IV - Riddles

IV - Riddles

A Chapter by NJ Schneider
"

A name is a name and one puzzle finishes another.

"

            They had made camp on a small spot of dry land in the middle of the shallow water. Fiona would consider it an island if the water around it didn’t come up to her knees.

            Sloan had cooked fish for dinner again; while the cavallo stuck their faces into the water and tried to wrap their long tongues around the fish. They were tied to a sturdy tree so their movement was limited. 

            The drowned fire pit was blackened and smoking idly. Fiona was lying on her blanket, her long jacket over her again, and her hands were behind her head. She looked at the stars as they sparkled and winked down at her. Aidan was curled up next to Sloan again with his head rested on her stomach. Her eyes were closed but Fiona knew she was still awake.

            “Sloan?” Fiona said in a hushed voice, just in case she actually was asleep.

            “Hm?” she replied back.

            “Why are you on this journey? What was taken from you?” Fiona had been wondering this for hours. What could drive a woman so badly but cause her to be so cold in the process?

            Sloan sighed and stroked Aidan’s hefty head. “I guess it’s time for your bed time story.” She sat up to face Fiona better, knocking the fox’s head off her. Aidan gave her an annoyed look. “Well, about six years, nearly seven now, I lived in a Hind tribe deep in the desert of Amber nation lands.”

            Fiona gasped, her eyes grew wide. Who would have guessed this glacial being was from one of the hottest nation lands in the world.

            Sloan continued. “We were a small tribe; no more than fifteen families. We took great pride in living where most didn’t dare to. It was actually quite peaceful there, despite our closeness to Obsidian, and not as harsh as most would think. It was extremely hot during the day but the nights were cold. You learned to do most of your living at night. The only time you needed sun was for health reasons. The cavallo are very useful since their dragon origins let them live in all kinds of weird climates. You’ll find most cavallo in Amber are light colored like the sand; keeps them cooler.

            “One day I got handed the task of riding out to Obsidian to bring back a shipment of weapons. I was about nineteen around this time, so still a bit older than you are now I would say. I took my cavallo, same one I use today, and a couple extra to hold the large shipment. I headed out that night once the sun had fallen. It was a five day long journey. By the time I reached Obsidian castle I was very tired.

            “I reached the main gate into the castle but it was closed. Obsidian has always been filled with very paranoid people. They’re always worrying about getting attacked by one of the other nations; even though none of the nations have ever been hostile toward each other, except Amber and Ruby.  

            “When I was let inside I was greeted by a very handsome young man. He was the younger son of the Obsidian royal family.”

            Fiona was shocked to hear this at first, but then remembered she’d also met an Obsidian royal. She cringed.

            Sloan eyed her curiously, while still petting Aidan, but continued. “The younger prince was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen. His hair was a dark auburn and long enough so he could tuck it behind his ears. Not that he ever did that of course; just let it hang in front of his eyes, just like his big brother did. He didn’t seem to like to keep clean shaven like his brother though. He didn’t have a beard, just short stubble. His eyes were hazel; dark green with brown flecks. I was lost to him the moment he smiled at me.

            “I spent a few days in the Obsidian castle, to rest and I still had to talk to the Lord Prince. Those few days were spent in the prince’s company. He showed me around everywhere in the large town that flourished inside the castle walls. I was amazed by such an industrialized place because I’d come from a very natural living tribe. It was he who actually showed me the push daggers I use today.”

            Fiona frowned. Push daggers? She didn’t remember Sloan using knives in battle. “You mean those weird claw looking things?”

            Sloan’s plump lips twitched slightly and she smiled. “Yeah, those. He bought me them before I left. When I met Lord Prince Kiran for the first time he wasn’t as…odd as he is today. He was very normal actually. His smile was warm, like his younger brother’s, without being forced. He still wore a mask that long ago. The story behind his mask, at least this is how I was told, was he was attacked by a Pursa when he was about ten years old. It slashed he face so badly on the right side that he was too embarrassed to show his mutilated face to his subjects. I can’t blame him really. Imagine going from being stared at because you are handsome, even for a child, and a symbol of royalty; to being stared at because your face is scarred and disfigured and you’re now the symbol of horrifying power.

            “In the years that I knew the two brothers, Kiran grew to resent his younger brother, to hate him with great fury. All painters that did any portraits of the Obsidian family were instructed by the King and Queen to paint Kiran’s face perfectly, without a mask or disfigurement. In those years that Kiran was developing hate and loathing towards his brother, I was developing a great love for the young prince.

            “We spent months writing to each other and we’d visit each other every few weeks. For me it was a magical time.” Sloan’s blissful expression suddenly darkened. “Until the brothers’ parents passed away from being poisoned mysteriously and Kiran became ruler of Obsidian. His hate had become him, consumed everything good in him. He still had to go by the title of Lord Prince though because you have to marry to be King or Queen in Teravieta. I started to feel sorry for Kiran but one day I stopped getting letters from his younger brother.  I began to worry about him. I waited a week with no letters.

            “Finally, I took my cavallo and rode as hard as I could to the Obsidian castle. When I got there the guards refused to let me in, saying Kiran had denied all entry for people of Amber. I told them I was the love of the young prince but they still denied me access. They told me the young prince had been outcast to Amber nation lands for the murder of his parents.” Sloan’s face suddenly became very sad, as if she couldn’t keep her face the stone mask it usually was. Her memories had taken her. She still stroked Aidan absent mindedly. “I knew this wasn’t true. My prince wasn’t capable of suck a terrible thing. So I left in search of him. It took another four days to return to Amber, but I did not go home. I patrolled the border of Amber nation and eventually I came upon a group of sand tichelli.

            “Tichelli are small nature nymphs, no bigger than my forearm, and there are many different kinds of them. They’re pranksters and are capable of doing terrible things to people just because they’re bored. They possess great power and can be bribed with food or shiny objects.

            “I asked the sand tichelli if they’d seen a tall, broad shouldered man with dark auburn hair wandering around the area. Took me a while to get them to stop giggling and answer me. They said they had seen him but that I probably wouldn’t ever find him even if I saw him. I asked them to take me to where they last saw him. They led me on another two day long journey before we can across a small village. It was empty, no people at all, which was very unsettling to me. I asked the Tichelli why there were no people; they giggled and told me a demon scared them away. Naturally that scared me; I’d never seen a demon before.  

            “They led me to a small stone made house. The wooden door was half falling off the hinges and torn curtains blew through the broken windows. They pointed to the house and I walked in cautiously by myself. Once I tried to open the wooden door it fell completely off its hinges. I looked inside but it was very dark. In the very back of the room I heard a low growl that made all the small hairs on my body stand on end. Part of me wanted to run but my legs were stiff as I saw the demon’s scarlet eyes begin to glow in the darkness. I didn’t have any time to react when it lunged at me and then knocked me to the ground.

            “It was Aidan; he was the demon that had scared away all the village people. He snarled at me but after looking me over he released me. I honestly expected him to kill me. I didn’t know why the sand tichelli had brought me here to this village, to this great fox demon. Back then Aidan only had one tail. From my limited knowledge of the Kitsune, fox demons, I knew they grew a tail for every year they were alive until they hit nine. So I knew Aidan was a very young fox demon.

            “Outside I could hear the sand tichelli laughing. I returned to them, Aidan at my side, and asked why they had brought me here. I asked where my young prince was and demanded they take me to him. They said they already had. I looked at Aidan and he rubbed his head against my thigh. Slowly I came to realize the truth. I asked the sand tichelli how my prince, my Aidan, had gotten this way. They giggled furiously and told me they had been the ones who’d changed him. The sand tichelli vanished before it had time to register in my brain and become a reaction.”

            Fiona gasped and her warm honey brown eyes bulged from her round face. She stared at the sleeping fox in horror and amazement.          

            “My rage was unmatched; even by the fierce sand storms in Amber or the ferocious sea of Sapphire. The love of my life had been made into a demon. I told Aidan that I would stop at nothing to get him back the way he was. We spent a few years trying to find the sand tichelli but never could. Finally we gave up for a long time and I wasted a lot of time drinking the pain away. My tribe wouldn’t allow me back home because of Aidan; he didn’t learn the whole invisibility thing until his fourth year.

            “Finally I came across the great Vulture Eaglon, the bird of the past. From my drunken state at the time, I barely remember it. What I do remember is what it told me. ‘The dark prince, so filled with hatred, cursed his blood which he envied. Now his blood’s face is hidden like his own.’ I knew it meant Kiran. He’d framed Aidan for his parent’s death and bribed the sand tichelli to curse Aidan into this condition. It was the Vulture Eaglon that suggested I try to find the Heron Eaglon to fix Aidan. I traveled through every single nation land in the world searching for any information about the Heron. Finally, after another two years passed, I came upon a wise young girl who lived in the forests of Pearl nation lands. She had studied under Cahal before he put himself into eternal sleep. She told me where the Heron lived. It took another month to travel to Sapphire and that’s about the time I ran into you in that pub.”

            Fiona sat quietly digesting all of this. Aidan, the fox demon, was really Sloan’s Hind lover, and the prince of the Obsidian nation lands. Kiran had him changed into a demon so he no longer had to see his brother’s flawless face. Sloan spent six years looking for answer and developing her alcohol addiction. This is how she had become the snow queen. She didn’t know how much of this she could handle. Fiona had been dragged into a nearly seven year long twisted love story and now was very much a part of it whether she liked it or not.

“You know you should really warn people before dragging them into such a mess.” She said bitterly.   

Sloan looked at her with widened eyes; Aidan was already long asleep. “I’m sorry, but Kiran wanted you, and if I can help it I’m going to stop him from getting everything he ever wants. He took what meant most to me and I hope to one day do the same to him.”

Fiona ran was the great Heron had said to Sloan over and over in her head. “You both seek what was taken from you; the things dearest to you. While the fighter’s is near, the fair one’s is far. Obviously that means mine is somewhere far from here, while Aidan is already here with us.

You fighter, so cold and broken, you can restore your missing piece and find freedom. I advise that you save going to the dark one last. The heat will melt your coldness and you’ll return to being whole if you wait to find the dark one last. I have no idea what that means other than you can fix Aidan somehow and have to deal with the dark thing last. I don’t know what the dark one is but it’s important we do it last.

To restore what you’ve lost you must collect the colored pieces and put together the bigger puzzle. Always remember this: One puzzle finishes another. The greatest puzzle to ever exist; the puzzle that will reunite this world. Honestly no idea about that. Colored pieces? I’m just going to skip that part. I guess once you figure out and complete the first puzzle or task it will fix Aidan.” Fiona thought harder about the riddle.

Sloan also sat in thought for a long time. They stared up at the stars while Aidan lightly snored. Fiona looked at the fox. She wondered how it felt for him to be trapped in a body he can’t use to speak to the one he loves or hold her in his arms. Fiona’s heart ached for them. They were always together and yet…they were somewhat always apart. At least there was something Sloan could do to get him back.

“I’ve got it.” Sloan interrupted Fiona’s thoughts and sat up quickly, knocking Aidan’s head off her. He stared at her displeased. A smile had made its way to her stone face.  Fiona gaped in shock. “What is the reason the world isn’t considered united right now?” She asked excitedly.

Fiona frowned thinking it over. “Um, because it’s split into many nation lands?”

Sloan’s smile grew; it unsettled Fiona. “Exactly and why are they split up into nation lands?”

The story Sloan had told her from the night before played in Fiona’s head. “Because Cahal broke his soul apart into eight jeweled pieces?” She wasn’t sure where this was going.

“Yes!” Sloan shouted. “To restore what you’ve lost you must collect the colored pieces and put together the bigger puzzle. The greatest puzzle to ever exist; the puzzle that will reunite this world. I have to collect the jeweled soul shards from all the nation lands to bring Cahal back and he can reverse the spell on Aidan!”

Fiona’s jaw dropped, she closed it, and ran the idea through her head. It made perfect sense. Cahal was the only one who could reunite Teravieta. “How would you get the soul shards from the rulers of the nation lands?”

Sloan’s smile disappeared to Fiona’s relief, the crazy look in her arctic eyes gone. “I suppose we could ask them and if they refuse we could steal them.”

She felt uneasy with this idea. Lebute never stole anything from anyone, but this is what she must do to help Sloan get her love back. Fiona felt almost obliged now to help them. Sloan had helped keep her safe and helped her get the clues to her lost gem. It was the least she could do.

“Tomorrow we set off to Sapphire castle to meet with the Grand Princess.” Sloan said lying back down on her blanket and closing her eyes. Aidan replaced his head on her stomach but his eyes remained on Fiona.

As she began to dose off something struck her as not right. Sloan has trusted her with so much and she didn’t even know Fiona’s real name.

“Sloan?”

“Mmm,” she hummed.

“My name isn’t Bevin.” Fiona bit her lip.

Sloan’s right eye popped open to look at her. “Oh?”

“It’s Fiona. I’m sorry I lied to you, I was scared.” She meant it.

She chuckled and closed her eye. “Nice to meet you Fiona.”

A strong wave of fatigue fell over her.

“Goodnight to you too Aidan.” Fiona said lightly.



© 2010 NJ Schneider


Author's Note

NJ Schneider
Let me know what you think.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Featured Review

Over all... I like how it is flowing by the end of what you have writen thus far. There were a few small spelling oppses here and there, but nothing major as far as grammer stuff goes. My favorite character... Fiona... I felt that the first chapter might have run a bit smoother and more discriptions of the world that the story is set in. The following chapters were much more well balanced in my opinion.
I think the only thing that slowed me down while reading it was some of the character names. I had to really think on how they might be pronounced. lol

I'm curious as to where the story line might go and I look forward to any future chapters.

Wolfie

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Over all... I like how it is flowing by the end of what you have writen thus far. There were a few small spelling oppses here and there, but nothing major as far as grammer stuff goes. My favorite character... Fiona... I felt that the first chapter might have run a bit smoother and more discriptions of the world that the story is set in. The following chapters were much more well balanced in my opinion.
I think the only thing that slowed me down while reading it was some of the character names. I had to really think on how they might be pronounced. lol

I'm curious as to where the story line might go and I look forward to any future chapters.

Wolfie

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Share This
Email
Facebook
Twitter
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

780 Views
1 Review
Rating
Added on September 24, 2010
Last Updated on September 30, 2010
Tags: Fantasy, Adventure, Demon, Fox, Swan, Maiden


Author

NJ Schneider
NJ Schneider

Santa Rosa, CA



About
My name is Niki and I'm 25 years old. I'm from a small town in northern California and I'm not really sure if writing is my thing but I've done a lot of writing in the past. I first posted on this s.. more..

Writing
Words Words

A Poem by NJ Schneider


Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by NJ Schneider