Amina's Past

Amina's Past

A Story by JoshiDx
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Delving into backstory.

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It was a cool day in the temple. A light breeze blew over the smooth stone floor, rustling the papers Amina was sorting through. She placed them down on a wooden table and rubbed her hands together to bring warmth back to her dark skin. The fire burning in the hearth wasn’t quite hot enough. As Amina stood to go stir the embers she heard shouting coming from outside.

“No! You cannot have it. Put it back please.”

The sound seemed to be coming from the courtyard outside. Amina recognized the voice immediately, that of Zekiah, the high priest. Amina had never heard him so angry before, or even shouting. Smoothing her black hair back with her hand she rushed outside to see what was wrong.

“Do not take another step! I warn you…” On a small balcony at the top of the stone steps that led up to the holy room stood Zekiah, white hair neatly combed, holding his hand out firmly. In the archway of the entrance to the holy room stood a man dressed in a black cloak with purple stitching, clutching something tightly under his arm. Amina had never seen the man before but could tell from his furrowed brow that he was not visiting with good intentions.

“I am sorry you feel that way,” the man said to Zekiah in a rough, rising voice. “But you will not stand in my way.” A glint of metal flashed under the watch of the morning sun as a sword flew out from the man’s cloak and through Zekiah’s chest. Zekiah fell back across the rock wall at the edge of the balcony, teetering on the edge. The man stepped forward and pushed hard, jerking his sword from Zekiah’s chest sending the high priest hurtling down into the courtyard. A cracking thud echoed as Zekiah smashed into the cobblestone below.

“Zekiah!” Amina raced to his side. As her bright green eyes met his face they shut tightly, horrified at the sight they saw. A dark red stain stretched out behind his head mixed in with shades of pink and white. Amina opened her eyes and looked to the sky, taking a fierce shallow breath as she tried to collect herself.

“Amina! He has the scroll!” Atop the balcony stood Jamil, a fellow initiate in the Druidic Order who had joined the same month as she. Clopping down the stairs quickly was the black-robed man, holding an ancient green pouch in his hand. Jamil pointed frantically after him. “Amina! The scroll!”

Amina raced to the bottom of the stairs, prepared to cut the man off. She turned to face him but before she could find her footing the man lowered his shoulder, throwing it squarely into her chest. Amina tumbled backwards, barely catching her balance before she hit the earth. Digging her toes into the dirt tracts that separated the stones beneath her she threw herself back up and after the man.

Out of the corner of her eye she spotted Jamil rushing down the steps after her. The man in black was already at a post on the far end of the courtyard, untying a tall brown horse. He swung up on it before Amina could reach him, spurring it away down the dirt road that led from the temple to the main gate. Amina stopped in her tracks, staring furiously after the rider. Jamil rushed up beside her.

“We have to stop him Amina! He has the scroll, the scroll of Rhys! We must stop him…” Jamil looked deep into her eyes, back to Zekiah, then off down the road.

“Where are the others?” asked Amina shortly. “They must be told what has happened.”

“Everyone else went to attend to matters in town, except for of course you and I.  Lilja might still be here but otherwise we are alone.” Jamil let out a deep, frustrated breath and his tone changed sharply. “Amina we have to stop him. I fear he means to take the scroll to the river.”

Amina’s eyes went wide. It had not been so long that she had forgotten the prophecies Zekiah had shared with her when they first arrived in the temple, explaining why they guarded it. He had spoken well of the Mystic Rhys and how she had written the scroll in dragon blood to ensure that the spirits of the forest honored its words. So long as it remained in the temple the town would be safe but if it was ever to cross the river… Amina shuddered to think.

“I know a shortcut through the woods,” she said softly to Jamil. “I can reach the bridge before him. I’m sure of it.”

“Then go. I will send Lilja into town to get the others while I attend to Zekiah, though I fear he is beyond help now.”

“Indeed.” Amina cast one last look over she shoulder before sprinting down the road. He feet carried her over the dirt path and out onto the main road where she rushed to the gap in the trees that cut through the heart of the forest. The main road ran many miles around the forest, winding its way through town before coming out again near the river. The forest path led straight to the bridge that crossed the river, the only spot for nearly fifty miles around where the river could be crossed. Amina was sure that was where he was headed.

She ducked under branches and pushed through underbrush, trying to remember her training at the temple. She had just begun to study martial combat and was not sure she was good enough to face such a violent opponent. All she could hope was that he was not as skilled as he was cunning.

After much running she broke through the edge of the forest and back onto the main road. There before her stood the bridge with the river flowing swiftly beneath it. She ventured out upon it, feeling its old wooden beams creak beneath her feet. Looking both ways on the road she saw nothing. The road before and behind her stretched out empty, disappearing shortly thereafter into the trees. Amina feared she might be too late when she heard horse's hooves pounding the ground in the distance. Amina took to the end of the bridge, lowering into a defensive stance. The hoof beats became louder, and soon through the trees appeared the man, still in his black cloak, riding his horse towards the bridge.

“You shall go no further!” Amina cried as he rumbled towards her. He spurred his horse on, headed faster to where she stood. Amina set her feet firmly, feeling the earth beneath her. The horse lowered its head and began to charge headlong at her. Amina tensed. “You will stop!” The horse flew across the ground, and Amina braced for impact.

“Whoa!” The horse reared up, its hooves flailing above Amina’s head before crashing into the ground by her feet. Looking up at the man she saw piercing blue eyes glaring at her from beneath a dark hood that shielded his face. The man pulled his reins and tried to circle her, but Amina shifted in front of him defiantly.

“You shall return what you have stolen.”

“Stolen?” The man chuckled cruelly. “I have stolen nothing. This scroll belonged to Rhys, not to the Druids. You first stole it when you locked it up in your temple.” He led his horse forward, challenging Amina’s stance. Amina clenched her fists tightly, fearing a fight. The man turned his horse to circle her once more, but Amina remained in front blocking him from the bridge.

“You shall return what you have stolen,” she whispered softly, repeating now the only words that seemed to matter. She tried to look fierce, intimidating even, but could feel herself trembling beneath her pale red robes. She only hoped the man didn’t notice.

The man pulled back his hood to reveal graying hair that fell down upon his shoulders. His face was red with scars that ran jaggedly up and down his cheeks. He looked to Amina thoughtfully with a thin smile. “Such a beautiful young thing.” His hand slipped into his cloak from which he drew his sword. It was crooked, curving at the end with a strange mark etched into the blade. “It would be such a pity if you had to die,” he went on. “Why not part ways peacefully here? Surely you are not one who believes in foolish ancient prophecy.”

Amina took a deep breath, pushing out her chest. “Perhaps you misheard me.” She stepped closer, reaching into her pocket to grab a cold metal hilt. “You shall return what you have stolen.” She said each word slowly and precisely, staring at the man with narrowed eyes. It seemed certain she would not be able to avoid battle.

The man lowered his head, lips twisting into a nasty grin. “Youth. Always wasted on the young.” He shook his shoulders, loosening his arms, and guided his horse forward. Amina stepped from side to side as the horse nosed towards the bridge. The man scowled. “I am afraid I cannot give the scroll back to you. Even if I wanted to, it is not mine to give. Let me pass. I wish you no harm.”

“No.” Amina found her voice firm even as a disquieting unease swept through her veins. “I will not let you. I cannot let you. That scroll belongs to the temple and cannot cross the river. Give it back.”

The man let out a sigh. “If that is how it must be.” With a sudden shout he willed the horse towards her, swinging wildly with his sword. From under her cloak Amina pulled a katara, blocking his blows one after the other. She jabbed at him fiercely, but he deflected her blow away. Amina’s eyes were wide as she fought, fearing his swords strokes. Never before had she needed to use her training to defend her life, and if she had her way she never would again. Each thrust brought the man’s sword closer to her face, to her breast, to her neck, to her heart. She felt herself falling back with each blow, letting him closer to the bridge. At last she drove her dagger forward, slicing across his forearm. A pained grunt escaped his lips, and he drew back his sword defensively.

“Foolish girl.” His horse reared up and kicked forward sharply. Amina felt the air rush from her lungs as its hooves struck hard into her chest. The first step back felt strange as her foot tried to keep its balance on a wet slippery slope. The next step after found nothing at all but rushing river water. The man had driven her from the bridge to the edge of the river, and there was nothing to keep her from falling in. A splash rose high into the air as Amina disappeared under the river’s flow.

For the first several moments all Amina could see was water rushing around her. Her arms swung out wildly, trying to push back to the surface. She knew how to swim; she had learned well as a child, but the fight against the current seemed nearly impossible. At last her head broke the surface and she gasped fiercely for breath. Away from her the shore rolled quickly by, the water carrying her fast downstream. Paddling strongly against the water Amina drew closer and closer to the muddy banks of the river. Her arms tired quickly in the undertow, and soon she found herself barely able to stay afloat. Still the shore drew closer, and at last she found footing beneath her, enough to throw herself upon the shore where she lay sputtering and coughing for a long while.

Looking up at the sky she felt miserable. Zekiah was surely dead, and she had failed to keep the man from taking the scroll. Overhead a strange cloud began to cover the sky, a large massive thing that looked as if it might be an enormous charcoal grey bird. Lightning flashed in the distance, and somewhere close by thunder rumbled as if leading the cloud to its place. In a matter of moments the entire sky had grown dark, and raindrops began to pour down from the sky. Amina sat up, the wet rain unnoticed upon her already soaked skin. Standing slowly she began walking back up along the river, wondering how far downstream she had gone. The bridge was not in sight, and she did not know much of the land the river flowed to away from the temple.

Suddenly in the distance she saw a bright flash of light and a strange plume of dark smoke rising high into the sky overhead. The ground beneath her feet rumbled, and the trees around her shook violently. Amina stared ahead in surprise, not knowing what to do. Pushing her feet against the riverbank she began to run quickly alongside the river, somehow knowing deep down that the temple was being destroyed. Rounding a bend the bridge came back into view, and as she approached it she saw the man in black, sitting on the other side smiling. He nodded to her as she approached, then took off down the road at a gallop, leaving Amina to wonder what he had truly done.

© 2010 JoshiDx


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Added on November 20, 2010
Last Updated on November 20, 2010

Author

JoshiDx
JoshiDx

Iceland



About
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