Advertise Here
Want to advertise here? Get started for as little as $5
Chapter 5

Chapter 5

A Chapter by Alex P.

          It was almost dawn when Erika woke. After several unsuccessful minutes of trying to fall back asleep, she resigned herself and got up, careful not to disturb Lana as she passed. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and pushed her hair back into a ponytail, tugging her cloak around her against the wind that had picked up overnight.

          The trees swayed ominously around her, and after a cursory glance of the camp, she quickly made her way toward the smouldering remains of the fire to stoke it back to life. Movement behind her caught her attention, and she whipped around to see Adel emerging from his tent, apparently not realizing she was there. She made to greet him, but she paused midway; he had just strode across camp, barely a foot from her, and the light from the small flames she had gotten started illuminated him. He wasn’t wearing any armour, and his eyes were glazed as if he were sleepwalking.

          “Adel!” Erika called. He seemed to ignore her, so she got up after him, following at a safe distance.

          They walked for what seemed like forever. The only way Erika kept from falling was by following exactly the same path as he tread; the moonlight illuminated the area, but it created illusions that befuddled her perception and made the walk treacherous. Adel seemed to have no problem with navigating the rough terrain, and the deeper they went into the forest; the more Erika wondered what was going on.

This wasn’t like him. His movements weren’t as fluid as they usually were, and he was being loud enough to easily be tracked. It was as if he didn’t care if he was followed… Or he didn’t notice. The look his eyes had worried her when he passed by the fire. What was going on?

Eventually, Adel stopped. They had come to a spring. It seemed to be where the stream emptied out into, because Erika could see a silvery band of water cutting through the trees. The spring was fringed with willow and birch trees, and in the center, a rock rose out of the mirror-like surface. It wasn’t the picturesque scene that made Erika gasp however.

A naked girl sat atop the rock, brushing out her long, copper-red hair with what looked like a bramble. The moonlight tinted her skin silver which turned more apparent around her legs and waist. Even from this distance, Erika could see her eyes were crystalline blue. The girl was singing in a high, melodic voice, though Erika didn’t understand what she said, as it sounded like it was in Welsh. She glanced at Adel, who stood transfixed on the girl.

“Adel don’t be rude, look away.” She said, not expecting a reaction. Her suspicions were confirmed when the rogue didn’t even register her presence. He slowly began walking toward the water, until he reached the edge. The girl stopped singing and looked directly at him, smiling. She said something, and made a beckoning motion before she began to sing again.

Adel began to walk into the water. Erika stood, aghast, as he began going deeper. It was up to his hips before she reacted, and splashed in after him, grabbing him around the middle. The girl looked at Erika, and in that instant that she had stopped singing, Erika felt Adel pause.

“Adel what the hell are you doing get out of the water!” Erika said loudly. She looked at the girl, and gasped. She had changed for the worse. Her skin was no longer flawless. Rather, it looked like she was covered in silvery scales. Her face had flattened slightly, her nose had turned into nothing but slits and her eyes had become inhuman, becoming larger with no pupil or white, just a span of bright blue. When she opened her now lipless mouth to hiss menacingly at Erika, she saw two rows of sharp teeth. “Adel come on, get out of the water!” She said sharply, and was relieved when she felt him take a step backward.

The nymph hissed once more and began singing again. Adel rooted to the spot, and turned back toward her. Erika let out an annoyed noise, and let him go. She hadn’t given up, though. She slogged back to shore and picked up a rock from the water’s edge. With a trained arm, she lugged the rock at the sprite, hitting her in the middle of the forehead, successfully cutting off her song. The girl screeched then, shrilly enough to cause the water to leap from the sound, and for Erika to cover her ears in pain. “Adel!” She bellowed, grabbing the back of his shirt as he stood, now shoulder-deep in the water. “Come on you idiot you’re going to drown!”

Putting as much strength as she could into the action, Erika began hauling Adel back, desperately trying to ignore the rising pitch of the sprite’s shriek, or the painful throbbing in her ears. To her immense relief, the rogue began following her with more ease, and soon, they were out of the water. The loss of her prey angered the nymph further, and her pupil-less eyes were now fixed directly on Erika as her shriek began reaching supersonic pitches. Erika fell to her knees, covering her ears while yelling herself, though she wasn’t sure why. Her eyes were screwed shut, and she was certain she could feel blood trickling from her ears.

Slowly, she opened her eyes, and not a moment too soon. The furious sprite was speeding toward them, cutting the water with her speed. Both sets of teeth were bared in her rage. In a flash of instinct, Erika shot up and grabbed the hilt of her dagger. She was now grateful that she’d begged Cyrus to get her one. In a quick motion, she stood in front of Adel, and held the blade up defensively, ready to parry an attack or slash at the nymph.

“Come and get me s**t!” She bellowed, urging the creature on faster. With a screech, the sprite slashed at Erika, only to receive nothing but the rebuff of her blade. Erika parried the strike, and then shot forward with her knife, slashing at the nymph’s midsection. She missed, and in an instant, leapt back, spinning the blade around her hand.

A familiar arm whipped out and wrapped around Erika’s middle, pulling her against an equally familiar chest. Adel had finally snapped out of his trance, and was glaring at the sprite murderously. He grabbed the dagger from Erika’s hand, but instead of attacking, he slit his palm with it. Erika gasped, but Adel gently squeezed her.

“Is this what you want, water-b***h?” He asked calmly. The sprite stopped dead, as if the blood that slowly dripped onto the grass now transfixed her. “Well, you can’t have it.” He said. In a flash, he grabbed Erika’s hand and slashed her palm. She cried out and tried to jerk her hand away, but Adel held her wrist firmly. He pressed his bleeding palm to hers, and in the moment their hands touched, the nymph let out a shriek of pure outrage. “Not anymore.” The creature turned instantly, and with a great splash that showered them both with water, she disappeared beneath the surface.

Erika shook, mostly from the shock of getting her hand ripped open. Her ears rang with the nymph’s shrieks, causing her to feel nauseous. She looked up at Adel, and then back down at their hands.

“You better explain what the hell just happened.” She muttered angrily, tearing her hand away from his and wrapping it in her shirt. “Now.”




          “Ok so that was a what?” Erika asked, sitting by a once-again blazing camp fire, a strip of cloth wrapped around her hand while she stitched up Adel’s hand. Although it must have hurt, he didn’t wince, or grimace. He stared at his palm as she worked, and he took so long before responding that Erika began thinking that he hadn’t heard her.

          “It was called a morgen, a water nymph. They sing and draw men to them, then drown them and feed off of them.” He said softly. “I didn’t think they existed.” He added, “I thought they were just stories.” He took his hand back when she was finished, careful not to flex it too much. “Give me your hand.” He said gently, extending his stitched hand and taking the needle from her hand to sterilize it in the fire.

          “But what was with the palm-slashing?” Erika asked, looking reluctantly at the needle as Adel cooled it down by dipping it in water, and then strung some sinew through it. “God I hate needles.” She muttered, closing her eyes tightly.

          “I’m sorry, Erika.” Adel said after a minute, trying to dull the pricking feeling of the needle through her torn skin. “The blood-bond is what keeps them from coming after you… They only prey on um…” He blushed slightly. “Single… men…” Despite Erika’s fear of needles, her eyes shot open wide, her face flaming, and she stared at him.

          “What did you do, Adel?” She gasped, then squeezed her eyes shut again, feeling dizzy. She’d caught sight of the needle.

          “By binding my blood to yours… I kind of said that I was promised to you.”

          “Promised to me how, Adel?”

          “To… To be married.” Erika’s hand jerked in his, however Adel was holding her wrist firmly enough to keep her skin from tearing. “Watch it!” He growled. “I’m trying to sew you up here!”

          “You put a claim on me?” Erika hissed, her expression incredulous, despite her closed eyes.

          “Not to anybody but that nymph! We sure as hell don’t have to be if you’re so disturbed by the prospect!” Adel growled, finishing off her stitches and getting up in a huff, walking over to his tent and disappearing inside it. Erika sat by the fire, staring after him. Her palm stung from the needle, but at least it wasn’t bleeding anymore… She sighed, sterilizing the needle again, her thoughts turbulent.

          “I never said that…” She murmured, staring into the flames, the cold feeling of guilt settling into her stomach. Her thoughts kept her awake until daybreak, but she did not see the beautiful sunrise that greeted her. She went to the stream and prepared tea and rations for everyone, though she sat silently by the fire while Cyrus and Lana ate. The siblings looked at one another, perplexed at her behaviour. The rations she had set out for Adel were completely untouched; the rogue hadn’t emerged from his tent since he disappeared inside it earlier that night. Erika sighed, looking down at the stitches on her hand. Why did it upset him so much…? It wasn’t like he meant it… Right?

          Even several days after the event, there was still a gap between Adel and Erika. Though she tried to get him to talk to her, he would only reply with short, one-word retorts, or simply grunt. Cyrus and Lana were still clueless as to what was going on. One night, after they had set up camp and Adel had already disappeared into his tent, as was usual lately, Cyrus went over to Erika to finally get an answer out of her.

          “What happened?” He asked her, startling her and causing her to drop the handful of mushrooms she’d found. By now, she was able to identify them, thanks to Lana’s silent teachings. She glanced up at Cyrus, gathering the fungi back into her hands.

          “What happened what?” She asked, trying to appear clueless. Of course, he was talking about Adel, but she didn’t feel like talking about it. However, after he stared her down pointedly, Erika sighed, turning around and getting up. “All right, all right.” She muttered, walking back to camp to deposit the mushrooms into the stew that was simmering over the fire. Sitting down, she launched into the story of what happened, including the morgen and the blood bond that Adel did after he woke up. Once she was finished, Cyrus and Lana stared.

          “May I see your hand?” Cyrus asked softly. Erika held it out, showing the thin line of stitches she hadn’t been able to find time to get out yet. If she waited much longer, her skin would begin coating over the stitches. Cyrus seemed to be thinking the same thing, because he pulled out his dagger and carefully used it to cut the twine that bound her skin together, extracting the broken cords one by one. Erika hissed softly, looking away. Nothing like seeing string pulled through your hand. She thought wryly. Glancing back when she no longer felt the tugging sensation, she saw that her hand had healed perfectly, aside from a thin silver line in her skin where it had reconnected, and the tiny pinholes from where the stitches were.

          “Thanks, Cy.” She murmured, smiling up at him. He returned her smile, his calm eyes gentle. They held a sadness to them that never left.

          “Don’t worry about my brother. He’ll come back around.” He murmured softly, moving to go sit back in his spot by the fire. Lana came over to her and sat next to her, showing her the embroidery that she was working on. Erika and Lana had begun to spend many evenings like this, with Lana teaching Erika domestic acts, such as sewing and cooking, and Erika taught her how to write, and basic math. They shared the simple things that they’d grown up learning in their own worlds.

          Erika and Lana would disappear into the forest once they had camp set up most nights, foraging for things as the temperature gradually began dropping. It was harder to find anything growing anymore, especially as they moved further and further up into the mountains. They decided that it would be faster to go through the mountains rather than around them, even with Romaro. The horse was having little difficulty navigating the terrain, which was good, but Erika kept worrying that he would twist one of his ankles. Cyrus reassured her that they were taking the easiest paths possible.

          Eventually, out of the corner of her eye, Erika saw Adel emerging from his tent, and began walking toward the fire, until he saw Erika. He stopped, watching her, and then turned to go. Erika got up, pulling the shirt that she was fixing with her. “Oh don’t leave on my account.” She snapped sharply, eyes narrowing. With satisfaction, she saw Adel stiffen, saw the stubbornness set in his shoulders, the defiance. She watched him turn and come back to the fireside, sitting down stiffly across from her, the high flames between them. Erika gave him a gentler look. “There, this isn’t so bad.” She said, sitting back down, going back to her mending under Lana’s silent mentoring. She sighed softly in frustration, going back several stitches to correct a missed piece that Lana pointed out, and then pricked herself.

          “Damn it!” She put the offending finger in her mouth before she got blood on the shirt, brow furrowed. “Every time!” She exclaimed, her words muffled by the appendage. Lana offered a sympathetic look, while Cyrus looked over and half-smiled.

          “You’ll get it, Erika. You’ve already gotten better.” He encouraged, bringing his travelling cup to his lips to sip some of the tea from it. Adel scoffed softly, causing all eyes to turn to him.

          “She’s been at this for weeks now, why can’t she get it? What woman doesn’t know how to sew?” He glanced up at her, only to shrink back slightly at the look she was giving him. Erika set the needle and shirt down in her lap, then, after a minute, raised them again, squinting in the flickering firelight, remaining completely silent. Her actions unnerved Adel even more. He was used to her snapping at him, flinging retorts back at him immediately and usually shut him up. Her silence caused his brows to furrow, and he reached for the cold meal that had been waiting for him for hours.

          Erika finished the stitching, tied off the twine and checked the shirt for any more, and then pulled the string taunt and cut it off with a small blade. She then flipped the shirt back right-side out and got up, walking over to Adel, looming over him. He looked up at her uncertainly, a piece of meat halfway to his mouth on the tip of his blade. She threw the shirt down into his lap, causing him to scramble to shove his food down to get it out of the way.

          “If I’m so horrible at it, then I guess this is the last time I patch up any of your clothes.” She said softly, turning not toward the tents, but toward the forest. “I’m going for a walk.” She announced quietly, heading off through the trees and soon disappearing. Cyrus and Lana watched until she was gone, then both turned unfathomable eyes toward their brother, who sat there holding the shirt she threw at him. His fingertips ran over the stitching in the shirt, and then looked at his hand, the place where he cut now just a light, barely visible scar.

          “I didn’t mean it…” He murmured after a minute.

          “Then why would you say it?” Cyrus asked.

          “I just wanted her to talk to me again.” Adel sighed, looking back toward the forest.

          “Insulting her isn’t the way to do that, little brother. She’s been waiting for you to talk to her for weeks now.” Adel looked up at his brother, gaze turbulent. They shared something in their silence, and then Adel got up to follow Erika, the shirt still clutched in his hand. “That boy has so much to learn still.” Cyrus murmured once he too disappeared. Lana nodded her head, and, silent as always, returned to her sewing.

© 2011 Alex P.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on February 12, 2011
Last Updated on February 13, 2011
Tags: Chronos Roulette, fantasy, Wales, Magic, Timestream, Adel, Erika, Abitio, Kara, Kate


Alex P.
Alex P.

AB, Canada

Amateur Herbalist | Feminist | Social and Environmental Justice Activist | Entrepreneur --- The content of this profile and all other associated content are hereby strictly prohibited from disclosur.. more..

Mindful Mindful

A Poem by Alex P.

Night Night

A Poem by Alex P.