Chapter 18 - SolaceA Chapter by Nataliya Maize
Without further hesitation they ran. Tree branches whipping against their faces as they slipped away down the steep incline of the hill...
Without further hesitation they ran. Tree branches whipping against their faces as they slipped away down the steep incline of the hill their camp rested upon. There was a loud scream in the night that echoed through the canyons. Keira gasped in horror. She stopped to look back.
In the distance just beyond the
ridge of the hill’s descent, two shadows stood motionless in the thickness of a
moonlit fog cover. One cloud-like and shapeless, the other the image of a man.
"Rozlend." Keira whispered as she studied their motions, her eyes tracing their silhouettes, wondering if this would be the last time she’d see her brother alive. Narinor tugged at her shoulder.
“Keira.” He called with no response. “Keira!” Her attention was jolted. “We have to go.” He spoke softly.
Keira hesitated, every inch of her being refusing to leave as she stared at the movement of shadows in the mist; Rozlend and the beast. Then, from a distance the sudden image of a fiery flame moved closer, racing towards them through the thick tree line.
Narinor tugged at Keira’s arm. They turned, continuing to race down the steep incline of trees, this time with Narinor’s hand outstretched; an invisible force curving the branches away from their faces as they followed the tracks of the wielders that left before them. The flame raced forward catching their speed. Keira turned again to look behind them, the burst was drawing nearer but the closer it came the less it resembled a flame. Keira stopped and squinted.
“Wait!” She urged, studying the figure.
As the image drew closer it changed and transformed. Keira squinted, her eyes once more.
“Keira! If the shade got a hold of him then he’s under its control! We need to leave! We need to go now!”
“How do you know that?! How do you know he’s under its control?!”
As the words spilled from her mouth a loud blast of flame raced through the night’s sky, crashing into the hollow trunk of a nearby tree. The blast landing within inches of their faces.
“Do you believe me now?!” Narinor hollered.
“Yeah, run!” she replied.
They continued racing through the dense forest. Flames crashing into each nearby tree that stood before them, bursting and cracking trunks into tiny fragmented shards. One after another Keira and Narinor dodged the bursts, ducking and weaving under and through clouds of flying debri. Narinor’s outstretched hand controlling what few fragments he could, pushing them in the opposite direction as they slipped through the riddled maze of ash and soot, attempting to follow what tracks were left by the wielders that had passed through before them.
“How far will that thing have control over him?!” Keira hollered over the roar of an erupting fire.
“I don’t know... a few miles maybe?”
“Miles?!” Keira cried.
“I’m not sure of its affect on wielders. We only know of the control they have over normal men.” Narinor ducked Keira’s head as another fragment shot across the night sky, skimming past the top of her skull.
“And Rozlend?” she asked.
“If Rozlend becomes controlled it won’t matter where we run, we’ll all be dead by dawn.”
“Then why sacrifice himself if he knows the consequences?!”
“He’s the only one of us strong enough to hold off the shade!”
As they reached the bottom of the hill Narinor frozen, searching the land before them briefly. Keira watched as his calm, steady, emerald-colored eyes surveyed the land with a cat-like swiftness.
“Look over there!” He pointed. “Just past the clearing. We should be able to lose him in those trees.”
There was a large opening of darkness beneath a canopy of several clustered evergreens, trees just thick enough to block out a majority of the moonlight traveling through them. They would fade perfectly into the darkness with no hope of Demetri discovering their whereabouts. Narinor glanced quickly behind them. Demetri had fallen behind, but not by much. If they waited any longer he would surely reach them and there would be nothing left but deadly confrontation. Narinor yanked Keira alongside him, and the two ran for the cover of the large evergreens.
“Come on!” He hollered.
“What about the others ahead us?” Keira asked.
“Their tracks aren’t far from here. We should be able to regroup with them once we lose Demetri. With any luck he’ll have snapped out of the creature’s hold with distance. And if not... then it really doesn’t matter, we’ll have to keep running away.”
It wasn’t long before they had lost Demetri completely. The thick forest of evergreens had supplied amply amounts of pitch darkness where only the slightest appearance of black shadows could be made out in the distance. Carefully Narinor directed them, guiding them through with the gentle glide of his hand, feeling the sculpt of the land beneath them as they took each step.
They treaded lightly, and slow, never speaking but for the occasionally nod of direction and confirmation. Gracefully they grazed over lifted tree roots, stumps, rocks, and thick moss beds. Narinor patted Keira’s leg to warn her of tripping. And the two kept an open ear as they paced through the darkness, never knowing what more lurked within the shadows. Slowly they made their way through the dense tree forest until finally reaching another second clearing. In the distance... several tall hills, one with a small grayish-blue cloud hovering over it and a small patch of thick trees, resting like a perfect storm. At first it looked natural, never causing Keira to take a second glance.
“See there?” Narinor pointed.
“It’s a storm.” Keira answered.
“No. It’s a sign.” He corrected her. “They’re waiting for us between the trees.”
“Syl?” Keira questioned. Narinor nodded.
“A fire would have been too obvious; it would have given their position away. Syl has the ability to control water, and in some cases... weather. There’s enough mist in the air for her to create the perfect storm. And with Bangor controlling the wind, I’m willing to bet he’s got them under the perfect tent as well.”
As they neared the hill’s peak, Narinor had been right. Syl had created her own perfect storm. A shower of warm, clear liquid dripped from the night’s sky in a gentle rain amongst the top of a thin membrane-like surface. A shelter of revolving air, moving so quickly it seemed only as if a large bubble rested within the midst of surrounding forestry.
Keira ran her fingers through the thin layer of watery tissue, piercing it as she watched its surface split in two. The downpour of rain streamed like a waterfall. And as she pushed her hand further she could feel the dry air beneath brush over the tops of her fingertips. Retrieving her hand she ran her fingers along the side of the orb, and in a moment of curiosity watched as the water cycled around the tips of her fingers, continuing to spin effortlessly and undisturbed around the width of the globe-like structure.
Keira turned towards Narinor. A slight smile of amazement crossed her lips in a look of enthused disbelief. Narinor smiled back and took her hand.
“Come on.” He nodded, gently guiding her through the orbiting sphere.
As they entered the campground Keira could see Syl, Bangor and the other surviving wielders in the distance.
Syl was perched effortlessly upon a large wooden log, chatting with another wielder whose face was blocked by the presence of a large green tent made of clustered tree leaves, and twine; the work of another earth wielder. It was as if nothing had happened. Syl’s small, delicate face showed no remorse or immediate look of panic as they approached. Bangor was sitting on the ground, silently overlooking a flameless fire pit as he listened to the words of the others speaking. It was hard to tell that either of them had been running for their lives, let alone controlling the surrounding encasement that disguised their position.
Keira and Narinor approached them slowly. As they did Keira winced in pain, grabbing her leg as it began to remind her of the lengthy distance of their travels with a sudden, dull, throb. As they reached the corner of the tent, Narinor froze and jolted, his hand thrashing his wand out beside him. There, sitting behind the cover of the makeshift tent was Demetri smiling brightly with a grim look stretched across his face.
“You two ... sir... are slower than molasses!” He joked, standing to his feet.
“And you were under the control of the shade the last time we met.” Narinor replied.
“Nah... I was never under the control of the shade. I just wanted to give you two a little... motivation.” Demetri smiled, shifting his eyes to the side in a wicked grin as he laughed.
Narinor paused. His eyes studying the arrogant smile plastered upon Demetri’s face and with a sudden twist he lashed out blindly, connecting his fist with the fleshy tissue of Demetri’s jawbone in one solid punch that knocked him flat to the ground with a loud “Oomph!”
“Ooouuucchh!” Demetri complained, rubbing his face. “What was that for?” He asked, attempting to pick himself up from the ground.
“What was that for?!” Narinor replied angrily. “You nearly ripped Keira’s head off her shoulders during your stupid stunt!”
“Oh come on! I was only playing!” Demetri cried, stretching his jaw.
Narinor huffed with impatient annoyance as he turned and walk away.
“Ha!” Bangor laughed abruptly.
“What are you laughing about?” Demetri spoke sourly.
“It’s just... it’s just so funny.” The dwarf laughed. “You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to do that, and there he is... the first to finally knock you flat on your a*s!” Bangor grabbed his stomach tightly in a final chuckle and picked himself up with a stretch and yawn. “Yep... I’m gonna sleep good tonight!” He smiled proudly.
On the other side of camp Keira saw as Narinor hovered over the edge of a cliff. As she approached she noticed the steep drop off overlooking the city of Durnshire. They had traveled in a near complete circle, hovering over the remains of Durnshire’s ruins. Keira felt her stomach tighten realizing the awful truth that lay before her. The city was lit aglow in fiery flame. Smoke filled the air from continual burnings, and she was beginning to believe that the chance of finding her family alive had finally come and gone.
Keira sat down hanging her legs over the edge of the cliff, grasping its ledge.
“We’ll find them.” Narinor comforted. But she knew the likeliness of such reality was near non-existent.
“And Rozlend?” she asked. Narinor sighed bending down to kneel beside her.
“If he’s not still alive... he would have wanted this at the very least... you... safe and protected to continue your journey.”
Keira pressed her lips together in a slight grimace lifting her eyes to the heavens as the tears became to swell.
“I don’t think I can do this alone.” She whispered in a soft voice, attempting to hold back the tears.
“You’re not alone Keira.” He whispered. “You still have us... me, Thomas, and Maedoc. We’ll find a way to get through this. Whatever it is that’s coming... we’ll find a way to get through this... together.”
Narinor held out his hand. Keira pressed her lips together tightly, and with a gentle smile and careful nod she placed her hand in his, overcome with a tearful solace. Slowly Narinor glanced up at the sky above them, and as Keira followed his emerald gaze there was a gentle downpour of soft autumn leaves that fell upon them, as smooth as a rose peddle and as graceful as a snowflake.
Keira smiled graciously. “I know we will.” She replied. “I know.”
© 2010 Nataliya Maize
Dreamscape: The Gatekeeper Chronicles
Moreno Valley, CA
About- When we were young, and life was different - Check out my websites: My Twitter: http://twitter.com/NMaize A.N.A. Twitter: http://twitter.com/anaw.. more..
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