Chapter 6 - The Only Choice

Chapter 6 - The Only Choice

A Chapter by VassD

There's a time to stay, and a time to leave.


She didn’t know how long she’d been lying there. Her whole body felt bruised and she was numb enough that each time Sanna or one of her cronies landed another blow, she only felt the vibrations. Her eyes were blurry, and one was shut tight. Whenever she tried to open it, she felt something wet and sticky gluing her eye lashes together. With each strike, she sipped deeper and deeper inside herself, like she was falling down a deep hole where the only thing that could reach her was the very strongest vibrations. Everything felt foggy, and suddenly she felt very tired…


The blows stopped.


Ania opened her eye, wondering why everything was so still. She wasn’t sure what to make of what she saw. Without moving her head, she could see at least ten of the girls lying slumped against roots and tree trunks, looking dazed or unconscious. A tall figure was standing next to Sanna, easily dodging the girl’s crazed swings with the axe haft. Ania watched as Sanna brought the club across in a wild backhand swing, and she wanted to scream for the figure to look out, but somehow the figure latched onto Sanna’s arm and sent her flying. Ania’s vision wavered for a moment, and when her eyes focused again, the club was now in the figure’s hands, and Sanna was sliding to the ground in a boneless heap.


The next thing Ania knew the figure was kneeling over her, and was saying something…


“…Ania!” her sister, Ehmita, was yelling. “Ania, can you hear me?” Ehmita tried to roll her onto her back, but stopped when Ania whimpered. She pulled back Ania’s collar to see the sickly bruise forming over the misshapen collar bone, wincing as she prodded it gently. “Aisha. Bunch of syvving children… What were they thinking, using an axe haft on someone? She’s lucky to be alive! Bloody, syvving fools…”


Ehmita kept muttering, but Ania only heard every other word. She still felt like she was halfway inside of a dream.


That is, until Ehmita started wrapping a clothe around Ania’s shoulder that sent little tingling sparks down into the center of her bone marrow. Ania’s eyes popped open " or they tried to.  The one was still cemented shut " and she gasped as she felt the bone move inside her. The two ends stretched back together, and she was suddenly very aware of the ends knitting themselves back together. And before the sparks had fully died down on the one, Ania felt the same start up in her leg as Ehmita wound healing cloth around her busted shin. The sparks travelling up her spine, clearing away some of the fog.


When Ehmita had wrapped her cracked ribs, she lifted Ania up and propped her against a tree. Pulling out a water skin, she started washing the blood and dirt from Ania’s face with a firm, yet gentle, hand.


“Mama told me what happened,” Ehmita said quietly as she cleaned a long gash along Ania’s hairline.


Ania didn’t meet her sister’s eye. She felt the emptiness that had possessed her before the fight try to slide back into her chest. She didn’t feel terribly inclined to fight it off.


“Were you trying to run away?”


Ehmita may have spoken quietly, but Ania felt the words rattle around in her skull like a shout. Run away? Betray her mother? “No! No, I wasn’t" I wouldn’t"“


“Why not?”


Ania stopped dead. What? I must have heard wrong. Why would Ehmita want me to run away? She opened her mouth to ask as much, but Ehmita covered it with her hand before she could say anything.


“Ania, you need to know two things. One, while some of what Mama said might have been true, we are, and always will be, your family. Stronger than any kind of blood tie, we have raised you, and we love you. Nothing can break that. Two,” " Ehmita stared into Ania’s eyes, brown eyes meeting blue " “you need to learn when to let go. You have a life, and your life follows a path different from any of our own. You know I’m right, don’t you?”


Ania felt herself shaking. She didn’t really understand what Ehmita was saying, or even why she was saying it, but she couldn’t deny that her words were ringing true. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t bring herself to deny it. It just wasn’t possible.


When she felt Ania nod, Ehmita pulled away her hand. “Ania, you were never meant to follow a path that someone else set for you. You are the strongest person I know, and anonymity wouldn’t suit you all that well.


As Ehmita wrapped one of those healing bandages around her forehead and down over her swollen eye, Ania murmured, “I don’t understand you. Nothing you or Mama or Sanna or the Knight has said all day makes any sense. What do you want me to do? Why do you want me to run away? I don’t understand why you want me to do this!”


Ehmita sighed. “Of course you don’t. Welcome to reality, where absolutely nothing makes sense.” Helping Ania get to her feet " her injured shin felt about as strong as a twig, but it held " Ehmita met her little sister’s gaze. “To tell you the truth, Ania, I don’t understand much more myself. I wasn’t much older than you are now when you were born, but I knew from the beginning that you were special, and that you were different, and that it was the best thing you could possibly be.”


They both jumped when raised voices and the faint glow of torch light appeared near the edge of the woods to the north, towards town.


“I heard someone yelling!”


“The girls were out here, weren’t they?”


“What if it was a wild animal?”


“Lady preserve us, you don’t think they’re hurt, do you?”


Aisha,” Ehmita spat. She turned back to her sister. “Ania, tell me the truth. Do you want to be a Knight?”


Ania blinked. “What?” She must have a concussion. Either that or Ehmita had gone insane. Or they both had. “Yes, but"”


“No buts, little sister. Ignore anything anyone has ever told you, and tell me " honestly " do you want to be a Knight?”


Ania stood there. Ignore everything? She had only ever met a few Knights, including her aunt. It was entirely possible that this dream that she’d had for as long as she could remember was built entirely on the perceptions of other people.


She didn’t much like the sound of that.


Ania concentrated. Her breathing slowed, and her heart beat went with it. She went to the place inside herself that burned whenever she thought of the Knights. Behind closed eyelids, Ania’s vision glowed white. She felt a faint heart in her chest, warming her from the inside out.


She heard her aunt’s voice tell her stories about the Knights. She brushed past it. She heard her da read passages out of history books about one of the many invasions and the Knights role in them. She brushed past. She heard the voices of strangers who hadn’t known she was listening talk about Knights. She heard the voice of the Knight in the market today. She heard her siblings, her neighbors, everyone she had ever known " all of them had something to say, whether good or bad. She brushed past it all. She didn’t want other voices. She wanted her own.


She dug faster and faster, trying to find something that wasn’t in the voice of another. She stripped those voices away like the layers of a flower bud. She needed to find the center.


Her brow furrowed an her eyes shut tighter and tighter as she tried to find the truth inside herself. She could hear Ehmita in front of her, muttering and fidgeting, and it distracted her. Why is Ehmita so worried? We should be getting home. Mama will spit fire if we’re gone much longer"




Ania opened her eyes. “I don’t really care if I’m a Knight or not.” She swallowed hard as she remembered what she’d said to her mother that evening. “I just want to help people. Knights can do that.”


“That they can, little sister,” Ehmita muttered. She dropped down so her face was at a level with Ania’s.”Listen to me very closely. As far as I can see, you have two options. One, you can stay here with me and Da and Mama, and you can grow up here. Knowing you, you’ll do it magnificently. Eventually, people will start warming up to you, and whether you get a formal training or not, you’ll probably make the city council at least once. I don’t doubt that whatever you choose to do, you’ll be marvelous and genuinely happy. You could help people. But only the ones that lived around here.


“You’re other option is to go to Magani and become a Knight. But you have to understand that it isn’t all the stories Alliania never stopped telling. If their training is anything like the military’s, and I have every reason to believe that it's worse, you will be spending the majority of your time in hell.  Magani is different from anything you’ve ever seen. If you drop your guard, they will eat you alive. There will be times when you want nothing so much as to just roll over and die. But you will be right in the center of everything, and you can light the biggest fire anyone could ever dream of. You will change the world, and you’ll help more than just this one town. I can see it in your eyes " I know you can do this. So tell me the truth " what do you want to do?”


Ania swallowed. She thought about the way her blood had burned when she had shaken the Knight’s hand, and compared it to the sickly, empty feeling that had consumed her ever since she’d spoken to her mother. Do I really want to live with that for the rest of my life? Even if the town did accept me, could I do that to myself?


She remembered what her mother had said just before leaving her locked in her room. Her eyes stung.


I’m sorry, Mama.


She looked up at her sister. “You may be able to see two options, but I can only see one. You were right " I have my own life. I need to do what I know is right.” She met her sister’s dark-eyed gaze. “I want to be a Knight.”


Hugging her gently, Ehmita whispered, “Good choice, little sister.” The next thing Ania knew, Ehmita was pulling her quickly over to the corner of the clearing, and speaking just as swiftly. “I grabbed the pack from your room before I left, and I packed some saddlebags with enough supplies to get you to Magani.”


Ania’s weak leg faltered on the uneven ground, and her arm was nearly pulled out of its socket when she tripped over a tree root and the only thing holding her up was Ehmita’s grip on her forearm. “Ehmita,” Ania said as she struggled to her feet, “Ehmita, I can’t keep up. Why are you going so fast?”


“We’re out of time, little sister.” Ehmita stared into the night, trying to gauge just how far away the townspeople were. “I made a lot of noise when I stopped those girls, and the only people who knew they were out are the ones who feel the same way they do. When they see them knocked out like that, they’ll be out for blood. I’m the only member of the military in Avionne. They’ll know it was me, and they’ll know I was protecting you. If they see you…” Ehmita shook her head. “Fear and hatred make people do some pretty terrible things. If you want to make it to Magani, you’ll have to get out of here. And you’ll have to do it fast.


It wasn’t until Ehmita had to help her up into the saddle of the horse that was waiting in the shadows that Ania realized that it wasn’t her little pony that she’d be riding to the Capitol on. Black as the night around her, Jimande, Alliania’s horse, stood calmly as Ehmita checked the saddle girth and the tack. She pulled open the saddlebags to reveal skeins of bandages. Some of them reflected the moon, with light moving across them like oil on water. “You need to change your bandages once a day. While you travel, use the crystal healing cloth.” She gestured towards the shining bandages. “You don’t want to re-injure yourself by accident.”


The strange sensations Ania had felt when Ehmita had bound her wounds made sense now. The cloth she had used was made by TruMages, woven out of thin, thread-like strands of magic crystals. No wonder it felt like there were sparks running through my body. 


“However,” Ehmita said, speaking faster and faster as she glanced over her shoulder towards the noise of the townspeople, “you can’t just leave the cloth on indefinitely. The crystals they were made with only have so much energy. Once it runs out, the cloth weakens and starts to fall apart. On top of that, if you only use the crystal cloth, your bones will heal brittle and weak. So while you sleep, you need to rewrap your injuries using the regular cloth. Do you understand me? Ania!” Ehmita shook her sister’s uninjured shoulder, bringing the girl out of the fatigued stupor she’d been sliding into. “Ania, do you understand me?


Ania nodded. Her neck felt like it was made of jelly, and her mind didn’t feel much different. “I understand, Ehmita.” She was shocked to hear just how weak her voice sounded. She was so tired. She just wanted to sleep…


“Alright then.” Ehmita stepped back from Jimande’s side. “Make us proud, Ania.” She clicked her tongue and pointed towards the forest road. Jimande understood the command, and took off at a brisk trot.


As Ania reached the edge of the road, she turned back for just a moment. She forced her voice as loud as she could get it. “Ehmita!” Her sister lifted her hand in recognition. “Tell Mama"” She blinked furiously as her unhurt eye blurred over. “Tell Mama I said goodbye!”


Ania saw her sister nod once, and as Jimande carried her away from the clearing, she saw Ehmita turn back to face the glow of torchlight that was just breaking through the trees.

© 2013 VassD

Author's Note

Ehmita is an interesting character. She's extremely analytical, which is a trait I've never written before. It's an interesting contrast to Ania, who is very passion-driven.

On a side note, if you didn't fully understand the conversation about the healing bandages, don't worry. It has to do with the way magic works in this world, and that WILL be explained fully later. It has an important role the story.

Anyway, I would really appreciate feedback for this. Specifically, I want to know how engaging the story is. I have a lot of plans for this story, and I want it to fly. So, with this in mind:

►What did you like?
►What didn't you like?
►What was your favorite line?
►What do you want to see in the future chapters?

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Added on February 13, 2013
Last Updated on February 13, 2013
Tags: black horizons, draft two, edit, fantasy, knights of the covenant, ania kyatei, randen derris, alliania, vassternichdrauka, vassternich, drauka, novel, chapters



A tiny random town-city-dimension, ID

I'm a fledgling author with dreams about as big as one of Robert Jordan's books. Maybe more than one on top of each other. I love writing fantasy and science fiction stories (No matter how long a piec.. more..

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A Chapter by VassD

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