The Writer - Chapter 21

The Writer - Chapter 21

A Chapter by A.L.

The Healer


The arrival of three new Rogues brought immeasurable hope to the camp of soldiers. Not only were they travelling faster due to Cinnamon - the demigoddess of speed. But now they were closer than ever to the heir. Clara could feel it. 

Kalaia and Clara quickly became fast friends, although Clara still made sure to spend time with Titus. It was hard to help with when all she felt for him was overwhelming pity. 

The entire camp was destroyed by Uris and the storm caused by Lou - Kalaia’s other friend. Bones recruited enough of the soldiers to carry the salvaged supplies, but they were still severely lacking. 

They travelled for another day or so after Clara woke up, stopping at nightfall to rest on the border of Ibeni and Elyviel. It felt odd to be so close to home. 

Gathered around the campfire, Clara did not receive any more messages from Emmeline nor news of Forrest, Coral, and their team. It was a bit worrisome, and when Clara voiced her concerns, it was Lou who spoke up. 

“They’re in Maconil right now, or around there,” Lou explained in her soft voice. She only looked to be about ten with large eyes and loose curls. 

Clara narrowed her eyes. “How would you know?” 

Kalaia took a moment to explain. “Lou controls the storms all over the kingdoms - for the most part at least. And because she can do that, she knows a lot of what is happening.” 

Lou nodded vigorously, trying to prove her innocence. “Someone was following them, so I made a storm to protect them.” She closed her eyes, hands reaching out as if sensing for something else. “They’re safe right now, I think.” 

Clara nodded to herself. Forrest and Coral were alive - probably. 

“I can grant them speedy travels too,” Cinnamon offered. Clara accepted and thanked the demigoddess. Contrary to her name, Cinnamon wasn’t anything but spicy. Although she was louder than Kalaia and Lou, she was still a bit shy and overall extremely nice. 

They talked for a little longer, the demigoddesses growing more open to Clara. These were the first real, girl, friends that were her age. And they were part immortal. 

Clara was about to make a joke when she caught Bones and Titus looking at her. Both of them looked away, but the damage was already done. She excused herself from the girls and made her way towards Bones and Titus. 

“You didn’t have to come over here,” Bones said meekly. 

“I wanted to,” Clara responded, taking a seat beside him. Never had she thought her closest friends would be a captain, a Blessed from Waelia, and a handful of partial goddesses, and yet here she was. “You guys okay?” 

Titus and Bones gave identical shrugs. 

Clara decided to force them into talking. “Are you jealous?” 

“No,” Titus said too quickly. He sighed and turned to face Clara. He looked so sad that Clara just wanted to hug him. “Look, are you sure they’re trustworthy?” 

“Kalaia helped us escape from Uris,” Clara reminded him. 

“We could’ve done it without them,” Titus snorted. Clara crossed her arms and Titus heaved another sigh. “I’m sorry, I just don’t like them very much. ‘Ooh, look at me, I have magic powers and I totally betrayed the very woman who offered me everything I’ve ever wanted.’ Yeah, you caught me, I’m not buying that.” 

Bones didn’t seem like he was completely in agreement with Titus, but Clara knew that the man was skeptical too. 

“You’re jealous,” she clarified. 

“No,” Titus corrected. He paused for a moment, carefully choosing his words. Clara was sure he was going to say something about the safety of the group, but she was wrong. “Clara, I think of you as the little sister I never had.” 

He was looking at his fingers, his voice cracking. Clara nearly broke as he continued. 

“I don’t know, I don’t want to be super overprotective. But there’s something missing in my mind, and I think I lost someone. I couldn’t protect them. And, well, I don’t want the same thing to happen to you.” 

“Oh.” The word didn’t seem like an adequate response, but Clara’s thoughts were racing. 

She was one of nearly a dozen children, and yet she had always felt like an only child. Alone. Lost. But Titus, it was like he was adopting her, taking her in and becoming the brother she had always wanted. 

“Aww, now you’re going to make me cry,” Bones complained, wiping at his eyes in mockery. 

“Hey, Bones, do you have any family? Like, a wife or something?” Clara asked, not to pry but just to know him better. If Titus was going to spill his heart, then maybe they could all share something. 

Bones shook his head. “That’s why I was recruited. No one will miss me when I’m gone. But now I have no one to fight for - and that’s what I told them.” 

“Them?” Clara asked. 

“The Generals,” Bones snarled. “The same men that told me to use the Syren. I despise them, but-” 

“Don’t,” Titus interrupted. “We have to listen to them unless told otherwise, and if they find out about this conversation, they’d hang us for treason.” He frowned bitterly at the fire, eyes set in a permanent glare. 

Bones nodded an agreement. “Right.” 

They were silent for a moment. Clara was lost in her thoughts, absorbed by an idea that was quickly forming. She had lost Johnny. Titus had lost Marlene. And Bones never had anyone to begin with. But they were like … like a dysfunctional family. 

“Bones,” Clara whispered. “I can give you something to fight for.” 

He looked up. 

“Fight for us,” she continued. “Fight for this mini family we have. It might not be much, but it’s all we have.” 

By the next day at noon, Clara was beginning to grow worried. 

She hadn’t heard from Emmeline in several days now, and she wondered if the odd Guide boy had been able to return the letter. 

Not only that, but the whole army was finally arriving at the village where the supposed heir lived. The soldiers were restless, and some of them had snuck off only to find news that Baelle herself was visiting villages too. 

Bones promised Clara that he wouldn’t use the Syren again, and that it had been returned to the wild where it belonged. 

“So, have you heard anything about Baelle’s plan for the heir?” Clara asked Kalaia. 

The Rogues were given horses to ride because of their abilities, which Clara felt was slightly unfair but she let it slide. 

Kalaia shrugged. “Like I said before, we haven't been with Baelle for a long time. Besides, she never trusted any of the younger Rogues enough to give us information like that. Unless Cinnamon or Lou know anything.” 

The two other girls shook their heads and Clara heaved a sigh. 

If Baelle was searching villages personally, she had to be getting desperate. And desperation meant she would be more willing to do unspeakable things. 

“Do you know anything about the heir themself?” Clara tried, only to receive the same response. It seemed that the Rogues were telling the truth, but it frustrated Clara that their only leads were no help. 

Sometime in midafternoon, after hours of walking, Bones stopped the army and asked that they gather around him for a message. 

Clara stood with Titus while the Rogues hung back. 

“We’re quickly approaching Elyviel’s most popular village, known for its beautiful views but also for the sheer size of the town,” Bones explained. “The heir could be anywhere inside the village, and it’s our job to find them. We don’t know what we’re looking for, or anything about them. But we can’t give up hope. 

“I ask that you work in small groups, and that only half of us go. Those of you who wish to hang back, could you please step out of the group? You’ll be setting up camp-” 

Bones continued to rattle off spare assignments, and reluctantly the soldiers began to drift away, complaining. Beside her, Titus shifted from side to side. Finally, Bones seemed pleased with the number of the soldiers left. He ordered some of his officers to divide the remaining searchers into pairings for optimum searching. 

“Clara and Titus, are the two of you good to work together?” asked one of the officers. 

They shared a look before Titus answered that they would be fine. The officer nodded to himself and wandered off. 

“How much do you want to bet that we’ll be the ones to find the heir?” Clara whispered. 

Titus chuckled softly. “I’m sure we will. After all, bad things seem to have a way of finding us first.” 

Once the pairings were complete, about one hundred of the soldiers - led by Bones - began the short trek to the town. The Rogues stayed behind, as did the two other healers and most of the officers. 

Clara didn’t feel prepared at all. She knew Titus could keep her safe with his fire - if it wasn’t exhausted. But her healings still weren’t working super well and she had lost her favorite dagger. Instead, Lou had created a few extra weapons specifically for Clara out of storm clouds. Although Clara wasn’t quite sure how clouds could be solid metal, she kept the weapons. Most of the daggers were lighter than she was used to, but there was a small sword the same weight and size that Clara preferred. 

The town was even bigger up close. The wooden buildings were painted varying shades of warm colors - pinks, yellows, and oranges. It almost felt like a sunset had come to life. 

Bones ordered everyone to split up, so Clara and Titus were alone before long. 

And one of the advantages of a town of this size was that no one seemed to notice that her and Titus didn’t belong. A few children about her age sent her looks, probably not recognizing her from their school. 

Titus tugged his cloak tighter around him and Clara elbowed his stomach. 

“What was that for?” he hissed. 

“We’re supposed to be looking for an heir, they could be anywhere,” she whispered back. “And you holding your cloak like that just makes you look fat and suspicious.” 

Titus glared at her but reluctantly loosened the fabric so he looked more normal. 

Besides, Clara wanted to say, we probably don’t even have to look. The heir will find us before we find them. 

And yet as they strolled down the street, Clara saw no sign of anyone who looked different. Everyone looked like they belonged, and no one shared Beckett’s pale skin and hair. She wondered if maybe her theory had been wrong. 

Titus mumbled things under his breath about them wasting time, but Clara kept her eyes peeled. 

And for good reason, because not longer after Titus murmured a comment that Clara couldn’t hear, she saw something. It was just a tiny flash of light in one of the alleys. She started towards it but Titus grabbed her wrist. “What are you doing?” 

“I saw something,” Clara protested, wrenching out of his grip and hurrying down the alley. 

Titus scrambled after her, cursing under his breath. 

The alley was dark, the stones uneven under her feet. It didn’t appear to lead anywhere special, just another dead end with a few locked doors. 

“There’s nothing here,” Titus grumbled. “We should go find Bones and-” 

He was cut off by something clattering to the ground behind them. He stopped mid sentence, looking upwards. Clara could see a dark figure against the bright sun, but she couldn’t make out details. 

“Who goes there?” the figure called out.

Clara hesitated before answering, “an ally, I should hope.” She didn’t want to give away any actual information, but the figure was still reluctant. 

“I should hope too, Clara of Elyviel.” 

The figure descended down a wooden ladder hidden in the shadows. Clara gaped at them. “How do you know who I am?” 

The figure tossed a roll of parchment to Clara. She unrolled it to discover a picture of herself and a price of 5000 gold coins if she was brought to Baelle in Argenti - preferably alive. Clara tossed the parchment back. “Are you going to turn us in? And who are you?” 

The figure simply laughed before throwing back their hood and stepping out of the shadows. 

“To answer your first question, no. As to your second,” the girl grinned. “I’m Brooke, the second heir to the Green and Silver Kingdoms.” 

“Baelle came to visit me about a week ago,” Brooke explained, stirring her tea with her finger. 

The girl had unlocked one of the doors in the alley and invited Titus and Clara inside. Dusty and cramped, the house was in bad shape. But Brooke didn’t seem to mind it at all. She lit the stove and began warming up water for tea before pouring some for Clara and Titus. 

Brooke had certain aspects of her appearance that were similar to Beckett’s. Clara decided that the girl definitely didn’t declare authority like Beckett did. Although she was fair with light hair and skin, she wasn’t the same snowy pale as Beckett. Her form was also closer to that of which Clara would expect from a village girl. Brooke was maybe eleven or twelve - a little younger than Clara.

Then again, Brooke claimed she had lived in the town her entire life. 

“What did she want?” Titus asked, staring at his tea with great interest. He never looked up. 

Brooke gave a small shrug. “Nothing, really. She asked me if I would join her in pursuit of equality for all.”

“And what did you say?” Clara probed, unsure of why Baelle had left her live. 

“I told her I’d think about it,” Brooke replied without emotion. “I told her that someone from the other side might come with the same argument, and she said sure. She encouraged me to listen to what you had to say before deciding. And then she left.” 

“Hmm,” Clara sighed thoughtfully. “If Baelle knew you had any power against you, I would’ve expected her to capture you.” 

Brooke blushed, her pale cheeks taking on a pink tinge. 

“What is it?” Clara asked, feeling as if Brooke was withholding something from them. “Spit it out.” 

“I think she sensed … well,” Brooke seemed hesitant. She finally met Clara’s eyes and held her wrist, where a tiny crown was inked onto her skin. “I don’t know if I’m really an heir or not.”

Irrational anger rushed through Clara. Seriously? Had they ran across the kingdom just to find a liar? 

Brooke stuttered an explanation. “I … my mother worked in the castle. My mom knew many of the other servants well, but she also knew the king. And my mom always said that she was descended from the green kingdom - from a banished prince nearly five centuries ago. But I don’t know - I just don’t know. My mom never told me who my father was or went into any depth about my family history.” 

And that poses a problem, Clara thought bitterly. Without Emmeline, they had no way of knowing whether or not Brooke was a real heir. That was probably the reason that Baelle hadn’t abducted the girl when she had a chance. 

“We can have you Read,” Titus offered. “Our friend is a Reader and-” 

“Yes, but I don’t want Read,” Brooke argued. “If Baelle thinks I’m an heir, that gives me power, doesn’t it? You can’t prove whether or not I’m a true heir or not, which means she can’t either. Which means that if I join you guys, I’m really helping.” 

“So you lied to try and help us,” Clara said, leaning back in her chair. “Brooke, you could’ve died. You still might? Baelle could be watching you!” 

Brooke shook her head. “She’s not. I move houses daily, and I have the majority of the townsfolk sworn into secrecy.” 

Titus snorted. “The majority.” 

Brooke glared at him and Clara decided to intervene. “Look, Brooke, we appreciate the help, but you’re just making life harder for yourself.” 

“And if I am an heir, I’m setting things right,” Brooke spat. “I don’t care about the danger, I care about the fate of the world. If I really am an heir, then I’m defending my kingdoms. And if I’m not, I’m protecting my home.” 

Clara was struggling to argue with that logic. 

“Brooke, I-” 

Brooke held out her wrist again. “I’m not a Reader, but why else would I have a crown here?” 

Clara wasn’t sure, but she was also unsure of which wrist meant which. In one of her and Emmeline’s conversations, Clara was sure the Reader had explained that one arm meant birth and the other death. So if Brooke had a crown on the death side… 

“Please,” Brooke pleaded. “I can’t hide any longer.” 

“So what do you propose?” Titus asked, crossing his arms as he scowled menacingly, like that would deter the girl. 

Brooke thought for a moment. “You guys are part of the army, right?” 

“Not by choice,” Clara grumbled. 

Brooke ignored her. “Take me with you. I can… I can learn to fight. Maybe I’ll discover some heir magicky stuff and I can help you take down Baelle.” 

“Fine,” Titus sighed. “But if you die, it’s not my fault.”

© 2020 A.L.

Author's Note

I'm about halfway through or so - we'll just have to see how long it ends up. Any feedback on plot and plot twists would be helpful!

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Added on December 15, 2020
Last Updated on December 15, 2020
Tags: adventure, fantasy, blessed, cursed, fiction, mythology, death, love, friendship, kingdom, prince, princess, queen, king, youngadult, ya, goddess, sword



I'm a teen, I'm just looking for advice on how to improve my stories. Any advice is appreciated. I hope to publish one of my stories for real in the near future. more..