easily grow into the powers she had been granted and would be a force to be reckoned with.

He whispered a name to her.“Nyri.”

The word meant fire in his native tongue.

“You will be a force to be reckoned with.” He said to her softly carrying her to the village.

The sun had reached its zenith  by the time he had returned to his village, one of the tribes healer’s was waiting for him.

“Where are the others?”

“There were no survivors, save for this girl and myself.”

“Bring her into the hut so I can look at her.”

He did, laying her down on a cot. It was then he related the story of how he came across her. The healer took to examining the girl and found  black archaic writing on her inner right wrist. The girl awoke suddenly and snatched her wrist from the healer, scrambling into a sitting position. Pulling her knees to her chest,  eyes darting around the hut looking for an escape route.  She found none but remained in that position.

“Those eyes!”

Shanor nodded“I thought it was just a reflection last night.”

“She has truly been marked by Signess. You must take her to Niaras.”

“Take who to me?” the leader of the tribe, Niaras poked his head into the hut,”I heard Shanor had made it back with a captive.”

The warrior related the story a second time. Niaras nodded after hearing the story and took a look at the girl who stared back at him evenly. He saw the fire that raged within her.

“She has indeed been marked by Signess and  will be a deadly enemy when she unleashes her full powers but a formable ally if she stays. Since she was put in your path Shanor, I find it in her best interest to leave you in charge of her care. But be warned her powers will grow increasingly stronger as she ages. Do not mistake stubbornness for weakness.”

Shanor nodded and with that Niaras left.

A week had passed trees bare cold settling in. She found herself running towards the woods, unable to deal with the amount of knowledge she was expected to take in, words, lessons, all floated around in her head and worst of all was the teasing. As much as she wanted to fight back she found herself frozen with fear as they teased relentlessly about her eyes and how much paler she was and how much smaller she was than the rest of them.

She in the thick of the forest she found a large cave, stepping in she found the air cooler than outside. Any animal in the cave would be better than the cruelty of the other children.

She found a stick and began doodling symbols that came to her mind on the sandy ground the figures came alive slowly becoming shadows on the cave wall and then dying out. She heard a rustling noise behind her, turning she saw a small dragon trying to spread it’s leathery wings but they were covered in egg shells.

She watched amazed as it made a noise as if in annoyance as it tried to clear the egg shells off itself it managed to get a few off but there was one out of reach it could not get. It hopped nearly in a circle trying to get of the shell she giggled it stopped and looked at her curiously and hopped towards her.

She felt no fear outstretched her hand to it as it stretched its neck to her sniffing her and then hopped closer making a noise as if a question as it turned around and flapped its wings.

“Of course.” She said responding to its question and took the  last few bits of shell gently off its wings.

It turned around and made the noise again as if in thanks and then another question.

“I’m Nyri. What’s your name?”

A response.

“Y’elt?”

A positive reply and it spread it’s little wings in attempt to take off, flapping them but nothing happened.

“Maybe your wings aren’t strong enough.”

An annoyed reply.

“Where’s your family?”

It looked around as if just noticing it was the only one of its kind, it hopped towards the other egg shells that were left examining it as if it has missed out on something.

A sad response.

“It’s ok. I’m alone too.”

Her stomach rumbled and then his he seemed to be startled by the noise.

“I’m hungry.”

Agreement and a slight flapping of the wings.

“What do baby dragons eat?”

A response of excitement, wings flapped.

“Fruit? I know where to get some.”

A question.

“No one’s going to harm you if you’re with me. Come.”

She held out her hand at the dragon and it crawled her hand to her arm to her shoulder where it sat, its tail curling around her neck.