Chapter Two: Fleeing In The Night

Chapter Two: Fleeing In The Night

A Chapter by Greystone

The call of the mob's leader was obnoxiously boastful, as though he had all ready succeeded in the grim task appointed to him and his men. From the window, Mirage eyed him with a feeling foreign to her: total hatred. It coursed through her like an ancient power, and every inch of her heart wanted her to pummel the living day lights out of him.

 

Her mother's strong, clear voice cut into the smother blanket of silence.

 

"Henry," she said evenly, "take your father's cloak when you go." Despite the strength in her voice, her hands trembled nervously.

 

All ready, the stench of Susan's and John's deaths were agonizing her trained Stormbringing senses. Henry looked first at his bent, stern mother and then at his young, angry sister. Mirage was practically glowing red, from her head to her toes. After a moment, he nodded.

 

"Alexi, Violet," he said, his gruff voice as solid as the mountain on which the little house stood, "Go and grab your favorite toy and a blanket, and go now."

 

"Why?" Violet replied (haughty as always) eyeing the approaching mob through the window suspiciously, "Are we being robbed?"

 

Alexi gulped, clutching at his favorite bear tightly. "But.. but... Mummy, Gyk and I don't want to be robbed!" He sobbed, tugging at Sariel's dress with his chubby fists, "Why isn't daddy getting them?" The other four grew quiet, but Alexi did not notice. Henry buried his face in his hands.

 

"WHERE'S DADDY!?" He screamed, stomping his foot. For the first time in Henry's life, Sariel Stormbringer broke down. Tears streamed down her cheek like rain drops from the endless sky.

 

For a long moment, there was only the empty silence.

 

"Those people are not going to rob us, Alexi," She said finally, "We're going to play hide and seek with them." Sariel sounded defeated, exasperated. Hopeless. Mirage unknowingly followed her mother's example, but she wiped away her tears hurriedly with her hand. Henry's eyes were blank as he waited for his mother to say, for he was well aware that she would speak only when she was ready.

 

"Go, now, Alexi. Violet. I love you both." So she hugged her two youngest children, and they left. Sariel turned to her oldest children next. "I cannot go with you, Henry, but watch your sister."

 

"NO!" Mirage screamed sharply, "Mother, you can't stay here! They'll completely destroy--"

 

"Do not tell me of the intentions of those... those monsters, Mirage, for I saw it far too well a moment ago!"

 

"How could you have seen it?" Henry cried, angry, "How can you see ANYTHING!?"

 

"I felt it," She said sadly, "I felt his life leave the earth, as Mirage did. Stormbringers can sense emotional storms, as well as coherent ones."

 

Henry glanced at his mother quizzically, she had never been known for giving away un-needed information. He was most certainly no stormbringer, and he wondered why he would possibly need to know about what stormbringers could feel. He did not ask.

 

"Mother, I forbid you to go!" Mirage said, taking on the tone she occasionally took when Alexi or Violet were being particularly unreasonable, "You can keep up with us!"

 

"And that will make you easier to find, my child." Sariel replied softly. She took her daughter's hand, which was as warm as her father's had been.

 

"No, I have heard my call. When the final blow has been struck of this fight, the fight that in which I am to fight... I will not be the victor. I have foreseen this, Mirage. Where or how I make my end is trivial, and I would not have you suffer for it."

 

She paused, and there was yet more silence.

 

Leaning forward, leaning heavily on her staff, she whispered:
 

"Run, Mirage, run." Henry cleared his throat loudly. Sariel turned to her eldest son.

 

"I am sure that if I could see you, you would look like John." She said quietly, tracing a bony finger across his cheek like she had done to him as a baby, "Watch them, Henry. Watch them, my son."

 

"Yes, mother. I will, you need not worry."

 

"Is that a fact?" Mirage put in moodily, and two shushes hushed her unvoiced protests.

 

"Now," Sariel continued, as if Mirage had not interrupted them at all, "Beneath the guest bed, there is a chest. Enter your birthday, good Henry, and it will open. Inside is your father's hunting gun, ammunitions' belt, and supplies. Take them, they are the only pitiful protection I can offer. Take the path to the capital city, you will be safe there. John's family lives there, you know." Henry bowed, ever the gentleman, and left.

 

Sariel's empty eyes found Mirage.

 

"Mother, what is it you want me to do?"

 

"What makes you think I want something, dear?"

 

"Every moment, you have been getting rid of the others. I know you--What is it you want me to do, mother?"

 

Sariel sighed. "You know me too well, Mirage. I want you to take my summoning book and.." She paused. "My talisman."

 

Mirage cried out in alarm. Sariel Stormbringer had not taken off that talisman once in the thirty years since she had been married to John Stormbringer. It had been his wedding gift to her. “Shush, Mirage," Sariel chided, "I.. I have no need of it." Reaching a pale, ragged hand into her blouse, she withdrew the talisman. 0n its surface, painstakingly embroidered, there was a hand holding a shooting star.

 

The Stormbringer's family crest. At that moment, the reality of the proceedings hit Mirage like a rock to the head. If Sariel was giving her talisman to Mirage, Sariel did not expect to leave this house ever again. Slowly, she took the talisman from her mother's hand, tying it around her neck with an air of finality.

 

"Good. Also..."She listened for a moment, Mirage knew she was waiting to make sure that no others were listening. "And I want you to continue studying that book, you understand me? It is of vital importance if we are to--"

 

"The noise has stopped," Mirage interrupted, turning her serious gaze at the window. Hopes that this was either an elaborate hoax or a dream faded quickly as the faint torchlight illuminated the trees.

 

"The hunter likes to wait until he is sure the victims are terrified, because it makes them easier to subdue." Sariel replied dryly, (a very ironic tone of voice for a Stormbringer) her crackled lips turning into a cruel sneer at some minute joke Mirage did not understand.

 

But something held Mirage's tongue in her mouth, she did not ask.

 

"Use your powers only in an emergency," Sariel added, "the hunter will track you when he realizes that there.. well," she took a deep breath, "when there aren't enough bodies, and he can smell power like the dog he is. If you are using your Stormbringing ability, for whatever reason, you may as well put a big sign around your neck that says, 'hello hunter, please kill me!'"

 

Mirage pursed her lips, and a gleam of cleverness danced in her eyes. "Aren't Stormbringers the only ones who can smell power?" She remembered vaguely that there were few male stormbringers, some chemical in their body suppressed the dominant gene.

 

"I believe that the hunter is some sort of Necromancer," Sariel said, "Lord only knows how he travels so quickly!" Mirage thought about that for a moment, no suggestions came to her mind, save for the basic necromancer traveling spells that she knew of. Quickly, she ran her mind over these few now: There was the summoning of the dark winds, the price of their service only a dead crow’s soul. Most Necromancer’s used a glider and traveled miles in mere moments to their destination.

 

There was also the boat of shadows, in which demons carried an enchanted boat to the destination. This was dangerous, however, as demons were known for being capricious and would often take you somewhere entirely different from where you had wanted them to do. Even so, the price was high: A young maiden’s heart, flayed of a few layers of muscle. Mirage shivered, but she felt that the hunter would be more prone to efficiency then to terror.

 

"Is there anything else I should know?" It was more of a whimpering plea for advice then the frank statement it should have been, Mirage felt her high cheekbones grow red as the fire of the torches just outside.

 

"If you hear the hunter coming, DO NOT RUN. He is swift as the evening wind, with the ears of a fox and the sight of a falcon. He will catch you instantly, and the lion will capture his lamb."

 

"Well, what am I to do if I see or hear him? Hide?"

 

"Let yourself be caught, of course." Mirage froze a second time, the words that should have spilled from her fiery tongue remained unsaid.

 

"Explain," The young stormbringer replied simply. Sariel brushed a lock of her blonde hair behind her ear.

 

"The best way to get away from the hunter is brain, not brawn. If you can outsmart him, his own pride will lengthen your life and protect you from the hunter's cruel blows. He will not let you die, or give you up until he has overcome you in a battle wits. That is the only flaw I am aware that he has, mind. And it is a fatal one at that!"

 

She paused, rummaging over everything she knew about the mysterious hunter.

 

At last, she settled upon, "But a word of caution, my daughter: If you lose a battle of brain you will be at the foot of his mercy... and that is rarer then the lion sparing the lamb."

 

"Yes, mother," she answered dutifully. Sariel's eyebrows shot up in surprise.

 

"What? Oh, you must have a fever, Mirage. I mean, that's all? No inquiries as to how I know what I know? No begging to stay and fight by my side?"

 

Mirage stared at her mother and said, "Long has been the hour since I resigned myself to my fate, mother." With that, she walked out.

 

Sariel heard the door close, and for a moment the eerie silence was the only thing that accompanied her. Then, she whispered, "Goodbye, Mirage, my little stormbringer, for we shall not meet again."

 

Even as the children ran into the forest from the back door, the house was overcome by flame. Sariel Stormbringer turned her head toward her wedding ring, gagged from the smoke, and died. The hunter, as Sariel had predicted, looked for bodies. But, despite the strong scent of charred flesh, he found only one.


He vaguely recognized the limp form of Sariel Stormbringer, and she was smiling.



© 2008 Greystone


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Added on December 23, 2008


Author

Greystone
Greystone

Fort Atkinson, WI



About
I've been writing for about five years. Mostly, I focus on fantasy, although to be honest I've dabbled horribly in Romance, Science Fiction, and modern-day roleplays. I enjoy drawing, painting, wood c.. more..

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