I am a crazy person. Here’s the second update in two days for this story…*wipes fevered brow* I’ve been typing like a maniac. Karstrel’s part is new. I came up with it as I was typing because I got a little tired of the wilderness and nobody else but my little gang. Some greedy villagers seemed like the thing to do. Plus now they have a real enemy, not just Amikol coming to kill them all, but the Governor/ess on their tail with an army to tear them limb from limb. I’m exaggerating. A little. I also made Jeb less of a nancy and more of an…well donkey-like person 😉 I feel so powerful and evil. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Okay, now back to our irregularly schedule mania fest…
Korle ran as quickly as she could, her brain was turned off to anything but the one thought: Get away, faster! Keep running. This thought circled through her mind. There was no warning, he just appeared in her path. She stopped short fear washing over her.
“Give me the stone Korle.”
“Where’s Peebs?” She longed to look behind her, but feared that AMikol would strike if she did.
“Dead. Or he will be soon.”
She swallowed and took a deep breath, ignoring the tears that threatened to pour over. “Why are you doing this?”
“To keep them safe.”
“They would have been safe.” She said. “Why did you take us out here?” her mind started up again.
Ami chuckled. “Just give it to me.”
“What happened to you?” She saw the madness in his gaze and feared it.
He sauntered toward, as a lion to prey. WIth every step he took more panic entered her. And as the terror crept into her heart, the wind picked up. It got stronger and she heard a whisper. RUN. And so, without hesitation, she turned to run and saw that the clouds had darkened and a small smile crossed her face. That second of realization was all it took for Ami to be in her way again.
“You can’t escape.”
“Perhaps not, but I’ve been practicing a few tricks.” She grasped her gem in a vice grip, concentrating. A second later a tornado ripped from the sky, landing loudly behind her. Amikol stood, completely in awe for one moment. Korle turned and ran straight into the center of it. THe twister was already pick up stones, dirt and trees. AMi weighed the option of going in after her, but feeling the wind tug at him, pulling him to death, he turned away and was instantly gone.
Korle let go of her pent-up breath. She turned and walked, int the center of the tornado, back toward Ami. The first few steps startled her as the whirling wind moved with her and she went farther than ordinary steps would have taken her. However, after a bit she loved it. It gave her power, something she had never experienced before. She quickly arrived at the site of Ami and Peebs little battle. Her heart was gripped in fear. What if Ami had come back to finish Peebles off? For before her eyes was an empty stretch of land, no panther or man in sight. She grabbed her stone and tried to stop the tornado. Unfortunately, nothing happened. She concentrated a little harder. Nothing happened. The force of the wind was tearing up the plants and pulling up all the trees. She started to get worried. This was out of control.
When Karstrel awoke she found herself on a rather uncomfortable bed, with aches and pains all over her, but of a rather more agreeable nature then when she had last been awake. She opened her eyes the moment awareness hit her and looked around her surroundings. She appeared to be in a small hut made of some sort of mud substance. She grimaced at the stench as she slowly, so as not to become dizzy, sat up.
“Where am I?” Her voice was more of a croak then a melodious noise and she was appalled at the state of her once gorgeous dress.
“You awake then?” Came a voice from outside her small room. The door opened and a rather robust lady came in carrying a bowl of something that made Kars’s mouth water.
“Ah, I can see that you are.” Her voice was low and had a rough timber that likened her to Karstrel immediately. Kars nodded not trusting her own croak until she’d had some water.
“I expect that you’ll be wanting something a bit more refined than this stew, but I figur’d that you ought to get some good food in ya a‘fore you continue y’ur journey.”
Kars nodded again, thinking that she’d sell her own soul to eat whatever it was in the kind lady’s hands. The bowl was put on a little table beside the bed, where a jug and cup was waiting as well. Karstrel looked expectantly at the woman, expecting her to pour the water.
“If you be needing anything else, just holler. My husband and I’ll come as soon as we can.” And the door was shut again.
Karstrel swung her feet off the bed and noticed that they were bare. Then she gasped as she realized that her precious stone, was gone. She quickly searched her person, but it was no where to be found. She remembered holding it as she passed out on the forest floor. Her new hosts must have it, along with her pack. She had a sense of loss, almost as if she had lost a hand or foot. She stood up, a little dizzily, determined to get it back when her stomach rumbled, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten since they left the snug little cottage.
And how long ago was that? She grabbed the bowl and dug in as lady-like as possible under the circumstances. She poured herself a cup of water and gulped it down, then another, then a third. When she had finally quenched her thirst and felt as though she was full for the first time in days. She opened the door and took a tentative step outside of her small room. She walked down the hallway and entered a rather large room. As she looked about she realized that this was a bedroom, which made her own temporary space look like a closet of some sort. The bed looked much comfier than the one she had lain on and the whole room was well-lit by a cozy fire in the fireplace. She quickly walked toward the door of this room and walked into another room. This room had a blazing fire in the middle where a pig roast on a spit. The pig was manned by a boy of about twelve or so, who spotted Kars immediately and yelled, “MUM! GIRL’S AWAKE!”
Karstrel pulled herself up to her full height, outraged at being called a “girl,” but had no time to speak. The older lady from earlier bustled out of what looked to be a kitchen of some sort, carrying a rolling pin covered in flour.
“Oh, no. Back to bed missy. Gather y’ur strength. You’ll need it for wherever it was that you were ‘eading to.”
“I will momentarily. I would like to know where my belongings are. It’s very important that I have them.” She was instantly scared of this bulky woman, who, in that moment, looked like she would like to brain the dainty lady with the pin in her hand.
“Your belongings? Ha!” The woman chuckled for a moment. “Think it doesn’t cost money to take care o’ you? We had to look after ya for three days and make sure that you were alive! That’s one child that canna go out and work on the farm. That’s money from our pockets. We took ‘your’ belongings as payment. Not as if ya didn’t steal it anyways…” the woman trailed off as she looked into eyes the color of steel.
Karstrel glared at the woman, horrified that anyone would treat her in such a fashion.
“I beg your pardon, but I did not ASK you to help me in any way. I am grateful that you took me in and nursed me back to health, but stealing my things is unacceptable. I will have them now, ALL of them mind you, and be on my way immediately.”
The glare of death may have frightened her a bit, but the woman didn’t back down.
“It was money and resources from OUR pockets that kept you alive! You should be grateful that y’ur here at all! If it weren’t for my Thomas you’d have been dead or worse!”
“What, pray tell madame, could possibly be worse than death?” was the cold response. “I suppose if I had died, you still would have stolen my things and acted like no more than the lowly scavengers you are.” Her entire manner was like frost; the iciness descended on the house like a plague and swept over everyone. A strange, harsh, steel-like humming filled the air and unnerved the boy and the woman. The boy felt a chill go down his spine and slipped out an entrance on the side.
“We need some form of payment for our time and energy.” The woman insisted, though she was now incredibly pale.
“Give me. My things. NOW.” It was an order, with a threat that would imminently be delivered should it not be obeyed.
“What of my lil ones? We canna have them starve!” Her voice was many octaves higher now.
“It does not look as if they will go hungry.” This was said through gritted teeth with a meaningful look at the roasting boar. Kars was beginning to lose her patience rapidly.
“Well…” the woman glanced at the pig then back at the terrifying young woman before her. She hastily made her decision and went back into the kitchen, returning with Karstrel’s pack. As it returned to her hands the anxiety that had been resting in her gut lessened a little, but as she searched through it and found no signs of her valuable rock, it returned.
“Where is my stone?” She tried not to let her apprehension seep through her voice.
“I dunno what y’ur talkin ‘bout.” The woman was clearly lying, but held fast to her position.
“I need that.” Kars’s voice went up octaves, and the humming got louder.
“I dunno what stone you be wantin’!” the woman practically shrieked as Kars took steps closer.
“Yes, you do. Give me. My stone. Now.” This time her voice got lower, softer, but it sounded far more dangerous.
The woman was practically in tears. “All right! All right!” She rummaged through her person until she finally pulled out a small blue stone and held it out in trembling hands. “Take it! Please!”
When it was in Karstrel’s hand again, a sense of peace washed over her. She closed her eyes and swayed in relief.
“WITCH!” the woman shrieked and ran out of the fire room. Kars’s eyes snapped open as the door to the small cottage shut. She shoved her stone into the secret pocket in her pack, shouldered it, and ran out the side door the boy had gone out. She saw the shelter of the woods and ran in that direction, hearing the sound of pursuers behind her. She reached the trees and turned as an arrow swooshed by her. She turned, eyes wide and saw that her attackers were all men, armed with various farmer’s weapons; pitchforks, picks, shovels, knives, and two men with bows and arrows. The young boy was leading them. Kars screamed and carried herself further into the forest. As she ran she began to look for shelter of some sort. A tree with low branches or little valley would do the trick, but there were none. Then she felt a hand grab her and she opened her mouth to scream again, but the sound was muffled, by another hand. She tried to look down, but couldn’t see a thing but the forest floor and the trees ahead of her.
“Do not make a single sound.” Warned a rough voice in her ear. “If they hear you, we are dead.”
She nodded slowly in reply, unwilling to breath lest they be heard. The hand was removed and Kars stood paralyzed as the men from the village ran past the spot where they were hiding. They stopped a ways ahead of her and began to mumble, unbelieving and looking around.
“Check the trees!” yelled one man and they all began to look up and down, spreading out throughout the green.
“Come on.” The rough voice spoke again and dragged her backwards a bit. She stumbled and nearly fell, but was caught by her unknown benefactor.
“Careful.” They took steps backward slowly until they were a good distance away from the men who continued to search. Kars turned to thank the person, but saw no one. His hand was still on her arm, and she was alarmed to find that when she looked down at herself, she saw nothing there.
“What on-” her statement was cut off by that hand again.
“Do you want to get us killed?” he whispered. “Don’t talk!”
“Mmmhm mmmmm!” She whispered against his hand.
“No noise.” He whispered again, serious. “We have to keep going farther until we can really talk. Come on.” And this time he dragged her forward, releasing her mouth. However, she was unable to talk because she could barely keep up with him. It took her a moment to gain her balance behind the invisible man and after she did, she remained breathless as he loped off into a run of spectacular speed. The speed was made remarkable because he did not slow down as she ran behind him, but merely dragged her if she stumbled and went a bit faster when she finally gained her footing. He did not stop once, but sprinted for about fifteen minutes before allowing her first break. Jerkily, he let go of her. She fell straight down on her face, breathing heavily, her face coated in tears. It took her several minutes to catch her breath.
When she finally did she asked, “Who are you?”
The question remained unanswered, because as soon as he assessed that she was ready, he grabbed her hand again and began to sprint, dragging her behind him once more.
“Please…stop…” She begged, but was ignored. Her trip with Amikol had been bad, because he had used the stone and gone speeds that no human had gone before, but she hadn’t realized how easy that trip had been made because of the magic. They continued on for another fifteen minutes or so then he let go, permitting her to fall to the ground again. This time she scraped her hands as she hit the gravel. When she looked up through her water-logged eyes she realized they were by a river.
“Might…I…drink…some…water?” She spoke through heavy breathing as her body forced the oxygen in. The trip had made her throat raw.
“Quickly.” Was the short answer. She looked about for where her dictator stood, but did not see him anywhere.
She stumbled down to the bank in a state of perplexity. Where was this man who seemed to think that dragging her through these woods made good sport? She drank the water greedily, unable to restrict herself to the decorum that was usually required in such situations. Once she’d had her fill, she turned and stared directly into fierce green eyes.
“What do you think you were doing in there?” Asked the young man before her.
For a moment she was rendered speechless. She stood staring at a rather short man with longish black hair. His looks would have been charming, but for the wickedly nasty expression that marked his face. There was also a scar that looked fresh that covered the left side of his neck. Her bewilderment must have shown because the man took a step closer and repeated his question.
“What do you think you were doing in that house?”
“Wha-What?” She replied, shaking herself out of her revery. “I was…I was…” What had she been doing? “I was getting my things. And leaving. That’s all.
“You used your stone! You might as well have shrieked your location to the rebels and to anyone else who is looking for the lost Nomorims! They’ll have heard about these ‘strange occurrences’ by nightfall and be scouring these woods by morning!”
“What are you talking about?” She replied, her pride reappearing with a vengeance. “I didn’t use my stone, not on purpose! I can’t help it sometimes! And who do you think you are to yell at me and criticize me for what happened in there! It’s not like you were much help.” She shivered, and looking down realized that her dress was in tatters, the bottom half of the skirt had been completely torn away.
“I did not save your life only to have you throw it away because of your stupidity and ignorance.” He snarled. She glanced up quickly.
“That was you?”
“What, did you think you had a guardian angel of some sort?”
“Well, no. Of course not. But I didn’t think that my healer was…” she trailed off and looked down again. “I have no desire to fight with you…right now. I am sorry that I used my stone, I wasn’t aware that I could without holding on to it.”
“What?” It was his turn to be slightly bewildered.
“They took it from me. I got angry. I scared her so much that she gave it back to me, it must have been the power of the stone.” Awareness flooded her. “How did you know I had a stone anyway?”
“You think you’re the only special person around here?” he growled looking back the way they had come.
“You…yours is invisibility.” And that knowledge confirmed her suspicions and any lingering doubts she had about her initial impressions of the man.
“Maybe.” He seemed wary of her suddenly, as though uncertain what she might do.
“Maybe?” she smiled. “It is. It has to be, that’s why the men ran past us and why I could never see you.”
Before she completed the sentence he was gone, like so much smoke.
“Wait!” she shouted and ran back up to where he had stood, but it was no use. He could have been there avoiding her outstretched arms easily as she tried to find where he might be. Or he could have run off. Either way she found that she was wasting time by trying to find him and finally gave up.
She turned and continued to walk through the forest, going for hours with little rest. She couldn’t help but feel that those villagers were right behind her, or worse, Amikol was. The other Nomoree’s words came back to her again and again, “You might as well have shrieked your location to the rebels and to anyone else who is looking for the lost Nomorims! They’ll have heard about these ‘strange occurrences’ by nightfall and be scouring these woods by morning!” Her heart sounded even louder to her ears as she thought about who might come looking for her by morning. Amikol was actually the least of her worries, but the most immediate threat, because he was closer. That she knew of. The Governess was a much bigger, more horrifying prospect, but Kars didn’t know where she had gone after attacking her the first time and so pushed her to the back of her mind and worried about other things for the present. Like where she was going to get her next meal. The food in her pack was gone, but she still had her knife and her canteen, which she filled with water by the stream that she was now following. She didn’t have the heart to kill anything, so on the first night she went to bed hungry and continued on that track for two days. She didn’t stop much for sleep, one or two hours at the most before she was up and moving again. In the middle of the third night, she found herself at the end of the forest and looking at a huge plain. For miles, all there she could see was grass. Long grass, tall grass, impossible to walk through. She glanced back into the darkness of the trees and felt eyes watching her. In her head she saw Amikol, waiting for a vulnerable moment to attack and try and kill her once more. Despair washed over her as she looked back at the plain.
“Death,” she whispered. “Come quickly.” And she walked out into the long reeds. They bit at her legs, leaving long scratches and welts. After three feet she turned to look longingly at the forest, where the floor was relatively damp. Then she heard voices in the trees. She turned and ran through the reeds, allowing them to tear up her legs as her fear drove her.
It wasn’t long before she collapsed on the ground, tears streaming down her face.
“I can’t do this.” She whispered. A snapping sound cam from behind her. Her eyes grew and she looked back, but there was nothing there. Shakily she stood and braced herself.
“Invisible man?” She called out into the night. One moment there was nothing, the next he was standing before her.
“Hi.” He looked a little sheepish.
Fiery righteous indignation took hold of her and her stance became like that of a queen. “Stay back.” Her tone had become icy and her eyes were like steel, unforgiving and cold. They froze the young man to the spot.
“I’m sorry.” He spoke quietly, differently from before. “I did not mean to act so…rough. I was afraid that they would find us and kill us. I’ve been on the run for some time and I assume that you have as well. It was a life or death matter.” His eyes seemed kinder than before, but Kars refused to be beguiled by the man.
“Who are you?” she asked him again.
“My name’s Jeb. I don’t usually act like such a…beast. Sorry.” This time he blushed a little and a little of the anger that she harbored fell away, but not much.
“That does not answer my question.”
He smiled. “I’m a friend.”
“Well, that’s difficult to say. You healed me, saved my life, once. Then you let strangers take me into their home and steal my most valuable possession.”
Argument crossed over his face, but he was given no opportunity to speak.
“Then you saved me again when they came after me, after which you ran me to the ground, literally, twice before…scolding me as though you were the king himself and had any right to do so.” Her voice remained almost neutral with just enough sting to let him know that he was on a fine line. “The running nearly killed me. And now you’ve been following me for what, three days? While watching me starve, which might also kill me. So you can see why I’m confused. You rescue me at critical moments, but seem to enjoy my prolonged suffering.”
“You needed help.” He ran his hand through his hair. “And so I gave it to you when you needed it most. How was I to know that they would take your stone? I am sorry that I got angry at you for making a ruckus, but the running…well, we needed to get as far away from them as possible. They would probably search for a long while before giving up and we needed the time because I knew that the Governor would come looking once he heard about it.”
“The Governor?” Kars kept her eyes on him. “Don’t you mean the Governess?”
“The Governess has been out of the province for weeks.” He replied. “The Governor took her place here a couple of days ago. He’s been waiting to hear word of where the stones might be.”
“How do you know that?” She began to back up reaching into her pack for her stone.
“No!” he realized what she assumed as he saw what she was going for. “I didn’t-I’m not…they attacked me! Wanted my…family heirloom. Drugged me and took me away to find out where I hid it. I only know he’s around because I saw him when I was watching you. You were within a mile of each other and you were completely unconscious. I heard his men talking about the Governess.” He talked fast, almost as if he were scared of her, or what she might do.
What will happen to Jeb? Will Karstrel magically find out how to use her power and gain discipline? Why the sudden change of heart/character in “Jeb”? Does he have multiple personality disorder? Will he disappear and leave her and her scabbing legs alone once more? Tune in next time to find out!!!