And this ends our interlude with Karstrel…for the time being. 🙂 I’m super excited I’m getting this online…
When Karstrel awoke she felt pain in every bone of her body. She sat there under the heap and rubble of what was once her home. There was a piece of timber that weighed on her leg and one on her arm. Time passed and slowly the haze of pain that had descended began to fade. She didn’t know how long she was there, trying desperately to move. After her first couple of attempts she realized that the barrette was still in her free hand.In the middle of it, the blue stone almost seemed to shimmer in Karstrel’s eyes. A strange tension surrounded her, much like the one before. It pressed down on her and suddenly power shot up her arm, like a bolt of lightening and out of her mouth came an unearthly noise. The power overwhelmed her and she passed out again. She was wakened by a loud, shrill voice.
“Find the stone! Kill the girl!” the governess’ unmistakable voice carried across the large field of rubble. Karstrel sat up quickly and stared in shock. The beams that had hindered her before were gone. There was no evidence that they had ever been there, except for the pain that still plagued her. She looked around, slightly bewildered, then the governess’ voice startled her out of her reverie. She poked her head up to see what was happening and found herself staring at the foot of a very large man. Slowly, she sunk back down, biting her lip when her muscles screamed in pain.She huddled up under some of the wreckage and waited. Several times on of the many large men came very close to finding her small hideout. Night fell and still they searched. Finally the governess screamed for them all to return to their camp. Karstrel peeked out and saw them beginning to clear away the ruins silent, but efficiently. These men were like machines, they followed orders precisely and with speed. Just watching them clear away her home stole her breath away, but the realization that they would soon find her brought on a full panic attack. Her mind was numb with fear. This woman, this MONSTER, was willing to kill an entire household to find her, for whatever reason. Karstrel’s mind began to cool as logic washed out the fire of fear. Why would the governess blow up the whole house when Karstrel was in it if she wanted her alive? Shivers raced down her spine. She was supposed to die, with everyone else. Then why were they looking for her body? The wheels of her head churned, but were hindered by fatigue and shock. She heard the strange machine men getting closer and the barrette began to hum ominously, again. She looked out and saw that they were roughly twenty yards away from where she was. All of the men’s backs were to her and slowly she eased out of her hole. Her muscles screamed in protest. She bit her lip, trying to keep quiet as pain coursed through her body. She began to crawl, as silently as possible, away from the men and towards the forest. Every motion caused her pain. She reached the end of the rubble and began the slow descent down from the rocks. Gravity took over and she fell the rest of the way down, landing on her bad leg.
“AH!” she screamed in pain.
The noise attracted the attention of the men searching for her. They all came running towards her with speed and agility that would not seem possible. Karstrel sat there, paralyzed by fear. They came closer and closer until they were no more than one yard from where she sat. The men were excited they were so close to their prize. Then she was gone. She vanished right before their eyes. They all stopped, looking stupidly about them.
About a mile away karstrel was gently laid on the grass by a black-haired man.
“I’ll be right back. Don’t move.” And he was gone.
Karstrel immediately rose and limped in to the woods. She wasn’t going to sit around and just wait for another bad thing to happen to her. She was hurting all over, but was utterly determined to get as far away from there as she possibly could. She was about a half-a-mile into the forest when she saw a hut. It was small, made of straw and mud, and looked somewhat homely. Karstrel nearly broke down in relief at the sight of it. As she approached the door of the hut swung open and revealed a little old woman. She was ugly in appearance, covered in wrinkles and warts that were separated by the occasional mole. She was stooped over a little stick that served as a cane and was covered in black rags that hung from her body like curtains.
Her eyes were open wide and pierced Karstrel as she called out, “Who are you? Who is there?”
Karstrel gathered herself up regally and said, “My name is Lady Karstrel de Lunar, ruler of these lands. You WILL allow me to rest in your hovel.”
The woman stood there for a moment, silent. Then she cackled. “I do not know that you are who you claim to be. I shall not do as you command, for who be you to command me?”
“Look at me woman! While I may be disheveled in appearance, my eyes are like my mother’s, as silver as they were the day I was born.” She allowed the anger she felt wash over her fear.
“Are they indeed?” the woman’s voice was sly. “Well, I cannot tell, for I lost my sight long ago. And if you indeed be Maralyn’s daughter then I say you are nothing like her for your pride is great. You treat me, your elder, with no respect, young one.”
“Elder?” Karstrel took in the hag with eyes clouded by judgement. “I would be ashamed to call you that! You, who talks about my mother, as if you knew her! As if she would mingle with the likes of you.” Karstrel’s face showed her disgust.
“As if she would…” The woman cackled again. “She did come to me, quite often, young one. She came to me for advice and friendship. She saw me with true eyes, unclouded by pride and arrogance, as yours are. I will give you no rest here. Go on your way.” The hag retreated into her little house.
“How dare you!” Karstrel yelled.
“Your mother would be ashamed of you.” And the door closed.
All arguments drained out of her.It had been years since she had been chastised, more still since anyone had said what this wizened old woman had. She had always felt that her mother would have been proud of her and her accomplishments. She was the most graceful and acclaimed young lady in the queen’s court. A seed of doubt was in her mind and a piece of her confidence wavered.
She sat there staring at the door for a minute or so, then all her self-righteous indignation returned and she limped up to the door and tried to open it. She found that the door had been locked.
“Woman! Open this door immediately! I will not have you speak of my mother this way!” She continued to bang on the door, too preoccupied with her own suffering to notice her surroundings.
The man with the black hair stood there for a moment, watching her make a complete fool of herself. A sleek panther came into a patch of light behind him and growled lightly. He turned, caught the sight of it, and turned back. “Do you think we could just take the jewel from her and leave her here? I’m not excited at the prospect of traveling with her.” The panther stepped forward through the dark and shifted. There, where the animal had been, was a young man with red hair and eerie yellow eyes.
“No, we have to bring her with us.” He glanced at her as she continued to yell and hit the entrance to the hovel. “I doubt she’d give it to us anyway. She seems to be a most stubborn individual.”
“Indeed.” The man sighed and stepped toward her.
“I thought I told you to stay put.”
Karstrel quickly tuned, every muscle screaming in protest. “”You!” she backed away. “Stay away from me!”
He sighed and shook his head. If we wanted to hurt you, we would have.”
Out of the shadows stepped the panther, yellow eyes glaring unflinchingly.
“We.” He indicated the tiger of the night. “Leave the old woman alone. She’s dealt with your harping for long enough.”
Karstrel sneered at him. “You have no right to give me orders. I am a Lady of the Monarchy and as such I deserve your respect!”
The man smiled and bowed with a flourish. “Milady.” He smile mocked her and his eyes mirrored it.
“I am!” she whined stomping her foot and then wincing as pain shot up her leg. The panther growled a bit, sounding amused, and the man snickered.
“Oh, I believe you.” He winked at her. “I am Amikol, a member of the wizard community.” He bowed again. “And that,” he gestured behind him, “is my brother Peebles.”
She contorted her face and incredulously said, “THAT is your brother?”
“He changes his shape when he pleases.” Amikol’s grin grew. “It would be better to speak of these things in a more…secure location.”
“Absolutely not. I am not going anywhere with you…rogues. I don’t even know you.” She turned to limp away.
In that moment Amikol made a quick decision. Yellow sparks flew from his fingertips to her head and she instantly slumped to the ground.
“Was that necessary?” the panther inquired.
“Perhaps not, but it will be easier. We’ll take her back to the house and then go find the other.”
“Be careful with her.” The crone opened the door to her hovel and pierced Amikol with her blind gaze. “She may be a rude, selfish, ridiculous little elf, but she is of noble birth and should not be abused.”
“No fear, grandmother. We’ll treat her well.”
She nodded and retreated into the darkness.
Amikol gently lifted her and he was gone. The panther slinked back into the shadows and the forest became quiet once more.